GM, Unifor reach deal that may settle Canadian strike
Detroit — General Motors and Canada’s autoworker union on Friday reached a deal that will likely end a 26-day strike at a factory in Ontario that makes a hot-selling SUV.
The deal with Unifor still must be voted on by members. Terms were not disclosed.
The 2,500 members of Unifor Local 88 went on strike Sept. 17 at the factory in Ingersoll, Ontario, west of Toronto. The workers make the Chevrolet Equinox, a compact sport utility vehicle that is a hot seller.
The union wanted GM to designate the plant as the main Equinox manufacturer. The company can make the same vehicle at two plants in Mexico, drawing the disputed North American Free Trade Agreement into the labor dispute.
“This strike has shown all of Canada why a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement must address the needs of working people first,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said in a statement on the union website.
The statement said the deal would end the strike. The union’s local bargainers and national leadership are recommending that the contract be approved, the statement said. Unifor said terms would be released after the ratification vote, which likely will come early next week.
On Thursday it appeared that both sides had reached an impasse over the union’s job security demands, with Dias accusing GM of declaring war on Canada and of threatening to ramp up production in Mexico and wind it down in Ingersoll.
But GM said it has invested $800 million in the Ingersoll plant, a move that the company said should show workers it plans to keep producing vehicles there. The company said it didn’t want to agree to a main factory designation because it needs flexibility to respond to market conditions.
Dias also accused the company of exploiting low-paid Mexican workers at the expense of good-paying jobs in the U.S. and Canada.
Wages and benefits were mainly decided with the Unifor national contract settled last year.
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