Canadian Auto Workers Union maps bargaining strategy

Solid wage increases and improved benefits are on the agenda
By Gordon Sova
||Last Updated: 07/09/2008

“Every time we bargain a collective agreement, our union is put to the test.” So begins the report on bargaining philosophy from the Canadian Auto Workers’ (CAW) triennial bargaining conference, held in Toronto in June. Not surprisingly, there is little talk of concessions and retrenchment.

In contract negotiations generally, the union is continuing to strongly endorse three principles. First, it is opposed to two-tier wage schemes. Second, bargaining committees are to be given a strike mandate prior to the expiry of a collective agreement. Third, the time limit on contract length will remain three years.

In relation to wages, these principles are expressed in several points of the union’s wage agenda. First, the CAW aims to bargain regular wage increases and ones that compound. So, one-time items such as lump sums, bonuses and similar monetary replacements for general wage increase are not in favour. Equally, profit-sharing and productivity bonuses, which are contingent on factors over which workers have no control, are to be resisted. Finally, pay for performance and other schemes that make wage increases insecure are contrary to the CAW’s position.