GM looks for early contract talks at Ontario plant, union says

Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:50am EST
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* Union says GM asks Cami plant workers to start talks early

* CAW workers vote Feb 10 on opening talks

* March 24 set aside for ratification vote

* Union reached pattern deal with Detroit 3 in Sept

TORONTO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union is recommending workers at a General Motors Co plant accept what it says is the automaker's request to open labor talks months ahead of a September contract expiry, believing it could help secure jobs at the southern Ontario site.

A union representative said on Monday that he believes GM wants a new contract earlier than planned so that it can lock in long-term costs before starting construction of a major addition to the Ingersoll, Ontario, plant.

The automaker has begun site preparation and moved "acres of dirt," said Mike Van Boekel, chairman of the Cami plant unit of Local 88 of the Canadian Auto Workers. Van Boekel believes the addition will house a welding shop, which would be a requirement for plant production of next-generation vehicles in two years.

The Cami plant, which last year produced more than 300,000 of GM's fast-selling Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers, employs some 2,700 hourly workers.

Production runs 24 hours a day, six days a week, with mandatory overtime, Van Boekel said, but still has not kept pace with demand.   Continued...