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Why Canadian auto labor talks matter for Michigan workers

Why Canadian auto labor talks matter for Michigan workers

, Detroit Free Press 6:39 a.m. EDT August 25, 2016

Contract talks between the Detroit Three and Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, typically fly under the radar in Michigan even though auto parts worth billions move across the border annually and support jobs throughout the state.

But everyone concerned about a vibrant economy and healthy automotive industry — especially those who work for automotive suppliers — should care about the talks, which began this month and face a Sept. 19 contract expiration, industry analysts say.

In 2013, more than $13.5 billion in transportation equipment, which includes automotive parts, was exported to Canada from Michigan. And in the other direction, $19.9 billion in transportation equipment was exported to the U.S. from Canada, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration.

“The Ontario and Michigan automotive industries are inextricably linked,” said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. “Some parts and components go across the border multiple times before they are finally assembled in a vehicle on one side or another.”

Said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association of Canada, “The Unifor discussions are very important to anybody on the other side of that Ambassador Bridge.”

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