Wage Cuts a Non-Starter in Auto Talks, Lewenza says

July 30, 2012, 1:30 PM EST


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CAW President Ken Lewenza has sent a clear missive to the Detroit automakers that the union views wage cuts a non-starter when contract renewal talks kick off in Toronto on August 14.

"There's no question they're going to want more concessions," Lewenza said in an interview with the Hamilton Spectator. "We're going to be just as aggressive about making sure they understand the concessions we've already made to help them turn around."

In 2009, the CAW was pulled into contract renegotiations with GM and Chrysler (later at Ford) as the two companies faced bankruptcy and sought financial loan assistance from government.

The union made significant sacrifices in order to help salvage the automakers Canadian operations, even though the root cause of the challenges facing automakers was centred on the global credit freeze and financial crisis - not workers wages or benefits, Lewenza said.

"We will talk about investment in technology, changed work processes and improved productivity. We will work with the companies on those issues," Lewenza said, adding that two-tier wage structures, as adopted in the carmakers U.S. facilities, is non-negotiable.

GM and Chrysler have since repaid their government loans and are enjoying a jump in both revenues and profits.

"Workers deserve to share in the benefits of the auto sector recovery they helped achieve."

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