Unifor has picked Ford Motor Co. as the lead company of the Detroit Three automakers to hammer out a new contract.

The union’s national president Lana Payne says bargaining with Ford will serve as a blueprint for workers at General Motors and Stellantis, as the union focuses on securing electric vehicle production investments.

She told a news conference in Toronto today that she is encouraged by Ford’s transparency with the union in key areas, but warned workers are prepared to strike if necessary.

Unifor members at Ford have voted 98.9 per cent in favour of a strike if the bargaining committee fails to secure a new collective agreement.

The union kicked off negotiations with the U.S. auto companies earlier this month as the contract for 18,000 workers at the Detroit Three is scheduled to expire on Sept. 18.

Ford was picked as the target company during the 2020 auto contract bargaining.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2023.