DETROIT — The once staunchly anti-union Magna International Inc. plans to include the UAW in its efforts to make peace with labor. But it wants a no-strike pledge that may be hard to sell to the rank and file.
Magna President Mark Hogan said last week that the giant parts supplier is open to offering the same olive branch to the UAW that it extended last month to the Canadian Auto Workers.
Talks are expected to resume with the UAW once the union has completed its negotiations with Ford Motor Co., he said.
"Once the negotiations with Ford are done, undoubtedly there will be further discussions," Hogan said.
The landmark deal with the CAW ends years of adversarial relations between Magna and the union. Magna will permit CAW organizing in its Canadian plants.
In exchange, Magna receives a no-strike pledge and flexible work rules consistent with Magna's entrepreneurial factory culture. All unresolved bargaining issues are subject to binding arbitration.
It was hammered out in two years of negotiations initiated by Magna Chairman Frank Stronach.
The no-strike provision may be a sticking point with the UAW, though. Eldon Renaud, president of UAW Local 2164 in Bowling Green, Ky., said the UAW is heartened by Magna's new stance toward the union. But the UAW isn't willing to give up the right to strike, he said.
"We realize nobody gains in a strike," Renaud said. "But sometimes it's difficult to get people to the bargaining table."
UAW Local 2164 is trying to organize Magna's Cosma International plant in Bowling Green. The union has been passing out leaflets and holding organizing meetings for small groups of Cosma employees for about two months, Renaud said. The plant employs about 800 workers. It makes frames and engine cradles for Ford's two assembly plants in Louisville, Ky.
Only a handful of Magna's 52 U.S. plants and 19 product development sites have union representation.
The company has 18,050 U.S. employees.
Asked if Magna expects a no-strike pledge in return for ending years of hostility with the UAW, Hogan said, "I would think so. That is a key component of the CAW agreement."
Hogan said employees would decide whether they want a union on a plant-by-plant basis: "It ultimately has to be the decision of our employees."
Magna, of Aurora, Ontario, ranks No. 4 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $23.88 billion in 2006.