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Canadian Autoworkers On Verge Of Strike As Deadline Looms

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Canadian autoworkers are prepared to strike if a deal is not reached between the union representing 23,000 employees and the big three automobile makers.

Unifor, the union that represents a vast majority of Canada’s autoworkers, said it will either strike a deal with General Motors, Chrysler Fiat and Ford or commence a strike after Monday’s 11:59 pm deadline.

Unifor President Jerry Dias said he is not moving the deadline, and told the Detroit News that, “We will find a solution for Oshawa and St. Catharines. The only issue is whether or not it will be before the 19th of September at midnight.”

The union is engaged in tense negotiations with General Motors, Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Ford Motors. Unifor is aggressively pushing the automakers for specific worker guarantees and for increased investment in its Ontario plants. Negotiations have been underway since the start of the month, and the contract deadline is fast approaching.

Dias has previously asserted that the union would not agree to a deal unless General Motors commits to building new vehicles in its Oshawa assembly plant and Ford Motor Company guarantees the continued operation of its Windsor engine plant. The union also previously asked for increased investment at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton assembly plant.

“With this clear mandate our members have demonstrated they are in full support of their bargaining committees, and our direction in this set of negotiations,” Dias said in a statement.  “The bargaining committee will not accept a deal without a commitment to investment in Canada’s auto sector.”

Canadian autoworkers are concerned that the automakers may continue to take jobs elsewhere, as the car makers have recently signed deals with American autoworkers to invest nearly $2 billion in American plants. Negotiations may intensify after news that Ford is moving its small parts production from Detroit to Mexico.

If Unifor were to go on strike, 3,860 General Motors hourly workers from the Oshawa plant, its St. Catharines transmission and engine plant and a parts distribution center in Woodstock would walk out, resulting in the total stoppage of two production lines for the billion dollar auto-maker.

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