Unifor reaches deal with Ford to spend nearly $2B on Canadian plants
Ford Motor Co. reached a tentative contract agreement with the union representing its Canadian production workers that saves its only vehicle-assembly plant in that country.
The three-year deal includes investing $1.95 billion (US$1.46 billion) in two Ontario facilities, Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, said at a press conference in Toronto. He called the deal “a home run.”
The tentative pact calls for Ford’s Oakville, Ontario, plant to assemble five battery-powered models beginning in 2025, Dias said. Unifor represents about 5,400 Ford hourly workers, including 3,400 at Oakville. The plant was at risk of closing because the Edge sport-utility vehicle made there has an uncertain future.
“This is a major commitment from Ford, huge,” Dias said at the press conference. “This is a decades-long commitment.”
The Canadian and Ontario governments were set to provide Ford with a “massive amount” of incentive money to keep Oakville open, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday. At a press conference Tuesday, he said the details were still being negotiated.
“We’re at the table and once I find out the exact figure, I’ll come out and talk to the people,” Doug Ford said. Dias thanked the premier and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for their help securing the contract.
Ford also will build batteries at Oakville, as it becomes a key production site in the automaker’s plan to invest US$11 billion to electrify its lineup with plug-in vehicles including the Mustang Mach-E coming later this year. Neither Dias nor Ford identified which electric models will be produced in Oakville. Ford will begin retooling the factory in 2024.
Ford also is investing in its Windsor, Ontario, engine plant, Dias said, without providing any details.
“This agreement is subject to ratification by Ford-Unifor members,” Ryan Kantautas, vice president of human resources for Ford of Canada, said in a statement. “To respect the ratification process, Ford of Canada will not discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement.”
Once Ford workers ratify the agreement, the union will move on to negotiate a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, leaving General Motors Co. for last, Dias said. The union represents about 20,000 hourly workers at the three companies. The ratification vote takes place Sept. 27. Results will probably be announced on Sept. 28, Unifor spokeswoman Natalie Clancy said.