Unifor, the former Canadian Auto Workers union, says it is looking to become the official bargaining agent for workers at Toyota’s Canadian vehicle-assembly plants.

Unifor reportedly wants to hold a vote as soon as next week to organize some 6,500 employees at the automaker’s two plants in the country, in Cambridge and Woodstock, ON.

“Today is an incredible day,” Unifor President Jerry Dias is quoted as saying by the London Free Press. “Today is a very important day for the Toyota team members because today is about hope and opportunity instead of despair and threats,” Dias says at a press conference Monday morning.

Unifor says Toyota Canada workers are unhappy about a variety of things, including wages, pensions, and health and safety standards.

One worker quoted in Unifor’s press release, 11-year Cambridge worker Carrie-Ann Ostrom, cites lack of a desired job change as a reason for her interest in unionization.

“I have had two surgeries related to carpel tunnel,” Ostrom says. “After my last surgery, I was hoping I could change my job – or at least have modifications made to prevent the recurrence of my injury. The reality is that it is too difficult to change jobs. That’s simply not right – that’s not treating valuable team members with fairness and equality.”

Toyota has maintained it treats its Canadian workers fairly, as do some Toyota Canada manufacturing workers. Cambridge and Woodstock employees against unionization claim harassment at plant gates on Unifor’s Toyota-organizing Facebook page, Unifor the Union for Toyota.

This is the third try by Unifor to organize Toyota’s Canada plants. If it succeeds, Cambridge and Woodstock will become the No.1 Japanese automaker’s only unionized plants in North America.

Toyota’s former Fremont, CA, vehicle assembly plant, now owned by Tesla, was represented by the UAW until its closure in 2010.

For unionization to take hold, 50% plus-one of workers at the plants must agree to representation, the Free Press says.

Cambridge assembles Toyota’s second-best-selling model in the U.S., the Corolla compact car, and Lexus’ best-selling model in the States, the RX CUV. Woodstock is home to Toyota’s RAV4 CUV.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com