DETROIT (Reuters) -- The Detroit Three automakers have rejected concessions on wages for new hires proposed by the CAW, the union's National President Ken Lewenza said on Friday.
The companies want new workers to make permanently lower wages than current employees, Lewenza said, and that is a "no go" for the union.
The CAW, in contract talks with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group LLC, had instead offered to cut new hires' starting wages and extend the "earn-in", the time it takes to reach the top of the pay scale.
The CAW on Thursday offered Chrysler, GM and Ford concessions on wages and pensions for new hires, yielding ground that might not overly upset the voting current members of the union.
The concessions proposed by the CAW allow for new hires to be paid less than current workers. This is the so-called "two-tier" wage scale the three Detroit 3 automakers and the UAW have used for the past several years, as a way for them to bring labor costs closer to those of foreign automakers with U.S. plants.
Earlier Friday, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne warned negotiators for the company's Canadian hourly workers that they need to be more realistic in their expectations for a new labor deal and there was still a long way to go in reaching a deal.
"The facts are the facts and I think that ignoring them or sweeping them under the carpet is not going to make anybody's life better," Marchionne told reporters at a United Way of Southeastern Michigan press conference. Marchionne is the chairman of that group.
"My sincere hope is that we all come to the stark realization of where we are and then we move it on from here," Marchionne said.
Marchionne did not provide specific details, but in the past has said that the manufacturing costs in Canada, which he says are the highest in the world, must be addressed in the current talks.
The CAW has threatened an unprecedented simultaneous strike at all three automakers should it fail to reach a contract agreement with at least one company by the union's strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. EDT next Monday.
That does not appear to have been nearly enough, based on what Marchionne said today.
Little or no progress
CAW President Ken Lewenza told Bloomberg there has been no progress in the talks.
"The reality is, all three companies from my perspective are overzealous." Lewenza said today in a telephone interview. "All three companies have incredible demands on the table."
Lewenza also challenged a comment by Marchionne indicating "some progress" has been made in the labor negotiations.
"I don't know where Mr. Marchionne got the impression of progress," Lewenza said in today's interview. "It's very, very tough sledding. I haven't seen much movement from the company at all."
The CAW, in a flyer issued this morning to its 20,000 members, said the talks continue with little progress.
"To date, little success has been made, with the union and the companies still very far apart on a number of fundamental issues," the CAW said.
The union said it is determined to resist the automakers' steadfast attempts to force deep concessions on both existing and future workers.
Chrysler accounts for about 8,500 to 8,800 of the CAW's 20,000 unionized workers. Chrysler's Canadian operations account for about 26 percent of the company's North American production.
In August, Chrysler's auto sales in Canada were 20,569, putting it third behind leader Ford at 25,461 and GM at 20,170 vehicles.
GM assembly line worker Peter Johnston was at the CAW's Oshawa, Ontario, offices, preparing for a strike today. The local has thousands of picket signs stockpiled, and portable washrooms, and barrels on order for use at GM's Oshawa assembly plant.
Johnston, a 32-year veteran, works on the consolidated line at the Oshawa plant. GM has said it will shut down the line next summer, putting as many as 2,000 workers, nearly a quarter of GM's unionized Canadian employees, out of work.
"I'm like everybody else, the uncertainty rides on me. I fear for the future of the workers at General Motors, and the municipality around here," he said.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.