Unifor sets sights on GM Oshawa plant

‘Shelf’ agreement could secure investment, but diminish bargaining power
By Sabrina Nanji
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 03/02/2015

The shelf agreement has long been purported by unions as a means to drive investment and secure jobs — but the cost can come at a high price, including the forfeiture of some bargaining rights.

The dilemma of the shelf agreement has cropped up at General Motors Canada’s operation in Oshawa, Ont., where Unifor has touted the possibility of early collective bargaining to secure future product development for its workers.

At root, the shelf collective agreement is negotiated with the employer in advance, and ratified by the bargaining unit, but does not take effect until (or unless) a precondition occurs. Effectively, the contract sits on the shelf.