By on March 26, 2008

hargroveb400.jpgStop me when this sounds familiar. Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) boss Buzz Hargrove says his brotherhood is "committed to get at the costs" that Canada one of the the world's most expensive places to build cars. Yes, well weakening Canada's currency is quite an ambitious undertaking. And "getting at" costs is one thing; reducing them another. The Globe and Mail reaffirms that Hargrove's legendary intransigence tough stance continues. Buzz' boyz won't agree to the North American template, that sees significant wage and benefits reductions for car assembling newbies. Buzz figures "It's my last set of negotiations and my legacy is not going to be that the sons and daughters of current workers that were hired over 20 years ago are going to come in at the same rate in 2008 as their parents did in '86 or '87." To that end AOL Money Canada reports Buzz' boyz are strike-ready if the two-tiered wage thang becomes a sticking point. Did I say "if?"

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16 Comments on “CAW Prez Buzz Hargrove Says No to Two-Tier Wages. Again. Still....”


  • avatar
    SpeedJebus

    Must be nice to dictate the futures of the union membership when his own job is in no way tied to these negotiations.

    Here’s an idea:

    Present it to the union membership, endorse whatever proposal (if it is warranted), and let them VOTE on it.

    The current conditions dictate that they might, just MIGHT be willing to accept some sacrifices to be able to guarantee their own jobs, as well as the jobs of the future.

    Currency issues have alrady taken away a large part of our cost advantages. Why give them another reason to abandon Canada?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “my legacy is not going to be that the sons and daughters of current workers that were hired over 20 years ago are going to come in at the same rate in 2008 as their parents did in ’86 or ’87.”

    Not to worry. They won’t get hired at all. Can you say made in China?

  • avatar
    Wulv

    Robert Schwartz — I was just about to say the same thing. Or something to the fact that the current employees are not THAT stupid that they haven’t told their children to hit University, get a degree, and stay away from the auto-industry. I work with former Ford employees, and know more current Ford workers, I don’t know a single one that hasn’t told their kids to stay away from Ford jobs.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Buzz off!!

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    I love this guy!! Every quote is a gem. He’s the Donald Rumsfeld of the automotive world (Dead-ender’s anyone….hello).

    It’s not what he thinks; it’s just that he’s 50 years too late in thinking it.

    In Buzz’s defense, it’s hard to argue with success. Short sighted company managers – check, spineless jellyfish of a Liberal Party provincial government (talking to you Dalton)-check, and workers that would like a few weeks in the summer-check! Note: there is a reason that Canadian auto contracts expire in the summertime (and not January or February). This playbook has worked before……

    We just talk about how screwed up Detroit managers are – Buzz lives it!!

    Buzz, if you’re reading this (and I know that you are) keep fighting the power! In the meantime I’ll be dropping of copies of Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” over at the CAW 707 hall on the QEW (just across from the Ford Oakville plant).

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    How does Buzz think he has any leverage at all? If the CAW strikes the work will just be moved to the U.S. There are idled factories and out of work employees who would be happy to be on the line.

    Not to mention the value of the dollar.

  • avatar
    justjim

    Ah yes, crazy Buzz is at it again… How about some more of your useless rants on the why’s and how’s of Federal and Provincial Governments that should be backing the automakers to suppliment your “workers” demands for ever higher wages and ever increasing costs to the benefits they so much deserve? If ever there was a way to take the “made in Canada” stickers off of the cars and trucks made by workers in Canada, I’m sure Buzz will be the leading cause. Ship all the jobs south Buzz, that must be a hidden part of your grand master plan.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Dear Buzz,
    Because the effects aren’t as immeadiate (usually) many fail to realize that economics are governed by laws as inflexible, in the long run, as gravity.
    If your balance and timing are great you can do some stuff that “appears” to defy gravity. It is only an illusion.
    If you jump off the 23rd floor all you do is make a stain on the pavement.

    Think about what you are doing before you “step off”, buddy. OK?
    You’re not the one who will see the pavement rushing up to meet you. Are you REALLY thinking about those you “serve”? Or is this ALL about your “legacy”? ‘Cuz you might not leave the “legacy” you think you will.

