DETROIT – Ford Motor avoided having to face labor strikes on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border Tuesday night, as the automaker and Canadian union Unifor announced a tentative deal covering 5,600 autoworkers in the country’s Ontario providence.
The Detroit automaker and union announced the agreement — which must still be ratified by members — hours before an extended 11:59 p.m. Tuesday deadline. The sides extended the talks by 24 hours following Ford’s last-minute proposal Monday night to Unifor.
The Canadian tentative agreement was reached on day five of the United Auto Workers union initiating targeted strikes against Ford and its crosstown rivals General Motors and Chrysler-parent Stellantis.
A Unifor strike would have impacted Ford’s Oakville Assembly Plant that produces the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus crossovers as well as two engine plants that produce V8 engines used in key products such as the Ford F-Series pickups and Mustang muscle car.
Ford and Unifor declined to immediately release details of the agreement, which Lana Payne, national president of the union, said “addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining.”
“We believe that this agreement will solidify the foundations on which we will continue to bargain gains for generations of autoworkers in Canada,” she said in a statement Tuesday night.
Unifor, which represents 18,000 Canadian workers at the Detroit automakers, took a more traditional approach to its negotiations than its U.S. counterpart did. The Canadian union picked Ford as its “target” company instead of following the UAW’s new strategy of bargaining with all three automakers. It also announced a traditional national strike, if needed, instead of targeted ones.
The union is expected to release details of the agreement to members in the coming days, followed by a vote. If ratified, the deal will be used as a pattern for Unifor to bargain with GM and Stellantis.
Ford will now focus on its talks with the UAW. Shawn Fain, president of the union, said Monday that the union will announce additional strikes at U.S. plants if the Detroit automakers don’t make “serious progress” in negotiations by noon ET Friday.
Currently on strike are roughly 12,700 UAW workers from GM’s midsize truck and full-size van plant in Wentzville, Missouri; Ford’s Ranger midsize pickup and Bronco SUV plant in Wayne, Michigan; and Stellantis’ Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator plant in Toledo, Ohio.