Canada auto workers, Detroit 3 still miles apart

Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:42pm EDT
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By Allison Martell and Bernie Woodall

OSHAWA, Ontario/DETROIT (Reuters) - Just three days before a strike deadline, the Canadian Auto Workers and the three Detroit automakers were far apart on major contract issues, with Chrysler Group's CEO telling workers to temper their expectations and plant organizers preparing for a walk-out.

Negotiations with Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC FIA.MI, General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) and Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) have intensified, the CAW said, but little progress had been made by Friday afternoon.

"The reality is that we are still miles apart. They really haven't moved although we have had a little bit more dialogue on particular issues," said Dino Chiodo, president of CAW Local 444, the union at Chrysler's Windsor, Ontario, assembly plant.

"We have our challenges ahead of us, that is no question," he said.

Talks are taking place around the clock at a hotel in downtown Toronto as time ticks down to the union's strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. EDT on Monday (0359 GMT, Tuesday).

The CAW, which represents some 20,000 workers at the Detroit Three, has threatened an unprecedented simultaneous strike at all three automakers if it fails to reach a contract agreement with at least one of them before the deadline.

Earlier on Friday, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne warned union negotiators that they couldn't keep ignoring the "facts" as that was not going to "make anybody's life better".

Marchionne did not provide details, but in the past he has said that manufacturing costs in Canada, which he calls the highest in the world, must be addressed in the current contract talks.   Continued...