WINDSOR - Ford and the Canadian Auto Workers union will begin what the union calls "exploratory talks" on Sept. 8th.

CAW president Ken Lewenza says the talks are a precursor to full-scale bargaining aimed at a new agreement with the automaker following the new deals reached at GM and Chrysler.

Those deals involved concessions needed to secure government bailout money, which Ford did not seek.

Lewenza says the future of Ford operations in Canada could be in question if they don't open up the contract.

He says Ford has told the union it's at a disadvantage because of the new deals with GM and Chrysler, but he admits the workers may not all agree that concessions are needed with Ford.

Lewenza says the goal for the union will be to keep the St. Thomas, Ont., assembly plant open until the end of the agreement, and shore up more investment for the Essex Engine plant, which will reopen in the fall.