Time for Automakers to Invest in Canada

Aug 3, 2016

Published Wednesday August 3, 2016 in the Huffington Post

In one week, Unifor will begin its first-ever round of bargaining with the Detroit Three automakers in what may be the most important round of bargaining to take place in the sector in more than a generation. When I and representatives from each of the Unifor bargaining units at the Detroit Three automakers sit down with the companies to formally open negotiations on August 10 and 11, we will have one clear and simple message for them.

Invest in Canada.

Invest in the country and the people who got you through the 2008-09 financial crisis. Invest in our communities. Invest in our future together. And invest in good jobs today and good jobs for our children. Invest in the skills and productivity you’ve spent a century building. The employers should be going in these talks with their eyes wide open. For months now, Unifor has been clear that there can be no deals this year without new investments in Canada, including new product allocations. There will be other needs that must be addressed, of course, but all else flows from new investment in Canada. There can be no gains made without products for Canadian workers to make.

Since the last round of bargaining in 2012, which I participated in as part of the CAW (which merged with the CEP a year later to form Unifor), the Detroit Three automakers have done very well – thanks to strong North American sales, and the help given to the companies by its workers and all levels of government during the 2008-09 financial crisis. Indeed, the shareholders and corporate executives have done very well in the years since. Now it is time to repay that help by sharing some of that wealth with the men and women of Unifor who generated it. The best way to do that would be with new investment in Canada. Such investments are about more than brick and mortar and new machinery.

Much more.

An investment in Canada is an investment in this country’s future. It’s an investment in the people who live and work here. It is an investment that keeps taxes here to pay for services and the kind of society we want and need in Canada. Continued investment in Canada is about supporting communities and local economies to grow and prosper to ensure that the next generations have a strong future in which they can have good jobs and raise their own families. Over the last century, the Detroit Three have played a vital role in creating a society with the kinds of good jobs that helped create the middle class – a class that could afford to buy the products they made and to spend their wages throughout the community, and pay the taxes that paid for health care, education and much more.

Calling on the Detroit Three to invest in Canada means much more than building or expanding a factory on the edge of town. Invest in Canada means investing in the people and the society we have all built together. That’s what this round of auto talks is about for Unifor. It’s about sustaining and building for the future and generations to come. Now, let’s get to the bargaining table and figure out how to make that happen.