June 18, 2008 / 2:11 AM / in 9 years

Latest meeting with GM "didn't go too well": CAW

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers and General Motors of Canada met again on Wednesday to try to resolve their bitter dispute over the closing of an Ontario truck plant, but a union spokesman said there was no progress.

<p>Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove talks to the media in the lobby of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan June 6, 2008. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>

Keith Osborne, chairman of CAW Local 222, in Oshawa, said he met with Larry Weiner, an executive vice-president at GM, to try to advance discussions after previous meetings in Detroit and Toronto ended at impasses.

“The meeting didn’t go too well,” he said.

Osborne said GM wanted union to drop a grievance filed against the company claiming the company broke their collective agreement. It also wanted the CAW to drop complaints brought to the Ontario Labour Relations Board and to stop talking to the media about the issue, before moving on, he said.

“I told him (Weiner), you’d be better off coming up here with a package, instead of saying drop everything and then we’ll discuss things, because I don’t trust you guys any more,” Osborne said.

Osborne said he walked out of the meeting, but that he was going to meet with Weiner again in the afternoon.

A GM spokesman was unavailable for comment.

The two sides are due back in court on Thursday, where a judge will hear arguments on whether the CAW will be liable for C$1.5 million ($1.47 million) in damage claims by GM relating to production stoppages from the union’s protests against the planned plant closing.

The company told the union on June 3 that it would close its Oshawa, Ontario, truck plant in late 2009, putting as many as 2,600 workers out of a job.

The announcement came just two weeks after contract negotiations in which GM agreed to keep the plant open until at least 2011.

The union launched a 12-day blockade of GM’s Canadian headquarters in Oshawa. It included a one-time convoy that circled the company’s plants, stopping production for 45 minutes.

An Ontario Superior Court judge told the union to end what he called an illegal blockade, but he also said GM acted with “almost deceitful behavior” in contract negotiations, which could make future bargaining difficult.

Osborne said he expects the suit will be dropped.

“I don’t think money was ever the issue,” he said. “I think they needed the money there, basically, to get the injunction to move forward, because there was a cost value to it.”

GM makes the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra at the Oshawa truck plant. It also plans to close two other plants in the United States and one in Mexico, citing a steep drop in demand for light trucks and SUVs in a U.S. market hit hard by the economic slowdown and soaring fuel costs.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Editing by Rob Wilson

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