NEWS

CAW closer to contract with Chrysler than to GM

09/20/2012 01:08 EDT | Updated 11/20/2012 05:12 EST
It now seems the CAW is closer to a new contract with Chrysler than it is with General Motors.

For weeks, the union said Chrysler was the most difficult of the Detroit Three automakers to work with, but that changed overnight Wednesday.

“Chrysler executives seem to be more willing to reach an agreement than they were previously,” a statement posted on the union’s website said. “We don’t yet have an agreement with Chrysler, but discussions have been constructive and we are making progress.”

A similar post addressed talks with GM. However, it made no mention of the company's willingness to reach an agreement.

On Wednesday, a member of the union’s master bargaining committee with Chrysler told CBC News that “in-plant issues” have seriously slowed contract talks with GM.

On Thursday, GM submitted a counterproposal it said mirrors the Ford deal.

“Following extensive meetings and dialogue, General Motors of Canada has delivered a proposal to the CAW that meets pattern on all elements of the Ford agreement,” GM spokeswoman Fay Roberts wrote in an email.

The union's national president, Ken Lewenza, headed back to the bargaining table after lunch Thursday and “expressed his frustrations” with GM, a union spokesperson told CBC News.

Executives from Chrysler and GM joined the talks earlier this week and remain at the bargaining table.

Lewenza sounded a positive note Wednesday by saying he's optimistic the union will be able to reach agreements with both automakers.

He noted while there are still a "number of challenging issues to work through," the talks will continue as long as progress is made at the bargaining table.

Strike still in play

Autoworkers across Ontario remain on the job. The union has reserved the right to serve a 24-hour strike notice at any time.

CAW spokeswoman Shannon Devine said "a strike notice is possible" Thursday but reiterated the fact a strike "has been possible" since the last contract expired.

More than a combined 16,000 unionized workers at Chrysler and GM are working under the terms of the old contract, which expired at 12 a.m. Tuesday.

Analysts are taking that as a sign that tentative agreements with GM and Chrysler are close and will closely mimic the one reached with Ford on Monday, just hours before the deadline.

It's believed the marathon talks are dealing now with local issues, as opposed to the broader ones concerning wages and pensions.

The Ford deal contains no base wage increases, but workers will get $2,000 a year in the second, third and fourth years to cover cost of living increases, and a $3,000 ratification bonus.

Ford also promised new investment in Canadian factories, where 600 jobs will be created.

MORE:cbcNews