(Reuters) -Ford late on Tuesday reached a tentative deal with a Canadian union to avoid a walkout, even as the Detroit Three automakers face the possible escalation of separate coordinated U.S. strikes by the United Auto Workers union.
Unifor, which represents about 5,600 Canadian auto workers, were threatening to go on strike at all three of Ford’s plants in the country if a deal was not reached by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday (0359 GMT on Wednesday).
The agreement remains subject to ratification by Unifor members, Ford’s Canada unit said in a statement, adding it would not disclose details of the tentative deal.
Unifor had sought improved wages and pensions, as well as support in the transition to electric vehicles and additional investment commitments by Ford.
The Canadian union will now turn to getting deals with General Motors and Chrysler parent Stellantis, whose deadlines had been extended while the Ford talks proceeded.
Unifor’s talks with the Detroit Three automakers in Canada are separate from the UAW’s coordinated U.S. action that led to about 12,700 workers going on strike last week against one assembly plant at each of the Detroit Three automakers.
The U.S. strikes have halted production at plants in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri that produce the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Colorado, alongside other popular models.
The UAW has said it will announce strikes against more U.S. plants on Friday if no serious progress is made in talks with automakers.
In a statement late on Tuesday, Ford said it was making contingency plans for further U.S. work stoppages, including plans to ship the parts that keep Ford vehicles on the road, especially to keep first responders and other essential services running.
The U.S. strike is heading into its sixth day. Analysts expect plants that build more profitable pickup trucks like Ford’s F-150, GM’s Chevy Silverado and Stellantis’ Ram would be the next targets if the walkout continues.
Analysts expect plants that build more profitable pickup trucks like Ford’s F-150, GM’s Chevy Silverado and Stellantis’s Ram to be the next strike targets if the walkout continues.
The UAW and companies disagree over pay and benefits for workers. The three automakers have proposed 20% raises over the 4-1/2 year term of their proposed deals, though that is only half of what the UAW is demanding through 2027.
Besides higher wages, the UAW is also demanding shorter work weeks, restoration of defined benefit pensions and stronger job security as automakers make the shift to EVs.
Ford said in its statement it continued to negotiate with the UAW, with the focus on reaching a deal that would reward its employees and enable the company to invest and grow.
(Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama and Rishabh Jaiswal in Bengaluru and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Richard Chang and Jamie Freed)