CAW Sterling First Contract Talks Begin

London, Ontario

December 17, 2002


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CAW Sterling First Contract Talks Begin
CAW Sterling First Contract Talks Begin
dated December 17, 2002

London Ontario
December 17, 2002


       Job security for the 1,100 workers at the Freightliner Sterling Truck plant in St. Thomas Ontario was one of the key issues on the minds of the CAW bargaining committee members as they arrived in nearby London for the opening of bargaining talks for the newly formed bargaining unit's first contract. Bob Chernecki, assistant to CAW National President Buzz Hargrove stressed the need to secure jobs.

Bob Chernecki
Assistant to CAW National President

       "They haven't put a lot of investment into this facility in the last number of years. There is no question that coming out of Big 3 bargaining the key issue was job security and this membership is no different. There's 1,100 workers back in St. Thomas counting on us to secure their jobs and we are going to do everything we can to do that, and it will be a critical issue with us and the corporation as we move ahead."

       The company gave an outline of their issues and both sides agreed to resume bargaining on January 13th, 2003. Chernecki said the union hopes to wrap up the bargaining within three weeks even though he expects the company will resist the union's economic demands.

Bob Chernecki
Assistant to CAW National President

       "There's no question about they are going to make the argument here that the truck industry has gone to hell in a hand basket, that the profit schedule is down. But the facts are there is a hell of a cost advantage here, vis a vis the U.S. operations, of $16 US and we are going to make those kinds of arguments when the appropriate time arises and it will. So we are looking forward to it. It will be a heck of a challenge."

       Interim plant Chair, Richard Laverty and bargaining committee member Lynn Higgs came away from the meeting with a sense that progress was made.

Richard Laverty
Interim Plant Chair

       "I'm cautiously optimistic, I guess. These people can be tough to do business with but they are creditable. We believe what they say when they say it and we are going to hold them to their word when they make a commitment and we will reciprocate."

Lynn Higgs
Bargaining Committee

       "I believe that management will be open. I think it is still going to be a struggle but at the same point I think that both sides are prepared to talk."

       Speaking following the meeting CAW National Rep. Jerry Dias said the bargaining committee, despite this being their first round of bargaining understands the process and the need for rational and fair bargaining.

Jerry Dias
CAW National Rep.

       "I think it is absolutely about building the union. A successful collective bargaining process is stepping stone number one. I think the membership needs to see that we are serious in how we conduct ourselves, that we are serious in how we put together a collective agreement without a strike. Candidly, I think the membership need to know that. I think once they see that we are professional in how we conduct ourselves at the bargaining table and that we know how to get things done I think the confidence level will be there to trust their union."

CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."


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