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July 1, 2011 to October 31, 2011


Ford plans to market $1.25B in bonds after Moody's credit boost

Ford plans to market $1.25B in bonds after Moody's credit boost

Sapna Maheshwari and Craig Trudell/ Bloomberg News
October 31, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is marketing $1.25 billion of bonds after Moody's Investors Service raised the credit rating of the second-biggest U.S. automaker to the cusp of investment grade.

Ford Motor Credit Co. plans to sell senior unsecured three-year notes that might yield 3.875 percent, said a person with knowledge of the transaction, who declined to be identified as terms aren't set. That compares with the 3.2 percent yield on average investment-grade debt due in three to five years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data.

Moody's raised Dearborn-based Ford and rival General Motors Co. to Ba1 on Thursday, the highest non-investment-grade level, with a positive outlook on both, saying the automakers' four-year agreements with the United Auto Workers allow the companies to sustain "competitive" cost structures in North America. Ford is working to regain the investment-grade status it lost in 2005, which might happen as early as next year.

"The upgrade and the positive outlook reflect what they've done and point to some of the things we think could happen next year," Bruce Clark, a New York-based analyst for Moody's, said in a telephone interview. "That's the basic message of the positive outlook, that we'll probably be taking a look at the credit again in 2012."

The bonds Ford is marketing might have a lower coupon than three-year notes that insurer American International Group Inc. sold on Sept. 8, Bloomberg data show. The $1.2 billion of 4.25 percent notes, graded Baa1 by Moody's and a step higher at A- by Standard & Poor's, priced at a 412.5 basis-point spread.

The price talk on the debt has narrowed from earlier yields of about 4 percent, said the person with knowledge of the transaction.

S&P raised Ford's credit rating two levels to BB+, the highest non-investment grade, from BB-, and assigned a stable outlook Oct. 21.

Ford reiterated its goal of reducing debt to less than $10 billion by 2015 on Wednesday, when it reported third-quarter net income of $1.65 billion. The company had automotive debt of $12.7 billion on Sept. 30, down from $14 billion on June 30.

"Ford seems driven to reduce automotive debt and strengthen its balance sheet," Evan Mann, a senior high-yield analyst with Gimme Credit LLC in New York, wrote in a Thursday note. "Improved operating results and cash-flow generation along with continued debt reductions should lead to stronger credit ratios over the intermediate term."

Ford Motor Credit last tapped the market in July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The unit sold $1 billion of 5.875 percent, 10-year senior unsecured notes July 27 that priced to yield 289.1 basis points above similar-maturity Treasuries, Bloomberg data show. On that day, the average BBB-rated bond paid a spread of 203 basis points, while BB debt had a 395 basis-point spread, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data.

Ford and GM's ascent to investment-grade might be affected by a worsening in Europe's sovereign debt crisis, according to Moody's.

"The outlook that we're concerned with in Europe is not so much auto demand there, it's the broader macroeconomic issue and the degree to which what happens in Europe could spill out into the global financial markets," Clark said in the interview.


Marchionne wants end
to 2-tier wages

Chrysler CEO says it creates class system that can't go on

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
October 30, 2011

Four years after the United Auto Workers and the Detroit Three agreed to a two-tier wage system, at least one automaker's CEO says the system must go.

Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne says he tried to abolish the two-tier system in the company's U.S. factories during his recent negotiations with the UAW, but was unable to reach an agreement with the union. Now, he is vowing to do it in 2015.

"It creates two classes of workers in the plant," Marchionne told analysts and reporters in a conference call Friday. "This kind of economic disparity between people on the line is not something that can go on for a long period of time."

The UAW declined to comment on Marchionne's remarks.

But labor experts said Marchionne's call for a return to a common wage structure for all production workers is not as altruistic as it might seem.

"The UAW would also like to see the end of Tier Two, but I think they have very different ends in mind," said Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research. "His desire is to get everybody to the lower level, not the higher."

The two-tier wage system was adopted by all three Detroit automakers as part of their game-changing 2007 contracts with the UAW. Under it, new hires were paid about $14 an hour, compared to about $28 an hour for existing production workers. They also received a less generous benefit package that replaced defined-benefit pensions with a defined-contribution retirement plan.

At the time, union leaders acknowledged the fundamental inequality of the system, but said it was the only way to convince the companies to hire more workers. The UAW, which has seen its ranks dwindle from 1.5 million in 1979 to just 377,000 last year, needs new members to cover its own expenses.

Workers have complained about the system, and it was a major factor in recent voting at Chrysler. Plants with many entry-level workers appeared more inclined to vote for ratification than those with more veteran employees.

Marchionne is determined to raise the issue again when the new contract expires in four years. But he said the current agreement does provide a solid foundation for future growth.

"It makes us a lot more confident going forward," he said.

Chrysler Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer said the new agreement would have no net effect on the company's labor costs. It will raise the wages of entry-level workers to $19.28 over the life of the contract, but he said that would be offset by adding more lower-wage workers as the company expands production in the United States. The new contract also provides bonuses for quality and productivity to all workers, but he said these would be offset by the actual gains they are tied to.

"(There is) no overall increase in net costs," he said.

Chrysler's contract offered fewer gains for workers than the ones the UAW negotiated with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. Both of those automakers said their new agreements would increase labor costs by about 1 percent over the next four years.

"They would have to have a heck of a lot of second-tier people hired at the end of contract in order to have this net out," Dziczek said. "That doesn't seem to include any profit-sharing either."

The contract is supposed to pay workers a bonus of 85 cents for every $1 million the company makes.

Marchionne said the new contract is only a beginning. He would still like to see a more flexible compensation scheme that makes workers more invested in Chrysler's success.

"We do need to provide real upside to all workers as long as the organization continues to perform and deliver value," Marchionne said. "On the other side of the equation, there's got to be an undertaking and a commitment by our people to share in the downside risks of this venture."


Peggy Nash pitches a pragmatic radicalism to her NDP

Peggy Nash

Toronto Star
October 29, 2011

Peggy Nash is the practical radical.

The Toronto MP didn't use those words when she formally announced her bid for the New Democratic Party leadership Friday at a trendy Parkdale hotel. But that's what she meant.

The platform she sketched out to about 150 supporters is straight-up NDP orthodoxy: address social inequality; improve child care; protect the environment; deal with aboriginal poverty; and finally, boost corporate taxes to pay for it all.

You wouldn't find many in the eight-person race to replace former leader Jack Layton, arguing with that.

What 60-year-old Nash brings to the mix, however, is her own history as a high-profile trade unionist — one who has handled the practical compromises of private-sector collective bargaining while, at the same time, operating calmly but persistently on the centre-left of the party.

In 1988, she was a Canadian Auto Workers point-person in the fight against the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, a battle that her party's leadership was reluctant to support.

In the '90s, she was part of a cadre of female unionists trying to bring Canada's male-dominated labour movement into the modern age.

In 2001, Nash was part of something called the New Politics Initiative, a plan to rejuvenate the left by disbanding the NDP and starting all over again.

To many, the idea of performing institutional suicide seemed ludicrous. Ultimately, the New Politics Initiative failed.

But to Nash, it was a practical way to harness the energy of what was then a burgeoning and youthful anti-globalization movement in order to reinvigorate the moribund parliamentary left.

"We need a party with fire in its belly and blood in its veins," she said then.

As it turned out, the anti-globalization movement fell victim to the war on terror while the moribund NDP, thanks in large part to Layton's charms, came back from the grave.

Ever practical, Nash acknowledges this. She may have lost that particular battle, she told reporters Friday. But fighting it helped create the forces that Layton could eventually mobilize.

Like most in the post-Layton party, Nash is careful to emphasize moderation. To win power, she said, the NDP must focus on economic stability and growth as well as fairness.

But her pitch — to the party at least — is that this can be accomplished without abandoning standard NDP notions like spending on the poor.

Rather, she said, the party has to understand that income redistribution makes economies stronger — that it has worked in NDP-governed provinces like Manitoba as well as European social democracies.

"We don't just address social problems because it's the right thing to do but because it's the smart thing to do," she said.

In effect, Nash is saying that democratic socialism works and that her party doesn't have to abandon it to win power. That's a sly dig at rival Brian Topp, the campaign wizard who is viewed by some in the party as too willing to ditch policies that conflict with polling numbers.

It's also a dig at Thomas Mulcair, another rival, whose roots are in the Quebec Liberal Party.

Will Practical Peg get the prize? It was instructive to see who didn't show up for Nash's launch. Insiders say that Topp has already scooped up many of those enthusiastic Laytonites who comprise the party's Toronto base.

Still, her labour connections won't hurt. Nash didn't dwell on that Friday. In the new NDP, being embraced by the trade union leadership isn't always an asset.

But union activists are dab hands at fund raising. And whoever wins this one-person-one vote race will have to raise and spend a great deal of money.


CAW Contact
October 28, 2011
Volume 41, No. 38


Harper's Gun Bill Sets Canada Back Decades, CAW says

The introduction of Bill C-19 on October 25 in the House of Commons, and its possible coming into force, will set Canada's gun control efforts back decades and compromise public safety, warns CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

The bill, introduced by the Harper government, aims not only to eliminate the registration requirement for non-restricted firearms (a move that has been expected since the Conservatives formed a majority government on May 3), but also to cull over 15 years worth of useful long-gun registry data.

"The long-gun registry has been an important part of Canada's gun control program, which the Harper government is effectively taking the axe to," Lewenza said. "This aggressive push to weaken Canada's gun laws is more a show of political opportunism than common sense."

CAW Women's Programs Director Julie White said even gun owners can't deny the fact police officers refer to the registry over 16,000 times daily, particularly for preventative actions and when intervening in domestic disputes, and that's an important piece in national efforts to stop violence against women and children.

"Since its inception in 1995, the rate of women murdered with firearms by their partner has dropped substantially, by 69 per cent," White said. "Our efforts to maintain the long-gun registry, along with countless other Canadians, have been rooted in the principles of public safety and fostering a culture of responsible gun ownership. Bill C-19 puts that at risk."

Since the long-gun registry was established (in response to the shooting deaths of 14 women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989) the CAW has championed gun control efforts and worked in close coordination with gun control advocacy groups, national women's organizations, suicide prevention groups and the broader labour movement, said Jenny Ahn, CAW Director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action.

"Bill C-19 isn't officially a done deal," Ahn said. "Like any piece of legislation it must still stand up to the scrutiny of our democracy and our activists will work hard to make sure all Canadians understand what's at stake."

Earlier this year, CAW activists and allies held a series of flash mobs and rallies in communities across Southern Ontario to raise awareness about the importance of keeping Canada's long-gun registry in place.

CAW President Urges Support for Occupy Movements

CAW President Ken Lewenza gets a tour of the Occupy Toronto site at St. James Park in Toronto, October 21.

CAW President Ken Lewenza voiced his support for participants of Occupy Toronto, currently living in a park in downtown Toronto. He visited the site on October 21.

"This is a diverse group of engaged citizens expressing their desire for a different direction for our nation," said Lewenza, after his visit to the site. Lewenza spent time getting a tour of the site and meeting activists. He was impressed with the organization of the grounds and democratic structures set up by the Occupy participants. On October 15, Lewenza also participated in Occupy

"Many of the folks camped out here are young people who are fed up with the system they've inherited. They see clearly the growing inequality in our country and that far too many people are being left behind. Their determination and strength should not to be underestimated. We don't know where these movements will lead, but their presence is truly significant."

On October 21 the CAW brought a hot lunch to occupation activists and will be providing ongoing support. Lewenza also urged CAW members in other parts of the country to support Occupy movements in their communities.

To get up to date information on Occupy Toronto, please visit: http://occupyto.org/home/

CAW Reaches Tentative Agreement with Nav Canada

CAW Local 1016 has reached a two-year tentative agreement with Nav Canada. CAW members provide training and vital operational support to Canada's air traffic control system and aviation users.

This marks the second time this year that the CAW has negotiated a collective agreement at Nav Canada without any government intervention.

"This is a great example of how free collective bargaining works in federally regulated industries," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "This is what happens when two parties are committed to finding a settlement that meets each others needs."

CAW members will be voting on this agreement over the next few weeks at locations across Canada.

"This agreement provides improvements in each of the two years," said CAW Local
1016 President Shawn Wood. "Our committee worked diligently over the weekend to conclude this agreement, which we feel is a good settlement that takes into account the needs of all of our membership."

CAW Local 1016 represents approximately 290 members working at all the major airports in Canada and at Nav Canada's Ottawa head office.

An Evening of Hope in Durham

CAW Local 222 Human Rights Committee, along with CAW Local 707 Pride and Human Rights Committee chair Billy O'Neill at an Evening of Hope, October 20. Billy spoke at the event, expressing solidarity on behalf of the union.

Photo by Eva Guta, CAW Local 222 Human Rights member.

CAW members in Durham Region took part in an Evening of Hope, an Evening of Remembrance on October 20. The event is an annual memorial for those lost to suicide, bullying and homophobia in Durham.

The event is sponsored by PFLAG Durham Region, the Distress Centre Durham and the CAW.

Members of the public were invited to attend, light a candle and write a message of hope. Attendees were also encouraged to wear purple.

CAW Supports Team Unity

CAW local union leaders had the opportunity to hear from the Team Unity slate running for election in the upcoming Ontario Federation of Labour convention, during a GTA leadership meeting on October 21.

The slate consists of Sid Ryan as returning president, Nancy Hutchison (United Steelworkers) as Secretary-Treasurer and Irwin Nanda (Canadian Union of Postal Workers) as Executive Vice-President.

The slate is running on a platform of unifying the labour movement in Ontario through stronger activism, building community alliances and the defense of workers rights -particularly in light of governmental anti-worker austerity agendas across the province.

CAW President Ken Lewenza has endorsed Team Unity and encourages all CAW delegates to the OFL convention to cast their vote for the team led by Ryan.

For more information on Team Unity, please visit: http://www.oflunityteam.ca/

CAW Members Ratify Agreement with Transfreight Inc.

CAW Local 4268 members of Transfreight Inc. ratified a new two-year collective agreement on October 23.

The unit consists of 74 members who are all truck drivers providing shunting and delivery of parts to the GM Cami plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. The transportation services to this facility are in a highly competitive market area and bargaining improvements was a difficult task. The bargaining committee worked hard to gain improvements in work scheduling for its members and reductions of contract drivers used when the production schedule of the plant changes.

There are minor improvements in bereavement leave, work boot allowances, medical note requirements and elimination of extended grow in rates for new hires in addition to a 3.5% wage increase over the two years.


Ford Motor Co. reports
$1.65B 3Q earnings

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 27, 2011

Dearborn —Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday announced third-quarter earnings of $1.65 billion or 41 cents per share, making it the 10th consecutive profitable quarter for the company.

Earnings decreased by $38 million from a year ago when the Dearborn automaker earned $1.69 billion in the same period.

And the results were worse than last quarter's $2.4 billion.

Ford's widely watched pretax operating profit also fell $111 million to $1.9 billion or 46 cents per share. That is below the year-ago profit of 48 cents, but is ahead of analysts' expectations of 44 cents in earning per share.

"We delivered solid results for the third quarter despite an uncertain business environment," said CEO Alan Mulally.

Total revenue was up 14 percent to $33.1 billion in the third quarter on sales of 1.3 million vehicles.

The company now expects U.S. sales to hit 13 million for the year. Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said a few months ago he thought sales would be closer to 12.9 million. But that has been revised after a good September and expectations that October sales, which will be reported Tuesday, will also be strong.

Pretax operating profit from automotive operations was $1.3 billion for the quarter, which is $45 million more than a year ago. North American operations generated a pretax profit of almost $1.6 billion — flat compared with a year ago — but Ford lost money in Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa during the quarter.

Booth said the company remains on track to exceed last year's $8.3 billion pretax operating profit. Through the first nine months, $7.7 billion has already been generated.

In terms of cash, Ford now has $8.1 billion, substantially above the $2.6 billion in net debt a year ago.

The automaker had previously warned that the cost of commodities and launching new products could generate weaker results in the second half of the year than the first.

Ford now expects its structural costs will only be $1.6 billion for the year — less than the $2 billion projected. Capital expenditures also will be less costly at about $4.6 billion, compared with $5 billion to $5.5 billion forecast as part of the full-year plan. Officials say there are no cutbacks to product plans and the revised figures reflect improved efficiencies.

Commodity prices did drop in September, requiring a $350 million reduction in operating profit, which was a necessary hedging adjustment. But the adjustment has no cash impact and this charge will reverse if commodity prices increase or would be offset by the benefit of lower prices for materials such as copper in the future.

The Dearborn-based company did further reduce its debt by $1.3 billion, having paid down $1.8 billion on Sept. 15. But it also added debt because it drew on some available Department of Energy loans. Debt load stood at $14 billion June 30, and the automaker has said it wants to lower that to $10 billion by 2015.

Ford has made debt reduction a priority to regain the investment grade status it last held in 2005, which will help reduce borrowing costs.

Last week, two ratings agencies, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's, bumped Ford up to one notch below investment grade upon ratification of a new four-year labor agreement. The contract increases costs less than 1 percent annually, said Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas.

Booth said the first $280 million charge related to bonuses to be paid workers under the new labor contract with the United Auto Workers will show up in the fourth quarter.

Ford also wants to start paying dividends again, something it has not done since September 2006.

Last week, Booth said dividends could be restored to patient shareholders prior to achieving investment-grade status. The company did not announce dividends Wednesday.

Booth said on Wednesday that the company is starting to see the benefits of the ratings upgrades on Ford's spreadsheets.

Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson expects Ford to pay a dividend for 2012 of 36 cents, starting with an 8-cent dividend for the first two quarters, a 10-cent dividend in the final two quarters and increasing to 55 cents by 2015.

Ford stock continues to trade well below the 52-week high of $18.97 but well above the 52-week low of $9.05. It closed at $12.43 Tuesday.


Skilled trades vote no, but
UAW OKs Chrysler deal

Alisa Priddle, Christina Rogers and David Shepardson/ The Detroit News
October 27, 2011

The United Auto Workers union announced Wednesday it has ratified its collective agreement with Chrysler Group LLC, despite a majority of skilled trade workers turning down the pact.

Altogether, Chrysler's production and skilled trade workers combined voted 55 percent in favor of the contract; salaried workers approved the agreement by 69 percent.

Skilled trade workers alone — a group that doesn't include production workers — voted 56 percent against the agreement.

The UAW said its International Executive Board investigated why skilled trade workers voted "no" and determined they were predominantly economic and not unique to skilled-trade work.

"Accordingly, the [International Executive Board] declared the agreements ratified under the UAW Constitution," the UAW said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

The final tally concludes two weeks of voting, making Chrysler the third and final automaker to ratify its four-year contract with the UAW.

"It's not everything our members deserve, but we did the best we could in these uncertain times and negotiated an agreement that will ensure Chrysler's viability so that we can share in its economic success once it has regained financial stability," said General Holiefield, UAW vice president, who led negotiations for the union with Chrysler.

UAW President Bob King told The Detroit News earlier in the day the situation was complicated, but declined to comment further on the results.

Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group Chairman and CEO, said of the ratification, "No one involved in the bargaining process leading to this agreement could forget about our near-death experience slightly more than two years ago and the second chance we were given by the American and Canadian taxpayers. The faith that was placed in us then has been fully repaid."

The backdrop of the ratification is that the membership is already suspicious of its leadership following a decision to not post results on the UAW-Chrysler Facebook page. By passing it by a simple majority — ignoring the skilled-trade portion — union leadership could be further criticized for being out of touch with their members or making unilateral decisions.

Labor analysts Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research and Art Schwartz, a former negotiator with General Motors Co., said the union is in unknown territory here.

Skilled trades have scuttled local agreements in the past, but the two experts were unaware of this happening in a national contract vote.

While a simple majority is all that is needed to pass the contract, there are portions that deal specifically with skilled-trades issues, and those workers must approve them.

The four-year proposed agreement makes sweeping changes to skilled-trade job classifications, narrowing the categories for many workers to three: tool-and-die technician, electrical technician and mechanical technician; it also details conditions of training and apprenticeships.

The changes specific to skilled trades constitute three of the 20 pages of highlights of the agreement compared with a single page in the Ford Motor Co. and GM agreements. But the demands are not hugely different from changes Ford implemented in 2007 and GM implemented in 2009, Dziczek said.

Unlike at GM and Ford, the Chrysler-UAW pact doesn't offer buyouts to retirement age skilled-trade workers. That is because Chrysler downsized so much in restructuring that it is in hiring mode to shore up its ranks.

Chrysler's deal with the UAW is less generous than the union's agreements with Ford and GM, sparking some resentment from workers at Chrysler, who believe they could have gotten more money from the company.

At GM, unionized workers received a $5,000 contract signing bonus, as well as $1,000 a year in "inflation protection" lump sums. Ford hourly workers got a $6,000 signing bonus, and $1,500 in annual lump sums.

Chrysler — the one Detroit automaker that's struggled to turn a steady profit — agreed to dole out smaller bonuses, including $1,750 if the contract is ratified, another $1,750 when Chrysler hits certain financial targets, and the possibility of another $2,000 in quality, productivity and upside bonuses.


Ford Canada appoints new CEO

October 26, 2011

Dianne Craig CEO Ford CanadaFord Motor Company of Canada announced the appointment of Dianne Craig as president and CEO, effective Nov. 1.

Craig replaces David Mondragon, who has served as president and CEO since August 2008 and has steered the company toward the  top industry sales leadership spot in Canada. David’s appointment will be the subject of a separate announcement. 

“Dave’s contributions to Ford of Canada during the last three years have been significant. He led the team through one of the most tumultuous times in the industry and successfully grew the business, bringing new customers to Ford,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of The Americas. “This positive marketplace momentum will continue to build as Dianne shares her extensive dealer relations skills, sales background and marketing expertise with the Ford of Canada team.”

Craig was the general manager for the Southeast market Area in the U.S., a position she assumed in March 2009. In this role, she was responsible for all marketing, sales and service operations for 520 Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Craig joined the company in 1986 in an entry-level field position and has held a variety of sales and marketing positions including advertising, product marketing, contests and incentives and field operations.

She has also led the company’s Ford and Lincoln Mercury U.S. dealer relations efforts. In this capacity, she directed the National Ford and Lincoln Mercury Dealer Council process and other related dealer activities including national dealer meetings.

Craig was born in Buffalo, New York. She graduated from the State University of New York and holds a master’s of Business Administration from Ohio State University. 


Consumer Reports says
Ford's quality slips

Consumer Reports: Ford quality slips, Chrysler
gains as Japanese brands dominate top rankings

Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, AP
October 26, 2011

Quality should be Job 1 at Ford again.

The brand's ranking fell 10 spots in Consumer Reports' annual auto reliability survey, hurt by glitchy touch screens and transmissions. It now ranks 20th out of 28 major brands, based on a survey of the magazine's subscribers.

The Dearborn, Mich., automaker had been closing the quality gap with Japanese brands in recent years, but it may need to take its own advice from a 1980s ad campaign, in which it told viewers that "Quality is Job 1."

Japanese automakers continued to dominate the survey's top rankings. Brands from Toyota, Honda and Mazda held the top nine spots in the 2011 study, while Chrysler's Jeep was the top brand from a U.S. automaker. The Chrysler brand showed the most improvement over last year.

The findings are based on surveys taken this spring of subscribers who own or lease 1.3 million vehicles of model years from 2002 to 2011. The magazine uses the findings to predict reliability of 2012 models.

Consumer Reports ranks No. 3 on the list of information sources Americans use in choosing vehicles to buy, topped only by brand loyalty and recommendations from friends and family. The magazine released its annual survey results Tuesday in Detroit.

At Ford, magazine subscribers found problems with the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch dashboard control screens, saying they froze or were difficult to use, said David Champion, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. The screens control cabin temperature, the radio and other functions. Also, the company's new small cars, the Focus compact and Fiesta subcompact, have new automatic transmissions that shift often and awkwardly, Champion said.

Although most of the transmission problems were rated as minor, many subscribers said the cars seemed to shift at will, especially at low speeds, Champion said.

"It's as if it's got a brain of its own," he said. "I think a lot of people think there's something wrong with it."

Bennie Fowler, Ford's group vice president for quality, said the company is taking the customer feedback seriously and is working to continuously improve vehicles.

"Our internal surveys now show that we are largely back on track after addressing these near-term quality issues," he said in a statement.
Ford's Lincoln luxury brand moved up one spot to 14th.

For the fourth year in a row, Toyota's Scion, a brand geared toward young people, had the fewest problems, followed by Toyota's Lexus brand, Honda's Acura, Mazda, and the Honda brand overall. Lexus, a perennial top finisher, recovered from a fall last year, rising seven spots on the list.

Scion was tops because the two models covered in the survey, the xB and xD, have been built for several years and the bugs have been worked out, Champion said. Champion also said Mazda improved because its current models have been out for several years.

For the most part, older models have better reliability than new or revamped models, said Champion.

At Chrysler, however, new or significantly revamped models led its resurgence. Champion said the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan, and the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs helped the company improve its ranking.

"They seem to be totally transfixed on getting it right," Champion said of Chrysler. "It was in many ways `Do or Die' for Chrysler."

Chrysler has been plagued by reliability problems for years but has been improving since the U.S. government put Italy's Fiat in charge after Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcy filing. The Chrysler brand moved up in Consumer Reports' ranking from 27th last year to 15th this year. Jeep rose 7 spots to finish 13th.

Doug Betts, Chrysler's head of quality, said that for the past two years, Chrysler has been doing more rigorous tests on new models and finding and fixing problems before the cars reach showrooms.

"Maybe we didn't have all the environmental conditions or customer usages defined," he said.

The testing now simulates more extreme weather conditions and ways people use vehicles, Betts said.

While Chrysler improved, General Motors' reliability waned after edging up last year in the survey. Buick, Cadillac and GMC fell in the rankings, while Chevrolet stayed the same. The Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan dropped to below-average reliability, while the new Chevrolet Cruze compact also was below average, plagued by numerous minor problems, Champion said.

Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia levelled off this year to the middle of the pack after showing quality gains in the past. Hyundai had only one vehicle that ranked below average, though: the Santa Fe crossover powered by a V-6 engine.

The performance of European automakers was mixed, with Volvo leading the way at No. 10. Porsche plunged to second worst brand overall from its ranking last year as second-best. Volkswagen held steady at 16th, while Mercedes-Benz and BMW improved but were still ranked 18th and 19th.

Complete reliability histories of cars and brands can be found at http://www.ConsumerReports.org or in the magazine's December issue.


Standard & Poor's upgrades Ford

Ratification of 4-year cost-competitive labor
pact spurs change at a second ratings agency

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 24, 2011

A second ratings agency has upgraded the status of Ford Motor Co. following successful ratification of a new four-year labor agreement with the United Auto Workers that keeps the automaker's costs competitive.

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Friday raised its corporate rating on Ford and Ford Credit Co. LLC two notches, to "BB+" from "BB-." That's one notch below investment grade.

Ford stock was up 56 cents on Friday, closing at $12.26 after news of the S&P upgrade. On Thursday, Fitch Ratings also upgraded Ford to one notch below investment grade, a status the automaker is working to regain after losing it in 2005.

Ratings agencies rate companies according to risk of defaulting on debt. Higher ratings allow easier access to financing at better rates.

S&P credit analyst Robert Schulz, in a report Friday, said: "We believe the contract will allow for continued profitability and cash generation in North America. Ford has a two-year track record of profits and cash flow generation in its global automotive operations, supported by strong performance in North America."

The agency said it believes Ford will generate strong pretax profit margins and positive automotive operating cash flow of at least $5 billion in 2011.

S&P also assigned Ford a stable outlook in the belief Ford will generate at least $2 billion in automotive operating cash flow in 2012 even if the U.S. auto market does not recover significantly.

But Schulz said the agency will continue to monitor cost headwinds.

"As the inventories of the Japanese automakers recover, we believe some modest market share losses by many non-Japanese automakers could occur in the U.S. over the coming quarters," Schulz said. "We assume automakers competing in the U.S. market will continue to demonstrate the same discipline we have observed since late 2009 regarding the level of production and inventories relative to sales, avoiding excess inventories and incentives."


Why the Ford Ranger is
riding off into the sunset

Globe & Mail
Richard Russell
Oct 23, 2011

I just heard that Ford is no longer selling the Ranger. Why is that? It is the only small pickup still available. I see Rangers everywhere so obviously they are popular. You'd think Ford would want that business, especially since there is no competition.

I couldn't agree more. This appears to be one of these cases where we get what Americans want.

Our dear friends south of the border don't like small pickups, at least not in sufficient numbers to get the attention of the bean counters in Dearborn. The decision to end production of the Ranger comes straight from Detroit and, I'm told, over the protestations of Ford of Canada.

The Canadian love affair with the Ranger began with its launch in 1983 and continues unabated to this day. Canadians bought 13,000 Rangers for the first nine months of 2011 compared to 7,200 Explorers, 3,900 Mustangs, 2,700 Taurus, 2,200 Flex(s), 1,300 Expeditions and 500 Lincoln Navigators. But to put things in perspective they also bought 75,000 F-150s.

The plant where the Ranger is built, the Twin Cities Assembly plant alongside the Mississippi River in St. Paul, Minn., is the oldest Ford production facility in operation, dating back to 1924. That will come to an end in December when the last Ranger rolls off the line.

I'm sure that was a business decision, that keeping a plant going to produce the Ranger did not make economic sense. If it was a case of updating the Ranger with a new more fuel-efficient drivetrain that would have been a no-brainer. Ford has a raft of efficient new four- and six-cylinder engines and five- and six-speed transmissions that could have been put to use with minimal fuss and engineering.

Pickups don't face the same crash tests as passenger cars so any changes required there would have been relatively simple. No, it appears the rampant, by our standards, demand for Rangers in this country, doesn't justify building them. And don't get your hopes up for a replacement – the only pickups Ford builds other than the F-Series come from Australia.

That will be the source of a new "small" Ford pickup to be sold in more than 180 markets around the globe starting this year – but not in Canada or the United States. Apparently it is too close to the F-Series in size and production costs to warrant our attention.

General Motors has announced a replacement for the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, which is slightly larger than the Ranger. Developed in Brazil and to be sold globally, it will reach the market first in Thailand and come here in 2013.


CAW Contact
Volume 41, No. 37
October 21, 2011

Massive Government Procurement Will Revitalize Halifax Shipyard

The October 19 announcement of $25 billion in federal shipbuilding contracts for the Irving Shipyard in Halifax demonstrates the key role government can play in rebuilding critical Canadian industries like shipbuilding, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.

Lewenza made the comments following the federal government's announcement regarding $35 billion in naval, coast guard and icebreaker shipbuilding contracts under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. Vancouver's Seaspan yard won $8 billion of the total and the other $2 billion has yet to be awarded

"It's an excellent example of how public monies, through procurement contracts, can be used to support jobs here in Canada. I hope that this contract will serve as a model for future decisions by governments at all levels," said Lewenza.

"Without a doubt, made in Canada does matter. This government procurement contract will provide years and years of work for these highly skilled workers, and bring long term benefits across the entire community," he said.

CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1 represents workers at Irving's Halifax shipyard.

"Our union has done a lot of work over more than 15 years to raise awareness about the need to rebuild our shipbuilding industry," said CAW Atlantic Area Director Les Holloway, a former Marine Workers Federation president.

"Today's announcement is a huge boost to the local Halifax economy and a major step in the revitalization of the Canadian shipbuilding industry," Holloway said. "This is a major long-term benefit not only to the current members of CAW/MWF Local 1 in Halifax but also a huge boost to future generations of Halifax area shipyard workers."

Occupy This!

CAW members across the country participated in "Occupy" rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins and campouts in towns and major urban centres right across the country. On October 14, CAW President Ken Lewenza voiced his support for the growing movement for greater economic and social equality. "We are encouraging people to participate in peaceful demonstrations," Lewenza told the Globe and Mail. "The issues being fought on Wall Street and this weekend on Bay Street are issues that we have been talking about for quite some time."


Demonstrators fill the streets in Vancouver, B.C.

Specific reasons for demonstrating may vary across locations with some protesters decrying the lack of affordable housing and decent jobs, a declining standard of living with mass unemployment and underemployment, a loss of faith in elected officials, the influence of wealthy corporations and elites in politics and the ever-increasing gap between the ultra rich and everyone else - the catch-all group the movement is calling the 99 per cent.

The Occupy events and full occupations are being held across the globe in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street efforts in New York City, which began on September 17.

In Canada, occupy protesters demonstrated as far north as Whitehorse, Yukon.

CAW Members Approve Contracts with St. Lawrence Seaway

CAW members working at the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation in Ontario and Quebec have voted to accept new collective agreements by more than 77 per cent overall.

The tentative agreements were settled just hours before a noon strike deadline set for October 3.

The contracts provide wage increases of six per cent over the three year terms, with two per cent paid retroactively to April 1, 2011. Additional wage increases for many jobs also take effect April 1, 2012 with the introduction of a new job evaluation plan. Cost of living allowance protection was maintained.

Other improvements include increased shift premiums, more annual paid vacation leave and lump sum pay-outs of separation and gratuity plans, where the corporation also pays a substantial premium as a result of the plans' termination.

Members of CAW bargaining committees negotiating the new contracts were pleased that the agreements were ratified by their membership. However, union members remain bitterly disappointed with the interference of federal Minister of Labour, Lisa Raitt, who publically announced threats of back to work measures soon after the union issued its strike notice on September 30.

"In future, the Harper Conservatives would be wiser to first consider the 43 years of strike and lockout free history at the St. Lawrence Seaway before threatening to deny worker's rights to freely bargain collective agreements," said CAW National Representative Mike Menicanin.

CAW Locals 4211, 4212, 4319, 4320 and 4323 represent approximately 475 supervisory, technical, professional, operations, maintenance and headquarters positions in Ontario and Quebec at the St. Lawrence Seaway.

CAW Denounces Harper Government's Interference

The CAW is denouncing the recent actions of the federal Conservative government to prevent Air Canada flight attendants from exercising their legal right to strike during their current contract dispute.

CAW President Ken Lewenza called the decision by federal Minister of labour Lisa Raitt to refer the impending (and legal) strike by CUPE members at Air Canada to the Canada Industrial Relations Board on the grounds of its threat to public safety and security "outrageous" and "unprecedented."

"Canadian democratic values are being stomped on by the Harper government. They are not concerned about the destructive labour relations climate they're fostering in Canada," Lewenza said, pointing to similar labour disputes that took place earlier this year between the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Canada Post as well as CAW members at Air Canada that involved heavy-handed intervention by the federal government to thwart strike action.

"Labour Minister Lisa Raitt's justification for her repeated interference into collective bargaining is shallow and dangerous," Lewenza said. "She claims her government was elected with a strong mandate to promote economic stability and recovery, and hence won't tolerate otherwise legal work stoppages. This implies that fundamental human rights and labour rights can be taken away when they are unpopular or inconvenient," Lewenza warned.

Lewenza said the government's actions have helped strengthen the bargaining position of the employer and has made a mockery of the collective bargaining process.

"Collective bargaining is a constitutional right and should include the right of either party to undertake a strike or lock-out to bring the dispute to a quicker and more effective resolution - as long as the safety and security of the public is protected," Lewenza said.

The CAW is calling on labour leaders, civil libertarians, and other democratic Canadians to oppose the government's arbitrary and anti-democratic actions.

CAW Ratifies Three-Year Deal with Voith Industrial Services

CAW members that perform cleaning and janitorial service work at Ford assembly plants in Windsor and Oakville Ontario, have ratified a new master agreement with Voith Industrial Services that includes wage and benefit improvements, among other gains. Members voted 73 per cent in favour of the deal on October 16.

The three-year agreement contains hourly wage increases in each year ($1.00 in year one, $0.25 in year two and $0.25 in year three) - which represents a nine per cent average increase over the life of the deal. Members also receive a $1000 signing bonus, a quarterly inflation adjustment of $0.07 per hour, a new prescription drug card and access to CAW Legal Services Plan benefits for the first time.

CAW National Representative Paulo Ribeiro said this was an impressive deal that makes tremendous headway for workers in both facilities.

"Our bargaining committee worked very hard and did an excellent job by winning meaningful gains for the members," Ribeiro said.

The CAW represents over 150 members working for Voith Industrial Services at both Ford plants - 30 members in Windsor represented by CAW Local 200 and over 120 members in Oakville represented by CAW Local 707.

Aerospace Workers Fight Off Northstar Injunction Threat

Over 100 CAW Local 112 members working at Northstar Aerospace in Milton, Ontario rallied outside the factory on October 17 to defend their right to picket in the face of a company threat to end
the strike through a legal injunction.

After just three days of Northstar workers setting up picket lines the employer threatened to file for a court injunction. This action was taken despite Northstar having issued a public statement after the strike began on October 13 that said it respected its employees and the collective bargaining process.

Shortly after the workers' rally, Northstar backed down from their threat and agreed, instead, to establish a strike protocol with the union.

CAW Local 112 President Roland Kiehne considered this a victory for the workers who are fighting back aggressive company demands for cost cuts and are trying to secure ongoing work in the facility.

"The company's actions were completely unwarranted, in light of the peaceful, orderly and lawful pickets that have been run by our members so far," Kiehne said.

Unit Chairperson Graham Davies said that the injunction threat proved an unnecessary distraction from the contract talks, which the union says is still priority number one.

"We'd like nothing more than for the company to pool all of its energy into getting this contract dispute resolved with our bargaining committee," Davies said. "Our members want to get back to work."

Northstar Aerospace produces helicopter gears and transmissions as well as other fabricated parts. CAW Local 112 represents 135 workers at the Milton facility.

CAW Launches Good Jobs in a Green Economy Course

The CAW launched its new Good Jobs in a Green Economy education course at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

Twenty-five CAW rank-and-file activists attended the first pilot session of the course that ran from October 3-6. The program included keynote speakers (including Tony Clarke, Executive Director of the Polaris Institute and Gideon Forman, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment) and a series of interactive workshops.

The Good Jobs in a Green Economy course, the first of its kind for the union, offers an in-depth exploration of some of the key environmental crises in today's world, including climate, food and water. It examines the relation between these crises and the economic crisis faced by workers around the world.

The program investigates the transformation needed to fight for a green economy and examines both the impacts on workers and the role that unions can play in this period of economic transition. The course also enables participants to build activist links within the CAW and with allied organizations that are actively campaigning on environmental issues.

The mandate for developing this course was set out in the CAW's "Fighting for Good Jobs" discussion paper submitted and endorsed by the 2010 CAW/TCA Joint Council in Montreal, Quebec.

The Good Jobs in a Green Economy course will be running again in the Spring of 2012. Look for it in the upcoming CAW Education Schedule. Interested applicants are encouraged to register early. For further information, contact the CAW Education Department: educate@caw.ca or 1-800-268-5763

Bob White Charity Golf Classic

The CAW is providing $75,000 in donations to the Women's Community House London and Domestic Abuse Services Oxford to help these women's shelters offer much needed assistance to abused women and children in these communities.

Photo Left to Right- Jim Wilkes, Financial Secretary CAW Local 27; Barb and Bob Nickerson; Rhonda Hallberg President of Women's Community House; Kate Wiggins CEO of Women's Community House and Committee Member Kenny Rogers.

Photo by Georgina Anderson, CAW Local 27 retiree

This is the 5th year the Bob White Charity Golf Classic sponsored by the CAW National union has provided needed funding to these two community groups. In that time the charity has raised over $300,000.

The presentation of $50,000 this year to the Women's Community House London was made by Bob Nickerson, Chairperson of the Committee and retired CAW National Secretary Treasurer. As well $25,000 to the Domestic Abuse Services Oxford was presented by Committee Member and Financial Secretary of CAW Local 636 Jim Farrell.

Support Striking Auto Workers in India

The CAW is calling on members to support the struggle of 7,000 striking auto workers in India, who are facing heavy-handed repression by their company (Maruti Suzuki) and government over union rights. The CAW is endorsing a global appeal issued by the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) asking trade unionists around the world to lend their support and show solidarity.

The IMF, in partnership with LabourStart, has launched an online petition campaign and is encouraging union members, as well as concerned citizens, to send letters to Maruti Suzuki CEO Shinzo Nakanishi condemning the company's anti-worker behaviour and their refusal to recognize a collective agreement signed on September 30.

Maruti Suzuki workers staged a sit-down strike on October 7 after company officials denied contract workers access to the plant, and their jobs - despite having signed a new collective agreement.

Contract workers have been subjected to intimidation and violent attacks by company thugs. So far, 120 striking workers have been fired or suspended. The Indian government has sided with the company in this dispute and on October 10 the Hanyana Labour Department declared the strike illegal.

"The repressive action of this employer and the Indian government toward auto workers is simply unconscionable," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This is another example of corporate-lead globalization rearing its ugly head and trampling over workers' rights."

Please take a moment to show your solidarity and send a letter to Maruti Suzuki CEO Shinzo Nakanishi by visiting: : http://www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=1136

Labour College of Canada Applications Now Available!

"Looking to expand your horizons as a labour union activist? Want to find ways to broaden and strengthen the social justice movement in Canada? If so, then the Labour College of Canada just might be for you!

Since 1963, the Labour College of Canada has been a foundational institution for labour education. The four-week intensive program offers in-depth analysis on a variety of issues relevant to working people today by offering courses like economics, the history of work and the theory and practice of unions, among others. The program also focuses on building research, leadership and communications skills and inspires confidence among participants to play a more active role in the broader social justice movement.

The four-week program (broken down into two 2-week sessions) will be held at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario and is open to all union members. The CAW has 4 scholarships available that cover tuition, travel, expenses as well as room and board.

Labour College of Canada applications can be filled out online here: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/labour-education/labour-college-canada

Downloadable applications are also available. The application deadline has been extended to November 18, 2011.

CAW Holds Atlantic Region Leadership Meeting

CAW local union leadership from the four Atlantic Provinces participated in an open discussion and strategy session with National President Ken Lewenza at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia on October 13.

Lewenza spoke to the participants about the union's recent successes in the East Coast across many sectors, including ongoing gains for health care workers and new work for members in the shipbuilding sector. However, Lewenza also warned against mounting challenges facing workers, specifically with respect to the Harper government's attack on collective bargaining rights at Air Canada and Canada Post.

"After our experiences in bargaining so far this year, no Canadian worker should be fooled into thinking the Harper government has their best interests at heart," Lewenza said. "Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt should have her title changed to the Minister of Corporations," Lewenza remarked, highlighting the irony of the Harper government's reluctance to intervene in U.S. Steel's decision to lock-out workers in Hamilton while taking steps, only hours after a strike commenced at Air Canada, to try and force employees back to work.

Lewenza also acknowledged the tireless work of activists - across all sectors of the Eastern Canadian economy - to advocate on behalf of working people and encouraged leadership in the room to consider new and innovative ways of building the union for the future.

In a presentation that recapped results of the federal election and various provincial elections held this year (including Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island), Jenny Ahn, CAW National Director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action, impressed upon participants the importance of ongoing membership engagement in politics in order to further a social and economic agenda that supports workers, first and foremost.

The session, which included over 80 elected union representatives and staff from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and organized by CAW Atlantic Region Director Les Holloway, was the largest gathering of its kind for the union.

Staff Appointments

Len Olafson, CAW Local 144 president, has been appointed as a service representative working out of the CAW's Winnipeg office, effective October 24, 2011.

Wayne Butler, Marine Workers Local 20 president , has been appointed as service representative working out of the St. John's, Newfoundland office, effective November 1, 2011.



Frank Kenyon

OCTOBER 18, 2011

1924 - 2011

Retired November 1, 1989
25.6 Years of Service

KENYON, Francs (Frank) - Passed away at his home on October 18, 2011. Beloved husband of Margaret (predeceased). Beloved father of Vernon, Bernadette, Lindsay and Lee. Nine Grandchildren and five Great-grandchildren love and will miss Grandpa. The visitation is at Ward Funeral Home, 52 Main Street South, Brampton. Friday, October 21st from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Church service to celebrate Frank's life at Holy Rosary 139 Martin Street, Milton at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 22nd.

(Sorry for the late posting but we were just informed on Mon October 24th)


PILATZKE, Clifford William

Cliff Pilatzke

Passed away October 18, 2011

Retired July 1, 2008
37 Years Service

Our deepest condolences go out to his wife Sandra and Family

Peacefully at Headwaters Health Care Centre, Orangeville on Tuesday October 18th, 2011 in his 65th year; beloved husband of Sandra Fines; loving father of Derek (Ruth), Kevin (Lisa), Ryan (Kayla) and Lisa; cherished grandpa of Mia, Leila, Madison and Andreas; dear son of the late Nicolas and Zelma Pilatzke; remembered by his brother Larry and his sisters Lois Osmond and Bonnie Webber; predeceased by his brothers Ernie and Gerald; predeceased by his father- in- law & mother-in-law Ralph & Betty Fines. Cliff will be sadly missed by many other relatives and many friends.

Visitation for Cliff will be held at the Dods & McNair Funeral Home & Chapel, 21 First St., Orangeville on Friday, October 21st, 2011 from 7-9 p.m.
Funeral Service will be held in the chapel on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. with visitation 1 hour prior.

As expressions of sympathy donations to South Lake Regional Health Centre Foundation (Cancer Care Centre) would be appreciated by the family.

A tree will be planted in memory of Cliff in the Dods & McNair Memorial Forest at the Island Lake Conservation Area, Orangeville. A dedication service will be held on Sunday, September 9th, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.

Dods & McNair Funeral Home



Contract gets Ford closer to restoring dividend

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 21, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is on the cusp of restoring dividends following successful completion of a new labor contract with the United Auto Workers to the satisfaction of Wall Street and ratings agencies.

Ideally, Ford wanted to wait until rating agencies restored the company to investment grade, but the automaker may reward the patience of shareholders before regaining the status it last held in 2005.

Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said early Thursday he thought the new labor contract, which was ratified Wednesday and will go into effect Monday, would be favorably received by ratings agencies. The agencies rate the likelihood of defaulting on debt. A strong rating makes borrowing easier and less expensive.

Later in the day Thursday, Ford received an upgrade by Fitch Ratings to "BB+," which means one more notch to go to exit junk status.

But achieving investment grade "is not an absolute necessity to pay dividends," Booth told investors Thursday.

"Our shareholders have been very patient. It would be nice to get investment grade ahead of time, but that's not in our control," Booth said.

Barclays Capital on Thursday said contract ratification paves the way for a quarterly dividend of 8 cents.

"With the contract behind it, Ford is likely to consider instituting a regular dividend," said Barclays analyst Brian Johnson. He expects Ford to pay a dividend for 2012 of 36 cents, beginning with an 8-cent dividend in the first two quarters of 2012, ramping up to 10 cents per quarter in the second half and 55 cents by 2015.

But Ford could announce a dividend when third-quarter results are released next Wednesday, Johnson said.

Fitch also gave Ford a "positive" rating outlook and said it likely will be upgraded to investment-grade "BBB-" or higher in the next 12-24 months with financial assurances Ford has the liquidity, cost structure and profit-generating potential to maintain the status.

Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas, said Thursday that Ford's growth projections and mid-decade outlook remain intact with the terms of the new labor agreement.

The contract will increase costs less than 1 percent annually during the contract, Fields said.

Holding the line on wages, increasing flexibility on the line, eliminating legal services and overall increases in efficiency should offset the cost of bonuses, profit sharing, increased wages for entry-level workers and adding up to 12,000 jobs over four years, he said.

Ford's labor costs remain at roughly $58 an hour compared with $56 at General Motors Co., $55 at Toyota Motor Corp., $50 at Honda Motor Co. and $49 at Chrysler Group LLC.

Fields said signing bonuses of $6,000 for workers with a year of seniority and $5,000 for the rest, will cost the company $280 million.

Annual $1,500 "inflation protection" lump sums and $250 operational performance bonuses will cost the company about $80 million annually.

But eliminating legal services will save $10 million this year and about $20 million next year, Fields said.

The new contract has no pension benefit improvements to the Ford pension plan or lump sums to current or future retirees, and defined benefit plans are closed to all new employees.

These new employees will be covered by a defined contribution plan.

The jobs bank, which paid employees while off the job, and cost-of-living allowances are not reinstated. The contract increases wages only for entry-level workers

Ford paid workers $5,000 last year in profit sharing. Under the new formula, which uses similar measurements to how salaried workers payouts are calculated, hourly workers last year would have received about $5,400, said Fields, a total increase of less than $20 million.

Employees will get an advance profit-sharing check this year, based on first-half 2011 financial results, of $3,750 on average.

"The work practice changes and increased uses of entry-level employees provide the opportunity for substantial cost savings and profit improvement as demand increases," Fields said.

About 23 percent of Ford's work force is eligible for retirement, and the company has about 9,000 skilled workers who make the highest wages. But buyouts will also be offered to those not eligible, Fields said. Packages will likely be offered from January to March, and those who opt to go will leave by midyear.

They will leave room to hire more entry-level workers.

John Fleming, executive vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs, said he expects these workers will account for up to 8 percent of the work force by the end of the contract. Ford has 150 now.

Under the new agreement, the company can implement alternative work schedules and add shifts to increase production quickly if demand warrants.

Ford can also form fewer and more efficient integrated teams with both production and skilled workers, said Marty Mulloy, vice president of labor affairs.


Ford, GM economists foresee
better 2012 for auto sales

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
October 20, 2011

Washington — Economists for General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. expect U.S. auto sales to increase in 2012 above the 12.5 million to 13.5 million forecast for this year.

"We see growth in 2012 for one reason … vehicles are getting very, very old," Ford senior economist C. Jenny Lin said Wednesday at a gathering hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers.

"We are still very positive about the U.S. auto industry recovery."

The average vehicle in the U.S. is 10.6 years old, the highest in history. Automakers believe that signals pent-up demand for new cars.

Between 1996 and 2000, Linn noted, the U.S. auto industry sold 96 million vehicles. Those cars and trucks are nearing the end of their lives.

"A lot of people are deciding whether to repair their old vehicle — and the costs are getting higher," she said. "It's tradeoff mode."

GM Chief Economist G. Mustafa Mohatarem also is forecasting a better 2012.

But Mohatarem noted his boss, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, told Automotive News last week he expects "flattish" U.S. industry sales next year.

"Dan's view is that we should be planning very conservatively — that so many things can and have gone wrong this year," Mohatarem said. "So many things can go wrong around the world that you can't plan on fundamentals driving this thing."

Auto sales were up 10 percent in September, to an annual sales rate of 13.1 million vehicles.

Mohatarem believes sales are growing not because of higher demand, but because Japanese automakers, whose production was interrupted by March's earthquake and tsunami, are recovering — albeit slowly.

"We didn't have the supply to the meet the demand" after the quake, he said.

Despite their gains, Mohatarem said, Honda and Toyota are still behind.

"The shocker to me has been Honda," he said, which "still has not been able to get its production up."

"Toyota claims it is up, but we have some evidence that even they're struggling."

Toyota, which said in September it had resumed full production in North America, and Honda are the only major automakers whose U.S. sales have fallen this year. Ed Cohen, Honda's vice president for government and industry relations, said factories in Japan and the United States are running and U.S. dealers are getting vehicles. "The spigot is open," he said.

"It's depressing," Mohatarem said, "that people would rather put off buying that car because they can't get the Honda or Toyota."

Mohatarem said based on U.S. population, the auto industry should be selling 16.5 million vehicles annually. "Thirteen million is a deep-recession sales low," he said, but added the U.S. could return to the 16 million range in 2014 or 2015.



Ford workers OK UAW deal

Agreement to keep costs close to rivals, help credit rating

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 19, 2011

Ford Motor Co. workers have ratified a tentative labor agreement not necessarily because they liked it, but because many felt it was the best they could get in today's economy.

As final results from the United Auto Workers locals were reported late Tuesday, it became clear the agreement had passed after a groundswell of "yes" votes in the final days of voting.

Cementing ratification was a narrow 53 percent approval by about 5,000 members of Local 862 representing workers at the Kentucky Truck and Louisville Assembly plants.

Romeo Engine also approved the deal overwhelmingly : 492 in favor and 128 against. The Sharonville transmission plant in Cincinnati was in favor with a vote of 994 to 354. The Lima, Ohio, engine plant also approved the deal as well as the assembly plant in Avon Lake, Ohio, which passed it 999 to 346.

The Walton Hills stamping plant that will close by the end of the contract voted down the agreement, 273 votes to 44.

The UAW, whose top officials recommended its passage, was expected to confirm the deal's ratification today.

Approval of the four-year agreement that keeps Ford's costs in line with its domestic competitors should prompt a hike in the automaker's credit rating. Ford is hoping by year-end to return to the investment grade status it lost in 2005.

"That's the hidden dimension here," said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California-Berkeley. Returning to investment grade, he said, will make it "significantly less costly to invest money."

Last month, a day after General Motors Co. ratified its labor contract, Standard & Poor's raised GM's corporate credit rating two notches to "BB+," saying the deal provided for GM's continued profitability and cash generation in North America. BB+ is one notch below investment grade.

GM said the new labor deal will only raise its labor costs by 1 percent annually over four years.

S&P said at the time it expects to also raise Ford to "BB+" with a stable outlook if Ford ratified an agreement that does not put it at a disadvantage relative to GM.

When the deal was announced Oct. 4, Ford's John Fleming, head of labor affairs, said the terms improve the competitiveness of the Dearborn company, and keep labor costs in line with the current $58 an hour in wages and benefits.

Shaiken said investment grade will make Ford even more competitive and likely to invest in the United States.

The proposed contract was all about jobs and investments: 12,000 jobs including 5,750 entry-level positions not previously announced, as well as $16 billion in investment of which $6.2 billion would go into plants.

That includes work that would have been done elsewhere such as China, Japan, Mexico and parts of Europe.

Heading into the final day of voting Tuesday, 63.2 percent of Ford's 41,000 were in favor of ratification with 16,691 votes in favor and 9,698 rejecting the deal.

The 6,993-vote difference — with about six of 58 locals still to report representing about 9,000 workers — was considered too large for the naysayers to bridge.

Some large locals rejected the deal in early ratification votes, including Michigan Assembly and Chicago Assembly. But the results alarmed many workers and drew larger numbers of employees who approved the pact in later votes, including members at AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock; Dearborn Truck; Twin Cities in St. Paul, Minn.; and Kansas City.

"We got more jobs," said Paul Vella who works at the Livonia Transmission plant that approved the deal by about 77 percent and is hoping to be awarded future work building an eight-speed transmission when the four-speed they are making is phased out.

"The economy's bad and I'm just happy to have a job," he said.


Optimism high for
new Ford contract

Ratification likely on final day of voting

Alisa Priddle and Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
October 18, 2011

Voting wraps up today on Ford Motor Co.'s tentative labor agreement, and with momentum building further Monday, Wall Street expressed optimism for passage of the deal that keeps Ford's U.S. labor costs competitive with its rivals.

The last of United Auto Workers locals were to complete voting today.

"It now appears likely the deal will pass, as the remaining 40 percent of the work force would need to vote approximately 70percent 'no' in order to swing the overall outcome," analyst Rod Lache of Deutsche Bank said Monday.

Ratings agencies say ratification is a precursor to upgrading Ford's credit rating. The automaker hopes to return to investment grade as early as year end, a status it lost in 2006.

And as the UAW tallies the final results from as many as 41,000 Ford workers at 58 locals, voting begins for 26,000 Chrysler Group LLC employees on a tentative agreement reached Oct. 12.

Chrysler workers at the large Kokomo Transmission Plant in Indiana cast their ballots today. Voting is to conclude Oct. 25.

At Ford, with about two-thirds of voting complete, 63 percent of workers (15,862 to 9,375) were in favor of the pact that includes at least $16,700 in bonuses and profit sharing over four years, as well as wage increases for entry-level workers and 5,750 jobs not previously announced.

On Monday, workers at Ford's Research and Engineering Center in Dearborn approved the deal 514 to 120. A parts plant in Rawsonville also reported passage, 517 to 169.

Workers in Louisville, Ky., as well as Avon Lake and Walton Hills, Ohio, are among the plants still voting today. The agreement requires a simple majority to be ratified and become official.

Ratification appeared to be at risk in early voting, but momentum switched to the "yes" side over the weekend. Several large locals voted in favor by wide margins, including Dearborn Assembly (62 percent in favor) and Kansas City Assembly (90 percent in favor), Lache noted.

Lache, of Deutsche Bank, said the agreement will keep Ford's U.S. labor costs relatively flat over four years, ratification removes the risk of a work stoppage and the deal leaves Ford well-positioned for an industry recovery.

Additionally, "we believe that this clears one of the final hurdles to the announcement of a meaningful dividend at Ford in the relatively near future," he said.

Brian Johnson at Barclays Capital also issued a research note Monday saying that approval by Ford workers appears likely.

"We estimate the tentative contract would add about 70 cents per hour to Ford's labor costs, or about $70 million annually — assuming only 1,000 skilled trades retire," he said.

"Higher attrition could lower the net cost further," Johnson said, noting Ford's $58-an-hour labor cost going into negotiations was much higher than Chrysler's $49. And General Motors Co. is expected to benefit from greater skilled trades attrition and cuts to legal services.

Barclays estimates a strike would have cost Ford $273 million a day in lost revenue and $71 million a day in lost profit, although some would be made up in 2012 with increased overtime, Johnson said.

"Nevertheless, a strike would have delayed any rating agency upgrade or dividend," he said.

Meanwhile, selling the Chrysler-UAW deal may be a challenge.

While it follows the framework of the agreements with Ford and GM which already ratified its deal, the terms are less generous.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said his company, which has yet to post a profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, could not afford to match the deals at Ford and GM.

Several Chrysler locals held informational meetings for their members over the weekend. Workers who attended them reported that UAW leaders stressed that a "no" vote would simply send both sides to arbitration, and said an arbitrator was unlikely to give the union a better contract.

    Results pending

    Among the Ford UAW locals yet to report ratification results:
    Avon Lake, Ohio
    Louisville (Ky.) Assembly
    Kentucky Truck
    Walton Hills, Ohio
    Romeo (Mich.) engine
    Livonia transmission
    Van Dyke transmission


Ford workers closer to
ratifying UAW contract

Sunday tally, including Local 600,
shows 62% voting in favor so far

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 17, 2011

Ford Motor Co. hourly workers are on pace to approve a new labor agreement, with 62 percent in favor after weekend voting and key locals saying "yes."

In all, 14,845 workers had voted "yes" and 9,076 voted "no," according to an update Sunday on the UAW-Ford Facebook page.

But several large United Auto Workers locals and as many as 12,000 employees still have to weigh in.

By Sunday night, 62 percent of UAW members had voted in favor of the four-year agreement that includes more than $16,700 in bonuses and profit sharing over four years. The tally includes Kansas City, which late Sunday reported passage by 2,701 to 291, or 90 percent in favor.

The updated vote also includes passage Sunday at Local 600, which includes the iconic Rouge Complex in Dearborn. At Ford's largest local, 62 percent, or 3,255 workers, voted in favor; 2,027 voted against it. The agreement passed at Dearborn Truck, one of the Local 600 units, 1,220 to 981.

Local 600, including Dearborn Truck, was instrumental in voting down additional concessions in 2009.

That year, Ford had agreed to some givebacks. But when General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC promised even more concessions as part of bankruptcy restructuring, the UAW went back to Ford seeking similar language — including giving up the right to strike during 2011 negotiations.

Ford workers as a whole defeated reopening the agreement a second time, including workers at Dearborn Truck, who voted 93 percent against it. Ford did not revisit the deal, waiting until the current agreement to regain parity with its crosstown rivals.

Workers in Avon Lake, Ohio, were to conclude Sunday, but local leadership extended the voting period until Tuesday night.

Voting won't conclude until Tuesday among almost 5,000 workers in Louisville, Ky., and thousands more workers in engine and transmission plants in Michigan and Ohio have yet to vote or report results. Tuesday is the deadline for all 58 Ford locals to complete ratification votes.

"We remain optimistic that our tentative agreement will be approved, as it is fair to our employees and improves Ford's competitiveness in the U.S.," said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans.

