Unifor announced a tentative contract agreement early Tuesday with General Motors of Canada just after a midnight strike deadline that had been set.
“It wasn’t the threat of a deadline that forced a decision, I think it was understanding Canada is one heckuva place to do business,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias. “We build the most quality vehicles in the world and we run very profitable facilities as well.
Dias said he was thrilled to be able to announce the agreement, but called it a “difficult set of negotiations.”
The union’s committee is unanimously recommending the deal. Ratification votes are set for Sunday in Ontario at the Oshawa and St. Catharines plants as well as the parts distribution centre in Woodstock, Ont.
A key sticking point in the negotiations was the union’s request to secure more work for the 4,000 GM employees it represents in Ontario.
Dias said assurances for the job security of employees in Oshawa and St. Catharines were achieved through “hundreds of millions of dollars of investment for our Canadian facilities.”
Dias said as a result of the investment, Oshawa would be the only GM plant in North America to have the ability to build both cars and trucks.
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The consolidated line in Oshawa will continue its existing commitment into 2017 for the Chevy Equinox SUV, but no more. The flex line — which handles the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS but had no products scheduled past 2019 — has now received a yet-to-be-named commitment from GM beyond that date.
“Are we going to end up with a different product in Oshawa? The answer is yes,” said Dias, adding that as a result the plant would be “hiring in the long term and the short term.”