UAW's tentative deal with Ford 'good news' for Windsor workers – Windsor Star

Workers at Ford’s Windsor Annex Engine Plant are breathing a sigh of relief after the UAW union in the U.S. reached a tentative contract agreement with the company Wednesday night that will avert planned layoffs at the local factory next week.

UAW workers will be presented with the contract details Sunday prior to a ratification vote, but the union has instructed Ford workers to immediately return to their jobs to up the pressure on Stellantis and GM.
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“I’m happy for the UAW because it’s good news for their workers and it’s good news for our membership,” said Unifor Local 200 president John D’Agnolo, who is also part of the Canadian union’s master bargaining committee.

“It means Windsor (Annex Engine Plant) continues to run. We weren’t sure by the middle of next week whether we’d be shutdown.”

Ford Motor Company officials had informed Unifor Local 200 Wednesday that workers at Windsor’s Annex Engine Plant would be laid off next week unless the UAW strike against the company in the U.S. was resolved. The Essex Engine Plant, which manufactures the 5.0-litre engine for the F-150 pickup truck and Mustang, would not have been affected.

The Annex Engine Plant makes 6.8- and 7.3-litre engines for Ford’s larger F-series pickups and employs nearly 900 people.

The bulk of the 800 plus engines the Annex produces daily are shipped to the Kentucky Truck Plant, which had been behind union picket lines since Oct. 11. The Windsor plant continued to produce and store those engines even though the Kentucky plant was idle.

D’Agnolo said he expects the Annex plant will run for five days in the short term instead of six, which has been the norm in recent months.

“They likely won’t need us for weekends because they have so many engines stockpiled now,” D’Agnolo said. “As those deplete, they’ll begin to bring us back on weekends.”

He added it isn’t surprising that UAW workers are back on the job before the contract is ratified. While it keeps pressure on GM and Stellantis to settle, D’Agnolo said it also helps Ford’s parts suppliers to get rolling again and limit the financial damage.

“I think Ford would’ve asked the workers to go back immediately as part of the settlement,” D’Agnolo said.

While the full details of the UAW agreement haven’t been revealed, among the confirmed economic highlights are a 25-per-cent wage increase over 56 months, reductions in the length of the wage grid, improvements to the defined contribution retirement plan and the restoration of the cost-of-living allowance.

D’Angolo said it was important for the Canadian auto industry that the UAW was able to secure a good deal with Ford that’ll set the pattern for the other two Detroit automakers.

“I’m very much more at ease about (the labour cost gap) now,” D’Agnolo said. “They’ve made some good gains on wages and benefits.

“It’s important they got a good agreement, so that we stay competitive with the U.S. on labour costs when it comes to future investments. You don’t want to get too far ahead, especially as we transition out of the combustion engine era.”

With the first deal now secured in the U.S., D’Agnolo said he expects things to move rapidly across the border with the other two Detroit automakers. Unifor has already achieve ratified deals in Canada with Ford and GM and is in negotiations with Stellantis, with a strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday.

“I think they’ll fall into line,” D’Agnolo said. “They don’t want to lose any more work.

“I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel that things are coming to a conclusion.”

Dwaddell@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/windstarwaddell

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