Dearborn plant examined
The Dearborn Truck plant was being watched closely because its membership includes some vocal dissidents, including bargaining committeeman Gary Walkowicz.

Walkowicz said he was a bit surprised by the approval, but he also could see that workers were changing their opinions — from negative to favorable — over the course of the week.

"People were voting differently than they were. The response of people has changed in plants over the last few days," he said.

Voting among Ford's 58 locals started last week with rejection at some large and high-profile locals. But on Friday, the tide turned to the "yes" side with an overwhelming majority at AutoAlliance International in Flat Rock, and concluded with overwhelming support at plants in Cleveland and Minneapolis. By Saturday, 56 percent were in favor.

One plant to vote "yes" Sunday night was the Buffalo stamping plant, where workers voted 478 to 39, or 92 percent in favor.

Harley Shaiken, labor professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said the vote is following a normal pattern of early dissent followed by greater numbers of "yes" votes coming out later to ensure passage.

While workers are upset they are not recouping concessions made in the past, there are also those who do not want to risk losing the current offer on the table.

"What they get in paychecks today is only as good as the security of new investment for tomorrow," Shaiken said.

'No' vote would restart talks
If the contract fails, the current offer, which also includes a commitment to 12,000 jobs and $16 billion in investment, is dead; if the two sides return to the table, they start from scratch.

With 72 hours notice, the union can call a strike or the company can order a lockout of employees who are working under an indefinite extension of the contract that expired Sept. 14.

The Ford-proposed contract, reached Oct. 4, is three times more generous than the one reached between Chrysler Group LLC and the UAW. Chrysler Group LLC workers are just starting their ratification process, which will take about two weeks.

Several locals representing Chrysler hourly employees held informational meetings for their members Sunday. Most voting is to be complete next weekend.

Workers were told a "no" vote would likely force Chrysler and union into binding arbitration. Union leaders are warning rank-and-file members that arbitration would not lead to better terms, as arbitrators have rarely sided with unions.

Labor experts say an arbitrator will likely enforce the tentative agreement that was endorsed by union leadership.

General Motors Co. workers have ratified a new deal that offers smaller bonuses and fewer jobs than the Ford deal.


Strong voting results push Ford
deal to 56 percent support

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 16, 2011

With more positive results in voting on the tentative agreement between Ford Motor Co. and the United Workers, 56 percent of workers were in favor as of Saturday morning.

The "yes" vote tally sits at 8,577, while those rejecting the four-year pact number 6,710.

Late Friday approvals included the Twin Cities plant in St. Paul, Minn., that voted overwhelmingly for the contract — 543 "yes" to 83 "no" — even though the plant that makes the Ranger is scheduled to close at the end of the year.

The Livonia transmission plant also was 77 percent for the agreement.

And the stamping plant in Woodhaven approved by more than 80 percent.

Big plants such as Dearborn , Kansas City and the plants in Louisville, Ky., do not have results yet, and some have not yet voted.

All 58 locals must conclude ratification votes by Tuesday.

The current offer includes more than $16,700 in bonuses and profit sharing over four years and a commitment to 12,000 jobs and $16 billion in investment.

If the two sides return to the table, they start from scratch.

With 72 hours notice, the union can call a strike or the company can order a lockout of the 41,000 workers currently under an indefinite extension of the contract that expired Sept. 14.

The proposed Ford contract, reached Oct. 4, is three times more generous than the one reached between Chrysler Group LLC and the UAW.

Chrysler workers are just starting their ratification process, which will take about two weeks.

General Motors Co. has already ratified a new deal that offers smaller bonuses and fewer jobs than the Ford deal.


UAW's Ford voting seesaws

Factory approvals nearly offset by 'no' votes at other plants

UAW President Bob King accompanies President Barack Obama Friday on Obama’s visit to Metro Detroit. (Mandel Ngan / Getty Images)

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 15, 2011

A slim 54.1 percent majority of Ford Motor Co. workers had voted in favor of the tentative labor agreement late Friday.

Passage of the deal between Ford and the United Auto Workers remains so close that each new set of results from union locals has the potential to tilt the outcome.

Late results include the Twin Cities plant in St. Paul, Minn., which voted 87 percent in favor and a Livonia transmission plant that voted 77 percent "yes."

A majority of workers at some high-profit locals voted against ratification earlier this week. But Friday's overwhelming approval at Local 3000, the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, tipped the balance in favor of its passage.

Overall, Friday ended the day with 7,529 "yes" votes versus 6385 "no" votes.

AAI, a joint venture with Mazda Motor Corp., had 1,190 workers voting in favor of the four-year pact, and 318 against, said Local 3000 President Steve Gonzales.

"We pushed the total to even, maybe we pushed it over," Gonzales said.

"Everyone's all happy. It's like New Year's Eve."

But later in the day, Local 558, an amalgamated local that includes almost 900 workers at a Chicago stamping plant, voted against ratification 494 to 210, putting the naysayers on top, overall, by fewer than 100 votes.

All 58 Ford union locals must complete ratification votes by Tuesday; final results are expected to be announced Wednesday.

UAW President Bob King said Friday he remains confident the agreement will pass.

"We think as members really think it through and look at it (that) we'll get majority support. If we don't, we'll sit down, talk to members and we'll figure out what's the next step," King told reporters on the sidelines of President Barack Obama's visit to General Motors Co.'s Orion Assembly Plant.

"I'm really proud of the agreement. (Workers) have a lot more job security by having product investment," he said of the $16 billion Ford is committing, including $6.2 billion for U.S. plants.

"We tried other methods over the years. This is the strongest and best method."

No consensus yet
Earlier this week, the Chicago assembly plant rejected the pact by 77 percent.

It also was voted down by workers at a parts plant in Saline, near Ann Arbor.

A majority of workers at the Cleveland Engine complex, however, voted to ratify.

"The fact the vote is this contentious suggests at worst that the contract is not overly generous to the UAW and at best is a good deal for Ford," analyst Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley said in a research note Thursday.

"UAW leadership is anxious to ratify the current contract, as a rejection could open the door to a less attractive deal thanks to a deteriorating economy."

With about two-thirds of the 41,000 workers still to vote, there are a number of large locals that can determine the final outcome.

Local 600, which has many units, including Dearborn Truck Assembly, has been voting all week and had yet to release its results Friday.

Dearborn Truck builds F-Series trucks on three shifts.

The tentative agreement commits to spending $359 million to make the next-generation F-150 at the plant, but workers discount that as an investment the company would have made anyway.

Kansas City Assembly and Ohio Assembly vote Sunday. Louisville Assembly and the Kentucky Truck plant, as well as some engine and transmission plants, vote early next week.

Strike could loom
As ratification remains uncertain, Ford workers worry about a possible strike.

GM and Chrysler Group LLC agreed as part of their federal bailout programs not to strike through 2015.

Ford, which took no such aid, does not have similar no-strike, no-lockout protection.

King said he doesn't believe Ford would use replacement workers if a strike is called. "I don't think they'd ever use strike-breakers," he said.

Ford and the UAW agreed to an indefinite extension of the current contract that expired Sept. 14.

Either said it can revoke the extension.

With 72 hours' notice, the union can call a strike or the company can order a lockout.

Meanwhile, at the GM Orion plant where the union allowed up to 40 percent lower-paid workers to build the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic, King said the UAW would agree to a similar arrangement if Chrysler or Ford wants to build a small car in the United States.

GM ratified its new four-year labor agreement and Chrysler workers are just starting their ratification process.


CAW Contact
Vol 41, No.36
Oct 14, 2011


Canada Must Set Quality Standards for New Job Creation

Encouraged by news that Canada netted 61,000 new full-time jobs in September, it's the quality of those jobs that matter more to the health of our economy than the quantity, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

Lewenza, responding to the latest monthly report of Canada's national Labour Force Survey (released October 7), pointed to the fact that nearly two-thirds of all full-time work was because more Canadians were self-employed.

The rest of the labour market gains (outside of regular seasonal education sector gains) were isolated to the services sector where wages often tend to be lower, and working conditions more precarious, across various industries like retail and hospitality.

"If I could I'd put every new job created through a quality assurance test to make sure it's a decent job - with good wages, benefits and that provides some stability - not simply a last-choice survival job," Lewenza said.

Lewenza's comments are being echoed by trade unionists, worker advocates and government officials around the world. Since 2008, October 7 has been recognized as the World Day for Decent Work - an initiative spearheaded by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Lewenza said the Harper government must take the lead on a national good jobs strategy in an effort to ensure all Canadians have access to quality jobs in the 21st century.

Lewenza also called on the Harper government to pull back from any planned austerity measures, and instead view the public service, rightfully, as an important jobs creator.

Lewenza noted that over half of the 61,000 jobs created in September were found in the public sector, while thousands of jobs were lost in the private sector -particularly in manufacturing.

For more information on the CAW's precarious work campaign or the World Day for Decent Work, visit: www.caw.ca/decentjobs.

Provincial Elections Signal Growing Support for Progressive Politics in Canada

Progressive politics received a shot in the arm following a series of provincial elections that saw Canadians vote in more progressive candidates, a further sign that Stephen Harper's strategic effort to shift Canadian politics to the right is bearing little fruit, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

CAW locals supported the re-election of Greg Selinger and the provincial NDP in Manitoba. (L-R) Carmen Ledarney (Local 2169), Len Olafson (Local 144), Tom Murphy (CAW Area Director), Greg Selinger (Premier of Manitoba), Ken Stuart (CAW National Representative), Mark Armstrong (Local 468) and Sammy Doyle (Local 468).

"These provincial elections have emphasized Canadians growing distaste with conservative policies that put profits above people, and that support individual entitlement instead of the greater good," Lewenza said. "It's another reminder that the majority government Harper won in May of this year is tenuous, and clearly doesn't reflect the views of most Canadians."

In Ontario, Lewenza applauded voters for rejecting Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's politics of division by electing a Liberal minority government (lead by Dalton McGuinty) and substantially increasing the seat count for the provincial New Democratic Party. The election was held on October 6.

"The Liberals and NDP now must find ways to work together for the betterment of all Ontarians. There remains a great deal of work to do to rebuild the Ontario economy, create good jobs, reduce inequality, promote green energy and green jobs and expand our public services," he said.

Lewenza urged all new Members of Provincial Parliament to press for policies that benefit working people, especially young workers, the unemployed, the poor, new Canadians and the many others who have been harshly impacted by the recession and resulting aftermath.

In Manitoba voters re-elected the provincial NDP to another majority government (lead by Premier Greg Selinger) with 37 seats, one better than the party held in the previous legislature. This is the NDP's fourth-consecutive majority government in the province.

Manitobans denied the Progressive Conservatives any progress in the latest election, holding the party to 19 seats. CAW Manitoba Area Director Tom Murphy said the result can be seen as a resounding "no" to a Conservative platform that focused on privatization and government service cuts. The election was held October 4.

In Newfoundland and Labrador the Tory majority (lead by Kathy Dunderdale, the first woman leader to win an election in the province's history) was trimmed back by a breakthrough by the New Democratic Party. The election was held on October 11.

The Tories won 37 seats, the Liberals six seats and the NDP five seats, up from one in the 2007 election. The NDP actually topped the Liberals in terms of popular vote, collecting 24.6 per cent to the Liberals 19.1 per cent. The NDP also came second in 23 other seats.

The positive election results punctuated a strong effort by CAW members, in various communities, to help elect progressive candidates to office.

Jenny Ahn, CAW Director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action credited CAW local union leadership and workplace activists for their tireless efforts and ongoing political work during the elections.

"Building a stronger, more equal and just society doesn't just happen by default. It's a product of the hard work and commitment of politically active and engaged citizens," Ahn said. "It's rewarding to see so many CAW members turn their attention to politics and see how that's making a real difference in our country."

In addition to Ontario, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador, elections were held in:

  • Prince Edward Island on October 3 (the Liberal Party lead by Robert Ghiz won a second straight majority)
  • Yukon on October 11 (the Yukon Party won for a third consecutive time, with the NDP overtaking the Liberals for second place)
  • Northwest Territories on October 3, where there are no official political party affiliations and a leadership contest has yet to be held

Saskatchewan voters will head to the polls on November 7.

CAW Builds International Links to Fight Precarious Work

Billed as a lead up to World Day for Decent Work, the CAW hosted two round tables on precarious work with visiting union delegations from Denmark on September 8 and South Africa on September 27.

Delegates from National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the United Federation of Danish Workers (3F) strategized with representatives of the CAW and other Canadian unions, action centre coordinators, researchers, and community activists who are engaged in the fight against precarious work.

The round tables highlighted the striking similarities between the three very different economies of Canada, Denmark and South Africa, including the escalating use of temporary help agencies and labour brokers and the super-exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers, as governments shift away from traditional immigration.

Discussions also focused on the power corporations are wielding to pressure governments to allow unrestricted access to these precarious work arrangements, further eroding the standard employer-employee relationship.

The roundtables underscored the systemic nature of the global rise in precarious employment and, at the same time, allowed for international solidarity to be made more concrete. These were also opportunities to build stronger links with community organizations that work with non-unionized workers.

The 2011 round tables are part of the CAW's continuing campaign against precarious work.

For more information visit: www.caw.ca/decentjobs

CAW Members Flash Mob and Rally to Save Gun Registry

CAW members across southern Ontario took to the streets and called on the Harper government to save
the national long-gun registry.

CAW rallies and flash mobs, which brought together union members and community allies, were held in cities across southern Ontario, including Windsor (August 28), London (September 15) and Kitchener (September 21). CAW activists in Windsor and London held separate flash mobs (carefully timed, public demonstrations that can take various forms) recognizing the 14 young women slain in 1989 during the massacre at L'École Polytechnique in Montreal. In Kitchener, CAW members held a public rally in the city's downtown core that generated widespread local media coverage.

These events were intended to raise public awareness on the important role the registry plays in Canada's gun control efforts. The Harper government (now with a majority of seats in the House of Commons) has promised to move quickly to dismantle the long-gun registry now that Parliament has resumed in Ottawa.

Holding signs of the 14 women killed during a shooting rampage at Montreal's L'École Polytechnique, flash mob participants call on the Harper government to save the national long-gun registry in Windsor, Ontario on August 28.
The national long-gun registry, first introduced in 1995, collects information about gun owners (those who own rifles and shotguns) and keeps a check on these weapons through a mandatory registration program.

"Keeping a tight check on gun ownership in Canada is fundamental to our efforts to end gun violence and, specifically, violence against women," said CAW Women's Program Director Julie White. "The Harper government's commitment to kill this registry sends a clear signal that we're moving backwards on this important issue. That's simply not good enough."

"These actions are the first of many targeting, what the majority of Canadians believe, is the Harper government's wrong-headed social and economic agenda," said CAW Membership Mobilization and Political Action Director Jenny Ahn.

CAW Local 1106 women's committee chairperson Shannon Tobin said that at its core, the union's campaign to save the long-gun registry is aimed at making sure dangerous weapons don't fall into the wrong hands.

"If you can register a short gun, a car, a cat, a dog, what's the difference? Why can't you register a long gun?" Tobin told The Kitchener Record newspaper.

Government plans to kill the registry were thwarted when Bill C-398 was defeated by a narrow margin in the House of Commons last year.

More information on the CAW's Save the Long-Gun Registry campaign can be found at: http://www.caw.ca/en/8182.htm, as well as photos and videos from the events.

Goderich Tornado Financial Appeal

CAW local unions are being asked to provide financial support to the Ontario community of Goderich, which was devastated by a tornado on August 21, 2011.

The town, which is billed as 'Canada's prettiest little community,' is "home to many CAW members who have personally experienced the loss this horrific tornado has caused," CAW President Ken Lewenza said.

The CAW National Union is contributing $10,000 through the CAW Social Justice Fund. Lewenza in a recent letter to CAW local union presidents and financial secretaries in Ontario urged locals to make a contribution.

Cheques should be made payable to CAW Canada and they should be earmarked for the Goderich and Area Disaster Relief Fund. They can be mailed to Peter Kennedy, National Secretary-Treasurer, 205 Placer Court, Toronto, Ontario, M2H 3H9.

Locals are asked to forward cheques to the national union no later than October 31, 2011. Donations received before December 1, 2011 will by matched 2-1 by the Ontario government.

CAW Local 584 Recognizes Bob Chernecki

CAW Local 584 Chairperson Kim Clout and President Dave Champagne are seen above following a luncheon meeting with CAW President Ken Lewenza recognizing the excellent representation of Bob Chernecki, assistant to the CAW president, who will be retiring as of November 1, 2011.

Coalition Launches Website for Rescue Centre Campaign

A coalition of citizens, municipalities, unions and other civil society organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador has launched a new campaign website as part of its ongoing effort to get Stephen Harper to reverse a government decision to shut down a Maritime Search and Rescue Centre in St. John's.

The website provides useful information about the important role of the St. John's search and rescue centre that, for years, has provided critical, split-second coordination of search and rescue resources and support for those distressed at sea, including fishers and other workers.

Earle McCurdy, President of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW/CAW), said in an October 7 statement that it's of "critical importance" for this decision to be overturned. "The Harper government is saying that saving money is more important than saving lives and we have to let them know in no uncertain terms that we find this position unacceptable."

Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour President Lana Payne called the move to shut down the St. John's centre as well as another rescue centre in Quebec City "completely wrong-headed and irresponsible."

The website highlights campaign events and enables citizens to send a letter directly to the Prime Minister. The site also links viewers to a campaign Facebook page.

To view the website, visit: http://www.maydaynl.ca/

Don't Kill Green Energy Jobs in Ontario, Hudak warned

The CAW Windsor Regional Environment Council (CAW WREC) joined with Greenpeace and solar manufacturer Unconquered Sun to erect a mock 'Green Jobs' Graveyard on September 28 outside of the Unconquered Sun facility in Windsor, Ontario to protest Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak's plan to scrap the province's Green Energy Act. "Hudak's election would have meant the loss of tens of thousands of important green energy and manufacturing jobs for this province," said Mark Bartlett, CAW WREC President. "It is essential that we continue to work with community partners to move toward environmental and economic sustainability."
(L-R Shawn-Patrick Stensil, Energy and Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada; Mark Bartlett, President, CAW Windsor Regional Environment Council and Sean Moore, Founder & CEO Unconquered Sun Solar Technologies)
Photograph by Trevor Weeks

Shelburne Nova Scotia Shipyard Awarded Refit Work

A shipyard in Shelburne, Nova Scotia has been awarded $2.4 million in refit work on vessels for the navy and coast guard, providing new work for CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 9 members.

Shelburne Ship Repair is located about 200 kilometres south of Halifax. The facility was closed in August 2009 because its wharf and slip needed upgrading. The yard reopened recently after a $16.6 million renovation funded by the provincial government and Irving Shipbuilding, the owners.

"It's great news that a shipyard that was in some trouble in the mid 90s when it was first organized will now have a bright future," said Les Holloway, CAW Atlantic area director, who originally organized the yard. "This is really good news for our members working in the shipbuilding industry," he said.

Danny Branscombe, President of CAW/MWF Local 9, told the Chronicle Herald newspaper that with the Shelburne yard now bidding on other contracts the membership are hoping on more work to come.

"If we get a decent amount of work, because of the larger facilities and the capacity to haul larger ships, the numbers can only go up," Branscombe said. The current refit work means work for more than 75 CAW/MWF members.

The company has indicated that with the renovations complete vessels weighing up to 4,000 tonnes and more than 122 metres long can now be hauled out of the water. The yard can also handle two vessels at a time.

Sign Up Today! Visit: www.caw.ca/connected


Ford, UAW pact runs
into worker resistance

Company, union reach out to plants to win contract approval

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 14, 2011

Ford Motor Co. executives are reaching out to local union leaders for help in winning ratification of the tentative contract between the automaker and the United Auto Workers, sources say.

In early voting, more UAW members were voting to reject, rather than adopt, the new four-year deal.

Ford and top union leaders say they are optimistic the pact will be ratified by the 41,000 unionized hourly workers. But early defeats in key locations and tensions aired on social media sites and plant floors have jangled nerves.

According to the UAW-Ford Facebook page Thursday, "no" votes were leading "yes" votes by 3,915 to 3,256, or 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent.

The results reflected Thursday's surprising defeat by Local 551 workers at the Chicago Assembly Plant, where the proposal fell by a 2-1 margin. It passed, however, by better than 3-1 at Local 228 at the Sterling Heights axle plant.

The union's overall total did not include tallies from at least four other plants reporting late Thursday; three voted to ratify and one turned it down.

Jimmy Settles, vice president of the UAW's Ford unit, is continuing to visit union locals to help local leaders explain the deal to the rank and file. Settles' presence, however, didn't convince workers at Michigan Assembly and Chicago Assembly, where locals rejected the agreement.

It includes at least $16,700 in bonuses and profit sharing over four years, but only entry-level workers would get hourly wage increases.

In addition to executives' lobbying among local union leaders, Ford solicited bipartisan support for ratification among Michigan's members of Congress. Several, including Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, a longtime union supporter, commended the UAW and Ford. He called it a "responsible, forward-looking agreement … proof positive that labor and management can cooperate. …"

Workers cite scare tactics
In addition to bonuses, the deal offers job security by committing $6.2 billion to new plant investment. It promises 12,000 jobs, including 5,750 new entry-level positions. The deal is richer than those reached between the UAW and Ford's crosstown rivals, Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. GM has ratified its contract; Chrysler workers have yet to vote.

But critics in Ford plants complain the deal does not make up for the concessions they made in recent years, as part of the effort to keep the automaker afloat.

Workers on both sides are complaining of scare tactics on the plant floor and in voting halls.

"You only hear one side on the plant floor" — and that's against ratification, said Sterling Heights employee Brian Pannebecker. "We're told to be willing to go on strike."

Many voters divided
The UAW's scorecard Thursday did not include results from the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, but an unconfirmed posting on the UAW-Ford Facebook page Thursday night said it passed. No vote tally was given.

Cleveland's engine plants voted to ratify by 57 percent, or 142 votes, the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper reported Thursday night.

The contract proposal won narrowly — 110 votes to 91 — at a Detroit parts depot.

But at the Automotive Components' Holdings plant in Saline, production workers rejected it by 59 percent and skilled workers by 51 percent.

Since the contract expired Sept. 14, Ford workers have continued to work under an indefinite extension that can be terminated by the union or the company with three days notice. If the tentative agreement is rejected, the union would decide whether to return to the table and start all over — or give notice of a strike in 72 hours. The company has the same right to give notice of a pending lockout.

While the rank and file have authorized a strike against Ford, the UAW's top leaders are not keen to walk out on a company while the industry is still recovering from its dive.

Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California Berkeley, said rejection by early-voting union locals doesn't spell doom for the Ford contract.

"At the start of voting, workers are free to express their anger and emotion," Shaiken said. But late voters, he said, bear the responsibility of determining the fate of the deal.

In 2007 contract talks, Chrysler was the lead company and early rejections caused many to fear the deal would be defeated. But in the end, even plants with dissident histories voted overwhelmingly in favor and the deal passed, Shaiken said.

More talks concern King
Much of the debate has raged on the UAW-Ford Facebook page, where workers slammed their leaders and insisted that debt-ridden Ford has cash reserves it can pry open further for workers.

Many point to the $26.5 million paid to Ford CEO Alan Mulally last year as an affront.

Others, advocating ratification, lament: "Unemployment doesn't pay as well as my paycheck."

UAW President Bob King said Wednesday that in a softening economy, he is concerned a return to the bargaining table could result in an agreement less generous than the current one.

Auto sales have not recovered, unemployment is at 9.1 percent and the economy remains sluggish, noted Kristen Dziczek, labor expert with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

"Anything involving new investment and tooling can move anywhere else," she said, and jobs promised to U.S. Ford plants could move.

"If rejected, I would expect the next agreement to have fewer jobs. That means less union power the next time they go to negotiate …

"There is no better option behind door No. 3."


King: A better Ford deal unlikely

UAW president warns workers against rejecting new contract

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 13, 2011

United Auto Workers President Bob King fears that if the tentative agreement reached with Ford Motor Co. — by far the richest for workers of the deals reached with Detroit's Big Three automakers — is not ratified, a subsequent deal may not be as attractive.

King, however, said he thinks workers will approve the Ford agreement.

But if workers reject the deal, King is concerned that returning to the bargaining table in a worsening economy could yield a less generous contract.

"If the union doesn't ratify and we had to go back to the table, it could very well be a much more difficult economic situation," King said Wednesday following a press conference to announce a tentative four-year labor agreement with Chrysler Group LLC.

King said he deliberately rushed from the Ford ratification meeting Oct. 4 straight into Chrysler talks "because I wanted to complete all these negotiations before the economy got worse."

Ford workers received a substantially better offer than their counterparts at Chrysler.

While the Ford deal offers a minimum of $16,700 in bonuses and profit sharing over the life of the contract and 5,750 all-new jobs in addition to almost 7,000 previously promised, the Chrysler deal offers a minimum of $5,750 over four years, few new jobs among the 2,100 announced and no buyouts to make room for new workers.

Ford workers — most of whom have not yet voted on their agreement — might be persuaded by how much sweeter their deal is, but King said "that did not influence our (Chrysler) bargaining at all."

Ford has 58 locals that must conclude voting by Tuesday.

Results from the first four locations show 50.2 percent of production workers are in favor of the contract, but 50.6 percent of skilled workers — who represent 20 percent of workers — are against the proposed deal, according to the UAW-Ford Facebook page.

The agreement received a high-profile defeat Tuesday by members of UAW Local 900 representing Michigan Assembly and Wayne Integrated Stamping, where it was rejected by 56 votes of 2,582 cast.

King said he is not concerned about the Wayne results and expects close votes in other parts of the country, knowing people are financially stressed and feeling personal pressure.

Nerves are starting to show among members posting comments on the Facebook page. While early posts criticized the deal as not rich enough, more workers are expressing concern about the economy and job security.

There is talk of a lengthy strike or possible lockout, replacement workers and the possibility of a subsequent contract with more concessions if the proposed deal is rejected.

King argues the Ford team secured a good deal for members.

"I think it's a really good agreement. I think that as people look at it and weigh different options, they'll vote for it. I think also members will look at the economy."

In the end, "honestly it's the membership's decision so if they decide something we'll follow the direction of the membership," he said.


Deal reached between
UAW, Chrysler

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
October 12, 2011

Warren — The United Auto Workers and Chrysler Group LLC have reached a tentative agreement Wednesday on a new national contract that the union says will add 2,100 jobs — many of them in Michigan.

The union announced the accord just before 7 a.m. Wednesday. Terms of the new contract, which still needs to be ratified by the company's 26,000 U.S. hourly employees, were not released, but the UAW began briefing local union leaders on the deal at 9 a.m. at the Region 1 headquarters here.

Sources inside the briefing told The Detroit News that the agreement includes:

A $3,500 signing bonus to be paid in two installments;

A raise in wages for entry-level or two-tier workers to $19.28 an hour over the life of the agreement;

A profit-sharing plan similar to the ones negotiated with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.;

A $500 annual performance bonus each year and a $500 quality bonus.

"This tentative agreement builds on the momentum of job creation and our efforts to rebuild America by adding 2,100 new jobs by the end of the agreement in 2015 to communities left in turmoil in the wake of the country's economic collapse," said UAW President Bob King, adding that it — along with the deals his union already negotiated with GM and Ford — will bring more than 20,000 new jobs to America. "Together with the jobs created in suppliers and other businesses supported by auto manufacturing, a total of 180,000 jobs will be added to the country's battered economy. Through collective bargaining and working together with the domestic automakers, we have shown that cooperation and collective bargaining work."

The UAW said Chrysler would invest $4.5 billion in its U.S. factories to produce new models, refreshed vehicles and components by 2015. The automaker confirmed that it has reached a tentative agreement with the union, but would not comment on the details.

"This agreement is the latest in a remarkable turnaround for Chrysler," said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, head of the union's national Chrysler division. "The company declared bankruptcy just a few years ago and with great sacrifice by UAW Chrysler workers and with federal loans and support from the Obama Administration, Chrysler has paid back the loans in full. Today, thanks to the dedication of its UAW workers, Chrysler is showing strong sales and adding new cars to its line-up, additional shifts at plants, and creating new jobs. Chrysler has turned the corner and with this agreement will continue to move forward. It's a new day at Chrysler."

Chrysler is the last of the Detroit Three to negotiate an agreement with the union. Workers at General Motors Co. ratified a new contract last month. Ford and the UAW reached a tentative agreement on Oct. 4, but workers are still voting on it.

The Chrysler agreement is expected to hue closely to those agreements, which replaced wage increases with a new profit-sharing system that allows workers to share in their company's success without adding to its fixed costs and making it less competitive with foreign competitors. They did provide raises for entry-level workers, as well as generous signing bonuses for all UAW-represented employees.

But the terms of the Chrysler contract will likely diverge from those agreements. The Auburn Hills-based automaker is the smallest of Detroit's Big Three and has yet to return to profitability following its 2009 bankruptcy and subsequent bailout by the federal government. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has stressed the need for a contract that recognizes his company's unique situation.

Chrysler and GM were negotiating in tandem until Marchionne broke off talks on Sept. 14, accusing UAW's King of sidelining his company while the union concluded its agreement with its larger rival. In a strongly worded letter to the union chief, the Chrysler executive accused King of putting his own political agenda ahead of the interests of his members.

King never responded publicly to Marchionne's missive and insisted that it had not damaged relations between the company and the union. But on Sept. 22, the UAW announced that it was leapfrogging Chrysler and beginning negotiations with Ford instead.

King returned to the bargaining table in Auburn Hills on Oct. 5, a day after concluding an agreement with Detroit's No. 2 automaker. Yet the UAW and Chrysler were still far apart on key issues, including health care cost-sharing, signing bonuses and wages for entry-level workers. The latter was a major issue for Chrysler, which has more of these so-called "second-tier" workers than GM and Ford combined.

By Friday, most of those differences had been resolved, and King was confident enough on agreement that he summoned the leaders of locals representing Chrysler workers to a meeting at the union's Region 1 headquarters in Warren on Monday. However, despite a weekend of intense, high-level negotiations, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement and recessed just before that meeting began.

King instructed out-of-town union leaders to remain in Detroit, telling them he was confident a deal would be reached by Wednesday. Bargaining resumed at 10 a.m. Tuesday and continued until the remaining issues were resolved early today.


Wayne workers reject
Ford contract

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
Oct 12, 2011

The first major United Auto Workers local, in Wayne, narrowly rejected a proposed contract with Ford Motor Co., officials said Tuesday, and may be a sign of just how divided workers are on the pact.

Members of UAW Local 900 at Michigan Assembly and Wayne Integrated Stamping defeated the tentative four-year agreement by 56 votes out of 2,582 cast, the union said.

A couple of parts depots with small memberships across the country also have completed voting.

Currently, 50.1 percent of production workers have voted in favor of the agreement, but only 45.2 percent of skilled workers voted yes, according to the Ford-UAW Facebook page.

The UAW said 7.3 percent have voted.

All ratification votes must be concluded by Oct. 18. Most major plants will not have results until later this week.

Local 900 in Wayne reported a final count of 51.1 percent against and 48.9 percent in favor, said Bill Johnson, who is local chairman at Michigan Assembly and did not join the rest of the local's leaders in personally endorsing ratification.

Johnson said he does not think his local's vote is necessarily a harbinger of what is to come among all Ford hourly workers.

"I don't think it's a good handle on what will happen across the country," Johnson said.

Michigan Assembly has about 3,200 workers on two shifts. It was promised a third shift next year to make the Ford Focus and C-Max.

Johnson said his plant's workers already were expecting the extra shift, so Ford's jobs pledge was not enough to overcome expectations of compensation better than the $16,700 or more in bonuses and profit sharing that Ford offered.

Only entry-level workers, who make about half the pay of veteran employees, are to get actual wage increases under the agreement.

The numbers did not sit well for workers who made substantial concessions during the industry's dark days, and are upset that Ford CEO Alan Mulally got $26.5 million in compensation last year.

"People out here were irate," Johnson said.

Workers also fear addition of a third shift will bring in workers from other plants who have higher seniority — and that could negatively affect those already on the job at Wayne, Johnson said.


UAW, Chrysler closing in on a deal

Negotiations will restart today with a few issues unresolved

Bryce Hoffman/ The Detroit News
October 11, 2011

Warren — Talks between the United Auto Workers and Chrysler Group LLC are scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. this morning after a daylong recess Monday.

Both sides say they are close to a deal on a new national contract, but a final agreement eluded them after a night of around-the-clock bargaining Monday.

UAW President Bob King told local union gathered at the Region 1 headquarters in Warren on Monday morning that negotiators were closing in on a deal around 6 a.m. but could not resolve a few outstanding issues. The two sides decided to call a breather to allow the negotiating teams some rest.

"We are still working toward an agreement," King told the union representatives during a short briefing just after 9 a.m. "We hope to have one by Wednesday."

Late Friday, King and UAW Vice President General Holiefield, head of the union's national Chrysler division, summoned local presidents and chairmen representing about 26,000 Chrysler workers to Warren, confident that a deal was imminent.

The briefing in Warren lasted less than 20 minutes. King reportedly said nothing negative about Chrysler and offered no details on the progress already made other than to say it was substantial.

He asked the out-of-town representatives to stay in Michigan until Wednesday, when another meeting is scheduled.

Chrysler is the last of Detroit's Big Three automakers to remain bargaining with the union in this year's contract talks. General Motors Co. workers have already ratified a new contract and their counterparts at Ford Motor Co. are voting on their tentative agreement now.

Talks between Chrysler and the UAW snagged early on health care costs, entry-level wages and a signing bonus for union members.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said Friday the deals the UAW has already negotiated with GM and Ford are too rich for his company, which has yet to turn a profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009.

Marchionne is also the CEO Italy's Fiat SpA, which holds a controlling stake in Chrysler. On Monday, one of the main unions representing workers at Fiat called a one-day strike for Oct. 21 to protest what it sees as moves to shift some Fiat production to Chrysler.

Meanwhile, the UAW called on its members to be patient with the negotiating process.

"We are asking for a show of solidarity, as our negotiators continue to work diligently on a tentative agreement," the union said in a statement to members posted on its Facebook page Monday.

The current contract between Chrysler and the UAW expired Sept. 14, but the two sides have agreed to extend it until Oct. 19.


UAW official stumps for
votes in Ford deal

Most locals will vote late this week on
whether to ratify 4-year agreement

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
October 10, 2011

United Auto Workers Vice President Jimmy Settles is heading to at least four more large union locals in hopes of convincing their members to ratify the tentative agreement reached with Ford Motor Co. last week.

Settles was at Michigan Assembly in Wayne on Sunday and at the Rouge complex Friday but did not attend Saturday's meeting at the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock. The meetings are being held to explain the pact that UAW national officials struck with Ford.

Most locals vote late this week on the four-year agreement, which adds 5,750 new entry-level jobs among the promised 12,000 positions.

Voting at the UAW's 58 Ford local unions must be wrapped up by Oct. 18.

"There is no doubt in my mind this contract is going to pass," Settles told The Detroit News in a weekend interview.

"People want job security and we were able to negotiate that," he said.

"It's an unprecedented amount of money, especially during these times. We're bringing work here from other countries that we've never done before because the quality is so high from our members and we are competitive but still pay decent wages."

Locally, Flat Rock is slated to add a second shift in 2013 to make the next-generation Mustang and add production of the Ford Fusion to replace Mazda6 assembly that is moving to Japan. Without the $555 million investment, the plant was in danger of closing. Members of UAW Local 3000 vote Thursday.

Michigan Assembly is promised a third shift next year, to make the Ford Focus and C-Max.

Settles will attend about six information meetings at some of the big locals.

Friday, he addressed Local 600, which has a number of units including Dearborn Truck Assembly.

"It was a very spirited meeting," Settles said "A lot was resolved."

Local 600 will vote daily through Friday.

This week, Settles will travel to Chicago and Kansas City.

While he is confident the contract meets workers' needs, including job security and money, he will not rest easy until the voting concludes.

"I worry about them all until it's over," Settles said, adding he is encouraged by the feedback he has received so far.

"There are workers who will vote 'no' whatever happens," he said. "The majority, once you give them the proper information, they understand."

Gary Walkowicz, bargaining chairman at Local 600, is lobbying for rejection. He said the jobs would have been there anyway and Ford can back out of its commitments if the economy worsens and vehicle demand dissipates.

Ford officials have said they do not add shifts lightly because they don't like to have to later lay people off.

Settles said if the market would happen to fall and Ford sought to back out of any commitments, the two sides would sit down to discuss it. "It's no different than it's always been," he said.

"There have only been two or three times when we have had to step down and change or modify a contract."

And if workers vote down the agreement, the two sides start over.

"If we go back there, everything is off the table," Settles said of new jobs and $16 billion in investment, including $6.2 billion in plants.

Some workers also are complaining that the only wage increase is for entry-level workers, but all are guaranteed at least $16,700 in bonuses and profit sharing over the four-year deal.

"At the end of the day, when they sit down with their spouses and talk about what's best for them, they will see that it's a good contract, especially during these times," Settles said.

"If I came home and told my wife that I turned down $10,000, I don't think my key would work in the door."


October 8, 2011
Volume 41, No. 35


New Agreement with the St. Lawrence Seaway

CAW St Lawrence Seaway bargaining committee, September 29, 2011

The CAW has reached new tentative agreements with St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation October 3, avoiding a possible strike set for that day at noon. The CAW represents supervisory, operations, maintenance and headquarters workers at the corporation in Ontario and Quebec.

Ratification meetings are scheduled over the next two weeks, where members can vote on the new contracts. Details of the agreement and the vote will be released following the completion of the meetings.

Members of the CAW bargaining committees involved in the negotiations unanimously recommend acceptance of the new three year agreements. The committees were pleased that a disruption to shipping on the Seaway system was avoided.

CAW Locals 4211, 4212, 4319, 4320 and 4324 represent 475 St. Lawrence Seaway workers across the Seaway system in Ontario and Quebec.

CAW Members Approve Deal at Oakville Transit

CAW members at Oakville Transit, in Oakville, Ontario approved a new two and a half year agreement during a ratification meeting October 2.

Workers voted 78 per cent in favour of the new deal. The agreement includes a two per cent wage increase in each year of the agreement with minor wage adjustments, retirement incentives and improvements to scheduling practices.

"I think this is a great agreement that addresses the concerns of all of our members, including injured workers," said CAW Local 1256 President Angus MacDonald. "The new agreement recognizes the important contributions our members make to the well-being of the community through public transit services."

CAW Local 1256 represents 180 workers at Oakville Transit, including drivers, mechanics and cleaners.

Hudak Jeopardizes Tens of Thousands of Auto Jobs

Conservative Leader Tim Hudak's promise to end all provincial government subsidies to business, in the name of ending so-called "corporate welfare," would destroy Ontario's chances of winning new auto investments that are crucial to the future of several Ontario auto communities, warns CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

"The puritan Conservative position against subsidies is driven by ideology, not economic reality," Lewenza said. "If enacted, this promise would mean we'll never receive another major auto investment in this province."

Hudak's pledge to end all business subsidies appears on page 15 of the Conservatives' "Changebook" platform document.

In capital-intensive, globally mobile industries like auto and aerospace, it is a near-universal practice for host governments to provide a range of incentives to attract new investments (including capital grants, infrastructure subsidies, and training subsidies).

In Ontario for the last decade, every major capital project by global automakers has received major financial support from both the federal and the Ontario governments. Typically, each level of government kicks in about 10 per cent of the capital cost of the new investment, for a combined subsidy of around 20 per cent. This has been the practice both at new "greenfield" sites (such as Toyota's new plant in Woodstock) and for the retooling of existing factories.

Several major Ontario auto facilities will require major retooling within the term of the next Ontario government, including plants in Brampton, Oakville, Ingersoll, Oshawa and Windsor.

"Without significant participation by both the provincial and federal governments, not one of those crucial projects will go ahead," Lewenza said. "Tens of thousands of auto jobs in Ontario will be jeopardized if a Hudak government puts naïve philosophical convictions ahead of concrete support for this vital industry."

"Of course, we'd all rather see companies investing in this province out of a sense of social responsibility," Lewenza said. "But that's not how most industries work anymore. You have to have money on the table, in order to play in the game."

Government participation is all the more important today, Lewenza noted, in light of actions by competing jurisdictions (including the U.S. and Mexico, which also pay large investment subsidies), the over-valued Canadian currency, and the need for auto companies to invest in new environmental technology and other innovations.

About 95,000 Ontarians currently work in auto assembly and components manufacturing. About 9000 new auto jobs have been regained in the province since June 2009 - the worst point of the global financial crisis.

CAW Welcomes Paperworkers

The Independent Paperworkers of Canada Local 69 have joined the CAW. The 116 members are now part of CAW Local 1917

L-R Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy; former CAW Local 398 President Doug Aitchison; former President of Independent Paperworkers Local 69 Jerry Heffernan; CAW National President Ken Lewenza; CAW Local 1917 President Robin Dudley; CAW Kitchener Area Director Bill Gibson and Health & Safety Co-Chair at Hitachi ( Local 1917) in Guelph Kevin Patterson pictured here at the Ontario pre-election meeting in Kitchener, September 19, 2011

CAW Applauds Support of Ontario Northland

The Ontario Northland Transportation Commission has announced a new contract with Metrolinx to refurbish ten more rail cars in its North Bay, Ontario facility.

CAW Local 103 President Brian Kelly and CAW Local 103 Vice-President Andy Mitchell were on hand September 30 with Nipissing Liberal candidate Catherine Whiting and Liberal MPP Monique Smith to announce the contract, which is worth $9 million.
Taken together with the previously announced Polar Bear Express refurbishment the new contract means 12 months of work for CAW Local 103 members at the plant. Officials from the ONTC, Metrolinx and the provincial government have been meeting to structure a strategic alliance that will allow both government agencies to work more closely and to bring more work to the ONTC, Smith said.

"The McGuinty government has been very supportive of the ONTC over the last eight years with investments of over $400 million," said Brian Kelly, CAW Local 103 President.

"The Liberal government has supported us and is now assisting us again as we transition from the Metrolinx deal. In 2002 Dalton McGuinty pledged not to sell the ONTC and has kept his promise. We are confident the pledge to create a strategic alliance between the ONTC and Metrolinx that will bring work into our shops will be kept as well," Kelly said.

CAW Youth Conference

Over 75 delegates participated in the 5th CAW Youth Conference held at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario from September 30-October 2.

Through workshops, group discussions and special presentations delegates examined the challenges young workers face in Canada's underperforming economy as well as ways to address those challenges for the future, including improving retirement security, stopping two-tier collective agreements and taking action to stop climate change.

Conference guests included CAW President Ken Lewenza, CAW Economist Jim Stanford and South African metalworkers union representative Alex Mashilo (NUMSA). The conference also held a Turning Point gathering run by Jamie Biggar and Adam Shedletzky (co-founders of the grassroots citizen mobilization group Leadnow.ca).

CAW Welcomes New Members

George Jeffrey Community Day Care, Thunder Bay, ON - 21 Members.

NS Technologies Group Inc. Injection Division, Whitby, ON - 150 Members.

Firan Technology Group Corporation, Toronto, ON - 76 Members

Rock-Tenn Container Canada L.P., Guelph, ON - 116 Members

CAW Women Leaders Remember Nancy Riche

CAW members, activists and leaders remember Nancy Riche as an outspoken feminist with a keen sense of justice, a tireless fighter and a trailblazer for women in the labour movement. Nancy passed away on October 1, 2011 at age 66.

Those who knew her best, described Nancy as generous, formidable, fearless, feisty and funny.

Nancy began her professional life as a community college instructor and a member of the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees (NAPE). She went on to become Director of Education, Research and Communications at NAPE and then Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

She was elected CLC Executive Vice-President, a post she held for 13 years, before going on to become CLC Secretary Treasurer in 1999. She retired in 2002. As one of Canada's leading female labour leaders, Nancy also served as Vice-President of the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and Chair of its Women's Committee from 1993-2002.

Nancy served as Associate President (Labour) of the federal NDP and later President of the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP from 2003-2008.

Nancy received the Order of Canada, a Dr. of Letters Honoris Causa from Memorial University, the AFL-CIO Meary-Lane Human Rights Award and the Elijah Barayi Award from the Congress of South African Trade Unions for her contribution to the struggle against apartheid.

Below CAW women leaders reflect on the contributions Nancy made to the trade union movement and to their own lives and the lives of others:

Julie White, Women's Department Director
"Nancy Riche's forward in her book to trade union women "Dear Sisters, Dear Sisters" starts out with "I had an idea .to write a book as a gift to all the women in the movement who supported me, cried with me, laughed with me and inspired me. You are my friends. You are my sisters."

We should now take a moment to reflect on Sister Riche - a feminist, a trade unionist and a social democrat whose shoulders we stand upon. Nancy was a feminist who blazed a path for us to follow; a trade unionist who empowered us to lead; and a social democrat who taught us change is possible. Our parting gift to Sister Riche must be our commitment to continue her legacy and create new "ideas" through organizing, protesting and pushing back."

Deb Tveit, Assistant to the President
"Nancy was a mentor to many CAW women over the years encouraging and developing their self esteem and instilling in them the ability to be leaders and be elected in leadership roles. I for one have benefitted from her encouragement and the confidence she gave me to hold many leadership positions over the years. She will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered by myself and many others."

Peggy Nash, former Assistant to the President, current NDP MP
"Nancy was a fearless fighter for the underdog and the marginalized. She was a passionate trailblazer for women's rights and bristled immediately in the face of sexism or some other form of discrimination. Never afraid to say what many only thought, Nancy would disarm negative reaction with one of those mischievous smiles.

A tireless advocate for the New Democratic Party, Nancy led the party as president for several years, but she always rolled up her sleeves and pitched in to help local campaigns. How sad that she won't see the tremendous success next week of her good friend Newfoundland NDP Leader Lorraine Michaels. What a celebration she would have had."

Carol Phillips, former Assistant to the President, Women's Department Director
"I was blessed to work closely with Nancy over the years both at the CAW and CLC and some of my most treasured memories come from times spent with Sister Riche. Nancy was an extraordinary and complex feminist and trade unionist who never forgot how tough it was to grow up poor and she fought for the disadvantaged all her life. She was funny and warm and could also be a royal pain sometimes! She never shied away from speaking truth to power and looking them straight in the eye when she did it. She was an inspiration to many of us women and men alike. She was much loved and Nancy will be sorely missed."

Cheryl Kryzaniwsky, former Women's Department Director, CAW Council President
"I became active in my union in 1976 and was elected to attend my first CLC convention in 1978. I was nervous and so unsure of myself not knowing much about convention protocol or procedure. Nancy Riche to the rescue! Nancy held a pre meeting awareness session for "women" regaling those in attendance with a humourous look at what to expect. How to line up, speak at the microphone (which she insisted we do at least once); vote for or against the committee's recommendation; how to participate fully making sure our voices were heard. She became a mentor and friend and the loss of her voice on issues of importance to working women around the world will be deeply missed."

You can sign the memorial book here: http://www.carnells.com/funeral-notice.aspx?id=2339


To download a copy of this ad visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10591.htm







CAW pressured by Ford-UAW deal

No wage hike, in U.S. contract

Windsor Star
October 6, 2011

A new, four-year Ford-UAW contract that promises individual payouts totalling $7,500 as well as the creation of almost 6,000 new jobs across the border will put considerable pressure on the Canadian Auto Workers union to drop its longstanding opposition to profitsharing and two-tier wages, industry analysts said Tuesday.

"The CAW's back is up against a wall," said Dennis DesRosiers, Toronto auto expert. "If they don't bend, they slowly willow out their membership base."

In lieu of annual wage increases and cost-of living allowances, hourly Ford workers in the U.S. will receive a $6,000 signing bonus and an annual $1,500 lump sum in a contract that also pledges $4.8 billion in new investment in U.S. plants and the creation of 5,750 jobs. The new jobs will pay an entry level wage starting at $15.51 an hour - almost half of the regular hourly UAW wage.

The Ford contract comes on the heels of a four-year contract reached with General Motors, which also dispensed with annual wage hikes in favour of lucrative profit-sharing cheques and signing bonuses.

"There's quite a bit of pressure (on the CAW) now from two contracts with no raises, no COLA and moving everything to lump sums and profitsharing and large signing bonuses in exchange for work and jobs and large investments," said Kristin Dziczek, analyst with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. "This is one of their lines in the sand. I don't know what I would do if I were the CAW right now. They knew this was pattern at GM, this is pattern at Ford and this is what the UAW has been willing to do to lure investment and product commitments and job security in the U.S. They may have their own strategy for products and investment and job security in Canada that doesn't involve this. But the companies will come with, 'Well, the UAW did it.'"

CAW talks with the Detroit Three don't get underway until September, 2012, but union president Ken Lewenza said admitted that the union is feeling the heat from some of its own members who are ogling the fat profit-sharing cheques that have already been distributed to their U.S. counterparts on top of the payouts spelled out in the Ford and GM deals.

"It puts additional pressure, but we make $15,000 a year more in actual wages," said Lewenza. "We will have to show them that with lump-sum payments and profit sharing, you gain nothing."

He noted that since the UAW agreed to profit sharing, cheques have been doled out only twice over 15 years.

"The only trouble spot for us (in the Ford contract) is what did they do to the two-tier wage system," said Lewenz."We'll analyze it and we'll compared it."

The "good news" for Canadian autoworkers is that any new jobs moving to the U.S. are coming from Ford plants in Mexico, Japan and China, not Canada, he added. If the CAW hopes to preserve or add jobs it will have to follow its American counterpart's willingness to negotiate such measure as profit sharing and two-tier wages, said DesRosiers.

"The crutches the CAW has used in the past to lever aboveaverage compensation for their members are being pulled out from under them," he said. "We no longer have the auto pact; we no longer have a lower value dollar; we have an increasingly global auto industry.

"As the UAW embraced twotier wages as a fundamental way of dealing with concessions, it's opened up tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S., moving production, capacity to U.S. plants as opposed to Mexico or Canada."

In Canada, Ford is down to one auto-assembly operation in Oakville as well as an engine plant in Windsor and two parts depots - one in Alberta, the other in Ontario. Last month, it shut down its St. Thomas carassembly plant, throwing about 1,200 workers out of a job.

Lewenza said slashing Canadian wages will not keep jobs in this country since they make up only seven per cent of the cost of a vehicle. He said governments must step in with legislative measures that compel auto companies that sell vehicles in this country to also produce in Canada.

"Is Canada entitled to investment based on the consumer demand for Ford products? You can't reduce jobs and expect Canadians to continue to buy Ford products as if it doesn't mean anything to close plants and move jobs out of the country."


Ford, UAW agree to richer deal, worker bonuses

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News

October 6, 2011

The tentative labor agreement announced Tuesday between Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers is sweeter on every level than the deal ratified last week with General Motors Co.

And by Oct. 16, about 41,000 Ford workers will decide whether they agree the jobs, bonuses and profit sharing are enough over the four years of the contract.

If ratified, hourly workers at Ford with a year of seniority will receive a $6,000 signing bonus ($1,000 more than GM workers get) and a profit-sharing check — starting with $3,700, on average — later this year, plus more every March. They'll also get $6,000 in "inflation protection," compared with GM's $3,000, and $1,000 in "competitive awards" over the life of the agreement.

New workers, whose signing bonus is $5,000, will get a minimum of $15,700 even if Ford makes no profit in the second half — which is unlikely for a company with nine consecutive profitable quarters.

But Ford officials say the automaker will keep its competitive edge with GM, whose new contract increased labor costs by 1 percent annually.

As at GM, Ford's wage increases are for entry-level workers only, and its more generous buyout offers — $50,000 for production workers and $100,000 for skilled trades — are designed to replace veterans with new hires at half the wage.

Among the 12,000 Ford jobs being saved or added during the next four years, 5,750 will be new entry-level workers, part of a $16 billion investment in new products, engineering and plants.

The Ford agreement is structured differently, but the overall cost is "very comparable" to the GM deal, said UAW President Bob King.

John Fleming, Ford executive vice president for labor affairs, described the deal reached early Tuesday as "fair" and improving the company's competitiveness in the U.S.

He said labor costs at Ford, which are $58 an hour in wages and benefits, will stay roughly the same.

That should appease Wall Street and the rating agencies that have said they would likely improve Ford's credit rating with a successful agreement.

Ford stock closed Tuesday at $10.08, up 71 cents or 7.58 percent — better than the overall market.

"What I'm most proud of is the 12,000 jobs," said UAW vice president Jimmy Settles.

Plants slated to add shifts include Michigan Assembly in Wayne to make the Ford Focus and C-Max; and the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock to make the Mustang and Fusion.

Some work is coming to the United States from Mexico, Japan, China and Europe.

King and Settles think the deal will be approved by their members, because job creation is vital.

"It doesn't mean anything if you get a $5 an hour pay increase and 5,000 people get laid off," King said.

Workers could still receive an additional payout from an outstanding grievance that goes to arbitration again in November.

Ford, like GM, has simplified a profit-sharing formula.

Ford has to make at least $1.25 billion and the plan maxes out at $12,000 per worker. The plan pays workers $1 for every $1 million pretax in North America.

Under the formula, Ford workers are likely to get more than the $5,000 they got last year.

The deal was presented to local labor leaders in Detroit on Tuesday and overwhelmingly approved. Workers appear divided.

"Creating more jobs is huge, particularly if they are bringing them in from overseas. So is protecting the ones we already have," said Brian Pannebecker of Sterling Heights axle. "But people are going to vote yes or no based on the economics."

Dave Perez, 48, of the Saline plant is upset that cost of living was not restored and the two-tier wage structure was preserved.

"If you look at what we've given up over the years, it doesn't come close," he said of the deal.

But analyst Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research said King and Settles know their membership "and what it takes to get it ratified."

Hiring less expensive workers allows the company to invest in more products and jobs, she said.

Settles said the lengthy ratification period provides plenty of time to disseminate information. Ford workers can strike if the deal isn't approved.

Dissident leader Gary Walkowicz, a bargaining committeeman at Local 600 at Dearborn Truck, said the deal is "not good" and he will lobby to reject it.

But others at Dearborn Truck indicated they'd likely vote for the pact if there are no more major sacrifices.

"We survived, baby, we survived," Merrel Jayce, a 10-year employee, said of the industry downturn.

Line worker David Wilkins said economic uncertainty makes many workers ready to accept the status quo.

"Everybody knows a lot of people are hurting right now. Even if we just kept what we got, I think a lot of people would grumble, but I would probably vote yes," he said.


Ford, UAW deal pledges $16K in bonuses, profit sharing payouts

Christina Rogers, Alisa Priddle and Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
October 5, 2011

Dearborn— Hourly workers at Ford Motor Co. will receive a $6,000 signing bonus as part of a new four-year contract with the automaker that also pledges $4.8 billion in new investment in U.S. plants at least $15,700 in bonuses and profit sharing payouts.

The agreement also secures more than 12,000 jobs, including 7,000 previously announced - 6,250 hourly and 750 salaried - and 5,750 new jobs that will be added by the end of 2012 and pay an entry-level wage.

Ford workers will get the bonus if the contract is ratified by the automaker's 41,000 union-represented employees.

Workers will also get a $1,500 annual lump sum in lieu of cost of living increases, and overflow production of the popular Ford Fusion - now built in Mexico - will go to the automaker's plant in Flat Rock, Ford confirmed Tuesday.

Plants in Kansas City, Mo., Louisville, Ky., Wayne, Mich. and Avon Lake, Ohio will get new jobs and vehicles to build.

"What I'm most proud of is the 12,000 jobs," said UAW vice president Jimmy Settles.

Some of the new jobs are from in-sourcing work done in other countries, including Mexico, Japan and China.

Ford will offer buyouts of $50,000 to production workers and $100,000 to skilled trades employees. That's richer than those negotiated as part of General Motors Co.'s labor pact with the UAW, which totaled $75,000 for skilled trade employees and $10,000 for assembly line workers who are nearing retirement age.

Like the GM contract, Ford has simplified its profit sharing formula and increased pay for entry-level workers -- now $15.51 an hour at Ford - to $19.28 an hour over the term of the agreement.

The pact guarantees profit sharing checks averaging $3,700 this year. In all, Ford workers will get $16,700 in bonuses, lump sum payments and profit sharing if the contract is approved.

Ford and UAW bargainers worked through the night on the agreement and didn't finalize a deal until this morning.

Briefing books about the deal arrived here from printers only 15 minutes before the meeting with local UAW leaders started Tuesday morning in downtown Detroit.

Ford has fewer than 250 workers on lay-off, and some will be recalled to the automaker's Louisville, Ky., factory, where a second shift will be added by year's end.

Ford also has about 2,000 temporary workers, who also earn the entry-level wage — about half of the traditional $28-an-hour pay. Company officials declined to say if temporary workers would get a first shot at the new permanent positions.

John Fleming, Ford's executive vice president for labor affairs, said labor costs at Ford, which are $58 an hour in wages and benefits, will stay roughly the same.

The presidents of United Auto Workers locals from across the country were called to Detroit today for a briefing on the contract's details.

Ford is hoping members will approve the deal within a couple weeks; the UAW says ratification votes are expected to be completed in 12 days.

"Creating more jobs is huge -- particularly if they are bringing them in from overseas. So is protecting the ones we already have. But people are going to vote yes or no based on the economics of the deal," said Brian Pannebecker, who works at Ford's Sterling Heights plant.

Dissident leader Gary Walkowicz, a bargaining committeeman at Local 600, said the deal was "not good" for workers and vowed to rally the rank-and-file to vote it down.

Marty Mulloy, Ford's vice president of labor affairs, described the talks as "professional" but added that there were many last-minute details to work out.

"One of the areas we really concentrated on is jobs," Mulloy said.

Of the $16 billion in new product investments, $6.2 billion will be for U.S. plants and rolled out by 2012. Of the $6.2 billion for plants, $4.8 billion is new money notpreviously announced.

Details of the contract will be made available to the Ford membership this afternoon through the union's newswire and the entire contract will be posted online.

Members will also be given the times and locations of information meetings to vote on the contract.

The local presidents will gather at the UAW Ford National Programs Center Tuesday.

Ford described the deal as "fair" and improving the company's competitiveness in the United States.

That should appease Wall Street and the rating agencies that have said they would likely improve Ford's credit rating with a successful new labor agreement. Ford seeks to return to investment grade status as early as year end.

High-level talks on economic issues had been on the table for eight consecutive days — and some late nights.

The pact is expected to follow the same general framework as the agreement with GM ratified last week, although Ford workers want it to be better than GM's. Unlike GM, where hourly workers were prohibited from striking because the automaker took a government bailout, Ford employees are not barred from walking out.

GM hourly workers will receive at least $11,500 in profit sharing and bonuses over four years, including $5,000 for signing the agreement, and annual $1,000 "inflation protection" lump sums as well as wage increases for entry-level workers.

If the same profit-sharing formula had been in effect at Ford, its workers would have received $5,250 instead of $5,000 for 2010.

Ford's signing bonus is about $1,000 more than the one to be paid out to GM workers this fall.

Ford bargainers, however, say a complaint that alleges hourly workers were unfairly treated when they didn't win benefits and raise restored to salaried employees last year remains active and a hearing date is set for November, Settles said.

Workers also feel they deserve a sweeter deal because Ford did not follow GM and Chrysler Group LLC into bankruptcy and federal bailout in 2009. Ford has had nine straight profitable quarters and earned $14.2 billion since 2008.

The Ford deal prevents layoffs at the Flat Rock plant that were to result from Ford-Mazda Motor Corp.'s decision to move production of the Mazda6 to Japan.

With the addition of the Fusion, the Flat Rock factory will build another 175,000 to 200,000 vehicles there a year, enough for a second shift, which will be added in 2013, Settles said. The Fusion will be built along side the Ford Mustang.

The gap will be filled with production of the Lincoln MKZ or some trim levels of the Ford Fusion midsize sedan, according to people close to the negotiations.

