CAW talks with GM slow; Chrysler deal said distant

Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:40pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Contract talks between the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and General Motors Co were "bogged down" on Wednesday on plant-specific issues, a CAW official said, making a quick breakthrough on an overall deal unlikely.

Two days after the union and Ford Motor Co reached a tentative contract agreement, separate CAW talks with Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC were less advanced than the GM negotiations and the two sides remained far apart.

"Right now things have kind of bogged down on some local issues," CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy said of the GM discussions. The local issues concern job security and work standards, he said.

"We have been in meetings back and forth on that, trying to clarify those and get those issues behind us, so we can focus on the economics of the deal," he said in an interview.

Asked if he expected a deal to be reached with GM on Wednesday, Kennedy said: "No".

The slower pace of talks follows optimism on Tuesday that a GM deal might not be far off. CAW National President Ken Lewenza had said on Tuesday that the union had had a "very constructive" discussion with the leaders of the GM negotiating team and that the two sides had discussed the Ford framework agreement in detail.

The union, which represents some 20,000 workers at the three Detroit automakers, reached a tentative four-year deal with Ford on Monday, which includes lower starting wages for new hires, and a longer earn-in to reach the top level of the pay-scale.

The CAW has made the Ford agreement the pattern for bargaining with GM and Chrysler. GM has already made a counter proposal to the Ford deal.

Once the workplace issues are resolved with GM, the two sides can sit down and "clean up the agreements around the pattern", Kennedy said.   Continued...

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files