Expert warns CAW that automakers may leave Canada
University of Windsor's director of labour studies, Alan Hall, says companies are trying to competitive
A labour analyst has a warning for the CAW.
"Chrysler may settle to avoid a strike and quietly begin to make plans to move production somewhere else," said Alan Hall, the director of labour studies at the University of Windsor.
The CAW settled with Ford late Monday and continued to bargain with General Motors and Chrysler on Tuesday.
Hall said automakers now have the capacity to move production around "relatively quickly."
Chrysler builds its flagship minivan in Windsor. The company wants to lower production costs to become more competitive with the costs of building cars in the U.S.
All told, the CAW represents more than 20,000 workers at plants owned by the Big Three U.S. automakers.
"Ultimately the employer wants to move employees away from kind of wages the CAW are accustomed to. They want to make a permanent change," Hall said.
Hall said there is "enormous pressure" being put on Chrysler to accept the same deal Ford signed off on.
The union has threatened to strike if a deal isn’t reached. That’s only a possibility if Chrysler stalls or doesn’t bargain in good faith during the ongoing talks, CAW president Ken Lewenza said.
"One of the problems the CAW has now is not just wages in Canada," Hall said. "It’s the competition at the global level."
Using the tactic of "pattern bargaining," the CAW is trying to convince GM and Chrysler to accept a deal similar to Ford.
The Ford deal includes no wage increases and no improvements in the cost-of-living adjustment until 2016. The workers instead will receive lump sum payments of $3,000 upon ratification of the deal and then $2,000 in each of the remaining three years.
Ford also promises to create 600 new positions, mainly in Oakville. There is no new engine production slated for Windsor.
"In some ways, it’s a reasonably good deal for CAW in the circumstances but it doesn’t bode well for the future," Hall said. "The unions are not in a strong position as long as it’s possible for employers to make threats to move jobs elsewhere."