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Monday, 27 April, 2009 11:50 PM
CAW Members at Chrysler Ratify Restructuring Agreement
PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com
The DiamlerChrysler building in Windsor, Ontario.
TORONTO -- Thousands of CAW members working at Chrysler facilities in Brampton, Windsor and Etobicoke have voted in favour of a new restructuring agreement, ratifying the deal by 87 per cent during a series of meetings held over the past two days. The deal was reached on April 24 between the two sides.
"Our members understand better than anyone the current turmoil of the domestic auto industry," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "The high acceptance of this agreement is a recognition that although workers did not cause this crisis, we all have an interest in maintaining good jobs and ensuring the auto industry remains central to the overall Canadian economy."
The deal is the second cost-cutting agreement reached between the CAW and Chrysler in less than a year and includes cuts to benefits, a reduction in time off, relief time and the formation of Canadian Health Care Trust fund, the first of its kind in the country.
The CAW-Chrysler deal will be the basis for negotiating new agreements with General Motors and Ford, said Lewenza. No dates have been set for opening negotiations with either of the other two companies.
TORONTO -- The CAW has reached a tentative agreement with Chrysler Canada Ltd. on a new collective agreement, as part of the North American auto industry's restructuring process.
The agreement will result in over $240 million per year in annual cost savings for Chrysler's Canadian operations, as a result of a combination of benefit reductions, compensation changes, and increased productivity through operational improvements. CAW members perform 12.5 million hours of work per year for Chrysler Canada. The agreement therefore meets the benchmark for negotiations which was established by the federal and Ontario governments as a condition of their continuing support for the two companies.
The agreement includes all of the cost-saving provisions originally included in the contract negotiated with General Motors Canada in early March. It also contains some additional provisions, including:
The elimination of semi-private hospital coverage.
The agreement also contains several operational changes that will further enhance productivity and efficiency in Chrysler's Canadian operations (which are already the most productive for Chrysler in the world). These provisions include the adoption of the "World Class Manufacturing" operating system that is used by Fiat in its global production operations. (Fiat is anticipated to merge with Chrysler through the restructuring process.)
Finally, the agreement also contains measures aimed at providing retiree pension and health benefits (so-called "legacy costs") in a more cost-efficient manner. The pension contribution timetable is adjusted in line with provisions announced by the Ontario government in its 2009 budget, and the CAW and Chrysler have agreed to establish a Canadian Health Care Trust (HCT) to provide retiree health benefits. This initiative will be similar to U.S. VEBA arrangements, although with several important differences; the details of this plan will be worked out over the next month.
CAW President Ken Lewenza indicated that the bargaining of the agreement was extremely challenging, but expressed his support for the solidarity which CAW members have demonstrated through the past difficult weeks. "CAW members supported their union right through this process, rather than allowing themselves to be intimidated by crude threats. That has allowed us to bargain the very best agreement possible, imposing the minimum possible sacrifice on our members and their families, despite the incredibly tough times."
members working at Chrysler in Windsor, Brampton and Etobicoke
vote on the new contract in a series of meetings held over
the next two
days. Members of the media are welcome. Results of the ratification
votes will be released late Sunday night via Canada News Wire
The ratification schedule is as follows:
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