Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Worker's Union, announced a tentative deal with Chrysler this evening. There were no new investments included as there had been in earlier agreements with Ford and GM.
Except for the lack of new investments, Lewenza said the Chrysler deal was quite similar to the Ford agreement signed on Sept. 14 and the GM agreement on Sept. 20.
None of the three deals contain any base wage increases. However, there is a $2,000 a year cost of living increase in each of the last three years of the four year contract. There is also a $3,000 signing bonus.
Lewenza said:“We’re confident Chrysler can grow in Canada, if the market can grow.".
The union was unable to pressure Chrysler into promising any new investment in Canada. The Ford agreement added 600 jobs and the GM deal added or maintained even more at 1,750 jobs. However, Chrysler agreed to continue to run three shifts in the WIndsor plant and two shifts in Brampton over the life of the contract.
Lewenza cautioned that "You cannot bargain airtight job security". Nevertheless, Lewenza maintained:"Mr. Marchionne has lots of reasons to invest in Canada," Sergio Marchionne.is the Italian CEO of Chrysler.
Lewenza was correct in his view that all of the big three automakers Ford, Chrysler, and GM would agree to similar agreements. However, the final agreement with Chrysler seems the weakest of the three since it involves no investment provisions.
Lewenze also predicted an agreement could be reached through 3 or 4 days of tough negotiations with each company. With the tentative Chrysler deal, the union has successfully negotiated the three deals after nearly two weeks of hard bargaining.
Negotiations with Chrysler went on until 5 A.M. this morning. The union was hoping the deal could be completed this evening. Chrysler has more than 8,000 unionized workers in Ontario. Most, about 5,000, work in Windsor, with another 3,000 working in Brampton just outside of Toronto. A ratification vote will be held on Sunday.
Given that a vote on ratification has not taken place, Chrysler would not comment on any details of the agreement but the vice-president of employee relations, Al Iacobelli did post an email that said:"We extend our appreciation to our Canadian workforce for their patience during this pivotal round of collective bargaining. We will not comment on the details of the tentative agreement during the CAW ratification process."
No doubt both sides will be happy that an agreement was reached and a strike averted. The last thing needed for the big three is a strike when all three are in the process of recovering from the recession.