    Economics, like physics, will not care about anyones reasons, theories or families. They don’t care if you think somebody is “holding out” on you. If you disobey them they WILL take you out. Nothing personal, just doing their job.

    I suspect the CAW und UAW have been dissing Momma Econ’s laws for a long time, look out ‘cuz Momma’s gonna smack you hard.

    Philosophically yours,

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    The union that negotiates my contract has taken pay cuts in order to avoid layoffs in the past. When presented with the option they decided to protect jobs. It sounds like Buzz would rather save his “legacy” as he sees it. Holding out for higher wages at the expense of job cuts is great just so long as it’s not your job getting cut. Personally, I am willing to take a 10% wage cut to make sure that Jim across the hall still has a job. Of course in this case not taking the pay cut could easily result in everybody at a given plant losing their job including the guy with 25 years of seniority who will have a hard time finding a job that pays anywhere near what he would have got even with the pay cut.

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    The CAW’s leverage is that the Big 3 can’t just up and move the work to the US – in a timely manner.

    The CAW knows that these companies are judged by their short term profits/losses. They are getting ready to roll the dice (again), betting that no Detroit manufacturer will want to take the hit of losing almost an entire years worth of production from a prolonged strike.

    When I say a year, I think that I’m being conservative. There is no way the tooling is ever leaving Oakville, Oshawa, or Brampton, so the company will have to start completely from scratch. That takes time and Buzz & Co. understand better then anyone that the company(s) don’t want to take that hit – even if it is the smart move when viewed from a long term perspective.

    Just Google “Caterpillar Case Study” to see a real world example.

    Last but not least is the UAW. Would they really want to be enablers to the wholesale movement of entire factories just to save 10-15K jobs? Since production is all boxed up and moving to a new city what’s so great about Michigan – and not Mexico?

    Bottom line: It is only when companies commit to long term cost reductions – even at the expense of short term profits/losses will the behavior of the labor unions change.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    MikeInCanada:

    I guess what your saying is that the Canadian government would seize the private property of the automakers and not allow them to ship their tooling that they paid for down to the US? What a wonderful world.

  • avatar
    AGR

    Its in the CAW’s best interest to do as much posturing as possible, especially towards the membership.

    We will see additonal posturing in the coming months from both sides for a multitude of reasons. They will start negotiating, they will reach some sort of an impasse, who knows they might even call a mini strike and then settle.

    The CAW has the value of the CDN dollar as strong headwind, if the Ontario economy deteriorates as forecasted it will be another headwind.

  • avatar
    curt5309

    “There is no way the tooling is ever leaving Oakville, Oshawa, or Brampton, so the company will have to start completely from scratch.”

    Mike: why is this so? Why can’t they pack up the tooling and make the vehicles in USA?

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I’m thinking they would just move the tooling. they own the plants, they own the tooling there is no problem here. It would just be moved to an idle plant in Detroit.

    Only so many straws you can put on the camel.

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    In thinking about recent strikes at smaller companies in Ontario I can’t remember a single one in which the strikers were not passively enabled by the Province to disrupt the business far beyond the scope of the legally permitted strike lines.

    I just can’t envision the Ontario Provincial Police forcing open a CAW picket line so that a fleet of semi’s can come in and move out tooling and other equipment – and that’s after lawsuits and other legal actions which would be used to delay any attempt to unload the plant.

    Remember, the objective is to make moving a plant so expensive that the cheaper thing to do is to just pay off the workers (again). Yes, eventually you reach a tipping point in which the long term cost so far exceeds the short term costs the company just pulls the plug (Hello Buffalo!).

    Buzz is betting that we’re not at that point yet – I suspect that Buzz and I could not agree upon much more then the time of day and that Sleeman’s makes a fine beer – I got to admit: I think that he’s right on this one.

    The CAW is both politically and media savvy. They know how to run a picket line and to appear to be ‘victims’ at a pay scale that is the envy of most Canadian workers.

  • avatar
    benders

    I actually think the UAW should be doing this. I believe the two tiered wage system is bad for the union overall. It defeats the whole purpose of solidarity. That being said, I still think they need to cut wages but the rest of the union members need to stop selling out their younger replacements.

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