General Motors and Unifor, the union representing almost 3,900 GM workers, reached a tentative collective agreement early this morning. While the immediate impact is avoiding a work disruption for all parties involved, the deal will also have lasting effects on the Canadian auto industry. Included in the new deal are investments and product commitments to GM's Oshawa, Ontario plant, and new production at the St. Catharines engine and transmission plant. Prior to this agreement, the future of the Oshawa plant had been in question for a number of years.
While the agreement does confirm the life of the Oshawa plant for the near future (a key component of Unifor's demands), one of their lines will close. That is the line building the Chevrolet Equinox. Unifor President Jerry Dias told reporters that the plant's other line will receive "hundreds of millions" in investments, and added that the plant is the only one in North America with the ability to produce both cars and trucks. In addition, some as-yet unspecified engine production will be moving from Mexico to the St. Catharines plant.
The new collective agreement also provides a wage increase, signing bonus, and lump-sum payments to employees. Approximately 700 temporary workers will be given full-time status as well.
The deal is not yet finalized, as both sides need to clean up a few details. If the deal is ratified, a version of the same will be taken to negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Which of the two companies will be next should be chosen today, according to Dias.