CAW sees signs of "constructive dialogue" in auto talks

Fri Sep 7, 2012 4:43pm EDT
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By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Detroit Three automakers want to avoid a strike and seem willing to engage in "constructive dialogue," the head of the Canadian Auto Workers union said on Friday, two days after threatening to shut them all down if no deal is reached soon.

"There's signals of more constructive conversations," and dialogue, CAW President Ken Lewenza said in an interview.

"I still believe in the next six or seven days, one of the companies, if not all of the companies, will come and say the last thing we need is a work stoppage. Now how do we get a deal," Lewenza said.

The CAW, which represents about 20,000 workers at Ford of Canada, General Motors of Canada and Chrysler Canada, said on Wednesday it could stage a simultaneous strike at all three if it does not get a new contract deal by September 17.

The union's strike captains will meet in Toronto on Monday to advance plans for a triple strike.

It is an unprecedented strategy for the union, which had been expected to announce a lead company on which it would focus negotiations in order to set a pattern for the other two.

A triple strike would halt Detroit Three vehicle production in Canada, along with the engines and transmission systems that are used in both Canadian and U.S. auto production plants.

Any disruption to parts supplies would quickly ripple through the supply chain because automakers keep inventories lean, using a just-in-time system, to control costs.   Continued...