By on August 16, 2012

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.”


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19 Comments on “CAW, Auto Makers, Kick Off Talks...”

  • avatar

    Threaten them with Mexico. Strike that, fold shop and go to Mexico.

    As a US citizen, a more prosperous Mexico will make a safer US. I think the US can live just fine with some more unemployement in Canada.

    • 0 avatar

      Since I am a citizen of the US, and live in an area of the US deluged by illegals aliens, mostly from Mexico and Central America, I have to bite my tongue to keep from commenting.

      This is a Canadian issue and we’re on a Canadian site that hosts ttac.

      But I will say that the CAW, like the UAW, should tread lightly when it comes to strong-arming their employers after the US auto industry tragedies of 2008/2009.

      It is clear to most industry watchers that Mexico is currently the favorite beneficiary of foreign companies setting up new plants and production in Mexico. ’nuff said!

      • 0 avatar

        “Since I am a citizen of the US, and live in an area of the US deluged by illegals aliens, mostly from Mexico and Central America, I have to bite my tongue to keep from commenting.”

        Clearly, you didn’t bite hard enough, because once again we are treated to another rant of your twisted logic. Just couldn’t resist, could you?

        If the USA is having illegal alien problems, and it is, then your decades long half-hearted attempts to keep them out is to blame. Apparently way back when, nobody got off their collective doofuses, but just turned a blind eye to illegals. Now it’s an immense problem. Too bad.

        Wishing for Canadians to lose jobs so that some miniscule proportion of Mexicans will not attempt to cross the border and bother you is both self-serving and selfish. Why wish hardship on others for your own provincial reasons? I for one don’t appreciate it.

        And saying that it is clear to most industry watchers that Mexico is the place to be is to merely repeat what you have said two dozen times before. Enough. What is clear is that in our current race to the bottom, corporate greed dictates you go to a place where people get paid $1.29/hr and have to like it.

        I am also not a supporter of the CAW, for what it’s worth. Can’t see beyond the ends of their collective noses. But that is not an argument against unionism per se, as it is against an overfed union which has lost touch with the new reality. Dumb doesn’t begin to describe the CAW, and other unions in our rich country. The “l’m all right, Jack, screw you” mentality of public sector unions annoys me intensely. They are spenders, not creators, of wealth and regularly stop service, holding the public hostage for their own selfish reasons. I say cut their salaries in half, then they’d see what average private sector workers have to live on these days. Better yet, let half of them go and see if service actually suffers.

      • 0 avatar

        wharton mba, I did not say that I wished Canadians to lose their jobs. This is a Canadian issue. They should sort it out. But the specter of employers taking their production elsewhere looms large.

        And I have over the decades employed many illegal aliens, and continue to do so to this day. They’re great workers and they come cheap.

        Whatever money they do not spend in America they send home to wherever their family is in a foreign land, and they pay no income taxes although some of them can pull in as much as $1000 a week in day jobs.

        The law says they cannot be turned down for medical care, hospitalization, food stamps, drivers licenses and welfare, but they have no TINs or SSANs.

        Whether my logic is twisted or not, there are a lot of people in my area that see illegal aliens as a real burden to our society.

        But we’re all immigrants in America, and so were my parents. The difference is, most immigrants are here legally.

        I’m not against immigration as long as they come here legally. I think that 12+ million illegals in the US is not insignificant.

        Then again, you can be generous, you are far removed from the problems of the border areas.

        The dilemma is that in a country whose slogan is “Give me your tired, …your poor, …your huddled masses….” how can we possibly reject anyone seeking a better life?

        We do that by creating that better life south of the border to keep them there. And the US domestic automakers have done exactly that, and the foreigners are following suit.

    • 0 avatar

      What an attitude!

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know what Mexican auto workers make per hour. Maids and gardeners make between two and three dollars per hour in the Ajijic area. Based on what laborers are paid, I would suspect that auto workers are paid substantially more.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      HDC Translation Services At Your Service:

      ‘I have over the decades employed many illegal aliens, and continue to do so to this day. They’re great workers and they come cheap’

      ‘Whether my logic is twisted or not, there are a lot of people in my area that see illegal aliens as a real burden to our society’

      ….says the guy who rants about people in this country taking benefits without ‘paying taxes’ and employs illegal aliens and doesn’t follow policy and thus encourages more illegal aliens to follow the same path then complains about the end consequences.

      HDC….don’t pull your ‘local’ crap on me. And. don’t lecture people about living on the government dime.

  • avatar

    I’d love to see our American neigbours achieve full employment, we’re seeing far too many of you up here looking for work, it’s sad really to see an industrial giant laid so low.

  • avatar

    I think the Det 3 would also like to see a two-tier wage structure in Canada. That would be especially tough for the CAW to swallow. But as the article correctly states, they are not bargaining from a particular position of strength. Interestingly, the CAW has hammered out a merger agreement (still to be ratified) with the Commercial, Energy and Paperworker’s union to form by far the largest private sector union in Canada. So it is not exactly a great time for the CAW to be making all kinds of concessions. I don’t envy Lewenza’s lot…

  • avatar

    Watch the CAW screw this up good.

  • avatar

    Lewenza had better be careful here, trying to bluff when all you are holding is a pair of 2s is dangerous business. That said, the CAW pretty well has to try and sound tough going in because all those high paid union executive positions are elected positions after all. If they don’t at least put on a show they might not get elected next time.
    In the end though, they’re going to have to take whatever medicine the employer decides or else those plants will be gone 15 minutes after the investment commitments expire in 2014(?).

  • avatar

    Derek, surely those would be high *labour* costs in Canada?

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      That would confuse some US readers who can sometimes be nit-picky. I constantly am hounded by my U.S. sister divisions when I send e-mails reporting “labour” costs.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    When the C$ was worth less than the US$ the CAW rationalized higher Canadian wages saying our autoworkers are paid in cheaper dollars. Now it wants to bury that rationalization, apparently until the last unionista is unemployed.

  • avatar

    at this time Unions have absolutely NO bargaining power.
    If they strike…close the plant!
    I would call this a lose,lose situation.
    Whatever the union`s did to raise the standards of the middle class they lost by their own self centered
    “I don’t care as long as I get a check” ways.
    $30.00 an hour jobs for people who dont give a shit!
    And now the rest of us ‘middle class\'(most just barely) have to pay the price.
    After the unions go away we will REALLY see what middle class is left.
    And it wont be pretty!

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    I’m sure most CAW members have already forgotten Ken Lewenza’s impressive negotiating skills at the London Ontario Caterpillar (Electro-Motive) facility. Even with 99% of the Canadian media acting like spin-doctors for the Union position, Cat pulled out and moved it all to Indiana.

    • 0 avatar

      That should be a reminder to Mr. Lewenza that he needs to factor in the fact that there’s a low wage country with nine times Canada’s population on Canada’s southern border.

      Looking south, he should be even more concerned, watching a communications union call a two-day demonstration strike, only to see the strikers holding up signs blaming the union leadership for costing them two days’ pay.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    So the CAW doesn’t want to accept Profit Sharing which is a better distribution of the company’s earnings, and more responsible given the state of the economy, yet they want guaranteed increases (which many private sector workers don’t have) which can only drain the company’s coffers particularly if the company isn’t doing well…

    … yes that’s very sustainable.

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