Union wants automakers to invest
Aug 13, 2012 / 10:57 am
The big U.S. automakers need to invest in their Canadian facilities as a means of boosting job security, the Canadian Auto Workers union said Monday as it geared up for contract talks slated to begin this week.
Union president Ken Lewenza says boosting the technology at the automakers' facilities would increase productivity, improve profits and make workers' jobs more secure.
"We want the very best state-of-the-art paint jobs," Lewenza said.
"We want the very best technology that's offered in the manufacturing of vehicles. Because when you invest in the facility, you increase productivity. When you increase productivity, then you increase profits, and then wages become more sustainable."
The union is scheduled to hold meetings the General Motors Canada on Tuesday morning in Toronto, followed by Chrysler Canada in the afternoon. Ford Canada and the CAW are to meet Wednesday.
The union says it's hoping to avoid a strike, which would halt the momentum that the auto companies have seen lately as they have worked to recover from the recession.
"This will be the first time in a decade that the CAW is actually going into negotiations with the companies actually making money and predicting a profitable future," Lewenza said.
"But at the end of the day it's still a very fragile economy, and we've got to make sure that there's a balanced approach, and we've got to make sure the corporations aren't overzealous."
Lewenza says the union made a number of "significant" sacrifices, including to wages, vacation time and cost-of-living payments, to help the struggling automakers in 2008 and 2009.
While the union doesn't expect to regain all of those cuts, Lewenza says it's hoping to make some progress now that the companies are making a profit.
The union says it is adamantly opposed to a two-tiered pay system that would see newer employees make less.
"We have a significant amount of existing auto workers that are on lay off with the expectation of returning to work," Lewenza said.
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