CAW turns its attention to Ford

Union targets Ford in next round of talks, autoworkers could walk next week

With the ink barely dry on a new contract with General Motors, the CAW has set its sights on Ford as its next negotiating target.

Ford workers could be on strike as early as next week if an agreement can’t be reached with the automotive giant. The move to Ford came as a bit of a surprise, as many industry experts had predicted the CAW would choose DaimlerChrysler in the next round in order to give Ford more time to come up with a plan to address the pending closure of the Oakville, Ont. truck plant that builds the F-150 truck. The plant is slated to close in 2003 or 2004, affecting 1,500 workers.

“It just seemed to us that Ford was doing a lot more work in the discussions that we had,” said CAW president Buzz Hargrove. “We have a tough road ahead of us because of the closure of the Oakville plant.”

The GM deal was ratified by the company's 19,000 employees on the weekend, who voted 72 per cent in favour of the contract. It includes a three per cent wage hike in the first two years and two per cent in the third. It also features improvements in pension, healthcare, childcare and vacation time. Most significant, though, is the $800 million in new investments at factories in Oshawa, Ont. and St. Catharines, Ont.

“By establishing and tying down investment commitments by General Motors of over $800 million, we’ve now said to DaimlerChrysler and to Ford, ‘If General Motors can do this, you can do the same thing,’” Hargrove said.

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