Issue #6 - September 6, 1996 - A Long Way To Go Before September 17

Issue #6 - September 6, 1996 - A Long Way To Go Before September 17

"I am somewhat encouraged by the willingness of the company to get into serious discussion this early," says CAW president Buzz Hargrove.

Buzz Hargrove was interviewed Thursday coming out of a meeting of the CAW Chrysler Master Committee and the company.

Q. You’re just finishing the first week of bargaining since you chose Chrysler as the target. What’s happening?

Hargrove: The top-level review committee - myself, Jim O’Neil, Ken Lewenza and others have met several times in the last few days with Chrysler chief negotiator Ken Francese and his top committee to discuss the tough issues of plant and office outsourcing and outside contractors doing skilled trades and production work in our plants as well as shorter work time and the impact of lean production. I don’t expect any quick resolve - the issues are extremely complex. Almost every area of production is affected and the issues go to the heart of long-standing management rights.

I am somewhat encouraged by the willingness of the company to get into serious discussion this early - they are recognizing that the union is determined to find a resolve and they must work with us if a strike is to be avoided.

Q. Discussion is a start but there’s less than 14 days until the deadline of September 17. Do you think you can avoid a strike at this stage?

Hargrove: I am not optimistic at this point that we can settle without a strike. Remember there’s a lot of issues - both non-economic and economic. The outsourcing and worktime issues are extremely tough. There’s close to a dozen subcommittees working about 10 to 12 hours a day trying to get resolves on health and safety, benefits, working conditions, hours of work, and outstanding grievances just to name a few. Add to that each location has specific problems being dealt with by local union committees.

The members of the CAW Master Bargaining Committee representing Chrysler workers in Windsor, Bramalea, Ajax and Etobicoke meet early every morning to review the progress of local negotiations, master negotiations and each subcommittee. We’re debating solutions to thorny issues and trying to zero in on priorities.
At this stage I’d say we’re progressing at better than a normal pace - some of the less contentious issues are being dealt with and the pace of bargaining- of agreement on local and sub-committee issues - will pick up over the weekend and the beginning of next week.

We’ll be into round- the-clock bargaining by the last weekend prior to the deadline.

Q: Members are asking what has been resolved or why are we not hearing more about what issues are resolved and what is still outstanding. How do you answer this?

Hargrove: We have 13 different subcommittees meeting as well as local committees and the Master Bargaining Committee trying to resolve over 1400 proposals submitted by the local union leadership and membership. Each proposal requires hours of discussion among union committee members as well as with the company.

Most issues are only resolved and reduced to writing in the last 72 hours of bargaining.

It is impossible to give daily reports to the membership on the status of each proposal.

As president what I try to do through the media is give our members a sense of whether progress is being made and is that progress significant. I try to give a sense of how myself, Jim O’Neil, Ken Lewenza, the staff and bargaining committee feel about the possibility of getting a settlement without a strike, so I’d advise our members to follow the newspaper and television reports.

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