That would augment the Fusion's assembly in Hermosillo, Mexico.


UAW preps leadership
for Ford deal

The Detroit News
October 4, 2011

The presidents of United Auto Workers locals from across the country are in Detroit today, expecting their national leaders will unveil details of a tentative four-year labor agreement with Ford Motor Co.

Negotiators for the union and the automaker remained in talks Monday night, even though the UAW had already summoned local leaders to Detroit — an action that usually signals an agreement.

"Assuming we have a tentative agreement by (today), the Ford Council will be given the opportunity to vote on it," the UAW said in a statement posted Monday night on its Facebook page.

A UAW update phone line said talks are progressing smoothly and while "everything may be subject to change," the chances of contract details changing significantly are "highly unlikely," according to the message read by Dave Mason, bargaining chairman for Local 863 in Sharonville, Ohio.

Details of the contract will be made available to the Ford membership this afternoon through the union's newswire and the entire contract put online later in the day, the statement said. Members also will be given the times and locations of information meetings to vote on the contract.

The local presidents were expected to gather at the UAW Ford National Programs Center today.

High-level talks on economic issues have been on the table for eight consecutive days — and some late nights.

A pact is expected to follow the same general framework as the agreement with General Motors Co. that was ratified last week, although Ford workers want it to be better than GM's. Unlike GM, where hourly workers were prohibited from striking because the automaker took a government bailout, Ford employees are not barred from walking out.

GM hourly workers will receive at least $11,500 in profit sharing and bonuses over four years, including $5,000 for signing the agreement, and annual $1,000 "inflation protection" lump sums as well as wage increases for entry-level workers.

If the same profit-sharing formula had been in effect at Ford, its 41,000 workers would have received $5,250 instead of $5,000 for 2010.

Ford workers are expecting a more generous signing bonus than GM's 48,500 workers got, and they also hope settlement of an outstanding and unrelated grievance will augment their windfall. The complaint alleges that hourly workers did not benefit from raises and some benefits restored last year to salaried workers.

Workers also feel they deserve a sweeter deal because Ford did not follow GM and Chrysler Group LLC into bankruptcy and federal bailout in 2009. Ford has had nine straight profitable quarters and earned $14.2 billion since 2008.

Details were still being finalized Monday, but any Ford deal is expected to include thousands of new or saved jobs in the U.S., including prevention of layoffs at the Flat Rock plant when production of the Mazda6, under a Ford-Mazda Motor Corp. alliance, moves to Japan.

The gap will be filled with production of the Lincoln MKZ or some trim levels of the Ford Fusion midsize sedan, according to people close to the negotiations.

That would augment the Fusion's assembly in Hermosillo, Mexico.

The agreement also is expected to include insourcing of work being done in other countries.

Brian Pannebecker, a worker at Ford's Sterling Heights axle factory, said Ford workers have "accepted the fact that we're not going to get raises or cost-of-living back."

"But they're expecting a big lump-sum cash bonus," he said. "If they offer us the same bonus GM got, our plant will vote it down. Most guys are counting on a lot more — and they've already spent it."

Terrence Hicks, 36, of Romulus bemoans how tight-lipped the talks have been, but after 12 years he recognizes "negotiations are negotiations. We're going to lose a little something but we're also going to win something."

While the door assembly worker at Michigan Assembly in Wayne has heard rumors of signing bonuses as high as $10,000, "whatever we get is fine with me. Five hundred dollars is better than zero."

Hicks would like to see restoration of lost benefits — UAW workers figure they have given up $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions since 2007 — but Hicks said he is at the point where "I'm just happy with having a job."

Wayne Merrick of Garden City works nights in the paint shop at Michigan Assembly. The 41-year-old wants a strong contract to ride out the rest of his career with Ford.

"I got seven years until retirement," he said.

But he also wants to see gains for entry-level workers, who get about half what Ford pays veteran employees.

"I don't like the two-tiered deal. I don't know if they will have the opportunity to advance like I did," said Merrick, who took 23 years to get to more than $28 an hour.

If a $10,000 bonus came at the expense of additional jobs, he said, he would choose adding more workers.


Ford, UAW talks continue

Alisa Priddle and Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
Oct 3, 2011

High-level talks between the United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Co. continued Sunday night.

The past seven consecutive days of talks have centered on economic issues and job creation. General Motors Co. used the promise of 6,400 saved or new jobs to help sell its deal to its hourly workers last week. That pact kept bonuses and profit sharing to $12,500 per worker over the life of the contract; wage increases will go only to entry-level workers.

Job creation will also be key to getting an agreement ratified by Ford workers with high expectations.

Many jobs are expected to be in Michigan, including new work for the AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock, which will add production of Ford and Lincoln midsize cars.

Talks continued over the weekend.

A new deal is expected to include the retention and addition of more jobs than the 7,000 that Ford announced last January would be in place by the end of 2012.

While numbers on the bargaining table remained subject to change, plants needing the work -- such as AutoAlliance -- are in line for good news.

AutoAlliance is down to a single shift, building the Ford Mustang and the Mazda6 that Mazda Motor Corp. plans to move to Japan. Without a new product, Ford would be forced to lay off workers, according to a person briefed on the matter.

But Ford plans to build certain trim levels of its midsize Fusion in Flat Rock, to augment Fusion production from Ford's plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.

The next-generation Fusion will be unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Flat Rock also could build the Lincoln MKZ midsize sedan, to keep 1,763 workers there employed after Mazda pulls out.

The Fusion is made in a Mexican plant known for its productivity and quality on three shifts. Production will not move from there, sources say.

"Flat Rock could be for additional Fusions. They would never take production out of Hermosillo," said Tracy Handler, principal analyst and production specialist with IHS Automotive in Northville.

The Mexican plant is a modern facility with a supplier park, representing a strong investment that makes no business sense to change.

Equally important, free trade agreements between Mexico and parts of South America allow Ford to export Fusions to markets such as Brazil and avoid high tariffs, Handler said.


Flat Rock could benefit
from new Ford pact

Alisa Priddle
October 2, 2011

Ford Motor Co.'s AutoAlliance International plant in Flat Rock could add production of Ford and Lincoln midsize cars as part of job creation plans in a proposed four-year labor contract being hammered out with the United Auto Workers.

Talks aimed at reaching a tentative agreement were to continue Sunday morning after the two sides called it quits for the day about 8 p.m. Saturday.

Job creation is at the crux of discussions and could be key to whether an agreement can be ratified by hourly Ford workers with high expectations.

A new deal is expected to include the retention and addition of more jobs than the 7,000 that Ford announced last January would be in place by the end of 2012.

While numbers on the bargaining table Saturday remained subject to change, plants needing the work — such as AutoAlliance in suburban Detroit — are in line for good news.

AutoAlliance is down to a single shift, building the Ford Mustang and the Mazda6 that Mazda Motor Corp. plans to move to Japan. Without a new product, Ford would be forced to lay off the 1,763 workers there, according to a person briefed on the matter.

But Ford plans to build certain trim levels of its midsize Fusion in Flat Rock, to augment Fusion production from Ford's plant in Hermosillo, Mexico.

The next-generation Fusion will be unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Flat Rock also could build the Lincoln MKZ midsize sedan, to keep workers there employed after Mazda pulls out.

The Fusion is made in a Mexican plant known for its productivity and quality on three shifts. Production will not move from there, sources say.

"Flat Rock could be for additional Fusions. They would never take production out of Hermosillo," said Tracy Handler, principal analyst and production specialist with IHS Automotive in Northville.

The Mexican plant is a modern facility with a supplier park, representing a strong investment that makes no business sense to change.

Equally important, free trade agreements between Mexico and parts of South America allow Ford to export Fusions to markets such as Brazil and avoid high tariffs, Handler said.

General Motors Co. used the promise of 6,400 saved or new jobs to help sell its deal to its hourly workers last week. That pact kept bonuses and profit sharing to $12,500 per worker over the life of the contract; wage increases will go only to entry-level workers.

But the former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. will be reopened and other plants are slated to get new work under the new agreement ratified Wednesday.

Ford has nine assembly, seven engine, three transmission and five stamping plants in the U.S. Many are well-utilized, but one plant is scheduled to close in December and a few need product commitments to ensure their long-term security.

Among them:

-- Ford's Twin Cities plant is scheduled to close when Ranger production is discontinued in December, affecting almost 900 workers.

-- Kansas City has a truck line making the F-150 on a single shift. The separate SUV line has three crews making the Escape only, since the defunct Mercury line's Mariner was discontinued. The next-generation Escape is moving to Louisville, Ky., and 4,000 workers in Kansas City want the security of knowing what they will build in its place. "People are on pins and needles," Handler said.

-- Louisville's second shift will be restored to make the next-generation Escape in December, after being down for a year.

-- The Avon Lake, Ohio, plant has 1,900 people making E-Series vans on two shifts but the plant needs future product commitments.

-- The Chicago assembly plant has 2,600 people with the addition of a second shift at the end of 2010 to make the new Ford Explorer in addition to the Taurus and Lincoln MKS. There has been no talk of a third shift for this facility, but demand has been strong for the new Explorer and police versions of the Taurus and Explorer must still be added to the mix.

-- Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne has 3,200 workers on two shifts building the Ford Focus. An electric version will be added next year as well as the C-Max hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid. A third shift could be added.


Ford-UAW talks go on

Sides still haggling over money details two weeks after GM deal

Alisa Priddle and Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
October 1, 2011

Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers grappled Friday night with economic details of a tentative four-year agreement they hoped to announce this week — two weeks after a similar pact was reached with General Motors Co. But the two sides broke shortly after 7 p.m. with plans to resume this morning.

The economic framework was set Sept. 16 when the union and GM announced a contract providing a possible $12,500 in bonuses, including $5,000 for signing, and profit-sharing payouts, over the life of the contract.

A Ford agreement is expected to mirror GM's profit-sharing formula.

That would not add substantially to Ford's labor costs. If Ford had used the new profit-sharing scheme last year, workers would have received $5,250 — just $250 more than the company paid UAW members.

But Ford hourly workers are expecting a higher signing bonus than GM workers received, perhaps augmented with settlement of a grievance. Ford hourly workers say they shared in concessions but did not share in gains when salaried workers got raises last year.

GM also promised product and plant investments, including 6,400 new or retained jobs.

Ford's AutoAlliance International factory in Flat Rock, which builds the Ford Mustang and the Mazda6 — whose production will move to Japan — needs more work in order to restore the second shift.

Ford workers in Kansas City, Mo., have been promised a new vehicle to replace Ford Escape production, which is moving to Louisville, Ky. They're awaiting word on what that product will be.

The Ranger pickup plant in Minneapolis-St. Paul is slated to close in December.

The Avon Lake, Ohio, plant, which builds the E-Series, is looking for assurances of its long-term product plans.

Meanwhile, lower-key talks continue between the UAW and Chrysler Group LLC


CAW Contact
VOL 41, No 34
October 1, 2011


Agreement at Coast Mountain Bus in British Columbia

The 3800 members of CAW Local 111 and 900 members of CAW Local 2200 who work at Coast Mountain Bus Company in British Columbia's Lower Mainland recently ratified a one-year collective agreement.

"With the political uncertainty at the municipal level and the lack of financial support by the B.C. Liberals we moved ahead with a one-year agreement," said Susan Spratt, BC Area Director.

The collective agreement dealt with a number of issues, which will give these two locals a strong foundation entering into bargaining next year, she said.

Included in the agreement for the first time was the recognition of eight Women's Advocates and the full recognition for our transgender members including full benefit coverage and full recognition and respect in the workplace, she concluded. Workers voted 58 per cent in favour.

Global Financial Chaos Underpins Need to Protect Jobs

Dramatic deterioration in financial markets and slowing global growth make it all the more essential that Ontario's next government be pro-active in attracting and protecting new jobs for the province, says CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

"With the onset of another episode of financial chaos, it is all the more important for government to be in the trenches, fighting to create and protect Ontario jobs - rather than just sitting back and expecting tax cuts to do the trick," Lewenza said.

Lewenza welcomed the Liberal election platform commitment to create a new economic development fund for southwestern Ontario, to support investment and job-creation in the hard-hit region.

He also pointed to other positive job-creating initiatives being debated in the campaign, such as the domestic content provisions of the Green Energy Act, and the NDP's proposal for made-in-Ontario processing of mineral resources (which would support jobs in provincial mills and smelters). "Recent events have shown that this economic crisis cannot be resolved, without a larger and more pro-active economic role for government. We need active leadership and participation from the public sector to stabilize our economy and our jobs."

"In contrast, the Conservative platform seems to believe that cutting taxes and eliminating 'red tape' will capture all the new investment we need," Lewenza added. "That's misguided at the best of times, but downright dangerous during a downturn." Tax cuts have little stimulative power during a recession, because companies and households save their extra disposable income rather than re-spending it.

Lewenza also highlighted a little-noticed plank in the Conservative election platform, which promises to end all government subsidies for private business investment. "Tim Hudak's position would take government out of the game altogether, in terms of cementing the investment deals we must win."

"Hudak's approach puts ideology before economics," Lewenza warned. "If this policy were actually implemented, Ontario would never win another major capital investment by a major automaker. That would be a disaster for every auto-dependent community in the province." Aerospace, biotech, and green energy are other key sectors where government participation in major investments is routine.

"The international reality is that governments have to be at the table, or else these investments don't happen," Lewenza concluded.

The CAW represents about 125,000 members in Ontario. Additional CAW Ontario election-related materials and statements can be accessed at: www.caw.ca/en/10559.htm

Oakville Transit Negotiations Stall as Strike Deadline Looms

Contract negotiations between Oakville Transit and the CAW have stalled and Oakville Transit workers could be forced to take strike action as early as 11:59 p.m. Friday, September 30.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said that after many days of negotiations over the last five months, management at Oakville Transit has failed to address any of the concerns raised by its staff (including issues around scheduling rights, vacations and treatment of injured workers).

"The management team has sent a clear signal to our bargaining committee that they are not interested in hearing our concerns and that they are not interested in getting this deal done," said Lewenza.

Wages, benefits and other monetary issues have not yet come up for discussion at the bargaining table.

Lewenza lambasted Oakville Transit for its mistreatment of injured workers. The union maintains the company has issued an inordinate number of unjust terminations and suspensions targeting injured workers. The employer has also forced disabled workers (currently off-work receiving WSIB benefits or receiving short-term disability benefits) to use up personal vacation time during their period of recuperation.

CAW Local 1256 President Angus MacDonald said the employer has limited its availability to meet with the union before the strike deadline, which suggests a work stoppage is imminent.

"This is an unfortunate situation, one that we have desperately tried to avoid," MacDonald said. "Our members are concerned, not just for their own standard of living, but for the impact a work stoppage will have on transit service in the community."

MacDonald said the union is doing everything in its power to bargain a fair settlement in an effort to avoid a strike. In the event of a strike, union members have committed to continue operating all local car-A-van services for citizens with disabilities.

"In my 10 years of bargaining experience, I have never seen an employer act with such total disregard for the bargaining process as Oakville Transit is doing today," said CAW National Staff Representative Paulo Ribeiro, who is overseeing the Oakville Transit negotiations for the union.

The CAW represents 180 workers at Oakville Transit, including drivers, mechanics and cleaners. The transit workers contract expired on May 15.

Overwhelming Ratifications at Fairmont Hotels in Alberta

CAW members at the Jasper Park Lodge, the Palliser Hotel in Calgary and the Chateau Lake Louise have overwhelmingly ratified new collective agreements that provide wage and benefit increases.

CAW Local 4534 represents 520 members at Jasper Park Lodge, CAW Local 4273 represents 300 members at the Palliser Hotel in Calgary, while CAW Local 4050 represents 31 members at Chateau Lake Louise.

CAW National Representative Todd Romanow said the committees at all three locations fought back against company concession demands including concessions on the wage structure. He said that leadership from the three Fairmont hotels worked together in support of a common bargaining plan.

At Jasper and Lake Louise the wage increases were 2.5 per cent in the first year and 2.5 in the second year, while at the Palliser they were 2.5 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 2.75 per cent in the third year.

In addition, the rules and benefit levels of the existing pension plans were written into the collective agreements for the first time. Mandatory union representation at all levels of discipline was achieved and the locals were reimbursed for some bargaining costs.

There were other gains made at each location including at the Jasper Park Lodge recognition of a women's advocate position for the first time.

Offers of support from CAW locals at Fairmont's Hotel Vancouver and the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa helped send a strong message of solidarity to the company, Romanow said.

"It was our combined membership standing together in solidarity that helped us get strong deals in each location," said Brian Lackey, President of CAW Local 4534 at the Jasper Park Lodge.

The membership voted 100 per cent in favour of the agreement at the Chateau Lake Louise, 94 per cent at Jasper and 91 per cent at Palliser.

Conference Delegates Launch Sustainable Transportation Plan

Transportation workers, local union leadership and staff gathered from right across the country for the first ever CAW Transportation Conference, to plan for and discuss a sustainable national transportation strategy.

The weekend conference brought together workers involved in the manufacturing and production of transportation vehicles and those working in transporting people and goods by rail, air, road and water. The conference took place at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario September 23-25.

Delegates rise to their feet in a standing ovation after an address by National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) General Secretary Irvin Jim on Sunday, September 25. For more on the address, please check out the next issue of CONTACT

CAW President Ken Lewenza opened the conference with an address encouraging workers to build alliances across sectors, across unions and across geographic boundaries.

"Can you imagine if all the transportation workers in the country decide one day that they're not going to work, in protest?" asked Lewenza. "Things just wouldn't move. We need to build bonds of solidarity right across the transportation sectors to take on this federal government."

Lewenza said that for the past 20 years, the federal government has downloaded costs associated with transportation onto the provincial governments. In turn, the provinces downloaded those costs onto the municipalities and now the municipalities are responding with cuts to services and maintenance.

In his address, CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy deplored Canada's lack of vision on transportation issues and infrastructure. "Among the OECD countries, Canada is the only one that doesn't have a strategy for public transit," said Kennedy. He said that Canada still does not have a high-speed rail service, despite the idea being discussed since the 1960s. "Had we dealt with this issue back when people realized it was something we needed, we'd be enjoying these benefits today, at a substantially reduced cost."

The conference included an appearance, via Skype, by opposition transportation critic NDP MP Olivia Chow and a number of panel discussions on challenges in the various sectors and changes experienced over the last twenty years.

Chow commended the union on prioritizing the creation of a sustainable and made-in-Canada transportation system. As transportation critic she lamented Canada's lack of foresight on public transit.

"We have fallen so far behind on public transit," said Chow. She said that developing countries are far outpacing Canada on this front. The federal government of India has plans to pick up the tab for 100 per cent of the cost of urban transportation, while China will be spending $100 billion on urban transportation corridors. Chow spoke about the need to re-regulate the airline industry and the private sector rail companies.

Chow said she would be tabling a number of private members bills related to transportation, including the upcoming national transit strategy.

A cornerstone of the conference was the We Make it Move document, which outlines four key principles underlying the creation of a made-in-Canada efficient and green transportation plan.

  • Environmental sustainability, where Canadian society moves away from its dependence on oil and toward renewable energy sources, as well as more efficient and sustainable modes of transportation.
  • Recognizing transportation is essential to our social and economic well-being. The transportation needs of citizens and communities must be prioritized over the profit-motive -through public transit agencies, crown corporations and the strong regulation of private sector firms.
  • Supporting local manufacturing, building to the highest environmental standards. When public investments are made in urban transit, passenger rail, ships and aircraft, there must be buy-Canadian and domestic content rules.
  • The promotion of good jobs that deliver a fair standard of living, provide safe working conditions, and the ability to organize into unions.

The document is also full of facts about the various transportation sectors as well as transportation use and employment in Canada. It was presented by CAW Research Director Bill Murnighan.

Both the document and the action plan will be discussed and voted on by the National Executive Board, and CAW and Quebec Councils.

To read the draft document, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10639.htm

For photos from the conference, please visit: Here

The International Trade Union Confederation has established October 7 as the World Day for Decent Work - a day for trade unionists to stand up and demand good-quality jobs that offer decent pay, security and stability, and to mobilize against the rising tide of precarious, poor quality, jobs in all countries.

Over the coming months, the CAW will be running news stories that profile the successful efforts of CAW members to win good jobs in their workplaces and in their communities.

BISNO Health Care Workers Convert "Casual Relief" Jobs

Health care workers in Thunder Bay, Ontario won ground-breaking improvements to their quality of work after negotiating a first collective agreement with their employer Brain Injury Services of Northern Ontario (BISNO) on August 24.

Prior to the agreement, 24 of the 80 workers faced constant insecurity as "casual relief" contract workers - that denied seniority rights, benefits, low wages and offered inconsistent scheduling.

The workers, now members of CAW Local 229, transformed two-thirds of these positions from casual to permanent part-time that can work full-time hours. These members also received a substantial wage increase of at least 25 per cent (ranging between $18.62 and $19.00 per hour), new seniority rights and have the opportunity to work up to full-time hours.

"These casual workers, mostly women, had lived in constant fear that their individual contracts would not be renewed, which is a hugely stressful way to earn a living," said CAW Local 229 President Kari Jefford.

"In this case, joining the union proved to be the difference between having a decent job and being mired in insecurity for many of these workers."

The new three-year agreement also contained improvements to pensions, overtime language and vacations.

CAW Members Ratify New Agreement at Xstrata

CAW Local 599 members who work at the Xstrata Kidd Metallurgical site in Timmins, Ontario have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year collective agreement.

The workers voted 92 per cent in favour of the agreement which includes wage increases, benefit improvements, a $2,000 signing bonus and extends the recall rights of 30 workers on layoff for another year.

Wage increases are 3.25 per cent in the first year, three per cent in the second and two per cent in the third year.

CAW Local 599 represents 160 workers at the facility, plus those on layoff. This is the first agreement since the company shut down smelter operations in May 2010 at the Kidd site.

The agreement was reached nine days before the deadline.

Don't Forget to Vote in Your Provincial/ Territorial Election!

You can help determine the next government in your province/ territory:

Upcoming elections:
PEI - October 3
Northwest Territories - October 3
Manitoba - October 4
Ontario - October 6
Newfoundland and Labrador - October 11
Yukon - October 11

Don't forget to cast your ballot!

2011 FALL Residential Programs

There's still time to register

Remember it is important to give CAW members the tools and skills to assist with all the work that needs to be done in the workplace and in CAW locals. The benefit of this training is even more critical during these challenging times!

Here is a list of upcoming programs:

Toxic Substances in the Workplace - Oct. 30- Nov. 4
Health & Safety for Women - Nov. 6-11
Building Strong Local Unions - Nov. 6-11
Arbitration for Leadership - Nov. 6-11
WSIB - Return to Work (Ontario Only) - Nov. 6-11

Locals may be eligible for a subsidy by contacting:
CAW Education Director Lisa Kelly (1-800-268-5763 ext. 3790)

REGISTER NOW!! If you would like to register for any Port Elgin residential programs, contact your local union leadership.

Staff Appointments

CAW President Ken Lewenza has assigned National Representative Deb Tveit to the position of Assistant to the President, replacing Peggy Nash, who was re-elected as NDP MP for Parkdale-High Park in Toronto.

CAW legal department National Representative Lisa Kelly has been appointed to the position of Director of Education and Work Organization and Training, replacing Rick Rose who has taken a servicing/organizing role on the east coast.

Lewenza has also assigned National Representative Jo-Ann Hannah to the position of Director of Pension and Benefits, replacing Sym Gill, who has retired.

National Representative Ron Smith has been appointed to the new position of CAW Transportation Director.

National Representative Bill Murnighan has been appointed CAW Research Director.

National Representative Robin Fairchild has been appointed to fill a vacancy left in the CAW Education Department as a result of the recent retirement of Steve Watson.

Cammie Peirce, committeeperson at CAW Local 1285 Chrysler Brampton, has been appointed to the staff of the national union effective Sunday, October 2, 2011. Cammie will be responsible for pension, benefits, EI and adjustment, replacing Laurell Ritchie who is retiring


Hudak prepared to let Ontario's auto industry die: McGuinty

Toronto Star
Sept 30, 2011

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, who called the auto sector bailout "corporate welfare," was prepared to let Ontario's industry die along with thousands of job during the recent global recession, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty said Friday.

With just six days left before the Oct. 6 election, McGuinty has turned up the criticism of his main rival, saying that Hudak turned his back on Ontario's auto manufacturing industry, which is now the largest in North America.

Hudak and the Tory party voted against the financial aid package, contained in a larger budget bill, in March 2009.

"Tim Hudak said 'no' to standing up for the auto sector," McGuinty said.

After touring the Brampton Chrysler assembly plant, the Liberal leader pointed to the carmaker as being one of the beneficiaries of the $4.8-billion auto sector bailout.

"There are 3,000 people working here, they have over 300 suppliers," said McGuinty, who noted that Chrysler for the first time is going to make right-hand-drive diesel car for export to Europe.

Chrysler Canada received a $961-million loan from the province during the recession and it was paid back in full six years early.

"There were many, including the PC opposition who said 'just let the economic forces play themselves out. If that means the loss and the ultimate demise of the Ontario auto sector, so be it,'" McGuinty said.

According to the Liberals, Hudak told the Strathroy & District Chamber of Commerce on July 23, 2009, it "would make matters worse to come up to taxpayers and ask them to bail out GM and Chrysler's pensions."

And again in Simcoe-Grey a month earlier, "I think that's wrong and I do not support the government's move to use tax dollars to bailout the GM pensions and I'll continue to talk about it during the (Tory) leadership campaign."

"This corporate welfare is sometimes two steps away from corruption," Hudak also said in June 2009.

McGuinty said when he saw what was happening with the auto sector during the global economic collapse "I got on the phone with Prime Minister Harper and I said we've got to get something done here, we just can't preside over the loss of this sector.

"So we worked hard and provided support and today this sector has turned around. We are once against the number one producer of cars in North America," he said.

As recent as last March, Hudak told the radio station CFRB, "I think we've got to get out of this corporate welfare business. We're picking winners and losers in the market place. It's basically taxing you, and taxing you, and taxing somebody else to give somebody else a grant because they went to the right fundraiser or had the right connections."

McGuinty said, in contrast, his government would be there again for the auto sector should the need arise.


UAW, Ford close in on pact

Credit rating agency S&P views the emerging
contract terms in positive light

The Detroit News
September 30, 2011

Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers will continue negotiating today toward a contract that Ford hopes will help it regain investment-grade status and resume dividends to its stockholders.

Standard & Poor's Rating Services raised General Motors Co.'s rating from BB- to BB+ Thursday, based on a contract the automaker said would increase its labor costs by 1 percent each year of the four-year pact.

And in anticipation of a contract modeled on GM's, S&P said it is poised to boost Ford's credit rating by two rungs as well — putting both automakers at just below investment grade.

Ford talks are believed to be nearing an end, but negotiators broke late Thursday night without reaching a tentative agreement.

The UAW has bargained for bonuses, jobs and other incentives to reward its members for helping Ford survive an industry crash that knocked GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy.

With lesser matters resolved, negotiators for Ford and the union were focused on economic issues Thursday.

Ford's 41,000 hourly workers are demanding a richer contract than GM's because Ford avoided bankruptcy and a government bailout. All 48,500 GM hourly employees stand to get at least $12,500 in bonuses and profit sharing in the pact ratified this week.

The government bailout barred the UAW from calling a general strike against GM or Chrysler, but Ford workers are under no such restriction.

In Thailand Thursday, Ford CEO Alan Mulally reconfirmed Ford's plans to add 7,000 U.S. jobs by the end of 2012, including 750 salaried workers.

Job creation was key to ratification of the GM deal, which granted wage increases only to entry-level workers.

Regaining the investment-grade status that it lost in 2006 and resuming stockholder dividends have been priorities at Ford.

S&P said it plans to boost Ford's credit rating to a notch below investment grade if its contract is "resolved and ratified, and the outcome does not place Ford at a significant disadvantage" among automakers, said credit analyst Robert Schulz.

The credit news was well received at Ford and GM.

"We continue to make great progress on our plan, and we are pleased with this positive step," said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen. "Ultimately, the credit rating agencies determine when we return to investment grade. Our job is to stay focused on making progress on our plan."

Said GM's chief financial officer, Dan Ammann: "We are pleased that S&P has recognized the progress we are making."

Another investment ratings house, Moody's Investors Service, said last week it is considering upgrading GM. Moody's has both Ford and GM at two notches below investment grade.

Ford officials have said they expect to resume dividends as soon as the end of the year.

S&P noted there is some risk that a new Ford-UAW contract could hurt the automaker's continued profitability, or that hourly workers might not approve a proposed deal — forcing the two sides back to the table.

"If either of these scenarios were to occur, any upgrade could be less than the expected BB+/stable," Schulz said.

Chrysler negotiators continue to talk with their UAW counterparts; the Auburn Hills automaker is expected to finalize its negotiations after Ford. Hourly employees at Ford are working on an indefinite contract extension; Chrysler's contract was extended to Oct. 19.

Ford considers adding 10,000 jobs, building Fusion in U.S., sources say

September 29,  2011

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. is discussing adding as many as 10,000 jobs in the U.S. in negotiations with the UAW on a new four-year contract, according to three people familiar with the talks.

The job-creation discussion is part of high-level negotiations between Ford and UAW President Bob King over wages, benefits, and employment gains in the new contract and is still subject to change, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal deliberations.

As many as 4,000 of those jobs may come from Ford shifting production of the Fusion midsize sedan to the U.S. from Mexico, one of the people said. The UAW may reach an agreement this week on a contract covering Ford's 41,000 workers, Joel Goddard, co-chairman of the union's bargaining committee said in a recorded message Sept. 26.

Ford, which earned $4.95 billion in the first half of the year, is seeking to lower labor costs in the new contract. New hires are paid about half as much as senior workers.

"Jobs have been a central goal of the union in this round of negotiations," said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California at Berkeley. "Ford, which is the most advanced in its recovery, is a natural for this kind of job creation."

General Motors agreed to add or retain 6,400 jobs in a tentative agreement it reached with the UAW on Sept. 16. GM's 48,500 hourly workers ratified that contract with 65 percent of production workers and 63 percent of skilled-trades workers voting for it, the union said today.

Fusion production

Ford now produces the Fusion at a factory in Hermosillo, Mexico, which employs 3,335 workers, according to the automaker's Web site. Sales of the Fusion, Ford's top-selling car, are up 16 percent in the U.S. this year to 168,929 models through August. Last year, Ford sold 219,219 Fusions in the U.S., according to researcher Autodata.

King met Tuesday with John Fleming, Ford's chief of manufacturing and labor affairs, to discuss new work the automaker may be willing to put into U.S. plants, one of the people said. King moved to Ford last week after talks faltered at Fiat SpA-controlled Chrysler Group LLC. The UAW extended the deadline to reach a deal at Chrysler to Oct. 19.

"We have accelerated our talks," Goddard, the union's Ford bargaining committee co-chairman, said in a telephone recording late Sept. 26. "We are optimistically hopeful we will have good news for our membership by the end of the week."

UAW chief 'confident'

Marcey Evans, a Ford spokeswoman, declined to comment.
"We're not commenting on the details of talks," said Michele Martin, a UAW spokeswoman.

King is "confident that we are on track to secure an economic package that our membership deserves," Anderson Robinson, recording secretary of the union's Ford bargaining committee, said in a recorded message Tuesday. He added that King and UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles met "for several hours" with Ford bargainers on Tuesday.

Hiring entry-level workers would help Ford lower its labor costs because they start at about $14 an hour, half what senior employees make, Shaiken said. Ford has said it has fewer than 100 entry-level workers among its hourly workforce, the fewest of the U.S. automakers.

"There's little question that the entry-level workers are accelerating the hiring process," Shaiken said. "That's a key part of the UAW strategy. It creates more jobs."

GM agreement

The GM agreement calls for boosting starting pay of entry- level workers to at least $14.78 an hour from $14. That wage rises to as much as $19.28 an hour by 2015 from a previous maximum of $16.23. GM may reduce labor costs by as much as $350 million annually through a combination of lower starting wages and buyouts of higher-paid skilled-trades workers, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas wrote in a Sept. 26 note.

"With buyouts and natural attrition of its most expensive workers substituted by higher levels of tier 2 workers, the contract not only offers greater flexibility, it offers the potential of greater profitability for GM," Jonas wrote.

Ford has said it has the highest labor costs of the three U.S. automakers, at $58 an hour including benefits. GM's labor costs are $56 an hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. Chrysler has said its labor costs are about $50 an hour.

Signing bonus

Beyond commitments for new jobs, workers at Ford are looking for a contract signing bonus that is larger than the $5,000 GM agreed to, as well as more generous profit sharing, Shaiken said. They are expecting more for their role in helping Ford avoid the bankruptcies and bailouts that befell GM and Chrysler in 2009.
"It would not be surprising to see something more at Ford for the workers," Shaiken said. "There's an expectation there."

Workers at Ford also have filed an "equality of sacrifice" grievance against the automaker after salaried workers received raises, tuition assistance and 401(k) matches last year. The two sides met with an arbitrator Sept. 15.

Ford earned $9.28 billion in the past two years after $30.1 billion in losses from 2006 through 2008. The automaker borrowed $23.4 billion in late 2006, putting up all major assets including its blue oval logo as collateral. That helped Ford avoid bankruptcy and boost U.S. market share the last two years.

"Ford has shown a tendency in recent years of being innovative at the bargaining table," Shaiken said. "If there's one thing that's going to be dramatic, it's job creation."


Ford's success stirs UAW
resentment in labor talks

AP Auto Writer

September 28, 2011

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Ford's turnaround over the last five years has resulted in big profits and won its CEO a reputation for brilliant management.

But those same achievements are stirring resentment among many of its factory workers. And that is complicating contract talks between the company and its union employees.

At The Rouge, Ford's massive, 94-year-old factory complex in Dearborn, Mich., there's talk along the assembly lines of winning back raises and bonuses lost when the company was near financial collapse in 2007. Workers, who assemble F-150 pickup trucks at the site, are upset that Ford is trying to cut labor costs, especially after nine straight profitable quarters and a $26.5 million pay package for CEO Alan Mulally.

A few miles to the north, inside Ford's 13-story headquarters known as the Glass House, executives are worried because workers, on average, cost the company $58 an hour in pay and benefits, the highest in U.S. auto industry.

Both sides are trying to find a compromise this week while work continues at Ford factories under a contract extension. A top union bargainer told workers on a telephone recording Monday night that talks are accelerating and he is "hopefully optimistic" a deal can be reached this week.

Ford's profits and the possibility of a strike could force the company into a deal that's more generous to workers than the one already negotiated with General Motors Co. Chrysler, meanwhile, continues to negotiate its own contract with the union.

Differences between Ford and the union date to 2007, when all three Detroit automakers were on the verge of financial ruin. The year before that, Ford lost $12.6 billion, and U.S. sales were down 8 percent. Worried that the company would collapse, Ford workers began a series of givebacks.

Like workers at GM and Chrysler, they eventually gave up cost-of-living pay raises, performance bonuses and other benefits. GM and Chrysler needed government bailouts and bankruptcy protection to stay in business, but Ford took billions in private loans and endured on its own.

As a result, Ford became a consumer favorite and the company prospered. It paid Mulally for engineering the turnaround and restored merit pay and some other benefits for white-collar workers, angering union members.

"The compensation for the CEO has been widely publicized, and those kinds of things wend their way up and down the assembly line," says Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and a specialist in labor issues. "It creates higher expectations."

At Ford, bargainers are expected to use the deal with GM as a template. But it's unclear if its provisions will be acceptable to Ford or its union workers. Under the deal, GM workers would get a $5,000 bonus for ratifying the contract, more profit sharing and higher pay for entry-level workers. Although the deal has no pay raise for most workers, it appears headed for approval.

It's the lack of raises that has rankled many of Ford's 41,000 factory workers.

"Ford has to do a lot more," says Gary Walkowicz, a worker at the company's Dearborn plant, the epicenter of union dissent.

Walkowicz says many workers are ready to strike, especially in Dearborn. Workers there led the rest of the company in rejecting a round of concessions in 2009. Ford sought the concessions to match deals given to GM and Chrysler as they were going through bankruptcy protection.

Ford is the only Detroit automaker where the union can strike, something it has not done at Ford since 1976. Walkouts over pay are banned this year at GM and Chrysler Group LLC under the terms of their government bailouts. At Ford plants, workers are making picket schedules in case they need to strike. But getting ready is standard procedure during contract talks.

Gary Chaison, a professor of labor relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., says Ford can cut the risk of a strike if it doesn't stray too far from the GM contract. But if Ford tries for big labor cost cuts, the odds of a strike rise to 50-50, he says.

UAW President Bob King has said he's not thinking about a strike. But he thinks workers should get a piece of the profits because they have each given up $7,000 to $30,000 a year in concessions since 2007. He also has called Mulally's pay "outrageous."

Mulally, in a recent interview, defended his compensation, saying it was determined by the company's success and the free market. He said much of his pay is "at risk" because it comes in stock that can rise and fall in price based on Ford's performance. Mulally's salary is $1.4 million, with the rest coming in stock and a bonus.

Ford's white-collar workers say the union complaints about pay are unfounded. Ford compensation records obtained by The Associated Press shows that UAW-represented hourly workers have seen larger increases in pay and benefits over the last decade than many white-collar workers.

And there are Ford factory workers that are happy with the company because they are getting overtime pay and making good money again.

The UAW, according to the records, has protected longtime factory workers from changes to health care, overtime and other benefit cuts that salaried workers were forced to take. Salaried workers pay 30 percent of their health care costs, for example, while hourly workers pay just 6 percent.

The average hourly worker at Ford made $109,020 in 2010, including wages, benefits and overtime, up 17 percent from 1999. But the average salaried factory supervisor made $99,760 in wages and benefits, up just 2 percent in the same period, the records show.

The UAW turned its attention to Ford last week after talks with Chrysler fell apart. Chrysler talks now are back on.

GM workers, meanwhile, are likely to approve their contract in voting that ends Wednesday.


Ford-UAW negotiators press
for deal; GM workers
nationwide vote on pact

Christina Rogers, Alisa Priddle and Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News

September 27, 2011

Top negotiators for Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers are in Dearborn Monday hammering out economic issues for a new four-year labor agreement as hourly workers at General Motors Co. continue ratification votes on a tentative agreement.

Voting is taking place at GM plants nationwide — 48,500 hourly workers will decide whether to ratify the company's proposed four-year contract with the union.

Already, nine UAW locals representing 11,100 hourly workers have voted in favor of the contract, which offers $12,500 in assorted bonuses, increases the wage for entry-level workers and creates or saves 6,400 jobs at GM's U.S. factories. They include local unions in Spring Hill, Tenn., Flint, Mich. and Arlington, Texas.

At least one local union, however, has voted down the contract.

At GM's Lansing Delta Township plant, 66 percent of production workers opposed the deal and 57 percent of skilled trade workers voted no as well.

More workers are expected to cast their ballots Monday and Tuesday. Voting concludes nationwide at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The outcome of the GM ratification vote could have great implications for talks at Ford, where workers there will be looking for a sweeter deal.

Ford talks had been progressing at the slowest pace and the Sept. 14 deadline was extended indefinitely with the expectation the Dearborn automaker would be last to complete negotiations.

But when talks hit an impasse with Chrysler Group LLC, the UAW turned its attention to Ford.

The two sides have agreed to "hold very long negotiating sessions" this week, according to UAW Vice President of the Ford Division Jimmy Settles in an update on the union's Ford Facebook page.

"Once a deal is close, negotiating sessions are expected to last around the clock," Settles said.

Local presidents have received notice to "begin assembling their strike committees, and preparing any documentation regarding strike rules and assistance for our membership in the event we are forced to call for a strike."

"At this time, there is no indication that a strike will be necessary, but it is in our best interest to prepare ourselves ahead of time just in case," Settles said.

Negotiators from Chrysler Group LLC continue to meet with their counterparts from the UAW, but high-levels talks appear to be on hold as the union focuses on getting a deal with Ford.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was out of the country Monday and not expected back for several days.

But he and King appear to have put their recent differences behind them, and both the company and the union are confident that they can reach a deal once negotiations at Ford are concluded.


Over 800,000 vehicles
recalled last week

September 26, 2011

Automakers, including Hyundai Motor Co and Subaru recalled more than 800,000 cars and trucks last week for defects including faulty airbags, according to federal regulators.

Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary defect investigation into 205,661 Ford Motor Co minivans for the model years 2004 to 2005 following complaints that the service jack provided by Ford could collapse when in use and cause the vehicle to drop.

One of those reports said a person died after the Ford jack collapsed while he was working beneath the vehicle, according to a notice posted on NHTSA's website.

The agency said it is investigating the issue to determine if a safety defect exists. NHTSA also upgraded two other probes into 431,000 Honda Motor Co CR-V crossovers and 200,000 Jeep Liberty sport-utility vehicles built by Chrysler Group LLC.

Last week, Hyundai recalled more than 205,000 Veracruz and Sante Fe crossovers for model years 2007 and 2008 due to a defect in a part of the driver's side airbag called the clock spring. The spring develops a high resistance over time and may not deploy in a crash, increasing the risk of injuries.

Subaru issued three separate recalls last week, including more than 295,000 vehicles for the model years 2002 to 2007 because a component in the front control arms can break if exposed to salty or humid environments.

The Japanese automaker also recalled more than 195,000 Outback and Legacy vehicles for model year 2010-2011 because components in the wiper motor could overheat and catch fire.

Subaru also recalled nearly 70,000 Outback and Legacy cars for the model year 2011 because the moonroof glass could come loose and detach.

Other automakers who issued large recalls last week were Hyundai affiliate Kia and Volkswagen AG .

Kia recalled more than 10,000 2007-2008 Sorento passenger cars because of a computer glitch that could turn off the front passenger airbag when an adult is in the passenger seat.

VW recalled more than 30,000 Jetta sedans for the model year 2011-2012 because some vehicles had a too-long stainless steel exhaust tip that could burn a person's leg.


GM Flint, Lansing plants
pass UAW contract

September 25, 2011
Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News

Auto workers at General Motors Co.'s factories in Flint and Lansing have voted to ratify the automaker's four-year contract with the United Auto Workers union, according to the local unions website.

The results, which appeared on Local 598's website Saturday morning, are the first of many expected to trickle in through the weekend and early next week as GM's 48,500 UAW-represented workers head to the polls to vote on a new pact.

GM's Flint Assembly, which builds full-size pickup trucks, employs 2,513 workers and recently added a third shift to meet growing demand for these heavy-duty haulers.

Local 598 didn't offer a break down of the results on its website, only a one-line statement: "Our membership has passed the UAW/GM contract."

At GM's Lansing Grand River plant, the factory's production workers — those who work directly on the line — ratified the contract by a 57 percent margin. Meanwhile, skilled trade workers ratified the agreement with a wider, 77 percent majority.

GM builds the Cadillac CTS at the 830-worker plant in Lansing. Next summer, it will add a second shift and production of a compact-size Cadillac, called the ATS.

Workers at GM's UAW-represented plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., also voted Friday, but results weren't yet available. More locals are voting today and will open the polls Sunday. The majority will vote Monday and Tuesday. The nationwide vote concludes Wednesday at 10 a.m.

As they cast their ballots, workers will have to decide on whether to back the new contract, which secures more jobs for U.S. factories and provides richer profit-sharing checks, but doesn't restore some cherished benefits, such as cost-of-living increases.

GM and union bargainers say the contract struck on Sept. 16 rewards workers with a greater share in the company's success while keeping GM's labor costs in check and competitive with the foreign carmakers.

In the new contract, entry-level workers, who now earn about half the veteran pay, will get a $2 to $3 hourly pay increase over the next four years, if the agreement is ratified. Other sweeteners include a $5,000 signing bonus and an additional $1,000 "inflation protection" lump sum each year for the duration of the contract.

UAW negotiators said they were "still working tirelessly" toward a new contract with Chrysler Saturday.

Ford Motor Co. and the UAW bargained Saturday with no major outcomes to report other than that talks are going well.

The two sides decided to take a day off Sunday to give the teams a rest in anticipation of long hours in the week ahead.

UAW President Bob King is expected to join talks Monday as the two sides tackle high-level economic issues.


UAW, Ford talks heat
up in Dearborn

High-level officials expected to start negotiating Monday

Alisa Priddle, Bryce G. Hoffman and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News

Sept 24, 2011

United Auto Workers President Bob King was at Ford Motor Co. headquarters Friday, a signal that talks were intensifying as the union bargained on two fronts heading into the weekend.

Talks also were under way with Chrysler Group LLC, where King met with Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

General Motors Co. and the UAW reached a tentative deal a week ago. Ratification votes are under way across the country.

In the Ford talks, the UAW posted an update for its 41,000 members explaining that the two sides had "established a framework for how talks will progress now that we're on an accelerated schedule."

"Both our negotiators and the company have submitted their final resolutions," the UAW said.

The UAW posting said King was at Ford headquarters, where the bargaining teams for both the company and union have offices. He was meeting with union negotiators and the National Ford Department staff.

The UAW president didn't meet with company officials Friday, a person familiar with talks said.

Bargaining was scheduled to resume today, and a decision was expected to be made whether to continue Sunday as well, or make it a day of rest heading into a week that could produce a new tentative agreement.

The two sides extended the original Sept. 14 deadline indefinitely as they work out a new deal. It can be revoked by either side with three days notice.

Jimmy Settles, the UAW vice president for the Ford Division, told members high-level financial discussions with the company are expected to begin Monday.

Ford workers expect a more generous deal than the one reached with GM that includes $12,500 in bonuses, including a $5,000 signing award, over four years.

Many workers are calling for cost-of-living allowances, a benefit that was not included in the GM deal. But GM workers would get an extra $1,000 "inflation protection" lump sum over the final three years of the contract. Entry-level workers will get a modest wage increase.

Chrysler talks broke off abruptly Wednesday, and the UAW made the surprise announcement that it was shifting its focus to Ford. Until then, Ford had assumed it would be last to ink a new deal.

In Auburn Hills, negotiators from the UAW and Chrysler were back at the bargaining table Friday, working to resolve their disagreements over health care costs and other economic issues.

At press time, the two sides had not yet decided whether they would continue to talk over the weekend. The sides have extended their contract deadline to Oct. 19.

Meanwhile, locals across the country have begun voting on the GM-UAW pact, and results are expected to begin trickling in Saturday.

Among the big locals are those representing workers at GM factories in Lansing, Flint and Arlington, Texas.

Most locals will vote Monday and Tuesday with the polls closing at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

A final tally is expected Thursday.

In all, 48,500 autoworkers at 81 UAW locals nationwide will cast ballots on whether to ratify the union's four-year contract.

Assembly plants voting Friday include Arlington, Bowling Green, Ky., as well as Flint and Lansing Grand River in Michigan.


In Memory of
Debbie Pike

Debbie Pike

March 27, 1951 - September 20, 2011

Retired January 1, 2009
19.1 Years of Service

It is with great regret that we inform you of the sudden passing of CAW Local 584 Retiree Debbie Pike on Tuesday September 20, 2011.

Our Deepest Condolences go out to her husband/CAW Local 584 Retiree Jocko Pike and to both his and Debbie's family.

She will be sadly missed by all.

Debbie was born on March 27, 1951, in Killaloe, Ontario,
in the Ottawa Valley. The third child to Helen and
Gerald Rhode and sister to Frank and Lloyd.

At a young age she moved to the west end of Toronto,
where at the age of 15 she met her lifelong friend Olga.

Always the free spirit, Debbie had many jobs and lived
many places during her life. Kitchener, Whitney, Toronto,
Sarnia, Montreal and Brampton. She worked for many
years in a group home, cooking and providing support for
people with special needs.

Debbie retired from the Ford Motor Company in 2009,
after 20 years of service. During this time she met many
dear friends and her loving husband,Jocko.

Debbie had unconditional love for people she knew and a
joy for life. Always positive, always giving and willing to
help and always spreading her infectious laugh. Family
was her top priority. She brought her Mother to live with
her and care for her and did everything she could to be
there for everyone who needed her.

She adored her grandchildren and was one of the
proudest "Nana's" you would ever meet.

Debbie was truly loving her retirement. She got to travel,
reconnect with old friends and was able to be there to
help and support Jocko and the family as he dealt with
cancer this past year.

There is not a day that will go by that we will not feel the
emptiness left by Debbie's passing.


Retirees Luncheon October 2010
Photo taken at Retirees Luncheon October 2010


St Thomas Then & Now



CAW Contact
September 23, 2011
Volume 41, No. 33

Arbitrator Sides with CAW on Pensions for New Hires

The CAW has won the right to maintain the defined benefit pension plan for new hires at Air Canada, an arbitration award released September 17 says.

In the 62 page ruling, federal arbitrator Kevin Burkett rejected Air Canada's demand to put new hires into a defined contribution pension plan with an inferior, more precarious benefit. Instead Burkett sided with the CAW's proposal to maintain the defined benefit pension plan for new hires, along with a defined contribution portion to their pension. The result will be a "hybrid" pension for future new hires at the airline, consisting of both defined benefit and defined contribution components. Current CAW members at Air Canada remain in the existing defined benefit plan.

"This is an extremely important ruling and demonstrates that no employer, regardless of how large or small, should believe they have the unmitigated right to destroy a worker's retirement security," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

In the case, the union argued that the defined benefit pension plan was an efficient, effective and economically productive way of providing a pension benefit and that a complete shift to a defined contribution system would have a detrimental impact on future workers, and on the health of the existing defined benefit plan.

The new hybrid DB/ DC plan will see new hires receive part of their benefit from the existing DB pension plan (under a reduced formula) and part from a DC plan, contributed to by both workers and the employer.

The issue of pensions for new hires was sent to a mediation and arbitration process after the union and Air Canada were unable to come to an agreement on the matter in June. But Air Canada refused to engage meaningfully in the mediation phase of that process, and tabled a final offer for a 100 per cent defined contribution plan that was inferior to what it had offered during bargaining. The CAW, following the failure of mediation, proposed the hybrid DB/ DC model which the arbitrator eventually accepted.

"Despite unprecedented government interference in our collective bargaining, the union was able to build a clear case for the need to continue the DB pension plan, for all members, regardless of their age or start date," said Lewenza.

"Air Canada's proposal would have been a major step back for the membership. Instead, because of the union's efforts, the defined benefit plan will be maintained for current and future members," said Jamie Ross, CAW Local 2002 president.

CAW members went on strike for three days at Air Canada in mid June after negotiations broke down over demands for cuts to existing pensions, the elimination of defined benefit pensions for new hires, and other economic issues. Just hours after the strike began, the federal government prepared legislation to force CAW members back to work. Before the legislation was debated, the CAW and Air Canada reached an agreement on June 16. The government passed similar legislation forcibly ending the lockout at Canada Post shortly thereafter.

CAW Local 2002 represents 3,800 members at Air Canada, who work in customer service and sales in major airports and call centres.

To read the full ruling, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10610.htm

Support for New Deal at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

CAW Local 4275 members who work at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract with wage, benefit and pension improvements.

The members of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver bargaining committee are Financial Secretary Maisie Tan, Recording Secretary Kevin Quinn, Trustee Debra Elless, CAW Local 4275 President Terry Tanasiuk, CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle, Local Chairperson Darwin Santos and Bob Orr, assistant to the CAW President.

The workers, who resisted company demands for concessions, voted 94 per cent in favour of the new agreement at ratification meetings September 13.

The agreement includes 2.5 per cent in wage increases in the first year, 2.5 per cent in the second and 2.5 per cent in the third. There are dental, short-term disability, and paramedical coverage improvements as well as gains in shift premiums and improved housekeeping workload language. In addition, family responsibility leave is now guaranteed in the contract.

In a major step forward in bargaining with the Fairmont hotel chain, company contributions toward retirement savings will increase to 3.7 per cent by the third year of the agreement.

CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle said the strong 94 per cent strike mandate from the membership sent a message to the company who continued to demand concessions and who had flatly rejected the proposal for increased pension contributions.

"There is no doubt that the willingness of the members to stand behind their union and take action if necessary was the key factor in reaching this new three year agreement," said McGarrigle.

CAW Local 4275 President Terry Tanasiuk said "the membership's awesome display of solidarity sent a powerful message to the company that concessions were not acceptable and that improvements to benefits and wages, as well as the breakthrough in increased retirement contributions were needed in order to avoid a work stoppage. The committee and membership have demonstrated how critically important it is that hotel workers are organized with a strong union like the CAW. "

CAW Local 4275 represents 450 workers at Fairmont's flagship Hotel Vancouver.

London Art Honours Trade Union Pioneers

A new installation of public art in London, Ontario's Peace Gardens honours a group of trade union pioneers who settled in the region more than a century ago.

The new public art depicts two hands - an older and a younger hand - and commemorates the Tolpuddle Martyrs, who are considered early pioneers of the trade union movement who settled in the London area after being persecuted for their beliefs in England.

A new scultpture in London's Peace Gardens honours the memory of trade union pioneers the Tolpuddle Martyrs .

Photo by Georgina Anderson, CAW Local 27 retiree

The public art work is in remembrance of the Tolpuddle Martyrs who fought to enhance the lives of the working class more than 150 years ago, said CAW retiree and activist Hector McLellan.

"This sculpture symbolizes, through the image of 'Good Hands,' the good works, the struggles, the compassion and the tireless commitment of the Tolpuddle Martyrs in bringing about their vision of eliminating poverty and starvation for the working class," said McLellan.

Together with two local artists - David Bobier and Leslie Putnam - who created the art, McLellan helped organize the project along with the London and District Labour Council, the city, the London Arts Council, and local labour unions. A ceremony was held September 15.

Record Attendance at CAW EFAP Conference

Over 100 CAW members attended the 2011 Employee and Family Assistance Program/Substance Abuse conference held at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin from September 16 to 18 - the largest ever turnout for the conference. Delegates participated in a series of educational workshops, covering topics like non-violent crisis intervention, teen addictions and problem gambling.

During the conference, outgoing national EFAP/Substance Abuse liaison (and now retired CAW staff representative) Steve Watson, announced a new Paid Education Leave course for union members, including workplace EFAP/Substance Abuse reps, called Community Advocate. The week-long program will run from April 15 to 20, 2012 (visit www.caw.ca/education for more details).

Building the Union Through Education

The CAW Education Conference will be held this year at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario from October 28 to 30.

The theme for the conference is Building the Union through Education and a key focus will be the role of education in building and strengthening CAW locals for the challenges ahead.

There will be a combination of workshops, plenary, and creative activities, providing delegates with an opportunity to organize, strategize, and build networks.

The deadline for registration is Friday, October 14. To read the conference call letter please go to www.caw.ca/assets/images/Education_call_ltr.PDF. For more information please email educate@caw.ca or call 1-800-268-5763.

The CAW's Local Union Media Association Conference is fast approaching and for those who have not yet registered it's not too late. The conference will be held at the CAW's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario starting Friday, October 28.

The agenda is packed with guest speakers, workshops on everything from social media to digital photography as well as writing and design basics. In addition, awards for communications excellence will be presented. The registration deadline is September 30.

For more information about this year's LUMA conference please read the conference call letter by visiting: http://www.caw.ca/en/7856.htm

Hope in High Heels Walk

CAW leaders and members brought hope in the form of ill-fitting women's footwear to the Halton Women's Place.

Assistant to CAW National President Jerry Dias, his son Jordon and CAW Local 112 and 414 members were among the 65 participants in the second annual Hope in High Heels Walk on September 17. The men's walk took place in Burlington and raised $50,000. A similar walk took place the next day in Oakville. The Dias clan was able to raise $33,000 for the women's shelters. Last year, the walk raised a total of $23,000 with 45 participants.

"This event was truly an incredible opportunity for men to a take a leadership role in the critical issue of eliminating violence against women," said Dias, after the walk.

Halton Women's Place provides shelter and crisis services for physically, emotionally, financially and sexually abused women and their dependent children. The organization is dedicated to ending violence against women and their children.

For more information on Halton Women's Place, please visit: http://www.haltonwomensplace.com/
To see more photos visit here

Ontario Election 2011

For more election information visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10559.htm

The original ad ran in the London Free press on Wednesday September 14, 2011

To view this ad full size please click here


UAW wants richer Ford deal

Union seeks more lucrative
package than it got from GM

Alisa Priddle, Bryce G. Hoffman and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News - September 23, 2011

Workers at Ford Motor Co. are looking for a sweeter deal than the one the United Auto Workers reached with General Motors Co. last week.

Ford, chosen late Wednesday as next up on the UAW's bargaining circuit, is expected to adopt broad strokes from GM's deal, but with significant alterations that reflect differences between the two companies.

Workers and industry analysts agree that to win ratification, a Ford pact must be richer than the $12,500 in bonuses, including a $5,000 signing award, agreed to by GM over the four years of its proposed contract.

"The GM agreement with a bit on top will be easy to sell in these economic times," said Art Schwartz, president of Labor and Economics Associates and a former GM negotiator.

Ford hourly workers expect more because the company's balance sheet is improving, and salaried employees got raises and bonuses last year. CEO Alan Mulally was paid $26.5 million — a sum that has rallied the automaker's 41,000 hourly workers to demand a better deal for themselves.

"We have the big honchos taking multimillion-dollar bonuses and they can't even give us back" concessions that hourly workers made to help keep Ford afloat, said Joe Pack, 50, who works at Michigan Assembly in Wayne.

Ford, Pack noted, is "making money. We want a part of that, too."

Hourly workers have filed a grievance against the Dearborn-based company, claiming they have not shared gains equally with white-collar workers to whom some wages and benefits were restored last year.

Settlement of this grievance, which has gone to arbitration, could be an avenue to pay Ford workers thousands more in bonuses than what was agreed to by GM.

Contract differences also could emerge in cost of living allowances and future product commitments.

While a cost of living allowance was not reinstated in the GM pact, those workers are to get an "inflation protection" lump sum of $1,000 annually for the final three years of the contract. Ford workers would like to see COLA back.

Under its deal with the union, GM has promised to add or retain about 6,400 jobs and bring some work back to the U.S. from Mexico.

Ford has a plant in Minnesota slated to close this year and builds some high-volume vehicles, including the Ford Fiesta, in Mexico.

On wages, the Ford deal could mimic GM's proposal to hold the line for senior workers while increasing hourly pay for entry-level or tier-two workers.

Work stoppage could hurt
Unlike GM and Chrysler Group LLC, Ford didn't take a taxpayer bailout — and as a result, its workers aren't under the same government-mandated "no strike" order.

A work stoppage by its hourly work force could seriously harm Ford as it works to pay down its debt and return its stock to investment grade.

"I don't think the UAW has a game plan to strike," said Schwartz.

"It would hurt their public image as they try to organize the transplants."

Ford has not had a strike in the U.S. since 1976.

Eric Selle, managing director at J.P. Morgan, has "high confidence in an agreement reached without a protracted strike (but) the Ford negotiations could be harder to complete."

Selle said Wall Street would not be concerned with a higher signing bonus at Ford, but would take issue with reinstatement of cost of living benefits, limiting entry-level workers or enhancing unemployment benefits.

Chrysler deadline extended
Chrysler Group LLC also will be expected to reach a version of the deals agreed to by the other two domestic automakers.

Its deadline was extended to Oct. 19, following a snag this week over health care costs. While the UAW cannot call a general strike against Chrysler, an impasse could go to arbitration.

Chrysler was supposed to be the next automaker in line after GM, but talks between the UAW and the Auburn Hills company snagged for the second time in a week over health care costs. Chrysler also wants to extend some provisions of the proposed contract beyond its 2015 expiration, including language that removes previously agreed to limits on the number of second-tier workers the company can hire.

On Sept. 14, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sent a strongly worded letter to UAW President Bob King, accusing him of sidelining the company while the union cut its deal with GM.The two sides resumed negotiations on Sept. 21, only to stumble again on these issues. Relations between Chrysler and the UAW have been complicated by the letter that Marchionne sent.

