Strike mandates for Detroit 3 loom as Unifor members vote ‘yes’
Rumors of auto worker strikes are circling around the car manufacturing industries in both Canada and the U.S. And the waves are quickly turning into more than just buzz.
This past weekend, Unifor members at Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis have delivered “overwhelming” support of strike mandates for the three automakers, according to a Unifor press release.
Higher wages, improved pensions and an allocation of good jobs in the growing EV market are three focuses of the union negotiating with the Detroit 3.
Unifor paused negotiations with the automakers to hold the strike votes over the course of the weekend.
The results of the strike votes were tabulated and broken down by company. Ninety-nine percent of members were in favor of the strike mandate at GM, 98.9% at Ford and 98.1% for Stellantis — umbrella company to 14 automotive brands, including Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge.
The members also authorized their bargaining committees to take job action, if needed to achieve fair collective agreements with the D3.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in all major areas of the economy.
Back in early August in Toronto, the union first opened formal negotiations with the three automakers, representing 18,000 auto workers covered by collective agreements that expire at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2023.
“Canadian auto workers have sent a strong message to D3 automakers that they are united behind our bargaining committees in an effort to improve pensions, increase wages and secure good, union jobs in the EV future,” said Unifor national president Lana Payne in the press release. “Our bargaining teams are set to resume negotiations with the unwavering support of Unifor members across the auto sector. Make no mistake, our union is fully prepared to take any and all necessary action to achieve our collective bargaining objectives.”
Many other companies are offering their insight on impending strikes, as well as trying to get ahead of any potential impact for auto dealers in Canada and the U.S.
For example, during the AutoCanada quarterly earnings call, chief financial officer Azim Lalani responded to questions from investors regarding the potential future strikes and their impact on vehicle sales.
Analysts asked how the company is positioning its used-car inventory levels ahead of a potential auto worker strike that could come as early as September. How will AutoCanada offset any potential slowdown in new-car deliveries due to the strike?
Lalani said, “We’ve been developing muscle within our dealerships and at the head office to really strengthen and bolster the way we actually acquire used vehicles. That gives us a competitive advantage.”
Using customer relationship management data, the dealer group monitors in real-time which vehicles have the highest desirability in what markets and what needs to be shopped for.
“And we can predict as best we can how we can look around corners and see what the next hot vehicle in what market will be,” Lalani said.