Phoebe Wall Howard
| Detroit Free Press
SUVs and electric power star at the Los Angeles auto show
High-profile debuts include Ford’s electric Mustang SUV, a sub-$20,000 Chevy SUV, Land Rover Defender and Bollinger Motors electric SUV and pickup
Ford Motor Co. reached a three-year deal with Unifor National that includes wage increases, bonuses and other benefits for its factory workers in Canada plus a massive financial investment in battery electric vehicles, the company announced Monday.
The union voted 81% in favor of the collective bargaining contract, which includes $1.5 billion (U.S.) in investments to bring battery electric vehicle production to Oakville and a new engine derivative to Windsor, Unifor confirmed.
“This is the single biggest investment in the Canadian auto industry in years,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president. “The vote … shows Unifor members have a clear vision of a strong and prosperous Canadian auto sector.”
Highlights include $1.4 billion (U.S.) to retool and build new battery electric vehicles in Oakville, “including a crossover utility vehicle, and $148 million for Windsor powertrain facilities,” Unifor said. “Ford has committed to source new 6.X L engines to the Windsor Engine Plant and sole source 5.0L engine assembly and current component machining to the Essex Engine plant, along with any derivatives,” Unifor said.
Engines used for the Ford Mustang and Ford F-Series are built in Canada currently.
The union spotlighted these elements:
- A 5% wage increase over the life of the agreement, along with a 4% lump sum.
- A productivity and quality bonus of $5,418 .
- Inflation protection bonuses and major changes to the New Hire Program, including an eight-year wage grid, and reinstatement of afternoon and midnight shift premiums.
- A 20% wage differential (re-instated) for skilled trades workers.
- Paid domestic violence leave.
- Racial justice advocacy.
“… It’s safe to say we hit a home run on both fronts,” said John D’Agnolo, chair of the Unifor Master Bargaining Committee, in prepared remarks. “… Members … showed unwavering solidarity through some very intense weeks of bargaining.”
Ford goes all in
Ford issued the news first, touting the agreement as a victory for all involved.
“Based on the collective agreement ratified by employees today, Ford is committing to transform its Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024, as well as introducing a new engine program at its Windsor operations,” Ford said in a statement.
Ford said increased efficiency measures now include competitive alternative work schedules to maximize production flexibility.
Ford of Canada’s provided additional detail in the contract for its hourly employees:
- 2.5% wage increase twice over the life of the agreement
- $5,418 (U.S.) ratification bonus for full-time permanent employees and $374 (U.S.) for temporary employees
- Reduced grow-in period for new hires from 11 years to eight years
“Working collaboratively with Unifor, and as discussions continue with both the federal and provincial governments, this agreement is an important step toward building a stronger future for our employees, our customers and our communities,” Dean Stoneley, president and CEO, Ford of Canada, said in prepared remarks.
“By introducing battery electric vehicle production at Oakville Assembly Complex, we are cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing,” he said.
The pattern collective bargaining agreement will be used as a baseline now for discussion with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and then General Motors. The agreements cover about 17,000 Unifor members at the Detroit Three, although the union actually represents more than 19,000 workers at the companies — 9,000 at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 6,300 at Ford and 4,100 at GM.
The Ford agreement, which had tentative approval on Sept. 22, involves investment of both the automaker and Canadian government officials. The package, mostly paid by Ford, is meant to transform the auto industry in Canada into a major player in electrification, Dias said previously.
Details of the deal have not been revealed by the company or elected officials.
Auto industry forecasters had indicated Ford might close Oakville, where it builds the Ford Edge SUV. Production of the Edge and Lincoln Nautilus are scheduled into 2023.
The investment plan involves building five models of electric vehicles, making Canada a player in the rapidly growing electric vehicle market for the first time. Retooling will start in 2024 with the first vehicle rolling off the assembly line in 2025, Dias said.
“We generally have a good bargaining relationship with Ford,” Dias told the Free Press after the ratification. “We ended up with major investment from Ford in 2016, too. Ford has a history of finding solutions.”
He noted that Ford is the top-selling brand in Canada.
“This deal with Ford is incredibly important,” Dias said. “When we went into bargaining with Ford, we had no product beyond 2024.”
While global demand for electric vehicles now is in the single digits, he noted, California and other markets are shaping public policy that directly impact the future of internal combustion engines.
Looking ahead, Dias has pointed out Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly plant needs additional product. The company cut its third shift at Windsor as the company ended Dodge Grand Caravan production in August.
The focus, he said, “is definitely going to be job security. We lost the entire third shift in Windsor Assembly — 1,500 people laid off. We need one or two vehicles in Windsor to get back that shift. It’s really going to be about stabilizing the footprint over the next three years.”
