Union Plans Vote at Canadian Toyota Plants – Big Deal or No

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Canada’s largest union is reportedly planning on holding a vote in the coming year that could unionize two Toyota plants in that country. While the UAW has a checkered history in the U.S., would a Canadian unionized Toyota plant be a good or bad thing?

Union Plans Vote at Canadian Toyota Plants - Big Deal or No

Unifor plans to call for a union vote at two Toyota Canada plants including this plant in Cambridge, Ontario.

The Canadian union, Unifor, is apparently the largest private-sector union in the country according to an AutoNews.com story. They said on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 that 40 percent of the employees at Toyota plants in Woodstock and Cambridge, Ontario have signed union cards. That is important because the signing of the union cards  is a legal requirement before a vote can be held.

According to Toyota:

The Cambridge plant builds the Corolla, Matrix and Lexus RX 350 for North America. It is the first plant outside of Japan to produce Lexus vehicles. Production of the Lexus RX 450h begins in early 2014. The Woodstock plant, which opened in 2008, builds the RAV4 and RAV4 EV for the North American market.

John Aman, head of organizing for the union told Reuters that Unifor dedicates 10 percent of its revenue to such union drivers and has made Toyota a priority.

For its part, Toyota says they are unaware of the timing of any such union vote.

This isn’t the first time that the Toyota factories in Canada have been targeted. In 2001, the CAW union had to withdraw a certification application from the Ontario Labour Relations Board due to not having the requisite 40 percent of a proposed bargaining unit having signed union cards.

In 2008, the International Association of Machinists also withdrew a unionization proposal.

For the record, Unifor represents workers at other Canadian plants operated by Ford, Chrysler and GM. It was formed in 2013 as a merger between the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.

Aman says that he is “very comfortable” with the union’s support at Toyota and expects a vote in early 2014. He claims one of the big concerns is workers being hired as temporary contracts with reduced pay and benefits.

Toyota counters that claim by saying it has never laid off an employee  and instead routinely turns temporary contractors into long-term employees, according to Toyota Motor Canada spokesman Greig Mordue.

“First, people are hired on contract basis and only when we can make a long-term commitment to them, in terms of their employment security, do we transition them into permanent status,” Mordue told Reuters.

Over the past 12 months or so we’ve hired 1,000 new team members and we’ve also made 900 contracts permanent.”

Aman is also planning on targeting the Honda Alliston, Ontario plant as well.

Our big concern about this is that Canada is already the most expensive place in the world to build cars since they didn’t make any concessions during the recession and auto industry meltdown (check out our extensive article on this). Raising the costs would most likely just be passed down to the consumer.

What do you think? Is this a big deal or no?  

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh I could write a novel on this one too, but won’t.

    If any Toyota plant becomes union, I hope Toyota does the right thing and close it down. It is ashamed because the people nailed to the wall the most are the union workers, why do they let themselves become permanent slaves?

    President Putin said it best:

    “Any fourth grade history student knows socialism has failed in every country, at every time in history,” said Putin in 2009. “President Obama and his fellow Democrats are either idiots or deliberately trying to destroy their own economy.”

    If Canada falls so will the USA.

  2. Mickey says:

    They will be going down a road to failure. If they have 40% on cards then they are close to disaster. What is the need of a Union when you’re getting the same stuff already. The thing is they will shoot themselves in the foot. Then they will screw the consumers with higher prices. Definitely not a win-win situation.

  3. mendonsy says:

    If the union actually manages to win this, I would expect to see Toyota (and Honda) move those plants out of Canada.

    • LJC says:

      I agree. Move the plants out of Canada if they unionize; better yet, just move the plants here to the US.

  4. Kw says:

    Union =lazy

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      LOL! That story is on my list to write up. It may have to wait until I get back though. It is crazy though – 370,000 vehicles?!?!

  5. Larry says:

    It’t won’t be problem. If Toyota takes care of it’s work force it will workout fine one way or another.

    I don’t know about Canada but in the US is against federal law to close a shop with the purpose of avoiding collective bargaining. Get caught and lose in court and it’s back pay to the UAW. Mexico here we come.

    The real issue is to convince workers to get rid of unions and their management overhead which should go to the members. The answer is to raise the minimum wage to 25 or 30 dollars an hour, then everyone is equal and happy and everyone, the ex workers, the management, the McDonalds employee, bankers, politicians will all be able to afford a nice new 4 door leather seat 4WD 500 HP Toyota Tundra. How could union management fight that kind of offer?

  6. GoBig says:

    The United States is a funny place. We love our luxury, but don’t want to pay anyone to produce it. That is why so many of our things come from China where they were manufactured by near slave labor.

    It is possible for employers to treat employees right, offer fair wages and benefits, and thus avoid the need for unions. Costco is the best example of this.

    I find it interesting to see so many rail against the unions, while making no comment on the multimillion dollar compensation packages the CEOs make. It takes a lot of car sales to pay one of those guys.

    I have a feeling that unionization wont be the demise of the Canadian manufacturing segment. It may never even come to pass since they don’t have the required number of signed union cards.

  7. Larry says:

    Yes, management makes way, way too much and I am being dead serious. Now lets take the salary of the management and divide it by the employes an give them each 49 cents extra a week, if its that much. It’s not worth talking about. I also find it interesting that so many don’t rail agains the salaries of Union management which is also way way too much.

    Make it simple and make the minimum wage the same for every one, 25 bucks an hour should make everyone happy and get rid of union management leaches who help to make our trucks more expensive here and in Canada.

    I too would rather shop at Costco over Walmart but I don’t care what either company pays. People have free choice to leave where the work to do better. I’m sure those as Walmart don’t care what I earn.

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