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Canadian autoworkers and General Motors reach a tentative contract agreement

Lana Payne, Unifor national president is shown speaking during a news conference, Aug. 29, 2023, in Toronto.
Tijana Martin
/
AP
Lana Payne, Unifor national president is shown speaking during a news conference, Aug. 29, 2023, in Toronto.

TORONTO — General Motors and the union representing Canadian autoworkers reached a tentative contract agreement Tuesday, ending a strike that began just after midnight.

About 4,300 striking workers at two GM factories and a parts warehouse will return to work Tuesday afternoon and will vote on the three-year deal later.

Lana Payne, president of the Unifor union, said that, when faced with the strike, GM had no choice but to follow a pattern agreement reached earlier with Ford.

She says the deal includes "all items that the company had initially fought us on such as pensions, retiree income supports and converting full-time temporary workers into permanent employees over the life of the agreement."

GM said that it reached the deal with Unifor around 1 p.m. Tuesday after workers went on strike at the Ontario facilities just after midnight. The deal recognizes employee contributions with significant pay and benefit increases and additional job security, the automaker said.

The new agreement covers autoworkers at GM's assembly plant in Oshawa, a powertrain plant in St. Catharines, and a parts distribution center in Woodstock.

The workers struck at GM after Unifor workers ratified a new three-year labor contract with Ford late last month.

Payne said she expects a ratification vote on the GM deal in the coming days. If approved, only Jeep maker Stellantis would be left without a contract with Unifor. Payne said she expects talks to begin soon with the company, which has the largest manufacturing footprint in Canada of the Detroit automakers.

"I expect Stellantis will come here kicking and screaming the same way that General Motors did," she told reporters Tuesday.

Stellantis declined to comment.

Unifor said that the deal includes pay raises of nearly 20% for production workers and 25% for skilled trades. Workers would get 10% in general pay raises in the first year, with 2% in the second and 3% in the third. The company also agreed to restore cost-of-living pay raises starting in December of 2024. Temporary workers would get pay raises, and those with at least one year of service would get permanent jobs.

Workers who get defined-contribution retirement plans will move to a new defined-benefits pension on Jan. 1, 2025.

Payne said earlier that the union had a lot of bargaining leverage with GM because the factory in Oshawa is working around the clock to build profitable Chevrolet pickups.

The deal ratified by workers at Ford of Canada raises base hourly pay for production workers by almost 20% over three years.

Until Tuesday, Unifor had avoided going on strike against the Detroit automakers, unlike its U.S. counterpart, the United Auto Workers. About 25,000 UAW members are on strike against Detroit automakers at five targeted factories and 38 parts distribution centers.

Unifor members at a fourth GM facility, the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, are covered by a separate bargaining agreement and did not strike.

The union is Canada's largest in the private sector, with 315,000 workers in many industries.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The Associated Press