CAW seeks strike OK at Caterpillar plant
By Lynn Adler
(Reuters) - The head of the Canadian Auto Workers union is looking for a green light from members to potentially strike Caterpillar over a contract dispute in London, Ontario.
Caterpillar and the CAW have been negotiating a new deal for locomotive-manufacturing employees who have a contract expiring at the end of this week. The union has repeatedly said the Peoria, Illinois company's offer is too low, and the gap too wide, but now the two sides are running out of time.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said in a Thursday interview that the union received and rejected the latest proposal on Tuesday. The offer calls for a "better than 50 percent reduction in our pay and a better than 50 percent reduction in our health care benefits, with the elimination of the pension plan."
The deal would affect about 425 production workers who came to Caterpillar in the 2010 acquisition of Electro-Motive Diesel.
The current contract expires at midnight on December 31.
Lewenza said the CAW is opposed to cutting core wages and benefits while Caterpillar officials told Reuters its deal is "fair, reasonable and market competitive."
The CAW will meet with members Friday to discuss the next steps.
"The reality is we're having a membership meeting tomorrow morning, and giving them an update on the negotiations and we're going to ask our membership for strike authorization because the proposal is so unprecedented, quite frankly," he said. Continued...