CAW strike may be coming to Big Three

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Canadian Auto Workers

The Canadian Auto Workers union is promising tough action if it sees no progress in current talks. Image: Steve Snograss/Flickr/CC BY

The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union has threatened to strike all of Detroit’s Big Three automakers at once if it continues to be unsatisfied with the progress of current negotiations. A triple CAW strike is historically unprecedented.

CAW strike my be imminent

The CAW says that its members will cease production at Ford of Canada, General Motors of Canada and Chrysler Canada plants before the end of the week, far ahead of the September 17 deadline, if automakers remain immoveable on raising the costs of current contracts. That amounts to around 20,000 auto production workers walking off of their jobs.

The CAW said to its members:

“It is our hope and intention to reach an agreement with at least one of the three companies before the deadline. We must be prepared, though, to shut down operations at all three, should we be unable to reach an agreement.”

Three-pronged assault

Normally, the union picks one target company for contract negotiations. The other two are then expected to follow with similar agreements. However, for the first time in history, the union is threatening a simultaneous strike on all three automakers.

The reason for the three-pronged assault, according to the CAW, is that all talks with the Big Three automakers have run into the sameĀ  brick wall.

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The CAW said:

“The corporations are refusing to add any costs whatsoever. Instead, they insist on cutting costs from our existing agreements.”

Gary Beck, chairman of the CAW’s Ford master bargaining committee, reiterated:

“We have been sitting down with all three companies, and no one has taken the initiative to lead. This will, hopefully, wake them up.”

Automakers say Canada too costly

According to Reuters, Ford of Canada spokeswoman Lauren More said the automaker was “committed to working with the CAW.” Neither Chrysler Canada nor GM Canada have returned calls, however.

All of the Big Three automakers have stated that Canada has become the world’s most expensive country to build cars in. That is partially because of the CAW’s powerful bargaining table, and partially because of the strength of the Canadian dollar.

The CAW has refused to allow its members to adopt the two-tier payroll system that automakers now adhere to in the U.S.

Share the profits, CAW says

The union continues to argue that its members should share in the automaker’s renewed profitability after pitching in during the Chrysler and General Motors finance restructurings.


CBC News
Detroit Free Press

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