Canadian Auto Workers May Strike, Deadline Looms

The dispute over policies affecting members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) could come to a close tonight, but a strike across Ford, Chrysler and General Motors’ Canadian operations is possible.

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Chrysler Gets Ready to Take on Canadian Auto Workers

Having successfully worked with the United Auto Works union in developing a new contract in the US, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is now turing his attention north of the border, as the automaker gets ready to begin negotiations with UAW’s Canadian counterpart, the CAW.

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Canadian Union Voices Concerns Amid New UAW Contract

In perhaps a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, head of the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union, Ken Lewenza  has expressed some concern over a tentative new agreement south of the border between the UAW and General Motors.

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CAW Burns Nardelli/LaSorda Letter and Responds With Its Own

The Canadian Auto Workers union, after burning the letter written by Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli and joint-president Tom Lasorda, has now responded with its own statement.

CAW president Ken Lewenza denies that a $19 labor gap exists between Canadian and U.S. workers and refuses to re-negotiate a contract that has already been re-neogotiated. 

Lewenza calls the $76 per hour wage “inflated and artificial” and says that it, “includes many non-relevant factors, such as expenses associated with retirees who have not worked at Chrysler for years, and payroll taxes which are paid to government not to workers.” He continues: “Perhaps most galling of all, Chrysler’s number even includes the proportional cost of downtime and lay-offs. In essence, we are being ‘charged’ for our own unemployment. The best way to reduce that artificial $76 number is to put Chrysler workers back to work: that alone would reduce hourly costs by several dollars per hour.”

Regardless of how you view the statistics, Lewenza makes two other strong points. First, he says that Toyota and Honda (both of which are non-unionized) have made it well-known that they match wages and other benefits with unionized automakers. In other words, the wage that Chrysler employees are making is fair because it’s what the other companies are paying their staff. Second, Lewenza says that the bond holders haven’t had to make any concessions at all.

Unfortunately for Lewenza and the CAW, it doesn’t matter what they say and it seems that if the $19 gap isn’t closed then Fiat won’t partner with Chrysler, the federal governments in both Canada and the United States won’t keep the cash flowing. As a result Chrysler will be forced into bankruptcy, something Lewenza calls, “an increasingly likely prospect.”

Read the full letter after the jump:

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