One week in advance of opening contract talks with the Detroit Three, Unifor hosted the United Auto Workers (UAW) at a historic summit in Windsor.
For the first time since 1999 with the exception of the 2008-09 financial crisis, Unifor and the UAW are negotiating with the Detroit Three at the same time. The summit brought together both unions to share information about the Canadian and U.S. auto industry, discuss bargaining priorities adopted by members, and bargaining processes. The strategic discussion and information sharing by both unions was an important first step to advancing each others’ interests throughout the bargaining process.
Unifor members’ bargaining priorities for Auto Talks 2023 were adopted at the union’s Auto Council meeting in May.
“In bargaining, communication is key and information is power,” said John D’Agnolo. “This summit was the first step to ensuring we have an open dialogue that strengthens our bargaining position.”
In attendance from Unifor was National President Lana Payne, National Secretary-Treasurer Len Poirier, Ford Master Bargaining Chair John D’Agnolo, General Motors Master Bargaining Chair Jason Gale as well as senior staff and departmental directors. Stellantis Master Bargaining Chair James Stewart was unable to attend due to personal reasons.
The summit occurred just as President Shawn Fain and the UAW bargaining team were presenting their economic package to the three automakers that same week. The summit also followed the invitation to have Unifor National President Lana Payne speak at the UAW’s bargaining convention.
“Developing channels for open dialogue between unions, on both sides of the border, is critical in this round of negotiations,” said James Stewart. “It was no small effort on the part of both unions to make this summit happen and our union’s commitment to build worker power means doing things differently and that’s exactly what happened this week.”
UAW attendees included President Shawn Fain, Vice President for Ford Chuck Browning, Vice President for General Motors Mike Booth, and Vice President for Stellantis Rich Boyer as well as several staff members, assistants, and directors.
“This summit was about solidarity, not just in words, but in practice,” said Jason Gale. “I was confident about the work our union has done to prepare for negotiations before this summit and I’m even more confident now with its results.”
Both unions will continue to work together throughout collective bargaining and share many similarities. However, the different organizational and decision-making structures, different member demands for changes to each union’s individual collective agreement provisions and different governments and political contexts under which both unions operate, necessitates a unique approach, priorities, and strategies to bargaining with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
“Unifor is charting its own course in Auto Talks 2023,” said Lana Payne. “We are working with all of our allies to strengthen our bargaining position and advance the interests of our members. “
Unifor members can view photos of the summit here.
Visit the autotalks.ca website often for all the news, bargaining updates, resources and information for autoworkers.
Questions related to Auto Talks 2023 can be sent to [email protected].