(Adds further comment from union, Fiat Chrysler)
By Matt Scuffham
TORONTO Oct 11 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
reached a tentative deal with unionized workers in
Canada by agreeing to make more than C$400 million ($301
million) in investments in local operations, the union said late
The deal was announced just minutes ahead of a midnight
strike deadline that could have sent more than 9,000 workers off
"This has been one very difficult set of negotiations," said
Jerry Dias, national president of the union, Unifor.
Union members will vote on the deal at ratification meetings
on October 16. A strike is still possible if workers vote
against the deal.
A strike by Canadian workers would have disrupted production
of minivans built in Windsor, Ontario, including the new
Chrysler Pacifica, as well as sedans assembled in Brampton,
Ontario northwest of Toronto.
As part of the deal, Fiat Chrysler has agreed to invest
C$325 million in a new paint shop at the Brampton facility, the
union said. The company will provide additional funding taking
its investment under the agreement to more than C$400 million,
The company confirmed it reached a tentative agreement with
Unifor, but said because it is subject to member ratification it
could not discuss the specifics.
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.
Dias said the union will move on to the Ford negotiations in
one week if ratification takes place as planned. The strike
deadline for Ford is the end of month.
Unifor had said ahead of contract talks that its top
priority would be securing new investment in Canada, including
an overhaul of the Brampton paint shop.
The Brampton plant builds large sedans, including the
Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger, employing
about 3,300 unionized workers.
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)
(With additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Vyas
Mohan and Stephen Coates)