Canada autoworkers approve Ford offer as US strike goes on
WASHINGTON, United States -Canadian autoworkers on Sunday approved a deal with Ford, keeping the strike by their American counterparts from spreading northward, even as it takes on increasingly political tones in the United States.
The 5,600 autoworkers represented by the Unifor union voted for a three-year contract that will provide a base wage increase of 15 percent over three years, including a 10 percent boost the first year.
“This contract will change lives in a profound way,” including “the highest wage increases in the history of Canadian auto bargaining” and other benefits, Unifor president Lana Payne was quoted as saying on the union website.
The vote — with 54 percent approving — came two days after the United Auto Workers expanded its US strike against General Motors and Stellantis while holding off against Ford, which the union said had done more to meet demands.
With the strike in its second week, the prospect that it could have a nationwide economic impact has drawn intense attention.
President Joe Biden is slated to join a UAW picket line in Michigan on Tuesday, just a day before likely 2024 rival Donald Trump has said he will do the same.
The deal in Canada with Ford is expected to provide a reference point as negotiations continue there with Stellantis and General Motors.
But in the US, the union’s lines with GM and Stellantis appeared to be hardening. The strike has hit 38 parts-distribution centers owned by those two groups, while the UAW says “real progress” has been made in its talks with Ford.
The UAW is seeking a 40 percent pay increase over four years, which it says would match the raises company executives have received in recent years.
Biden, who often proclaims his strong backing for unions, said Friday that he would be joining a picket line in Michigan on Tuesday out of “solidarity” with the striking workers.
The 80-year-old Democrat has repeatedly said that the automakers should share their “record profits” with hourly workers.
He had originally planned a trip to the US West, but finally decided to get a jump on Trump, who also has called himself a champion of workers’ causes.
Michigan is a key state in presidential elections, and Trump — his party’s clear early favorite ahead of the 2024 vote — will be there Wednesday, bypassing a second Republican candidates’ debate, this one in Simi Valley, California.