CAW to work 'around the clock' with Ford Motor Co.

The Canadian Auto Workers union says it's making progress with one of the three North American-based automakers on a wage proposal for new hires as a strike deadline looms with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
The Canadian Auto Workers union is shifting its focus to Ford Motor Co., saying the U.S. auto maker has shown willingness to renegotiate a new contract. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

The Canadian Auto Workers union says it is making progress in negotiations with Ford Motor Co. and will work "around the clock" with the U.S. automaker to sign a new contract ahead of the looming Sept. 17 deadline.

Ford has "certainly showed a willingness" to negotiate a new contract, CAW president Ken Lewenza said at a press conference on Sunday. "So we are going to move the resources of the national office, all of our bargaining committees in support of the Ford bargaining committee."

Lewenza said CAW will continue to talk with GM and Chrysler "if they are genuinely interested in getting a deal done."

"We've got the energy to go from room to room," he added.

The CAW has threatened job action if there is no deal by midnight Monday.

CAW national secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy had said earlier that one of the so-called "Big Three" car manufacturers, which he did not name, is reviewing the union proposal following talks Saturday morning in Toronto.

Firms want wage, benefit concessions

Kennedy said the offer is key, as the rest of the deal should be easy to nail down once the wage issue is resolved. He said the union expects negotiations with the two other companies to move more quickly once one of the trio signs off on an agreement with the CAW.

The companies have been seeking wage and benefit concessions, especially among newly hired employees. There have been conflicting reports on whether the union's bargaining committee will go along with a two-tier wage system in exchange for new Canadian investment by the Detroit Three automakers.

On Friday, Dino Chiodo, president of CAW Local 444 in Windsor, Ont., and chairman of the union's Chrysler bargaining committee, said the union is willing to lengthen the time it takes for newly hired employees to get up to the top wage.

Negotiations to reach three-year agreements are continuing around the clock.

Lewenza has said the strike deadline can be extended if the union sees progress in the final few days of talks.

With files from The Canadian Press