GM could soon face strike notice; talks progressing with Chrysler

The Canadian Auto Workers could issue a strike notice at General Motors later Thursday if talks don’t progress, but the union said it’s making some headway with Chrysler.

Ken Lewenza and other top union officials were in a meeting with General Motors on Thursday afternoon in the third day of intense negotiations since the union put off an 11:59 p.m. Monday strike deadline to keep talks going with the two automakers.

Until Thursday, the union had suggested it was making more headway with General Motors than with Chrysler in getting the companies to agree to similar conditions arrived at in a deal with Ford Canada Monday.

“People are getting frustrated and we were hopeful that we’d be able to reach an agreement with GM before now, but that hasn’t happened,” said spokeswoman Shannon Devine.

Devine said the union could issue a strike notice some time Thursday.

“So far no notice has been issued,” she said.

But the CAW said it is making some progress in its contract negotiations with Chrysler, saying the company seems to be more willing than it was to reach an agreement.

After reaching a tentative agreement with Ford earlier this week, the CAW has turned to getting similar deals at both Chrysler and General Motors.

“We don’t yet have an agreement with Chrysler but discussions have been constructive and we are making progress,” the CAW said in a news release.

“Chrysler executives seem to be more willing to reach an agreement than they were previously.”

If at any point progress seriously stalls, the union is in legal position to strike. It has said it will give 24 hours notice before a work stoppage.

Analysts say the union will likely achieve similar deals to the one inked with Ford on Monday.

Canadian Ford auto workers will vote this weekend on the tentative agreement and the CAW said results of the vote will be released on Sunday night.

The Ford deal contains no increases to base wages 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 would be reached after 10 years — rather than after six years as in the last collective agreement. New hires will also be signed up for a hybrid pension plan, rather than a defined benefit plan for current workers.

The Ford deal will also 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 those positions will be at Ford’s assembly plant its Oakville, Ont.

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