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Auto workers’ union Unifor has struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that will see the automaker’s Windsor plant retooled to make plug-in or hybrid vehicles starting 2024. FCA will invest between $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion as part of the three-year tentative collective agreement between the union and the automaker. (The Globe and Mail, The Logic)

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Talking point: This is the second major electric-vehicle investment in Canada announced by one of the Big Three automakers this fall; Ford Motors recently announced it would be investing $1.8 billion, alongside the provincial and federal government, to turn its Oakville plant into an EV manufacturing hub. The “lion’s share” of the $1.5-billion investment will come from FCA, according to Unifor national president Jerry Dias, but the union is also in negotiations with federal and provincial governments for additional money. FCA’s Windsor assembly plant still employs 4,600 people, after a massive 1,500-person layoff in June when the facility moved into a two-shift schedule. Unifor said the EV investment will add 2,000 jobs to the Windsor plant.

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The federal and Ontario governments will each contribute $295 million to the Ford plant in Oakville, Ont. as part of a combined $1.8-billion investment to turn the factory into an electric-vehicle manufacturing hub. Ford plans to make five different models of battery-powered electric vehicles in the plant starting 2026. Batteries for the vehicles will also be assembled at the plant, according to Dean Stoneley, the president and CEO of Ford Canada. “Support from the federal and provincial governments were crucial in securing this transformational investment,” Stoneley said. (CBC News, The Logic)

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Talking point: Ford’s commitment to bringing electric vehicles to Oakville hinged on government support. Global sales of electric vehicles in China, Europe and North America were still just 4.8 per cent of total vehicle sales in 2019, and the Big Three automakers have so far been reluctant to aggressively pivot to EVs. Ford had assigned no new products to the Oakville plant beyond 2023—the electric-vehicle initiative guarantees at least 3,000 of the current 3,400 jobs will still be around in six years, according to Unifor national president Jerry Dias. “The auto industry is not a sunset industry, but a sunrise industry,” he declared at Thursday’s announcement, flanked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

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Ford will build the vehicles mainly in Windsor and Oakville in Ontario as part of a settlement reached with Unifor, whose members still need to ratify the deal. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Unifor’s leadership is ecstatic about the deal. “We are now positioned to be the jewel in Ford’s crown, and a key part of Ford’s future success transitioning to greener technology. As an organization, we’ve hit a home run,” said national president Jerry Dias. Ford’s commitment secures automobile manufacturing jobs in Windsor and Oakville for several decades. Currently, electric vehicle sales make up 2.7 per cent of global new car sales. That number is on track to reach 58 per cent by 2040, according to a BloombergNEF analysis. Unifor estimates that $300 billion has been spent globally on electric-vehicle production, but this is the first money allocated for Canadian production. Tesla is expected to announce its battery-production plans after newsletter publication Tuesday. The Unifor deal includes the rights to build five vehicles and their batteries. If ratified during a Sunday night vote by members, Unifor will move to negotiate with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles next, then General Motors.

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The federal government’s commitment is part of what could eventually be a $2-billion investment to retool the Oakville, Ont. manufacturing plant to focus on electric-vehicle production. (Toronto Star)

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Talking point: The federal financing could be a lifeline for the auto manufacturer, as its future hangs in the balance. It comes on the eve of the deadline for Ford Motors and Unifor, the union representing 6,300 workers in Oakville and Windsor, to reach an agreement over how the plant will continue to operate after it ends production of the Edge SUV and Lincoln Nautilus in 2023. The plant employs 4,250 union members who are poised to strike if an agreement isn’t reached by midnight. Shifting priorities to electric-vehicle and -battery production is a focus of the negotiations, as increased demand for low-carbon cars is expected to grow in the coming years.

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The ride-hailing giant’s contract for drivers requires them to take disputes to mediation in the Netherlands, which costs US$14,500 plus legal fees. The case is linked to an attempt by David Heller, a then-Toronto Uber Eats delivery worker, to launch a class action forcing Uber to recognize drivers as employees under provincial law. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Arbitration clauses are standard for gig-economy platforms—think tanks and mediation professionals’ associations intervening on Uber’s behalf at the SCC argued such uniform terms and conditions are necessary for companies dealing with thousands of individual workers or customers. While Friday’s ruling could impact future contract disputes, it doesn’t make Ontario Uber drivers employees. A provincial court still needs to sign off on Heller’s class action.