CAW Rejects Two-Tier Wages and Strategizes for a Canadian Agreement

Toronto, Ontario

March 25, 2008


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CAW Rejects Two-Tier Wages and Strategizes for a Canadian Agreement

The Canadian Auto Workers union is readying itself for talks with the Big Three auto makers coming up this year. At a press conference in Toronto March 25, 2008 CAW President Buzz Hargrove said the union is trying to prevent the type of misinformation which led to a work stoppage with GM back in 1996.
He said the auto industry is under pressure on many fronts.
Buzz Hargrove
CAW National President

"It is what I refer to as the perfect storm. The unfair trade that we have; the price of oil, the environmental pressure and the U.S recession. There's much more interest, a lot earlier, in what's happening in our discussions. And because of that we've started some meetings with the companies; top level "off the record" meetings, sharing of information and talking about the issues."
One of the misconceptions is that the soaring Canadian dollar has made Canada uncompetitive. CAW economist Jim Stanford told the media, the Big Three plants in Canada are still more productive and profitable than American plants.

Jim Stanford
CAW Economist

"By the standard Harbour methodology we have about a ten per cent productivity advantage over American plants.
On a value added basis we estimate the productivity advantage in Canada to be much larger, perhaps as large as 40 per cent."
CAW's position is that Canada is different from the U.S. and should be treated differently by the Big three.

Jim Stanford
CAW Economist

"We are stressing up front, we need a Canadian agreement that reflects the Canadian reality; not a rubber stamp of the UAW agreement. And any one, whether with the investment community or with the company who is expecting a rubber stamp of the UAW agreement is going to be disappointed."
Hargrove said there are ways the CAW can work with the company to find cost savings; but he rejected the idea of any type of two-tier wage structure.

Buzz Hargrove
CAW National President

"You can't solve the problem by having two classes of workers in the work place. You are going to further exaggerate the problem in terms of quality and productivity that does nothing about the market share loss which is the real problem."
When asked about wage concessions Hargrove made the CAW's position crystal clear.

Buzz Hargrove
CAW National President

"We're quite willing to look at every thing and explore any way possible to try to help cut costs. But there are certain areas and we have identified them with the company both privately and publicly, that we are not going to go. Wage cuts aren't in; two-tier systems are not in the cards. And when I talk about wages I am talking about the whole wage package. There are other ways to try and squeeze some savings out and we are sharing some ideas with them and they are with us; and we hope we can work our way through this based on our historical relationship and the maturity of people around the bargaining table."
The union is preparing for the start of official bargaining with GM, Ford and Chrysler later this year. The current contract expires September 16th.

CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."


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