Unifor backs UAW’s ‘nice and aggressive’ start to contract talks

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The head of the union representing autoworkers in Canada is backing the UAW’s tough talk and staunch stance against Detroit 3 automakers as contract negotiations between the two sides get under way in Detroit.

UAW President Gary Jones on Monday delivered a simple but strongly worded message to Ford Motor Co.: Times have been good, and the companies must pay up.

Unifor President Jerry Dias, who speaks for more than 23,000 members working at Ford, GM and FCA in Canada, agreed.

“The Detroit 3 is printing money, and we absolutely deserve a bigger piece of the pie,” he told Automotive News Canada in a phone interview Monday.

Dias doesn’t get a chance to sit across from Detroit 3 executives until the summer of 2020 — all but one Canadian contract expires in September 2020.

“Our ambitions are the exact same [as the UAW’s]. I’m glad to see they’re coming out nice and aggressive, as they should,” Dias said. 

In Canada, General Motors will cease auto assembly at its Oshawa plant, where it currently finishes outgoing models of the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. The Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS are also assembled there. 

At the same time, FCA has said it will cut an entire shift at its Windsor, Ont., minivan plant in October.

“Ultimately, I find the Detroit 3 close our plants and its all about profits,” Dias said. 

The trio of automakers posted $15 billion in net profits last year, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“There’s not loyalty from the companies. We’re not rewarded with job security,” Dias said. “So it’s best for us to extract the most for our members at this time.”

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