"The company needs to recognize and realize that we are not taking concessions and we will not be going backwards in this round of bargaining," said Dino Chiodo, president of CAW Local 444 in Windsor, Ont., and chairman of the union's Chrysler bargaining committee. "There is no two-tier structure that we're interested in entertaining whatsoever at this point. It's just something that's against our principles."
Three days remain in the current collective agreements between the big U.S. automakers and the CAW. They expire at 11:59 p.m. Monday.
The CAW has threatened to strike all three companies.
According to Chiodo, company executives with decision-making powers are now seated at the bargaining table.
The automakers have continually said they need cost-cutting measures to remain competitive.
The auto companies say Canada is now the most expensive place in the world to make cars and trucks, and they say they could move production south if the CAW doesn't cut costs.
Chiodo says the union is trying to be creative and pragmatic in helping find the companies the savings they're demanding.
What Chiodo did confirm is that the union is willing to lengthen the time it takes for newly-hired employees to get up to the top wage.
Currently, it takes six years for a new hire to work up the pay grid. Chiodo said the union is open to pushing that to 10 years.
"Have we had discussion with regards to extending that wage progression? Yes," Chiodo said. "But again, there's nothing been formal. There's nothing in writing that I've seen come across the table with regards to that, and eventually, these individuals will be getting to top rate, which I think is a fairer system than a permanent, lower, two-tier structure."
The union said Friday it and the automakers are still far from agreement on fundamental issues.
Union secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy says the union may strike all three companies if negotiations fail.