Big three autoworkers could hit picket lines Monday 0
Workers walk the picket line at locomotive manufacturer Electro-Motive in London, Ontario January 20, 2012. (REUTERS/Geoff Robins)
The Canadian Auto Workers union said negotiating with the big three automakers - General Motors, Chrysler and Ford - before Monday's midnight strike deadline is like juggling "a lot of balls up in the air."
If the CAW, which represents 21,500 members in the three companies, doesn't reach a settlement with the big three, it could mean a walkout could start at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
"It's a little tough to tell at this point in time what the impact will be because it depends upon status of bargaining with each of the three companies," CAW secretary treasurer Peter Kennedy said Saturday evening.
"The best case scenario is we have a deal with all three companies and the worst is we're still far apart with all three and we find ourselves in a situation where we have a strike. It could be any combination of that between now and then."
The union is refusing to back down from several cost-cutting proposals, including a new pay scale which would prevent newly-hired workers from ever reaching what is currently the top pay amount for more senior workers.
"We are opposed to that proposal because it doesn't make any sense in the long run," Kennedy said. "We believe people working side-by-side, doing the same job should at least have the opportunity to have the same pay."
However, the auto-makers argue Canada has become too expensive to build vehicles and have hinted about moving production south as a way to save money.
Chrysler didn't wish to say much Saturday as negotiations are ongoing.
"Unfortunately, I'm not authorized to make any comment because the talks are ongoing, but we are working around the clock through the weekend to try to come to some resolution before the deadline of Monday," said Chrysler spokeswoman Lou Ann Gosselin.
General Motors Canada said it continues to have "open and constructive dialogue with our CAW partners."
"We are optimistic that we can continue to work together to overcome challenges, find creative solutions and improve our competitive position," GM spokeswoman Faye Roberts said.
Contract talks began in mid-August, but have been consecutive since Aug. 27.
"We really came in here with modest expectations," Kennedy added.
"One was to make sure there was some way of rewarding our members for the sacrifices they made in 2009 that led to the turnaround of the companies and profitability they're enjoying today without increasing fixed costs."
The union is scheduled to give an update Sunday at noon in Toronto to update media on negotiations.