CAW expects to see new proposal from GM soon

The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union says he is optimistic after a day of constructive talks with General Motors that a new collective agreement can soon be reached with the automaker.

TORONTO — The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union says he is optimistic after a day of constructive talks with General Motors that a new collective agreement can soon be reached with the automaker.

CAW president Ken Lewenza said late Tuesday — in the midst of marathon negotiations — that the union is making more progress with GM Canada than with Chrysler after spending the day discussing details of a deal previously hammered out with Ford.

“We’re anticipating General Motors at least providing a proposal shortly, but what it means I don’t know yet. Until you see such a proposal you don’t know how distanced you are,” he said.

“The best thing I can say is we’re having constructive discussions with General Motors today and there’s a similar feeling of optimism at Chrysler at the subcommittee level, although there hasn’t been a lot of work at the senior levels.”

The union cancelled a Monday night strike deadline, agreeing to give Chrysler and GM negotiators more time to go over the tentative four-year deal it reached with Ford yesterday.

The Ford deal contains no base wage increases and pension plans will remain the same for existing employees. Each worker will get $2,000 a year in the second, third and fourth years to cover cost of living increases, and a $3,000 ratification bonus.

New hires will make 60 per cent of full pay, which is reached after 10 years, up from a six-year progression scale agreed upon in the last collective agreement. New hires will also be signed up for a hybrid pension plan, rather than a defined benefit plan like current workers.

The Ford deal will give 800 laid off employees a chance to get back to work, partially through the creation of 600 new jobs at its Canadian operations. Most of the new positions will be at its Oakville, Ont., assembly plant.

The CAW has asked Chrysler and GM to continue the tradition of using the deal inked with one automaker to set a “pattern” for their own negotiations.

Lewenza said discussions with the automakers will continue around the clock.

On Monday, Lewenza told reporters that the two remaining automakers and the union were still “miles” apart. While talks were progressing Tuesday, Lewenza said he couldn’t say whether the companies and union were in any greater agreement because no new offers have been made.

“I still think we’re miles apart because I haven’t seen a proposal other than the proposal that we rejected three or four days ago,” he said.

However, he added that he is confident the companies understand the importance of pattern bargaining, which keeps labour and wages out of the numerous competitive pressures automakers face.

“I feel good about the discussion we had at GM and that optimism should lead to a deal,” he said.

“But bargaining is fluid and at any time something could fall off the rails, but I’m feeling optimistic.”

A strike is still possible and Lewenza says the union will give 24-hours notice of a walkout if Chrysler and GM drag their feet on a deal.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as Chief of Defence Staff due to an investigation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Admiral Art McDonald steps aside as defence chief amid investigation

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre appointed acting chief of the defence staff

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada’s oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Pandemic increased direct aid to fossil fuel producers, new study shows

At least $1.9 billion in direct aid to traditional energy sector last year

Glen Carritt organized a United We Roll Canada convoy around May 2019 that travelled in 2019. An independent review said he breached council code of conduct rules multiple times. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Former Innisfail town councillor breached code of conduct many times, says review

Consultants say 29 of 36 alleged breaches by Glen Carritt had merit

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

A crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. Woods suffered leg injuries in the one-car accident and was undergoing surgery, authorities and his manager said. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller

Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt (13) attempts a shot on goal during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match against Argentina, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Canadian women exit SheBelieves Cup on losing note, blanked 2-0 by Brazil

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta's COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Jason Nixon, government house leader and environment minister, after Nixon is sworn into office in Edmonton on April 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

Alberta eyes recall legislation, focuses on COVID-19 aid in spring sitting

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie attends a a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, February 28, 2019. The CFL faces more challenges in its 2021 return than it did last year when it was forced to cancel its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

CFL will have to appease more levels of government to get 2021 protocols approved

Most Read