Canada CAW, GM still talking amid strike notice threat

Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:39pm EDT
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By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union said on Thursday it would be set to serve General Motors Co with 24-hour strike notice later in the day if ongoing negotiations could not make progress on several contract issues.

"We are still talking. I mean we have got some large issues that we have to overcome, so nothing's imminent," said Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

Earlier in the day, Lewenza had warned that if the two sides could not "narrow the differences to a respectful conversation in the next hour or so", that he would call the union bargaining committee back and "get authorization to give strike notice".

"The company offered a proposal this morning, which did not meet the pattern established at Ford Motor Co," Lewenza said on the sidelines of meetings taking place between the CAW and automakers at a hotel in Toronto.

The union, which represents some 20,000 workers at the Detroit Three, had hoped for quick agreements with GM and Fiat SpA's Chrysler after reaching a tentative contract agreement with Ford Motor Co on Monday.

The Ford deal sets a framework for talks with GM and Chrysler in a process called pattern bargaining, a long-standing union strategy meant to ensure that no company has a labor cost advantage over the others.

GM disagreed with Lewenza's assessment. "Following extensive meetings and dialogue, General Motors of Canada has delivered a proposal to the CAW that meets pattern on all elements of the Ford agreement," company spokeswoman Adria Mackenzie said in an email.

Earlier in the week, the GM talks appeared to be making good progress although talks with Chrysler seemed to be lagging.   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