"This does complicate things, but I don't think it's fatal," said labor expert Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Bob King is coming into this with a vision and a sense of urgency. He wants to see this work. He's not interested in drawing lines in the sand," Shaiken said.


UAW to turn attention to Ford

Contract talks with Chrysler on hold with four-week extension

Bryce G. Hoffman, Alisa Priddle and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
September 22, 2011

Contract talks between the United Auto Workers union and Chrysler Group LLC on Wednesday snagged for a second time, and the union issued a surprise announcement that it will leapfrog the Auburn Hills automaker and begin final negotiations with Ford Motor Co.

Chrysler and the UAW were unable to reach an agreement on economic issues, according to sources close to the situation. The two sides previously had reached a tentative agreement on some aspects of the contract, but remained far apart on this key question of compensation.

The UAW's decision, which follows a tentative agreement on a new national contract with General Motors Co., came as a stunner to both Ford and Chrysler.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne flew back to the United States from Europe late Tuesday in the hope of finalizing an agreement on a new national contract with the union before the one-week extension the two sides negotiated a week ago expired. That extension was given another four weeks Wednesday, before the UAW announced it would advance to Ford.

Talks between Chrysler and the union tripped up Sept. 14 after Marchionne sent a strongly worded letter to UAW President Bob King, accusing him of sidelining Chrysler while he finished negotiations with GM.

Kristin Dziczek, a labor expert with the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, said that letter greatly complicated negotiations.

"Achieving a pattern deal with Chrysler might be more of an uphill battle," she said in a speech to the Automotive Press Association before Wednesday's announcement.

But Wednesday's impasse was about more substantive issues than that letter, a source said.

Neither Chrysler nor the UAW would comment, other than to say that they have mutually agreed to a four-week extension of the current contract.

Talks between Chrysler and the UAW ended after 6 p.m. Wednesday, but negotiators agreed to return to the bargaining table at 8 this morning.

"There's still some tough stuff to work out," Dziczek said after the announcement. "But I don't think they need the full four weeks."

The shift to Ford was also a surprise for the Dearborn automaker, which had hoped to go last in this year's contract talks.

"We look forward to working with the UAW on a new tentative agreement that is fair to our employees and allows Ford to become more competitive," said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans.

Ford wanted to go last because it is the only one of the Big Three that cannot seek binding arbitration if it fails to reach an agreement with the UAW. Chrysler and GM were given that option — and the UAW could not strike them — as part of their 2009 bailout by the federal government.

Marchionne, whose Fiat SpA agreed to take over the bankrupt Chrysler as part of that deal, insisted on the arbitration provision. If Chrysler goes into arbitration after Ford reaches a deal with the UAW, it could end up with more favorable terms, leaving Ford at a disadvantage.

But Dziczek said arbitration would be risky for Chrysler, too. She said arbitration could last for months and end up with a decision that favored the union instead of the company.

"I believe the differences at the bargaining table won't be sufficiently large enough to justify the time and money of dragging the case through arbitration," she said.

However, sources familiar with Chrysler's position say it is willing to go to arbitration if it cannot reach an agreement with the UAW on health care cost sharing or other issues.

Chrysler reportedly wants to pay its workers a lower signing bonus than the $5,000 GM is offering each of its UAW-represented employees.

In a Facebook posting Wednesday night, Jimmy Settles, the UAW's Ford vice president, said he was "proud to announce that we have been chosen as the next department to begin the final stages of negotiations and not Chrysler… I can tell you that our negotiators have already been working hard in subcommittee meetings, and they are anxious as am I to begin intense discussions with the company and work toward a tentative agreement."


Marchionne: Chrysler-UAW pact on the way, but won't duplicate GM's

Bryce G. Hoffman, Christina Rogers and Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
September 20, 2011

As United Auto Workers President Bob King prepares to brief local union leaders today on the tentative labor agreement with General Motors Co., attention is shifting to Chrysler Group LLC, where the clock on a one-week extension of the current contract is rapidly winding down.

Talks between the union and the Auburn Hills automaker broke Wednesday after King failed to respond to Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne's request for a face-to-face meeting to finalize a new contract. King was busy finalizing the agreement with GM, and Marchionne resented being sidelined.

King reached a tentative agreement with GM late Friday and is scheduled to reveal details of the new contract to reporters and, separately, local union leaders in Detroit today. But Marchionne said Monday that no one should expect Chrysler to accept the same terms as GM, where hourly workers will get a $5,000 bonus for approving the contract.

Though both automakers went bankrupt and were bailed out by the federal government two years ago, he pointed out that they emerged from Chapter 11 with very different balance sheets.

"We and GM are two completely different entities with two different heritages," he told reporters in Italy. "We were born in 2009 with $8 billion in debt; they had $50 billion in equity."

Before talks broke down Wednesday night, Chrysler and the UAW had reached a tentative agreement on all aspects of the contract except for the contentious issue of economics, according to people close to the negotiations. They said Chrysler wants to pay its workers a more modest signing bonus than the $5,000 being offered to their counterparts at GM because the company is smaller and has yet to return to profitability since its 2009 bankruptcy.

The figure of $3,500 reportedly is on the table. In 2007, workers at all three Detroit automakers received the same $3,000 signing bonus.

Marchionne said he is returning to the United States from Europe today, and hopes to resume talks with the UAW.

"I am confident we will reach an agreement quickly," he said.

But analysts are not sure it will be that easy. They say Marchionne's comments, together with the strongly worded letter he fired off to King Wednesday, are bound to have serious ramifications.

"This is tantamount to bargaining in the press, and this is not done in Detroit," said labor expert Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. "These are serious breaches of the Detroit way of doing things. There will be some consequence for this breach of protocol."

Dziczek said it was a forgone conclusion that Chrysler would be next, now that the UAW has reached a tentative agreement with GM. While that is still likely, she said it is no longer certain.

However, one person familiar with the situation said King remains committed to cooperation with all three automakers.

The GM agreement still needs to be ratified by rank-and-file union members. The full details have not yet been disclosed, but it includes a $2- to $3-an-hour raise for entry-level workers; profit sharing in lieu of base wage increases; buyouts for skilled trades; and the promise of new jobs.

Wall Street reacted positively in trading Monday, noting that the new agreement would not have a significant impact on GM's bottom line. GM's stock closed Monday at $23.05, up nearly 2 percent on a day when the Dow Jones index dropped nearly 1 percent to 11,401.

The agreement "seems to have kept with the spirit of market expectations going into the talks," J.P. Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel wrote in a report to investors Monday.

Michaeli Itay, an analyst with Citi Investment Research, wrote that the agreement appears to be "nongame changing" for the automaker and should not have great influence over its stock price.

The $5,000 contract signing bonus will cost the company about $240 million, and increases to the entry-level wage will be balanced by buyouts for highly paid skilled trade workers and a shift to more lower-wage workers overall, Itay added.

The company also avoided changes to its retiree pension plan and cost-of-living increases — two items that also protect its earning potential.

Neither Chrysler nor Ford has been briefed on the terms of the GM agreement, sources said.

Ford officials had to rely on second- and third-hand reports of the GM deal over the weekend but were starting to get official language to work with on Monday as talks resumed between the Dearborn automaker and the auto workers union. While Ford has not received official notification of the UAW's next moves, they are under the assumption that the focus is still on reaching an agreement with Chrysler next and Ford last.

But if King changes direction, Ford said it will be ready.

Ford shares closed up less than 1 percent Monday, closing at $10.45 in a market that was down overall.


Experts: GM-UAW
deal likely to pass

Pact's job, wage gains may set framework in Ford, Chrysler talks

Christina Rogers, Bryce G. Hoffman, Alisa Priddle
and David Shepardson/ The Detroit News

September 19, 2011

Labor experts said Sunday it's likely that General Motors Co.'s hourly workers will ratify the tentative union contract agreement reached this weekend, even if some quibble with the terms.

The presidents of United Auto Workers' local unions are on their way to Detroit, where their national bargaining team will brief them Tuesday on details of the pact reached with GM on Friday. Major aspects of the pact, including higher pay for entry-level workers, leaked out over the weekend.

Ratification votes at local unions are expected in seven to 10 days.

"There are new jobs and more money," said Kristin Dziczek, a labor expert at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

"There are not concessions and job loss. What's not to like?"

Added Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California at Berkeley: "This is a contract that shows considerable gains in a dismal economic context.

"There is always opposition to a contract, but it is my sense that this will have support."

After wrapping up with GM, the UAW is expected to focus on Chrysler Group LLC, where a last-minute glitch at the bargaining table last week shut down substantive progress. Reaching an agreement with Chrysler could take another couple weeks.

Ford Motor Co. is likely to finish contract talks last, and those negotiations may be the toughest of all three.

Under provisions of their 2009 government rescue, workers at GM and Chrysler are prohibited from calling a general strike. But Ford didn't take a bailout, so its workers are under no strike restriction.

The tentative agreement between the UAW and GM, covering 48,500 workers, is expected to establish a framework for the Chrysler and Ford contracts, although each company will put its own stamp on its own contract.

The Detroit News reported Saturday that the GM pact includes a $5,000 contract signing bonuses and a $2- to $3-an-hour pay bump for entry-level workers who now make $14-$16 an hour.

The UAW also was eager for this contract to assure more jobs, and greater job security for its members. It appears that the tentative agreement does that.

GM will reopen its assembly plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. The factory, which used to build cars for the now-defunct Saturn brand, was put on standby in 2009, around the time of the automaker's bankruptcy. Jobs also will be added to GM plants in Warren and Romulus, and in Wentzville, Mo.

Details yet to be confirmed
Under the proposed contract, GM's profit-sharing formula will be easier to decipher, and be based on the automaker's North American profits — not U.S. earnings. UAW leaders also say the agreement protects retiree pension plans and improves health care benefits — two items they fought for in talks this year.

Of course, the devil is in the details, and GM workers are eager to learn more about what's in the contract, their local union leaders say.

Local leaders will travel to Detroit on Tuesday for a briefing on the agreement, and they'll then take it back to their members.

Some GM workers said they are encouraged that a tentative agreement was reached about 48 hours after the actual deadline. Workers at all three Detroit auto companies are operating under contract extensions until new pacts are signed.

Not everyone, however, was happy. Some said Sunday the $5,000 signing bonus is disappointing, and they had hoped union leaders would eliminate the entry-level tier, whose workers are paid about half what veteran workers get.

"It was kind of a shock," said Jose Facundo, a 33-year-old worker at GM's Lansing Delta Township plant. "We thought we'd get more."

The signing bonus, he said, pales in comparison to all that GM workers gave up in recent years, including pay raises and cost-of-living increases.

The second-tier wage also is a sticking point for many workers, and a deal-breaker for Facundo.

Even with the pay raise, entry-level workers still make far less than veterans working next to them on the line, a disparity that breeds resentment among the rank-and-file. A tier-one worker starts at about $28 an hour.

"I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of 'no' votes" because of the pay discrepancy, Facundo said. "I'll probably vote no myself."

Chrysler could take weeks
Ford and Chrysler are closely watching the GM developments.

UAW President Bob King is expected to turn his attention to Chrysler next, despite last week's dust-up with CEO Sergio Marchionne, who criticized King, in a letter, for not meeting with him Wednesday. As the contracts expired at both GM and Chrysler, King was with GM bargainers.

Talks at Chrysler could take a couple weeks to finish. King will have to spend much of this week helping sell the GM pact to workers. Marchionne is due back from Europe early this week.

Union leaders at Chrysler likely will push to reopen some of the half-dozen plants shuttered during bankruptcy in 2009. They'll also seek assurance that Fiat SpA, Chrysler's majority owner, will keep car production at U.S. factories, analysts say.

The angry letter from Marchionne also is a sign the two sides weren't close last week, Dziczek said.

"Bob (King) is not the kind of guy to engage in a public battle like this letter from Mr. Marchionne, but that doesn't mean he is just taking this lying down," she said.

For the most part, Chrysler workers were pleased with what they had heard about the GM contract, and are hopeful their leaders will be able to negotiate similar terms.

"Everything looks likes it's pretty good," said Joe Simon, a worker at Chrysler's Trenton Engine Complex. "Putting people back to work is the number one issue. But we have some other issues at Chrysler that we need to take care of, like shift rotation. That is just killing us."

Ford bargainers are expected to finish last, but the union also has the most leverage there. Many Ford workers feel that since they helped their company survive without taxpayer money, they should be more richly rewarded.

Typically, talks with the third company can drag out for more than a month; with Ford lacking a no-strike clause, the labor talks may stretch well into October, analysts say.

"They are looking to sweeten the pot at Ford," said Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst with IHS Global Insight.

"The three companies are not the same anymore. It's an error to think that the cookie cutter contracts of the past are going to work for all three companies anymore."

Joe Leller, who works at Ford's Dearborn truck plant, said many of his co-workers are dissatisfied with what the union got from GM.

A $5,000 signing bonus would result in $2,800 after taxes, he figures, and does not compensate for thousands of dollars in concessions workers made to help save the Dearborn-based automaker.

"Many of us at Local 600 are pushing for a strike and will be voting 'no' on this package," Leller said, describing the proposal as "silly."

Brian Pannebecker, a worker at Ford's Sterling Heights plant, agrees a $5,000 signing bonus may not be enough at Ford, but he backs the pay bump for second tier workers and is encouraged by GM's promise of new jobs.

He added: "New jobs are the most important issue."



UAW workers to get $5K contract bonus; tier 2 to get pay bump

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
September 18, 2011

General Motors Co. will give its hourly workers a $5,000 signing bonus, if they approve a tentative contract agreement reached by the company and the United Auto Workers union Friday night, people familiar with the pact said Saturday.

Under the agreement, GM also has agreed to reopen its Spring Hill, Tenn. plant; base profit-sharing checks on North American profits, rather than on U.S. earnings; and give entry-level workers a $2-$3 an hour increase. Those so-called tier two employees, who are paid $14-$16 an hour, will be boosted to $16-$19 an hour.

Also, a person briefed on the deal said Saturday, the proposed contract includes buyout offers to GM's skilled trade workers. The Detroit automaker has about 1,000 skilled tradesmen working on the line, rather than in skilled trades positions that it no longer needs. GM hopes to pare back the number of skilled trades workers on assembly lines. The tentative pact still must be approved by a vote of the union's rank and file.

In 2007, the last time a contract was reached between the automakers and the union, workers got a $3,000 signing bonus at all three.

Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co. continue to operate under a contract extension — the old pacts of all three Detroit automakers expired midweek.

Under the GM agreement, profit sharing bonuses will be easier to calculate and based on simple charts: Workers will be able to look up the profit and see the corresponding profit sharing amount, said a person familiar with the agreement.

The tentative agreement inked late Friday night culminated seven weeks of occasionally intense bargaining. The pact is an important step in locking in a new four-year contract for GM's 48,500 workers.

UAW leaders will brief local leaders on the agreement Tuesday in Detroit and members will have a chance to ratify the agreement in a vote within the next seven to 10 days.

Chrysler and its union counterparts continue to talk, but are waiting for CEO Sergio Marchionne to return from Europe early next week to tackle the major issues.

Under provisions of the federal bailout, unions cannot call general strikes against GM or Chrysler.

Talks at Ford, the only Detroit carmaker whose workers can strike, is lagging the two and is expected to finish last.

The UAW and GM declined to comment on details of the agreement because they want to give the workers a chance to see it first. Both sides sought to reward their hourly workers for helping, through concessions, the company survive bankruptcy and restructuring.

"We're pleased we reached a tentative agreement with out UAW partners and the process is for the UAW to inform members about the specifics of the deal," said GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter.

In a statement released Friday night, the UAW said the new contract will improve health benefits and protect retiree pension plans — two items the union said it had to fight for. New jobs also are coming to GM's power train plants in Warren and Romulus, and its truck facility in Wentzville, Mo., this person said.

"This contract will get our members who have been laid off back to work, will create new jobs in our communities and will bring work back to the United States from other countries," said UAW President Bob King said in a statement.

Workers will also get a simpler, more transparent profit-sharing formula which, unlike the current one, wouldn't leave workers guessing their bonus amounts until the end. The formula will be based on North American profits, rather than U.S. earnings which is how it is done now.

For 2010, GM workers got profit-sharing checks averaging $4,300.


UAW, GM agree on new deal

Tentative 4-year contract likely protects jobs and health care

Christina Rogers, Alisa Priddle and Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
September 17, 2011

General Motors Co. and the United Auto Workers union struck a tentative contract agreement late Friday after 14-hours of bargaining, a significant step toward reaching a new four-year contract for the automaker's 48,500 hourly workers.

While neither the union nor GM would provide details on the deal, the union said in a statement that the new pact protects "good American jobs" for its members and ensures workers will share in the company's . The union said it fought changes to workers' retirement plans and concessions on health care. The agreement also includes an improved and more transparent profit-sharing formula, the union said in a statement.

The tentative agreement, which the union will now take to its members for ratification, was reached at 11 p.m. Friday after 14 hours of bargaining. A ratification vote is expected within the next seven to 10 days, GM said. Local union leaders will be briefed on the agreement Tuesday in Detroit, said a source familiar with the talks.

"When GM was struggling, our members shared in the sacrifice," said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, the union's top negotiator for GM workers, in a statement. "Now that the company is posting profits again, our members want to share in the success."

GM — the largest of the Detroit automakers — earned $4.7 billion last year.

GM officials hailed the agreement for its "creative problem solving approach" that met workers' needs while also ensuring the company's long-term success.

"We worked hard for a contract that recognizes the realities of today's marketplace, enabling GM to continue to invest in U.S. manufacturing and provide good jobs to thousands of Americans," said Cathy Clegg, GM's vice president of labor relations.

GM has spent $5.1 billion and created or saved 13,000 jobs at its U.S. factories since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009.

UAW President Bob King said protecting jobs was a priority in this year's round of talks, which formally started in late July but intensified over the past couple weeks.

"This contract will get our members who have been laid off back to work, will create new jobs in our communities and will bring work back to the United States from other countries," King said in a statement.

"It's the union's job to fight for workers and protect our members, and we will continue in that fight," he added.

The agreement, he said, illustrates to critics that collective bargaining is a "positive force" and that the union can provide decent pay and benefits to workers while also ensuring the companies remain competitive and profitable.

GM was the first Detroit automaker to wrap up talks and come to an agreement after the two sides failed to reach a deal Wednesday at midnight, the contract's expiration date.

The two sides started talking early this year. GM's CEO Dan Akerson has met regularly with King since taking the top executive post last September. But Akerson wasn't at the bargaining table for most of this week and had largely relied on his lead bargainers to keep him informed on the progress, said a person close to the talks.

The Detroit-based automaker took the lead in this year's negotiations with the union first agreeing on items with GM and then taking those items back to the bargaining table with Chrysler Group LLC.

Chrysler, which employs 26,000 hourly workers, was also expected to reach a deal shortly after GM.

Until this week, it hadn't been too far behind GM, the largest U.S. automaker.

But talks in Auburn Hills broke down shortly before the contract expired midnight Wednesday. That night, CEO Sergio Marchionne sent King a strongly worded letter criticizing the union leader for brushing aside talks at Chrysler to meet with bargainers at GM.

Talks at Ford Motor Co. — the only one of Detroit's automakers that did not accept a government bailout and therefore the only one where a strike is not prohibited — continue to lag behind its crosstown rivals. Like the others, bargainers at Ford have extended the old contract indefinitely. Negotiators met through the week but didn't plan to talk over the weekend.


Marchionne letter snags UAW talks


Negotiators return to table under 1-week contract extensions

Bryce G. Hoffman, Alisa Priddle and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News

September 16, 2011

The breakdown of talks between the United Auto Workers and Chrysler Group LLC has derailed what had been a carefully crafted timeline for negotiating new contracts with all three Detroit automakers.

Sources close to the negotiations told The Detroit News that a deal was imminent with General Motors Co. when Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sat down at his Mac computer and fired off a sharply worded letter to UAW President Bob King at 10 p.m. Wednesday, accusing the union leader of violating their gentlemen's agreement to sign off on a deal by the 11:59 p.m. deadline.

Shortly after the letter was sent, talks stopped at both companies.

Chrysler and the UAW agreed to extend their current contract for one week. Talks resumed Thursday between the two sides, but nothing of substance is being discussed at the bargaining table, according to people familiar with the talks.

In his letter, Marchionne said everything had already been agreed to by both sides except for the contentious issue of economics: bonuses and potential pay increases for Chrysler's 26,000 union members.

GM also signed an open-ended contract extension with the union and is continuing to work toward a tentative agreement. King was back at the bargaining table with GM in Detroit on Thursday morning. GM CEO Daniel Akerson was not present.

"Talks between the parties are continuing, and we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached soon," said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who heads the union's national GM division, in a message to 49,000 hourly workers Thursday. "While we have made significant progress, we have not been able to secure a new agreement that we would recommend for ratification. …"

Late Wednesday, GM spokeswoman Jordana Strosberg issued an email stating that "GM and the UAW continue to make progress. Talks will resume Friday morning."

Ford Motor Co., which has yet to begin bargaining in earnest, had already signed an extension with the union. Negotiators are waiting for talks with GM and Chrysler to conclude before bearing down at Ford.

Deal was imminent
Hopes ran high that a deal would be reached with Chrysler and GM by the time the current contract expired a minute before midnight Thursday morning.

Marchionne flew to Auburn Hills from the Frankfurt Motor Show Wednesday to meet with King, postponing a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the UAW president was locked in negotiations with GM, and Marchionne's calls to King's cellphone went unanswered.

So Marchionne began typing.

"I know that we are the smallest of the three automakers here in Detroit, but that does not make us less relevant," he wrote. "Our people are no less relevant."

The UAW declined to comment on the letter, but labor experts close to the union believe Marchionne overreacted.

"In negotiations, it's not unusual to lose your temper in the endgame — but it is unusual to do it in a letter," said Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has served as an adviser to the UAW in the past. "It doesn't just break new ground, it breaks new china. I cannot recall an incident like this before, but this is a very different context."

What makes this different is the fact that Chrysler is controlled by Italy's Fiat SpA. Marchionne is the head of both companies, and his experience with labor unions has been colored by bitter confrontations with European syndicates. Shaiken said Marchionne also does not understand how things have traditionally worked in Detroit.

It is customary for bargainers to turn off cellphones when talks enter their final phase, he said. It is also customary to conclude negotiations with one automaker before moving on to the next.

"They're balking at something that has been productive for a long time. It's not meant as a slight, but as a way to conclude negotiations in the fastest and most satisfactory way. King simply couldn't be in both places at once," Shaiken said. "He chose the company he thought would be most productive."

But Chrysler is no longer content to play the part of junior partner in Detroit's Big Three. King, who has spent much of the past year trying to demonstrate the UAW's new commitment to cooperation, must now find a way out of the current impasse. And GM and Ford have to come to grips with the fact that there is a new CEO in town that is focused on fixing his company, not maintaining the status quo.

Marchionne waited until the contract officially expired at midnight Thursday morning before flying back to Europe. He does not intend to return to the United States until early next week.

Workers 'in the dark'
Meanwhile, workers were left waiting and wondering.

"We're not sure what's going on. We're not getting any information," said Joe Simon, a worker at Chrysler's Trenton Engine Complex. "They're keeping us in the dark."

Wall Street — which is more concerned with bigger debt issues in Europe — seemed unruffled by the news from Detroit. GM's stock closed up 2.43 percent at $22.70 a share Thursday. Ford shares were also up 3 percent, closing at $10.63.

"We continue to believe that the new agreements will not have a significant impact on earnings," said Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache, in a report Thursday.

But the rift between King and Marchionne increases the likelihood the union may be forced to resolve its differences with at least one of the automakers before an independent arbitrator.

The UAW waived its right to strike GM and Chrysler as a condition of the federal government's 2009 bailout


The last Crown Vic built at the St Thomas Assembly Plant
September 15, 2011 - 12:25 P.M.


CAW Contact
September 16, 2011
Volume 41, No. 31


Workers Vulnerable to Possible Double-dip Recession, CAW says

Canada's job market still hasn't fully recovered from the last major economic crisis, leaving workers more vulnerable to layoffs, wage cuts and poorer quality job prospects in the event of a double-dip recession, says CAW President Ken Lewenza.

Lewenza's comments come after Canada's latest national job report showed stagnant growth over the month of August, as the economy lost over 5,000 net jobs and 16,000 more Canadians joined the unemployment rolls.

"There are clear signs that our economy is struggling and facing down another potential recession," Lewenza said.

Lewenza said that, while still poor, Canada's job market indicators prior to the 2008 global financial crisis showed workers had entered the recession in a much stronger position than today.

In September of 2008, there were fewer Canadians vying for jobs (18.3 million), the unemployment rate was 6.2 per cent, the employment rate (the proportion of Canadians actively employed among the total working age population) was 63.7 per cent, and part-time work made up 18.5 per cent of total jobs.

Today, there are more Canadians in the labour market (18.7 million), the unemployment rate is at 7.3 per cent, the employment rate has dropped to 61.9 per cent and the share of part-time jobs has risen to historic highs of more than 19 per cent.

He noted that Canada's recovery period flooded the economy with too many poor quality temporary jobs, contract jobs and other more 'precarious' forms of work - filled by Canada's most vulnerable working populations, including women, temporary foreign workers, new immigrants and youth.

"It's time for the Conservative government to stop just waiting for disaster to strike and start putting measures in place to deal with this impending crisis. This must come in the form of a good jobs strategy, which would promote the creation of sustainable full-time, permanent employment."


Long Term Care Rally in London

CAW members took their Minimum Care Standards campaign to the office of Ontario Minister of Health and Long Term Care Deb Matthews in London on September 7.

CAW Leadership, members and activists rally outside Ontario Minister of Health and Long Term Care Deb Matthews office.

CAW members from across southwestern Ontario presented more than 10,000 signed post cards from concerned citizens who are demanding the provincial government enact minimum care standards for residents of long-term care facilities. Matthews didn't attend and the cards were presented to an assistant.

The CAW campaign calls for 3.5 hours of care per day, per resident as the minimum needed to protect seniors in long term care facilities.

Shawn Rouse, president of the CAW's Ontario Health Care Council, said the standard is long-overdue. The minimum standard of care was removed from the Long Term Care act by the Mike Harris Conservative government. Despite eight years of Liberal government it has not been reinstated.

To find out more about the campaign, please visit here


CAW to Endorse NDP in Upcoming Manitoba Election

CAW local union leadership and staff met September 9 to plan the union's strategy going into the upcoming Manitoba provincial election.

Manitoba Minister of Labour and Immigration Jennifer Howard addressed the group, as did Winnipeg Labour Council President Dave Sauer and CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

Lewenza announced the CAW's support for the NDP in its campaign for re-election in Manitoba.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza was joined by CAW Local 468 members Sam Doyle, Bernie McLellan, Bob Mensforth and Jim McIntosh at a recent Manitoba election meeting of CAW leadership.




Labour College Graduates

Labour College of Canada Graduates on September 2, 2011 at the CAW's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

Pictured from L to R in the front row are: Frank Wright (Local 3007 ), Rachelle Cohoe (Local 444), CAW Education Director Lisa Kelly, Eric Leukert (Local 444), CAW National President Ken Lewenza, Michelle Harwood (Local 584) Back row, Sarjoo Molitol (Local 1285), Wayne MacLean (Local 444), Jeff Armstrong (Local 222)


Nominations for the Bud Jimmerfield Award

The annual Bud Jimmerfield Award which recognizes an outstanding CAW Health, Safety, Environment or Workers' Compensation activist will be made at the CAW's December council meeting.

The award is in recognition of the late Bud Jimmerfield, president of CAW Local 89. Bud passed away after contracting cancer of the esophagus from exposure to metalworking fluids during 30 years of work at an automotive parts plant in southern Ontario.

A few months before his death, Bud gave a moving speech to the December 1997 CAW Council meeting urging all delegates to fight for the living and to work hard to prevent future occupational diseases, death and injuries.

Eligible health, safety, environment or workers' compensation activists must be CAW members and must be nominated by their local union leadership or local workplace leadership. These activists must have shown leadership in helping fellow workers and participated in activities beyond their workplace.

Nominations for the Bud Jimmerfield Award must be sent to the CAW Health and Safety Department no later than Friday, November 4. For more information, please email: cawhse@caw.ca

Shipyard Re-opens in Nova Scotia

The CAW celebrated along with the government of Nova Scotia and Irving Shipbuilding the grand re-opening of the Shelburne, N.S. shipyard. In attendance were Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter, Nova Scotia MLA, area councillors and Shelburne Mayor Al Delaney.

Pictured here: Irving Shipbuilding CEO Jim Irving, National Representative Carla Bryden and CAW Local 9 President Danny Branscombe.

Combined, Irving and the provincial government have invested $16 million into the yard and now anticipate hiring approximately 50 more workers. Shelburne Ship and Repair currently employs 50 CAW Local 9 members.

"This was the first time in the last 20 years that I can remember something opening in Shelburne, instead of closing," said Danny Branscombe, CAW Local 9 president. "It was truly a great day for the town and for our members."

The yard originally opened in 1939.


Deadline passes; Marchionne
scolds union boss King

Bryce G. Hoffman, Christina Rogers
and Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News

September 15, 2011

Talks between Chrysler Group LLC and the United Auto Workers collapsed Wednesday night after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on a new national contract ahead of an 11:59 p.m. deadline. Chrysler and the union agreed to extend the contract for another week.

General Motors Co. and the union continued bargaining passed the midnight deadline Thursday. Negotiators finally broke for the night around 1 a.m., ultimately agreeing to extend the old contract beyond the expiration date.

GM and the union planned to resume negotiations Thursday at 8 a.m.

Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne sent a strongly worded letter to UAW President Bob King at 10 p.m., rebuking the union leader for failing to even show up at the bargaining table. Marchionne flew back from the Frankfurt Motor Show early Wednesday, missing a scheduled meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel so that he could be present to finalize an agreement.

"You and I met last weekend and agreed that we had to get this new contract agreed and signed by today," Marchionne wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News from a source close to the negotiations. "I flew back from the Frankfurt Motor Show late last night to be here today to finalize the dialogue that has been started by our teams but that required your presence and mine to conclude. You, unfortunately, could not be here, I am told, due to competing engagements."

The UAW did not respond to requests for comment, but King had said Tuesday that he was confident that the union could conclude negotiations with both Chrysler and GM General Motors Co. by the midnight deadline. He earlier said he hoped to avoid the drama that has characterized previous contract talks and demonstrate his union's commitment to cooperation with all three American automakers.

Optimism ran high earlier Wednesday that deals would be struck between both automakers and the union, which are eager to show American taxpayers and investors that they have put to rest old conflicts and are working together to advance the automotive industry.

"Until now, there have been encouraging signs of a new paradigm governing the relationship between us," Marchionne wrote. "You and I failed … today. We did not accomplish what leaders who have been tasked with the turning of a new page for this industry should have done. We did not manage to agree to a set of simple conditions that would have given certainty and peace of mind to the lives of more than 110,000 actives and retirees."

Marchionne said he was leaving the United States, but he offered to extend the current contract for another week. Under their federal bailout agreements, the unions cannot call a general strike against GM or Chrysler.

The UAW sent a text message to local union presidents shortly after midnight informing them that a one-week extension had been signed with the Auburn Hills automaker.

"The last details are the hardest," said labor expert Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research. "So it's not surprising they would need to extend the contract to work out those details."

It was unclear whether GM and the union had signed a formal extension of the old contract, but the automaker's plants were still working under the former agreement.

"We have made much progress toward reaching an agreement with GM," UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who leads the union's national GM section, said in a message to workersWednesday. "It is our goal to resolve all issues without going to arbitration. We are confident that we can reach an agreement that will meet many of the goals we set at the beginning of negotiations."

In light of the no-strike rule, binding arbitration is the only recourse, absent an agreement with GM and with Chrysler.

The union gave up its right to strike the two automakers as a condition of their 2009 bailout by the federal government.

The outcome of this year's negotiations has major political implications for the Obama administration, which spent more than $80 billion of taxpayer money to rescue GM, Chrysler and — by extension — the UAW in 2009. About $14 billion of that will never be recouped.

The union and the automakers were eager to reach a successful, drama-free accord, to demonstrate to the nation and to investors that they have shed the confrontational habits of the past.

GM took the lead in this year's negotiation with the UAW. Chrysler was willing to let it.

A sort of shuttle diplomacy developed between the two automakers and the UAW. As agreements were reached on key issues, union negotiators would take the tentative language over to Auburn Hills. In some cases, Chrysler simply signed off on it; in others, it would negotiate changes that then went back to GM for approval.

Even before formal negotiations began in late July, King was pushing for a deal that allowed his members to share in the financial recovery of Detroit's Big Three without adding significantly to the companies' fixed costs.

Early on, the UAW president said the best way to do that would be through some sort of profit-sharing scheme that put more money into workers' pockets in good years while keeping the automakers competitive in down years.

That approach was embraced by all three car companies, which were eager to preserve the gains they made in 2009. With GM and Chrysler teetering on the brink of collapse, the federal government forced the union to make sweeping concessions to the automakers as a condition of the taxpayer bailout.

These deals eliminated some holiday pay, froze cost-of-living adjustments, cut some health benefits and ended the controversial jobs bank that continued to provide pay and benefits to idled workers. They also gave the companies greater flexibility in how work was divided on the factory floor.

Ford, which did not seek federal aid, was able to negotiate similar terms on its own. These concessions effectively closed the labor cost gap between the Big Detroit Three and foreign automakers operating in other parts of the United States.

Since then, all three companies have rebounded. Sales are up and so is their share of the domestic market. GM earned $4.7 billion in 2010 and another $5.7 billion in the first half this year. Chrysler expects to return to profitability by the end of this year. And autoworkers have been clamoring for their share.

Some want to see the concessions made in 2009 and even 2007 reversed. But most are just looking to recoup some of their lost earnings. A more-generous profit sharing system would do that without permanently increasing the companies' labor costs.

So would a big signing bonus. In 2007, workers at all three companies received $3,000 for ratifying the agreements. This year, workers are hoping for significantly larger checks.

Some workers may see real wage increases in a the new contract. Compensation for entry-level employees has been a major point of contention ever since the UAW agreed to a two-tier wage system in 2007. Workers hired since then make between $14 and $16 an hour.

King says that's not a living wage, and the discrepancy with more veteran workers — who make twice as much — has caused tension on the assembly line. King has called for more money for lower-wage workers.

Ford workers will have to wait longer for an agreement. On Tuesday, the UAW extended its agreement with the Dearborn automaker.

However, representatives from Ford and the union have an arbitration hearing scheduled for todayÖ to settle an outstanding grievance claiming hourly workers have not been treated fairly by the company.

The UAW filed the complaint after a resurgent Ford reinstated perks and bonuses for salaried employees last year.

The hope was the grievance would be resolved before contract talks even though the two are not connected. The grievance was not resolved and moved to arbitration. A closed hearing will be held today.

at an undisclosed Detroit location.

The two sides may wrap up their arguments in a single day, but a decision is expected to take time to render.


Ford to pay off $1.8B of debt

It's also working on UAW deal in bid to improve status

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
September 14, 2011

Ford Motor Co. will pay down $1.8 billion of its long-term debt today and continues to negotiate a new agreement with the United Auto Workers as precursors to restoring the investment grade status it lost in 2006.

"We've fixed the business fundamentals," Lewis Booth, Ford chief financial officer, said Wednesday at the UBS Frankfurt Auto Show Investor Conference. "The only real stumbling block is to get past the UAW negotiations successfully."

Ford's four-year contract expired at midnight but was extended to keep plants running as talks continue.

The UAW wanted agreements with General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC first.

Booth told investors he thinks economic uncertainty is also affecting an upgrade of Ford's credit rating.

"They think our financial metrics are working at investment grade now," he said, referring to Moody's Investors Services, which has Ford two notches below grade.

At the end of June, total debt was $14 billion. Ford is using its $22 billion in cash reserves to retire the final $1.8 billion of a $7 billion long-term loan secured in 2006 and maturing at the end of 2013.

Automotive debt will be about $10 billion in 2015, far from the $33.6 billion at the end of 2009, Booth said.

"If cash continues to grow, we'll look at further shareholder actions," Booth said, without elaborating.

"Paying down the debt is a further sign of confidence in their business plan," said Charles Booth, senior managing director of Conway MacKenzie Inc. in Birmingham.

"When companies are nervous, they have a hard time parting with cash," he said.

In other projections, Booth said revenue and pricing will improve and capital spending will increase $500,000 to $6 billion.

Booth said the automaker will cut costs and respond accordingly if the economy experiences significant downturns.

But the company is leaner and better able to weather turmoil.

"Our balance sheet is a lot cleaner than two years ago."


UAW negotiations go down to wire

Bryce G. Hoffman, Alisa Priddle and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
September 14, 2011

The lights burned late in Detroit and Auburn Hills Tuesday night, as negotiators for General Motors Co., Chrysler Group LLC and the United Auto Workers pressed to nail down tentative agreements on a national contract before tonight's deadline.

Though all say some heavy lifting remained, the two automakers and the union still hope to reach tentative agreement before their current contracts expire at 11:59 p.m.

Key issues on the bargaining table include profit sharing, health care costs, buyouts, product commitments and job security, and raises for entry-level workers who make half as much as veteran employees. Contract signing bonuses also are under discussion.

UAW President Bob King wants a contract that allows his 113,000 members — who made significant concessions to help the companies survive the industry crisis — to share in the newfound prosperity without putting the automakers at a competitive disadvantage with their foreign rivals.

"We're bargaining hard and hoping to reach an agreement," King said late Tuesday.

Neither GM nor Chrysler would comment on the talks, though both said negotiations were continuing.

Talks at Ford Motor Co., meanwhile, remained on the back burner; the automaker and the union agreed Tuesday to an indefinite contract extension that will keep production going, uninterrupted, past the deadline.

"Ford and the UAW have agreed to continue bargaining past the expiration of the current contract in an effort to reach a tentative agreement that is in the best interest of both parties," said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans. "At this time, however, we are not going to provide further comment about the nature of our discussions, or speculate about timing or the potential outcome of our talks."

Significantly, the union did not sign extensions with GM or Chrysler — proof of the UAW's confidence that agreements will be reached before Thursday morning.

On Tuesday, Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany he hoped an agreement could be reached by the deadline. But he stressed that significant disagreements remained between his Auburn Hills-based company and the union.

Less drama than usual

King is keen to demonstrate through these negotiations that the UAW has moved beyond the confrontational approach that characterized past contract talks. Reaching an agreement ahead of tonight's deadline would be a powerful symbol of the union's new spirit of cooperation.

"We have never had an agreement before the deadline in recent history," said labor expert Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, noting that this year's negotiations have seen far less drama than previous talks.

"They're not doing the marathon 'I-can-stay-up-later-than-you-can' game. There's not a lot of posturing going on."

In 2007, negotiations did not even begin in earnest until the previous contract expired. Weeks of grueling, around-the-clock bargaining and strikes followed at GM and Chrysler.

GM in the lead

GM is taking the lead in this year's contract negotiations. As its negotiators reach an agreement with the union on a key issue, union bargainers take the tentative language to Auburn Hills and present it to Chrysler as well. Ford seems content to wait for the other two automakers.

"Ford almost has to go last," Dziczek said, noting that the Dearborn automaker is the only one of Detroit's Big Three that can be struck by the union. The UAW gave up its right to strike GM and Chrysler as a condition of their 2009 bailout by the federal government.

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, head of the union's national Ford division, sent a letter to local leaders Tuesday afternoon outlining terms of the contract extension.

"As in years past, one company is chosen as the primary target," he wrote. "(This year) it will be either GM or Chrysler, but it will not be Ford."

Settles stressed it was important for workers to continue performing their jobs.

"We are confident that once an agreement is reached, you will be pleased and supportive," he said.

While GM is taking the lead, Chrysler remains the biggest wild card — in part because of Marchionne himself. Chrysler's boss also is the CEO of Italy's Fiat SpA, which took over the Auburn Hills automaker after it went bankrupt in 2009.

"He's been very tough with the CAW," Dziczek said of Marchionne. "He's been very tough with the Italian unions."


Chrysler, GM fight clock in UAW talks; Ford on back burner

They seek deal by Wednesday deadline

Alisa Priddle, Bryce G. Hoffman and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
September 13, 2011

Bargainers at Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. are spending long hours with the United Auto Workers to reach an agreement by the expiration of the contract — or as close to Wednesday's midnight deadline as possible.

Ford Motor Co. is the notable exception: Talks in Dearborn are trailing crosstown rivals.

Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, said Monday that the automaker will "most probably" need to extend the four-year contract past the Sept. 14 expiration.

The companies and the union are seeking an agreement that rewards 113,000 hourly workers for the industry's rising fortunes, without imposing higher fixed costs that make the companies uncompetitive.

UAW members have swallowed significant concessions in recent years as part of their contribution to save the domestic auto industry.

GM bargainers were still talking Monday night.

While General Motors has taken the lead among the Detroit Three automakers, each company will put its unique stamp on its contract, depending on its needs and special circumstances.

GM and Chrysler talks have been dealing with the big issues, including profit sharing, health care, signing bonuses and increased wages for second-tier workers at half the pay of veteran auto workers. Sources on both sides said they were getting close to an agreement.

Local presidents were told to keep their cell phones on Monday night in case a deal was reached.

The marathon bargaining sessions at GM and Chrysler suggest a deal is imminent. But the around-the-clock talks that have historically marked the final stage of negotiations had not yet begun as of Monday.

Ford talks remained at the subcommittee level and the large economic matters were not yet on the table.

Ford was the only Detroit carmaker not to take government bailout money or file for bankruptcy in 2009.

Factory workers at Ford plants can strike if talks hit a deadlock.

UAW members at GM and Chrysler gave up that right when the companies took emergency aid to survive two years ago.


Ford seeks $2B award
reversal in dealers suit

Ohio group alleges automaker broke truck price agreement

Margaret Cronin Fisk/ Bloomberg News
September 12, 2011

Ford Motor Co. asked an Ohio appeals court to reverse a $2 billion judgment awarded in June to a class of commercial truck dealers who claimed the company overcharged them for 11 years.

The dealers sued Ford in 2002, claiming the company broke an agreement to sell trucks at published prices, which forced them to pay more from 1987 through 1998 and cut into profits. Cuyahoga County Judge Peter J. Corrigan in June upheld a $4.5 million verdict awarded to one Ohio dealer in February by a Cleveland jury.

The Cleveland judge also said Ford had to pay similar damages and interest to a class of about 3,000 other dealers.

The judge improperly found Ford liable before trial for breach of franchise agreements and prevented the company from defending itself on damages, the automaker said in a Sept. 2 filing with the Court of Appeals for Cuyahoga County in Cleveland. Ford also said Corrigan shouldn't have applied his findings on one dispute across hundreds of thousands of transactions involving other dealers.

"The trial court's grant of summary judgment on liability exemplifies the court's repeated and erroneous election to take away from the jury key questions on liability and damages," Ford's lawyers said in court papers. "The trial court deprived Ford of its rights to due process and a trial by jury."

The total $2 billion award is five times higher than the amount of the largest-ever jury award against Dearborn-based Ford in a lawsuit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

The court's judgment was the largest of any type in Ohio history, Ford said in its appeal. "That staggering judgment was as unwarranted as it was unprecedented," the company's lawyers wrote. "It resulted from a series of serious errors by the trial court, any one of which compels reversal."

Ford wasn't denied any rights, James Lowe, the dealers' lawyer, said in an interview Friday. Corrigan's treatment of the suit by awarding damages to the class was "perfectly appropriate," he said.

"I think Ford would have been happy to have 3,000 trials," he said.


UAW members to expect much higher signing bonus


Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
September 11, 2011

Contract talks are continuing between the United Auto Workers union and Detroit automakers this weekend, as they work toward a Wednesday night deadline.

Auburn Hills-based Chrysler Group LLC is letting General Motors Co. handle most of the negotiations with the UAW, then fine tuning those terms when necessary.

UAW President Bob King and other senior negotiators are moving back and forth between the two companies, according to people familiar with the situation.

Sources say UAW members can expect a far more substantial signing bonus this year in order to make up for an agreement to not significantly add to the fixed costs of the Detroit Three.

But reports that it could be as high as $10,000, which is about three times what union members received for ratifying the last national contract in 2007, are being described as too high. A large signing bonus will likely mean giving up cost-of-living adjustments and other pay increases, at least for Tier I workers — more veteran employees.

Chrysler and the UAW remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached by the deadline. If not, the deadline could be extended.

Under terms of their government bailouts, strikes may not be called at GM or Chrysler.

Ford Motor Co. and the UAW had subcommittee meetings Saturday. Major economic issues including signing bonuses are not yet on the table. Ford talks will not resume until Monday.


UAWAuto labour talks rev up

Deadline looms as UAW, Big 3 leaders step in

Christina Rogers and Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News

Septermber 10, 2011

The top guns are coming to the table in a sign that talks between the United Auto Workers and Detroit's automakers — General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC in particular — have hit a critical stage leading up to Wednesday's deadline.

UAW President Bob King has been spending considerable time the past two days with GM's bargainers at the GM-UAW's human resources center in Detroit, where negotiations are taking place.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne on Friday said he would become personally involved in the Auburn Hills-based company's negotiations over the weekend.

Negotiators at Ford Motor Co. also are stepping up the intensity of talks, which have been mired at the subcommittee level.

Those committees will work today with the goal of clearing up minor issues, so they can target larger, economic ones, said a person familiar with the discussions.

The UAW's four-year agreements with the Detroit automakers expire Wednesday.

GM has taken the lead in this year's round of labor talks with its negotiations advancing at a faster clip than those at Ford and Chrysler.

But Chrysler talks have been following in lockstep, and insiders say a tentative agreement at GM would likely be followed fairly quickly by a deal with Chrysler.

The Chrysler talks have stumbled on key issues including health care costs.

Negotiators on both sides of the table at GM are still talking about a variety of topics and haven't zeroed in on specific numbers on topics like profit sharing or entry-level pay, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because the talks are private.

But King's presence at the bargaining meetings Thursday and Friday indicates negotiations are intensifying.

"I would take it as a signal they're talking about the core economic issues," said Kristin Dziczek, a labor analyst at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter would say only that "talks are progressing. We continue to discuss a variety of items with our union partners."

Ford is prepared to extend the contract past Wednesday to continue talking, if necessary, Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth told investors at a London conference Friday.

Ford is the only Detroit carmaker whose unionized workers did not lose their right to strike as part of a government bailout. The rank-and-file voted overwhelmingly last week to give its leadership the authority to call a strike if needed.

Even so, Ford execs say a competitive labor deal is key to its goal of returning to investment-grade status and paying dividends again.

Rating service Moody's Investors Service has increased Ford's credit rating by four notches since the end of 2009 to two notches below investment grade now, Booth said at the UBS investor conference.

"I think it's pretty clear they're (Moody's) not going to move at all on us until we've finished the negotiations on the UAW and demonstrated that we will get a competitive pay settlement," Booth said.

"Then I think the second notch will take another couple quarters of performance from us and some clarity about the economic environment," Booth said.

UAW leaders say they want to keep American carmakers competitive with foreign rivals and aren't looking to add to labor costs. The union is asking for bigger bonus checks, rather than automatic pay increases.

It's also seeking to elevate wages for entry-level workers, which are about $14-$16 an hour, about half the veteran pay.

Barclays Capital, in a report Friday, said it thinks larger profit-sharing checks and wage increases for the so-called second-tier workers won't spook investors. A $2-an-hour raise for the entry-level worker will add $250 million to GM's labor costs and $230 million to Ford's from 2012 to 2015, a figure most investors are comfortable with.

Ford has the highest per-worker labor costs at $58 an hour, including bonuses and benefits. GM's per-worker costs are $56 an hour, while Chrysler is at $49 an hour, a rate competitive with Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. plants in the United States.

But the Big Three's labor costs are still more expensive than those paid to workers at Hyundai Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG — two automakers that only recently opened U.S. factories.


Retiree “Arnold Tilley”
Passes Away!

Our deepest condolences go out to his
family from CAW Local 584 Retirees.


TILLEY, Arnold Eldon Peacefully at Wellington Terrace, Fergus on Monday September 5, 2011 in his 98th year. Beloved husband of the late Irene Ritchie (1995). Sadly missed by many nieces and nephews.

Predeceased by sister Inez Hills and brothers Harold, Albert, Wesley and Kenneth Tilley. Arnold was raised on a farm in West Luther Township, near Monck. As a young man he left the farm to work at de Havilland to work on the Mosquito Bomber.

He was recruited to the army and was training in Manitoba when the war ended. Following that Arnold returned to Toronto to work for the Ford Motor Co. until his retirement in 1988. He returned to this area to live at the Highland Manor and Wellington Terrace, both in Fergus.

Visitation will be held at the Crawford Funeral Home 243 George St., Arthur on Saturday September 10, 2011 from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service at 10:30 am. in the Crawford Chapel. Interment Union Cemetery, Grand Valley to follow.

Remembrances to the Wellington Terrace Long Care Home, Fergus would be greatly appreciated by the family.


September 9, 2011
Volume 41, No. 30


Overwhelming Ratification at Johnson Controls

CAW Local 222 members who work at auto parts maker Johnson Controls in Whitby, Ontario have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a new three-year collective agreement.

Production workers voted 85 per cent in favour of the agreement and skilled trades 88 per cent in favour at a ratification meeting August 28.

Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW president, said it was a tough round of bargaining that centered on ensuring that jobs at Johnson Controls (JCI) in Whitby remained in Canada. During negotiations management informed the union that they were going to move the jobs to a JCI facility in Michigan.

"This was a fight over 165 Canadian jobs," said Dias. "We were determined to save these jobs."

"Workers in the auto parts sector across Canada have faced tremendous stress and uncertainty in recent years as employer after employer have demanded concessions and cutbacks and threatened closures," Dias said. "Our fightback at JCI in Whitby is part of our union's ongoing commitment to preserve jobs in the autoparts sector."

JCI workers produce door pads and floor consoles for the Chevrolet Impala as well as seats for the Camaro, assembled at GM's Oshawa facilities.


Ticket Tellers Take Aim at Woodbine Automation Plans

CAW Local 2007 has launched a public awareness campaign that takes aim at Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) plans to fully automate ticket-taking operations in gaming houses across the Greater Toronto Area.

Hundreds of local gaming sector jobs are on the line at racetracks and off-track teletheatres as WEG ramps up efforts to replace live mutuel tellers with automated machines.

On August 24, a group of CAW activists from across the GTA joined with Local 2007 members to hold a public information leaflet at Woodbine Racetrack in Rexdale (a community located north-west of downtown Toronto) - the latest in a series of campaign actions planned over the coming weeks.

The union is raising concern over the company's new automation strategy, which is causing anger and confusion among workers and patrons.

"The company is pushing full steam ahead to replace its workers with machines, and hasn't yet stopped to ask anyone if this is a good idea," said Bob Orr, assistant to the CAW National President.

"They're stripping away jobs and, in some cases, important work hours from its staff. At the same time they're stripping their own patrons of the right to choose how they place their bets."

CAW activists across the GTA who took part in a leaflet drop at Woodbine Racetrack.



As part of their campaign efforts, union members have begun a cross-town leafleting drive at teletheatres (as well as Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks), informing patrons of WEG's automation plans and encouraging them to speak out.

CAW Local 2007 President Bob Ciprick, who represents over 380 mutuel tellers at Woodbine, said the general response from patrons so far has been positive.

"Our members deal with these customers each and every day, and have built strong working relationships with them over time. They are equally as frustrated with this decision as we are," Ciprick said.

The CAW has not yet called for a full boycott of Woodbine teletheatres, but is instead encouraging customers to place their bets at off-track locations that still employ live tellers.


New Agreement Overwhelmingly Approved at Great Blue Heron

CAW Local 1090 members who work at the Great Blue Heron Casino have voted 75 per cent in favour of a new three-year collective agreement that resists company demands for concessions and makes gain for workers.

The new agreement provides monetary increases in each year, some benefit and language improvements especially regarding seniority rights.

CAW National Representative Kim Power said it was a difficult round of bargaining with an employer demanding rollbacks during tough economic times.

"I'm extremely proud of our bargaining committee and the membership who supported them as together we fought off demands for concessions and instead brought back an agreement that we can build on," Power said.

CAW Local 1090 President Steve Batchelor complimented the membership and bargaining committee for their hard work.

"I truly believe this round of bargaining built incredible solidarity among the membership," said Batchelor.

"Over and above the monetary improvements, this agreement provides a commitment from the employer to initially increase full time jobs as well as reviewing the full-time/part-time compliment of workers on an ongoing basis," he said.

Local 1090 represents more than 790 full-time and part-time workers at the casino, located in Port Perry, Ontario. Workers voted on the tentative agreement at a series of ratification meetings on September 2.


Over the Top Response to Shrimp Allocation, FFAW says

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy said he is "flabbergasted' to hear that Newfoundland shrimp processing companies want a 3,000 metric tonne shrimp allocation limited to offshore shrimp vessels only.

The quota in question belongs to St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc (SABRI), a community-based group on the tip of the Northern Peninsula, which for the past 14 years has engaged Clearwater Seafoods to catch the quota using an offshore vessel. Clearwater and SABRI are partners in the operations of St. Anthony Seafoods, which processes shrimp in the town employing FFAW/CAW members.

This year SABRI asked Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield for approval to have the quota caught by inshore vessels and processed at the plant in St. Anthony. Ashfield approved the request, which means extra fishing opportunities for inshore shrimpers and extra work for St. Anthony plant workers.

But McCurdy said the backlash from other processors has been "over the top." "Now they're opposing a 3,000 m.t. allocation that would provide badly-needed work for a hard-pressed area," McCurdy said.

The FFAW-CAW has recommended to Ashfield that the harvesting of this allocation by the inshore sector continue and that fishing opportunities be expanded within the inshore fleet to benefit as many enterprises as possible.

McCurdy said the processors' position would result in shrimp being processed in Iceland or Greenland instead of St. Anthony.

The FFAW/CAW represents 150 workers at St. Anthony Seafoods and approximately 1,400 inshore shrimp harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Injured Workers Occupy MPP Offices in Ontario

Injured workers struggling to deal with poverty because of a flawed workers' compensation system occupied the offices of six MPPs in Ontario, including those belonging to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

"After more than 15 years of Tory cuts followed by Liberal inaction, injured workers are sinking deeper into poverty," said Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan. He also cautioned that the election of Hudak on October 6 would make the outlook for injured workers much worse because of his plans for Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) changes.

"Tim Hudak has made it clear that his WSIB reforms will take more money out of the pockets of injured workers to serve the interests of employers," Ryan said in a release.

CAW members joined injured workers, members of other unions and activists including many from the Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups in the occupations on August 17. The OFL release indicated that injured workers are still attempting to get by on almost 20 per cent less than in 1996.

In addition to recovering cost-of-living increases, the protestors highlighted the need to end the practice of "deeming" that "cuts their benefits based on the assumption they are employed, even when they are not."


Families Squeezed by Rising University Tuition Fees, Report Says

The cost of a university education in Ontario is a growing financial burden on students and their families, especially for low and middle income families, a new report indicates.

The report entitled 'Under Pressure: The impact of rising tuition fees on Ontario families' examines major financial shifts that have negatively impacted students and families over the past 20 years. It highlights how low and middle income families are increasingly struggling to pay the $6,500 per year price of university tuition and other associated expenses.

"Paying for an expensive university education is a burden that not only falls on individual students, it deeply affects Ontario's parents as well," said David Macdonald, associate researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, who prepared the report.

"The combination of record high household debt, stagnating incomes, and steadily rising tuition fees have made it much harder for Ontario families to get their kids through school."

Today, Canadian families have debt equal to 150 per cent of disposable income on average, compared to 93 per cent in 1990, the study shows, which highlights the explosion in housing prices, particularly in urban areas, as a major culprit.

At the same time, low and middle income families make less or about the same in after-tax income compared to what they earned in 1990. During the same period Ontario students have struggled with a 244 per cent real tuition rate increase.

Government policy must address the financial burden of a university education in Ontario, said Sandy Hudson of the Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario.

"Leading up to the provincial election, students and their families expect the political parties to address the issue of cost and the mounting debt that comes with pursuing a university degree," Hudson said.

The study outlines alternatives to increased financial downloading on families including reversing the 2009 Ontario corporate tax cut.

The report was commissioned by the Ontario University Coalition, which is made up of organizations representing students, staff and faculty from the post-secondary education sector. The CAW is a member organization.

To read the complete report, please visit: Here


CAW Local 199 Leads Way on Niagara Health System Changes

The long overdue appointment of a Supervisor to take over the Niagara Health System can be credited, in part to the actions of CAW Local 199 in St. Catharines, Ontario and other partners.

The Niagara Health System (NHS) operates three area hospitals in St. Catharines, Welland and Niagara, Ontario and has come under fire in the past two years for major cuts to staff and services, including emergency departments. Most recently the NHS has declared a C Difficile outbreak, that many believe may have been covered up for months. (C Difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and other serious intestinal conditions and is a particular concern for hospital patients and long-term care facility residents).

CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates has been an active member of the Niagara Health Coalition for several years and was recently elected to the Niagara Falls City Council.

He has been a strong health care advocate, pressuring for change by the Ministry of Health And Long Term Care to clean up the NHS.

On August 10, Local 199 hosted a public press conference, for the first time allowing surviving family members the opportunity to share their heartbreaking stories of loss caused directly by the C Difficile outbreak in NHS, that has to date claimed the lives of 33 people.

More than 100 concerned citizens, as well as several members of the media, listened to the heartbreaking stories regarding the outbreak.

"There were very few dry eyes in the house, as people told their personal stories, of what could have very likely been preventable deaths of their loved ones," said Gates.

"Getting a supervisor appointed is just the first step; we will have to be diligent in making sure our health care system leaves no one behind," said Gates.

All CAW members are encouraged to take part in the Ontario Health Coalition's Public Rally at Queens Park, September 13, 2011 at noon. Buses will be sent from most communities and you can contact your local coalition or visit http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/ for further information.


Save City Services, Defend Good Jobs

A Community Day of Action to stop cuts to city services is planned for Monday, September 26 at Toronto City Hall including plans for a rally outside the city council meeting.

Rally for Toronto! gets underway at 5:30 p.m. outside the Toronto City Council meeting. On September 26, Toronto City Council will meet to discuss the Core Service Review and the 2012 budget. Residents from across the city are asked to speak out in defence of city services and the need for good jobs in the city.

"Our message to City Hall is: build Toronto, don't destroy it. Together, we can stop the cuts, closures, privatization and user fees that will have an impact on every neighborhood in Toronto," states a rally flyer.

Email RallyforToronto@gmail.com to connect with local initiatives in your area. You can find out more at www.facebook.com/RespectToronto

Famine in East Africa - Oxfam

CAW President Ken Lewenza recently sent the following letter to CAW Local unions, urging action by September 16:

Heartbreaking images of badly malnourished children and entire families are now making their way into Canadian newspapers and television channels, as East Africa experiences one of the most devastating famines in the region ever. Two years with little rain has led to a severe and lengthy drought, decimating crops and livestock.

Families with small children are fleeing their villages on foot to far away refugee camps in the hope of accessing food and water. Millions of people are now without the basic necessities of life. More than 3 million people require immediate aid to survive.

To date, aid workers have lamented the slow pace of international donations, with need far, far outpacing basic supplies. The United Nations now estimates that the total number of people in need could rise by 25 per cent and surpass 15 million people if aid efforts are not dramatically increased.

Oxfam Canada is working with the labour movement to raise much needed funds to supply food, shelter and water sanitation support for the region. The CAW Social Justice Fund has already donated $25,000 to Oxfam's efforts. Oxfam Canada is part of the Humanitarian Coalition, a Canadian network of non-governmental organizations providing help in a time of crisis.
Your assistance can make a huge difference. Oxfam has set up an online portal for CAW members to donate. Any donation will be matched by the federal government until September 16.

