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Toyota, the union-friendly automaker, isn’t exactly the image the Japanese giant enjoys here in Ontario.

But a look at its global operations reveals Toyota works closely with unions at most of its 60 worldwide plants – 90 per cent of plants outside of Canada and the U.S. are unionized.

“It is clear that Toyota is a unionized company,” said Unifor researcher Angelo DiCaro. “Toyota has extensive experience around the world negotiating collective agreements with its workforce and it is doing very well.”

“The numbers show that the idea that Toyota works to be union free is a falsehood – they have a strong relationship with unions around the world and it is not hurting business at all,” said DiCaro.

The research project done by Unifor, Toyota’s Global Union Footprint, concludes that Toyota assembly plants, including subsidiaries Hino Motors and Daihatsu, are very familiar with unions.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Africa: 2 plants, 100 per cent unionized.
  • Asia/Oceania: 36 plants, 89 per cent unionized.
  • Europe: 6 plants, 100 per cent unionized.
  • Central and South America, including Mexico: 7 plants, 86 per cent unionized.
  • North America: 9 plants, zero per cent unionized.

“It shows what an exception it is for plants in Canada and the U.S. to not have a union and frankly, how odd that is,” said Bill Murnighan, director of research at Unifor.

“It also demonstrates how Toyota has grown around the world and been very successful, all with a unionized workforce. I would say Toyota has a respectful, sophisticated relationship with unions,” he said.

It also suggests that union membership has not deterred Toyota from investing in those plants, he added.

“They are a model corporation people look to,” said DiCaro. “It is a funny stigma it has that unions are bad or that Toyota makes better cars because it has no union. That is just not true.”

To download a comprehensive infographic displaying the research, click here.

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