CAW Reaches Tentative Labor Agreement with Ford
By: Maya Baluschak
Ford Motor Co. and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) have finally reached an agreement. The four-year labor agreement has come into play quick enough to avoid the strike that would have halted production.
The agreement is expected to create at least 600 new positions at Ford Canada, having the vast majority at the company’s Oakville plant. However, the CAW’s first priority is to bring back as many of the 800 laid off Ford employees throughout Ontario.
The agreement mostly eliminates cost-of-living raises for workers and retirees. In doingso, each employee will receive lump sum payments of $2,000 in year two, three, and four of the contract, along with a $3,000 ratification bonus.
The CAW is asking for Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. to accept the same terms. So far it has been indicated that they are unable to agree to those terms.
“So I say to General Motors and Chrysler today with the greatest amount of respect: Our bargaining committee is ready to go to work, but you have to understand it starts with accepting the pattern,” union president Ken Lewenza said. “We said on day one we’d be flexible in their areas of fixed costs, and the company had to be flexible in the area of rewarding our members,” Lewenza said. “We achieved both.”
The union said they are prepared to strike if a deal is not reached before the contracts between the union and the Big Three automakers expires. If there is no progress with GM and Chrysler over the next short while, approximately 21,000 workers could be off the job as early as next week.
The Big Three want to permanently cut salaries of new hires, which is something the CAW does not agree with. In contrast, the union has instead suggested that new workers get paid less at first and then work their way up the totem pole to higher wages. As a reult, this would take longer than it previously had.
“Today’s autoworkers, over the last 50 years, have bargained hourly rates of about $34 an hour,” Lewenza said earlier this week. “They would like to see autoworkers go no higher than $24 an hour over the life of the collective bargaining agreement.”
Ford Motor Co. is in a state of disappointment, for their compnay, and their members; giving up base wage increases was not in the cards.
Chrysler’s argument to The Canadian Press was that it wasn’t acceptable for Ford to lead the negoiations since it had a smalled stake in Canada, and therefore less to lose.
“Four per cent of Ford’s global assembly is based in Canada, compared to nine per cent for GM and 20 per cent for Chrysler…The federal and provincial government provided about $13 billion to GM and Chrysler during the financial crisis.”