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