CAW wraps up Detroit 3 bargaining with Chrysler deal

Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:15am EDT
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By Susan Taylor and Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers said on Wednesday it had reached a tentative four-year labor contract with Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC, the last of the Detroit Three automakers to agree to a new deal with the union.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said the tentative contract mirrored agreements reached last week with Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co, despite Chrysler's early insistence that those deals were too costly.

"We achieved the entire pattern, intact," Lewenza said at an evening news conference in Toronto.

Union negotiators had pushed hard for Chrysler to invest in building new vehicle models in Canadian plants, but the company made no such promise in the deal. The Ford and GM agreements also included no new investment.

Pattern bargaining, where the union uses its agreement with the first of the Detroit automakers as a strict template for the next two deals, is a longstanding strategy meant to ensure the companies do not compete by lowering wages.

But Chrysler had been the most vocal among the automakers in arguing that Canadian labor costs are too high and should drop to match those of the United Auto Workers in the United States.

Chrysler had also criticized the union for negotiating its pattern deal with Ford, noting that Ford has significantly reduced its Canadian operations in recent years.

On Wednesday, Chrysler said it would not comment in detail on the deal until after it is ratified.   Continued...

Ken Lewenza, national president of CAW (Canadian Auto Workers), discusses contract negotiations with General Motors following a meeting between the two, in Toronto, August 14, 2012 REUTERS/Brett Gundlock