Chrysler, CAW opt for brinkmanship –

The big news today is about the head of GM being decapitated, so this Canadian news report is both late and apparently less important.

The Canadian Auto Workers have been niggling with Chrysler while deadlines on government bailout loans tick away. Without the loans, Chrysler is threatening to shut down all Canadian operations. The union is holding out for maintaining bonuses and refusing to take a $7 drop in hourly pay.

I have no love for either side in this stupidity. Chrysler makes execrable cars (I can unfortunately say that from experience) and the CAW voters seem to prefer losing their job entirely than to acquiesce to the company’s requests. One worker was quoted in the news warning those who disagreed with the union’s position that, should Chrysler fail, he would have no choice but to compete for their jobs – as if the other car makers would happily jettison their lower-paid employees to take on line workers who exhibits such petulance.

If it wasn’t for the impact crater this would leave on the Canadian economy, I would happily hope for the lose-lose scenario.

At an afternoon meeting, more than 200 local union leaders unanimously supported the CAW’s position of rejecting more concessions than GM workers. Their contract calls for a freeze in wages and pensions, elimination of one week off the job annually as well as a $1,700 bonus and increases in costs for health care benefits.

Industry sources say the concessions will reduce overall labour costs, including pensions, by $7.25 an hour to about $68.75 for the next three years.

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