More than 5,600 Ford of Canada workers have voted in favour of ratifying a three-year collective agreement that includes improvements to the defined contribution and defined benefit pension plans.

The agreement “fundamentally transforms pension plans,” said Lana Payne, Unifor national president, in a press release.

Under the agreement, the DB plan’s basic monthly benefit rate will increase from $68.60 to $73.60 for production workers and from $81.60 to $87.60 for skilled trades. A production worker retiring at 30 years under the company’s ’30 and out’ pension program will see an increase to their monthly pension from $3,545 to $3,795. For skilled trade employees, the ’30 and out’ pension will increase from $3,925 to $4,225.

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For DC plan members, mandatory company contributions will increase from four per cent to seven per cent. This represents an immediate company contribution increase from $3,106 to $6,172 in the first year of the agreement for a top-rated production assembler.

In addition, DC plan members will transition to a new DB-style pension for current plan members and all new hires on Jan. 1, 2025.

In terms of health benefits improvements, the agreement will remove the $97 health-care deductible for all active plan members and retirees; improve vision and dental care; increase massage therapy annual maximum ($200 to $300) and physiotherapy coverage ($200 to $400), as well as eliminating the requirements for doctor’s notes; and increase glucose monitoring maximum coverage from $1,600 to $4,000.

Employees will also receive two new paid holidays — Family Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

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As well, the agreement increases employees’ base hourly wage by nearly 20 per cent for production staff and 25 per cent for trade workers across the three years. For example, by the end of the three-year agreement, a top-rate production assembler will be paid $44.52 per hour, in addition to a forecasted $1.61 cost-of-living allowance (a total of $46.13); a journeyperson skilled trades worker will be paid $55.97 per hour, in addition to a forecasted $1.61 cost-of-living allowance (a total of $57.58).

Employees will also receive general wage increases in each year of the agreement with 10 per cent in year one, two per cent in year two and three per cent in year three. The start rate for temporary, part-time and production workers will increase from $24.26 to $29.67 an hour, further increasing to $30.26 within 12 months and $31.16 by the end of the agreement. All full-time employees will receive a $10,000 productivity and quality bonus, with $3,000 for temporary, part-time workers.

“We know this is a challenging time for all workers and this agreement tackles the affordability issues so many face today,” said John D’Agnolo, Ford master bargaining chair, in the release. “I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished and that the membership voted for a contract that will set a new standard for autoworkers for years to come.”

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