CAW "hopeful" one of Detroit 3 to accept its new hire proposal

Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:37pm EDT
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By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - Two days ahead of a strike deadline, a senior official at the Canadian Auto Workers said on Saturday the union is hopeful one of the Detroit Three automakers will accept its proposed concessions on compensation for new hires, clearing the way for contract negotiations to address other issues.

The union, which represents some 20,000 workers at Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co, is trying to reach three-year agreements before a contract and strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. EDT on Monday (0359 GMT, Tuesday).

CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy told Reuters he hoped a morning meet with one of the companies, which he did not name, would lead to a conclusion of "discussions on our proposal, with respect to the new employee, and then move full speed from there to try and get the rest of the issues cleared up."

"In the case of at least one of the companies, you can see the finish line," he said. "That's just on this one issue. There's still a lot of outstanding issues. I wouldn't want anybody to think that we're close to a deal here."

Kennedy could not be reached later in the afternoon to discuss that meeting. GM said it continues to have open and constructive talks with the CAW while the other two companies were not immediately available for comment.

Jerry Dias, assistant to CAW National President Ken Lewenza, said in the early afternoon that nothing has been "buttoned down" on the new hire rate.

"We're making different inroads in different areas with different companies," he said.

Dias said talks with Ford were the "most respectful" but would not say whether negotiations with Chrysler and GM were farther apart on key issues.   Continued...