Canada union's strike deadline looms at Ford with no deal

Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:42pm EDT
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By Allison Martell and Allison Lampert

TORONTO/MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canada's main auto workers' union had not reached a contract deal with Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) just under two hours ahead of a midnight strike deadline, a union representative said on Monday.

Spokeswoman Denise Hammond said the union was still discussing investment in Ford's Canadian operations and the economics of the contract.

"We are narrowed in on the most important issues in bargaining," she said at a media briefing. "We will either reach a tentative agreement or we will be on strike."

Earlier in the evening she said progress had been "painfully slow."

Ford spokeswoman Kerri Stoakley said by email on Monday the automaker would work "collaboratively with Unifor."

More than 6,000 Ford workers represented by Unifor could walk off the job early on Tuesday if talks fail, though a strike at midnight is seen as unlikely. Labor analyst Arthur Schwartz described the automaker as "strike-averse" and Ford said its last Canadian strike was in 1990.

But there are signs union leaders may face challenges ratifying a deal similar to those reached with General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) and Fiat Chrysler (FCHA.MI: Quote)(FCAU.N: Quote).

Unifor practices so-called pattern bargaining, selecting one automaker to negotiate with and then holding the others to the terms of that deal. The union has already reached deals with GM and Fiat Chrysler featuring new investments.   Continued...

Unifor President Jerry Dias speaks during the Unifor convention in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, August 24, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie