The Canadian Auto Workers union said Monday it has reached a "tentative" labor contract with Ford (IW 500/6) and expects GM (IW 500/4) and Chrysler to accept similar terms in order to avert a massive strike.

"We're announcing a tentative agreement" with Ford's Canada branch, union president Ken Lewenza told a press conference, hours before a strike deadline that threatened to shutter operations at all of the Big Three's Canadian auto plants.

"And we will ask Chrysler and General Motors to accept it as a pattern settlement," he said, adding that he expects to wrap up negotiations with Chrysler and GM by midnight.

Chrysler and GM could still balk at the deal, but it would be a first.

Under so-called pattern bargaining, the union seeks a deal with one auto company and then asks for identical terms from the other two in order to remove labor costs from the competition formula in the auto sector.

No Base Wage Increase

The deal will mean no base wage increases for workers "in these challenging times" for the automakers, but they will get a "cost of living increase" of about CAN$2,000 (US$2,050) to be paid out at contract's end in September 2016.

Lewenza also said Ford plans to add 600 jobs at its Canadian plants by 2016.

The CAW currently represents 21,000 workers at Ford, GM and Chrysler.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012