Ford Canada labor talks aim to cut $16/hour gap

Fri Oct 2, 2009 6:01pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - Labor costs at Ford Motor Co are about $16 an hour higher in Canada than in the United States, the Canadian Auto Workers confirmed on Friday, but union said it needs guarantees on production levels before it agrees to concessions to level the field.

The CAW and Ford have been in cost-cutting negotiations since September 8.

The talks follow deals the union made with General Motors Co and Chrysler in the spring to help those companies qualify for billions of dollars in government aid needed to survive the industry downturn.

Those three-year collective agreements cut around C$19 ($17.60) an hour from labor costs at GM and Chrysler.

The United Auto Workers struck a deal with Ford in March that the company said brought its U.S. labor costs down to around $55 an hour. That leaves CAW labor costs, which include wages, benefits, vacation time, and a bevy of other items, about $16 higher.

"Based on the UAW already making economic sacrifices, that's in the ballpark," Ken Lewenza, the CAW's president, told Reuters. "You can argue a buck or two either way, but that's in the ballpark."

Ford, which has not needed any government funding to stay afloat and was the only one of the three Detroit-based automakers not to restructure under bankruptcy protection, says it now needs cost reductions to compete.

Ford has said costs at its Canadian operations are its highest worldwide.   Continued...