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Canadian Autoworkers Join New Union

CAW merges into new Unifor.

by on Sep.03, 2013

Unifor Pres. Jerry Dias comes from the communications side of the new union - with no experience in the automotive world.

This story has been updated to reflect the prior automotive experience of new Unifor Pres. Dias.

The Canadian Auto Workers Union is gone, having completed a merger with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada to create a new union that will go by the name Unifor.

As part of the merger, CAW national president Ken Lewenza, a veteran of negotiations with Detroit’s automakers, and CEP president Dave Coles opted to step aside for new leadership team. Unifor’s new president, Jerry Dias, who was installed during a convention in Toronto,was one of Lewenza’s administrative assistant at the CAW, and has participated in negotiations with Detroit’s automakers.

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He’ll have to face off with automakers who have increasingly complained about rising labor costs in Canada – and who have been threatening to transfer work and jobs back to the U.S. or even Mexico.

Dias, however, said during his acceptance speech that organizing will be one of the new union’s top priorities. The old CAW had organizing efforts in place for several months at plants in Ontario operated by Toyota and Honda. The new union boss said he would uphold Unifor’s promise to dedicate 10% of its revenues to organizing workplaces and adding new members.


Ford Wants to Close $8-an-Hour Labor Cost Gap

Could prove contentious issue during upcoming auto talks.

by on May.09, 2011

Ford CEO Mulally's huge pay package could make it difficult to win UAW concessions.

In an industry where even a nickel’s added cost can make a competitive difference, Ford is dealing with an issue of dollars and sense that could turn into a big issue as it heads back to the bargaining table with the United Autoworkers Union.

The maker says it currently is paying its U.S. union workers $8 an hour more than what non-union factory employees make at the “transplants” operated by makers like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai.  On average, Ford employees are earning $58 an hour, including wages and benefits, compared to the average $50 cost of labor at foreign-owned factories.

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“We cannot continue to have a cost gap with the competition and still be able to make significant U.S. investment and create new jobs,” the automaker emphasized in a blog posting on the website that it set up to discuss bargaining issues. “For Ford to be fully competitive in the years ahead, we’ll need to focus on closing the gap even more.”

The second-largest American automaker has generally declined to discuss bargaining issues, part of a joint union-management strategy to avoid the sort of confrontational tone that has traditionally colored the start of negotiations.  But the cost gap is certain to be one of the key issues Ford plans to put on the table, and it appears the maker could be presenting its case directly to workers hoping they will pressure UAW negotiators to place jobs ahead of wages and benefits as a new contract is hammered out.


Hoffa Joins UAW’s King at Good Jobs Now Rally

Thousands march on banking district calling for financial reform to limit reckless Wall Street practices that kill middle class jobs.

by on Jun.18, 2010

King, left, and Hoffa, right, marched together in Detroit. More cooperation coming?

Teamsters union General President Jim Hoffa joined newly elected United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King yesterday in a march down to Detroit’s banking district to “tell big banks and corporations that the assault on the middle class must end now.”

Representatives from the AFL-CIO, NAACP and Interfaith Worker Justice joined them.

The “Good Jobs Now!” march and rally brought advocates from workers’ rights and social justice groups together to call for a reinvestment in the middle class and a commitment to creating good jobs.

“It’s time to stop the war on the American worker,” Hoffa said. “It’s time to put America back to work. It’s time for us to say – enough is enough.”


The march came just after King took over the leadership of the beleaguered United Auto Workers union. Because of the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors, as well as the cutbacks at Ford Motor Company and their unionized suppliers, the UAW is facing union membership levels at lows not seen since the epic organizing fights that started of the 1930s and continued through the 1950s.  (more…)