DETROIT – Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza today accused Chrysler LLC of trying to undermine his unions authority by sending an e-mail directly to roughly 9,000 Chrysler workers in Canada.
I expected more respect because I genuinely and constructively worked with the corporation through so much change in the last 10 years, Lewenza said in an interview with Automotive News.
That is the kind of tactic from the 1940s and 1950s, where employers tried to undermine the authority of the collective bargaining unit.
After receiving the Chrysler e-mail, about 700 workers at Chrysler's minivan plant in Windsor staged a lunch-hour demonstration today in support of the union, Lewenza said.
He said Chrysler had been inflexible in its demand that union workers agree to wage cuts that would put them on a level with Toyotas Canadian workers.
Chrysler hasnt changed their position, Lewenza said. From the day we went into bargaining, they said, This is what we want no matter what you say. Thats not bargaining.
Lewenza said he has never talked with Fiat S.p.A. Chairman Sergio Marchionne. Earlier this week Marchionne said Fiat would walk away from its product-sharing agreement with Chrysler if unions were unwilling to make concessions.
Bargaining between Chrysler and the CAW is scheduled to resume Monday.
The letter said Chrysler's Canadian manufacturing operations will not survive in the long-term without significant concessions.
The letter, from Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli and President Tom LaSorda, said the company has to get its total labor costs at Chrysler Canada down from C$76 ($62.80) per hour to Toyota Motor Corp.'s Canada's labor rate of about C$57 per hour and the CAW's refusal to do so is jeopardizing the company's future.
"Time is very short," the letter said. "We have only two weeks before a final decision must be made. Let me be clear: Our negotiations are about saving Chrysler Canada. We are coming down to the wire in the fight for our company's survival -- and we need your support."
Reuters contributed to this report