Canadian Auto Workers, Ford to resume formal talks

Thu Oct 8, 2009 5:29pm EDT
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DETROIT (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers expect to return to full scale formal contract negotiations with U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co on October 26, the union said on Thursday.

The CAW and Ford opened negotiations in early September toward a contract agreement that could preserve jobs in Canada by allowing for future investment, while addressing a wage gap compared with workers at Ford plants in the United States.

The two sides had working level teams gathering information and the union said it would bring its entire committee to the talks when they resume.

"We're hopeful that we will be able to reach a new agreement with Ford that will suit our members' need for better job security," CAW President Ken Lewenza said in a statement.

Labor costs are about $16 an hour higher for Ford in Canada than they are in the United States, but the CAW wants production guarantees before it agrees to level the field.

The talks with the Canadian union in part are expected to address concessions that the CAW gave to Ford rivals General Motors Co and Chrysler during their bankruptcies and whether those deals leave Ford at a disadvantage in Canada.

Ford and the United Auto Workers union also are in talks about their labor agreement in the United States following the bankruptcies of Chrysler, which is now under management control of Italy's Fiat SpA, and GM.

Ford executives have said they do not believe their UAW agreement leaves them at a cost disadvantage with GM and Chrysler in the short term, but could leave them with a disparity over the longer term.

(Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Carol Bishopric)