Contract talks between the Detroit Three and Unifor don’t gear up until late summer, but opening salvos have already seemingly been fired.
At CES in Las Vegas in early January, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said the automaker is grappling with higher inflation on top of the fee of electrifying its lineup.
“Anywhere you introduce technology that’s 40 per cent dearer than the previous one, you should work hard in improving your corporation model through fixed and variable costs,” he said.
“If the typical transaction price increases due to EV sales-mix increase, then you might have risk that the full market shrinks.”
If sales sink, “We don’t need so many plants. Some unpopular decisions may have to be made,” Tavares said.
A number of weeks later in Windsor, Ont., Mark Stewart, COO of Stellantis’ North American operations, said vehicle affordability is a giant issue.
“We’re all very concerned about affordability of vehicles for our customers,” Stewart said in an interview Jan. 17 on the automaker’s minivan assembly plant.
Because it develops EV technologies, Stellantis is working with its unions and provide base to lower production costs, he said.
“Since the last item that we’d like are to have this great lineup of products that nobody can afford.”
Unifor National President Lana Payne said she’s not spoiling for a fight. But cost-of-living adjustments and income-security protections, corresponding to pensions, are prone to be among the many top issues for the greater than 22,000 hourly employees at Detroit Three assembly and powertrain plants in Canada.
“[Workers] need to ensure they’re not falling behind, so I believe you’re going to see those sorts of very basic economic issues being a number of the priorities that we’re going to see at bargaining in August,” Payne said.
Unifor might be coordinating its efforts with its UAW counterparts — the primary time for the reason that Canadian union launched in 2013 that the 2 labour organizations might be negotiating contracts in the identical yr.
The talks might be held against the backdrop of Detroit Three guarantees to spend billions on retooling Canadian plants to assemble EVs. While those investments signal a promising future for Canada’s auto manufacturing footprint, each union and management are navigating an industrial landscape within the throes of revolutionary change.
And 2023 bargaining could help determine how well automakers and their employees manage this once-in-a-century transformation.