CAW to Re-enter Talks with GM
May 7, 2009, 3:05 PM EST
The CAW will be re-entering negotiations with General Motors early next week, CAW President Ken Lewenza said at a press conference on May 7. The announcement comes the day after a meeting with General Motors and provincial and federal government officials where the government mandated the company and the union to go back to the bargaining table and reach an agreement by May 15.
"The governments have said that if we reach an agreement, it will be protected even if General Motors files for bankruptcy protection here in Canada," said Lewenza. He said that during the tripartite meeting, the government indicated that if a deal is not reached it will not provide the necessary financial support and GM Canada will be liquidated.
Part of the challenge at General Motors will be to come to terms with retiree costs and the pension fund which is badly underfunded. Lewenza reiterated that the provincial government bears much of the responsibility for the pension fund shortfall due to a funding loophole that allowed GM to avoid its pension obligations for many years when it was a highly profitable company. He also said that the comparison to Toyota Canada is unreasonable because Toyota has few retirees whereas GM has close to 25,000.
"We will never sacrifice our retirees," said Lewenza. "They are not a legacy cost, but the people who have worked their whole lives and did their job as was asked by the company. They deserve better than to be robbed today because of a problem they didn't create."