Canadian union Unifor names GM its second bargaining target among Detroit Three


By Shivansh Tiwary and David Shepardson

(Reuters) -Canadian union Unifor announced General Motors as its second bargaining target in contract talks with the Detroit Three on Monday, a day after ratifying a new three-year contract with Ford Motor.

Unifor had set Ford as the first target for a pattern agreement in its contract discussions with the Detroit Three in Canada. On Sunday, the union voted in favor of a new contract with Ford that offers wage increases of up to 25% to about 5,600 workers at the automaker’s Canadian facilities.

“Bargaining committees will now work to negotiate the pattern-setting agreement ratified by members at Ford of Canada in addition to GM-specific issues in this second round of talks,” Unifor said.

Talks with GM are set to begin on Tuesday, the union said.

Meanwhile, in the United States, negotiators for the United Auto Workers and Ford continued bargaining, with “significant gaps to close on the key economic issues,” the automaker said.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, plans to visit a UAW picket line in Michigan on Tuesday. Biden said on Monday that the UAW gave up an “incredible amount” in 2007 when the auto industry was on the brink of collapse. “They saved the automobile industry,” Biden said, referring to the union. “Now that the industry is roaring back, they should participate in the benefit of that.”

Republican U.S. Senator Josh Hawley visited a UAW picket line outside a GM plant in Missouri on Monday. “These workers deserve better pay, better benefits, and a GUARANTEE their jobs will stay in America,” Hawley said in a social media post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Republican former President Donald Trump also plans to make a speech in Michigan on auto issues on Wednesday.

The UAW has historically chosen one U.S. automaker to focus on reaching a contract deal that has typically set a pattern for the other automakers but this year has been negotiating with all three simultaneously.

Ford became the de facto lead company, following the union’s statement on Friday that sufficient progress had been made at the No. 2 U.S. automaker to avoid the ordering of further walkouts at the company.

The UAW launched strikes at 38 GM and Stellantis parts distribution operations in 20 U.S. states on Friday. Those walkouts threaten to choke off supplies of repair parts to dealers and customers.

The Canadian operations of the Detroit Three are much smaller than their U.S. setups, but the three automakers each have critical factories in Canada.

(Reporting by Shivansh Tiwary in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Pooja Desai and Matthew Lewis)

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