UPDATE: Tentative agreement reached between FCA, Unifor

BlackburnNews.com file photo of Windsor Assembly. (Photo by Jason Viau)

It took until the last minute, but a tentative deal has been reached between Unifor and Fiat-Chrysler, and Windsor plans to benefit.

The national union reported the development on its official webpage at midnight Wednesday, the deadline that was set to have an agreement in place.

The agreement covers Fiat-Chrysler’s 9,000 Canadian employees, including those at the Windsor Assembly Plant. At a news conference in Toronto Thursday, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said that the agreement includes a $1.3 billion to 1.5 billion investment to the Windsor Assembly Plant.  FCA has committed to installing a new platform at the plant that will have the ability to produce many hybrid and electric models. Dias expects this will increase employment by up to 2,000 positions, including the 425 people currently on layoff due to the reduction of the third shift.

There is no word on what the new product will be for Windsor. Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles had not immediately commented on the agreement Thursday morning.

Strike preparations were underway Wednesday at Unifor Local 444, which represents workers at the Windsor plant. Negotiations were reported to be slow as of Wednesday afternoon, but the two sides continued to have progressively productive talks.

Local 444 President Dave Cassidy told BlackburnNewsWindsor.com that negotiations truly went down to the wire.

“It came down to the end,” said Cassidy. “We knew we had the framework, we knew that Chrysler had to come to pattern. The facts of the matter are, we have to make sure we get our local agreement in place, as well as our national agreements, in order to get the deal.”

Cassidy said his priority all along was the restoration of product at Windsor Assembly.

“I’ve been on record many times to the members that I’m not bringing the deal back to them that does not include vehicle allocations for Windsor, and you can take that for what it is,” said Cassidy.

Members are expected to be given a full rundown of the contract terms during virtual ratification meetings set for the end of this week. Voting on the deal is to take place over a 24-hour period starting Sunday morning.

Unifor had previously reached a tentative agreement with Ford Canada employees, and the framework of that deal was expected to be used as a template for talks with FCA and General Motors. Contract talks with GM have not been scheduled yet.