CAW says progress is being made with GM in labour talks
Published Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:22AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 18, 2012 8:15PM EDT
The Canadian Auto Workers union says it’s making more progress with General Motors Canada than with Chrysler a day after collective bargaining talks with the two automakers were extended, putting off a strike by 21,000 workers.
"We're anticipating General Motors at least providing a proposal shortly, but what it means I don't know yet. Until you see such a proposal you don't know how distanced you are,” union president Ken Lewenza said late Tuesday.
"The best thing I can say is we're having constructive discussions with General Motors today and there's a similar feeling of optimism at Chrysler at the subcommittee level, although there hasn't been a lot of work at the senior levels."
On Monday night, just hours before an 11:59 p.m. strike deadline, the CAW reached a tentative four-year deal with Ford and extended the deadline for talks with GM and Chrysler, in hopes that a similar agreement can be reached.
The CAW wants the Ford deal to set the standard for the others.
Under the tentative Ford deal -- which is being touted as a victory by CAW President Ken Lewenza -- workers agreed to no wage increases over four years, though they will receive a $2,000 payment at the end of the second, third and fourth years of the contract, as well as a $3,000 ratification bonus.
“It’s a damn good deal in these economic times, it is a damn good deal,” Lewenza said late Monday night.
The agreement will also see 800 laid-off workers get the chance to return to work, partially through the creation of 600 new jobs at Ford’s Canadian operations. The deal will go to members for a ratification vote on the weekend.
CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy said the union is asking GM and Chrysler to match the deal with Ford.
“It is the template and we can work within the template. We don’t necessarily have to match it in terms of dotting every single ‘i’ the same way and crossing every single ‘t’ the same way but the reality is that this is the pattern framework,” Kennedy told CTV’s Canada AM.
Kennedy said the union is willing to strike if it feels GM and Chrysler aren’t negotiating in good faith. The union would have to give a 24-hour warning before workers walked off the job.
“If talks are bogging down or if we feel our concerns are not being addressed in a positive manner and in fact we see no other alternative, we will give that notice,” Kennedy said.
He added: “But again, we’re working to get a deal here. We extended the agreements because it’s the right thing to do and the responsible thing to do.”
While the deal with Ford includes no annual pay increases, which has typically been a key demand for the union, Lewenza said the annual bonuses will cover the cost of inflation for members.
With files from The Canadian Press