CAW Members Ratify First Union Contract at TRW

April 22, 2013, 12:30 PM EST

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TRW auto parts workers in Tillsonburg, Ontario have voted 83.8 per cent in favour of a first collective agreement that sees wages and benefits improve, two-tier pay structures eliminated for production workers and restrictions placed on the use of temporary agency work, among other substantial gains. Voting for the new contract took place on April 20.

"This is a landmark deal for these parts workers, the newest members of the CAW," said Jerry Dias, Assistant to CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "These are challenging and insecure times for workers in the manufacturing sector. TRW workers have shown that these challenges can be overcome, and security won, through a union contract."

The new three-year deal includes a 90¢ per hour wage increase in the first year of the deal, with subsequent hourly rate increases of 1% in both years two and three. Skilled trades will receive an additional 75¢ hourly-wage bump-up over the life of the agreement.

The union also negotiated pension benefit improvements, as well as improvements to bereavement leave, access to flexible shift scheduling, new provisions for safety shoes and layoff and recall rights.

The union also was successful in eliminating the practice of "two-tier" wages for a growing group of workers at TRW, said CAW National Representative Julie Herron.
"Workers stuck on the second rung of the wage ladder will now have a clear path to top rate, which equates to thousands of dollars per year in additional income," Herron said, adding that these "tiered" workers will now have access to long and short-term disability leave, expanded health benefits and see an increase in their shift premium, over the life of the agreement. The new wage grow-in period will be six-years.

The union also negotiated an end to the practice of hiring temporary agency workers in the plant as of June 30, 2014. These third-party contract workers at the facility had earned nearly half ($11 per hour) the top rate of pay, with no long-term job security. The new contract provides for limited use of temporary part-time work, earning $14 per hour, in extraordinary circumstances. All new full-time jobs will be brought into the collective agreement, and will be deemed permanent.

"This new union contract is over 20 years in the making," said Bargaining Committee Chairperson Elaine Kamenar, representing the 220 TRW workers. "The workers at our facility have been trying for decades to win collective bargaining rights. Now we've got them. And the benefits have been instant. The gains we've made in this contract, through the CAW, are well deserved and long overdue."

TRW workers voted to join the CAW in October, 2012 and are members of Local 1859. TRW manufactures steering columns, brake systems and other auto parts for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

The new contract is set to expire on April 23, 2016.

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