Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has reached a tentative deal with unionized workers in Canada, just minutes ahead of a midnight strike deadline, the union said late on Monday. The deal will avert a strike by more than 9,000 of the company’s Canadian workers that would have disrupted production of minivans built in Windsor, Ontario, including the new Chrysler Pacifica, as well as sedans assembled in Brampton, Ontario.
The agreement will see the company commit C$325 million ($245 million) in new investment, said Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, which represents the workers. The talks were “one very difficult set of negotiations,” he said. Unifor represents Canadian manufacturing workers at Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co. It uses a pattern bargaining strategy to negotiate with the three automakers, selecting one company to hold talks with and then holding the other two to the broad terms of that deal. It reached a pattern deal with GM last month, including new investment that is expected to save thousands of jobs at the company’s Oshawa, Ontario plant.
Unifor had said ahead of contract talks that its top priority would be securing new investment in Canada, including an overhaul of the paint shop in Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton plant northwest of Toronto. The Brampton plant builds large sedans, including the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger, employing about 3,300 unionized workers.
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With some 6,000 unionized workers, the Windsor van plant produces all of Fiat Chrysler’s minivans for the North American market, including the new Chrysler Pacifica, the Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Caravan. The contract also covers about 450 workers that make parts in Toronto’s west end.
($1 = 1.3290 Canadian dollars)