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Old 09-19-2005, 05:50   #1 (permalink)
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Canada:Ford Canada workers accept new union contract with automaker

Ford Canada workers accept new union contract with automaker

Deal offers some of lowest wage gains in CAW history

Associated Press

TORONTO -- Ford Canada workers have overwhelmingly accepted a new labor deal, even though it offers some of the lowest wage gains in their union's history and allows for hundreds of layoffs.

The Canadian Auto Workers union said Sunday that 95 percent of Ford union workers accepted the three-year deal, which had been tentatively reached by negotiators last week.

About half of Ford's 11,600 union workers voted on the deal in the Ontario cities of Windsor, St. Thomas and Brampton.

CAW President Buzz Hargrove said the deal was a difficult one for members because it allows Ford to trim its union work force by 1,100 positions over the next three years.

"It shows that even in tough bargaining, if the union and the company meet their responsibilities, a deal can be reached," Hargrove said after the results of the vote were released.

The deal also includes the closure of a casting plant in Windsor and offers base wage hikes of roughly 1.5 percent in year one of the deal, followed by two annual increases of 1 percent. Those are the lowest raises negotiated for assembly plant workers since the CAW split from the American-based United Auto Workers union in the mid-1980s.

But Hargrove said workers understand that the CAW did its best to negotiate a fair deal for the union and company at a time when Ford is facing some tough times.

The automaker is preparing a broader restructuring plan of its North American operations, which will seek to cut costs amid profit declines and intensified auto market competition.

The CAW is now negotiating with DaimlerChrysler AG on a new deal and was in talks with the automaker all weekend. There is a midnight Tuesday strike deadline for the union to reach a deal for its 11,400 DaimlerChrysler workers.

DaimlerChrysler and the union are far apart on what the union has said is DaimlerChrysler's move to outsource hundreds of jobs.

A new contract with more than 17,000 General Motors Corp. workers in Canada also needs to be worked out in coming weeks.

The union expects that its deal on wages, benefits and pensions with Ford will be matched by DaimlerChrysler and GM under so-called pattern bargaining, which pays each Big Three worker represented by the union virtually the same.

GM has indicated it needs to cut costs elsewhere in its system in order to be able to match the Ford deal.

Breaking pattern bargaining would be a strike issue for GM workers, Hargrove has indicated.
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