CAW Chrysler Workers Ratify Three Year Contract Early
May 17, 2008
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Thousands of CAW members at Chrysler voted 87 per cent in favour of a new three year agreement with the company, the highest ratification rate of any of the Big Three companies. This brought to a close the Big Three Bargaining with Ford, General Motors and Chrysler four months ahead of schedule. The Ford and GM workers had ratified the deal earlier.
CAW president Buzz Hargrove said the union's decision to go early was the right one as the economy continues to decline.
"Every month, the market share of Chrysler, the market share of GM, the market share of Ford were all going down as the Japanese market share was going up. And then we hit the prime mortgage crisis and then the total market started to collapse and all of the companies were in trouble.
What do we do? Do we wait? We watched the UAW settlement. Do we wait until September when the companies were starting a campaign on two-tier wages and $30 an hour in cuts, VEBA to get rid of the retiree health care benefits and put onus on the union to look after our retirees? Or do we start out and say we are going to ignore that, we are going to go to bargaining and see if we can entice one of the companies to work with us and get an agreement and we did."
The agreement met the pattern established earlier at Ford. It also rejects the two-tier wage demands of the company, provides productivity and quality bonuses, and improves restructuring incentives, benefits, COLA in the last two years and improved health and safety provisions.
May 17, 2008
The contract also ensured that the Brampton plant would get the new C-series vehicles in 2010 and confirmed the Windsor plant would be the lead producer of mini vans in North America. The Etobicoke Casting plant will remain open until June of 2011 with the promise to explore establishing a joint venture for the facility.
"Getting the commitment of the next generation of vehicles in this facility, and getting a long term commitment to a new paint shop was what our bargaining was all about. And saving the mini van plant, the third shift in the mini van plant and saving Etobicoke for as long as we could.
So your committee came together as one united group of leadership and we told the company we have your support. We threatened several times to set aside the bargaining until September if they didn't agree to some of the changes and get off of some of their demands and we came out of there with what I think is a first rate agreement in very, very difficult times."
May 17, 2008
Ken Lewenza, chair of the CAW Chrysler bargaining committee and President of CAW Local 444, said the agreement protects the workers at Chrysler and positions the facilities to get future investment and that was the clear message the bargaining committee delivered to Chrysler.
Chair CAW/Chrysler Master Bargaining Committee
"We don't want to hear about finances. We don't want to hear about costs. What we want is for you to say that the mini van's home is the Windsor assembly plant. And we deserve, providing the market conditions are there for three shifts, to keep that plant going on a three shift basis because it is the only manufacturing plant in all of Windsor that has full employment. It was a battle. It was a battle and today our third shift, will continue to be the lead producer."
The CAW represents approximately 8,000 workers at Chrysler.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."