UPDATE 1-GM looks for early contract talks at Ontario plant

Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:03pm EST
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* GM asks Cami plant workers to start talks early

* CAW workers vote Feb 10 on whether to open talks

* March 24 set aside for ratification vote

* Union reached pattern deal with GM in Sept

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union is recommending workers at a General Motors Co plant in southern Ontario accept GM's request to start bargaining for a new contract months ahead of the September expiration of the current deal in the hope that doing so will help secure jobs.

A union official said on Monday he believes GM wants the new contract so that it can lock in long-term costs before starting construction of a major addition at its 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 production of next-generation vehicles in two years' time.

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