The CAW has a long history of working in solidarity with Oxfam Canada, dating back to 1992 when CAW supported its Somali relief efforts. In 2003, the CAW raised over $70,000, generously donated by local unions to support Oxfam's famine relief in Ethiopia. Oxfam was able to improve water supply sources and replenish livestock that was lost in the drought. Because of this work in Ethiopia, today the area has not been as hard hit as it would have been by the current drought.

Please consider making a donation to assist with Oxfam's efforts today: http://bit.ly/qOO5Mm

Your generosity can make a huge difference in the lives of the people of East Africa.

For more information on Oxfam's efforts, please visit: http://www.oxfam.ca/


New CAW Ad!

To download a copy of our new ad, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10591.htm
or click poster



Job Forum Cancelled

A forum on The Future of Jobs in Ontario originally scheduled for September 12 at the North York Civic Centre in Toronto has been cancelled.

But for voters and activists who want to remain involved in the lead up to the Ontario provincial election there are many events and projects that highlight the need for an inclusive and progressive political agenda.

Check out the CAW's election web page at http://www.caw.ca/en/10559.htm to get information on events scheduled in your community leading up to the October 6 election.

We Must Set Our Sights Higher
A Labour Day message by CAW National President Ken Lewenza

Labour Day has always offered working Canadians a chance to step back and reflect on our collective achievements. Workplace safety rules. Decent wages and benefits. Work-life balance. Equality. Fairness. Even as a child, marching along Labour Day parade routes in Windsor with my mother and father, I've understood this day as a celebration of social progress and collective prosperity, amid the daily struggle for improved worker rights. And the progress we celebrated benefitted all working families - whether in a union or not.

There's no denying this mood has changed in past decades. The increasing hardships that workers face are turning more and more Canadians towards despair.

Today, many of the jobs on offer are unstable and insecure. Over 3 million Canadians are considered precariously employed, and rising. Employers continue to exploit outdated labour laws and in doing so have formed cracks in the foundation of our labour market and given rise to a growing field of unregulated temp jobs, short-term contract work and involuntary part-time jobs. These uncertain jobs are sprouting, like weeds, across the country.

Canada is a wealthy nation, that's for sure. Our national net worth tops $6 trillion (roughly $185,000 per capita) and rising, even as economic storm clouds loom. There's no secret these spoils are enjoyed by our most affluent citizens. In fact, real wages for millions of workers have essentially flat-lined since the mid 1970s, and the earnings gap in Canada is widening.


CAW National President, Ken Lewenza greets participants at the Windsor Labour Day parade on September 5, 2011

More recently with the global financial crisis, right wing politicians, business leaders and commentators, aided by the media have been extremely successful in making working people feel responsible for causing the damage. That somehow their ability to enjoy a stable retirement and earn a decent wage (even taking a vacation or two) is selfish.

Many have now lost sight of our need to build a stronger, more inclusive society. Why have we set our expectations so low it now seems not losing is the same as winning? And why have working people turned their anger inwards - buying into the perverse logic that somehow they are the enemy, instead of the power-brokers of our unfair, unsustainable, unbalanced and uncaring global economy?

Before his untimely death, federal NDP leader Jack Layton made an appeal to progressive voices in our nation, to choose love over hate, hope over fear and optimism over despair. And this touched a nerve as tens of thousands of Canadians responded en mass with messages of their own.

All Canadians should feel empowered to turn away from the negativity, fear and despair trumpeted by those who find themselves at odds with the greater good. The wealthy and business elite have convinced us to temper our ambitions, scale down our collective goals for a better world. They've told us that our desire to retire with a decent standard of living is too expensive, our plan for quality affordable child care unattainable, our strong public services unaffordable and that an end to poverty and homelessness is unrealistic.

None of this is true. It is only a matter of priorities.

This Labour Day, let's strive to do better. Let's re-set our collective priorities higher than just maintaining the status quo. Let's not shy away from demanding more - from our employers and our politicians.

As we gather for Labour Day festivities and celebrate our historical accomplishments, let's once again embrace a more creative brand of public policy and a more principled politics - those same tools that enabled us to break ground on revolutionary programs like universal health care, the nine-hour work day, workplace democracy and unemployment insurance. And let's do it for the benefit of all, not a privileged few.

As progressives, let's believe once again in the possibility of our ideas - like universal child care, national Pharmacare, electoral fairness, full employment and good jobs, improved public pensions - all of which are well within our reach if we truly commit ourselves to realizing them.

This Labour Day, workers must not only celebrate previous achievements, but set our sights on an agenda for progress to bring about the more just, fair and caring society that so many of us crave.


Unions to play smaller role
in NDP leadership vote

NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel holds a news conference in Ottawa on Sept. 8, 2011.

Toronto Star
Sept 9, 2011

OTTAWA—The labour movement will play a diminished role in choosing the next leader of the federal New Democrats after the party executive decided not to recommend giving greater weight to union votes.

"It is not on the table," NDP interim leader Nycole Turmel told a news conference in Ottawa on Thursday. "It is one member, one vote."

Dozens of New Democrats — from both the grassroots and the upper echelons — are gathering in downtown Ottawa on Friday to set the ground rules for the upcoming race to replace the late Jack Layton as party leader.

The role of the labour movement in selecting the new chief threatened to spark a heated debate at the meeting, but Turmel laid the issue to rest on Thursday following a week of speculation.

The 2003 convention that elected Layton leader was the first time the federal New Democrats used a one-member, one-vote system, but as with previous races it also gave affiliated unions 25 per cent of the vote.

At an NDP policy convention in Quebec City three years later, grassroots members agreed to rid the constitution of that provision in a move to broaden the base of support in the context of new rules that forbid unions and corporations from donating to federal political parties.

Still, it remains at the discretion of the NDP federal council. Without any clear signal from council that favouring union votes not up for discussion, likely candidates began weighing in publicly on whether the provision should remain — exposing potential rifts between them before the race had even begun.

Long-time NDP strategist and likely leadership candidate Brian Topp said Wednesday he remained open to changing the weighted-vote system so long as the labour movement, which he called "a foundational partner," was on board.

Deputy leader Thomas Mulcair, another likely leadership candidate, has said union members should be treated like every other member of the party.

The Conservatives had already begun taking advantage of the opportunity to stress the ties between the New Democrats and labour, even asking Elections Canada on Sunday to investigate whether the NDP had violated financing laws by allegedly allowing unions to sponsor events at their policy convention in Vancouver last June.

After getting the sense that members were uninterested in reopening the debate after adopting a straight one-member, one-vote system in 2006, the party executive decided sometime this week to focus instead on recommending a timeline and entry fee for the leadership race — expected to be significantly higher than the $7,500 required in 2003.

The party executive believes it is highly unlikely that council will go against the 2006 convention decision on the issue.

Rick Pollard, who sits on the federal council as a riding representative from Saskatchewan, noted that even without weighted voting, union endorsements can still carry a lot of sway.

"In our party we place a lot of value on the right of workers to bargain free and fairly and any decision like this will never change that," noting that union endorsements still carry a lot of sway.

Meanwhile, NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar, also seriously considering a leadership bid, addressed concerns that his French is not strong enough to compete with Topp and Mulcair, both fluently bilingual native Quebecers.

"It is about being able to go toe-to-toe with Stephen Harper," Dewar said in an interview Thursday. "We all have something different we can bring, but (French) is something we have seen people work on through time and improve . . . I am, like many people, working on improving that every day."


N.Y. taxi companies
order Transit Connect

The Ford Transit Connect has joined the ranks of taxis in New York City. (Ford)

Sept 9, 2011

Ford Motor Co. says its Transit Connect small van has begun work as a New York City taxi.

The first of the vans began hauling passengers late Tuesday. New York taxi companies have ordered more than 400 of the vans.

The city's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved the van for taxi use for the next two years as it phases out the familiar Ford Crown Victoria and switches to more efficient vehicles. The Nissan NV200 van will be the official taxi starting in the fall 2013. Most of the city's 13,200 taxis are Crown Victorias. But Ford is ending production of the model.


Health costs trip up UAW, Chrysler

But talks advance with GM as Sept. 14 deadline looms

September 8, 2011
Bryce G. Hoffman, Alisa Priddle and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News

With just a week left until their contract expires, Chrysler Group LLC and the United Auto Workers are still far apart on key issues — including health care cost sharing — according to people close to the negotiations.

Talks between the UAW and Chrysler and General Motors Co. have intensified since the beginning of the week, and have now entered a critical stage.

A sort of shuttle diplomacy has developed between GM, Chrysler and the union. As The Detroit News first reported last month, GM has taken the lead in this year's contract talks. Once GM and the UAW reach tentative agreements on major issues, union negotiators are taking that language to Chrysler.

GM CEO Dan Akerson met with UAW President Bob King Tuesday, a source close to the talks said, and negotiations are proceeding smoothly between the company and the union. But talks appear to have hit a snag at Chrysler.

"We are nowhere near an agreement," one person familiar with the situation in Auburn Hills told The News Wednesday.

Nonetheless, all sides remain optimistic that an agreement can be reached between the union, GM and Chrysler by the time the contract expires Sept. 14.

The insider said Chrysler and the union disagree about an approach King is proposing on certain issues.

The UAW president has said he wants to look at creative ways to cut health care costs without reducing workers' benefits. Chrysler believes workers should shoulder more of the cost of their own health insurance.

Chrysler's hourly employees are responsible for about 7 percent of their own heath care costs, compared to 33 percent by salaried workers. The average American worker pays about 30 percent. The gap is narrower at GM.

"Chrysler indicated early on that health care might be an issue they would want to take to arbitration," said Kristin Dziczek, a labor analyst at the Center for Automotive Research. "They feel they might win, but they lose control of the outcome if they go into arbitration. It's way better if you negotiate an outcome."

The UAW cannot strike Chrysler or GM under the terms of the federal government's 2009 bailout of those companies. If they cannot reach an agreement on any issue with the union, it must go to binding arbitration. But the companies and the UAW hope to avoid that.

"I just feel like we can do better," King said last week.

Union spokeswoman Michele Martin said Wednesday that "talks are progressing," adding that there is no serious impasse at Chrysler.

Chrysler would not comment on the status of the talks, but confirmed the two sides stayed at the bargaining table all weekend. GM and the UAW also bargained through the weekend.

Talks are progressing more slowly with Ford Motor Co. — the only one of the Big Three automakers that did not go bankrupt and did not receive a federal bailout.

Talks between Ford and the UAW broke off Friday and did not resume until Tuesday. According to a source familiar with those discussions, negotiations between the union and the Dearborn automaker are still at an early stage.

Bargaining is at the subcommittee level, and Ford is prepared to extend the contract past the deadline.

Ford does not have the option of pursuing arbitration and is keen to let the other two companies settle with the union first. The automaker declined comment Wednesday.

"Ford almost has to go last," Dziczek said. "Ford has a membership that wants to see an agreement that is richer than what their counterparts got. Their company is producing better profits and didn't go bankrupt."

Ford wants to make sure it comes out of the negotiations competitive with GM and Chrysler. That means regaining ground lost in 2009 when Ford workers did not agree to concessions that were imposed on its competitors, including a wage freeze on entry-level workers, more flexible work rules and the ability to consolidate some job classifications.

Ford and the UAW also are awaiting the outcome of a court hearing on a grievance filed by the union over raises given last year to salaried employees. The UAW contends that its members should have received similar treatment. A hearing is set for Sept. 15.

A settlement of that grievance could provide the more generous terms Ford workers want.



Ford eager to hire
entry-level workers

Detroit Free Press
Sept 7, 2011

Ford, which is paying its UAW workers more than General Motors and Chrysler, is eager to hire more lower-paid new workers, but first it must find jobs for thousands of veteran workers at plants it will close or sell.

Or it can pay them to retire, but sources close to the contract negotiations previously told the Free Press that the parties have not yet formally discussed buyouts.

Today, Ford has fewer than 100 entry-level workers, compared with about 2,800 at Chrysler. GM says less than 5% of its 49,000 U.S. hourly workforce now earns the entry-level hourly wage of about $14.50. That's considerably more than Ford and is a major reason Ford's average UAW wages and benefits (about $58 an hour) exceed both GM's ($56) and Chrysler's ($49).

While Ford plans to add about 6,250 hourly jobs at U.S. plants in the next two years, about 4,600 Ford workers are employed at plants slated to close or be sold. These include more than 2,000 at former Visteon plants Ford took back in 2005.

GM, which has announced 8,000 new or retained jobs over the next two years, faces a similar dilemma, but with a smaller group of potential transferees -- about 625 workers are on layoff and about 800 work at a Shreveport, La., assembly plant slated to close in June 2012. A few hundred workers at former Delphi plants in New York, Indiana and near Grand Rapids also have transfer rights.

Not all Ford workers have rights to transfer to jobs that become available, but the UAW is negotiating for that right in talks.

"Only 170 people out of about 750 here now have transfer rights," said Paul Shropa, president of UAW Local 879 at Ford's Twin Cities assembly plant, which will end production in December. "We want to get transfers for more of our people."

About 1,360 workers at Ford's Saline instrument panel plant south of Ann Arbor are keenly interested in maintaining or expanding their rights to move to another Ford factory. Last month, Ford reached a tentative agreement to sell the Saline plant to a supplier a Ford spokeswoman declined to identify. The UAW Web site identifies the potential buyer as Faurecia, a French supplier. The sale has not closed.

At a former Visteon steering gear and pump plant in Indianapolis that Ford plans to close next June, about 350 active and laid-off members of UAW Local 1111 all have the right to move when new jobs open at other Ford locations.

"We've got quite a few who don't want to move, depending on their family situations and other jobs," said John Fippen, recording secretary of Local 1111. "But we would probably have more than half who would move."

There's also some uncertainty at Ford's former AutoAlliance joint venture with Mazda in Flat Rock after Mazda said it would make the next generation of its Mazda6 sedan in Japan.

About 1,600 UAW members continue building Mustangs at Flat Rock.


Layton’s memory looms
large at Labour Day parade

Federal interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel, along with Sarah and Mike Layton march in the Labour Day parade on Queen St. West.

September 6, 2011

Gilbert Ndikubwayezu
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Jack Layton’s son had a quick message to send to Canadians who paid respect to his father at this year’s Labour Day parade: “Thank you.”

“The love and support that we’re getting from really everywhere across the country, we’re overwhelmed with that support and we’re so thankful for that,” said Mike Layton as he reached the final point of the parade at the CNE on Monday.

Hundreds of people, many wearing union T-shirts and others pushing strollers, marched from downtown to the CNE in the parade dedicated to the late NDP leader who died of cancer last month.

Although none of the union groups marching at the parade shouted or chanted his name, a huge number of banners and placards carried Jack Layton’s name, pictures and parts of his favourite phrases.

Many were clad in orange T-shirts and orange scarves, official NDP colours. One medal that was worn by hundreds of marchers quoted the late NDP leader as saying, “Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.”

Interim federal NDP leader Nycole Turmel and Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also participated at the parade, where many names of upcoming provincial election candidates were on display.

Horwath said Layton worked very hard for everyday working people, not only to get justice in terms of workplace issues, but to really make a difference for families.

Mike Layton said he advocates for improved services for the people and optimism for the future because he believes that is what his father would have wanted him to do.

“What dad would want me to say is ‘go and live that example. Go out and fight for a better and fairer city,’” he said. “He would want all of us to stop the parade and go knock on doors to try to elect people who share that vision.”

He said the Labour Day parade should open up a dialogue between the leaders and the general public, in a move to help shape the future of public services. Such a dialogue, he said, would help change the minds of elected officials that are sometimes so focused on doing one thing that they lose sight of what the bigger picture is.

“They focus on tax cuts not on how we actually improve the city or the country,” he said.

The Ontario Federation of Labour used Monday’s parade to raise concerns about municipal service cut proposals aimed at shrinking the city budget.

“There is an attack on labour,” Sid Ryan, president of the federation said, in reference to the ongoing debates.

Ryan, who marched in the parade said Torontonians should show Mayor Rob Ford what they actually think of his actions beyond the slogans of “stopping the gravy train.”

Ryan detailed the service cuts proposals that he deemed harmful to people’s ordinary lives, such as closing down libraries, shutting down child care centres and layoffs in public health services.

“I just hope and wish that [Rob Ford] stops this war on workers, on his own employees. He ought to sit down with unions in a mature way and negotiate,” he said. “The city has got some objectives and so do the unions and the workers.”

Other unions and community organizations are also coordinating efforts to shield public services and stop cuts that would “weaken” the city.

“Cuts and privatizations are not ‘opportunities,’ not unless you’re one of the CEOs of the big companies looking to take over our services,” said John Cartwright, president of the Toronto & York Region labour council.

See More Photos Here:

Port Elgin
Labour Day Parade
September 5, 2011


Toronto Labour Day Parade
September 5, 2011


UAW deal may be hard
sell to rank-and-file

September 5, 2011

Donald Harris is tired of hearing Ford executives talk about the need to be "competitive."

"That is like the worst word in the world right now," said Harris, 52, of Canton. "Back in the day, I don't remember hearing 'competitive.' It's like that's their way out now."

The way Harris and many other workers see it, Ford is already competitive. The automaker has raked in $14.3 billion in profits since 2009 and it paid Ford CEO Alan Mulally $26.5 million for 2010.

General Motors has made $10.4 billion since 2010 and Chrysler also would be profitable without costs related to the repayment of government loans.

"They're making profits," said Tim Galvin, 55, who recently wore a "no concessions" T-shirt to work at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant in August. "We are just looking for a small share of that."

As the UAW and the Detroit Three enter an intense phase of negotiations headed toward a Sept. 14 contract deadline, these workers demonstrate how tough it may be to sell a deal to the rank-and-file, who must ratify any deal.

UAW President Bob King, a self-described pragmatist, wants to help preserve the Detroit Three's newfound ability to compete against Asian and German automakers in the U.S. But workers say the company's turnarounds have largely been on their financial backs. They are skeptical of proposed changes to their profit-sharing plan and want the reinstatement of cost-of-living increases and base wage increases.

Sean McAlinden, senior economist for the Center for Automotive Research, said, "The hardest job this summer is probably the negotiations between the UAW leadership and the rank-and-file."

It's payback time, autoworkers say
Autoworkers have an important message for the Detroit Three and their UAW leaders who are racing to negotiate a new national labor contract by the Sept. 14 deadline: It's payback time.

General Motors and Ford have earned a combined $10.7 billion so far this year and Chrysler would be profitable without costs related to the repayment of government loans.

For workers who haven't had a raise in years, it's time to recoup many of the sacrifices they've made to help Detroit automakers to get there.

"We are not trying to get everything we lost back," said Ford employee Donald Harris, 52, of Canton. "Just give us something back -- something to show some appreciation."

"If we could substitute the bigger profit-sharing checks without the raises, I am happy with that," said Ford worker Neal Gibson, 37, of Taylor.

"In my eyes, us employees, us line workers, are the ones that bailed this company out," said Ford worker Jason Hrelja, 41, of Chesterfield Township.

While some workers are flexible about the form of their payback, others are not.

"We took such a hit financially, and now that we are profitable, I feel like we are supposed to get at least the cost-of-living and our raises back," said Robert Brian Hollifield, 44, a worker at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant.

"I am willing to strike," he added. "I don't know that the union body is planning to do that. But me? I am willing to strike."

King has said repeatedly that he will fight to get workers a larger share of the automakers' newfound profits by revamping a profit-sharing formula for the Detroit Three that dates to 1982.

"We are going to get fair rewards for our membership for their sacrifices and contributions that they make on a daily basis, and we are going to keep the companies competitive and viable for the long term," King told the Free Press in August.

King, who is working to secure commitments from automakers for more jobs in the U.S., is trying to balance the demands of the companies and meet the expectations of his members, who ultimately will vote to accept or reject any agreement.

Entry-level revolt
King has said that gaining pay increases for entry-level workers is one of his highest priorities in talks this year. Entry-level workers are hired at between $14 and $16 per hour, or about half the $28-per-hour wage of traditional workers.

Autoworkers, especially disgruntled hardliners, couldn't agree more.

The Autoworkers Caravan, a UAW dissident group, is urging UAW members to reject any contract that doesn't eliminate an entry-level wage established in 2007.

"Our cut in pay is what is giving them the ability to make a profit," said Drew Williams, a worker at GM's Orion Assembly plant who attended a meeting hosted by the group in August.

Even autoworkers who don't make the lower wage would like to see it changed.

"I don't like to see them having to struggle at the rate of hourly pay that they have to get," said Ford autoworker Curtis Booth, 58, of Inkster, in reference to the entry-level wage.

Jim Theisen, a Chrysler employee who delivers parts to plants, said he hopes the UAW can win higher wages for entry-level workers this year.

"I've been fighting for the second-tier guys since they started hiring them," Theisen said.

Fed-up GM workers
One of the key issues King will try to address is helping workers have more stability after years of being bounced around so they could keep their jobs as the Detroit Three shrank their U.S. manufacturing footprint.

"If you go to any UAW plant today -- Ford, Chrysler, General Motors -- you will find workers from five, 10, 15 different facilities," King said last Monday. "Our members are tired of having to bounce around ... people want to be able to have real long-term security."

At GM, for example, laid-off workers have absorbed all of the about 5,000 jobs GM has added since its bankruptcy.

Thousands have transferred from shuttered plants, creating entire shifts of disgruntled workers who spent months on layoff, only to have to move out of town or out of state to take their next GM job. These disgruntled workers have already voted out swaths of union leadership at their new factory homes, such as Flint Truck or Fairfax, Kan.

At UAW Local 31 in Fairfax, Kan., newly elected president George Ruiz estimates that more than 2,000 of the 3,400 workers relocated from plants that were closed in Janesville, Wis., Spring Hill, Tenn., Wilmington, Del., and elsewhere in recent years.

Still, Leon Chase, 60, who relocated from GM's closed Indianapolis stamping plant to GM's truck plant in Flint, predicts this year's contract will pass."If they have a signing bonus," he said, "they're going to ratify it just for the signing bonus."


UAW's Bob King cautious
about contract deadline

September 5, 2011

UAW President Bob King was cautious today about the status of discussions with the Detroit Three. “I would not describe it that way,” King said when asked if discussions for a new national contract are ahead of schedule.

“I would just say they are going well. You don’t have a deal until the whole deal is done,” King said in an interview today on Spotlight on the News, a WXYZ-TV Channel 7 news program.

The Free Press reported Friday that discussions with General Motors and Chrysler have emerged as favorites to finish first. King was not asked specifically about GM and Chrysler on the Sunday program. The UAW’s four-year contract with GM, Ford and Chrysler expires on Sept. 14.

Despite his caution, King said he is “really upbeat about the auto talks.”

“I think the discussions that are going on are in-depth and there is an understanding of each others issues,” King said.

The UAW leader also said U.S. President Barack Obama, who will speak today in Detroit following a Labor Day parade, has the “full support” of the UAW’s leadership despite an a lackluster economy and an national unemployment rate that stands at 9.1%.

“He saved our jobs,” King said in reference to federal aid to GM and Chrysler in 2009. “Our members know there would not be an American auto industry today without Obama’s leadership.”


Ford workers lean towards authorizing UAW leadership to strike if necessary

Raises, cost of living adjustment at issue as deadline nears

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
September 4, 2011

The United Auto Workers union has a strong mandate to strike Ford Motor Co. if an acceptable new labor agreement is not reached when the current contract expires Sept. 14.

Locals representing about 41,000 hourly Ford workers were asked to complete their votes by Friday. Locals are reporting 97 percent or higher of the membership has authorized UAW leadership to strike if necessary.

While not all results from the 42 Ford locals have been released, key plants in Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky overwhelmingly authorized strike action, according to results from locals over the past week.

Ford is the only Detroit automaker the UAW can strike. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have no-strike clauses from bankruptcy restructuring.

"We respect the bargaining process," said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans.

Bargaining with GM and Chrysler is pacing ahead of Ford, with teams working weekends and big issues on the table. The expectation is the larger GM will set terms that Chrysler will be expected to meet. Ford teams are working long days, but talks are not expected to intensify until after the Labor Day weekend.

President Barack Obama will celebrate Labor Day in Detroit.

A strike authorization vote gives the bargaining team clout to back union demands. Traditionally, at least 90 percent of members vote yes.

While some union officials say the results seem a bit higher than normal, expectations for this year's contract talks vary according to the health of the plant.

"The fat-cat plants want more," said Jimmy Caygill, president of Local 400, which seeks more work for its Romeo Engine Plant and has seen plants close.

"Some (plants) have no worries so obviously they want everything they can get," Caygill said. "There are the haves and the have-nots. The ones who want raises and COLA (cost of living adjustment) have a full plant."

Local 400 voted 98.3 percent to strike. While workers would like wage and benefit gains, additional work and job security are bigger priorities. "My membership is worried," Caygill said.

The mood is different at Dearborn Truck, making F-150s on three shifts, which voted 97 percent in favor of a strike mandate.

Profit sharing and signing bonuses are not enough, according to talk on the floor, said Gary Walkowicz, bargaining committeeman for Local 600. The roughly 2,600 active members at Dearborn Truck are fed up with concessions and with their own union leadership for not fighting to restore their fortunes, he said.

"They think their issues are not being addressed," he said. "And they don't believe Ford's claims of poverty."

Whether the discontent is enough to make people actually strike once an agreement is reached is anyone's guess, Walkowicz said. "But I've heard more people talking about the possibility of a strike than I've ever seen before."

Walkowicz thinks Ford will settle a union grievance as a means to pay workers more. The grievance attests that hourly workers should have received raises and benefit improvements last year when salaried workers did. The grievance is slated to go to arbitration Sept. 15, a day after the contract expires.

"It's a way to keep the pattern and still give Ford workers more money," he said.

Brian Pannebecker, a production worker at the Sterling Heights axle plant and member of Local 228, doesn't see a compelling reason to strike and believes job security comes from Ford's ability to compete and remain profitable. He fears higher labor costs put local jobs at risk.

But he feels he is in the minority. Sterling Heights voted 94.5 percent in favor of a strike.

"Most of the guys voted no (to further cuts as part of restructuring) in 2009, they are done giving up concessions and hope to get a lot back. They will be upset if they don't," Pannebecker said.

Memories can be short. "Some of the fat-cat plants were starving a few years ago," he said. "Once overtime returns, they forget how quickly things can go bad."


CAW chief Lewenza urges NDP to consider merger with Liberals


Globe and Mail
Friday, Sep. 02, 2011

One of Canada's largest trade unions wants the NDP and the Liberal Party to explore the possibility of merging or co-operating in the interests of defeating the federal Conservative government.

The position of the Canadian Auto Workers was outlined in a letter from union president Ken Lewenza to Winnipeg MP Pat Martin Thursday evening and copied to the entire NDP caucus.

Trudeau dismisses NDP-Liberal merger talk "The writing has been on the wall since the Conservative alliance," Mr. Lewenza wrote. "To suggest otherwise would be misleading and not credible. The CAW would be prepared to take part in this [merger] idea in the interest of progressive politics in the interest of all Canadians."

Mr. Lewenza sought Mr. Martin's "guidance and advice" on the issue and described Stephen Harper's merger of the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservative Party as "incredibly successful."

"The debate that might be generated as a result of your public position is one we clearly support," he wrote.

Mr. Martin argued this week in favour of uniting the two largest federal opposition parties, which he said would deliver a "guaranteed majority."

Both parties are in a state of flux, with the NDP set to hold a leadership vote next year after the death of Jack Layton. If no other candidate champions the issue, Mr. Martin has said he will run for the top job himself.

Potential candidates Brian Topp and Thomas Mulcair have shown little or no interest in the idea.

The CAW traditionally backs the NDP and, along with other heavyweights of organized labour, wields considerable influence in the party. Trade union representatives, for instance, have been accorded votes at past leadership conventions.

It is not the first time the CAW has suggested co-operation between the country's centre and left to keep the right from power: during the 2006 election campaign, then-president Buzz Hargrove advocated strategic voting and told reporters the ideal outcome would be a minority Liberal government with a large NDP caucus holding the balance of power in Parliament.


Ford to step up production
of hot vehicles

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
September 2, 2011

Ford Motor Co. will make more of the vehicles that customers can't get enough of in the fourth quarter.

U.S. sales of 175,220 in August were up 11 percent compared with a year ago, but could be higher with a greater supply of hot-sellers such as the new Ford Focus, as well as the Fiesta and Explorer.

The automaker is increasing production to 645,000 in the fourth quarter, 9 percent more than a year ago, and for the full year, production should hit 2.64 million, which is a 10 percent bump in output, said Ford sales analyst George Pipas.

Focus sales were down 9 percent from a year ago, which the automaker blamed on short supply. Ford sold 14,000 Focuses last month compared with almost 15,500 in the same period a year ago. But Pipas said last year at this time, Ford had 27,000 Focuses on dealer lots compared with only 7,000 this year, making the current strong sales somewhat remarkable.

"It's the fastest-turning vehicle on lots," Pipas said, adding his personal order for one was cancelled to give it to another customer.

The good news is that "Focus production is now fully launched," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.

More of the compact vehicles will start arriving at dealerships over the Labor Day weekend, which should help close the gap between supply and demand, he said during a conference call Thursday.

Czubay is also pleased that one in six Focus sales is to a buyer aged 18 to 34, bringing the average consumer age down eight years compared with the previous model. "And they're more likely to come from California and trade in an import," he said, noting the conquest rate is 50 percent higher with the 2012 Focus.

The subcompact Fiesta enjoyed a 76 percent hike in sales, but the car was just launching at this time last year and production was still ramping up.

The new Ford Explorer remains hot with sales up 300 percent from a year ago. The 2012 Explorer with the 2-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine made its debut in August.

This month the Ford Edge with the EcoBoost engine is arriving at dealerships. August Edge sales were only up 5 percent, but a year ago Ford was selling down the old model in preparation for the launch of 2012 version.

But the Edge is pacing to exceed 200,000 sales by year end. Pipas said this year could mark the first time since 2004 that the automaker has three products with sales exceeding 200,000. That is usually an easy feat for the F-Series pickup but the Fusion and Escape are on track to pass the milestone as well.

And a trio of models that are reaching the end of their lifespan this year are going out with a bang.

The Ford Crown Victoria saw sales more than double to almost 4,900 in August with a lot of government fleet sales, Pipas said. The Lincoln Town Car also saw sales grow 45 percent for the month and the Ranger, which will end production at the end of the year, was up 49 percent.

Average transaction prices of vehicles is up about 5 percent from a year ago, Pipas said.

That is a reflection of strong sales of higher trim levels of models being sold, including small cars.

"Fiesta and Focus are selling over 20,000 units combined with little to no help from incentives," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst with Edmunds.com. "This builds a stronger profitability case for these small cars, which have been criticized for bringing little profit to automakers."

Ford officials do not expect incentives to ratchet up significantly because even though inventories across the industry are expected to improve, they are not expected to be excessive.

Nor is Ford building up supplies in case of a strike if negotiations with the United Auto Workers union fail to reach a new contact when the current one expires Sept. 14. Ford is the only Detroit automaker whose members can go on strike. The UAW has been securing strong strike mandates across the country with local unions voting overwhelmingly in favor, with results 95 percent and higher. But the procedural vote does not mean there is a high likelihood there will be a strike as talks continue to be described as productive heading into the Labor Day weekend.

Pipas said Ford is not stockpiling.

"That would be a terrible way to run a business."


U.S. Auto contract talks step
up at GM, enters critical
phase for Chrysler

Christina Rogers and Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
September 1, 2011

Chrysler Group LLC and the United Auto Workers union are bargaining seven days a week, according to people close to the talks, in a sure sign that negotiations on a national contract have entered a critical phase.

Talks also appear to be in full swing at General Motors Co., where another round of hourly buyouts is being discussed at the bargaining table, sources familiar with these negotiations said.

Chrysler bargainers met Saturday and Sunday and plan to meet this weekend as well, but will break for Labor Day. President Barack Obama will attend a rally at the end of the annual Labor Day parade of unionists.

After the holiday, Chrysler and union bargainers are expected to start tackling the big issues. In the 2007 contract talks, negotiators didn't begin bargaining in earnest until the previous contract expired. The current UAW-Big Three agreement expires Sept. 14.

GM-UAW negotiations haven't yet gone late into the night, nor spilled into the weekend, and topics at the bargaining table remain in the "idea phase," said one person close to the talks.

"Talks continue as both the UAW and GM work on issue important to employees and our business," GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter said, declining further comment.

The UAW also declined comment.

UAW President Bob King, however, told at least one GM union official to be ready to meet in Detroit late next week.

King didn't specify the purpose of the visit. But typically, local union leaders are called to Detroit when the national bargaining team has reached a tentative agreement.

At Ford Motor Co., sources on both sides said negotiations are on pace, but the big items aren't on the table yet, and completing all the issues will take time.

Local union leaders said they believe the strategy is to lock down agreements with GM and Chrysler before finalizing a deal with Ford.

Ford workers are the only ones among the Detroit automakers who can strike, and local unions have been holding strike authorization votes across the country, including at Ford's Dearborn Truck plant, where workers voted 97 percent in favor of striking if talks fail, Local 600 officials said Wednesday.

GM and Chrysler workers gave up the right to walk out as part of the carmakers' government-funded bailout in 2009.

The union is pushing to give workers a greater share in the companies' success without adding significantly to their fixed costs.

King said this week that a pay increase for second-tier workers is on the table. These entry-level workers typically earn $14-$16 an hour, about half the pay of veteran employees.

Both the union and the carmakers say they're looking to enhance performance pay for hourly workers and tie it to measures like productivity, attendance and quality.

GM and the UAW also are discussing another buyout program for factory workers, even as the company adds thousands of jobs. It's unclear whether the buyouts would be offered companywide or target certain plants or skilled trades.

Sources said talks on the buyouts are preliminary and among many options being discussed.

Industry experts said GM likely would use buyouts to encourage veteran tier one workers to leave or retire as a way to hire more lower-paid, tier two, workers.

GM has an older work force than its crosstown rivals, said Art Schwartz, a former GM negotiator and president of Labor and Economics Associates in Ann Arbor.

"For production workers, if you get them to take it, then you can backfill with second-tier workers, and it's a pretty short payback period," Schwartz said.

GM has tried this tactic before, offering companywide buyout programs in 2006, 2008 and twice in 2009.

"The special attrition program has become like an annual attrition program," Schwartz said.

In December, GM offered skilled trade workers at 14 plants $60,000 buyouts and early retirement packages. Only 476 eligible workers took the offer, far less than the 2,500 to 3,000 skilled trade employees the automaker said it no longer needs.

Chrysler is not seeking additional buyouts, according to a source familiar with the company's position.

The Auburn Hills automaker cut about a quarter of its work force in 2008.


Snappy Ford concept vehicle
to set direction for future

The gullwing doors won’t be offered, but the Ford Evos Concept shows off the brand’s new image. (Ford)

Laser-cut headlamps, sleek grille and oval signify 'time to reset'

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
August 31, 2011

Ford Motor Co. revealed the new face and future look of its Ford brand Tuesday with the sleek and edgy Ford Evos Concept, a plug-in hybrid with four gullwing doors.

The doors won't make it into production, but many design cues of the Evos, which makes its global debut next month at the Frankfurt auto show, will be on new cars and crossovers starting next year.

Ford designers say the size of headlamps in modern vehicles has become “absurd,” and the plan is to go back to a slimmer design

The Evos represents the direction the Ford brand's global design will take over the next five years, said J Mays, Ford group vice president in charge of design and chief creative officer.

The next-generation Ford Fusion, with Evos elements, will debut in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

This is Ford's first global design direction change since Alan Mulally took over as CEO in 2007 and mandated the "One Ford" product strategy, designing and engineering vehicles for sale all over the world.

The Ford Evos Concept features lower, more aerodynamic lines, to be introduced in the brand’s future cars.

"One Ford completely simplified my life," said Mays. "We design one car for the whole world. Designers can put more time into the details."

The Evos fastback is a fanciful concept the length of a Focus and width of a European midsize car. The four gullwing doors "make a nice piece of theater," Mays said, and show off the four seats inside, including a red driver's seat.

The Evos name stands for the "Evolution" to the third generation of kinetic design, said Mays.

Kinetic design, meant to suggest energy in motion, dates back to the Iosis concept Ford showed at the 2006 Frankfurt auto show. It set the tone for a generation of Ford of Europe vehicles, including the Mondeo and Fiesta. The cars had a large lower trapezoidal grille that also made it into the Taurus.

Mays, Martin Smith, executive design director for Ford of Europe, and Moray Callum, executive director for North American design, started work on Ford's new look three years ago. Smith's team in Cologne, Germany, designed the Evos, which was built in Torino, Italy.

Future cars will have lower, sleeker and more aerodynamic lines.

The new face of the brand has smaller headlights.

"Headlamps have become absurd," Mays said, becoming more decoration than utility across the industry and oversized to the edge of cartoonish.

The inside of the Ford Evos Concept, to be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show, features a red driver’s seat that monitors stress levels.

"We are going away from that, back to laser-cut headlamps that are functional and smaller. We want to be identified by the proportions of our lamps."

Mays said Ford will "do laser-cut lamps, then everyone else will and we'll go on to something else."

In the same spirit, the two main grille openings are replaced with a single, smaller and more efficient air opening positioned higher on the front of the car for greater stature. The new Focus ST and Focus Electric, which go on sale next year, are among the first Fords to go in this direction.

Another example of evolution is Ford's trademark itself: the Blue Oval, which has grown in size over the years to 14 inches on the F-250 pickup.

"It's time to reset," Mays said. The oval will become an extra design element, like jewelry.

The new global DNA provides a framework to design the next generation of vehicles as easily identifiable as new Fords, but they will not be identical, Callum said.

Analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor said the edgy new design could prove polarizing at a time when the top-selling cars in the U.S. have a blander, mass market appeal. The new Toyota Camry chose this approach, he noted.

"The danger is alienating buyers who want an ordinary-looking car that is not over-styled," Sullivan said.

But Mays makes no apologies.

"We're going to Frankfurt to seduce people," he said.


UAW's King: Wage increases on
the table for Tier II workers

“We’re very concerned about that entry-level member having a middle-class standard of living, which I would argue they don’t at the current rates,” he told reporters Monday after a speech at the Detroit Economic Club. “I would say that’s our highest priority.” (Clarence Tabb,Jr./The Detroit News)

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
August 30, 2011

Detroit— United Auto Workers President Bob King said Monday that the union is asking Detroit's Big Three for wage increases for second-tier workers as part of its ongoing negotiations toward a new national labor agreement.

"We're very concerned about that entry-level member having a middle-class standard of living, which I would argue they don't at the current rates," he told reporters after a speech at the Detroit Economic Club.

"I would say that's our highest priority."

The two-tier wage system was a key element of the last national contract between the UAW and Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. That agreement was ratified in 2007 and expires Sept. 14. It allowed the automakers to pay second-tier employees, who are all recent hires, about half what veteran hourly workers make. It also limits their benefits.

King did not specify whether the union's proposal to raise second-tier pay would apply only to those already on the job or to future hires as well.

He would not say how the companies reacted to the union's proposal, but said he is "upbeat" about the progress at the bargaining table.

John Fleming, Ford's vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs, also expressed optimism.

"It's early days. (But) the atmosphere is very good," Fleming said. "It doesn't mean there aren't plenty of issues to be resolved."

Some labor analysts believe King is aiming for an early agreement with the Detroit automakers and their 113,000 UAW workers as a way of showing the American people — and foreign manufacturers — that the UAW has evolved and is embracing a more cooperative approach to labor relations.

"That's pretty hard to do, to get it done early," King said, adding he is working "every day" to organize one of the transplants.

"I'm very optimistic," he said. "Our No. 1 priority and responsibility in these negotiations is to get the best contract possible for our membership. I believe doing that will also support our organizing efforts."

During his speech, the UAW leader said the U.S. auto industry is an example of how "creative problem solving" can generate more profits and jobs.

"Look at the amazing success that we've had," he said, referring to the industry's recovery. "We quit vilifying each other."

The union leader has said he wants a contract that allows workers to share in the companies' success without adding significantly to their fixed costs and making them uncompetitive with foreign automakers operating in the United States. He says the key is some form of profit-sharing mechanism.

"Our companies face a lot of competition," King said. "We just want to make sure that we come out of this negotiation over the next four years structuring our companies to succeed. If you add fixed costs, they won't be able to do that."

Protecting jobs and creating new ones are his top priorities, King said.

"We want these companies to come back. We want them to open up new facilities and put new shifts," he said. "We're about creating more jobs, more investment, more product here in the United States of America."

The best way to make sure they do that, he said, is to keep them competitive.

Workers at Ford factories around the country have begun taking strike votes, authorizing the UAW leadership to call a walkout if talks fail to achieve an agreement. King stressed that is a formality and said he would view a strike as a failure.

"I just feel like we can do better," he said.

The union cannot strike GM or Chrysler under the terms of those companies' 2009 bailout by the federal government.

If the UAW reaches an impasse with either, it must go into arbitration. King said he hopes to avoid that, too, and said Ford would not be disadvantaged by its unique position.

King devoted most of his formal speech to arguing for higher taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals.

"We're not broke," he said of the U.S. government. "Our basic problem is that we have an extremely unfair tax system."


NDP leadership race
effectively starts now

Globe and Mail
Aug. 29, 2011

After a week of public mourning and a national outpouring of emotional support, the New Democrats move behind closed doors to prepare for a mettle-testing first parliamentary session without Jack Layton, and to set the terms for a leadership race.

There is little time to waste, with MPs returning to the House of Commons on Sept. 19 and the party looking to prove that its unprecedented showing in the spring was reflective of genuine national support and confidence in its ability to forge a viable alternative to the Conservatives.

Bidding farewell to Jack Layton Also, in the letter that the late Mr. Layton penned in his final days, he urged the party to choose a permanent leader as early as possible in 2012. As one veteran NDP MP said Sunday, that means the contest to succeed Mr. Layton unofficially starts this week.

On Monday morning, more than 100 staffers move into interim Opposition Leader Nycole Turmel's official workplace, so the first order of business will be ensuring phones and computers are up and running, principal secretary Brad Lavigne told the Globe.

NDP legislators will put the final touches on their strategy for the fall session at a three-day caucus meeting Sept. 13-15 in Quebec City, Mr. Lavigne said. And in the next two weeks, the party's federal council will set the timing and parameters for choosing a permanent leader.

MPs and aides know they have their work cut out for them and they can't let their heavy hearts slow them down, said Mr. Lavigne, who, along with Mr. Layton's chief of staff, Anne McGrath, will remain in his post under Ms. Turmel's interim leadership.

"We have to roll up our sleeves now and get back to work, and that's exactly what Jack would want," Mr. Lavigne said. "Seeing the outpouring of affection by Canadians from across the country has really galvanized the caucus. There's a renewed sense of unity and purpose that is going to make this Opposition a formidable one."

Winnipeg MP Pat Martin said discipline will be "the operative word" for the NDP caucus this fall, and that the Harper government should not assume the party will be weak or demoralized in the wake of Mr. Layton's passing.

"We used to be able to pick and choose what issues we wanted to comment on and to deal with, and now as the Official Opposition we have to respond to everything, we have to respond to it first, and in a credible and respectable way," said Mr. Martin, one of the party's more outspoken MPs since he was first elected in 1997. "... And we left that funeral pumped and inspired, because we know that the Canadian public is behind us."

Whether the overwhelmingly positive vibes of the past week translate into broader support for the NDP remains to be seen. But provincial elections in Manitoba and Saskatchewan this fall will test the party's ability to harness some of that support and translate it into more electoral success.

As for finding a new federal leader, two names that have already been bandied about are Thomas Mulcair, the NDP's Quebec lieutenant credited with creating a beachhead in that province when he won a Montreal by-election in 2007, and party president Brian Topp.

"The leadership race effectively begins Monday morning, I would say," Mr. Martin said. "It won't be a divisive race, it will be a uniting experience and respectful experience," Mr. Martin said. "That's the tone Jack has set; he's raised the bar for civility in political discourse in this country, and the first demonstration is going to be a very interesting but respectful leadership race."


Focus Electric buyers can opt
for discount solar panels

When plugged in, the Ford Focus Electric onboard charger converts AC power from the electric grid to DC power to charge the liquid-cooled/heated battery pack.

Aug. 28, 2011
Globe and Mail

'Here's your new electric car. Would you like a solar panel with that?"

It's like burgers and fries and at least one of the car companies has now figured that out.

Ford is about to start peddling a nice set of 11 rooftop solar panels, each one measuring four feet by two feet, along with your new Focus Electric. At least in California where the new all-electric gets rolled out first.

Ford has hooked up with SunPower Corp., Silicon Valley's largest solar manufacturer, to get some deep discounts on the normal price. SunPower will provide a 2.5-kilowatt rooftop system, which should produce enough juice to power an electric car about 1,000 miles a month. The system, when bought along with the car, will cost a little less than 10 grand, down from the normal 18.

They're calling it the "Drive Green for Life" program. but there is a catch. The solar panels are unlikely to power the cars directly; most electric-vehicles are expected to be charged overnight. So that means, where permitted, the solar power off the panels will be fed into the electrical grid to offset the cost of the electricity that's pumped into the car when the sun's not shining.

Ford's marketing people focus-grouped this with potential buyers of its electric car. The early adopters are likely to be the affluent who like new technology and care about the environment. This gives them the chance to at least say they're powering their new wheels with renewable energy.

By the way, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric is a five-seat, battery-powered sedan that is expected to have a range of at least 80 miles per charge. Ford will soon announce the price of the car and says it will begin selling it in California later this year.

Nissan is already selling the all-electric battery-powered Leaf and, while I haven't noticed them selling solar panels along with the car in North America, Nissan does report that more than a third of their buyers have solar panels on their houses and that another 25 per cent say they plan to have them soon.

Nissan seems to be following a different strategy. In Japan, Nissan has come up with a system to supply power to homes through its electric cars. Its equipment takes electricity from the Leaf's batteries and sends it into an ordinary household, using the car as a power storage device at times of power outages.

Called a Power Control System, this device is also used to supply electricity to charge the Leaf's batteries. When it's running the other way, and taking the juice out of the Leaf, Nissan says there will be enough – 24 kilowatt-hours of electricity – to power an average Japanese household for about two days.

According to Nissan, there has been a lot of interest shown in a system like this ever since the earthquake, tsunami and power outages of the March 11 disaster. A Nissan executive reported that there's growing interest in using the energy stored in cars when they are parked. The system Nissan described uses the energy in a single house but in the future it may be able sell that power into the grid.

At present, electric grids are designed to push electricity out. Electric cars have the capacity to store low-cost, night-time electricity and feed it back into the system. That is if the system can take it. That's what "smart grids" are all about and once they're up and running it provides another reason to buy an electric car with or without the solar panels.

I hope these ideas get commercialized soon because there was another bit of news that demonstrates the need. Ward's Automotive News recently reported that the world's motor vehicle population is now over one billion and is growing fast.

According to its analysis of government-reported vehicle registrations, it says the world went over the billion mark some time last year thanks to the fast-growing market in China. Yes, about a quarter of the world's cars and trucks are in the U.S.A. but the vehicle population there increased by less than 1 per cent last year. China has the second-largest vehicle population with 78 million vehicles, according to Ward's, and last year its vehicle population grew by 27.5 per cent.

So bring on the smart electrics.


Ford works to find formula UAW can sell to members

Daniel Howe
August 27, 2011

To hear ranking Detroit auto industry executives tell it privately, a new contract with the United Auto Workers would come next month without base wage increases or cost-of-living adjustments, a bitter pill for rank-and-file workers.

How would they sell it, particularly at a Ford Motor Co. unfettered by federal bailout conditions? By offering lump-sum signing bonuses and delivering a four-year plan to reinvest billions in U.S. plants and hire thousands of new hourly employees, a ranking industry executive close to the situation said this week. The trade-off would be a win for the UAW, for the automakers and for Michigan, still the nation's leading auto producer despite the Great Meltdown.

The promise to add American jobs building new vehicles in exchange for competitive labor rates and flexible work rules would achieve a crucial goal laid down by UAW President Bob King: reversing the union's plunging membership and evaporating revenue by creating new dues-paying jobs in U.S. plants.

To offset the alarming decline to 376,612 members last year from a high of 1.5 million in 1979, King has tried to organize foreign-owned automakers operating in the United States, and tried to expand the union's reach into such new "markets" as casino gaming staff, graduate assistants and other public employees. None of these is enough to stanch the imposed exodus of the UAW's core membership.

The union, its image tarnished by the congressional inquisitions of 2008 and the bailouts of '09, could credibly claim credit for the investment moves. And King and his leadership team could tout the commitments to help ratify any tentative agreement, chiefly at Ford, as well as theoretically bolster efforts to organize nonunion plants down South.

Because General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC were rescued from bankruptcy with taxpayer dollars and Ford mortgaged itself to the hilt, the grand bargain would show investors a new kind of fiscal rectitude in Detroit. It also could offset the automakers' growing investment abroad with evidence of new commitments back home.

"We prefer to invest in the United States," the executive said, a logical parallel to the build-them-where-you-sell-them practice generally used in today's global auto industry.

New investment at home
But during the course of the past decade, the prospect of sourcing American metal from American plants and expanding payrolls grew increasingly remote as costs rose, market share dropped and financials weakened badly. The first big steps in slowing the downward spiral came in the watershed negotiations of 2007.

In exchange for conditional product commitments for U.S. plants, particularly at GM, bargaining delivered a second wage tier for new hires and created a health care trust fund to off-load retiree health care costs. Multiple restructurings over the past five years, including twin bankruptcies, radically reshaped the companies' fixed costs and closed the competitive gap with foreign-owned rivals.

Among the challenges in this year's talks are maintaining momentum and winnowing the cost gap further amid an uncertain economy, near-record profits at Ford and GM and the high expectations of hourly workers — namely at a Ford that didn't "take the money" used by the Obama Treasury Department to rescue GM, Chrysler and the UAW from oblivion.

Enter a detailed plan for new investment in U.S. plants. Without industry-competitive fixed costs, the business case to pump capital into American facilities doesn't pencil or pass muster with recession-hardened directors. With competitive fixed costs, the rationale goes, Ford could justify incremental investment at home and deliver for the UAW.

We've been here before. In the '07 talks, union bargainers included GM's product investment plan in their tentative contract "highlighter," a brief document traditionally used to share details with members, build support for ratification and brief news media. GM voiced heated objections, which the UAW staff politely ignored.

Why? Because then-President Ron Gettelfinger feared he and his team would be unable to persuade a majority of GM's rank and file to ratify a deal that established a second-tier starting wage and off-loaded retiree health care to a union-controlled trust. The contract passed, but not before a brief strike.

"That was a big deal to the UAW," said Art Schwartz, a retired GM bargainer and labor executive, referring to the public release of GM's plans. "That was how they justified" the health care trust fund. "That was how they justified second tier."

Ford may join in
Reinvesting in U.S. plants is vital to the union's longer term viability. Its leaders are eager to see future plans for Ford's Auto Alliance International plant in Flat Rock, which longtime partner Mazda Motor Corp. is abandoning, and to learn whether prospects are improving for GM to reinvest in its idled Spring Hill assembly in Tennessee.

"To reopen a plant or save a plant would be a big deal," Schwartz added. "That could be tradable; I could see them doing it. But it's going to have caveats on it, I'd bet you that" — starting with the vitality of the U.S. economy and car market.

The lessons aren't lost on Ford, whose bargainers understand that the automaker's fat profits and even fatter bonuses for CEO Alan Mulally pose significant obstacles to reaching an agreement. That's why the automaker is quietly discussing with the UAW a multiyear plan to invest in U.S. plants, as GM and Chrysler already have.

In May, GM said it would invest $2 billion in 17 facilities in eight states and create 4,000 jobs. Since June 2009, Fiat SpA-controlled Chrysler has invested $3.2 billion in U.S. facilities and created 2,000 jobs in Michigan, charting a path for Ford to follow when it most needs cover.

In this year's talks, Ford is the main attraction. Under terms of the federal bailouts, union members cannot strike GM or Chrysler until 2015 and contract disputes this time around can be submitted to arbitration. None of that applies at Ford, where hourly employees rightly expect to share in the success of the past two years.

The challenge is to figure out how, without squandering the momentum driving Detroit's second chance.



CAW Contact
August 26, 2011
Volume 41, No. 30


New Agreement at Bombardier Thunder Bay

CAW Local 1075 members who work at Bombardier's Thunder Bay rail car plant have overwhelmingly ratified a new collective agreement that resists concession demands, bringing an end to a three-day strike.

More than 700 Local 1075 members went on strike August 9 after talks broke down over demands for concessions on pensions. Production workers voted 94 per cent in favour of the new agreement and skilled trades 86 per cent.

CAW Area Director Tom Murphy said the strong fight back by members and the solidarity of the bargaining committee ensured that pension benefits were protected.

"If it wasn't for the determination of the committee and the support of the membership we wouldn't have been able to defeat these concessions and new hires would have been without benefits when they retired and we would have faced other rollbacks," Murphy said.

CAW Local 1075 President Dominic Pasqualino said there were many days of tough contract talks with the company, but no settlement until after the strike.

"I think this strike would have been totally unnecessary if the company had removed the concessions and brought a reasonable offer to the table a day earlier," said Pasqualino.

He thanked the membership and the bargaining committee for their enthusiastic support and hard work. "This strike has made our membership a lot stronger," Pasqualino said.

The Bombardier Thunder Bay facility manufactures bi-level rail cars, street cars and subway cars.

CAW Women's Conference Inspires and Challenges

The 2011 CAW Women's Conference, "Women, Power and Politics - the Personal Really is Political" promised to be bigger and better than ever.

More than 187 women - delegates, discussion leaders, and invited guests - from coast-to-coast-to-coast joined together at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario from August 7-10 to participate in a combination of workshops and plenary sessions, in what would become a political call to action.

The annual CAW Women's Conference was the largest ever with more than 200 delegates, family members and guests. Julie White, director of CAW Women's Programs, issued a call to renew the idea that the 'personal is political.'

Photo: Kim Crump, CAW Local 88.

Julie White, director of CAW Women's Progams, opened the conference by reminding delegates that the personal really is political.

"The personal is political' became the slogan for the women's movement in the 1970s, as women demanded equality at all levels of society - at work, in the home, and legislatively," she said. "In the decades that followed, women fought for and won important gains that signaled real progress for women in Canada. But right wing governments, both here and around the world, have been systematically eroding the gains of progressive movements, including the women's movement, making the struggles of the past our continuing challenges moving forward."

This year's conference gave delegates the opportunity to engage with women leaders and activists in the union and in the broader movement to strategize and organize around those challenges moving forward and also for the political fight ahead.

Delegates heard from keynote speaker Patty Ducharme, Executive Vice President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. She inspired delegates as she spoke of the reality of the current political landscape, challenging women to "take risks, to flex our political muscle, and to step up to the plate."

Delegates then heard from a panel of women - Mary Shortall, Canadian Labour Congress National Representative; Jenny Ahn, CAW director of Membership Mobilization and Political Action; and Andrea Calver, Ontario Child Care Coalition - as they described the federal, provincial and municipal political picture. Women heard about the many challenges ahead; the need to mobilize to protect gains already made, the need to build capacity around the upcoming provincial elections, and ultimately, to look towards the next federal election.

In an inspiring call to action following the workshops, former assistant to the CAW president, Peggy Nash, who is now NDP MP Parkdale High Park, addressed conference delegates and challenged them to use what they had learned.

Air Traffic Controllers Ratify New Agreement

CATCA CAW Local 5454 announced that its members had voted 79 per cent in favour of a contract settlement reached last month with NAV Canada. Approximately 85 per cent of the membership cast ballots.

The new contract, which runs until March 31, 2013, provides a cumulative salary increase of six per cent by April 1, 2012, besides other improvements.
Negotiations for a new agreement began last December, the tentative agreement was reached on Sunday July 24, 2011.

Union president Greg Myles thanked all who participated in the vote and expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.

"The commitment by both parties to reach a freely negotiated settlement demonstrates that outside intervention is not required nor even desirable," said Myles.

"Creativity and awareness of the labour environment
are key ingredients to quality agreements that far exceed the benefits of heavy handed government intervention in the preservation of Canada's recovering economy. We are extremely pleased that our team was able to show a better way to labour peace and productivity."

CATCA CAW Local 5454 represents Canada's 2,100 Air Traffic Controllers.

Courtland Nursing Home Workers Win Wage Increases

In a significant victory for CAW Local 302 members who work at a Courtland, Ontario nursing home owned and operated by Caressant Care, an arbitrator has awarded strong wage increases retroactive to February 2010.

Arbitrator David Starkman awarded a 2.35 per cent wage increase effective February 1, 2010 and a further 2.25 per cent wage increase retroactive to February 1, 2011. In addition he awarded an increase in shift premiums.

CAW Local 302 represents 50 full-time and part-time workers at the nursing home in Courtland, located in southwestern Ontario. The membership includes RPNs, PSWs, cooks, dietary and laundry aides and activity personnel.

CAW Local 302 President Nancy McMurphy said "while it will always be our preference to negotiate our collective agreements I'm extremely pleased that yet again we have an arbitrator refusing to listen to the employer's nonsensical arguments around the provincial wage restraint policy addressed in Bill 16."

CAW National Representative Robert Buchanan said the award is a significant victory for this group of workers, especially given that the employer had refused to bargain after the passage of Bill 16 in Ontario, which froze wages over two years for some non union groups of provincial workers.

"Our union has never advocated resorting to interest arbitration and we shouldn't have been forced into
interest arbitration in this case, but the arbitrator has come in support of our position," said Buchanan.

"This award really does provide a significant victory for our Courtland members," said Buchanan.

CAW Will Strike Johnson Controls to Save Jobs, if Necessary

CAW Local 222 members working at the Johnson Controls auto parts facility in Whitby, Ontario have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if a fair deal can't be reached by 12:00 a.m. on August 26. The strike vote was approved by 99 per cent of union members at a meeting on August 16.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the key sticking point in negotiations is job security. The employer notified the union that next generation work will be performed at a facility in Michigan, cutting 170 workers out of the Whitby plant. This would slash the current workforce by over half.

Lewenza said the union is working hard to find a solution that will save these jobs.

"The strong strike vote should send a clear message to the company that our members will resist this decision," Lewenza said.

The Whitby facility produces door pads and floor consoles for the Chevrolet Impala, as well as seats
for the Camaro. A strike will have an immediate impact on production at the General Motors Oshawa complex, warned Jerry Dias, CAW Assistant to the National President.

"General Motors is an important stakeholder in this dispute," Dias said. "We worked closely with GM and
their parts sector suppliers during the economic downturn to help keep production flowing, and the industry working. Now that the sector is stabilizing, we're going to ensure our members don't get left behind."

The CAW represents over 300 workers at the Whitby facility. The two sides have been in contract talks since the beginning of August.

London Unemployment Rate Prompts Emergency Summit

The CAW is urging a regional industrial strategy as well as policies to develop good jobs with stability and decent working conditions as keys to lowering the startling 9.1 per cent unemployment rate in the London, Ontario area.

CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie stressed that the trend toward more precarious temp agency work, part-time, temporary and casual jobs is damaging not only to local workers and their families, but the entire economy.

"We need to create good jobs with stability and strong benefits that mean workers earn enough to pay a mortgage, help their children get a post-secondary education and which allow workers to retire with dignity and some financial security after a life time of work," said Carrie.

In July, the official unemployment rate for the London, Ontario area hit 9.1 per cent, a national high among large urban centres. This prompted city council to call an Emergency Summit on Jobs, attended by local politicians, business and labour officials.

Carrie said while the Emergency Summit was a good first step, the creation of a Labour Market Taskforce is needed for the long term. He's strongly urging London Mayor Joe Fontana to move ahead with support for such a taskforce.

CAW Local 1520 President Dennis McGee said the impending closure of the Ford St. Thomas plant and the closure of the Lear Seating facility will have a huge impact on the local economy.

"The Ford plant and the various feeder plants supporting it have provided good jobs for thousands of workers over many decades. We need to develop industrial strategies that will replace these manufacturing jobs and create good work opportunities for local residents."