Targeting Ford for the pattern was the right move, Dias said. “The fact that the economic pattern is already established will save us from fighting with the other two” automakers.
AHS to lay off 428 laundry workers as it looks to outsource service – CBC.ca
Alberta Health Services is looking for contractors to take over its laundry services as the government embarks on a plan to outsource thousands of healthcare-sector jobs to private companies.
AHS issued a request for proposal on Friday seeking a contractor to assume responsibility for its remaining in-house laundry services. The move is expected to result in the layoffs of 428 full-time, part-time and casual workers. AHS and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees both cited the figure.
The proposal comes after Health Minister Tyler Shandro detailed a plan last week by AHS to lay off up to 11,000 employees — mostly in laboratory, cleaning and food services. Those jobs will be outsourced to private companies, a recommendation contained in the Ernst & Young cost-cutting review released in February.
In a news release, AHS said the laundry transition will save money and avoid the cost of replacing its aging infrastructure.
“By reinvesting savings from initiatives such as contracting out laundry services into the health system, we can improve patient care and ensure Albertans are provided with the best possible health care,” Shandro said in a statement Friday.
About two-thirds of laundry services are currently provided by a third party, including in Calgary and Edmonton. AHS said the move will eliminate the need to spend $38 million on upgrades to its laundry infrastructure that would otherwise be immediately necessary.
AHS said it “anticipates there will be some opportunities” for employees to work with a new contractor.
The AUPE, which represents the laundry workers, said the move will upend the lives of its members based at 54 sites across the province.
“Jason Kenney wants to corrode their working conditions, pay, benefits, hours and more,” AUPE vice-president Kevin Barry said. “Privatizing laundry also results in lower quality and sometimes unsafe services as staff are forced to cut corners to create profit for the private owners.”
The deadline for proposals is Dec. 1 and AHS is expected to pick a contractor by mid-March.
Laundry service accounts for $60 million of the health authority’s $15.4-billion budget, according to the Ernst & Young review.
The report said there had been frequent staff safety “near misses and injuries” due to workarounds from equipment breakdowns. Laundry workers’ disabling injury rates are about 60 per cent higher than other AHS staff, according to the review. It estimated AHS would have to spend about $200 million on equipment and infrastructure to maintain operations.
The request for proposal says the laundry contractors will be responsible for onsite pick-up and delivery, processing, replacement, quality control and inventory management.
“A contracted model will enable a sustainable service, while eliminating risk that our outdated laundry infrastructure poses,” said AHS president Dr. Verna Yiu.
In 2015, Sarah Hoffman, health minister in the NDP government, halted an AHS-proposed plan to privatize laundry services outside of Edmonton and Calgary.
U.S. government approves alliance between WestJet and Delta, with conditions – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
WASHINGTON, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Transportation has granted tentative approval of an alliance agreement between WestJet Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
The airlines intend to co-ordinate services, including network planning, pricing, and sales activities.
Capacity is expected to be expanded on some existing routes while some services will be introduced on new routes that will increase travel options to and from Canada.
One condition of approval is the removal of WestJet discount carrier Swoop from the alliance and the selling of 16 slots at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Canada’s Competition Bureau approved the joint venture in the summer of 2019.
The airline industry has struggled amid a massive drop in traffic following the COVID-19 pandemic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020
BlackburnNews.com – Canadian retailer to shutter operations – BlackburnNews.com
Canadian retailer to shutter operations
October 23, 2020 6:35pm
A popular women’s fashion chain is the latest Canadian retailer to fall victim to the slumping economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Le Château Inc., which is based in Montreal, announced Friday that it had filed a Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCHA) application to protect its assets, while it liquidates and winds down operations, according to a media release posted on the company’s corporate website.
The chain has 123 stores across Canada, including one at Devonshire Mall in Windsor and one at White Oaks mall in London. The company also maintains a website that serves customers in both Canada and the U.S.
In its release, the company said every effort was made to keep the company afloat.
“The retail industry faced numerous challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the second wave currently hitting our communities across Canada,” the company said. “Its already evident impact on consumer demand for Le Château’s holiday party and occasion wear, which represents the core of our offering, has diminished Le Château’s ability to pursue its activities.”
There were 900 people employed in the chain’s stores, plus 500 at the head office in Montreal.
“We regret the impact this will have on our people and can assure you that we explored all options available to us prior to taking this difficult decision,” the company said. “We also thank the fashion schools and the business partners that have been part of our legacy and wish them continued success in keeping Montréal the fashion centre of Canada. Most importantly, we thank the millions of Canadians whom we have had the privilege of serving over the past six decades.”
There is no word on when the stores will close.
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