Workload, Line Speed and Ergonomics
Among the most common issues we hear from Toyota Team Members are concerns about workload, line speed and ergonomics.
Unifor organizers consistently hear stories of workers at Toyota who have suffered injuries while on the job that go ignored or unaddressed by management. We also hear that in far too many cases, Team Members have no choice but to continue to come to work with an injury.
Unifor takes the health and safety of its members very seriously. In unionised auto plants, workers are protected by language and benefits to prevent these sorts of situations. These measures and practices are codified in a Collective Agreement so members not only have access to benefits when they’re injured, but also have in-plant representatives to offer support. These representatives are trained in Time Study and Ergonomics to ensure that you receive a fair assessment of your job function in order to prevent injuries before they happen.
Team Members deserve a seat at the table with Toyota management, through collective bargaining with the union, to negotiate plant operations, including line speed, production plans and workplace standards.
Contracts between the company and the union help lessen the harms of production targets by defining work output and strengthening employment practices.
Wages and Benefits
In the past, Team Members could trust that Toyota would provide wages, benefits, and workplace standards that matched unionised auto plants. But over the past decade, management has not kept that commitment and even eroded aspects of employment Team Members never thought they would touch like repeatedly cutting the indexing of pension benefits, despite the company’s record profits.
More recently, Toyota has not kept pace with unionized auto workers’ overall financial improvements including wage increases and bonuses, pension and health benefits, and equity programs. From 2020-23, unionized autoworkers can expect to earn an estimated increase of $21,000 in direct wage increases and bonuses as well as enhanced health and dental benefits, a shorter wage grow-in and much more.
Wages and bonuses
Year 1 (2020-21):
- Productivity and Quality bonus of $7,250.
- Wage increase of 2.5% (estimated value of $1,850).
Year 2 (2021-22):
- Lump sum payment of 4% of previous earnings (estimated value of $3,000).
- Inflation protection bonus of $2,000.
Year 3 (2022-23):
- Wage increase of 2.5% (estimated value of $3,750).
- Inflation protection bonus of $2,000.
- Combined value of “new money” negotiated (e.g. wage increases, bonuses and lump sum payments): estimated $21,000.
- Improved vision coverage, including for prescription lenses.
- Improved dental coverage.
- New glucose monitoring system coverage.
- Increases to annual orthodontics.
- Coverage for medical cannabis.
- Psychologist treatment benefits improved.
- Occupational therapy benefits for dependent children added.
- Dependent scholarship program expanded.
- Child care coverage expanded and increased.
- Group Life and Disability coverage improved.
- Wage grid shortened from 10 years to 8 years.
- Base wage grid percentages improved at every step.
- Members will receive full base rate upon completion of 8th year of seniority.
- Members will begin accumulating Supplementary Unemployment Benefit credits after 3 years.
- Reinstated 5% afternoon and 10% midnight shift premiums.
- New hires eligible for the Legal Services Plan, upon completion of eighth year.
For complete details of contract improvements see the Ford bargaining summary, Chrysler bargaining summary, and General Motors summary.
Fair Job Posting Policies
Toyota Team Members have a good handle of what’s fair and reasonable in your workplace. That’s why Team Members deserve a say in how job postings work at Toyota. Team Members often report cases of unfair practices and favouritism when it comes to how jobs are posted and awarded.
In Unifor plants, auto workers have the benefit of a legally-binding Collective Agreement that they negotiate, decide on, and vote for. The Collective Agreement outlines clear rules and guidelines for job selection based on seniority which provides a level playing field for all workers when bidding on jobs.
The process for bidding on jobs is always clearly outlined, and will often specify how long jobs must be posted for, when workers will be notified of a successful application, and any rules the company must follow for filling positions. These rules can include successful applicants receiving the wage rate of new jobs after a specified number of days or specific rules that ensure Team Members receive sufficient training when moving to a new job. Management will also have to justify its decision-making which can be challenged using the Collective Agreement’s grievance procedure.
Harassment, Equity and Discrimination Policies
Everyone deserves to go to work and come home each day with their safety and dignity intact. The law requires all employers to provide a harassment-free workplace, but experience tells us that employers like Toyota tend to use the quickest, cheapest solution rather than investigating the matter thoroughly. Unifor organizers receive questions and complaints regularly from Team Members about harassment in the workplace, including bullying and other demeaning, degrading, and humiliating behaviour at Toyota. This is too often the case in non-unionised workplaces where harassment is treated as a personal problem and workers are often ignored or discouraged from raising harassment issues and even face potential penalties for speaking out.
Harassment has a specific legal definition related to prohibited grounds outlined in human rights legislation and can include: race, gender, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, political affiliation, or religion, gender expression as well as gender identity. The law further defines harassment as behaviour that the offender knows, or ought reasonably to know, is offensive. Harassment, particularly by management, is about power. Very often, the odds are stacked against a worker who may have to hire expensive outside legal support.
In unionised workplaces, harassment in the workplace is treated as a serious health and safety issue and support is provided directly to workers through their union. Unionised workers have a wide variety of workplace anti-harassment protections and supports that non-unionised workers simply don’t or, when they do, exist in name only and are difficult to access. Unionised workers are protected by comprehensive anti-harassment policies backed by Collective Agreement language that management is legally required to follow, independent investigations and grievance procedures to resolve cases of harassment, access to resources and specific benefits, as well as specially-trained in-plant advocates including a Women’s Advocate and Racial Justice Advocate. Together, these anti-harassment mechanisms work together to protect workers from all forms of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Even when employers say they take harassment seriously or have agreed to work jointly with workers on an anti-harassment procedure, having a union means taking a different approach that includes accountability, a fair resolution, and a self-directed investigation by workers. Rather than have Toyota management investigate cases of workplace harassment, Team Members should take the lead. Joining Unifor means that a Toyota Team Member who works in the plant may get specially trained as your representative and help workers report their complaints. It also means a clear investigative process, a review of existing management policies, and negotiation of an appropriate resolution that works for you.
