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Canadian Auto Workers Warn GM Strike is Coming

Canadian auto workers seeking investment guarantees.

by on Aug.11, 2016

Canadian auto workers will strike if GM doesn't make a commitment to invest in two plants, said Unifor President Jerry Dias.

General Motors Co. could face a punishing strike in Canada this fall unless it agrees to make a firm commitment to invest in the Oshawa assembly complex and St. Catherine’s engine plant, warned the head of Unifor, the union that represents 23,000 Canadian workers employed by GM, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler NV.

Jerry Dias, Unifor president, said during a press conference after the formal opening of discussions with GM that new investment in Canadian operations is critical to outcome of the negotiations. Unifor is the successor to the Canadian Auto Workers union.

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“We will do whatever is necessary to secure investment in Oshawa and St. Catherine’s. We hope we don’t have to go there to be candid,” said Dias, noting a walkout in Canada would also roll over the border and force GM to close as many as nine assembly plants in the U.S. (more…)

UAW Makes Note of GM’s Improved Profitability

Union looking for its share of the money during talks.

by on Jul.24, 2015

Everyone was all smiles at the opening of talks, UAW's Cindy Estrada noted GM's better-than-expected Q2 profits: a reminder the union is looking for raises.

Ever since General Motors went bankrupt in 2009, GM and the United Auto Workers have made a concerted effort to make nice.

The company and the union have put aside the years of antagonistic relations and built a new relationship. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, whose father was a union member for years, has clearly stated that she values good relations with the UAW.

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Cathy Clegg, GM’s vice president of labor relations, has credited the union with helping to boost the quality of GM’s vehicles and the company has made several announcements during the winter and spring that highlighted the company’s commitment to investing in American jobs and American workers. (more…)

Friendly FCA-UAW Handshake Masks Tough Task Ahead

Marchionne, Williams stake out negotiating positions.

by on Jul.14, 2015

FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Dennis Williams share an impromptu hug to kick off contract talks between the two parties.

A potentially contentious round of contract negotiations between the FCA U.S. and the United Auto Workers opened with a friendly ceremonial handshake and a hug between FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne and UAW President Dennis Williams. The pair then launched into a rundown of the key issues facing bargainers.

Williams said that the UAW would not back away from its goal of closing the gap between first- and second-tier workers of which Chrysler has more than any other automaker. “Base wages have stagnated,” Williams said, adding new employees hired in at entry rate feel like second-class citizens. Profit sharing has helped, he said.

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UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell said while the stakes are high with this round of talks, FCA U.S. has come a long way since the recession. (more…)

Top Labor Negotiators Leave GM, FCA

Departures highlight differences in upcoming union talks.

by on Jun.11, 2015

Cathy Clegg is taking over as the lead negotiator for GM in its talks with the UAW for the recently retired Rex Blackwell.

Even as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne pushes for merger talks with rival General Motors, the two companies are on different paths when it comes to negotiations with the United Auto Workers.

GM has carefully orchestrated a series of announcements of new investments in plants in places such as: Pontiac, Lansing and Grand Rapids, Michigan, plus Arlington, Texas, and Kansas City, Kansas, in recent weeks.

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In each case, the announcement, which have involved several GM executives, including GM CEO Mary Barra, have underscored the company’s commitment to preserving and even adding jobs at plants in the U.S., covered by the automaker’s labor contract with the United Auto Workers. (more…)

Former Saturn Plant to Reopen, But No Pension Improvements Under New GM Contract

Deal could make it easier to now target the transplants.

by on Sep.20, 2011

The new GM contract will bring the reopening of the shuttered Spring Hill, TN plant -- and the addition of over 6,000 jobs.

General Motors Co. is obligated to reopen its assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. under the terms of its tentative new labor agreement with the United Auto Workers Union.

Union officials also said Tuesday they expect the new four-year GM contract — which is worth $12,000 per employee over the life of the agreement — will serve as the pattern for new labor pacts with both Chrysler Group and Ford Motor Co.  But which of those makers will be targeted next remains uncertain.

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“In these uncertain economic times for American workers and faced with the globalization of the economy, the UAW approached these negotiations with new strategies and fought for and achieved some of our major goals for our members, “ said UAW president Bob King after the agreement was endorsed unanimously by the union’s GM council.

The agreement includes a $5,000 signing bonus due upon ratification by 48,000 GM worker s. In addition, workers will receive a $1,000 lump sum payment, each year starting in 2012 to cover any increase in the cost of living — and an annual bonus of $250 bonus if certain quality targets are met.

