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Unifor members approve GM deal, trucks to be built in Canada again

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — General Motors Co.'s Oshawa plant in Ontario will build trucks again after Canadian auto workers represented by Unifor ratified an agreement with the automaker, the union and GM said Monday.

Eighty-five percent of the 1,600 Unifor members at GM's St. Catharines, Oshawa and Woodstock plants voted in favor of a new three-year collective agreement "that includes significant investments, job security and economic gains," the union said.

GM workers in the Unifor labor union in Canada voted to approve a contract.

“This contract solidifies and boldly builds on GM’s Canadian footprint, with a $1.3 billion dollar investment that brings 1,700 jobs to Oshawa plus more than $109 million to in-source new transmission work for the Corvette and support continued V-8 engine production in St. Catharines,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in a statement. “Jobs at all three Canadian sites are secure for the life of this agreement, including at the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre, which will also see upgrades."

Unifor's largest feat going into negotiations was to get more investments at its GM plants after GM stopped manufacturing at its Oshawa plant last year.

Oshawa will go back online in 2022 to produce both light- and heavy-duty trucks, and St. Catharines will produce engines for those pickups. GM turned Oshawa's production back on after seeing unexpected high demand for its trucks during the pandemic, but the investment at Oshawa didn't sit well with United Auto Workers leaders at U.S. truck plants.

"We are pleased our 1,600 Unifor represented employees ratified a new collective agreement for our St. Catharines Propulsion Plant, Oshawa OEM Stamped Products and Service Operations and the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre," GM Canada President and Managing Director, Scott Bell said in a statement. "This agreement provides new product investment for our highest volume products which are the number one segment in Canada. This investment will create jobs and further the growth of our Canadian operations."

The new three-year agreement followed pattern bargaining set first with Ford Motor Co. followed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and then GM. The deal includes 5%  increases to hourly rates, a $7,250 productivity and quality bonus, a total of $4,000 in inflation protection bonuses, improved benefits, shift premiums and restoration of the 20%  wage differential for skilled trades, the union said.

Under the agreement, Unifor and GM will create an anti-racism action plan, establish a new Racial Justice Advocate in the workplace and GM plans to provide up to 10 paid days of domestic violence leave.

khall@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @bykaleahall