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A vehicle exits out of the Ford Windsor Engine Plant as negotiations continue past the 11:59pm strike deadline on Sept. 19, 2023 in Windsor, Ontario.Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Ford Motor Co. of Canada’s workers represented by Unifor will vote today on the ratification of a contract that provides wage increases of 15 per cent over three years, pension improvements and a $10,000 signing bonus.

The results of the online vote will be made public on Sunday afternoon.

The proposals came after bargaining between the two sides concluded shortly before an extended strike deadline on Tuesday.

The agreement covers 5,680 Ford employees at the Oakville SUV plant, Windsor engine plants, and distribution centres in Ontario and Edmonton.

Workers get a 10 per cent raise in the first year of the deal, then 2 and 3 per cent in the following years, if the members approve the contract, according to information provided by the union.

Workers in the skilled trades will receive raises of an additional 2.75 per cent in year one of the contract and 2.5 per cent in year three. Workers in the skilled trades will receive raises of an additional 2.75 per cent in year one of the contract and 2.5 per cent in year three.

“This is a very rich agreement,” said Jim Stanford, an economist and director at the Centre for Future Work, “possibly the richest in the history of the Canadian union.”

The tentative agreement boosts a production worker’s hourly wage to $42 in the first year of the deal to $44.50 by the third year, from $37 now. A skilled trades person will make $56 an hour by the end of the contract, up from almost $45 now. These rates include cost of living top-ups.

New hires currently start at $24 an hour and take eight years to make the standard hourly rate of $37. Under the new contract, these employees join the regular pay scale after four years.

Mr. Stanford, a former economist at the Canadian Auto Workers union, said the gains reflect the high-tech nature of the work, and the robust profits made by the automakers.

In addition to better pensions, people hired since 2016 will see their defined contribution pensions converted to a defined benefit plan, separate from the traditional plan.

The tentative agreement includes a renewed commitment from Ford not to close any facilities during the life of the contract, and additional capacity and upgrades at the Windsor plant that makes the 7.3-litre engine.

Ford is about to close the assembly line in Oakville and retool it to make electric vehicles. Unifor bargained for improved income supports for workers laid off in the transition.

The Ford agreement will set the bargaining pattern with Stellantis and GM in Canada. Those talks have not started.

The Ford vote comes after the United Auto Workers in the United States on Friday expanded their strikes against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. The UAW’s demands include 40–per-cent raises and a four-day work week.

More to come.

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