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GM, UAW Reach Late Night Deal; Chrysler Next?

Workers make modest but significant gains.

by on Sep.17, 2011

GM CEO Dan Akerson and UAW President Bob King shaking hands at the start of the latest round of contract talks, in July.

The United Auto Workers Union and General Motors said Friday they had reached agreement on a new labor contract late Friday night that includes a new profit-sharing formula and other modest gains for workers – but which also appears to promise improvements for the automaker.

Details of the settlement were being withheld, pending ratification meetings with local union leaders. The UAW’s existing contract with the GM expired Wednesday but the union was barred from striking under the terms of the $49.5 billion federal bailout of GM in 2009.

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“We are proud of this tentative agreement,” declared UAW President Bob King.

The UAW will now have to work out settlements with both Chrysler and Ford.  Talks with the latter maker were put on hold earlier in the week.  A settlement with Chrysler seemed imminent, several days ago, before a clash between union President Bob King and the maker’s CEO Sergio Marchionne became public.

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Are Ford and the UAW Heading for Confrontation?

Union tallying strike vote as contract deadline nears.

by on Aug.25, 2011

Ford workers assembling the 2012 Focus.

The United Auto Workers Union is tallying up strike votes at Ford Motor Co. plants around the country as contract negotiations between the union and domestic automakers move towards the mid-September deadline.

The UAW is in the midst of talks with all three of the Detroit automakers, but Ford is the only one the union is legally able to strike due to strictures placed by the federal government in the multi-billion-dollar bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler following their 2009 bankruptcies.

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There are clearly some tough issues on the table — especially the unpopular two-tier wage structure that has been rapidly expanded since the industry’s near-collapse.  Nonetheless, both sides are trying to downplay the possibility of a confrontation.

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Lots on the Line as GM Set to Begin Contract Talks with UAW

Maker wants more givebacks, workers want concessions restored. Is a battle brewing?

by on Jul.22, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King doesn't think GM's 2-tier pay structure offers new employees a living wage.

The United Auto Workers Union is set to begin contract negotiations with General Motors Corp. Chrysler Group and Ford Motor in the coming days and, as always, the negotiations with the GM will once again serve as the main event .

After all, Ford hasn’t had a serious labor disruption since Gerald Ford occupied the White House. Even if the talks at Ford turn contentious — and they might — the company still has the option of bringing in executive chairman Bill Ford to smooth over any rough edges. Bill Ford is widely respected inside and has a well-founded reputation for being more than fair with union members.

At Chrysler union leaders and the rank-and-file have been thoroughly charmed by Sergio Marchionne, who has gone out of his way in the past two years to court the UAW. The union leadership at Chrysler has reciprocated, giving Marchionne wide latitude even though, up until this week, they were the technical owners of the company.

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But at GM, the long legacy of bitter fights and mistrust between labor and management still overshadows the negotiations. Both union leaders and GM’s management have made an effort to move on and give the company the equivalent of a post-bankruptcy fresh start.  Nonetheless, labor relations at GM are very much a work in progress.

And that could bring some serious problems as the talks head to a September deadline — even though the terms of GM’s 2009 government bailout bar both a worker strike and management lockout.

(more…)

Who’ll Blink First: Chrysler or the CAW?

With deadline looming, neither side seems willing to blink.

by on Apr.17, 2009

Will a dispute with Canadian workers bring down Chrysler? CAW President Ken Lewenza doesn't appear ready to blink.

Will a dispute with Canadian workers bring down Chrysler? Lewenza doesn't appear ready to blink.

There’s a huge game of chicken underway between Chrysler management and the Canadian Auto Workers Union – and it could well decide the fate of the struggling automaker.

Chrysler Chairman Robert Nardelli said new contracts with both the UAW and the Canadian union are now critical to the company’s survival.

“Now, what we’re asking for is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made extraordinarily painful concessions to do more … It will require efforts from a whole host of other stakeholders, including dealers and suppliers,” Nardelli said in a message to employees late Thursday.

“Chrysler and the Canadian Auto Workers union have held a series of meetings, but unfortunately, have not reached an agreement on concessions as outlined by the Canadian government. The CAW has been unwilling to abide by the terms of the Canadian government loan, which requests that the union meet local transplant all-in labor costs. This issue is also critical. Without a successful resolution, the alliance with Fiat and our continued viability is at risk,” Nardelli added.

However, CAW President Ken Lewenza said he wasn’t about to accept Chrysler’s calculations about labor costs in Canada, where the automaker has about 9,000 employees and two key assembly plants. (more…)