CAW may give GM strike notice to spur labor talks
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TORONTO (Reuters) -- The Canadian Auto Workers union wants a contract deal in place with General Motors by the end of Thursday and may serve the automaker with 24 hours' notice of a strike if it is not, The Financial Post and The Windsor Star newspapers reported.
"My gut feeling says that we have to pound away today, and if we don't get a deal today, to put pressure on both sides, we're going to have to give notice," CAW National President Ken Lewenza told the Post.
"The issues that are left should come to a conclusion either their way or our way shortly," he told the newspaper.
"Our caucus, sometime this afternoon, will have to make the tough decision to apply a little bit more pressure if necessary," Lewenza said following a morning meeting with members of the CAW's negotiating teams, the Star reported.
Despite a strike deadline extension granted four days ago, Lewenza said the two sides have yet to settle "employment security" for about 2,000 members affected by GM's plan to shutdown a consolidated production line in Oshawa next spring.
Until those issues are settled, the two sides won't be able to negotiate a contract based on a tentative deal reached with Ford Motor Co. on Monday.
"Employment security on the local tables are still outstanding, and the pattern has still not be tabled by General Motors," Lewenza said, the Star reported.
The Detroit News, citing a source close to the talks, reported that GM submitted a counter proposal to the union this afternoon.
Lewenza could not be reached for comment.
Earlier on Thursday, another CAW official had said the union was waiting to hear from GM on a proposal that could resolve plant-specific issues, which had slowed the pace of the talks.
The union had hoped for quick agreements with GM and Fiat SpA's Chrysler after reaching a tentative contract agreement with Ford on Monday.
CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy said he expected to hear from GM on a union proposal on local issues sometime Thursday morning. GM's response will give the union a sense of whether the two sides are likely to reach a tentative contract deal on Thursday, he said. "If this is positive, then there's a good chance we could get it done," he said.
Kennedy said on Wednesday that the local issues holding up talks concerned job security and work standards.
Negotiators have not discussed the "economic package" - broader issues such as the wage rate - since early Wednesday, Kennedy said.
At Chrysler, Kennedy said there were "good discussions, good dialogue", even though Chrysler negotiations have lagged those with GM in recent days.
Talks between the union, which represents about 20,000 workers at the Detroit Three in Canada, and management have been underway for more than a month at a downtown Toronto hotel.
An unprecedented simultaneous strike at all three automakers was averted on Monday when the agreement was reached with Ford hours before a strike deadline. The union then promised to give 24 hours' notice before any strike.
The Ford deal sets the framework for talks with GM and Chrysler in a process called pattern bargaining, a long-standing union strategy meant to ensure that no company has a labor cost advantage over the others. But contracts with the automakers are never identical, in part because of plant-specific issues.
At GM, talks are complicated by the "consolidated line" at the company's Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant is set to shut down in June 2013. The line employs about 2,000 workers, nearly a quarter of the CAW's workforce at GM.Contact Automotive News