"In the meantime both the federal and provincial governments need to expand tuition and income supports for workers who are retraining after losing their jobs through no fault of their own," McGee said.

Working Families Revamps Website

Working Families has launched a new website with print and video content aimed at educating working families in Ontario about issues important to them in the upcoming Ontario election.

The website http://www.workingfamilies.ca/ features a screening room with a series of television ads that outline numerous reasons for concern with the agenda of the Tim Hudak Ontario Progressive Conservatives. The website also includes print articles from various sources about the Hudak Conservatives.

Working Families is a not-for-profit organization which was formed more than eight years ago by members of the labour movement to encourage debate and knowledge about election issues which effect working families in Ontario. Numerous unions, including the CAW, are sponsors of Working Families.

Readers can also follow Working Families on Facebook and Twitter.

CAW Transportation Conference: September 23-25

The CAW Transportation Conference is scheduled for September 23-25 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

The conference will include workshops and plenary sessions on various transportation issues, including political action. One of the key components of the conference will be a review and endorsement by the delegates of a National Transportation Policy for the CAW. The current policy has been in place since 1992 and needs updating.

To view the call letter please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10252.htm

Home Workers Call for Fair New Contract

CAW Local 302 members employed by Chelsey Park Nursing Home picketed outside their workplace on August 18.

The workers have been without a contract for 18 months after the company is refusing to negotiate anything but a "net zero" increase on wages or benefits. The rally was supported by other CAW members from across the region as well as nursing home residents themselves.

CAW Local 302 President Nancy McMurphy said that the workers should not have to give up previously negotiated benefits to have a wage increase. "Let's not forget that our members are employed by a for-profit nursing home company -the idea that it should follow a flimsy government mandate about wage freezes is ridiculous and not a starting point for us. Our members deserve a fair contract for the important work that they do each day."

The home is owned and operated by Diversicare.

An Open Letter to NDP MPs and all Canadians

The CAW joins in mourning the loss of Jack Layton, and remembering his social democratic values
To see the letter please click here



2012 Ford Edge, Explorer
arriving to dealerships

2012 Ford Edge

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
August 25, 2011

Romeo— Versions of the 2012 Ford Edge and Explorer are arriving at dealerships this week with smaller engines and big sales expectations.

The utility vehicles for the 2012 model year have direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engines — part of Ford Motor Co.'s EcoBoost strategy to improve the fuel economy of its lineup.

The 2-liter EcoBoost engine will also be available early next year in the 2013 Ford Focus and will be in next year's Focus ST, a performance version of the compact car that is already on sale in Europe.

An upgrade from a conventional V-6 engine to an EcoBoost four-cylinder engine in the SUVs costs an additional $995, said Ford spokesman Said Deep.

Ford has 14 vehicles that are best in class for fuel efficiency, from the Fiesta to the SuperDuty, including four that get 40 mpg or better, said Frank Davis, executive director of North America vehicle engineering.

The Edge with the 2-liter EcoBoost engine gets an EPA-rated 21/30 mpg in city/highway driving while still providing 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The Explorer is rated at 20/28 mpg.

The figures represent a 40 percent improvement in fuel economy, said Amy Marentic, Ford group marketing manager. The improved fuel efficiency is translating into strong sales of utility vehicles, she said.

And the performance figures represent 30 more horsepower and substantially more torque than the outgoing 4-liter V-6, said Scott Makowski, manager of the large I-4 engine program.

The Edge and Explorer are the first Ford vehicles to get this engine in North America. The four-cylinder is proving popular in Europe.

The vehicles were introduced with conventional V-6s but the addition of the smaller EcoBoost four-cylinder is part of a continuing plan for the automaker.

Ford is also working on a small 1-liter engine that is an EcoBoost candidate for a future vehicle.

Ford has said it will put high-tech EcoBoost engines in 90 percent of its vehicles globally by 2013.

The first EcoBoost V-6 engines debuted in 2009 and is in vehicles including the Ford Flex, Taurus and F-150. This year, Ford will produce 180,000 vehicles with EcoBoost technology, Davis said. The goal is 1.5 million vehicles by 2013.


Hearing on UAW salaried
worker raise nears

Keith Naughton/ Bloomberg News
August 24, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is facing a Sept. 15 hearing on a complaint by the UAW that salaried employees didn't sacrifice as much as hourly workers, said two people familiar with the matter.

The hearing before an independent arbitrator is scheduled for the day after Ford's contract with its 41,000 U.S. hourly workers expires, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing details of the grievance process. Ford workers who gave up pay increases and bonuses signed the grievance last year after the company reinstated raises, tuition assistance and 401(k) matches to white-collar employees.

Ford is seeking to reduce labor costs while the UAW tries to recover what workers gave up to help. UAW President Bob King has said members must be rewarded for concessions of $7,000 to $30,000 each since 2005.

"It's going to be difficult to get anything else done with this hanging over the Ford talks," said Kristin Dziczek at the Center for Automotive Research. John Stoll, a spokesman for Dearborn-based Ford, declined to comment on the matter.


Jack Layton's legacy
won't end here

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton waves to the crowd after Layton's victory in the federal election in Toronto on Monday, June 28, 2004.

Sandra Martin
Globe & Mail
Aug 23, 2011

Jack Layton, the man who turned campaign rhetoric about working families into an election victory, had three of his own: the one he was born into, the political clan he joined when he became a card-carrying member of the New Democratic Party, and the marriage of true minds that he formed with his wife and soul mate, Olivia Chow. Each of them shaped him as a political leader.

Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press) Hide caption

The Family

Laytons have been involved in public service, social-justice issues and politics for generations, beginning with British-born Philip E. Layton, who immigrated to Montreal in 1887 after a woodcutting accident blinded him as a teenager. He quickly established a company tuning and selling pianos and returned to England to marry Alice Gilbert, the nurse who had cared for him after his injury. Together they sailed back across the ocean and built a life in their adopted country. Appalled by the conditions in which blind people eked out their lives, Mr. Layton founded the Montreal Association for the Blind in 1908 (a self-help organization that successive generations of Laytons have supported and endorsed) and led a campaign for disability pensions in the 1930s.

Dennis Robinson/The Globe and Mail)

Jack Layton's grandfather, Philip Layton, joined his father's firm. He also became politically active in the (then) reformist Union nationale party led by Maurice Duplessis, winning a seat in the 1936 provincial election. As a cabinet minister without portfolio, he broke with Premier Duplessis in 1939 over the conscription crisis, resigned his seat, ran unsuccessfully as an independent then followed his father as director of the MAB.

Successive generations were key MAB volunteers, including Jack Layton's father, Robert, a Red Tory who was elected in the first Brian Mulroney landslide in 1984. This blend influenced Mr. Layton as he developed his personal political philosophy.

The night after Jack Layton won big for the New Democratic Party in May, he and Ms. Chow – probably the country's most in-demand couple – slipped quietly into a fundraiser for The Stephen Lewis Foundation. Nobody was more surprised than Mr. Lewis. "My God," he remembers thinking, "does your engagement never end."


Mr. Layton's daughter Sarah works for the foundation, but her father's appearance also telegraphed his commitment to the NDP, the political party he joined 40 years ago as a foot soldier. Observers who noted the hugging and rejoicing that night saw familial bonds that transcended the biological and approached the metaphorical.

Back in 1970, Mr. Layton was more interested in becoming an academic who studied the political process than a politician who stumped the hustings. He was a Liberal who supported Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's imposition of the War Measures Act – until Tommy Douglas persuaded him otherwise. In a barn-burning speech in the House of Commons the NDP Leader said: "The government, I submit, is using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut."

Once committed, Mr. Layton never wavered through years of heckling, demonstrations and the vicissitudes of city politics in Toronto. Nothing was handed to Mr. Layton politically. He earned his stripes march by march and won the friendship of the party hierarchy through his "energy, determination and ambition – not for himself, but to change the world," said Ed Broadbent, who barely knew Mr. Layton when he nominated him to succeed Alexa McDonough for the leadership of the federal party in 2003.

Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

"I did the most thorough check you can imagine because I decided not to support my good friend Bill Blaikie [the favourite of the caucus], but what I found out about Jack turned out to be true in spades," Mr. Broadbent said. These qualities included his energy, capacity to work with others (including political opponents), his civility and his ambition to get things done. "He was a doer without malice towards his opponents and I think that culminated in people's opinion of him in the election."

Mr. Layton wasn't a member of the NDP family in the sense that he had been bounced on Tommy Douglas's knee or had supped at the same table as David Lewis or his progeny. He met Stephen Lewis only a decade ago when they began talking – not about toppling the government of the day, but how to halt the spread of HIV-AIDS. What made Mr. Layton as beloved as a relative was his commitment to the social-justice heritage of the party.

Olivia Chow

Some political wives are superb at working the room, looking fascinated as they sit on platforms while their husbands deliver the same speech over and over again. Mila Mulroney turned the marital hazard of political wife into a vocation. Maureen McTeer was dutiful but grumpy. And Margaret Trudeau was – well, unsuited to the role is probably the kindest way to put it.

 (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail) Hide caption

Ms. Chow was unlike any political wife this country has ever seen. First, she wasn't a wife, she was a partner. That was the way Mr. Layton always referred to her, and it was true on several levels. Born in Hong Kong, she came here as a teenager. She was a Toronto District School Board trustee and Mr. Layton a Toronto alderman when they met in the early 1980s.

Politics brought them together; their mutual appreciation of ideas, strategies and lifestyles helped them fall in love. By then, Mr. Layton's marriage to Sally Holford, his childhood sweetheart and the mother of his two children, had disintegrated. His 24/7 commitment to politics and political life was at odds with his first wife's desire for a more private, family-centred marriage.

Ms. Chow was the opposite in her attitudes: "It's wonderful to have a person who can share the same thoughts, values and degree of commitment," she said in an interview with the Toronto Star in 1988, the year she and Mr. Layton were married in an open-air ceremony on the Toronto Islands. After exchanging their vows, the bride and groom stood together with the Toronto skyline behind them and recited a long prayer for the city, intoning such lines as "this forest of towers of concrete, glass and steel." As ever with Mr. Layton, it ended with optimism: "Our city, may it look better the closer we get, not the farther away we go."

And so they continued, as each won and lost elections as local and then federal politicians. They never seemed to disagree, they always seemed to cherish each other's company and views. When Mr. Layton announced he had a second bout of cancer, Ms. Chow was by his side as she had been in his heart for more than two decades. It will be hard to think of one of them without the other, but if the past is any indication, his ideas will live on in her political career.


Now, no one stands in
Stephen Harper's way

Jack Layton was admired by many who did not share his political views: Former prime minister Brian Mulroney said he was 'an exceptional political leader and an exceptional person.'

Globe and Mail
Aug. 23, 2011

Jack Layton would have been the first person to calculate the political consequences of his passing, and those consequences are profound.

The most powerful voice championing a socially democratic future for Canada is stilled. The one person to meld, or at least paper over, the implacable contradictions within the NDP caucus is no longer there to listen, cajole and, when needed, knock heads.

Every party opposing Stephen Harper's Conservatives in the House of Commons is leaderless, affording him the kind of political space for action that few prime ministers, if any, have enjoyed.

Someday, from somewhere, a voice will rise to challenge the Conservative hegemony. It could have been Jack Layton. But now it must be someone else.

Like so many who did not share Mr. Layton's political views, Brian Mulroney is mourning his death. He first knew the NDP Leader through his father, Robert, who served in the former Conservative prime minister's cabinet.

"This represents an enormous loss for the party, and more importantly, for the country," Mr. Mulroney offered in an interview. "He was an exceptional political leader and an exceptional person."

The two had talked shortly after the May election. Mr. Layton is the first federalist leader since Mr. Mulroney to elect a majority of MPs from Quebec, and he would have faced the same challenges Mr. Mulroney faced in marrying a large nationalist francophone contingent to a party with roots in the West.

They talked for an hour "about how you integrate that large Quebec caucus into a national party, and how you keep them all happy and motivated," Mr. Mulroney said. "He didn't want the caucus to founder."

It was going to be a formidable task for Mr. Layton to weld the two halves into a coherent and united whole. It will be nearly insurmountable for a new leader lacking his skill and experience.

The task may fall to Quebec MP Thomas Mulcair – an impressive mind, but irascible at times – or Vancouver MP Libby Davies – to the left on the NDP's spectrum. Or there may be someone in caucus or outside it who will lead the party and seek to convince Canadians that, next time, social democrats deserves a shot at government.

But here again, the very large contingent of Quebec MPs could prove as much hindrance as help. Example: Gary Doer was the popular NDP premier of Manitoba for 10 years, and is earning rave reviews as Canada's ambassador to the United States. But he doesn't speak French.

The loss of Mr. Layton will, inevitably, give a temporary boost to the Liberals, if only because Interim Leader Bob Rae has authority to speak on national affairs. But with that party also facing a leadership contest, and struggling with declining support and internal divisions, the Conservatives have little to fear from the opposition benches for some time to come.

And the premiers are also silent, as five provinces prepare for fall elections, with a sixth, British Columbia, possibly joining them and Alberta distracted by the provincial Conservative leadership race.

We are embarked on a generational sea change in Canadian politics. The only constant in all of this is Stephen Harper.

From that sea change, a new cast of political characters will emerge. One of them, or someone else farther down the line, will rise to challenge the new Conservative juggernaut.

The search for that person will dominate federal politics for years to come.

Beyond this political speculation, there is simply sadness. During their conversation, Mr. Mulroney warned Mr. Layton that he might not want to try to become prime minister too hard, because "Stornoway is actually nicer than 24 Sussex."

He said Mr. Layton laughed and replied: "Whether that's true or not, Brian, I don't want to stay here too long."

Jack Layton took the NDP from protest party to Official Opposition, and he had every intention of moving into the prime minister's residence, drafty windows and all.

It would have been grand to watch him try.


Ford, Toyota team
up on hybrid trucks

Partnership aimed at boosting fuel efficiency quicker, cheaper

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
August 23, 2011

Dearborn — Rivals Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday they will join forces to develop gas-electric hybrid systems for rear-drive pickups and SUVs.

The powerhouse collaboration — Ford is known for pickups and Toyota for small hybrids — combines their strengths to put fuel-efficient trucks on the road faster and for less cost, without compromising the fierce competition between the two. They'll share powertrains, but not vehicle underpinnings.

"Clearly, Ford and Toyota will remain competitors," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of research and development. "By working together, we will be able to offer our customers more affordable technology sooner."

The agreement, prompted by a chance meeting of Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Toyota President Akio Toyoda, does not give the Japanese automaker any of the "secret sauce" that has made Ford the top seller of pickups in the U.S., said Kuzak. An electric hybrid would be an alternative to Ford's popular EcoBoost gasoline engines.

The collaboration will help Ford and Toyota meet proposed government fuel standards that will require automakers' fleets to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Truck standards will be lower.

"It's a win-win for both automakers and for consumers, too," said Eric Fedewa, director of global powertrain forecasts for IHS Automotive in Northville.

Ford and Toyota signed an agreement to split development costs for hybrid systems, as well as telematics technology to improve information and entertainment systems.

The next step for the odd coupling is a feasibility study to determine the technologies and which vehicles will get them. That's expected by next year.

The partnership's first hybrid trucks will be on the road later in this decade. Candidates include the F-150 and Expedition SUV; Toyota has the Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV.

The pairing could prove crucial for both companies.

Ford needs to improve the gas mileage of its F-150, and incremental improvements to existing technology won't be enough, said Veerender Kaul, Automotive & Transportation Industry director for Frost & Sullivan in Mountain View, Calif.

"Total cost of developing a specialized platform together, instead of independently, should knock off 50 percent of the development cost and time," Kaul said.

Conversely, "Toyota doesn't have the truck volume to bring this technology to market," said Aaron Bragman, analyst with IHS Automotive in Northville.

Ford sold 313,000 F-Series trucks through July compared with 47,600 Toyota Tundras. Conversely, Toyota has sold 74,400 Priuses compared with about 17,300 sales of Ford's three hybrids combined through July.

"I see it as Toyota needing Ford's volume more than Ford needs Toyota's technology," Bragman said.

While this would be the first product collaboration between the two automakers, they worked together when Toyota licensed its hybrid technology to Ford for the Escape in 2004.

Ford developed its own system for the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ hybrids, as well as for the C-Max crossover hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid due next year.

The industry is rife with technology alliances, especially with powertrains, to share cost, risk and expertise while gaining economies of scale, Fedewa said.

Ford's collaborations have included its partnership with Mazda Motor Corp.; an alliance with General Motors Co. on 6-speed transmissions; and with PSA Peugeot Citroen for diesels.

Toyota and GM aligned in 1999 to develop hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, but nothing came of it. Their joint assembly plant in Fremont, Calif., did not survive GM's 2009 bankruptcy restructuring.

An alliance of GM, Chrysler Group LLC, BMW AG and Daimler AG for rear-drive hybrids has disbanded.

There are no plans for a Ford-Toyota partnership beyond hybrids and telematics, Kuzak said, and there will be no sharing on front-drive hybrid systems.

Formal talks leading to Monday's announcement began in April, following that chance airport lobby meeting between Mulally and Toyoda.

Detailed negotiations continued between Kuzak and Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's head of research and development.

Kuzak said the thousands of engineers already working on hybrids and telematics will keep their jobs. Most will continue to work in their respective facilities, he said, but at some point they will need to spend time together.


Retirees must cut spending
to preserve nest egg


Globe and Mail
Aug. 21, 2011

Twenty years ago, Christos and Melina packed up their two children and left Europe for the freedom and opportunity of Canada. They've worked hard over the years, he as a tradesman earning $56,000 a year and she as a designer earning $22,700.

Now, at 65 and in failing health, they are both retiring in December. They can't work at their jobs any longer, which will mean a big drop in family income.

The financially well-prepared senior Christos has a small work pension that will pay about $250 a month. Their savings add up to $141,000 – most of it in registered retirement savings plans – and they rent an apartment in suburban Toronto. Their daughter and son-in-law are helping them with their finances and investments.

Christos and Melina have one main question: Should they cash in their RRSPs up front, or withdraw their savings gradually, which would reduce their guaranteed income supplement (GIS) each year?

We asked Warren MacKenzie, president and chief executive officer of Weigh House Investor Services in Toronto, to look at Melina and Christos's situation. Weigh House is an independent financial planning firm that does not sell financial products.

What the expert says

For Christos and Melina, focusing on whether to cash in their RRSPs to minimize the GIS clawback is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, Mr. MacKenzie says. First they must slash their spending.

Their retirement income will fall short of their goal of $3,000 a month after tax – in itself a big drop from their current monthly spending of $4,110.

Christos and Melina figure they can pare their spending back to $3,000 a month if and when his diabetes drug, which is fairly new, is covered by the provincial health plan, and by getting rid of one car, reducing the frequency of their massage sessions and trimming their grocery budget.

"They need to cut back to about $2,500 a month or they will run out of money before age 90," the planner calculates. If they spend $3,000 a month, they will run out of money in their late 70s. If they don't slash spending, "within a few years of retirement, they're going to see their small nest egg shrinking and they are going to be spending a lot of their time worrying about what will happen next."

The situation is not desperate. Melina and Christos will have enough income to get by to age 90 – for food, shelter, necessary medicines and basic transportation, Mr. MacKenzie says, "but they are going to have little or no money for luxuries of any kind."

The planner suggests they not cash in their RRSPs all at once even though they would receive more GIS payments if they did. If they cashed in their RRSPs up front, they would pay over $20,000 in income tax. Cashing in the RRSPs in one year would mean they would have less income in the future and therefore they could receive more in GIS payments – but the higher GIS payments would not be enough to offset the income tax they would have to pay if they cashed in their RRSPs all in a lump sum.

In 2012, their first year of retirement, the couple's monthly income breaks down as follows: Christos will get $314 from the Canada Pension Plan, $270 from Old Age Security and $250 (indexed) from his work pension plan. Melina will get $274 from the Canada Pension Plan and $270 from Old Age Security. They will receive about $100 a month in GIS payments, for a total monthly income of $1,478. They will need to withdraw some of their non-RRSP capital to make ends meet. (They could withdraw from their RRSP but this would create income and wipe out any GIS payments they would otherwise be entitled to because money withdrawn from RRSPs is taxed as income.) The order in which they should use up their resources is: first their cash, then their tax-free savings accounts and, finally, their RRSPs.

To help his in-laws get more income, Christos and Melina's son-in-law suggests they invest in a combination of Canadian dividend-paying stocks and guaranteed investment certificates, with 80 per cent in stocks and 20 per cent in fixed income. Mr. MacKenzie proposes a more conservative 60 per cent in stocks – 40 per cent in fixed income.

In his forecasts, the planner assumes a 5.5-per-cent average annual rate of return on investments and an inflation rate of 2.5 per cent.

Mr. MacKenzie notes that his financial planning assumptions "will not be absolutely correct" – investment returns may be higher and inflation lower – but they do serve as a guideline. "The unfortunate reality is that plans usually work out worse than expected."


The people

Melina and Christos, both 65.

The problem

How to get as much money after tax as possible to live on when they retire in December.

The plan

Hang on to their RRSPs, apply for the guaranteed income supplement, cut spending and better balance their investments to reduce potential risk.

The payoff

A reasonably comfortable retirement without the worry that comes from spending too much or taking too much investment risk.

Monthly net income (current)



Joint bank accounts $29,000; tax-free savings accounts: $20,000; RRSPs: $92,000. Total: $141,000.

Monthly disbursements

Rent $550; property insurance $25; car insurance $335; fuel $310; auto maintenance $150; parking $30; groceries and other supplies $800; clothing, dry cleaning $165; gifts $85; personal grooming $110; club memberships (CAA and professional association) $35; fitness club $100; massage/chiropractic $240; dentists, eye doctor $70; diabetes drug $530; vitamins, supplements $50; telecom, cable, Internet $175; charitable $20; vacation and travel $330. Total: $4,110.




Market chaos impacts US car talks

August 19, 2011
Daniel Howes Det News

This year's contract talks between Detroit's automakers and the United Auto Workers may be shaping up to be a battle over what they cannot control.

Fresh from the hell of two bankruptcies, brutal restructurings that eliminated tens of thousands of dues-paying hourly jobs and more than a year of impressive earnings at General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., the bargaining now in its final month was supposed to deliver a positive reset.

The companies would hold the line on fixed costs and union members would pocket fat signing bonuses and richer profit-sharing plans. Sales would continue a slow but steady recovery to pre-crash levels, and the pain and ignominy of late 2008 and '09 would recede into history.

No, the biggest variables in this year's talks aren't new CEOs at GM and Chrysler Group LLC, or a new president at the UAW, or restive members at Ford unconstrained by the no-strike rule covering their brothers and sisters across town.

It's what they can't control. European bankers and politicians struggle to manage a debt crisis threatening to take on a life of its own. Equity markets are swooning — the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 420 points or 3.68 percent Thursday — on uncertainty over the exposure of U.S. financial institutions to the European mess and discomfiting signs pointing to a double-dip recession.

The August report from the Philadelphia bank of the Federal Reserve fell to its lowest level in two years. The nation's unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1 percent, while Michigan's ticked higher in July for the third month in a row — hardly the harbinger of recovery in a state that is still synonymous with the domestic auto industry.

Options for the Fed (lower interest rates) and the Obama administration (more stimulus spending and higher tax rates) are limited, victims of circumstance, diminished credibility and an increasingly obvious leadership vacuum in the White House.

And the European Central Bank? With each new half-measure, it looks increasingly like a slow-motion train wreck of bureaucrats with limited power trying to exert their will over disparate politicians safeguarding their national sovereignty and their political futures.

Think that doesn't matter to contract bargaining here at home? This isn't Detroit, circa 1995. The inability of European bankers and pols to control a metastasizing debt crisis — partly because solutions proffered by unelected bureaucrats aren't easily foisted on a voting public — threatens more than just another Italian government.

It threatens the top-line projections of Detroit's automakers, dealers selling their metal and potentially the people who work for them all, including UAW members understandably hungry for some semblance of stability. The past two weeks — a harrowing display of collapsing confidence, the interconnectedness of the global economy and the cost of weak leadership — show the path won't be easy.

Because financial markets and banking connections transcend national boundaries and because consumers have up-to-the-minute access to market data and 401(k) statements, the plan to shop for a new car this weekend easily can be delayed and substituted with finally cleaning out the garage.

That ain't good.

The uncertainty could make it harder for all sides to reach a deal unless it is shorter (less than four years long), static (both sides keep what they have) and aimed at revisiting the wide spectrum of issues after the 2012 presidential election, among other things.

A fluid economic picture also threatens to make it difficult for both the automakers and UAW President Bob King to deliver what all sides are suggesting could be the break-out move of this year's talks — simplified yet fattened profit-sharing formulas for hourly workers tied to the performance of the companies and their products in the United States and around the world.

The prospect of leaner times ahead means payouts are likely to be smaller than they would have been in the comparatively fatter days of last year. Unless leaders on both sides are able to persuade the rank and file to bet on the promise of larger profit-sharing checks later on, the cornerstone play of the post-bailout future could be a prominent casualty of the latest market swoon.

The good news is that Detroit already has proven it has the mettle to weather a nasty economic storm and emerge intact, if not stronger. The question is whether it will have to do it again.


Ford offers solar panel deal
with Focus Electric

Buyers to have access to discounted panels for powering vehicles

Dana Hull/ San Jose Mercury News
August 18, 2011

San Jose, Calif. — Electric-car makers and solar manufacturers have long known they share the same potential customers: highly educated and affluent people who are fascinated by technology and care about the environment and energy independence.

SunPower Corp., Silicon Valley's largest solar manufacturer, and Ford Motor Co. have formed a groundbreaking partnership by which buyers of a Ford Focus Electric, which will hit the California market later this year, will be offered a deeply discounted rooftop solar system from SunPower.

The "Drive Green for Life" program is designed to provide the cars' owners the opportunity to fuel their vehicles with clean energy and have a carbon-free driving experience.

SunPower will offer a 2.5-kilowatt rooftop system, which should provide enough electricity to fuel an electric car that travels about 1,000 miles per month, for less than $10,000 after the federal tax credit. Typically, SunPower charges at least $18,000 for a system of that size.

"This is a great opportunity to take solar mainstream," said SunPower CEO Tom Werner. "We're thrilled to provide electric car owners with a clean source of fuel."

The 2.5 kilowatt system, which should produce about 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, is enough to power the car, and SunPower hopes customers will install additional solar panels to cover their household energy use.

"This is a win-win for the electric grid," said Mike Tinskey, Ford director of global vehicle electrification and infrastructure, at a news conference at SunPower's Richmond, Calif., facility, which once housed the largest Ford plant west of the Mississippi.

The solar panels are unlikely to power the cars directly; most electric-vehicle owners are expected to charge their cars overnight.

So in most cases, the solar power will be fed into the electrical grid to offset the cost of the electricity used to charge the car.

Tinskey said that Ford's market research and focus groups showed keen interest in renewable energy from potential buyers of its electric car.

"A lot of people said, 'I really like your vehicle. Is there any option to power it with renewable energy?'" he said.

The 2012 Ford Focus Electric, a sedan that seats five, runs exclusively on electricity. It is expected to have a range of at least 80 miles per charge. Ford will announce the price of the car later this summer, and says it will begin selling it in California later this year.

One criticism of electric vehicles is that they don't always reduce emissions because more than half of the electricity in the United States is generated by coal-fired power plants. But many early adopters of electric vehicles have taken steps to make their driving experience as clean as possible.

Carl Quinn, who drives an orange Tesla Roadster, installed solar panels on the roof of his San Jose home in 2008 while he was waiting the all-electric Roadster to arrive.

"I really wanted to get away from consuming fossil fuels in general," said Quinn, 48, a software engineer at Netflix. "This is my contribution to being carbon free."

More than one-third of buyers of the all-electric Nissan Leaf have solar panels on their houses, and Nissan says that another 25 percent of Leaf owners plan to install solar panels within the next five years.


GM takes lead in
talks with the UAW

Sources say carmaker pursuing flexible pay

Bryce G. Hoffman and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
August 17, 2011

Detroit— General Motors Co. has leaped ahead of the other Detroit automakers and begun discussing the key issue of flexible compensation with the United Auto Workers, according to multiple sources close to the contract negotiations.

With less than a month left before its contract with the UAW expires, they said Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are still working to clear the decks of lesser issues before tackling the big ones of profit sharing and entry-level wages. So is GM, but it reportedly is eager to negotiate its own terms without reference to what the other two companies want.

GM North America President Mark Reuss hinted at as much at an industry conference in Traverse City two weeks ago.

"We're pursuing common hourly and salary quality rewards for excellence in our negotiations," he said, making it clear that GM wants to tie variable compensation to more than just profits.

Reaching an agreement on those metrics will take time.

GM would not comment on the specifics of the negotiations.

"We're working with our partners and in discussion on issues that are important to our employees and the business," GM spokeswoman Kimberly Carpenter said Tuesday. "Talks are progressing."

The UAW had no comment.

"GM always wanted to be the lead," said Art Schwartz, former GM negotiator and president of Labor and Economics Associates in Ann Arbor. "Companies want to control their own fate."

One person close to the talks said the UAW has yet to make its own wage proposal.

All three Detroit automakers have made it clear that they want to reward workers with bonuses, rather than increased base wages. That would protect their competitive position if automobile sales decline. UAW President Bob King has agreed in principle that variable compensation makes more sense than adding substantially to the automakers' fixed costs.

"It would be really shooting ourselves in the foot to do wage increases," King told reporters earlier this month, adding that he is open to tying profit-sharing to more performance-based metrics, including quality, productivity and attendance. "All those are factors that are measurable, that could lead to different forms of variable pay."

However, the actual terms of a bonus scheme still need to be negotiated.

Two-tier pay protested
Talks on new national agreements officially began three weeks ago. Sources say they are proceeding amicably at all three companies. There have been no late-night sessions.

"In the early stages, they work on the very tedious work of carry-over language from the previous agreement," said labor expert Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research.

That includes everything from the definition of an employee, to payroll schedules and compensation for jury duty. The entire text runs hundreds of pages.

"They go down every one of them and say, 'Do we still agree on this?'" she said.

Meanwhile, union dissidents continue to organize against a new national contract. They rallied in Detroit on Saturday against the two-tier wage system that was adopted after the last round of national contract talks, in 2007.

"We're not even getting a living wage," said Bob Woodside, a Chrysler transport worker who was hired under the two-tier system that allows the car companies to offer lower wages and less generous benefits to new hires.

Woodside said he makes about $15 an hour and gets tired of listening to the first-tier workers who make double that amount talk about their Harley-Davidson motorcycles and vacation homes while he tries to figure out how to keep his child in college.

He had some harsh words for UAW leaders Saturday.

"They're not representing us," Woodside said. "They're oppressing us."

Several of the speakers at the rally, which was organized by the dissident group Auto Workers Caravan, called for union members to reject any contract that maintains the two-tier wage system.

Others, like Ford Rouge worker Gary Walkowicz of UAW Local 600, called for more direct action against the automakers.

"Voting 'no' is not going to be enough," he said. "We have to let the company know we're ready to take them on."

None of the Detroit automakers seems particularly concerned by this small but vocal minority. Instead of working their factories overtime to build up inventories ahead of a possible strike — as they have during previous contract talks — some local plants have had temporary layoffs to reduce the number of cars and trucks on dealer lots.

Under terms of the 2009 government bailout of GM and Chrysler, the UAW cannot call a general strike against those companies.

Last week, regional UAW leaders met in Detroit to discuss progress on the talks. This week, leaders of Ford UAW locals met in Chicago with company representatives. Talks between the union and all three automakers are under way at their respective headquarters.


U.S. settles Ford Rouge
cleanup suit for $10.8 million

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 16, 2011

The United States has agreed to pay $10.8 million to settle a 7-year-old Ford Motor Co. lawsuit over the cleanup of part of the historic Rouge Complex in Dearborn.

The Dearborn automaker filed suit in May 2004 against the federal government in U.S. District Court in Detroit, arguing the government should pay a share of the costs of cleaning up the automaker's Rouge manufacturing complex stemming from military production from World War I.

Late Friday, Ford filed the terms of two settlements over two properties at the site and adjacent to it.

The settlements — called consent decrees — will be open to public comment.

U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman will then consider whether to approve the deal.

The settlements represent a small chunk of overall future estimated cleanup costs at the site. Ford said in a court filing that the minimum future cost to clean the site is $99 million.

During World War I and World War II, Ford assembled boats, tanks, engines and other war materials at the massive site. Ford first built Eagle boats used by the U.S. Navy in World War I.

Ford sold the steel-making portion of the site to Severstal Dearborn LLC in 2004. The companies will share the $10.8 million settlement and have agreed not to pursue further claims against the government.

In its legal papers, Ford said the settlement is fair.

"Ford and the U.S. government have reached a settlement in this case and we have presented two consent decrees, which we hope will be entered by the court. If entered, this litigation will be resolved," Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.

But the deal doesn't end the dispute.

Ford and Severstal filed suit in 2008 against MichCon over environmental claims as well.

MichCon — a unit of DTE Energy in Detroit — sold 22 acres of its property near the Rouge complex in Dearborn to Ford in 1968 to expand a wastewater treatment plant. Ford claims the property was heavily contaminated before MichCon sold it.

MichCon countersued over alleged environmental damage to its remaining property in Dearborn from the Rouge complex.

MichCon also sued the federal government over the decision of the Army Corps of Engineers to rechannel the Rouge River in the 1960s and said it "caused continuing releases of hazardous substances."

One settlement for $6.585 million covers the original Rouge complex property, while the other for $4.25 million covers a 48-acre parcel southwest of the complex — including the 22 acres acquired from MichCon.

The Rouge complex — opened in 1917 — is one of the most heavily industrialized sites in Michigan. For much of the 20th century, it was the largest industrial complex in the United States.

The 1,200-acre complex, which has been home to blast furnaces, steel mills, foundries, metal stamping facilities, an engine plant, a glass manufacturing plant, a tire plant and its own powerhouse, has generated enormous amounts of waste, including hundreds of millions of gallons of coal tar.

The Rouge complex has as much as 65 million gallons of wastewater in ponds and lagoons at its wastewater treatment plant, according to a May court filing.

The ponds leak into the groundwater and river, MichCon alleged, citing a 2009 study that the ponds leak at an estimated rate of 0.1 percent per day. But Ford denied the ponds are leaking into the groundwater.


Stop coddling the
super-rich: Buffett

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is interviewed before lunch in New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010.

Reuters Globe & Mail
August 15, 2011

Billionaire Warren Buffett urged U.S. lawmakers to raise taxes on the country's super-rich to help cut the budget deficit, saying such a move will not hurt investments.

"My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice," The 80-year-old "Oracle of Omaha" wrote in an opinion article in The New York Times.

Mr. Buffett, one of the world's richest men and chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc, said his federal tax bill last year was $6,938,744 (U.S.).

"That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 per cent of my taxable income - and that's actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 per cent to 41 per cent and averaged 36 per cent," he said.

Lawmakers engaged in a partisan battle over spending and taxes for more than three months before agreeing on Aug. 2 to raise the $14.3-trillion U.S. debt ceiling, avoiding a U.S. default.

"Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country's fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness," Mr. Buffett said.

Mr. Buffett said higher taxes for the rich will not discourage investment.

"I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone - not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 per cent in 1976-77 - shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain," he said

"People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off."


UAW workers seek end to
two-tier wage structure

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
August 14, 2011

Detroit — Dozens of angry and flustered auto industry workers gathered in Detroit Saturday to call for an end to the two-tier wage structure becoming prevalent at U.S. automaker plants.

The pay inequality is causing divisiveness on the factory floor and pitting membership against each other at a time when workers need to present a unified front in fighting more concession during this year's round of contract talks, these UAW-represented workers say.

The event, organized by dissident group Auto Worker Caravan, drew about 50 attendees to St. John Baptist Church off Woodward Avenue, some from as far away as Indiana and Ohio.

Speakers at the event urged members to vote no on preserving the two-tier wage structure through the next contract.

"The animosity is there. People are very, very angry," said Gregory Warzecha, a 34-year-old tier-two worker at General Motors Co.'s Orion Assembly plant. "But they're scared to speak out. It's like putting a target on their back."

At Detroit Big Three plants, so-called entry-level workers earned $14 to $16 an hour, about half the wage of veteran workers. The UAW first agreed to the second-tier in 2007 as a way to help the companies survive and better compete with their foreign rivals in the South, which have traditionally paid factory workers less. The UAW represents about 112,000 hourly workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler, and its four-year agreements with the Detroit automakers expire Sept. 14.

Orion Assembly was one of the first automaker plants to mandate a certain percentage of tier-two workers when it reopened this year to build two new small cars, the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano. About 40 percent of the plant's 1,100 hourly workforce must earn the lower-wage; the remaining 60 percent are first-tier workers.

UAW members attending the rally said they fear the companies will try to expand second-tier use during contract talks underway now.

Workers, speaking out against the tiered pay, say the lower wages erode the middle class and could pave the way for cutting the wages of traditional, first-tier workers, who start at about $28 an hour.

"I'm going to be tin-canning it along with the second tier in no time," said Jim Theisen, a first-tier transport worker with Chrysler Group LLC who fears the cutbacks could eventually dragged down his pay and benefits.

UAW President Bob King has said the union would like to bump up pay for second-tiered workers and this increase will be apart of this year's contract talks. But UAW leadership has stopped short of calling for its repeal, arguing the lower-wages are needed to keep the domestic carmakers competitive.

Gary Walkowicz, who is on the bargaining committee at UAW local 600, said workers at Ford Motor Co. must be prepared to back up their no vote with a strike.

Unlike at GM and Chrysler, which gave up their right to strike as part of a government funded bailout, Ford workers have retained their right to walk out. Walkowicz said he isn't sure if Ford workers are getting ready for that but said it has to be a option.

"We have an opportunity to fight," Walkowicz said. "We have to let the companies know we're ready to take them on."



Ottawa starting to tackle
rapidly aging workforce
with renewed urgency


August 12, 2011
Globe & Mail
Bill Curry

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the highest levels of the public service are immersed in a flurry of closed-door talks aimed at tackling the rising costs of health care and retirement benefits in the face of a shrinking number of working-age taxpayers available to foot the bill.

Internal government documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show Canada’s aging population is no longer a problem on the horizon, but rather one that will impact the federal government this year. It's a challenge Ottawa is now discussing more openly and with added urgency.

This week Mr. Flaherty kicked off a policy retreat with business and policy leaders in Wakefield, Que., by saying he wanted the discussion to focus on how Canada can position itself now for the longer term – listing “Canada’s rapidly aging workforce” as an issue that shouldn’t be overshadowed by the current focus on wildly fluctuating stock markets.

“The need to address current challenges must not keep us from tackling the key questions that affect our future prosperity,” he said.

The Finance Minister has offered few hints as to how he will approach forthcoming negotiations with the provinces over health-transfer arrangements, which need to be renewed. Provinces – and ultimately Ottawa – face rising health costs as older Canadians will make greater use of the system.

Documents obtained by The Globe show Mr. Flaherty has been receiving regular briefings on “transfer renewal” from his deputy minister for months, but offer no sense as to Ottawa's negotiating position.

Canada, currently the 27th oldest country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, is on track to become the 11th oldest within 20 years. It’s a challenge that will spark debate over Canada’s retirement age, fertility rates and immigration, while risking generational tension between a growing population of older voters and a shrinking pool of younger taxpayers.

Last November, Canada’s most senior public servant, Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters, invited deputy ministers from across the government for a meeting on demographics in Ottawa’s Langevin Block. There they reviewed a draft report on the impacts of Canada’s aging population. Unlike past warnings on the topic, this report did not paint it as a problem looming in the distance.

“The oldest baby boomers start to turn 65 in 2011, meaning the dependency ratio will start to increase significantly in a matter of months,” states the draft report, which was obtained in redacted form by The Globe under Access to Information.

Prepared by officials at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Finance Canada, the report is full of alarming statistics. It also lays out several measures the government could take to limit the impact, including incentives to boost fertility rates, bring in younger immigrants and encourage Canadians to work longer.

“A Canada where seniors outnumber children is uncharted territory,” the report states.

When asked about the report, Alyson Queen, press secretary to Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, listed recent government measures to encourage older Canadians to stay in the workforce.

“Our Government has done more to support older workers than any before,” she said in an e-mail.

Monte Solberg, who preceded Ms. Finley as Human Resources minister and retired from politics in October, 2008, said incentives for older workers were among the easiest options – politically speaking – available to the Conservatives in the face of an aging population.

Now, he says, the government will have to consider the hard ones, like raising the retirement age – a move so controversial he says it would likely require a Royal Commission to build public support.

Even more pressing are the upcoming negotiations on health-care transfers to the provinces, which currently grow at six per cent a year under the Canada Health Transfer Program that expires in fiscal 2013-14.

“It’s a very real problem,” said Mr. Solberg in an interview. “It’s easily the largest unfunded liability that we have, without question, because we have this wave coming at us [and] there’s no extra money that’s set aside to address it.”

By the numbers


Percentage of Canadians by 2036 who will be over the age of 65


Ratio of workers to seniors in Newfoundland in 2010


Ratio of workers to seniors in Newfoundland by 2050


Percentage of Quebec’s population that is seniors


Percentage of Quebec’s population that will be seniors in 30 years


Taking it on the chin— again! - Nortel!

Terry Miller
Brampton Guardian
August 12, 2011

Just when things couldn't get bad enough, they get worse for Nortel pensioners!

The Nortel pension plan was a retirement income plan with contributions from workers and the company. While Nortel workers kept paying into the fund, the company defaulted having made some bad investments.

Nortel couldn't keep up their end of the pension payment contribution and that and other business decisions forced the company into bankruptcy. Pensioners claim against Nortel assets came way down the line after investors, banks bond holders and suppliers.

When Nortel's pension plan went bust and benefit claims went south, workers faced uncertainty about future pension payments.
Now non-union pensioners are faced with a reduced pension of 70 percent and unionized workers are reduced to 75 percent. For some of those folks that could mean a $600 a month reduction and a pay back of over payments on benefits already received.

Recently, Nortel sold off its wireless patents to a group led by Apple for $45 billion. The proceeds from that sale will be claimed by Nortel creditors and some believe that creditors will get 100 cents on the dollar and may even make a small profit.

Nortel pensioners may not get a dime!

The average age of Nortel pensioners is 74 and the average annual pension for unionized pensioners is $12,800 and $22,500 for managerial and non-unionized. CPP will top up company pensions, but even then pensioners may only be able to keep the financial wolf from the door. Nortel pensioners won't be living out their retirement years with a great deal of certainty or financial resources.

While Nortel pensioners and others like them are bound by antiquated pension legislation, the federal government is touting the pooled registered pension plan idea (PRPP).

In the PRPP, workers invest in a low cost plan managed by a commercial financial institution. Businesses would have the choice whether to supplement employee's contributions or not. There would be no defined benefit pension package and no defined guaranteed income. Pensions would rely on investments made by a financial institution and that investment could fluctuate depending on the economy. Workers would need to be very savvy about financial markets to know what financial institution to choose from in order to protect their investment.

The federal government is not interested in expansion of the Canada Pension Plan. They are not interested in expanding the pension authority to regulate pensions and to insure that all Canadians once they reach retirement age have enough income to be secure for the future.

The CPP has mandatory deduction now and, if it were expanded, could easily become the financial institution to ensure a guaranteed annual income for pensioners.

The Harper government is not interventionist. The market is their answer to pensions and they believe that a person creates their own future without any help from the government. So expansion of CPP won't see the light of day as long as the present government refuses to recognize the reality of a growing number of people reaching retirement age and living beyond. They refuse to acknowledge that many of these people will not have a pension that can support retirement because the PRPP is not a universal plan that will be managed like CPP.

Ideology rules the day… not an understanding of the senior cohort coming on scene who may very well be destitute in their old age. So maybe it's time for the provinces to take a different tack before this becomes even more of a national disgrace.

Maybe the provinces should create their own pension plan that piggy backs on CPP. If Ontario had a pension plan that worked and was properly run, pensioners might have a fighting chance to enjoy the fruits of their labour, while they're still able.

It is time for some new thinking about pensions!


CAW Contact
August 12, 2011
Volume 41, No. 29


Weak Job Market a Concern for Real Economic Recovery

The announcement of continued job growth in Canada is in stark contrast to the more deeply rooted challenges facing our national labour market, said CAW President Ken Lewenza, in response to the monthly labour force survey results released by Statistics Canada on August 5.

The national Labour Force Survey, an important monthly report card on Canada's labour market performance, estimates that Canada's economy pumped out 7,000 new jobs, building on three consecutive months of gains. The national unemployment rate dropped slightly to 7.2 per cent (7.4 per cent the month prior), primarily because fewer Canadians were actively looking for work.

But it still only tells part of the story, said Lewenza. "If we want to gauge the strength of our labour market, we need to look well beyond the up and down of the monthly job numbers."

Lewenza said examining indicators like increases to temporary and contract employment, as well as wage stagnation, a reduction in hours worked, and other factors must all be a part of the total employment picture.

Lewenza likened the avid following of unemployment numbers to spectators watching a horse race, cheering for the winner.

"We can't afford to simply cheer for new jobs. We have to dig deeper to determine whether Canada's employment core is stable or is rotting away."

"In many cases, the people who I talk to are no less afraid for their jobs than they were a year ago. And those who have lost their jobs are still having a terrible time finding new ones."

CAW Sisters Raise Thousands on the Highway to Help

Members of the CAW Local 27 Women's Committee hit the road on a motorcycle ride through Southern Ontario from July 25 to 29 - dubbed the Highway to Help. The ride, which pulled in over $26,000 in donations for women's support services in Ontario, helped raise awareness around the issue of gender based violence.

CAW sisters Patty Marshall and Kim Walker, embarked on the ambitious five-day, 2000 km, motorcycle ride visiting CAW workplaces in 16 communities making stops in Ingersoll, Woodstock, Kitchener, Milton, Mississauga, Brampton, Toronto, Oshawa, Ajax, Whitby, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, St. Thomas, Windsor and London.


The Highway to Help motorcycle ride makes it's final stop at K's Sports Lounge & Grill in London, Ontario on July 29. (L-R) Patty Marshall; Cheryl Brown (Highway to Help support team); Jim Wilkes; Eileen Morrow, OAITH coordinator; Kim Walker; and Marie Morris (Highway to Help support team).
Photo by: Jim Kennedy CAW Local 27

Funds raised will be put towards the Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional Houses (OAITH) - a group that works to educate and promote change for abused women and children afflicted by violence - and in coordination with the provincial Step it Up campaign, that's aiming to make violence against women an issue for the October 6 election.

Marshall, a lead organizer for the event, said she was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm shown in support of this initiative - the first of its kind for the union. Organizers had encouraged CAW members across Ontario to run individual fundraising drives in their workplaces and communities.

"The excitement and positive energy we felt from other CAW members was incredible and made the entire trip worthwhile," Marshall said. "I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Marshall and Walker were greeted to a heroes welcome at the ride's end in London on July 29, where 75 people packed into a small sports bar to congratulate the pair. Among the crowd was CAW Local 27 Financial Secretary Jim Wilkes, CAW
Director of Women's Programs Julie White and London Mayor Joe Fontana.

"These sisters make our union proud," White said. "Their contribution to the struggle to raise awareness on gender based violence leading up to the Ontario provincial election is important work."

To learn more about the Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional Housing visit: http://www.oaith.ca/

To learn more about the Step it Up campaign visit: http://www.stepitupontario.ca/

Closure of Historic Siemens Plant Sad Day for Hamilton

The end of production at the historic Siemens gas turbine facility in Hamilton was a difficult and sad day for workers and the local community. Production ended on July 29.

"This Siemens closure marks a sad end to more than 100 years of top quality production by highly efficient, skilled and committed workers," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "This closure absolutely could have been avoided," Lewenza said.

"The provincial government has failed to ensure that its resources were fully used to maintain these important manufacturing jobs for this large group of workers, their families and the community of Hamilton," Lewenza said. "It's another example of the government's failure to act to protect jobs in the manufacturing sector."

Randy Smith, president of CAW Local 504, blasted Siemens for selling the Hamilton jobs and moving them to Charlotte, North Carolina for "millions and millions of U.S. dollars in government incentives and tax breaks."

He also said the provincial Liberal government has bought into the Samsung wind power business and given millions of tax dollars to Siemens to build wind turbine plants, "while doing nothing to protect our Hamilton jobs or to move work into our facility."

"Siemens continues to disrespect its workers by undercutting their efforts to put their severance pay in trust with the government and respect their recall rights," said Smith.

CAW Local 504 and the national union will continue fighting for 24 jobs, which will exist in the office building where up to 200 people will continue to be employed by Siemens. "We believe these jobs are covered by our hourly and salary contracts."

The closure of the Siemens plant puts 550 people out of work, including nearly 350 who are represented by CAW Local 504.

This adds to the more than 31,000 manufacturing jobs over the last seven years.

New Agreements Ratified at Ontario Lottery and Gaming


OLG Brantford Committee-From left to right in the photo are: Assistant to the President Bob Orr , National Representative Jim Woods Matt Smith, Ken Wight, Dan Cushenan, Dave Reston, Joyce Borman, Cary MacMillan and CAW Local 504 President Randy Smith.

CAW members working for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming commission at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Sudbury Downs and Brantford Casino overwhelmingly ratified new collective agreements on July 17.

The union represents approximately 1000 workers at three separate bargaining units in Toronto, Sudbury and Brantford, each with its own collective agreement. The three bargaining committees came together at a master bargaining table starting the last week of June and continued joint negotiations until a tentative agreement was reached on July 14.

The new deals will run for four years. Each agreement includes lump sum payouts in years one and two, followed by hourly rate increases of 2.5 per cent in years three and four. In addition, the agreement improves existing contract language that enhances seniority rights and improves working conditions. The union also negotiated an increase in the number of full-time jobs at all three locations and a new joint Women's Advocate program, among other contract gains.

Union members voted 87 per cent in favour of the new deal in Brantford, 87 per cent in Sudbury and 91 per cent in Toronto.

The strong endorsement by our members of marks a positive end to a challenging round of negotiations, said CAW Brantford Casino Chairperson Dave Reston.

"The bargaining environment in Ontario right now is challenging, and it has been for the past two or three years," Reston said. "The fact we were able to hammer out a quality agreement, with a tough employer, is a testament to the hard work of our bargaining committee and the support of our members."

The agreement makes progress on a number of important issues for union members, said CAW Local 598 President Richard Paquin.

"Not only does this deal take an important step forward in clarifying workplace protocols and procedures for our members, it's also an important step forward in our fight for greater job security and quality of life improvements, which have been long overdue," Paquin said.

At 91 per cent, ratification results were the highest ever recorded for Woodbine security workers in Toronto and that's good news for members as we look to the future, said CAW Woodbine Security Unit Chairperson Henry Kosiak.

"I'm optimistic that this contract will set the stage for a more engaged membership, and even greater contract gains down the line," Kosiak said. "Gaming workers in Ontario, and across Canada, have their own unique sets of challenges that need to be addressed. The union's proven they have the right tools to make that happen."

OLG workers in Brantford, Sudbury and Toronto are represented by CAW locals 504, 598 and 252, respectively. The union represents over 800 members at the Brantford Casino, working in various departments including slots, table games, food and beverage, cage and coin, and others, as well as 140 security workers in Toronto and 70 cage and coin cashiers, slot technicians, slot attendants, housekeepers, player services representatives and count team members in Sudbury.


OLG Sudbury Committee- Richard Paquin, CAW Local 598 President, Frank Marcil, Nicole Brown and Sam Schiafone

Engine Work Good News for Windsor

Block machining for Ford's 5.0 litre engine program will get underway at the Essex Engine plant later this year along with the retooling of another machining line at the Annex plant, which will add up to 80 jobs at the Windsor, Ontario site.

CAW Local 200 President Chris Taylor said it is good news, which comes as a result of the collective agreement reached with the company in 2007 that helped secure new product for the Windsor site.

"This new block machining work along with the retooling of another CNC line at the Annex plant for additional head machining, is coming to Windsor in part because our members are highly skilled, productive and flexible and will be able to adapt to the new technology required to operate the new CNC Block line," Taylor said.

"Adding these jobs is positive news for a work force and a city that has been extremely hard hit in recent years by the manufacturing crisis," he said.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said although these 80 jobs are good news, the overall manufacturing sector continues to struggle across Canada because of the lack of government action to sustain and further build this important sector.

"Since 2002 Canada has lost over 500,000 manufacturing jobs and they have not been recovered," said Lewenza. "Canada needs an action plan to reinvigorate its manufacturing sector."

New Contract at Autoliv in Tilbury

CAW Local 1941 members at Autoliv Canada in Tilbury, Ontario ratified a new three year collective agreement by 93 per cent earlier this summer.

"The new agreement provides for wage, pension and benefit improvements along with numerous language changes," said CAW National Representative Rick Garant. "This is good news for our members at this facility, the city of Tilbury and the surrounding communities."

The agreement was negotiated well ahead of its October 15 expiry date in order to allow the company to bid on potential new work. The news of new equipment is awaiting confirmation for the middle of August.

"The relationship between the company and the union has matured and all parties stand together with the common wish to maintain a critical presence in the Canadian manufacturing industry," said Paula Carson, chairperson and CAW Local 1941 president.

"Our members voted overwhelmingly to open the contract early after the plant manager attended a union meeting to answer questions regarding the intent of the request to bargain early. I've never known a Plant Manager to agree to come to a union meeting."

Carson said that it was clearly in the best interest of both parties to get an early agreement and concentrate on the business of making air bags and saving lives.

"We've done our part to educate and inform the members, they supported our recommendations and have worked hard to manufacture a very high quality product, making us the 'go to supplier." The bargaining committee, with Rick Garant, was able to negotiate a very solid agreement."

Rally to Safeguard Public Health Care in Ontario

A mass rally to protect 'public Health Care for people, and not for profit,' will be held at Queen's Park in Toronto on Tuesday, September 13 starting at 12 noon.

With the Ontario election scheduled for October 6, the rally and a march down hospital row in Toronto is an opportunity to get commitments from all political parties to safeguard health care services and improve access to care.

"In polls, health care ranks at the top of the public's agenda," states an Ontario Health Coalition (OHC) flyer. "Every political party will promise to fund and improve health care. But lip-service is not enough. Ontarians need clear commitments."

Download the poster here.

Three goals of the OHC rally include:

- Improved access to services in local communities. This includes restoring hospital beds and services to reduce ER backlogs, hospital-acquired infections and cancelled surgeries, protecting local hospitals and services from closure, addressing severe staffing shortages and improving access to primary health care;

- Comprehensive care for Ontario patients and seniors. This includes the clear right to access needed chronic, rehabilitative and long term care whether a patient is in a hospital, a long-term care home or home care;

- Equitable non-profit and public care. This includes improvements and new capacity built into non-profit agencies and institutions and an end to home care competitive bidding, user fees and for-profit health care privatization.

Several local health care coalitions in Ontario are arranging buses. CAW members are encouraged to contact their local coalition for further details. Information for local coalitions can be found at: www.web.net/ohc/localcoalitions.htm

Demonstration in Support of Budd Canada Retirees

Hundreds of CAW members and retirees picketed in front of a ThyssenKrupp facility in Oakville, Ontario on August 5, demanding that the company live up to its commitments to retirees at the former Budd Canada (TK Budd), plant in Kitchener, Ontario.

ThyssenKrupp is attempting to renege on its commitment to approximately 1,500 of the retireesby cancelling their health care benefits.

The CAW is currently engaged in a court battle with ThyssenKrupp Canada to save the post-retirement benefits of former Budd Canada workers in Kitchener.

ThyssenKrupp Budd (formerly Budd Canada) is attempting to dissolve retiree benefits through the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

Among the retirees who could lose their benefits, some are in long term care homes and others are recent organ transplant recipients on life-saving anti-rejection drugs. The Kitchener facility closed in December 2008. The workers were represented by CAW Local 1451 and produced truck frames.

ThyssenKrupp is a German-based multinational corporation employing 177,000 people in 80 different countries. In 2010, ThyssenKrupp reported a gross profit of more than $8 billion (€6 billion), with a net equity of more than $14 billion (€10 billion).

CAW Supports Toronto Diversity Program Graduates


Graduates of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto's (CHFT) Diversity Scholarship program gathered this summer to celebrate their achievements.
The CAW is a sponsor of the CHFT's Diversity Scholarship Program. Post-secondary students who live in housing co-ops in Toronto are chosen for the scholarships based on their activities in promoting diversity and other community involvement.
Employees of the CHFT are members of CAW Local 40.

CAW Urges Support for Famine Relief Effort

CAW President Ken Lewenza is urging CAW local unions, members and staff to make a contribution to the East Africa famine relief effort.

Oxfam Canada is working with the labour movement to raise much needed funds to supply food, shelter and water sanitation support for the region. The CAW Social Justice Fund has already donated $25,000 to Oxfam's efforts.

Oxfam has set up an online portal for CAW members who want to make a donation: http://bit.ly/qOO5Mm. Any donation will be matched by the federal government until September 16.

Oxfam Canada is part of the Humanitarian Coalition, a Canadian network of non-governmental organizations providing help in times of crisis.

In an August 5 letter to CAW local unions and staff, Lewenza wrote:

"To date, aid workers have lamented the slow pace of international donations, with need far, far outpacing basic supplies. The United Nations now estimates that the total number of people in need could rise by 25 per cent and surpass 15 million people if aid efforts are not dramatically increased.

Your generosity can make a huge difference in the lives of the people of East Africa."

For more information on what you can do, please visit:

New Agreement at Sandvik, Ending Strike

The CAW has reached and ratified a new collective agreement with Sandvik Material Technologies on August 8 ending a more than three week long strike.

CAW Sandvik unit chair Derek Mosley said that he's pleased with what the bargaining committee was able to accomplish. "We could not have done it without the unwavering support from the membership and the support from the national union," said Mosley. "We are proud of the solidarity of our membership in fighting back concessions and holding tough until a negotiated settlement was reached."

The new three year agreement includes benefit improvements, strengthened language around lay-offs and a wage increase in the third year. The contract also maintains the existing rolling cost of living adjustment (COLA) formula, a major point of contention in the negotiations. The deal was ratified by 80 per cent.

"I'm humbled by the level of support the membership has shown in their first ever strike, in the facility's more than 30 year existence," said Harry Ghadban, CAW Eastern Ontario area director. "The bargaining committee and members were buoyed seeing so many CAW members support their efforts for a fair contract."

The CAW held a rally in support of striking Sandvik workers at the company's Canadian headquarters in Mississauga on July 26.

The 157 employees make steel tubing for the nuclear, aerospace, automotive, and oil and gas sectors. Sandvik Material Technologies is located in Arnprior, Ontario (an hour outside of Ottawa) and is part of a Swedish-owned multinational company.

CAW Connected: Sign up Now!

In a few short months, our very own CAW Connected turns two!

We launched CAW Connected on December 4, 2009 at CAW Council. Since then, we've had more than 3,200 people sign up. But we know can do even better than this. You can help.

Still a toddler, CAW Connected has a lot to accomplish before its birthday. Help us reach (and even exceed) the goal of 5,000 members before December 4. Sign up for CAW Connected today! Encourage your co-workers to sign up too! You can sign up at: http://connected.caw.ca/.

If you would like some CAW Connected sign up cards to distribute in your workplace, at a meeting or an event, please contact the CAW's Communications Department at: cawcomm@caw.ca.

What is CAW Connected?

CAW Connected is an innovative tool to keep CAW members informed about important issues and events in their communities and right across the country. CAW Connected members receive email updates on CAW campaigns and information about upcoming rallies and demonstrations.

The system itself is called a Civi Constituent Relationship Management (Civi CRM), which has the ability to organize and sort information by city, province, federal, or in some cases, provincial electoral ridings. During the last federal election, CAW Connected provided information to members in targeted ridings about candidates. Across the country, CAW Connected was used to provide campaign updates specifically for CAW Connected members.



