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GM workers still on the line

By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express 

Even with the strike deadline passed, members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Union are staying on the job to try and work out a deal with holdouts General Motors and Chrysler.

“There was no interruption of production,” confirms CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley.

The current collective agreement between the CAW, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors expired Monday at 11:59 p.m.

Late Monday, the CAW and Ford announced they had reached a tentative agreement. It included new investment in Ford’s Canadian operations, creating about 600 jobs. The price of the deal was a reduction in wages for new hires, who will start at 60 per cent of the current base rate, working up to a full wage over 10 years.

The CAW’s GM Master Bargaining Committee is now using the Ford deal as a “framework” in its talks with General Motors, says a release from the CAW.

A strike at General Motors or Chrysler is still not out of the realm of possibility. The CAW has advised GM that if the process gets bogged down or stalls it will give the company a 24-hour notice of a work stoppage. 

Buckley is the chairman of the GM Master Bargaining Committee. He says the extension given to General Motors was to allow their negotiators to review the Ford agreement.

“They wanted some time,” explains Buckley, though he made it clear the union will not permit a substantial delay. “If we get the sense they’re trying to prolong or trying to stall we’ll serve them with notice (of a strike).”

Approximately 2,000 jobs will be lost by June 2013 when GM closes the Oshawa consolidated line. With a consolidated shift to be laid off in October, Buckley says the union is pushing hard for new jobs or for the company to keep existing jobs in the city.

“We’re pressing for new investment in Oshawa,” he claims. “We’ve told General Motors they need to get serious during this process. If we sense they’re going to drag this process out, that’s not fair to our members.”

The union’s latest communiqué regarding the GM talks is hopeful, declaring “GM has indicated to the union that it will put the necessary effort into reaching an agreement that respects the principles of the pattern established at Ford.”

“This signal by GM marks a change of course for the company and is a hopeful indication that we can soon reach an agreement,” reads the release. “This extension comes with the intention of reaching a new tentative agreement and avoiding a work stoppage at GM.”

General Motors’ spokesperson Adria MacKenzie recently told The Oshawa Express the company continues “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.”


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