Issue #11 - September 23, 1996 - General Motors Next Target

Issue #11 - September 23, 1996 - General Motors Next Target


"At a press conference Monday morning, CAW president Buzz Hargrove announced General Motors will be the next target. A strike deadline has been set for Wednesday, October 2, at 11:59p.m.

"A new moral standard on how corporations must act as we head into the next century has been set with the Chrysler agreement, " said Hargrove. "With the Chrysler contract we have set a pattern that says greed cannot be the determining factor in outsourcing decisions."

Chrysler, the smallest of the big three automakers made $89 million in profit and "it recognized that the corporation can prosper and grow under this agreement with a renewed commitment by our members to continue making a quality product in a productive manner."

"General Motors made $1.39 billion last year - the largest profit in the history of any corporation in Canada. Our members made a major contribution to that profit. In the same year, GM’s Canadian operations produced 42 per cent of the company’s North American auto profits."

"GM has no alternative but to accept the 1996 pattern," Hargrove said adding that in 1993 the issues were tough and a settlement without a strike was achieved at all three companies.

"We’re going to the bargaining table looking for a pattern settlement and resolve to the other key issues but prepared for a fight if that’s what it will take to meet the needs of GM workers, their families and the communities they live in."

Hargrove explained that the union is determined to "reverse the outsourcing, sale or closure decisions" General Motors has hanging over the workers and their communities. At stake are 5500 jobs in the communities of Oshawa, St. Catharines and Windsor. GM has said it will sell or windup the Oshawa fabrication plant, the Windsor trim plant, and phase-out the axle plant in St. Catharines. As well GM announced last winter the outsourcing of 508 jobs from the Oshawa car assembly facility. The contract talks are aggravated by the many shop floor problems making local table negotiations difficult. Hargrove said there are more than 3000 grievances in Oshawa alone - a number which is estimated to exceed the total in the entire union coast to coast.

Particularly annoying is the continued violation by GM of the hours of work agreement hammered out in the spring of 1993. Hargrove said the issue will be particularly tough in this round as GM has lobbied the Ontario government to allow corporations to demand workers labour longer than eight hours in a day and 48 in a week.

"We will not leave the table without resolving the overtime issue," asserted Hargrove. We rolled in the pre-Harris government legislation on employment standards and health and safety into the pattern agreement with Chrysler. We will do the same with GM."

Hargrove said the CAW GM Master Bargaining Committee will be considering the strategy of escalating strikes rather than the entire Canadian GM membership going on strike Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.

The talks get underway at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel today with a meeting between the CAW and GM bargaining committees at noon in the Manitoba Room.

The CAW represents 28,510 workers at GM of which 3,470 are currently on layoff. The last strike at General Motors lasted 14 day in 1984 when the CAW refused to accept lump sum payments instead of wage increases rolled into the base rate.


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