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Ford workers in Canada ratify agreement, set precedent for other automakers

54 per cent of those who voted endorsed the proposed collective agreement

The union that represents 5,600 workers at Ford Motor Co. of Canada confirmed Sunday its members had ratified a three-year contract with the automaker.

Unifor and Ford reached a tentative agreement Tuesday after extending a strike deadline by 24 hours. At the time, the union said the three-year deal addressed all issues raised by members for this round of bargaining.

On Sunday, the union said 54 per cent of those who voted endorsed the proposed collective agreement, which includes a general wage increase of 15 per cent over three years.

Lana Payne, national president of Unifor, issued a statement saying the deal will mean tremendous gains for autoworkers.

“Your bargaining team pushed Ford of Canada on every front to deliver a contract that fundamentally transforms pension plans, provides protections during the (electric vehicle) transition and includes the highest wage increases in the history of Canadian auto bargaining,” Payne said.

“We know this is a challenging time for all workers and this agreement tackles the affordability issues so many face today.”

The contract calls for a wage increase of 10 per cent in the first year, two per cent in the second year and three per cent in the final year.

Meanwhile, the base rate for hourly wages will increase by 25 per cent for those with a skilled trade over the lifetime of the agreement, the union said.

The deal also includes a reactivated cost-of-living allowance, a $10,000 bonus, two new paid holidays and pension improvements, the union said.

That means a Ford worker with one year seniority will see their wages increase from $25.75 to $46.13 by the end of the three-year deal, which includes the cost-of-living allowance, the union said.

There are also provisions for more investment in the engine plant in Essex, Ont., and “special (electric vehicle) transition measures” for Unifor members at the assembly plant in Oakville, Ont.

With the Ford deal ratified, Unifor can now try to replicate that agreement at the other big automakers, Stellantis and General Motors. The union has yet to announce which automaker it will select for bargaining.

In the U.S., workers at General Motors and Stellantis plants have been participating in limited strikes, and on Friday expanded the work action to 38 locations in 20 states.