Why Team Members need enhanced harassment-related benefits?
Unifor members in the auto sector receive access to sickness and accident benefits that Toyota workers don’t. These include enhanced benefits that cover specific harassment-related cases such as domestic or sexual violence that occurs outside the workplace. In recent negotiations with the Detroit Three, Unifor members enhanced harassment-related benefits to include up to 10 days of paid leave for workers who have are experiencing or been threatened with domestic or sexual violence.
A Women’s Advocate is a specially trained workplace representative who assists women with concerns such as harassment issues, intimate partner violence and domestic violence. In the auto sector, Unifor represented auto workers have a Women’s Advocate in their workplace who provides support for women accessing community and workplace resources. The program was pioneered by auto workers recognizing that women are five times more likely to speak to someone they know from their workplace when they are looking for help. The program is an internationally-recognized example of a successful joint union-management workplace initiative that helps to create healthy, respectful, and safe workplaces.
Why Team Members Need a Racial Justice Advocate
In 2020, Unifor successfully negotiated a new Racial Justice Advocate program to combat racial inequality in our workplaces and our communities. This new program expands the equity work of the union and builds on the success of Unifor’s Women’s Advocate program. Racial Justice advocates are stationed in each workplace and are a member of the Black, Indigenous or racialized community to provide support to fellow union members on matters related to racial discrimination and violence. The Racial Justice Advocate is also responsible for co-developing a workplace-based Anti-Racism Action Plan that includes educating all workers about racism and racial inequality.
Fairness for Contract Workers
Being hired at Toyota as a contract employee should be a step towards full-time status. But without a union, contract Team Members don’t have a defined path towards full-time work with clear rules and guidelines spelled out in a legally binding Collective Agreement. This is no way to build a life, and this is certainly no way for a large and very profitable international company located in Canada to behave.
Toyota Team Members on contract are not credited time toward their pension until hired on a full-time basis. That means if you’re on contract for two years before becoming full-time, you need to work a total of 32 years before you are eligible for a full or ‘30 and out’ pension.
Every year of work in an assembly facility takes its toll on your physical health. At workplaces like TMMC, the employer decides whether you are working safely and within ergonomic and time study standards. Experience tells us that your health and safety comes second to Toyota making a profit. These additional years of strenuous work could be the difference between a long and healthy retirement or one lived in pain from a workplace injury.
Unifor auto plants work much more fairly and predictably. Only small numbers of temporary part-time (TPT) workers can be hired at unionised plants and TPTs are limited to students enrolled in accredited post-secondary education institutions. Hiring of temporary part-time workers gives priority to family members of unionised workers. The union also meets with the company weekly through the in-plant committee to review the number of temporary workers scheduled to ensure that full-time employees are adequately scheduled.
This system ensures that, unless a worker is currently a student, every hour of work is counted towards advancement in the wage grid and pension credits. There are also preferential hiring practices in place for temporary workers to move to full-time work. If a TPT is hired full-time and accumulated 760 hours for two consecutive years, they are also credited time into the pension plan.
Contract Toyota Team Members however, do not start advancing in the wage progression grid until they reach full-time status. This means Toyota Team Members always have to work longer than Unifor auto workers to reach the full wage. For example, using a seven year wage grid and a two year contract term, it takes Toyota Team Members nine years to reach their full wage, a full two years more than a Unifor autoworker. The difference in wages in this case is as much as $50,000 or more if the contract term is longer.
All Team Members agree that every hour worked at Toyota should count towards your pension credits and wage progression. The fact is that contract Team Members deserve to and should be treated fairly. By joining Unifor, Toyota Team Members can negotiate the changes that you need and deserve. That includes making the employment status of all contract team members less arbitrary, less subject to changes in probation and contract length, and putting all contract Team Members on a clear path to full-time status.
Auto Industry Shift to Electric Vehicles
The global auto industry is undergoing radical transformation. The shift towards zero emission technology, including electrification, will have an effect on virtually every autoworker. Automakers around the world, including Toyota, are investing heavily in new product programs. Securing these product programs, as well as critical component part manufacturing, in Canadian auto plants is critical to the future of our economy.
The future of Toyota assembly plants and Team Members’ job security depends on new electric vehicle production. Competition for these products in North America is fierce, and governments are fighting to attract these investments.
Despite rumours of future EV investment by Toyota, nothing is yet confirmed in Canada. That’s a problem.
Toyota Team Members need a strong advocate with government decision-makers right here in Canada – and cannot rely on the goodwill of corporate executives in Japan.
Over the years, Unifor has successfully negotiated ground-breaking agreements that include first-of-their-kind product programs from each of the Detroit 3 automakers. Together, these programs will secure electric, hybrid and other zero-emission vehicle production in Oakville, Windsor and Ingersoll for years to come.
Securing these investments at all Unifor assembly and powertrain facilities is an important focus and integral part of the work the union does every single day.
Building a united front among Canadian auto workers to secure goods jobs and a strong auto industry for future generations is the best step forward Toyota Team Members can take.
Coming Together as a Sector
The auto industry is changing rapidly. Unifor meets regularly with auto makers and governments about how best to navigate the challenges of the 21st century economy and make the best possible decisions including how to appropriately invest in and grow the industry while promoting good labour policies that benefit auto workers and our communities.
By joining Canada’s union for autoworkers, Team Members would have a seat at the table with Toyota, work with the broader auto industry and all levels of government. That way, Team Members can help build a better, fairer Toyota that helps set newer and better standards for the sector as a whole