TORONTO (WWJ) – After reaching a tentative agreement with Ford, the Canadian Auto Workers Union decided to give Chrysler and General Motors more time.
CAW President Ken Lewenza had hoped to pattern the Ford agreement with the other two automakers by the midnight deadline. But, with just under three hours left, he said the top labor executives at both GM and Chrysler asked the CAW for more time to digest specifics of the deal at Ford.
“We think it makes common sense to give both Chrysler and General Motors the time to do due diligence on the agreement we established at Ford.”
Lewenza says they will now take things day to day. They will keep negotiating if they are making progress, but give 24 hours strike notice if they feel either company is dragging their feet.
“If it takes us a day or two, or even three days, we will do it.”
Five hours earlier, Lewenza said they were “miles apart” with GM and Chrysler. He insists that the two companies must accept the pattern set at Ford.
“If they choose to ignore it, then our membership will have no choice but to withhold our labor.”
The Ford agreement includes work for the 800 workers still on layoff from a plant closing in St. Thomas. Lewenza says it’s likely they will get jobs at the Ford plant in Oakville, Ontario.
“This collective agreement, in the life of the collective agreement, will give every laid off worker the right to work at Ford Motor Company.”
The deal doesn’t include pay raises, but workers will get $2,000 bonuses in the second and third year of the agreement.
The union was able to win an agreement to allow lower paid entry level workers to work their way up to full pay. But it will take ten years. That had been possible after six years.
The car companies had been seeking to lower their labor costs in Canada.
“We believe that the tentative agreement offers unique-to-Canada solutions that will improve the competitiveness of the Canadian operations while providing employees the opportunity to earn a good living,” said Stacey Allerton, vice president, human resources, Ford of Canada.
While he’s confident that they can come to a deal at Chrysler and GM without a strike, Lewenza says they will not allow the talks to drag out for an extended period of time.
“This is a good faith gesture on behalf of the bargaining committes of GM and Chrysler,: he said. “It’s a good faith gesture from the national officers of the union. But, good faith must result in good results.”
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