TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union said on Monday it is facing “unprecedented demands” in contract talks with the Detroit Three automakers and, with one week until its agreements with them expire, has no intention of making deep cuts.
The CAW has warned that it could strike Chrysler FIA.MI, Ford (F.N) and General Motors (GM.N) simultaneously if it cannot reach a new contract deal with at least one of them before all of the contracts expire at 11:59 p.m. eastern on September 17 (0359 GMT, September 18).
The union says the companies are demanding that both current and future workers move to a defined contribution pension plan from a defined benefit plan and are also demanding the elimination of a clause allowing workers with 30 years’ experience to retire with a full pension.
As well, the automakers want to create a two-tier workforce, the CAW said, mirroring a concession they preserved in contracts with the United Auto Workers union in the United States last year. The companies are also seeking the permanent elimination of cost-of-living adjustments and further reduction in benefits, such as prescription drug access, the union said.
It said the automakers are refusing to commit to any new production investments in Canada and that they are insisting that any reward or bonus workers receive be balanced by cuts.
The companies were not immediately available to comment.
Strike captains at the union, which represents about 20,000 members at the three companies, were to meet in Toronto on Monday to advance plans for a triple strike.
“All three bargaining committees are determined to reject these demands and reach a fair deal,” the CAW said in a leaflet distributed to members on Monday.
“The union recognizes the fragility of the industry and the need to stabilize fixed costs, while finding a solution rewards members’ work. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been met with equal willingness by the companies to negotiate fair terms,” the leaflet said.
Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Leslie Adler; and Peter Galloway