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Unifor president Jerry Dias attends negotiations with Fiat Chrysler, Ford and General Motors in Toronto on Aug. 12, 2020.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

Unifor says its members at General Motors of Canada Co. have voted 85 per cent in favour of a new three-year contract that will mean the return of production to the automaker’s Oshawa, Ont., assembly plant.

The deal covers 1,700 workers in St. Catharines, Ont., Oshawa and Woodstock, Ont.

“I want to thank the members for their support because our solidarity proves that if we stick together, we are a powerful force and we can achieve gains and job security for all members,” said Tim McKinnon, Unifor’s GM master bargaining committee chairman, in a statement.

“There is a future for the auto industry, and that future is `Made in Canada.' ”

GM’s planned new investments under the agreement will include $1-billion to $1.3-billion at Oshawa as well as $109-million in St. Catharines to support added engine and transmission production and $500,000 in operations at the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre.

GM Canada president Scott Bell said he expects the investment to be “significant” for Canada’s economy because it “will happen fast and generate thousands of new jobs.”

“Bringing pickup production back to Oshawa is noteworthy for a few other reasons as well. Demand for pickups remains strong and has accelerated through COVID-19, accounting for more than 40 per cent of GM Canada’s sales,” Mr. Bell said in a statement.

The deal was the final agreement to be negotiated between the union and the big U.S. automakers.

“We went into bargaining in the middle of a pandemic, facing great uncertainty. Now we can proudly say these three contracts will breathe new life into Canada’s auto sector,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias in a statement.

Unifor says the GM contract follows the pattern-setting deal first reached with Ford that includes 5-per-cent increases to hourly rates, a $7,250 productivity and quality bonus, $4,000 in inflation protection bonuses, improved benefits, shift premiums and restoration of a 20-per-cent wage differential for skilled trades.

The agreement also means that GM workers will have a new racial justice advocate in the workplace, and access to 10 paid days of domestic violence leave.

Earlier deals with Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also included promises of billions in new investment in Canada. After Ford and FCA’s union agreements were announced, provincial and federal officials announced pledges to commit millions of dollars to electric vehicle production. GM’s deal with Unifor did not focus on electric vehicles, but Unifor said on Monday that “all three contracts include support from both the federal and Ontario government.”

Mr. Bell said the company is “in discussions with our government partners to see how we might do even more with the transformative investments we announced last Thursday.”

He said that the company is also continuing to hire local workers for its high-tech centre, which will open next year.

“GM is not only driving the industry’s move to new electric and self-driving vehicle technology; our team is helping to develop and test it right here in Canada.”

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