General Motors and major auto workers union Unifor came to an agreement in last-minute talks eclipsing a midnight-Tuesday deadline, reports CBC News.
The union’s committee members are unanimously endorsing the recently struck deal. Ratification voting took place Sunday at GM’s Oshawa and St. Catharines plants and at its parts distribution centre in Woodstock.
Negotiations reportedly hinged on pension plan arrangements for new workers; the labour union eventually caved to corporate pressure, agreeing to negatively alter its pension plan for new workers while taking consolation in the fact that it has protected its existing workers’ wages and job security, as well as existing pension plans.
The agreement may stir new hiring activity for GM plants located in Ontario, plants which have not hired a single new employee in several years.
“We knew that over the life of the last four-year collective agreement GM did not hire one person, and a lot of it had to do with their public position on the defined benefit pension plan,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias.
“Was it worth it to get new employees the opportunity to get jobs at our wages, at our security level and give up the [existing benefit] plan for new starts? The answer is yes,” Dias said.
While giving up some ground on the issue of pension plans, the union forged ahead in its efforts to secure more work for the nearly-4,000 Ontario workers it represents. Wage rate increases are also included in the deal.
Thanks to GM’s investment of hundreds of millions of dollars into its Oshawa and St. Catharines automotive assembly plants, Unifor believes its members’ jobs are more secure.
Thanks to significant investments, GM’s Oshawa plant will be the only GM plant in North America capable of building both cars and trucks.
“It wasn’t the threat of a deadline that forced a decision, I think it was understanding Canada is one heck of a place to do business,” said Dias.
In a good-faith gesture, Unifor praised GM for its “willingness to find a solution.”