The Canadian Auto Workers union is negotiating with Chrysler — the last remaining automaker among the Detroit Three to broker a deal — after reaching a tentative agreement with General Motors Thursday night.
"To the Chrysler workers we represent in Canada: Be patient. I hope the patterns established will give Chrysler the confidence," CAW president Ken Lewenza said Thursday. "We’re not fearful of providing a strike notice. If Chrysler is going to resist that pattern we may have to use that tool."
The union reached a four-year deal with General Motors following a marathon 30-hour negotiating session that is similar to one reached with Ford on Monday.
Lewenza said the GM deal incorporates the entire Ford pattern — including a 10-year progression to full pay and a hybrid pension plan for new employees, as well as a $2,000 annual cost of living lump sum payment in the second, third and fourth years and a $3,000 ratification bonus for all employees.
The GM deal also includes significant investment at plants in Ontario. Lewenza announced GM will create or maintain 1,750 Canadian jobs, including 900 positions for a third shift at the flex-plant in Oshawa, Ont. The U.S. company will also invest $675 million in capital spending in Canada.
The CAW — which represents 21,000 workers at Chrysler, GM and Ford — has been in round-the-clock negotiations with the Detroit Three since Monday when a midnight strike deadline was put off after the union reached a deal with Ford.
Chrysler remains in a legal position to strike if at any point the talks stall. It has said it will give 24 hours notice before a work stoppage.
Tony Faria, the co-director of office of automotive research at the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business, said Thursday's deal was a "win for the CAW" and suggested the last remaining holdout in the negotiations will likely follow GM and Ford.
"Chrysler will agree to the same pattern, very reluctantly," Faria said.
Ford employees will vote on the tentative agreement this weekend and results are expected Sunday night. The vote for GM workers has yet to be scheduled.