CAW hopes to have deal with Chrysler Friday morning
CAW hopes to have deal with Chrysler Friday morning (external - login to view)
TORONTO — Declaring the end to pattern bargaining, Canadian Auto Workers
leader Ken Lewenza said Thursday evening he hopes to announce a deal Friday with
When asked how far off the union had gone beyond the agreement reached with
General Motors, Lewenza replied, "there is no pattern anymore; that's the reality
The CAW has always insisted on pattern bargaining as a way to offer roughly the
same labour deal to all three Detroit automakers and prevent one from having an
advantage over the other.
Thus on Thursday night CAW-Chrysler talks continued, said Lewenza.
"We are wrestling a number of issues, not issues that are show stoppers, but you
have to confirm in writing by dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. Until we get
everything we're comfortable with, we don't have an agreement."
He said the stumbling block dealt with language and "clarification issues that are
sensitive to the union."
Lewenza said talks with the company would continue and hoped to be able to
announce a deal Friday.
"We want to avoid a bankruptcy filing," he said.
"The Government of Canada has told us clearly there will be no loans without
an agreement in place that meets not only the government's standards but
(Italian automaker) Fiat's standards
. We're going to work like crazy to get that
The negotiations are taking place amid reports that governments on both sides of
the border are preparing for a bankruptcy filing
by the Detroit automaker.
Lewenza insisted he was not bargaining an agreement within the framework of a
"We are bargaining an agreement obviously to protect our members if in fact it's
requited to go in bankruptcy, but more importantly trying to convince the
Government of Canada of the quality and productivity of our workforce and trying
to convince Fiat SpA."
The Italian automaker is in merger talks with the U.S. parent and has, along
with the company, insisted that hourly labour costs be reduced by $19 to narrow
the gap with labour costs of Japanese transplants.
A spokeswoman for Chrysler said company officials would not be available for
Earlier in the day, a source close the negotiations said the two sides were no more
than $2 away from the $19 figure.
A bankruptcy filing would force a new set of negotiations to take place "under very
different circumstances relative to the future of Chrysler," said Lewenza. "We're
convinced that if we can come up with an agreement that minimizes the pain of
our members and satisfy the government and Fiat, we can avoid that."
Talks had already continued past a Wednesday midnight "deadline" for a deal on
labour cost cuts that parent Chrysler LLC says it needs to forge a merger with
Italian Fiat and qualify for about $2.9 billion in public loans.
Ottawa told Chrysler and the union a few days ago that it wanted a deal with
significant cuts by midnight last night because a merger between Chrysler and Fiat
hinges on it.
The federal and Ontario governments and the U.S. Obama administration say they
won't provide any more aid to Chrysler unless it clinches a merger
before April 30.
Governments in both countries also want more concessions from other stakeholders
including the United Auto Workers in the U.S
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported the U.S. Treasury Department is
preparing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing for Chrysler that could come as soon as
next week. The Treasury has an agreement in principle with the UAW, whose
members' pensions and retiree health care benefits would be protected as a
condition of the bankruptcy filing, the newspaper reported.
Lewenza also said he expects to return to the bargaining table with General Motors
once the union concludes negotiations with Chrysler
"We have to assume the government will put in place the same process for GM."
If Chrysler goes down, I still predict that Fiat will walk in and purchase the
pieces for penny's on the dollar from the Canadian & U.S. governments and
set up shop wihout the CAW & UAW.