CAW Ford Workers Ratify and Set Pattern For Big Three
May 1, 2008
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In an unprecedented early set of negotiations, the Canadian Auto Workers union, representing the 8,900 workers at Ford Canada reached a new three year tentative agreement with the company May 1, 2008.
On May 3rd and 4th the workers at Oakville, Bramalea, St. Thomas and Windsor voted 67 per cent in favour of the contract.
Faced with a perfect storm of unfair one-way trade, the high Canadian dollar, soaring oil prices and demands for a two-tier wage system; CAW President Buzz Hargrove said the top CAW leadership from Ford, GM and Chrysler unanimously agreed to opening bargaining four months early.
"We didn't wait. We could see it coming. We saw all those clouds and we wanted to take the high road and do as much as we could on behalf of our members and their families and the communities that they live in. And I believe, as sure as I am standing here, that we made the right decision."
Despite the continued decline in the auto industry and demands for a two-tier wage system, Hargrove said the union was able to protect it's members jobs and position itself for the future.
"We have positioned ourselves as best we can to try and ensure there is a future for the people in this room with Ford Motor Company and there are opportunities for your kids and your grand children, hopefully for another 40 years."
The contract extends the life of the St Thomas plant to three years. In Oakville, Local 707 president Gary Beck said the fight was to protect future jobs.
President CAW Local 707
"We told the company that unless we get further investments to create security for our members we were not going to be interested and we were going to walk away. And we did that and not only are we good for the next three, we're good for six and we're good for nine years."
Mike Vince, chair of the CAW Ford Master Bargaining Committee said his members understand the pressures their industry is under.
Chair Ford Master Bargaining Committee
"When you look at our dollar, fuel prices, unfair trade, the price of a barrel of oil and the U.S. recession. Very clearly, there were some who said we would hit a $1.20 a litre come the summer, we're there now. We very clearly see that the economic crisis is coming faster, day by day."
May 5, 2008
Hargrove announced the ratification at a press conference. He called the contract a principled, pragmatic and responsible agreement which will now be the pattern that General Motors and Chrysler will have to accept.
"It has a lot of cost savings for General motors. It will hold the line, I'm sorry for Ford and General Motors and Chrysler. It will hold the line on costs over the life of the agreement, especially for the actives and future retirees. And we estimate it will hold the line much better than the UAW settlement as it applies to the active and future retirees. So we are very confident that this does not change the outlook or possibilities of new investment and new product in the Canadian operations."
The CAW is now meeting with General Motors and Chrysler.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."