Canadian workers at Chrysler accept tentative contract reached last week

TORONTO – Unionized workers at Chrysler’s Ontario plants voted to accept a new contract on Sunday, marking the Canadian Auto Workers’ successful negotiation of fresh agreements with all the three big U.S. automakers.

The Chrysler workers voted 90 per cent in favour of the tentative deal which was reached last week.

It was not immediately clear how many of the 8,000 workers at Chrysler’s plants in Toronto, Brampton and Windsor cast ballots in the ratification votes held this weekend.

The deal was based on agreements already accepted by CAW members at Ford and General Motors by margins of 82 per cent and 73 per cent.

The four-year contract includes lump sum payments as well as job security provisions.

It also pays new employees less and extends the time it takes them to get to the top of the pay scale.

Chrysler was the last of the Detroit Big Three automakers to hammer out a contract.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the ratification of all three new agreements will now allow the union to focus on winning a national auto policy for Canada.

“One of our objectives coming into these talks was to position our industry for future growth and success, and we did as much as we possibly could on that front,” Lewenza said in a statement released Sunday evening.

“But without a comprehensive sector development strategy, the future of auto manufacturing in Canada remains uncertain, at best.”

He said a national auto policy could lay the groundwork for the industry’s ongoing competitiveness and success and added that the union would be renewing efforts to win federal support for the issue.

The CAW’s proposals for a national policy include the development of an auto investment policy, building a green industry and a buy-Canadian vehicle purchasing strategy.

The CAW represents 21,000 workers at the Big Three automakers.

Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Innovation, commended the CAW and the Big Three for reaching labour agreements.

“These negotiations took place under challenging economic circumstances and their collective determination to reach an agreeable conclusion speaks to their commitment to ensuring Ontario continues to be the top-producer of automobiles in North America amongst sub-national jurisdictions,” he said in a statement.

“This agreement provides fair compensation for workers while ensuring the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the auto sector in Ontario.”