Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: The Hills of North Georgia,USA
CAW chief sees progress in Ford talks
Reuters / September 27, 2002
TORONTO -- The Canadian Auto Workers union is close to reaching a new three-year agreement with Ford Canada, but the union said on Friday that failure to resolve the issue of saving jobs at the company's Oakville, Ontario, truck plant could still force a strike.
"I'm certainly a lot more confident after our last meeting (with Ford) last night and our early morning meeting than I was yesterday. I can't guarantee anything, but I think we're moving in the right direction," said Buzz Hargrove, head of the CAW.
Hargrove expects Ford, Canada's second-biggest automaker, to present its economic offer to the union on Monday, just one day before the union's midnight strike deadline on Oct. 1.
Ford is expected to match the terms of the three-year deal that General Motors of Canada signed with the union, which was ratified by CAW members last week.
That agreement included a 3 percent wage increase in the first two years and a 2 percent hike in the third year, a C$1,000 ($633.00) signing bonus, 36 hours in additional paid time off and improved health-care benefits.
The company also gave the union a firm guarantee of an C$800-million investment in Canadian plants over the life of the agreement.
Hargrove said he was almost certain that Ford would match the wage and benefit provisions of the pattern-setting GM agreement, but he also took a tough stand on the need for Ford to protect jobs at the Oakville Truck plant on the western outskirts of Toronto.
Ford plans to close the plant, possibly as early as next year.
"As part of an overall package, everything that we have on the table is a strike issue and sometime before midnight on Tuesday our bargaining committee will make a decision as to whether or not there are enough issues unresolved that would cause us to go on strike and the Oakville Truck Plant will be up there front and center," Hargrove said.
Hargrove said the two sides "made a major step forward" in the Oakville truck talks on Thursday, which he said gives him more confidence that an agreement can be reached. He refused to discuss what ground was covered.
"Ford is working extremely hard. I am impressed with their effort to try to find a solution that deals with one of the toughest issues with which we have ever had to deal with Ford Motor Co.," he said.
Ford has acknowledged that a strike in Canada would have a devastating effect on its operations across North America. Its Windsor, Ontario, engine plant, for example, builds a large proportion of the engines for assembly plants across the continent.
Hargrove again called on Canadian federal and provincial governments to reward auto companies that invest in Canada while punishing those that do not.
"We're trying to get the attention of the government and of the people of Canada about the significance of this industry to the Canadian economy," Hargrove said. "It's not just our members, it's not just their families and it's not to do with our bargaining. It's about the future of our country."
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....