Hargrove's Hard Line

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

Although Canada is the highest-cost location in North America in which to build a car, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union president Buzz Hargrove maintains he'll allow no concessions on salary or benefits in the contract negotiations this year. "We're not going to try to buy jobs by being the cheapest workers in the world," he told CAW workers meeting in Toronto. The Globe and Mail says Harvgrove and his hired economist, Jim Stanford, both deny the concessions given by the UAW last fall are equivalent to a $25/hour labor cost reduction. The fact that the exchange rate has driven Canadian wages and benefits to the equivalent of $80/hour in the U.S. is irrelevant to Stanford. He claims the higher productivity in their plants more than makes up for the cost difference between the average CAW and UAW worker. We'll see how long this posturing lasts once the negotiations start. At that point, it will most likely turn into a bidding war between the CAW and the UAW for the "right" to build new and existing product.

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  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Feb 21, 2008

    Here is an idea. If the CAW is so much better at making cars, why don't they take over the plants on a lease and build the cars under contract. You know, compete in the market like EVERYONE ELSE. If they can do it better, they get a raise, if not, too bad.

  • Mel23 Mel23 on Feb 21, 2008
    Canadian health care is not as great a savings as commonly thought. Prescription drugs, dental, eye glasses, private hospital rooms and more are not covered. It still costs the company a great deal of money. Of those listed, drug costs are the most expensive in the US, and we know they are much less in Ca. I lived in Canada for several years, and my strong impression was that dental care was part of the national health plan. I remember my dentist taking pity on me since I didn't have 'insurance'. But again, we (nearly everyone here) just don't know what the numbers are.
  • Troonbop Troonbop on Feb 21, 2008

    "why don’t they take over the plants on a lease and build the cars under contract." Ha! I remember an interviewer posing that question to a CAW representative back when Chrysler was up for sale. It was necessary to revive the CAW gentleman with smelling salts. He's recovering, but they say he'll never be the same. He just sits quietly by the radiator, gazing out the window at the passing seasons. BTW, re the dental plan; a lot of employers offer dental insurance, but it isn't part of the national health plan.

  • SherbornSean SherbornSean on Feb 21, 2008

    Buzz is gonna have to take a haricut, or else his whole head will get chopped off. I feel bad for Mikey