Canadian Auto Workers, GM reach tentative contract

Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:10am EDT
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By Allison Martell and Nicole Mordant

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union said on Thursday it reached a tentative four-year contract with General Motors Co, after a day of fighting words from union leader Ken Lewenza and hours of grueling negotiations.

Earlier on Thursday, Lewenza said that if the two sides did not resolve their differences by late afternoon, he would give notice of a strike. Instead, talks continued into the evening.

"In today's economy, today's market share, it meets our goals," the CAW president said of the GM deal, which mirrored Monday's agreement with Ford Motor Co on wages and benefits.

The CAW, which represents some 20,000 workers at the Detroit Three automakers, has been pushing to finalize agreements with GM and Fiat SpA's Chrysler since reaching the Ford deal.

Speaking at a news conference, Lewenza said GM had agreed to add a third shift to its "flex" line in Oshawa, Ontario, worth 900 jobs, and create 100 positions at its St. Catharines, Ontario, facility.

GM had planned to shut down Oshawa's three-shift "consolidated line" in June 2013, but that line is now slated to operate with at least one shift until June 2014, Lewenza said.

The fate of the consolidated line was a key issue in talks, as it employs about 2,000 workers, nearly a quarter of the CAW's workforce at GM. Lewenza said the union now expected that no one with seniority would be on layoff at GM by the end of the new contract.

TWO DOWN   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