Despite having negotiated deals with both Ford and General Motors, the Canadian Auto Workers’ union and Chrysler Group, have yet to reach an agreement. One of the biggest obstacles concerns the fact that Chrysler wishes to remove the cost of living final year adjustments which were part of the Ford and GM agreements, along with the elimination of 33 cent hourly wage increases in the fourth quarter of the current contract, which expired on September 17.
Chrysler has been the most steadfast of the Detroit three automakers in insisting that contracts with the CAW match those agreed with the UAW south of the border last year, which included profit sharing in lieu of cost of living wage adjustments, plus signing bonuses. In Chrysler’s case the UAW signing bonus consisted of a sum of $3,500 per worker issued in two parts, versus $5,000 and $6,000 lump sum payments from GM and Ford respectively. The UAW said the arrangement with Chrysler was needed since at the time of the deal, it was financially the weakest of the three U.S. automakers and the deal was necessary to help it get back on its feet.
However, despite being in a much stronger position today, having paid back its government loans and seen significant increase in market share, Chrysler continues with its stance that the CAW’s current demands are too high and concessions are needed.
On Monday, CAW President Ken Lewenza said that he wouldn’t require the same demands from Chrysler as agreed with Ford and General Motors, citing the fact that the former doesn’t have large numbers of currently laid off workers in Canada. However, some union members have expressed concern, saying that Chrysler has in fact, laid off significant numbers of permanent workers and by yielding to certain demands from the automaker, say that any agreement could result in a competitive advantage for Chrysler, against the principle of pattern bargaining usually employed in such contract talks. A deal isn’t expected to be reached within the next few days.