Earlier today, National President Jerry Dias, alongside the Unifor-GM Master Bargaining Committee, publicly announced that the Union reached a tentative settlement with General Motors. The agreement was struck early in the morning, following a late-hour strike deadline extension as noted in a Bargaining Update posted to this website last night.
This was, by all accounts, a difficult round of negotiations for the Union. Despite its historic outcome, the path to an agreement with General Motors was a challenging one.
We entered GM talks with twin goals. Secure product for the St. Catharines powertrain facility to ensure long-term stability, and make good on a promise to restart vehicle production at Oshawa. All this while maintaining a strong economic pattern that delivers significant gains to our members. We knew these to be ambitious goals, but still believed them achievable despite industry analysts, commentators and officials suggesting it was an impossible task.
It is always hard to predict, in advance, how negotiations will end. Anyone who has been to the bargaining table will know this. There is rarely a straight line between what we want and what we can bargain. That is why it is critical for negotiators to focus on the big picture, at all times. The measuring stick for success is whether, through bargaining, we achieved our priorities and advanced our interests in a meaningful way.
In 2020 GM negotiations, the Master Committee believes we have done that.
At ratification votes this Sunday November 8, members will receive a comprehensive presentation of the specific changes to both Master and Local agreements, including on wages, benefits and other provisions. Suffice it to say, this agreement meets the strong pattern settlement terms secured at both Ford and FCA.
As well, members will receive further details on the investment and product commitments released in brief earlier today.
The Union understands that these investment and product commitments for St. Catharines powertrain do not resolve questions regarding the future of the plant. Nevertheless, the Company signaled to the Union that these investments are a major vote of confidence in a plant that is unrivalled in terms of product quality.
Upgrades and higher volumes scheduled for lucrative V8 small block work is a very good thing, and there is no end in sight for production. The newly committed Corvette transmission work, commitments to current products for at least the life of the agreement and sole-source language for all engines used in light-duty pick-up trucks in Oshawa are all positive developments that help build stability.
As for Oshawa, it is hard to imagine a more fitting end to these talks. This is a facility facing permanent closure less than two years ago, kept open by the will and determination of our Union. With the announcement that vehicle assembly will return in 2022, the Oshawa Assembly Complex has a new lease on life. When full production resumes, it will be the only GM facility in North America to produce both light duty and heavy duty trucks. A remarkable feat. Even greater, is that all gas engines on the light duty will be sourced straight from St. Catharines, as noted above.
Did the Master Bargaining Committee want to conclude talks boasting two massive investments, for both St. Catharines and Oshawa? The answer is yes, unequivocally.
Yet, despite these modest investments at St. Catharines, did we manage to bolster commitments enough to sustain work, create stability and position GM’s best powertrain facility for the future? The Union believes it has done that, and looks forward to discussing this in more detail over the weekend.
Specific details on these investments may seem sparse at this time, but members will have the full ability to ask any – and as many – questions they wish during the weekend ratification meeting.
Please be sure to email Peter Scott at email@example.com if you have not yet received information about the virtual ratification meeting.