The Canadian Auto Workers and the Big Three have kicked off labor talks, with the CAW taking a hard line against concessions – a position that some say, could lead to a lack of future in investment in Canadian auto manufacturing.
While the CAW wants guaranteed wage and cost of living increases, the automakers want the CAW to accept a deal similar to what the UAW agreed on; no wage or living cost increases, but workers will be involved in a profit-sharing agreement.
One of TTAC’s Big Three sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that unions are reluctant to accept the profit-sharing agreement because they are concerned that their efforts at building a high quality car could be bungled by a poor decision made by the marketing team, and the product could fail. In that situation, profit-sharing wouldn’t be much of a help.
The CAW made a number of concessions to automakers during the 2008-2009 negotiations, which occured in the thick of the bailout. The union is hoping to gain some ground over what was lost in previous negotiations, and is demanding that auto makers stop asking for concessions from the workers.
Unfortunately, the CAW is in an especially poor bargaining position; a strong Canadian dollar, high labor costs and a willingness by automakers to close Canadian plants doesn’t give CAW President Ken Lewenza much leverage in terms of negotiating a deal with the auto makers. And botched negotiations could have drastic consequences for the future of Canada’s auto manufacturing sector.
University of Windsor professor Tony Faria, an auto industry expert, told CBC News
“I think if the CAW pushes too hard, we’re going to see no new investment in Ontario from the Detroit 3, if they can work out a deal that is more satisfactory to both sides then I think there’s a chance we can get investment here and retain, and maybe grow some jobs.”