Ford pushes expansion in
China, India to catch rivals

Carmaker seeks larger role in markets
where brand loyalties are up for grabs

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
August 11, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is convinced its aggressive expansion plans to introduce more models, add dealerships and build assembly plants in China and India will allow it to quickly catch up to more entrenched automakers in these key emerging markets.

Dearborn-based Ford is investing heavily to make the brand a household name and introduce new cars and trucks to a huge pool of first-time buyers who have no brand loyalties yet, Joe Hinrichs, Ford's vice president for Asia, the Pacific and Africa, told investors Wednesday in Detroit at the J.P. Morgan Auto Conference.

The potential to become a better-known brand is huge for Ford: the Chinese and Indian markets total 18 million and 3 million, respectively, and could reach 30 million in China and 9 million in India by the end of the decade.

"The growth we have coming at us is unprecedented," Hinrichs said.

Ford is introducing 50 new vehicles and powertrains for China, India and the ASEAN region by 2015.

That includes 15 new models for the Chinese market over the next five years, eight for India and eight for Thailand.

"To capture more sales and profits, you have to look overseas," said analyst Alec Gutierrez of Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, Calif.

Ford is also dramatically increasing the number of dealerships in both countries. In China, Ford had 340 dealers at the end of 2010.

It plans to add 100 this year and double the outlets by 2014.

The focus is no longer on the mega-cities. Hinrichs said there are smaller cities, with 1 million people, that do not have a Ford dealership.

Less than 3 percent of all vehicles bought in China last year were Ford products.

In India, Ford wants more than 200 dealers by year's end, up from about 120 when the year started. India needs service outlets — there are a lot of accidents that result in the need for body work.

Ford has seven plants under construction in these emerging markets, including $1.6 billion on four facilities in China. "We've not had that kind of construction in decades," Hinrichs said.

Ford, he said, is close to increasing its stake in its Chinese joint venture, the Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co.

Ford awaits Chinese government approval of a restructuring proposal. Changan Automobile Group currently holds 50 percent; Ford 35 percent and Mazda motor Corp. 15 percent.

"We want 50 percent going forward," Hinrichs said. "We're close to it happening."

There'll "never be a better opportunity" to boost volume in China and India, he said.

Hinrichs said Ford is now strong enough to invest the time and resources it needs to be a true player in the region, and its global strategies make it possible.

It is a chicken and egg situation. The growth markets offer the sales increase needed to fund future research and development, Gutierrez said.

"We know how to compete," Hinrichs said, noting Ford's growth in China is outpacing the industry even though there are no new products in the lineup yet.

The explosive growth of the automotive market in China has slowed — Hinrichs predicts less than 10 percent growth over the next few years. But he said it will remain the world's largest market, followed by North America and India.


Can Ford’s refreshed Taurus
rise from the dead?

The sportiest Taurus yet to wear the acclaimed Super High Output badge, the SHO offers 365 hp, a broad torque band, all-wheel drive, while delivering 25 EPA-rated highway mpg.

Ford's Taurus has been steeped in controversy over the years.

Toronto Star
Aug 9, 2011

When Ford dropped the model in 2006, everyone from the plant workers to the media cried foul. When Ford decided to bring the model back for 2008, there was much to rejoice about, and yet sales slowly slumped.

Now, with what Motor Trend is calling “a shot in the sheet metal,” Ford has made it clear that the Taurus name is being given a fighting chance.

Ford says the refreshed 2013 model will deliver one of the most feature rich vehicles in the carmaker's line up.

The most exciting of all the trim levels appears to be the SHO — no surprise since SHO (Super High Output) is already an iconic badge, but the 2013 Taurus SHO is surely the sportiest model to ever wear it.

Although the engine remains the same as what’s in the outgoing Taurus, this 3.5L twin-turbo charged all-aluminum V6 equipped SHO reportedly sends 365 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque through an updated, high-capacity, 6-speed automatic transmission to power all four wheels in its all-wheel-drive setup.

The 2013 Taurus SHO will also feature a more sophisticated suspension arrangement than the outgoing 2012 model (available now in 2011, of course), along with larger diameter disc brakes upfront and vented rotors at the back. There’s also an electronic power-assisted steering (EPAS) set up that has been designed to allow more direct road feel and communicative response to driver input. The EPAS system also allows for Taurus’s park assist system to park the car itself.

The new SHO adds to the refreshed Taurus design with a blacked out front grille flanked by unique HID headlamps and SHO branding on the front fender vent. The rear decklid looks to incorporate a unique spoiler, improving aerodynamics and styling. The standard wheels are 19-inch painted alloys wearing 255/45VR-19 tires, with massive 20-inch wheels available as an option.

For the regular 2013 Taurus, Ford is, in fact, introducing a new power plant in the form of a 2.0L V4 that combines gasoline direct injection (GDI) and a turbocharger. Together, these technologies allow for greater power delivery — 237 horsepower, 250 lb.-ft. of torque — while increasing maximum fuel efficiency to 7.5L/100km which is said to be the best in class.

The new Taurus will continue on Ford’s aim to build more technologically rich vehicles with the integration of adaptive cruise control, frontal-collision warning with brake support and park assist.

There’s also an upgraded SYNC system allowing for voice controlled communications and entertainment in the 2013 Taurus.

Ford’s intelligent MyKey system, meanwhile, will be standard in the new car, featuring owner programmable limits on top speed, audio volume, audio content and disengagement of stability controls. For those who don’t have teens in need of select vehicle restrictions like these, the MyKey system should at least prove its worth when valet parking.

The standard 2013 Taurus will also feature torque vectoring control, a system that emulates the effects of a limited-slip differential by applying slight braking when cornering to allow for even distribution of torque to the driving wheels leading to more responsive handling characteristics.

The 2013 Taurus will also be joining the ranks of police forces all over the U.S. and Canada. It will be replacing the aging fleet of Ford Crown Victoria police vehicles that have been around since the early 90s. According to Ford, the 2013 model Taurus will be renamed “Police Interceptor” and modified with a number of changes and upgrades unavailable in the civilian car.

All in all, not only will the new cop cars look significantly different from the cruisers they’ll be replacing, but they’ll be significantly more sophisticated and more capable than just about any other police vehicle in use in North America today.

Ford seems to have covered all their bases with the new Taurus. The powerful, more agile and performance-oriented SHO focuses on placing the Taurus at the very top of powerful full-size sedans while the 2.0L powertrain equipped model aims to please all those looking for fuel efficiency in a similar sized car.


Feds investigating new Ford Mustang, VW Jetta

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 8, 2011

Washington — Federal safety officials have opened investigations into new Ford Mustangs with manual transmissions over erratic shifting and diesel Volkswagen Jetta sedans for fuel leaks.

In documents posted Sunday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was opening a preliminary investigation into 26,000 2011-12 Mustang vehicles.

NHTSA said it has received 32 complaints alleging an unexpected inability to shift into gear on Mustangs equipped with manual transmissions that some suggested had nearly led to crashes.

Some reports said incidents occurred while merging into high speed traffic, while others said incidents occurred while turning left across oncoming traffic.

NHTSA also said it is investigating 40,000 2011 Jetta TDI vehicles after it received seven complaints alleging leakage from the fuel line to the fuel injector.

NHTSA said the common rail fuel system in the subject vehicles operates at extremely high fuel injection pressure — up to 1,800 bar/26,000 psi — and the incident mileages range from 2,470 to 7,764 miles.

NHTSA also said it has one similar complaint from a VW Golf also equipped 2.0L TDI engine.

The two investigations are not related. NHTSA generally investigates for up to a year before deciding whether to upgrade an investigation into an engineering analysis.

In many cases, an investigation ends before then — when either an automaker voluntarily recalls vehicles or the government ends the probe for lack of evidence.

Ford said it was aware of the investigation. "We will fully cooperate with the government as they review this matter," spokesman Wes Sherwood said.



Working Families escalates
attacks on Hudak

The group Working Families hopes its aggressive new ad blitz will encourage Ontarians to vote against Tim Hudak.

Toronto Star
Robert Benzie
Queen's Park Bureau Chief
Aug 7, 2011

A politically active union group that Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak wants to outlaw is urging Ontarians to vote against him with an aggressive new ad blitz.

Working Families, a coalition of public- and private-sector unions instrumental in defeating the Tories in 2003 and 2007, will next week escalate its multi-million dollar attack campaign for the Oct. 6 election, the Star has learned.

“What can working families expect from a Tim Hudak government?” asks a sombre male narrator over unflattering images of the PC leader who was a minister in the governments of former premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.

“As a Harris parliamentary assistant, Hudak voted to fire thousands of nurses and to close hospitals. As opposition leader, he voted against saving jobs during a recession and against personal tax cuts,” the announcer continues.

“Now Tim Hudak wants to reduce our services — but he isn’t telling us any of the details.”

The 30-second ad also cites opinion columns from the Star and the National Post that criticize the Tory platform, entitled “Changebook.”

It is the first Working Families spot since the Tories released their glossy 34-page manifesto in May and follows a spate of the coalition’s commercials that began airing in February and March.

Working Families’ Patrick Dillon, business manager and secretary treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, noted Hudak changed his tune on two significant policy matters after the unions’ earlier wave of advertising.

The Tory leader embraced the Liberals’ full-day kindergarten program he had previously opposed and scrapped his controversial plan to eliminate Ontario Human Rights Tribunals.

“We’re not running the ads to try to impact Tim Hudak’s thinking. We’re running the ads to … get (voters’) attention on what electing this guy would actually mean,” Dillon said Friday.

“He sees right away that those ads are having their impact so he’s trying to change, which I think shows pretty questionable leadership on his part,” he said.

“We’re starting to get into the election period and there’s a lot at stake.”

The Tories have long charged that Working Families is an illegal Liberal front group, but their complaints have repeatedly been dismissed by the courts and Elections Ontario.

Still, Hudak has vowed to curb such organizations if elected by amending labour laws and introducing “paycheque protection so union members are not forced to pay fees toward political causes they don’t support.”

While Working Families bolstered Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals in the past two elections, New Democratic insiders insist this year they are also helping NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who launches her own ad Monday.

In stark contrast to the unions’ piece — and recent attack ads released by the Liberals and Tories — her radio spot strikes a positive tone.

“You’re going to hear a lot from politicians about what Ontario can’t do. In this election we can do something different,” Horwath says over a background of optimistic music.

“We can reward businesses with tax cuts when they create jobs in Ontario, cut waits in ERs by making smarter health investments, and make life affordable by taking the HST off essentials like hydro, heating and gas,” she adds.

“That’s not just change — it’s change that puts people first.”

NDP campaign co-chair Gilles Bisson, the MPP for Timmins-James Bay, said Horwath is striking a decidedly different tone from her rivals.

“People tell us they want to hear our positive ideas, not negative attacks. That’s what we’re doing today,” Bisson said Friday.

Senior Liberal officials counter Horwath can’t have it both ways — citing her frequent attacks on McGuinty’s record and pointing out her ad’s claim the NDP would remove the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax from “essentials” is inaccurate.

In fact, the New Democrats would phase in reductions in the 8 per cent provincial portion of the consumption tax on energy costs over a period of more than four years.

Rocco Rossi, the PC candidate in Eglinton-Lawrence, said the Tories are “thrilled” with their attack ads that depict McGuinty as the Tax Man.

“People want to know what the choice is all about. It’s not about sunshine and moonbeams, it’s about what’s at stake for Ontario families in terms of making life more affordable for them,” said Rossi.


Honda recalls 2.5M vehicles worldwide for stalls, shifting problems

David Shepardson and Christine Tierney/ The Detroit News
August 6, 2011

Honda Motor Co. announced a massive 2.5 million worldwide recall of three models Friday, to address complaints of engine stalls and vehicles that shift out of park.

The recall includes 1.51 million vehicles in the United States.

Honda will update software that controls the automatic transmission to ease the transition between gears and prevent damage. It has received 113 complaints from U.S. motorists, including 45 for engine stalls and 11 for vehicles shifting out of park.

The recall covers the 2005-10 four-cylinder Accords, 2007-10 CR-Vs and 2005-08 Elements. No injuries or deaths have been reported in connection with the issue. Honda spokesman Chris Martin said the automaker also is recalling the vehicles in Canada, Mexico, China, South America and parts of the Middle East.

Without the updated software, the automatic transmission secondary shaft bearing in the affected vehicles can be damaged if the transmission is shifted quickly between each of the reverse, neutral and drive positions, as may be done in an attempt to dislodge a vehicle stuck in mud or snow. A damaged bearing can cause the engine to stall or lead to difficulty engaging the parking gear. The software update will ease the transition between gears to reduce the possibility of damage, Honda said.

The Japanese automaker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it has been investigating the issue for several years. In September 2008, it received three claims of bearing breakage in the United States and began investigating.

It received other complaints worldwide and changed its bearing supplier in late 2009. Honda will begin to notify owners Aug. 31.

Also Friday, NHTSA said it is closing investigations into certain vehicles produced by Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.

Affected Ford models are the 2004-07 Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans, which had been probed for engine stalls and other problems caused by water leaking onto a module.

An estimated 280,000 minivans are included in those model years.

NHTSA said the low failure rate did not warrant a recall. For the same reason, the agency also closed its investigation into 266,000 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs over complaints that chrome plating on interior door handles could separate from the plastic and cause minor cuts.

In some cases, consumers reported minor hand/skin cuts. Of those, the vast majority were to adults. Ninety percent of claims associated with interior door handle delamination were related to the front doors. NHTSA recorded 746 complaints with 309 injuries that in most cases were akin to a paper cut.

The door handle supplier was changed in September 2006 with new tooling and processes in place by October 2006.


Accord, CR-V part of
massive Honda recall


More than 135,000 Honda models in Canada are among 2.49 million vehicles the carmaker has voluntarily recalled because of a software flaw in the automatic transmission, the company said Friday.

The recall affects certain 2005-2010 4-cylinder Accord, 2007-2010 CR-V and 2005-2008 Element vehicles.

Owners of these vehicles can figure out if they need to have their transmission softwware updated by checking online at http://www.honda.ca/recalls or by calling toll free to 1-888-946-6329.

Without the updated software, the automaker said, “the automatic transmission secondary shaft bearing in the affected vehicles can be damaged if the transmission is quickly shifted between each of the reverse, neutral and drive positions.”

If the bearing is damaged in trying to unstick a vehicle from mud or snow, for example, “it can cause the engine to stall or lead to difficulty engaging the parking gear.”

The software update smoothes out the automatic gear shifting, Honda said.

No injuries or deaths have been reported related to this condition.

Honda announced the voluntary recall Friday to allow owners to get their vehicles into dealers as soon as possible, although notification to customers will begin on Aug. 31.

Kyodo news agency in Japan reported that another 760,000 Honda models were recalled in China, and that worldwide, some 2.49 million vehicles have been recalled.

That global total includes 135,142 vehicles in Canada. Honda Canada reported that recall.



Mulally gets some mileage
out of spin with Letterman

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Motor Company Alan Mulally joins host David Letterman on the set of the “Late Show with David Letterman,” Wednesday Aug.3, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/CBS, John Paul Filo)

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
August 5, 2011

It was a short test drive, but it gave Ford Motor Co. miles of publicity.

On Wednesday's "Late Show with David Letterman," CEO Alan Mulally was in the passenger seat of a prototype Ford Focus electric vehicle as Letterman took it for a spin across the stage.

The comedian, a proponent of electric cars, told Mulally he has two — but neither is a domestic brand.

The Focus electric vehicle does not go on sale until next year so Mulally could not give Letterman a price, but there could be a future sale in the works based on Letterman's grin when he exited the vehicle.

Mulally appeared comfortable in the guest chair. He followed actress Emma Stone, who was promoting her new movie "The Help."

Mulally and Letterman also compared notes about early jobs bagging groceries, and Letterman surprised Mulally, who was president of Boeing before joining Ford, with his knowledge of airplanes.

And Mulally received a large round of applause when he explained how Ford turned itself around without a government bailout.


Auto makers set to lure in buyers

Rita Trichur
Globe and Mail
August 4, 2011

Canadian car buyers can expect to see more tantalizing sales incentives at dealerships this fall as competition heats up among auto makers.

U.S.-based auto makers like Ford and Chrysler may have recorded solid Canadian sales in July, but Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda are on track to replenish their inventories and are gearing up to regain market share over the coming months.

The stage was set for more competition after U.S. auto makers began offering employee-pricing discounts and other promotions in June. At the time, their chief Japanese rivals were struggling to recover from parts and vehicle shortages in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"It is certainly a competitive market as we stand now, but once you get the Japanese [auto makers] getting more product at their dealerships, you're likely to see that will increase even further," said Carlos Gomes, a senior economist with the Bank of Nova Scotia who closely follows the auto industry.

Earlier this week, Toyota Motor Corp. assured investors that normal production would resume in September – about two months ahead of schedule. Honda Motor Co. Ltd., meanwhile, expects production at its North American plants to return to normal this month for all models except the 2012 Civic.

More normal production will ease supply constraints for Japanese auto makers, allowing them to compete more vigorously for sales. That, in turn, is expected to spur U.S. manufacturers to vie with more robust discounts of their own – especially since customer loyalty remains a huge advantage for Japanese auto makers. Experts suggest that some consumers have deliberately waited to buy new vehicles until companies like Toyota and Honda reload their stock this fall.

"I am expecting that by September you will see increased incentives by, not only Toyota, but most of the Japanese auto makers," added Mr. Gomes. "So, I am expecting a fairly healthy sales environment continuing for the rest of the year in Canada."

Overall, Mr. Gomes projects Canadian sales of cars and light trucks to increase to a total of 1.59 million units in 2011 from 1.56 million units last year.

In addition to juicier incentives, Kenrick Jordan, a senior economist with BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc., said a recovering labour market, decent income growth and relatively low interest rates will help spur Canadian auto sales for the remainder of 2011.

Predictions of deeper discounting came as various auto makers released their Canadian sales results for July on Wednesday.

According to results compiled by Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc., total light vehicle sales fell 4.9 per cent in July on a year-over-year basis. He also noted that July sales data produced a "mixed bag" of results depending on the manufacturer.

"And it is the usual suspects … Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen all having great months up in the double digit range from July last year. Honda and Toyota stilled racked with supply problems having under-performing months down in the double digit range," he wrote in a note to clients.

For its part, Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. said total sales increased by 1 per cent compared to the same month last year and billed it as the company's best July since 1979. Its top sellers included the Fiesta, Fusion and Taurus as fewer Canadians opted for trucks.

Chrysler Canada Inc., meanwhile, said it saw its "best July sales in the company's history" after sales during the month increased 5 per cent versus one year ago.

Reid Bigland, president and chief executive officer of Chrysler Canada, credited record sales on the Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Journey and Dodge Charger. "This business is all about product and we currently have the strongest and most fuel-efficient vehicle lineup in the history of our company," he said.

Rounding out the Detroit Big Three, General Motors of Canada Ltd. said its total sales fell 15 per cent compared to last July. Still, Marc Comeau, vice-president of sales, service and marketing, suggested much of the decline resulted from a lack of stock.

Supply disruptions resulting from the twin natural disasters in Japan continued to hamper Canadian sales of Japanese auto makers last month. Nonetheless, Honda Canada Inc. suggested "the worst is behind us" even as combined July sales by its Honda and Acura divisions marked a 24-per-cent decrease over last year.

Executive vice-president Jerry Chenkin said the company fully expects the situation to improve significantly over the coming months. "Once again, we apologize to our valued customers as we work hard to recover from this very difficult period," he added.


For U.S. auto unions, it's
payback time in Detroit

The Financial Times
Posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It’s payback time in Detroit. Not for taxpayers, who will never recover all of the $100-billion lifeline they extended to the industry, but for the United Auto Workers union.

New UAW President Bob King kicked off quadrennial negotiations with the three domestic U.S. auto makers this week in a relatively conciliatory tone. Beneath the surface though, his 110,000 members, a greatly diminished group from the union’s heyday, want to flex their muscles and, more important, share the wealth of the industry’s remarkable rebound.

Auto makers are open to more profit-sharing but privately fear a return to what for them were the bad old days. Even after major concessions two years ago, UAW workers earn $3 to $8 more an hour than non-unionized workers at “transplants” such as Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai and Volkswagen -- around $58 including benefits. Big payoffs to spin-off retiree healthcare trusts in 2007 shaved around $17 off the bill, but current salaried employees pay a sixth of what non-unionised staff do for healthcare at the Big Three. Automakers would like to narrow this gap to become more competitive with transplants whose healthcare costs are a third as high. But the UAW seems in no mood for more concessions.

For the first time, strikes are temporarily prohibited at General Motors and Chrysler as part of their bail-out. Ford, the most successful auto maker, is the odd man out and, as it avoided restructuring, the only one not partially-owned by UAW trusts. And Alan Mulally, Ford’s boss, earns far more than his peers.

This could be awkward. Even if negotiations do not widen the compensation gap with transplants, a breakdown in traditional pay parity among the Big Three might punish Mr. Mulally. Grateful shareholders have rewarded him handsomely but most employees benefited too. Will no good deed go unpunished?



Ford recalling 1.2M
pickups for fire concerns

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 2, 2011

Traverse City -- Ford Motor Co. said Monday that it is recalling 1.22 million pickups in the United States and Canada over concerns about fuel tanks dropping and causing fire — the latest in a series of recalls this year for the Dearborn automaker.

The recall includes the 1997-2003 Ford F-150, 2004 F-150 Heritage, 1997-99 F-250 — versions below 8,500 pounds — and 2002-03 Lincoln Blackwood pickups.

In the United States, the recall includes 1.1 million vehicles in 21 states and Washington, D.C., to replace fuel tank straps. The straps can corrode after operation for extended periods — often in high corrosion areas — and allow the fuel tank to drop and potentially leak, which could lead to a fire, Ford said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May upgraded an investigation into 2.7 million Ford pickup trucks over this issue. NHTSA said Monday that its investigation is continuing into the remaining 1.6 million pickups that haven't been recalled.

"Our investigation is still open until NHTSA can fully evaluate the steps Ford has taken today," said NHTSA spokeswoman Lynda Tran.

Ford has now recalled nearly 3 million vehicles in 2011; by contrast the Dearborn automaker recalled just 570,000 vehicles in all of 2010.

NHTSA said in May it had 243 reports involving the fuel tank dropping below the vehicle and/or dragging on the ground, 95 involved fuel leakage, and nine included reports of sparks from the tank being dragged on the road.

NHTSA had one report of strap failure in which the leaking fuel ignited but self-extinguished. Ford reported another incident in which the leaking fuel ignited and the resultant fire destroyed the vehicle.

Ford will notify owners in mid-September and ask them to take their vehicles to their local dealers who will repair the vehicles. Ford is aware of three vehicle fires and one injury associated with this condition.

The recall is the latest in a series of recalls for the Dearborn automaker. In April, under heavy government pressure, Ford expanded a recall of F-150 pickups and other vehicles over air bags that suddenly deployed in more than 260 cases.

In total, Ford recalled more than 1.3 million vehicles over the issue.

In January Ford said it was recalling 425,000 Windstar minivans in 22 cold-weather states, including Michigan, to fix potentially corroded parts. The recall covers the 1999-2003 model years.

In March, Continental AG's North American unit said it was recalling 390,000 truck tires following a fatal crash involving a Ford pickup in September. Most of the recalled tires were used as original equipment on new Ford F-250 and F-350 vehicles.

The company said 330,000 of the tires were used on new 2008-09 Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks, while the rest were sold as replacement tires on Ford and other trucks.

NHTSA is also investigating many other Ford issues. On Saturday, NHTSA said it had upgraded an investigation into 317,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans on wheel issues.

The new pickup recall includes vehicles that were sold or now registered in: Delaware, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin



Feds upgrade investigation
into 310,000 Fusions,
Milans for wheel issues

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 1, 2011

Washington — Federal safety regulators upgraded an investigation into wheel defects in more than 310,000 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice posted on its website Sunday it had upgraded its investigation to an engineering analysis into 317,315 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan vehicles of the 2010 model year over complaints of wheel stud fractures.

Wheel stud fractures can result in wheel separation and loss of vehicle control.

In January, the government opened a preliminary investigation into the Ford Fusion and has now expanded it to similar Milan models. NHTSA said it has seen 29 complaints and 128 warranty claims.

NHTSA said there have been four reported wheel-separation incidents. The agency said Ford's investigation into the cause of the alleged defect is ongoing.

Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said Sunday the company is cooperating.

"We will fully cooperate with the government as they review this matter," he said.

Ford told NHTSA in March the majority of reports alleged just one wheel stud fractured. "Based on available data, Ford believes that significant noise and/or vibration is present prior to any risk of a wheel separation," the company said.

The automaker also said most claims became known after drivers reported hearing noise, feeling vibrations or seeing broken studs, prompting them to bring the vehicle in for service.

Ford said it began investigating allegations of rear wheel stud fractures and reports of rear wheel separation in August 2010. Ford said no cause was identified at its Hermosillo Stamping and Assembly plant in Mexico, but the Dearborn automaker revised the wheel stud and assembly processes "by adding angle control to the lug nut torque process in an effort to better identify vehicles with possible wheel stud concerns."

NHTSA said in January four vehicles listed in the complaints had low mileage — between approximately 5,000 and 11,000 miles — and the wheels had never been serviced before the alleged incidents.


Ford Transit's
Canadian connection

Ford Transit

Globe and Mail
August 1, 2011

I've written about the Chevy Volt, the battery electric car with gasoline engine "range extender" and the Nissan Leaf, battery electric only, but there's a third electric vehicle now being sold to Canadian customers. It's Ford's little van. the Transit Connect Electric, and it wears the badge of both Ford and the Canadian company Azure Dynamics.

Azure Dynamics is in the business of converting delivery vehicles from gasoline-powered to hybrid or battery electric. Its biggest customer is Purolator Courier, which has bought a couple of hundred gasoline hybrid electric delivery trucks built by Azure on the Ford E-450 commercial chassis.

Ford decided somewhat belatedly to dip its toes in the all-electric market and chose Azure to come up with a battery electric version of its popular Transit Connect van. In 13 months Azure had the product ready and, along with Ford, sold a few dozen test vehicles. Now it's chasing orders more seriously and believe that this year it may sell 700 or more.

"This is a perfect little delivery van for fleets. They might cover a route of less than 100 km in a day and then return at night to the depot to get recharged. We give them that range and a top speed of 130 km/h if they need it," said Mike Elwood, vice-president of marketing at Azure Dynamics.

Azure is targeting the commercial delivery vehicle niche knowing that it's too small to take on the automotive giants in the car market. The partnership with Ford on the Electric Transit Connect could double Azure's annual revenue. Azure is not yet profitable.

On the electric car side of things, Ford has contracted another Canadian company, Magna E-Car Systems, a partnership between Magna International and Frank Stronach. Ford says it will have a Ford Focus Electric Plug-In on the market in the United States by the end of next year although both Ford and Magna E-Car Systems have been remarkably silent about their progress.

I drove the Transit Connect Electric in Toronto recently and it is smooth and comfortable and noiseless – also emission-free. The lithium-ion batteries from Johnson Controls are under the floor and do not interfere at all with cargo room.

No Canadian pricing was announced, but the price in the U.S. is $57,400. However, it qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax incentive, which gets the price to just less than 50 grand. That's about twice as much as a gasoline engine competitor but with the fuel savings you should get the difference back in five or six years, Elwood says.

"President (Barack) Obama wants a million electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. by 2015. The U.S. has an electric vehicle strategy. In Canada, we're looking for direction – not subsidies. We want the federal government to stand up and say here is where we're going, let's get it done," said Elwood, who is also chair of Electric Mobility Canada, an industry lobby group. EMC calls its plan Canada's Electric Vehicle Technology Road Map, which has so far been ignored by Ottawa.

Azure is building about a dozen Transit Connect Electrics a week at the moment and believes that the delivery van niche is where early adopters will go electric first. It's encouraging that Canadian technology is behind both Ford's entry into the electric truck market and next year's entry into the electric car market.


Ford to build new
$1B India complex

Auto, engine plants will create firm's 2nd compound in country

Christine Tierney/ The Detroit News
July 31, 2011

Ford Motor Co. will invest $1 billion to build car and engine plants in northern India, establishing a second manufacturing complex in the country as part of a push to increase its presence in fast-growing emerging markets.

Ford is scheduled to announce the investment today at a ceremony in Sanand, in the Indian state of Gujarat.

The Dearborn automaker has lagged its global rivals in Asian and other emerging markets, but it announced an ambitious expansion drive in June.

Emerging markets are expected to play an important role in Ford's goal to expand its global sales by 50 percent to around 8 million vehicles in the middle of the decade.

"Now that we're a stronger company, we are committed to growing in the Asia-Pacific region, and we're installing the capacity," Joe Hinrichs, head of Ford's Asia-Pacific region.

Counting the new plant, Ford is building or plans to build seven factories in Asia, including transmission and engine plants, Hinrichs said in a phone interview.

Since mid-2009, when Ford's financial situation began to recover from the steep industry downturn, its investments and planned investments across Asia have climbed to $4 billion.

Ford recently doubled the production capacity of its first Indian plant, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, to 200,000 vehicles.

The new complex, on a 460-acre site, will have the initial capacity to build 240,000 vehicles, and 270,000 engines a year.

"These two new plants will be important in realizing our gro- wth strategy here," Hinrichs said.

Ford recently launched the new Ford Fiesta subcompact in India as part of a plan announced in 2010 to add eight models to its India lineup by 2015.

Auto industry forecasters expect India to become the world's third-largest market in coming years, behind only China and the United States, and ahead of Japan. Sales in India are forecast to almost double to close to 6 million vehicles by 2015.

Michael Robinet, Northville-based vice president of global forecasting at IHS Automotive, said demand was growing fast in India, where people's incomes are growing in large but also in many mid-size cities.

Currently, India has one of the lowest rates of car ownership. According to Ford estimates, there were 25 vehicles in India per 1,000 people of driving age in 2008. That compares with 192 vehicles per 1,000 potential drivers in Brazil, 681 in Britain, and more than 1,000 in the United States.

India's market is skewed toward very small cars, even more than others in Asia. The dominant India players are Suzuki Motor Corp.'s Maruti Suzuki subsidiary and Hyundai Motor Co.

But over the past year, Ford's Figo minicar, priced at around $8,000, has helped the automaker establish a toehold in the small car segments, although its share of the Indian auto market is less than 3 percent.


UAW, Ford pledge to work
together to continue success

UAW president Bob King, left, shakes hands Friday with Bill Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., during the traditional handshake to launch the start of contract negotiations at the River Rouge Plant in Dearborn. CEO Alan Mulally, right, looks on. (Gary Malerba / Special to The Detroit News)

With profits up, it may be tough to negotiate benefits

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
July 30, 2011

Dearborn— The United Auto Workers union and Ford Motor Co. marked the official start of contract talks Friday with a pledge to work together to secure new jobs and maintain the automaker's upward trajectory.

Company and union leaders gathered for the ceremonial handshake at Ford's historic Rouge plant, stressing the importance of their partnership in helping the automaker survive dark days, avoiding bankruptcy and a federal bailout.

"It was really a true case of partnership," said Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr.

"We took a lot of tough actions that none of us wanted to do, but together we pulled the company through it and made it stronger."

Ford was the last of Detroit's Big Three automakers to officially launch labor talks. General Motors Co. had its official handshake with union leaders Wednesday; Chrysler's was Monday. The union's contract with the Detroit automakers expires Sept. 14.

Dearborn-based Ford this week posted a $2.4 billion second-quarter profit. And unlike GM and Chrysler, where strikes were banned as part of their government bailout, Ford workers are free to walk out if talks deadlock.

Many UAW workers want to regain benefits lost in previous negotiations. With Ford posting nine straight quarters of profit, the company may have a harder time than GM and Chrysler staving off any financial demands from the union.

UAW President Bob King, sitting across the table from CEO Alan Mulally and other top Ford leaders, was upbeat Friday. He said he is optimistic the company and union can work together to get through what he believes will be complex negotiations.

King said the UAW, which hasn't struck Ford since 1976, isn't heading into talks this year thinking about a strike.

"I don't think about strikes," said King, who was with Mulally and President Barack Obama earlier in the day to tout an agreement to raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. "We don't collectively think about strikes. We think about getting the best contract for our membership."

Ford took a more conventional approach to its handshake ceremony than its crosstown rivals. Executives and union leaders sat across a conference table from one another; UAW bargainers, wearing matching blue polo shirts, sat behind the top union leaders at the table.

Ford's team, dressed in dark suits, also sat behind its top executives.

GM and Chrysler each held their handshake events on the factory floor — rather than at a conference table — flanked by workers and management wearing matching shirts.

All three automakers are in varying degrees of financial health with Chrysler the weakest and GM in the middle, making traditional pattern bargaining difficult this year. And while Ford's financial position is stronger, it's carrying heavy debt and says its labor costs remain higher than its foreign rivals.

Ford's all-in costs, which include wages and benefits, are at $58 an hour per worker, above the $50 per-hour average for the foreign car companies, said Marty Mulloy, vice president of labor relations at Ford.

"We'd respectively do our math a little differently but we'd do that at the bargaining table," King said.

King also called for union representation on all three automaker boards of directors, a proposal aimed at Ford, where the UAW still lacks a seat.

The union's health care trust funds already have representation on the GM and Chrysler boards, a result of the 2009 bailouts.


Ford leads Big 3 in J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey

Ford won in two categories with its Fiesta subcompact, above, and F-150 light-duty pickup. (Ford)

Porsche tops J.D. Power survey, but
Dodge vehicles pick up wins in three segments

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
July 29, 2011

Porsche topped this year's J.D. Power and Associates customer satisfaction survey, with Jaguar and BMW coming in second and third.

But Ford Motor Co. posted the highest scores of any Detroit automaker, with its Ford brand outperforming Toyota and Honda, and Lincoln scoring higher than any other domestic luxury brand.

That put all of Ford's brands above the industry average.

The influential annual survey asks consumers to rate the performance, execution and layout of their new car or truck after three months of ownership.

"The team has really been working quite diligently over the past five years to improve our quality — and it's a comprehensive view of quality," said Bennie Fowler, Ford's quality czar. "It's not just the defects. It's the fuel economy, it's the technology, it's the safety, and it's the design."

David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power, said this is the way all automakers should be thinking about quality.

"There are two sides of the quality coin: things gone right and things gone wrong," he said. "Both are of critical importance, and models that perform well on both measures generate higher levels of recommendation and, ultimately, higher loyalty to the brand."

General Motors Co.'s Cadillac and Buick brands also scored above the industry average. All of Chrysler Group LLC's brands scored below that mark, with Jeep coming in third from the bottom ahead of Suzuki and Subaru.

However, Dodge won in three segments — midsize crossover or sport utility vehicle, large car and midsize sporty car for its Durango, Charger and Challenger. Only BMW scored as many wins.

"We've listened to our customers and made significant improvements across the product line," said Doug Betts, vice president of quality at Chrysler said. "We worked very hard to make our vehicles truly competitive with the best vehicles in their respective segments."

Ford won in two categories with its Fiesta subcompact and F-150 light-duty pickup, both of which led their segments in fuel economy — the one area where the industry as a whole suffered


July 28, 2011
Volume 41, No. 28


CAW President Voices Support and Concern for NDP Leader

Following NDP Leader Jack Layton's July 25 announcement that he would be temporarily stepping down as federal party leader due to health concerns, CAW President Ken Lewenza expressed his support.

"Since Jack Layton took over at the helm of the federal NDP, he has brought new energy and a truly progressive vision for what could be accomplished in politics," said Lewenza. "He is a real friend to working people and those with few riches or privileges in this country."

On behalf of the CAW's 200,000 members right across Canada, Lewenza expressed his sincere concern for Layton's health and his hope for a strong recovery in the weeks and months ahead.

"I know that Jack's characteristic fighting spirit will serve him well as he works to overcome this new challenge to his health. CAW members, like so many other Canadians, are supporting you in your battle with cancer."

Lewenza said that given the wealth of talent in the new NDP caucus, he has no doubt that the interim leader will be well-qualified to serve the party and the country. He sent his well wishes to the interim leader and the entire NDP caucus during this time.

Tentative Agreement for Canada's Air Traffic Controllers

CATCA/CAW Local 5454, representing over 2,100 air traffic controllers, has reached a new tentative agreement with NAV CANADA.

CATCA/CAW Local 5454 members provide air traffic control service to aircraft and airlines flying in Canada and the North Atlantic.

This new two-year agreement provides pay increases of three per cent each year and additional job security protections.

Members will be meeting to vote on the agreement over the next two weeks, with the results to be released in the second week of August.

"In today's federal labour relations climate, this is a great victory," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "I congratulate the bargaining team for a job well done."

CATCA/CAW Local 5454 President Greg Myles said that the committee worked very hard over the last six months to reach the agreement. "While we were not able to meet every single one of our objectives, our committee agrees that the economic package and other improvements will meet our requirements over the next two years," said Myles.

Metro Workers Ratify New Deal

CAW members working at Metro supermarkets in Ontario have ratified a new collective agreement that includes wage and benefit increases, pension improvements as well as new workplace safety language, and other gains.

The union reached a tentative settlement with Quebec-based Metro supermarkets on July 15. Ratification meetings were held across the Greater Toronto Area on July 24. The agreement was ratified by a margin of 67 per cent.

CAW Local 414 President Christine Connor considered this a "very challenging" round of negotiations, which still yielded some positive results for the members. Connor commended the hard work of the bargaining committee for negotiating a good deal.

"Metro came into these talks with a grab-bag of concessionary demands that were baseless and insulting to our members," Connor said, noting employer proposals to kill the holiday bonus, contract out bargaining unit work to supplier companies and remove department heads from the bargaining unit.

"Our committee negotiated those demands off the table, which gave us room to bargain some reasonable improvements to the agreement."

Over the life of the four-year agreement, full-time and part-time workers will receive wage increases in the form of lump sum payments (in years one and three), as well as hourly wage increases to the top end of the wage scale (in years two and four). Yearly allowances for health care and dental benefits were increased, as were future service pension credits for full-time and part-time workers.

The union also secured a commitment from the employer to conduct a joint review of policies, practices and procedures regarding workplace violence and harassment. In addition, the company agreed to review those resources available for issues related to women's advocacy.

CAW Local 414 represents 14,000 retail workers across the province of Ontario.

CAW Inks New Deal at Saputo Cheese

CAW members at Saputo Cheese in Georgetown, Ontario have voted in favour of a new three-year agreement that includes wage increases in addition to lump sum payments, work-life quality enhancements as well as pension and benefit improvements among other important workplace gains.

CAW National Representative Paulo Ribeiro said "not only did we make major gains in wages and benefits, we enhanced additional contract items like tool allowances, paid time off work, shift premiums and even increased employer contributions to the CAW Paid Education Leave program."

The union bargained 2.5 per cent wage increases in each year of the agreement, alongside signing bonuses of $750 for full-time workers, $375 for part-time workers. Employer PEL contributions doubled from 3 cents per hour to 6 cents per hour.

Saputo workers joined the CAW three years ago, after having left the Christian Labour Alliance of Canada (or CLAC) - an employer-supported organization that masquerades as a legitimate trade union. Under CLAC, the Saputo workers' severance language was substantially weakened with major concessions made to the employer - a benefit the CAW negotiating committee successfully bargained back for the members (3 weeks pay for each year of credited service to a maximum of 52 weeks).

"It's been a challenging road for our members over the past decade, with changes in company ownership as well as union representation," said Chairperson Billy Alcorn, who credits the hard work and dedication of the bargaining committee in reaching this deal. "This latest deal is a signal that we've definitely found a home in the CAW."

CAW represents 180 production and skilled trades workers at the Georgetown facility, previously owned by Neilson. The workers process dairy products, including cheese, milk, coffee cream and yogurts. They are members of CAW Local 1285.

New Agreement Ratified at Woodingford Lodge Homes

CAW Local 636 members who work at three Woodingford Lodge homes have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year agreement with solid wage and benefit increases.

Workers at homes in Tillsonburg, Ingersoll and Woodstock, Ontario voted 92 per cent in favour of the new agreement on July 21. The agreement includes a six per cent wage increase over three years, an increase in weekend premiums, and gains in dental, hearing aids and the uniform allowance.

CAW National Representative Robert Buchanan said it was the tenacity of the bargaining committee and the resolve of the Woodingford membership that achieved this strong settlement.

"We went from concession based bargaining, to wage freezes, to this settlement, ratified by 92 per cent," said Buchanan. "This could only have been done with this kind of committee and this kind of support," he said.

CAW Unit Chairperson Kelly-Anne Orr said the agreement is a step in the right direction that hopefully signals a return to an environment of timely, open bargaining and the ongoing resolution of day to day issues.

CAW Local 636 represents 240 full-time and part-time workers at Woodingford Lodge.

Rally in Support of Sandvik Workers


More than 100 Sandvik workers and supporters demonstrated in front of the Sandvik head office in Mississauga, Ontario, calling on the company to drop demands for cuts to the cost of living adjustment and other concessions. The rally place on July 26.

CAW President Ken Lewenza assured the workers that through out their struggle, the full force of the union would be right behind them. He lambasted Sandvik for attempting to make significant cuts to the CAW's collective agreement, despite the fact that it is a profitable, multi-billion dollar corporation.

CAW Local 2228 members at Sandvik have been out on strike since July 13. Sandvik makes steel tubing for the nuclear, aerospace, automotive, and oil and gas sectors. Sandvik is a Swedish-based multinational company.

Canadian Ships Start Here - Show Your Support!


CAW members in Nova Scotia are taking part in the Canadian Ships Start Here campaign, aiming to secure long-term work at the Halifax shipyard - one of the most storied industrial complexes in Canadian history.

The Halifax shipyard is in the running to become one of two major shipbuilding providers to the federal government under its National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS).

CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1 President Karl Risser said this designation would be a huge boon to the shipyard, its workers and the entire province.

"This program would mean upwards of $30 billion pumped into our provincial economy over the next thirty years," Risser said. "That means thousands upon thousands of new shipbuilding and spin-off jobs, tremendous opportunities for young workers through apprenticeships, job security, more vibrant communities, and much more."

This program would go a long way in helping Halifax reclaim its rightful place as the world's premier location for quality shipbuilding - a distinction that's well deserved in our community."

Irving Shipbuilding, owner of the Halifax shipyard, submitted its proposals to the federal government on July 21. The proposals, for both combat and non-combat vessels, took more than a year to complete.

The Canadian Ships Start Here campaign - a collaboration of unions, government and businesses in Nova Scotia - is calling on the public to show their support for the province's shipbuilding industry, in a variety of ways including setting up lawn signs and through social media.

CAW members from coast to coast can give their support by visiting:

Long Term Care Workers Protest Layoffs in Kitchener

CAW Local 1106 members protest outside Victoria Place Retirement Residence on July 11. (L-R) Unice Riggan, Satie Bahadur, Pauline Smith and Dalila Castillo.

A small group of CAW members made some big noise in Kitchener on July 11, protesting impending staff cutbacks at a local Revera retirement home that workers say will compromise the standard of care for residents.

CAW Local 1106 Vice President Ruth Pryce told the Kitchener-Waterloo Record that the workers are "out here to send a message to the company that we're
not going to stand by and let this happen."

"Yes, it affects us, but it affects the residents more," Pryce said.

Workers held an information picket outside the Victoria Place Retirement Residence, operated by Revera.

The company had previously stated its intent to restructure staffing levels for full-time and part-time workers, resulting in layoffs as well as substantial work hour reductions and scheduling changes. The union argues the layoffs being proposed undercut workers' seniority rights and are in breach of the collective agreement. The scheduling changes - done arbitrarily in most cases - have created a greater degree of instability and insecurity for many front-line workers.

The union had previously filed a series of individual grievances and a broader policy grievance in an effort to rectify the matter. The company has so far rejected all grievances. Outstanding issues are expected to be dealt with through arbitration.

CAW Local 1106 represents 70 full-time, part-time and casual workers currently employed at the Victoria Place residence.

Proposed Registry: Not All Good for PSWs

In response to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's (MOHLTC) proposed Personal Support Worker (PSW) registry, CAW Canada submitted a brief outlining a number of concerns, particularly that the registry may be little more than a blacklist of PSWs, with nothing to allow them due process and fairness.

Announced in May, the MOHLTC committed that the registry will be up and running no later than the summer of 2012, and promised to "better recognize the work they do for Ontarians, while helping to better meet the needs of the people they care for." But it remains unclear just how this will be accomplished.

CAW National Executive Board Member and CAW Local 302 President Nancy McMurphy believes that twin goals appear questionable.

"It has been suggested that PSWs will have to register their contact information, current employment, educational background and years of experience; far more information then even regulated health care workers are obligated to publicly disclose through their respective regulating colleges, and potentially putting them at risk for identity theft or stalking."

Also disturbing is the concern that the registry could essentially become a forum for publicly lodging potentially unfounded allegations, suspicions, and complaints.

"PSWs are entitled to a balanced and fair investigation from an employer through their collective agreement, and a registry should not have the right to circumvent this," said McMurphy

The full CAW submission can be read at: http://www.caw.ca/en/10455.htm

Closure Agreement at Woodbridge Foam in Tilbury

CAW members working at Woodbridge Foam in Tilbury, Ontario have ratified a closure agreement, covering the location's more than 170 workers.

The closure was announced unexpectedly in mid-June during a round of contract talks. The possible closure date is not yet known.

"People are frustrated and upset about losing their jobs, but our members are pleased with what we were able to achieve on their behalf for the closure arrangement," said CAW National Representative Rick Garant.

He said that although the closure package is in place as a safeguard, he and the bargaining committee have not given up on the possibility of keeping the plant open with new business. A committee has been struck with the hope of bringing new business into the facility.

CAW Local 127 plant chairperson Rick Quenneville told The Tilbury Times that he believes the closure package is a good one. "I'd prefer it was staying open, but if it's not, this is a very good package. People were very happy -not that the plant was closing -but with the plant wind-down/ closure package."

The closure agreement includes pension protection and grown-ins for those who qualify, a signing bonus, improved severance pay, funds for an adjustment centre to assist members who lose their job as a result of the closure, transfer rights to Woodbridge Foam's Kipling operation with full seniority. Should the plant re-open, workers will be
called back or re-hired according to seniority.

Workers at Woodbridge Foam manufacture seats for the auto industry.

Employee and Family Assistance Conference: Register Now!

The CAW is offering its Employee and Family Assistance (Substance Abuse) Program Conference for EFAP liaisons and those interested in becoming involved -September 16 -18 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

The conference will include a day long workshop on non-violent crisis intervention and two half-day
workshops on teen addiction and on opiates and other substances that are commonly abused. For new delegates there will also be a one day EFAP course, one of the union's most popular introductory courses.

Be sure to register by August 19, 2011. To download the call letter, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/EFAP_call_ltr.pdf

For any questions about the conference, please contact EFAP staff liaison Steve Watson at 1-800-268-5763 or steve.watson@caw.ca

For other information on the EFAP, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/services-departments-employee-family-assistance-program-substance-abuse.htm

CAW Education Conference

The Bi-Annual CAW Education Conference will be held at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario on October 28-30.

Watch for an upcoming call letter and more details. Keep this weekend open to attend this very important CAW Education event!

For more information contact: educate@caw.ca



Mixed results for auto profits | Ford: N. America is strongest region

July 28, 2011
Detroit Press

The clear message from Ford's $2.4-billion second-quarter profit is that the automaker is now stronger in North America than anywhere else in the world -- and that it's now healthy enough to even withstand some bumps in the economy.

Over the next decade, more growth will come from China, India, Brazil and Russia. But three days before opening contract talks with the UAW, Ford showed a 9.8% operating profit in North America. That is among the best returns on sales in the industry and nearly five times the 2% margin posted in Europe.

Ford barely broke even in Asia Pacific and South Africa in the second quarter, largely because it is spending aggressively to expand factories and launch new vehicles.

What does this mean for the upcoming labor negotiations?

"These numbers are very positive for negotiations because they illustrate what we have done together," CEO Alan Mulally said Tuesday.

Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, said last week he was open to modifying the profit-sharing formula in a new UAW agreement so hourly workers could share more of Ford's future profits in the U.S. Rank-and-file Ford UAW workers would prefer to see higher base wages and have a cost-of-living-adjustment restored in a new contract.

"It will be easier to sweeten the profit-sharing formula at a company that is strongly profitable," said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group for the Center for Automotive Research. "I also think the rank-and-file expectations are very high."

Ford, which has raised prices of its 2011 models three times this year, is selling vehicles at high-enough prices to offset higher costs for steel, plastics and other materials that go into new vehicles.

"They were able to get $360 more per vehicle than we anticipated," said Peter Nesvold, an analyst with Jefferies in New York. "I'm sure the Japan shortages helped that."

Unfortunately, investors are not showing gratitude. Despite beating analysts' consensus estimate for its operating profit per share by 5 cents a share, Ford stock fell 23 cents to $12.94.

Ford reduced its debt to $14 billion, down from $16.6 billion at the end of the first-quarter, while increasing its cash reserves to $22 billion from $21.3 billion at the end of March. But investors want Ford to pay a dividend, something it hasn't done since 2006.

Mulally and Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth have made clear that won't happen until the company regains an investment-grade credit rating by the major ratings agencies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's.

An investment-grade rating would reduce the interest rate Ford pays on much of that $14 billion of debt, freeing up money to invest in new vehicles, factories and other technology.

Ford reiterated its production plan to make 630,000 vehicles in North America between July 1 and Sept. 30, 44,000 more than it produced in the third quarter of 2010. Booth said Ford still expects Americans will buy about 13 million vehicles this year, up from 11.6 million in 2010.

Last month, Ford's performance declined significantly in the annual J.D. Power initial-quality survey because of negative feedback on in-vehicle technology such as its Sync voice-command system and the MyFord Touch control screen available on the Edge, Lincoln MKX and Ford Explorer.

The company has modified the voice-recognition software and is simplifying the menu of displays MyFord Touch offers.

"We saw some areas with potential for improvement, but we believe even more in MyFord Touch and Sync than ever before," Mulally said.


Ford to scrap CD players in cars

July 27, 2011
Harry Wallop

Ford has signalled that it is doing away with the CD players from its cars and wants drivers to access their libraries of digital music via the internet.

Having a cassette player in your car was once the height of sophistication.

But now it would appear the future of listening to music on the road is to have no in-car machine at all, putting an end to scrabbling around the glove compartment for a new album to listen to.

Ford has signalled that it is doing away with the CD players from its cars and wants drivers to access their libraries of digital music via the internet.

It has become the first mainstream manufacturer to scrap the in-car CD multichanger.

The new Ford Focus dashboard will include instead a USB socket allowing iPods and other digital music players to be plugged in.

Sheryl Connelly, global trends and futuring manager at Ford, said: "In-car entertainment technology is moving digital more rapidly than almost any other element of the vehicle experience. The in-car CD player – much like pay telephones – is destined to fade away in the face of exciting new technology."

However, if Ford has its way you will be able to cruise along the motorway without even the need to plug in your iPod.

Instead the new cars will have a so-called Sync "infotainment hub", which includes a socket to plug in a dongle, turning the car into a wi-fi hotspot. The in-car computer in the "hub" can then access digital libraries stored on the internet, be it on Spotifiy or Apple's iCloud.

Ford said sales of in-car CD players was falling rapidly, in line with falling sales of CDs themselves. In 2010 the sale of physical music albums fell 12.4pc, but sales of digital albums jumped 30.6pc in the UK.

Ford expects two million cars in Europe to have its Sync system by 2015.



Chrysler wild card
in talks with UAW

It will resist wage, cost-of-living hikes; could seek arbitration

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
July 24, 2011

Auburn Hills — Chrysler Group LLC will not sign any contract with the United Auto Workers that includes cost-of-living adjustments or similar automatic pay increases, according to sources familiar with the company's position.

"It won't happen. Not here," said one person briefed on the matter, who said the automaker was prepared to go into arbitration with the union over the issue if necessary.

Instead, Chrysler wants to offer workers a more generous profit-sharing deal that would pay between $4,000 and $5,000 annually, assuming the company continues to make money. But it also wants to tie that sum to personal performance metrics like attendance and productivity.

If there is a wild card in this year's labor negotiations between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers, Chrysler is it.

The Auburn Hills automaker is in a very different position from its cross-town rivals. Like General Motors Co., it went bankrupt and was bailed out by the American taxpayers. But the U.S. government turned Chrysler over to Italy's Fiat SpA because Chrysler was too weak to stand on its own. Ford Motor Co. restructured itself without Washington's help. Chrysler says it needs a deal that meets its needs — not GM's or Ford's.

"They can go and cut whatever deal they want over there. It doesn't matter. It has to make sense here or it won't get signed," one source said. "What we have to focus on is what's good for this business here — what's good for Chrysler."

Fixed costs are paramount
What makes sense to Chrysler is a deal that maintains the competitiveness gains the automaker won in 2009 and does not add to its fixed costs. Those gains included a freeze on cost-of-living increases, more flexible work rules and the elimination of some holiday pay. Ford and GM are looking for the same thing, and all indications are that the union and the companies are not far apart. The difference is that Chrysler has drawn a sharper line in the sand on issues like cost-of-living adjustments.

The other difference is Sergio Marchionne.

He has been the CEO of both Chrysler and Fiat since the latter took over the U.S. carmaker in 2009. The unconventional executive is known for his hands-on management style and is expected to play a direct role in this year's bargaining.

Marchionne is still new to Detroit. He has a different perspective on labor relations born out of the often confrontational relations between Fiat and the volatile Italian unions. He is also unencumbered by the baggage of Chrysler's history with UAW. He does not know how things were done, and he does not care.

"There is a profound difference in the unions that Marchionne has dealt with in Europe," said labor expert Harley Shaiken of the University of California, Berkeley. "He is facing a different set of challenges here."

Formal negotiations between Chrysler and the UAW will not begin until Monday, but the two sides have been meeting almost every day for months.

Union President Bob King welcomed the Italian's presence at the table, noting Fiat's major investments in Chrysler.

"I'm really pleased with our relationship with Marchionne. I'm really pleased with the new product investment that's going into our UAW-represented plants — plants like Sterling that were scheduled to close," King told The Detroit News. "I feel like we've got a good relationship."

Those investments, which have totaled about $3 billion, have already translated into 2,000 new jobs at Chrysler plants in the United States. And the automaker is prepared to do more, provided it gets the contract it says it needs from the UAW.

"When labor costs get competitive, we look for ways to bring work in," one source said. "How serious is the UAW about job growth? That's what this comes down to."

Jobs mean new members
Adding jobs is critical to the UAW's survival. The union's membership has fallen from more than 700,000 in 2001 to less than 377,000 in 2010. That is creating real financial challenges for the organization itself.

Last fall, King and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano traveled to Italy to meet with Fiat suppliers and urge them to set up shop in Michigan. King promised the UAW would work with them, not against them, if they did. Those companies are now watching the negotiations between Chrysler and the UAW closely.

Helping to craft a deal that works for both the company and the union without drama would prove King's sincerity, said one person familiar with the situation. The alternative would be arbitration.

The U.S. government forced the UAW to give up its right to strike Chrysler and GM at Fiat's insistence. If they cannot agree on contract terms, their difference must be resolved through binding arbitration.

Marchionne personally helped draft the arbitration language in the 2009 agreement, so it is not surprising that Chrysler is more willing to consider the option. But sources say it hopes to avoid any confrontation.

"It's not something we're going to carry around like a hammer," one said, adding that Chrysler hopes the UAW will see the benefit in working together.

"If they're interested in job growth and job retention, then labor cost competitiveness and world-class work practices are no longer a negotiable consideration."

Arbitration could hurt UAW
Those sources said arbitration would make the union look worse than Chrysler, and they believe that is a powerful incentive for King to negotiate a competitive deal with the carmaker.

"The last thing any one of us wants to do is go into arbitration," King said.

"We all want to be masters of our own destiny. We don't want to go to a third party."

Chrysler said its "all-in" labor costs are now about $51 an hour. That includes everything from base wages and overtime to health insurance and pension costs. It is on par with what workers at Japanese transplant factories in the United States are paid, too. Workers at those companies get higher bonuses, but also pay more of their own health care costs. Chrysler would like to adopt a similar model.

The Auburn Hills automaker's U.S. hourly workers are responsible for about 7 percent of their own heath care costs. The national average is closer to 30 percent, and Chrysler salaried employees pay 33 percent. Workers at the Japanese transplants are responsible for between 10 percent and 15 percent of theirs.

While other automakers have expressed concern about the competitive gap with foreign transplants, Chrysler is more worried about fending off the looming threat of new competition from China.


GM seeks to protect past gains in upcoming contract talks

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
July 22, 2011

General Motors Co. heads into labor talks this year a leaner, profitable company determined to preserve hard-won gains achieved during bankruptcy restructuring and keep long-term, fixed costs in check.

The Detroit-based automaker, largest of the three domestic automakers, also will seek to further reduce health costs, establish more flexible work rules and recast the hourly profit-sharing formula to bring it more in line with that of its salaried workers, said a person familiar with GM's plans.

But above all, GM wants to craft a contract that takes the long view.

"Our No. 1 goal in bargaining is to ensure our long-term U.S. competitiveness," this person said. "It's not to be short-sighted, to think about tomorrow."

GM also finds itself in a unique situation this year: Like Group LLC, its unionized workers can't strike under terms added to their contract in 2009, as part of the federal bailout.

After years of big losses, the company is making money and last year posted a $4.7 billion profit - its first since 2004. UAW workers, in turn, received an average $4,300 profit-sharing check this year, GM's largest ever.

The company's top leadership is also new. CEO Daniel Akerson is an industry outsider with less than a year in the job. Cathy Clegg, GM's vice president of labor relations, is new to the post. And on the UAW side, the union's vice president for GM, Joe Ashton, also is new to his job as head of the UAW's GM bargaining team.

Akerson meets regularly with Ashton and UAW President Bob King, the person said, talking about issues, but not specific negotiations.

GM wants to avoid additional long-term fixed costs, such as automatic pay and cost-of-living increases; it seeks, instead, to reward its 49,000 hourly workers with a richer profit-sharing formula.

Worker bonuses are based on U.S. earnings. GM wants to base the formula on other factors, as well, to make it more like salaried bonus plans, but which factors exactly will be up for negotiation during this summer's talks.

The company also wants to simplify the formula, so it's easier to calculate and workers have a better sense of what they might get ahead of time. Currently, the algorithm is so difficult to figure out that employees often sit back and wait to hear the figure when GM announces it, this person said.

What's more, GM's payouts historically have been much lower than those at Chrysler and Ford Motor Co. Prior to this year, GM's highest payout was $1,775 in 1999. By contrast, Chrysler's largest pay out was $8,100 that same year; Ford's was $8,000.

Health care

GM also hopes to revisit health care in this round of negotiations.

Once the nation's largest private purchasers of health care, the automaker made great strides in reducing costs in 2007, when the union's health care trust assumed responsibility for retiree health care.

In 2006, GM spent about $4.8 billion a year on health care for 1.1 million active workers, retirees and dependants. Last year, it spent $665 million on active workers and dependants; the figure doesn't include retirees now covered by the union's health trust, also known as the Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association, or VEBA.

GM wants to modernize and make further adjustments to the plan, this person said, but declined to go into details.


The automaker intends to seek more flexible work rules, to make it easier to move workers between plants and states, as well as gaining greater leeway in using temporary workers.

The UAW may be open to this one, said Kristin Dziczek, director for labor and industry at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research.

"But in exchange for two of their main goals: job security, probably as evidenced through product commitments or some form of longevity, and a significant share in the company's success," she added.

Entry-level wages

The controversial tier-two is bound to come up at the bargaining table, as well. UAW leaders have signaled that they want to higher pay for second-tier workers who make half the traditional wage, or $14 to $16 an hour.

About 5 percent of GM's temporary and entry-level workforce are paid the lower-level wage, with many closer to the $16 an hour mark.

