Canadian Auto Workers hold talks with GM, await Chrysler

Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:06pm EDT
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By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union said on Tuesday that it had held constructive talks with senior negotiators at General Motors, and it was awaiting a response from Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC on the framework deal it forged on Monday.

The two automakers were crunching numbers in a tentative agreement the union reached with Ford Motor Co on Monday. CAW represents about 20,000 workers at the Canadian units of the Detroit's Big Three.

"We had a very constructive discussion with the leadership of the GM team ... and I'm feeling pretty good about the end result," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "I can't say that about Chrysler today because I haven't talked to Al Iacobelli directly."

Iacobelli, Chrysler's vice president of employee relations, and Cathy Clegg, GM vice president of labor relations, have joined negotiations at a downtown Toronto hotel, along with other senior management teams, Lewenza said.

At a midday meeting, the union and GM discussed the framework agreement in detail, and Lewenza said he was now waiting for a formal proposal from the company.

While Lewenza said he was optimistic about reaching a deal with GM, he could not predict the timing.

"Being optimistic and seeing it on paper is another thing," he said.

The CAW has said it would keep negotiating with GM and Chrysler as long as progress seemed to be in sight. If talks become deadlocked, however, the union was still threatening to call its first Canadian auto strike since 1996.   Continued...

The Ford Motor Company's emblem is pictured at the company's factory in Almussafes near Valencia September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Heino Kalis