May 18, 2008 / 3:01 AM / 10 years ago

Canadian union accepts Chrysler labor deal

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canadian Auto Workers union members voted in favor of a three-year labor agreement with Chrysler, the union said on Saturday.

<p>Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) President Buzz Hargrove is framed in the viewfinder of a camera while speaking with journalists in Ottawa November 2, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

The accord, based on a deal ratified with Ford Canada earlier this month, completes a lightning round of talks with Detroit automakers intended to protect workers from an even deeper downturn in the industry.

The pact will see wages frozen, but includes some cost of living increases in the second and third years, and firms up new investments in Chrysler’s Ontario plants.

The union, which represents approximately 8,000 workers at Chrysler, said members ratified the deal by 87 percent, the highest approval rate at the “Big Three” automakers in Canada.

Worker votes were 84 percent at General Motors and 67 percent at Ford.

“I have no doubt in my mind that going into early bargaining with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler was the best thing for our members,” said Buzz Hargrove, CAW president, in a statement.

“With the new product commitments contained in the agreement, our members will be better equipped to weather the economic storm currently devastating the auto industry,” he added.

The agreement with Chrysler includes commitments at the company’s plant in Brampton, Ontario for the launch of the new C-series vehicles in 2010, the CAW said.

Chrysler also agreed to keep its casing plant at Etobicoke, Ontario open until June 2011, with the intention of selling the plant or making it into a joint venture, the CAW said.

Reporting by Robert Melnbardis, editing by Todd Eastham

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