Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CAW's next task a Chrysler deal after Ford, GM agreements

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WITH Ford's Canadian workers preparing to vote this weekend on a new contract, and GM Canada signing a similar deal late Thursday, the CAW's bargaining efforts are now focused on coming to terms with Chrysler.

The president of the Canadian Auto Workers has called on Chrysler to reach a settlement in line with agreements the union has reached with the other two big North American vehicle makers.

The union is in a legal position to strike at Chrysler but has said it would issue 24 hours' notice before doing so.

Union insiders had little to say Friday morning about the Chrysler talks.

More than 100 union leaders from Ford were meeting in Toronto on Friday to familiarize themselves with the tentative agreement in order to answer member questions ahead of ratification voting today and Sunday.

"It's important for our elected workplace representatives to fully understand what's been negotiated in this deal," said CAW president Ken Lewenza said Friday.

"Ultimately, it's up to the rank-and-file members to decide."

He said Thursday night after announcing a deal with GM Canada it was time for Chrysler to get serious about reaching an agreement.

He said Chrysler workers have had a "dark cloud" of uncertainty hanging over their heads for too long and they want to focus on making automobiles.

No dates have been finalized for ratification of the GM agreement reached late Thursday, three days after Ford became the first of the Big Three U.S. carmakers to reach a deal with their Canadian union.

Lewenza said the tentative deal reached with General Motors of Canada on Thursday incorporates all the points reached with Ford earlier this week.

The GM deal will see new hires paid a lower rate for their first 10 years with the company and a hybrid pension plan for new employees, as well as a $2,000 annual cost-of-living, lump-sum payment and a $3,000 ratification bonus for all employees.

The GM deal will also see 1,750 jobs created, maintained or extended -- so total employment at the company will remain at about 7,000 through 2016.

That includes 900 jobs through the addition of a third shift at the flex plant in Oshawa, Ont., beginning early next year, and the extension of the life of the consolidated plant in Oshawa, which had been slated to close in 2013. Instead, the company will continue to operate at least one shift until June of 2014, extending at least 750 jobs and potentially more if a second shift is also extended.

In addition, about 100 new positions will be created or maintained at its plant in St. Catharines, Ont.

The company also committed to $675 million in investments over the term of the agreement.

The agreement also reverses concessions made in the last round of bargaining that allowed to use temporary workers indefinitely, and limits the use of those workers during the launch of a new vehicle.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2012 B17

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