But GM needs the entry-level wage to help match foreign automaker labor costs. Under the 2007 contract, it can hire an unlimited number of second-tier workers until 2015, when a 25 percent cap becomes effective.

GM won't comment on its all-in labor costs, which include wages, benefits and bonuses, although some analysts put it at $56 an hour. By contrast, Chrysler reports per-hour labor costs at $49 a worker; Ford's is at $58.


Unlike previous contract talks, neither GM nor Chrysler workers can strike the company if talks hit a deadlock. Either side, however, can request binding arbitration, in which a neutral third-party decides.

GM wants to avoid this option, according to the source familiar with GM's plans.

"I can't speculate what's going to happen in the 11th hour," the source said. "But we're moving into this with a goal of reaching an agreement."


Ford to recall more than
25,000 trucks and SUVs

David Shepardson/ By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
July 21, 2011

Washington — Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 20,000 Ranger pickup trucks -because a defective switch could cause the turn signal, tail lights and brake lights to fail.

Ford said the recall affects about 20,000 2011 Ford Ranger pickups built between January and April at its Twin Cities Assembly Plant. It also includes about 6,000 vehicles that were serviced with a defective switch including some 2004-2011 Ranger, 2002-2005 Excursion SUVs, and 2002-2007 F-250, 350, 450 and 550 trucks.

Ford told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it knows of no crashes or injuries caused by the problem.

The company told dealers on July 8 to stop selling the vehicles with the defective parts until they were repaired. The vehicles being recalled that were previously repaired with faulty parts were serviced between January and June of this year.

Ford issued a stop-ship at Twin Cities for the Ranger in April as it investigated a high number of warranty claims.

Dealers will inspect the recalled vehicles and replace the switches if necessary.


Ford tries to sharpen
its cars' listening skills

Ford has taken criticism for its onboard infotainment system. (Ford)

Goal is to make voice command system easier, more intuitive

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
July 21, 2011

Ford Motor Co. wants to bridge the communications gap between its Sync infotainment system and drivers who struggle with the right voice command to get the car to complete a task.

Sync was designed to make driving safer by allowing drivers to make hands-free calls and manage other functions in the car with voice commands.

Those who know how to use Sync tend to love it, according to company research. But there is mounting criticism from drivers frustrated that they don't know the correct commands to get directions, play music or turn down the air conditioning.

The frustration has contributed to Ford's stumble from grace in the recent J.D. Power and Associates initial quality survey, released last month and tracking problems during the first three months of ownership. Ford fell from fifth place in 2010 — highest of any non-luxury brand — to 23rd this year, due to complaints about the onboard MyFord Touch infotainment system offered on its 2011 Edge and Explorer crossovers. Consumer Reports also criticized MyFord Touch, that latest iteration of the Sync system.

The automaker has been working to improve the infotainment system and educate consumers using it with clinics and personal training sessions.

To better manage the challenges of finding the right voice command, Ford has partnered with Nuance Communications, a voice recognition software company, on a research project.

The project uses algorithms to interpret intent of commands and coach the driver to provide the proper directions, if necessary, so a task can be completed.

"It will recognize what you want or decipher the intent of what you want," said Brigitte Richardson, Ford's lead voice control engineer, a specialized position she has held for more than five years.

The driver can blurt out a question naturally, such as "Did the Tigers win last night?" and the Nuance language system will recognize common words and translate them into the proper command to get the score.

"It will help people who can't determine the right command to use," Richardson said. "It coaches you to get the information you need."

"I give that a big 'yes,'" said Ed Kim, director of Industry Analysis with AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, Calif. "While Sync has gotten better, it still requires you to remember certain commands and they must be very specific."

When Sync was first introduced, it recognized about 100 voice commands. The current MyFord Touch system understands about 10,000 commands.

"The holy grail is being totally conversational in the car so you don't have to remember specific commands and the car is smart enough to remember vagaries," Kim said.

The voice intent project has been under way for more than a year but is not yet on the market, as Ford executives continue to evaluate it. Ford has been conducting user studies as it fine tunes the technology.

"This is the direction we think we need to go," Richardson said.

On a fun note, another Ford project demonstrates the potential of voice recognition with an app known as "sync my brain."

It is a trivia game, said Ford software engineer Nello Santori. It asks questions, gives multiple-choice answers and keeps score.

"It is purely a research project," Santori said. "There is no production intent. We are looking at whether there is a place for something like this as we work to improve voice recognition."

At the very least, the game could serve as a high-tech way of countering "are we there yet?"


Chrysler suspends 9 workers over video of drinking, drug use

July 20, 2011

Detroit— Chrysler Group LLC has suspended nine workers for allegedly drinking and smoking marijuana before their shifts at a Michigan plant.

Detroit television station WJBK-TV aired a story about the workers at the Trenton Engine Plant last week. Chrysler says it identified the workers using the station's video. All nine have been suspended without pay while the company investigates.

Last fall, the company fired two workers and gave two others unpaid, one-month layoffs after the station took video of them drinking beer before the start of their shift at a Detroit assembly plant



UAW chief endorses profit sharing
UAW President Bob King is pushing for building “a global middle class” to ensure long-term security for American autoworkers

King won't press wage increases in
order to keep Big 3 competitive

Bryce G. Hoffman/ The Detroit News
July 18, 2011

United Auto Workers President Bob King says the upcoming contract talks between his union and Detroit's Big Three can serve as a model of cooperation and compromise for a nation riven by partisan strife.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Detroit News on Friday, King said the UAW and the American automakers demonstrated in 2007 and 2009 that they could come together to save a dying industry.

Now, he said, the companies need to share their newfound profits with their workers. But King also said the UAW cannot afford to turn back the clock and make General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC uncompetitive.

Instead, King says workers need to trade wage increases for profit sharing. That would keep the automakers more competitive with the foreign automakers, and insulate them from future market declines.

"Do they want base wage increases? Of course," he said of his members. "Anybody does. But that isn't the most important priority.

"The single most important thing to our membership is long-term security. People don't want a guillotine hanging over their head. They don't want to have to worry about whether they have a job tomorrow or not, or if their pension is secure, or if their health care is secure."

All three Detroit automakers have said privately that they welcome this approach. But labor experts wonder if King can deliver the votes necessary to ratify a contract that does not roll back concessions made over the past four years and put more money in his members' pockets permanently.

"What the workers want is to know that they're not going to lose ground — that their standard of living is not going to be eroded," said Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor.

"The companies' history of profit-sharing has not been very consistent or strong. There have been many years when it was zero and one when it was just $50. That's not enough. It's going to have to be significant and reliable."

King is a very different sort of leader from his predecessor. Ron Gettelfinger was a tough-talking pragmatist who was all about jobs — protecting those that were already here and working to add more wherever possible.

King is about jobs, too, but he believes the best way to guarantee them is by thinking globally. He is an intellectual and an idealist who wants to put the UAW at the forefront of the global labor movement.

"We're committed to building a global middle class. We want to export that," King said.

"But all of my efforts internationally are aimed at protecting jobs here. It's really pragmatic. It stops the race to the bottom."

That approach makes sense, says labor expert Harley Shaiken of the University of California, Berkeley. With well below half of all cars and trucks sold in America produced by UAW members, he said the only way the union can protect its members from further job loss is by working with its counterparts overseas to raise the standard of living of their members.

"Bob's a visionary, but he's very much a tough, pragmatic visionary," said Shaiken, who said King is going further than any of his predecessors in building international solidarity.

"Bob is establishing new institutions. He's trying new things."

Relative success

But Shaiken said King runs the risk of getting out too far ahead of his members on this issue and the issue of wages.

Some say he already is.

"A lot of people feel like we need some guaranteed money," said Gary Walkowicz, a worker at Ford's Dearborn Truck Plant. "People are looking to get back a lot of the things we gave up."

Walkowicz helped defeat the deal King cut with Ford in 2009, and he says he is prepared do the same thing this time around.

But King is confident he can deliver a contract that rewards workers while protecting the companies from any significant additional fixed costs. He says the past few years have taught union members just how dependent their jobs are on the automakers' success.

And King said the success GM, Ford and Chrysler now enjoy is relative. All three companies still face stiff competition from foreign competitors — including new entrants from China and India. The economy also remains weak, with auto sales in the United States and Europe well below historic highs.

"I think our members are really smart. They understand that," King said. "The hell that we went through over the past few years — nobody wants to see that repeated."

He knows that, King said, because the union has been polling its members, formally and informally, in the run-up to this year's national contract negotiations, which are due to begin next week.

"We have a good sense of what they think the priorities are," King said. "They don't want to go back into a time of insecurity."

That means keeping the companies competitive and growing, King said.

Tying rewards to success

After World War II, autoworkers shared in the prosperity of Detroit's automobile manufacturers. They negotiated gold-plated union contracts that were the envy of workers around the world.

But when automakers' profits withered in the face of foreign competition, their labor costs remained just as high.

As a result, it cost GM, Ford and Chrysler thousands of dollars more to produce vehicles in the United States than foreign-bred companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., which opened their own factories in this country.

In 2007 and 2009, the UAW negotiated game-changing contracts with the three domestic automakers, all but closing the competitive cost gap. Guaranteed wage increases could widen it again if profits fall.

King believes a better way to reward workers is to create a mechanism: The more successful the auto companies are, the more their workers would be paid.

UAW members already enjoy some profit sharing, but King and the companies are discussing a richer, more complicated scheme. It would pay workers more but tie those payments to more than bottom-line earnings — adding metrics such as quality and productivity to the mix.

"It is complex. We're breaking new ground in some ways," King said.

"How do you really get membership their fair share of the upside and keep the companies viable?"

King is amenable to considering quality, because he said better vehicles will lead to better sales, which in turn will lead to more union jobs.

Other measurements may be much more difficult to sell. At least one automaker would like to make worker attendance part of the formula, too.

Of course, profit sharing will not be the only issue on the table in this year's negotiations.

King would like to see the UAW given a seat on the boards of all three companies, for example.

The union-run trusts that are responsible for retiree health care have seats on GM and Chrysler's boards. But King is talking about direct representation for the UAW itself.

German unions enjoy that privilege, and he thinks American unions should, too.

"I have a strong optimism based on the excellent leadership we have at all three companies," King said.

"All of this polarization that's happening in Washington is crazy. We've got to work together."



Ford recalling '07 Five
Hundreds, Mercury
Montegos to replace fuel tanks

July 18, 2011
David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau

Ford Motor Co. said today it is recalling nearly 3,000 2007 Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans to replace the fuel tanks.

In a notice posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, Ford said the fuel tanks on 2,945 vehicles may not have proper welds between the fuel tank and fuel filler neck.

As a result, some may not have enough strength in the event of a severe rear impact. An improper weld could result in a crack in the joint which could cause a fuel odor or fuel leak.

Ford said minor fuel leaks have been reported in a small number of warranty claims.

The automaker said the vehicles being recalled were built at its Chicago Assembly Plant from Sept. 5 through Sept. 11, 2006.

Although Ford believes that the majority of the suspect tanks have been replaced due to dashboard warning lights stemming from evaporative emission leaks, Ford will recall the vehicles built in the suspect period "in an abundance of caution."

There have been no reports of crashes, injuries or fires resulting from the condition, Ford said.

Ford will begin notifying owners on Aug. 15, and will give them until Aug. 31 to file for reimbursement if they have previously replaced their fuel tank for the same problem. They can also seek reimbursement through their dealer.

Ford told its dealers it must replace fuel tanks in recalled vehicles -- even if owners have previously replaced them.

The fuel tanks were manufactured by Visteon at their facility in Chicago. This facility only built tanks and is no longer in operation. Visteon no longer manufactures fuel tanks.

Ford investigated the issue in 2009 after receiving two reports of minor fuel leaks and four reports of fuel odors or warning lights, but closed the investigation after determining the issue did "not represent an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety."

It continued to investigate the issue in 2010 and this year.


Chrysler plans to buy trucks to go around teamsters, UAW says

Tim Higgins/ Bloomberg News
July 16, 2011

Chrysler Group LLC, heading into labor negotiations with the United Auto Workers, is proposing a plan to purchase trucks for use by nonunion workers to transport its cars and trucks, the UAW's top leader said.

UAW President Bob King, speaking in front of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters convention in Las Vegas last month, said he'd been told of "a new ploy" by Chrysler to "buy $5 million worth of trucks to give to a nonunion company to do work." A video of the speech was posted on a Teamsters- affiliated website earlier this month.

King will lead the UAW in contract negotiations with Auburn Hills-based Chrysler, which is controlled by Fiat SpA, as well as General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., that officially begin later this month. The UAW will push back against efforts to outsource Teamster jobs to nonunion car haulers, King said.

"We're going to stand with the Teamsters," he said. "We're going to fight not only to keep the jobs you have, but where they are using nonunion carriers, we're going to fight together to make that 100 percent union, 100 percent Teamster," he said to applause.

When this has been an issue before, King said, the UAW's previous message was: "You've got a war with the UAW if you try to outsource Teamster jobs to nonunion carriers."

Michele Martin, a UAW spokeswoman, didn't immediately respond for comment. Galen Munroe, a Teamsters spokesman, declined Thursday to comment, and Shawn Morgan, a Chrysler spokeswoman, didn't immediately comment.


CAW Contact
Volume 41, No. 27
July 14, 2011

Canada's Job Market Stuck in Neutral

"Canada's job market is still stuck in neutral. It is high time the federal government acknowledge and address this fact," said CAW President Ken Lewenza in response to the Labour Force Survey results released on July 8.

Lewenza challenged the rosy labour market picture portrayed by Statistics Canada noting that the good news story of 28,400 new net jobs in the month of June is overshadowed by the fact that growth was found mostly in part-time work. Part-time work accounted for a whopping 74 per cent of new job growth last month.

Lewenza noted the overall number of unemployed actually grew by over 13,000 since May. He also noted that rising unemployment for Canadians under 25 years of age (14.3 per cent, up from 13.9 per cent the month prior) is a troubling sign that good jobs simply aren't available for one of the country's most vulnerable populations.

"Despite the Harper government's assurances that our economy is on the right track, we continue to see little hard evidence," Lewenza said, arguing that the overall quality of work is declining for the majority of Canadians - a measure that's not considered in the monthly Labour Force Survey report.

"Canadians are feeling the pinch because of declining real wages, they're finding it harder to secure a good job that offers stability and useful skill-building opportunities, and they're feeling pressure in dealing with an increasingly insecure retirement," Lewenza said. "That's what Canadian workers are saying. In my opinion, that's the more accurate read of what's going on in our economy."

Lewenza said the Harper government's plan to slash and burn Canada's public service will have a damaging effect on employment, which could have a negative effect on overall wages and hurt consumer spending.

The looming job losses in the public sector should worry everyone, Lewenza stressed.

Workers Celebrate New Bus Terminal in Oakville


CAW President Ken Lewenza joins with CAW Local 1256 President Angus MacDonald, far right, and Oakville Transit Unit chairperson Willie Lambert, left and CAW members celebrating th grand opening of the new transit bus terminal in Oakville, Ontario

The new facility is designd to attract new business opportunities while significantly improving the quality of work life for Local 1256 members in the Oakville area.

New Agreement for Nackawic, New Brunswick Mill Workers

CAW Local 219 members at AV Nackawic Inc. in Nackawic, New Brunswick have overwhelmingly approved a new contract that provides improved benefits, a Sunday shift premium, a reduced work week and wage increases.

The workers ratified the tentative agreement by 87 per cent in late June. Wage increases are 7.5 per cent by 2015, the new Sunday premium is time-and-a-half, while benefit increases include dental, vision, drug and other gains.

There is also a four-day work week from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and for a limited number of workers on a Thursday-to-Sunday shift.

CAW Local 219 President Brady Moore said this is a fair agreement which acknowledges the hard work and determination of the bargaining committee and the support of the membership as well as the assistance of the national union.

"These workers weathered some very difficult times after the former owner of the mill declared bankruptcy and closed the facility in September 2004," said Moore. "We have recovered much of what was lost in the bankruptcy and rebuilt a solid foundation for the future for the workforce, their families and the community."

CAW National Representative Chad Johnston said the membership had patiently waited for the opportunity to get back to the table and improve many of their work life issues.

After the bankruptcy workers were shocked by the drastically underfunded status of the defined benefit pension plan managed by the previous owner. They took over the shuttered mill getting widespread media attention and then guarded the mill on a 24-hour basis over seven months to ensure no assets were removed or destroyed.

Eventually a new owner from India purchased the facility converting it from a paper pulp mill to a dessolving pulp mill used in manufacturing rayon, which is used for making clothing and many other textiles. Local 219 currently represents 270 workers at the mill.

New Deal at Marshall Gowland Manor in Sarnia, Ontario

CAW members at Marshall Gowland Manor Nursing Home have overwhelmingly ratified a new collective agreement by 95 per cent.

The three year agreement includes wage increases of 2.5 per cent in each year, benefit and scheduling
improvements, as well as eliminating the lag time on sick leave eligibility.

CAW Local 302 President Nancy McMurphy said that it was the first time in a while that negotiations have not been bogged down by rhetoric about the Ontario government's Bill 16 and wage freezes for non-union workers in the public sector. "It was refreshing to have the opportunity to negotiate a collective agreement - and one of which we are very proud."

McMurphy said that in the 11 years since joining the CAW, the local union has not had one arbitrated settlement - but currently as a result of employers clinging to the non-applicable legislation, there are 20 units with their collective agreements bound up in the arbitration process (including many for-profit companies) and five more in conciliation.

"This legislation has been a disaster for health care bargaining in the province and has done a great disservice to health care workers," said McMurphy.
CAW National Representative Rick Garant said that the bargaining committee was very well versed in the issues facing members and addressed these issues with great determination. "We're very pleased with the ratification results and hope that this agreement will assist other health care units across the province."

The new agreement was reached on June 29, ratified on July 6 and covers 120 workers. Marshall Gowland Manor is owned by the County of Lambton.

New Deal at Quaker Oats in Peterborough

After three weeks of contract talks, CAW members at the Quaker Oats plant in Peterborough, Ontario have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year deal. Workers voted 84 per cent in favour of the deal in late June.

"This is a very good deal for our members, despite a very challenging round of talks," said Jerry Dias, Assistant to CAW President Ken Lewenza.

The company cited the slow economic recovery as well as increased competition in the food processing industry to limit contract gains for workers. In the end, the bargaining committee negotiated wage improvements in each year of the agreement (with some adjustments to the hire rate), pension and benefit improvements as well as other gains.

"Throughout the bargaining process, the committee was unbreakable in their resolve to hammer out a strong agreement for the members," said Plant Chairperson Rob Gerow.

The union represents 500 production and skilled trades workers at the Quaker Oats facility, owned by global food manufacturer PepsiCo. The facility produces breakfast cereals and ready-to-eats snacks.

The workers are members of CAW Local 1996.

Ornge Announces New Oshawa Base

Critical care medical transportation firm Ornge has announced that it will open a helicopter base in Oshawa, Ontario, marking an important success for the public and Ornge workers, represented by the CAW.

In October 2010, Ornge announced that its Toronto Island Billy Bishop Airport base would be moved to Hamilton International Airport, refusing to consider other options. Following the announcement, the union called for the decision to be reversed. Failing this, the Toronto Pearson International Airport, Downsview or Oshawa airports would all be better candidates for a new base than Hamilton.

The decision to move to Hamilton would have meant that an important access point to the large highly specialized hospitals downtown Toronto would be significantly changed. The CAW said that the move of the base to Hamilton could extend wait times for critical care due to heavy traffic.
The union and membership started a fight-back campaign to oppose this move due to the detrimental effect it could have on patient care to residents of southern Ontario.

The campaign included lobbying of MPPs, outreach to media agencies, and residents of the areas served by Ornge. The company informed the union in early April that an eastern base would open.

Between the proposed sites of Oshawa and Peterborough, the union believed that Oshawa was the best choice. Leadership and members lobbied all three levels of government. The union also toured the facility sites at Oshawa airport and offered a letter of support to add to the Oshawa Airport Authority's proposal.

CAW Ornge unit chairperson Chuck Telky expressed his approval of the decision and efforts that lead to it.

"I would like to thank all the members, past president of Local 2002 Leslie Dias, and Bob Chernecki, Assistant to the National President, who stood up in solidarity for what we believe to be the best interest of the residents of the province," said Telky. "This is an example of when we stand united for a cause and fight back, anything can be achieved."

CAW Local 2002 represents 200 Ornge workers.

North Bay Mayor Urges Review of Rail Car Refurbishing Contract

The Ontario government should review the full financial impact of a Metrolinx Transit decision to award a $122 million GO Transit coach refurbishment contract to a company other than Ontario Northland, says North Bay Mayor Al McDonald.

Canadian Allied Diesel in Lachine, Quebec bid $2 million lower than Ontario Northland, based in North Bay, Ontario. But Mayor McDonald in a July 4 letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the decision doesn't factor in the full financial impact to the province.

"Metrolinx did not and could not, for whatever reason, factor in revenue from the contract to reflect what the Province of Ontario would have received if the contract was awarded to the ONTC," McDonald said.

"Our numbers show that if the contract was awarded to the ONTC, it would have saved over $6.2 million in the life of the five-year contract. This does not take into account severance costs which would be over $10 million for the long-serving members of the ONTC," said McDonald.

CAW Local 103 represents workers at Ontario Northland Transportation Commission, who currently have an existing contract with GO Transit to refurbish 121 rail passenger cars.

The contract would secure 104 direct jobs at Ontario Northland and many more spin off jobs, CAW President Ken Lewenza said in an earlier letter to the Ontario Premier. The economic multiplier across Ontario would be $258 million from the contract, he said.

The CAW has joined with the broader community in North Bay and northern Ontario to demand the Metrolinx decision be reversed.

The latest voice to join the chorus of opposition was Ontario NDP MPP Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay). Bisson urged the Premier to direct Metrolinx to suspend its proposal in a July 11 letter, arguing in favour of the positive economic impact this project would have for Ontario if kept in the province.

The provincial conservative party under Tim Hudak has yet to make any public statement or comment on the deal. Originally scheduled to be finalized on, or before, July 11, the deadline for Metrolinx to sign off on the Canadian Allied Diesel bid has since been postponed.


Annual ETOP Summer Conference Register Now!

The Education, Technical, Office and Professional Sector Council will be hosting its annual summer conference August 3-5. The conference will feature guest speakers on subjects of pay equity and suicide prevention and will include a State of the Union address by CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy and a closing address by CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in unit updates from right across the country. The conference is open to CAW members working in any education, technical, office or professional field and will be held at the Radisson Hotel and Suites, 855 Wellington Road South in London, Ontario.

For more information, copies of the call letter or agenda, please contact ETOP and CAW Local 555 President Matt Root at: matt.root@cawlocal555.ca



Ford launches campaign
to attract young buyers

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
July 15, 2011

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. is launching its first marketing campaign dedicated to action sports to better connect with younger buyers, specifically Millennials who represent the second-largest group of car buyers after baby boomers.

The Ford Octane Academy campaign kicks off with a video contest to choose fans of drifting, rally cross, stage rally and off-road racing for four-day fantasy camps run by champions well-known to fans of the X Games, video games and online Gymkhana stunt driving videos. The camp participants will compete against each other.

Ford's action team consists of rally cross champ and "Top Gear" host Tanner Foust who will feature the Focus; Formula drift champ Vaughn Gittin Jr. who drives a Mustang; X Games off-road racing star Brian Deegan who drives a Ford F-150 Raptor; and Ken Block, stage rally champion and Gymkhana star whose latest Fiesta video has garnered 33 million views.

The winner of each camp will get a one-of-a-kind vehicle.

"It's a great way to connect with younger buyers," said John Felice, general marketing manager.

The automaker's data shows 39 percent of car shoppers see themselves as motorsports fans and the likelihood they will buy a Ford is 50 percent higher if they are a racing fan, Felice said.

Ford's motorsports history dates back 110 years.

Millennials, who live online, follow the X Games for their motorsports and the fan base is 2.8 million, said Jamie Allison, director of North America Motorsports. They consist of older teens and people in their 20s.

Felice said motorsports is more integrated within the company and its marketing message than ever. It helps that top executives such as Jim Farley, group vice president of marketing, sales and service, are big motorsports fans.

Farley would not specify how much Ford is investing in this campaign, but did say 25 percent of Ford's total marketing budget is being spent on digital social media.

In the past, Ford was slow to connect with Millennials, Farley said. But Ford's market share of this group has increased 58 percent since 2007.

To further endear itself, Ford will be the exclusive auto sponsor of the X Games later this month in Los Angeles.

Millennials "have a huge BS meter," Farley said. They appreciate heroes like the drivers who are genuinely passionate about their racing styles and share their moments online, he said.

Ford is taking video submissions for the Octane Academy contest. There is an Oct. 15 deadline for the first fantasy camp, an off-road contest with Deegan set for November.

Deegan, who started by racing motorcycles and broke a lot of bones and lost a few organs before switching to pickups with roll cages, said he is looking for characters with skills and a good television personality.

The other three fantasy camps will be next year. Drifting champ Gittin Jr. said he is looking for contestants who are hungry enough to climb a mountain naked or crawl through mud with barbed wire.

The videos cannot show driving but should show personality and other skills.

"A hundred years ago. I'm not sure Henry Ford could have envisioned what we're doing today but he would have understood it," said Jim Owens, Mustang brand manager.


Ford seeks government aid
to retool Ontario plant

Oakville Assembly Plant

Globe & Mail
Greg Keenan
July 14, 2011

Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. has approached Ottawa and Ontario for financial incentives to retool its assembly plant in Oakville, Ont., once again raising the issue of how willing the governments are to provide such financing in the post-auto bailout world.

The auto maker is seeking help to begin producing vehicles off a global platform (or basic underbody), a development that would enhance the security of the Oakville factory, because it would be capable of producing more vehicle types than the crossover utility vehicles it manufactures now.

The cost of the project ranges between $500-million and $1-billion, said one industry source, which would mean the request of the governments is in the range of $100-million to $200-million, based on past government programs, which have provided about 20 per cent of the total cost of a project.

But the bar has been raised by the $141-million the federal and Ontario governments are providing to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc., which represents close to 30 per cent of the $545-million total investment at its Cambridge and Woodstock facilities. If the Ford project ends up costing $1-billion and it seeks 30 per cent of the total, the governments could be asked to provide as much as $300-million.

The Canadian governments are also competing against aggressive U.S. states, which are offering hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to land new auto plants. In the case of Volkswagen AG, for example, Tennessee and two other levels of government combined to offer more than $500-million (U.S.) to land a $1-billion assembly plant.

Ford spokeswoman Lauren More said company officials meet regularly with government representatives to discuss issues, including possible future investment in Oakville. "Future investment for the plant is contingent on government support," Ms. More said.

Provincial officials would not comment.

Neither Ford nor Toyota sought or received government help during the 2008-2009 recession and auto crisis when Ottawa and Ontario bailed out Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. by contributing about $13-billion (Canadian) to a U.S. government-led rescue of the largest and third-largest Detroit auto makers.

The two Canadian governments have received partial repayments of that amount and still own equity shares in Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co., the companies that emerged from the Chapter 11 filing that wiped out billions of dollars in debt.

The federal and Ontario governments each gave Ford $100-million when the auto maker rebuilt its Oakville operations to begin producing the mid-sized Edge and Lincoln MKT crossovers in 2006. That $200-million incentive was 20 per cent of the $1-billion retooling of the plant to assemble those vehicles and the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, larger crossovers that were added later.

The Edge is the no. 3 seller among Ford crossovers and sport utility vehicles. The MKX is the best-selling Lincoln crossover or SUV.

But the Edge and MKX are being redesigned and migrating to a new platform in 2013, several industry sources said, They will come off Ford's CD4 platform that will also serve as the basic underbody for the Fusion, Taurus, Mondeo, MKZ and MKS passenger cars.

Ford's strategy is to reduce the number of platforms, but produce several of what it calls top hats off each platform. Its C1 compact platform, for example, provides the base for the Ford Focus compact car, but also such derivatives as the C-Max minivan and several small crossovers.

There are questions about what Ford will do about the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT, large crossovers assembled off a different platform. They are not the hits Ford hoped they would be.

George Pipas, Ford's manager of U.S. sales analysis, said on a conference call earlier this month that it's fair to say that MKT sales have been disappointing. Sales of MKT slumped 37 per cent in the first six months of the year in the U.S. market. Flex sales tumbled 30 per cent.

Ford agreed in contract talks with the Canadian Auto Workers union in 2009 to allocatea new generation of products to the Oakville plant based on a new global vehicle platform.

The company also agreed to add a third shift of workers to the Oakville plant when market conditions permit, but the slow sales of the Flex and MKT have so far kept Ford from doing that.



Ford backs cell ban law

Carmaker supports bill barring hand-held calls while driving

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
July 12, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is supporting a proposed behind-the-wheel ban on hand-held cellphone calls — becoming the first automaker to do so.

The Dearborn automaker said Monday it is endorsing a bill introduced last monthby U.S. Rep. CarolynMcCarthy, D-N.Y.

Pete Lawson, Ford's vice president of government affairs, said the company is backing the bill "because it represents a practical, commonsense approach to a national problem."

Ford has been eager to protect its in-vehicle technologies — such as Sync and MyFord Touch — that allow drivers to make hands-free calls and receive or send some limited text messages orally.

Nine states and the District of Colombia have barred the use of hand-held cellphones by drivers.

The Governors Highway Safety Association last week told states that haven't banned their use, including Michigan, to postpone action until further research is completed.

Ford has been concerned about efforts by some to crack down on in-vehicle technologies that allow drivers to make and receive hands-free cellphone calls.

"Research conducted in labs and on roads shows that activity drawing drivers' eyes away from the road — whether text messaging, manually dialing a cellphone or reading maps — substantially increases the risk of an accident or near misses,"Lawson said.

"Ford believes hands-free, voice-activated technology significantly reduces that risk by allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road," Lawson said.

Telecommuncations giant Verizon also has endorsed the bill.

McCarthy said "Ford is demonstrating great leadership and being a good corporate citizen" by supporting her legislation.

"GM has been way out in front for years, among our employees, states and consumers, with a simple message of put the phone down and drive," said General Motors spokesman Greg Martin.

"We're still doing our part, but we're not certain what meaningful effect a federal ban would have at this time as these issues typically reside with state and local enforcement," he said.

GM bars employees driving company cars from using a hand-held cellphone behind the wheel.

States that refuse to comply within two years could lose 25 percent of their federal highway money.


Big 3, UAW talks to
define industry future
United Auto Workers President Bob King speaks at the opening day of the UAW bargaining convention at Cobo Center in Detroit on March 22. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Union, auto companies must forge innovative
contracts that fit new competitive reality

Bryce G. Hoffman and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
July 11, 2011

The 2011 contract talks slated to begin this month between Detroit's Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers will be about more than work rules or cost-of-living adjustments.

They will be a referendum on the new Detroit.

In 2009, the UAW agreed to game-changing concessions, ending jobs banks, streamlining work rules and freezing cost-of-living adjustments. These helped create the leaner and newly profitable industry that is again becoming an engine of economic growth, both for Michigan and the nation.

But the union made these concessions with Washington's gun to its head. Workers never had an opportunity to vote on them — at least not at General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

Now, those workers face a real choice: Do they try to turn back the clock and fight to regain what they gave up in 2009 and 2007, or do they figure out a new way forward that allows them to share in the automakers' success without jeopardizing it?

Some are already organizing "vote no" campaigns, even though the contracts have yet to be negotiated.

The automakers also face a choice: Do they restore concessions to keep the peace, or do they hold the line on costs and do whatever is required to remain competitive?

"Michigan is at a historic crossroads," UAW President Bob King said at the Mackinac Policy Conference last month. "The public is looking at us to see whether we've learned from the crisis or whether we go back to the same old way of doing things."

This year, the old ways of doing things no longer apply.

All three Detroit automakers are keeping quiet in the lead-up to formal negotiations, but privately they all agree Washington's intervention in the industry fundamentally altered the rules.

The deal the Obama administration imposed on the UAW during the industry bailout in 2009 prevents it from striking GM or Chrysler. Its only resort is binding arbitration.

Ford Motor Co., which did not take a taxpayer bailout, cannot force the union into binding arbitration like its crosstown rivals.

That means concepts such as strike targets are obsolete, said labor expert Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has advised the UAW in the past.

"We're in uncharted waters," he said. "The past is only a very loose guide."

Goal: Staying in the black
Even pattern bargaining may be a thing of the past. Sources at all three companies say GM, Ford and Chrysler are all in such different positions that a common one-size-fits-all approach no longer makes sense.

Chrysler is majority owned by a foreign automaker, GM is partly owned by the U.S. government, and Ford made it through the crisis on its own, without a bailout or bankruptcy.

King has signaled a willingness to work with the companies to craft contracts that would allow his members to share in their relative prosperity without adding significantly to their fixed costs. Think profit-sharing instead of wage increases.

The UAW boss believes the best way to guarantee jobs for his members is to keep the companies they work for in the black. He is keenly aware of how bad it would look for the UAW to be seen as kicking the Detroit automakers in the shin just as they are getting back on their feet.

King has said as much to local union leaders. Many of them seem to be preparing their members for a contract that limits guaranteed wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments, but would pay more generous bonuses as the automakers' bottom lines improve. But union dissidents are already up in arms.

"I've lost over $30,000 a year from those concessions," said Mary Springowski, an activist at Ford's Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake. "People want this stuff back. I want my time-and-a-half after eight hours back. If they can afford to give (Ford CEO) Alan Mulally, (Ford Americas President) Mark Fields and these other guys all this money, they can afford to do that."

Some ready to vote 'no'
At some plants, workers are already trying to organize opposition to the new contract before it has even been negotiated.

Nick Waun is one of them. The GM worker from Lordstown, Ohio, is a member of the Autoworkers Caravan, a dissident group that includes workers from all three Detroit auto manufacturers, as well as UAW retirees. He has been passing out leaflets and stickers calling for an elimination of the two-tier wage system that workers approved in 2007, reinstatement of the cost-of-living allowance and the rollback of other concessions.

"A lot of members say if they don't see those two things, they're going to vote 'no' on the contract," he said.

Like Springowski, Waun opposes profit-sharing in lieu of wage increases. Workers, he said, want "solid, definable gains in their wages, rather than arbitrary bonuses determined by management."

At Ford factories such as the Ohio Assembly Plant, workers approved concessions in 2009 to help keep the Dearborn automaker out of bankruptcy court. The UAW approved even deeper concessions at GM and Chrysler at the urging of the Obama administration as part of the government's bailouts.

GM and Chrysler workers never got to vote on these givebacks. Groups including the Autoworkers Caravan tried to make their voices heard from the sidelines, but without success.

That is why Shaiken expects this year's talks to be volatile. "I wouldn't be surprised if we get into arbitration," he said. "There will be locals that vote it down."

Wall Street is watching developments in Detroit closely.

"In our opinion, the upcoming contract will involve a mix of politics, theater and economics," said analyst Eric Selle, who follows the industry for JPMorgan Chase. "We expect for the UAW leaders to bang the war drum to rally the rank and file.

"However, we believe the potential for a protracted strike is low as the UAW's VEBA (voluntary employees beneficiary association) trust owns equity, the White House faces risk from a strike, it hurts the UAW's ability to organize transplants and the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy deals involved no strike clauses related to wages and benefits."


How the economic storm battered
St. Thomas, Ont.'s factories

Greg Keenan
Globe and Mail
July 10, 2011

In the depths of the recession, John LaCroix stopped at a traffic light in his green Ford Windstar and found himself struck by a wave of anxiety.

He had been working only part-time since being laid off at the Sterling Truck plant in St. Thomas in 2007 and fears about running out of money had been waking him in the middle of the night. Now, they were beginning to dominate his daytime thoughts as well.

You're stopped at a red light. There's nobody around; you're looking at your gas gauge and thinking of your money. 'I'm wasting gas that I need. This is serious. This is food for my table. I'm not sitting here when there's no other cars around. I'm going through this red light.'" And he did.

Mr. LaCroix's journey through the recession reflects the devastation the manufacturing crisis has wrought on St. Thomas, the one-time railway capital of Canada that now has a strong claim to another, more dubious title: the Canadian city hit hardest by the recession and factory closings.

The shutdown of the Sterling heavy-truck plant, the looming closing of a nearby Ford Motor Co. factory and numerous other shutdowns have rippled well beyond Mr. LaCroix and thousands of others whose jobs have vanished, hitting social service agencies, the United Way, local school boards and taxpayers in the city and the surrounding area.

Few cities across Canada have endured the blow of having their two largest employers leave town in the space of a little more than two years. The Ford closing, scheduled for September, comes as St. Thomas is still trying to pick itself up after the recession, which wiped out about 250,000 manufacturing jobs across the country in 2008-2009.

The recovery from that crisis has been uneven across the manufacturing sector. While many companies and communities are bouncing back and new entities are rising from the ashes of closed businesses, the situation is taking longer to play out in places like St. Thomas. The city's woes also underscore the dangers of becoming too reliant on one niche within the manufacturing sector. Its location in the heart of the auto making belt of southwestern Ontario has made it heavily dependent on that industry, which is recovering only slowly from the crisis that sent Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two years ago.

The Sterling closing was one of a number of permanent shutdowns of large Canadian operations by offshore-based manufacturers. It wiped out more than 1,400 jobs in 2009, two years after Mr. LaCroix was laid off in 2007.

Ford will cut about 1,000 direct jobs when it shuts its St. Thomas Assembly Plant in nearby Talbotville, Ont., in September. With that, one of Mr. LaCroix's part-time jobs will disappear – at Lear Corp., in St. Thomas itself, where the seats for the Ford vehicles are made.

The job at Lear was one of two jobs that helped Mr. LaCroix make ends meet while he studied for a diploma in community services work. They helped, but barely, because he was called in to Lear or GKN Sinter Metals, a manufacturer of powdered metal parts in St. Thomas, only if enough full-time employees were absent.

"I didn't know if I [was going to] get a paycheque next week or not," he says. "Or how much it's going to be."

He has led a nomad-like existence in both his working and personal life since Sterling let him go in 2007. Under the stress, his marriage ended.

He has had infrequent work at the adjustment centre set up by the Canadian Auto Workers union and Sterling to help workers find new jobs, retraining opportunities or educational assistance when their jobs in the plant were eliminated.

"I went 30 years without missing a bill – ever," the 52-year-old says. But in December, 2008, he handed over to the bank the keys to the house he owned in Port Stanley, Ont., a beach community a 15-minute drive south of St. Thomas. Since then, he has spent periods of time staying with friends or acquaintances who needed some rental income to help pay their own mortgages.

His working life is on the road to recovery with a steady part-time job this month at a non-profit housing residence in London, where he will offer mentoring and counselling to residents. St. Thomas, too, is making some early steps toward recovering lost jobs by attracting some manufacturers, including Masco Canada Ltd., which took over the Sterling plant and now employs about 400 people making plumbing fixtures and other housing-related products.

St. Thomas won some spinoff benefits from the new Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. plant in Woodstock, Ont., which gave that city a major boost during the recession. Takumi Stamping Canada Inc., which supplies metal parts to Toyota's Woodstock plant, is expanding in St. Thomas and now has about 150 employees. St. Thomas has also retained some auto parts plants, notably two Magna International Inc. factories.

Masco and Takumi are examples of how the city is working hard to attract new businesses to replace those that have left, says Bob Wheeler, general manager of St. Thomas Economic Development Corp. He points to the price of industrial land and a skilled work force as advantages St. Thomas has in landing other businesses.

"We build things here and we do a good job at it," he says.

But the full impact of the Ford closing won't be felt until later this year.

In several empty factories near where Mr. LaCroix installed dashboards in truck cabs at what was once the Sterling plant, but is now Masco, weeds poke through the asphalt in empty parking lots.

One of those factories is a block south on Harwill Road, where the green lights on the loading dock at the former ZF Heavy Duty Steering Inc. plant still blink every few seconds to alert drivers that it's safe to back up – even though the factory closed in December, 2009. A few blocks east of that is the soon-to-be-shuttered Lear plant.

Mr. LaCroix is watching his colleagues at Lear endure the same painful issues the Sterling workers faced.

"I've seen parents fighting with their kids because they have to tell them: 'I don't know if you can join hockey this year.' "

Rod Potgieter, executive director of Family & Children's Services of St. Thomas & Elgin County, has noticed the impact of the manufacturing decline in other ways.

"There's increases in addictions, there's increases in domestic violence and there's increases in child abuse and neglect," Mr. Potgieter says. "It kind of cascades down to us, but it's a social artifact of the economic recession."

In 2008, Elgin County, which stretches from Lake Erie's north shore to the city of London's south side and includes St. Thomas, had the largest increase in Canada of people seeking access to social assistance, he notes. His own agency closed fewer cases than it normally does during healthy economic times and transferred more cases to other agencies.

The effect is felt throughout the services industry and in the charitable sector, too. The loss of manufacturing jobs has had a dramatic impact on the United Way, for example. The Canadian Auto Workers union, which designates that fund-raising drive as one of its key priorities, represents workers at Ford and did so for Sterling's hourly employees as well.

CAW members and other employees at Sterling contributed $300,000 annually to the United Way, says Sharon Lechner, who departed as chief executive officer of Elgin-St. Thomas United Way in May.

"A few years ago we [raised] $1.2-million," Ms. Lechner says. "Last year we raised $712,000, so it's had a huge impact."

Mr. Potgieter points out that at one time, Family & Children's Services received $60,000 annually from United Way to run a moms and tots program, mainly for single parents with pre-school children. That funding was cut to $26,000 last year and he no longer relies on United Way to finance the program.

In nearby Fingal, Ont., Jim McIntyre, Mayor of Southwold Township, where the Ford plant is located, is figuring out how he will cope with the loss of $400,000, or one-quarter of his tax base.

Ford pays about $2.3-million annually in local and school taxes, but that assessment has already been cut in half for the 2009 and 2010 tax years by the Ontario government in a move that Southwold and Elgin County are appealing.

The township increased residential taxes by 7 per cent or about $140 per household this year. But if Mr. McIntyre loses his appeal, he'll have to come up with another $400,000 to cover the township's portion of the refund to Ford.

The taxes that go to local municipalities and the healthy United Way contributions from people at Sterling and Ford were financed by jobs that pay some of the highest hourly wages in manufacturing in the country.

Production workers at Ford earn $33.90 an hour and have benefit packages that are among the best for workers in the manufacturing sector in Canada. When Sterling closed, assembly line workers were paid $29.16 an hour.

In contrast, the postings at the local Employment Services office on a recent morning revealed few manufacturing jobs available. There were postings for construction labour jobs paying $12 to $15 an hour, notices for truck drivers at $14 and a lawn-care crew-leader job paying $12.

This spring, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. held a job fair to fill openings at a call centre in St. Thomas. The jobs started at $10.25 – less than one-third of what Ford workers are making. More than 100 people turned out to apply.

Mr. Wheeler, the economic development officer, says St. Thomas is still trying to entice other manufacturers to set up shop in the city, but is putting a new emphasis on diversifying into food production and the green economy.

And with the ever-present sense of salesmanship that is a prerequisite for those holding his job, he even points to the Ford plant as representing a great opportunity for a manufacturer because it's close to Highways 401 and 402 and one of the railways that gave the city its name as the railway capital of Canada.

It's for sale for about $22-million.


Manufacturing’s devastating death in St. Thomas, Ont.

See Video

Manufacturing's devastating death in St. Thomas, Ont.

John LaCroix, 52, lost his job at St. Thomas's Sterling Truck plant in 2007. In 2009, the plant shut down, wiping out more than 1,400 jobs. Ford will cut about 1,000 direct jobs when it shuts its St. Thomas Assembly Plant in nearby Talbotville, Ont., in September. With that, one of Mr. LaCroix's part-time jobs will disappear – at Lear Corp., in St. Thomas itself, where the seats for the Ford vehicles are made.

His journey through the recession reflects the devastation the manufacturing crisis has wrought on St. Thomas, the one-time railway capital of Canada that now has a strong claim to another, more dubious title: the Canadian city hit hardest by the recession and factory closings.

Mr. LaCroix has led a nomad-like existence in both his working and personal life since Sterling let him go in 2007. Under the stress, his marriage ended. He has had infrequent work at the adjustment centre set up by the Canadian Auto Workers union and Sterling to help workers find new jobs, retraining opportunities or educational assistance when their jobs in the plant were eliminated.



Ford says social media use
raising brand's profile

Fiesta Movement Agents Thomas and Whit took a night shot of their Fiesta. Ford was able to credit the Fiesta Movement, which picked people to test drive Fiestas around the world in 2009. (Ford)

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
July 9, 2011

Ford Motor Co.'s use of social media is creating greater awareness of new vehicles and proving to be money well spent, a marketing executive for the automaker said today.

Ford has tried to position itself in the forefront of social media with experiments such as the Fiesta Movement designed to create a buzz for the subcompact car before it went on sale in the United States and the use of Facebook to introduce new models such as the redesigned Ford Explorer.

The automaker has also used the adventures of a puppet named Doug to try to connect with consumers.

It can be hard to measure the return on investment of social media, Matt Van Dyke, Ford's director of Marketing Communications, said today in a live webchat.

But there is empirical evidence, said Van Dyke, who oversees all U.S. advertising for the Ford and Lincoln brands.

Ford was able to credit the Fiesta Movement, which picked people to test drive Fiestas around the world in 2009 and post their experiences and videos, for the growing awareness of the new car because the automaker had not yet begun mass media advertising.

"In that case, we were able to generate proven awareness, favorable opinion and consideration that we are able to assign dollar values to," he said.

The Fiesta Movement represented an investment of millions of dollars to bring over 100 vehicles from Europe as well as the production costs of the six-month project, but Van Dyke figures Ford generated five times as much exposure as a traditional advertising campaign. And by the time the car went on sale, many U.S. consumers were familiar with it. The car continues to post strong sales, selling more than 42,000 in the first half of the year.

The decision to unveil the new Explorer as part of a Facebook campaign rather than at an auto show also is considered a success. On the day of the Explorer reveal, Ford went from 7,000 visits on its Explorer home page to more than half a million.

Ford does not have a social media department; the automaker wants its use to be pervasive across the company.

The focus has been on using social media to generate buzz before a new vehicle hits the market.

"We need to broaden that approach," Van Dyke said. "For example, we are experimenting with user reviews of current customers on our Fusion vehicle homepage."

And the marketing executive will consider live chats with consumers months after a new car or truck has been on the market.

Additionally, at the front end of the process in vehicle development, "we think there's untapped potential in getting early feedback on features, style, design and more," he said. "Ultimately, the 3,000 moving parts will have to be assembled by our engineers."

And the automaker does not rule out the use of traditional print advertising. But Van Dyke sees print as having a strong supporting role within the marketing mix.

"The challenge for publishers is better and better integration, not "special advertising" sections," he said.


Ford Canada Posts Best
June in 22 Years

July 9, 2011

OAKVILLE – Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited saw sales increase six per cent compared to last June, marking the best June sales since 1989. Demand for Ford's fuel-efficient lineup helped to drive car sales up 32 per cent. Key sellers included: Focus, Fusion, Taurus and Mustang which all saw sales increase 12 percent, 9 percent, 19 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Furthermore, the all-new Fiesta and award-winning Fusion both had best-selling sales months ever. With 140,377 units sold, Ford of Canada is the number one selling automaker for the month and year-to-date.

"After some uncertainty in May, we experienced a nice uptick in showroom traffic in June," said David Mondragon, president and CEO, Ford of Canada. "Our investment in smaller more fuel efficient vehicles is clearly paying off as consumers continue to look for great fuel economy."

Also driving strong sales results is the newly reinvented 2011 Ford Explorer which saw sales increase 85 per cent compared to last June. In fact, all June Explorer sales were 2011 model year vehicles. With 4,439 units of 2011 Explorers sold to date, Ford has more than doubled last year's full-year sales total of 2,043 units of 2010 4-door Explorers – an increase of 217%, in the first six months of 2011.

"We are seeing a stronger industry in June," said Mondragon. "In fact, the Canadian market may come in stronger for 2011 than first forecasted."

June Sales


Ford hiring up to 1,800 to build Escape in Louisville

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
July 8, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is taking applications in Louisville, Ky., to add a second shift at the assembly plant that will make the new 2012 Ford Escape.

But the number of new hires is still being determined as the automaker sorts out how many employees may transfer from other Ford plants, said spokeswoman Marcey Evans.

Ford needs 1,800 workers to restore Louisville to a two-shift operation late this year.

The offer to transfer is open to workers at any Ford plant, but the expectation is most will come from Kansas City or Chicago.

That is because when Louisville cut back to a single shift, many workers moved to the Chicago Assembly Plant that added a shift in November. Some of those workers may want to return to Kentucky, Evans said.

The current Escape is built in Kansas City by about 2,250 workers on three crews. They will go on lay off early next year while Ford invests $400 million to prepare for a new vehicle to be built there. Retooling could take up to a year. Some of those workers may want to go to Kentucky.

The 800 people making F-150s in Kansas City are unaffected by the layoffs or retooling as they have a separate body shop and assembly line.

New hires come in at the second-tier rate which is now about $15.50 and is about half what established employees make on the line.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Office for Employment and Training in Louisville today started taking applications for the Ford jobs and will continue to do so through July 14, Evans said.

The city will use a lottery system to choose which applicants will advance to the pre-employment testing phase.


June '11 volume
change from '10
1. Ford F-Series
2. Chevrolet Silverado
3. Chevrolet Cruze
4. Chevrolet Malibu
5. Ford Escape
6. Ford Focus
7. Toyota Camry
8. Dodge Ram
9. Ford Fusion
10. Hyundai Elantra
11. Nissan Altima
12. Toyota Corolla/Matrix
13. Hyundai Sonata
14. Chevrolet Equinox
15. Honda Civic
16. Volkswagen Jetta
17. Chevrolet Impala
18. Honda Accord
19. Honda CR-V
20. GMC Sierra


Ford sales in China up 14% as company pushes for bigger presence

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
July 7, 2011

Ford Motor Co.'s sales in China, the fastest-growing region of the world for the auto industry, were up 14 percent for the first half of the year compared with 2010.

The Dearborn-based automaker had wholesale sales of 274,510 cars and trucks in the first half of the year, including 44,442 sold in June — an 11 percent increase from June 2010.

Ford is working to increase its presence in the region as part of a push for a greater global presence.

The automaker last month announced that it wants to increase worldwide sales by nearly 50 percent by 2015 to 8 million vehicles a year. By 2020, Ford wants to more than double — to 32 percent — its volume of global sales from the Asia Pacific Africa region.

Hot sellers in China include the almost 17,000 Focuses sold in June, up 19 percent, and exceeding 100,000 for the first six months of the year.

The subcompact Fiesta, which has been on sale in China since March 2009, had more than 6,300 sales in June.

Ford's passenger vehicle joint venture partner in China, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, sold almost 36,000 vehicles in June, up 16 percent from a year ago and total sales for the first half of the year totaled 209,100.

Ford's commercial vehicle partner Jiangling Motors Corp. recorded a 19 percent sales increase for the first half of the year with more than 105,300 vehicles sold.

"We are working hard to provide our Chinese customers an expanded lineup of high quality, safe, fuel-efficient vehicles they want, and value," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford's Asia Pacific and Africa region and chairman and CEO of Ford Motor China.

"As an important part of our aggressive growth plan, we are expanding our production capacity, retail network, service capability, as well as our portfolio here in the world's largest automotive market."

Ford has released plans to introduce 15 new vehicles and more than double the number of its dealerships and its workforce in China by 2015.

Changan has a $500 million engine plant under construction in Chongqing to increase annual production capacity to 750,000 units by 2013.

In May, Ford signed a memorandum of understanding to build its first transmission plant in China, also in Chongqing, with an initial annual capacity of up to 400,000 units.

Changan has a new vehicle assembly plant that will be ready for production in 2012 in Chongqing. Jiangling will open an assembly plant in Nanchang in 2013.


Technology company files
patent suit against Ford

July 6, 2011

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) -- A technology company has filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., claiming several of the electronic features the automaker includes in its vehicles violate the company's patents.

Eagle Harbor Holdings LLC and subsidiary, MediusTech LLC, filed the patent infringement case against the Dearborn, Mich., car company in federal court in Tacoma, Wash., on Thursday.

Jeff Harmes, Eagle Harbor's general counsel, estimated that, should the company prevail in its claim, compensation could be in the millions.

The lawsuit centers on patents involving software and electronic components that are used in features to make phone calls, play music and access navigation tools with vocal commands. The patents also make possible car safety features that rely on sensors, such as parking assistance and stability control.

Eagle Harbor claims that Ford has used and continues to use the companies' patented technology in multiple vehicle systems, including SYNC, Active Park Assist, Blind-Spot Identification System with Cross Traffic Alert, Integrated Control System for Stability Control and MyKey.

Eagle Harbor, which is based in Bainbridge Island, says that its representatives began meeting with Ford in 2002 to discuss the potential use of its patented technology in Ford vehicles, but Ford broke off discussions in 2008. The following two years, Eagle Harbor said, it noticed Ford vehicles featured electronic systems that infringed on its patents.

"Ford is ignoring our patent rights and continues to use, without permission or license, Eagle Harbor's technology," Harmes said.

Eagle Harbor's chairman, Dan Preston, is the investor of most of the patents asserted in the complaint and, along with his son, Joe, co-founded a company that deployed the General Motors OnStar system.

Ford issued a statement Tuesday declining to comment on the lawsuit because it hasn't had an opportunity to review the case yet.


Two Toyota Ontario plants
to get $500-million injection

Globe and Mail
July 5, 2011

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc., backed by the federal and Ontario governments, will unveil plans Tuesday to invest about $500-million to finance productivity and production improvements and green initiatives at the auto maker's two Ontario assembly plants.

The governments will each invest about $60-million, said sources familiar with an announcement to be made at the company's plant in Cambridge, Ont., by Gary Goodyear, federal Minister of State for Science and Technology, and John Milloy, Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The government financing represents the first major financial contribution they have made to an auto maker since they spent about $13-billion to help bail out Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. during the recession that led to the auto industry crisis in 2008-09.

The Toyota funding is a response to the first of what is expected to be a new round of requests from auto makers seeking financial help to upgrade their Canadian plants as product mandates now held by those plants expire and as the companies seek ways to offset the billions of dollars they are spending to meet new fuel economy regulations.

The projects Toyota is examining include an upgrade to the paint shop at the assembly plant in Cambridge, which assembles the Toyota Corolla compact sedan and the Lexus RX350 luxury crossover utility vehicle, industry sources said.

The projects could lead to increased production in Cambridge and at a nearby plant in Woodstock that puts together the RAV4 crossover, the sources said. A federal government source said that could lead to more jobs at the two plants, which now employ about 6,500 people.

Improving productivity has been identified as one of the key challenges facing Canada's manufacturing industry, especially as manufacturers deal with the impact of the high value of the Canadian dollar.

The announcement comes as Toyota struggles to get the two Canadian plants back to full production following the March earthquake in Japan, which severely disrupted the operations of parts suppliers there.

The Cambridge facility is the only Toyota plant outside Japan that assembles vehicles for the company's luxury Lexus franchise.

It is one of the three plants that tied in the annual J.D. Power and Associates annual survey of initial quality. The Cambridge plant shared the platinum award with a Lexus plant in Japan and a Honda Motor Co. Ltd. plant in Greensburg, Ind., which turned out vehicles with the fewest defects and malfunctions.

Much of that dedication to quality comes from strong leadership, the hiring of capable people and the willingness of Canadian workers to be trained, industry sources said.

"The issue is, can you train them enough to offset a Canadian dollar trading at $1.03 (U.S.)?" one source said


UAW accuses American
Axle of greed

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
July 3, 2011

The United Auto Workers union Friday accused automotive supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. of "corporate greed gone amuck," following a decision to close its Detroit facilities.

"The UAW is angry about AAM's decision to close its Detroit plant after our members made real sacrifices to make the plant competitive and viable," UAW President Bob King said in a statement.

"This is another example of corporate greed gone amuck. AAM earned record profits of $115 million in 2010 with net income of $37 million in the first quarter of 2011 and still it is abandoning Detroit."

On Thursday, American Axle told 300 workers at the Detroit manufacturing facilities that the complex will close after the labor agreement expires Feb. 25.

The company blamed the closing on waning demand for body-on-frame trucks and SUVs requiring the axles that the Detroit facilities make.

UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada oversaw negotiations to continue operations at the plant, which supplies axles and steering linkages to General Motors Co. for use in its full-size pickups.

"UAW members found dramatic cost savings to make the Detroit plant competitive, and instead of assigning enough work to keep the facility open and profitable, AAM is running from Detroit," she said.

Company spokesman Chris Son said not all of the union's details are factual and the decision to close the plant is final.

American Axle plants in Three Rivers, Mich., and Silao, Mexico, also supply GM pickup assembly plants. The supplier has not said where the Detroit work will move to. Three Rivers is closer to GM's Flint and Fort Wayne, Ind., truck assembly plants but American Axle has already moved some work to Mexico, which supplies GM plants in that country as well as one in Arlington, Texas.

UAW Local 22 President George McGreggor said the membership agreed to significant changes to keep the Detroit facility open.

"In recent negotiations, the union agreed to additional concessions and a long list of AAM demands to eliminate contract language, modify work rules and give the company the flexibility to institute alternative work schedules," McGreggor said.

The UAW said it is open to further discussions.


Ford's US sales rise 10.4
percent in June

July 2, 2011

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. says its U.S. sales rose 10.4 percent in June thanks to new products like the Fiesta subcompact and revamped Explorer SUV.

Explorer sales more than doubled over last June, while sales of the Fiesta more than quadrupled. Focus small car sales were up 41 percent.

The F-Series pickup remained Ford's best-selling vehicle, with sales up 7 percent from a year ago.

Falling gas prices and increased deals brought more buyers into showrooms in June. Edmunds.com estimated that Ford spent $2,745 per vehicle on incentives in June, or 11 percent more than in May.

But Ford might have seen stronger sales if it had more small cars in stock. Ford U.S. sales analyst George Pipas says some Focus sedans are selling within hours of arriving at dealerships.


GM exec says talks with
UAW already under way

AP Auto Writer
July 1, 2011

DETROIT (AP) -- The head of General Motors Co.'s North American operations believes that new contract talks with the United Auto Workers will be different from the contentious bargaining of the past.

Mark Reuss, GM president for North America, said Monday that the two sides have been talking informally for the past 18 months about items that can benefit both the company and the union. The formal start to the talks is scheduled for July 27.

With the 2009 bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler still fresh in their minds, both sides have been sounding conciliatory tones leading up to the bargaining. UAW President Bob King has said repeatedly that he wants to be a business partner with the Detroit automakers.

The UAW's master contract with GM, Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co. expires in September.

Although he characterized the talks as amicable, Reuss conceded that there will be give-and-take as the company and union stake out their demands. He revealed few details of GM's wish list, although he said the automaker wants its factories to be more flexible so they can change quickly to build models that are in high demand.

"Some of the stuff we want is a good thing for the union, and some of the stuff the union wants is a good thing for the company," he said. "Being flexible and agile, for instance, everybody wins."

Detroit's three automakers are profitable now due to massive restructurings. So, they do not want to raise their fixed costs with pay raises. King has said he's willing to talk about profit sharing instead, although the companies may want to change the formula to tie it more to quality and productivity.

The UAW gave up cost-of-living pay raises in concessions granted in 2009 when all three companies were in financial trouble.

In past years the UAW has been able to win rich benefits for its workers by using a possible strike as leverage. But one of the conditions for government aid to GM and Chrysler to get them through bankruptcy was that the union couldn't strike over wages and that disputes must be settled with binding arbitration.

For previous contracts, the union has picked a target company and negotiated a deal that became the template for the other two. But King has said the UAW may not pick a target this year. He hopes to finish the talks well ahead of the September deadline.

Reuss spoke after the dedication of the GM auditorium at the Center for Creative Studies, a Detroit-based design and art school that has set up shop in an old building donated by GM.






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