Update 1: The two parties have agreed late Monday to keep working past the midnight strike deadline, thereby extending CAW’s contracts with General Motors (and Chrysler).
The deadline for labor negotiations between General Motors and the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) is looming fast; at 11:59 p.m. Monday, General Motors risks having its 5,500 CAW-registered workers walk off the lines at its plants. Alarmingly, it seems that the two parties are not even close to reaching an agreement.
According to Chris Buckley, CAW master bargaining committee chair, GM lead negotiators have expressed “no interest” in discussing a new contract after CAW President Ken Lewenza decided on Sunday to first conduct negotiations with Ford. Tensions seem to be running high, as Buckley — who also serves as president of CAW Local 222 — had the following to say Monday afternoon:
“If GM is serious about keeping its plants running past midnight tonight, they are going to have to take concessions off the table. We will not allow GM to put its hands in our pockets to get a collective agreement.”
According to Buckley, the union plans to “aggressively go after GM to accept” the contract signed with Ford earlier today by the 11:59 p.m. deadline. The Ford agreement calls for plant investments in return for what is known as an extended wage progression, which extends the number of years newly-hired employees must work at a lower-tier wage before earning a top-tier salary.
General Motors released the same statement it provided on Sunday: “We continue to have an 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.”
In addition, GM Canada corporate communications manager Adria MacKenzie, said, “Our discussions are ongoing with all levels of the CAW team.”
Ironically, General Motors doesn’t seem to have much of a bargaining hand to play in the matter, as it took $9.5 billion in financial assistance from the Canadian Government in 2009. As part of that transaction, it is required to maintain at least 16 percent of North American production in Canada through 2016.
Keep refreshing GM Authority as we watch this story closely, along with other GM news.