CAW opens GM contract talks 0
Representatives from the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) begin contract negotiations with representatives from General Motors in Toronto, August 14, 2012. (Reuters/BRETT GUNDLOCK)
The Canadian Auto Workers opened contract talks with the first of the Big Three automakers on Tuesday, with the company looking to cut labor costs it says are the highest in the world.
The CAW’s bargaining committee met with representatives of General Motors Corp on Tuesday morning at a hotel in downtown Toronto. Meetings were scheduled with Fiat SpA’s Chrysler later on Tuesday, and Ford Motor Corp on Wednesday.
Participants expect negotiations on a new three-year contract to be tough.
With the automakers seeking lower costs, the union argues that its members sacrificed to keep the companies afloat during the financial crisis, and should be rewarded now that the automakers have turned profitable.
“We expect the company to reward our members and to allow our members to share in their success,” Chris Buckley, chair of the CAW’s GM master bargaining committee, told reporters before meeting with the company.
“All three car companies are doing a lot better than they were four years ago.”
GM said in June it planned to close one of its two lines in Oshawa, Ontario, by June 2013. The line employs about 2,000 workers.
Asked whether any jobs on that line are still on the table, GM Labor Director David Wenner said: “We’ll have open dialogue to have constructive conversations with our labor partners so that we can reach a collective agreement that is best for both parties.”
A history of labour disputes
Some examples of CAW labour disruption at GM Canada:
October 1984: Around 36,000 Canadian Auto Workers' members strike against GM Canada over the company wanting lump-sum employee payments and profit sharing rather than built-in wage increases. While this was a concession the American-based United Auto Workers eventually made, its Canadian counterparts would not, causing the split between the UAW and the CAW.
October 1996: About 26,000 unionized GM Canada workers pull the trigger on a strike over job outsourcing. After three weeks, the parties reach an agreement that beefed up union job protection.
September 2007: Around 73,000 UAW members stage a nationwide strike against U.S.-based General Motors after a breakdown in negotiations over job security, plant investment and vehicle production targets. The strike lasted only three days, but a ripple effect was felt as GM Canada shut down two Oshawa, Ont., plants for the duration of the strike.