When Unifor President Jerry Dias entered 2016 labor negotiations with the Detroit 3 in Canada, he faced an auto manufacturing sector on the verge of collapse.
The Canadian auto sector was reeling since the turn of the century, losing more than 40,000 auto jobs between 2001 and 2015. The country had few competitive advantages when compared with Mexico and the U.S., and it was clear to him that something had to change.
Dias, 58, a blunt speaker, emerged from negotiations with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler with investments totaling $1.6 billion Canadian ($1.2 billion U.S.), including commitments for work in some plants that were most in danger of closing.
Will the 2016 negotiations begin to reverse the tide of auto manufacturing jobs leaving Canada? Labor experts say more must be done to ensure that, but there is little doubt the investments will at least stop the bleeding temporarily.
In a statement, Dias said: "Our success in these negotiations should be a reminder to all employers and the government about the kind of jobs and economy that Unifor is fighting for."