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Ford, Unifor reach tentative deal that includes $1.95B investment, union says

John Irwin, Automotive News Canada
September 22, 2020

Ford Motor Co. plans to invest $1.95 billion in its Canadian operations and build five electric vehicles in Oakville, Ont., beginning in 2025, Unifor President Jerry Dias said today.

The announcement comes as part of a tentative three-year contract the union and Ford agreed to early Tuesday morning after weeks of negotiations. Dias said the investment gives the Oakville factory, which will receive a $1.8-billion retooling and will also assemble batteries, a new lease on life.

“I think it’s fair to say today that as an organization, we hit a home run,” Dias said during a news conference in downtown Toronto. “Not only does it solidify the jobs for our members in Oakville, but it starts the discussions about the supply chain and the jobs that are created that will follow this type of an announcement. It also starts a discussion as a nation.”

The tentative deal with Ford was welcome news for Flavio Volpe, the head of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association. He said such a large investment will provide long-term stability for Canadian suppliers.

“There’s usually good news when we do these collective bargaining agreement, but this one stands alone as potentially the best news of the last 10 years,” he said.

Volpe said the investments could spur more business related to batteries. Sourcing batteries and battery components from within Canada or the other USMCA nations is likely critical to those vehicles being able to cross the border into the United States without having to pay tariffs, under the deal’s regional content rules.

“There’s an interesting and mature supply chain in the battery space in southwestern Ontario and in Quebec that could see new business here,” he said.

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