Ford deal in U.S. won't influence talks here: CAW
TORONTO - Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza says Ford Canada shouldn't expect the same concessions that Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) won in recent talks with its union in the United States including a ban on strikes over wages or benefits.
"Obviously we watched the U.S. negotiations closely with the UAW because of the competitive challenges we have from one country to the other," Lewenza said in an interview Friday.
"But we're a Canadian sovereign union and we didn't do that at General Motors, we didn't do it at Chrysler in terms of no strike provisions and we're certainly not going to do it at Ford."
The agreement between Ford and the United Auto Workers runs until 2011, gives workers a US$1,000 bonus if they ratify the agreement and guarantees new vehicles for five assembly plants. It also bans strikes over wages or benefits, freezes entry-level wages and changes work rules to require some skilled-trade employees to do more than one job.
Ford and the CAW have been negotiating a new labour contract since early September, but talks have stalled on the issue of how much manufacturing capacity the company will keep in Canada.
The CAW says Ford Canada intends to slash its Canadian manufacturing presence from 13 per cent to eight per cent of total North American production. Ford currently has no plans to build vehicles at its St. Thomas, Ont., plant beyond 2011.
The union has accused Ford of asking for the same concessions the it gave General Motors and Chrysler in negotiations earlier this year, without being willing to make the same promises in return.
Chrysler committed to maintaining 20 per cent of its assembly operations in Canada, while GM promised to keep 18 per cent of its operations here.
Official talks are scheduled to re-start Oct. 26.
Lewenza also said he met recently with new Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who described the structural changes he has been undertaking with the goal of improving collaboration between all parts of the company.
Lewenza said he was "apprehensive" going into the meeting, but came out in "a great mood of optimism."
"We left there absolutely confident that if there's anybody that can turn Chrysler around it's Marchionne, because the guy's a workaholic. It's as simple as that," he said.