|CAW on New York's Wall Street
|September 12, 2005
CAW president Buzz Hargrove and CAW economist Jim Stanford visited New York's financial district on September 7th, making a
presentation to various financial analysts concerning the major issues in the CAW's bargaining with the Big Three automakers, as well
as the challenges facing the North American auto industry.
The CAW set out to explain key facts of the Canadian auto industry, highlighting the differences between operations in Canada as
compared to the United States. A major goal in this round of Big Three bargaining is to protect Canadian jobs, while protecting the
interests of CAW members. The union felt Wall Street was a good start, as from time to time the financial community can influence what
goes on at the bargaining table.
The message that was taken to New York was the same that's been explained to Canada's leading financial analysts on Toronto's Bay
Street - CAW members are more productive, competitive and profitable than their U.S. counterparts.
Chrysler, Ford and General Motors posted operating profits of $23 billion between 1999 and 2003, but today, negative news swirls
around Ford and GM, who have announced mass layoffs based on losing money on their automotive operations in recent years, blaming
in part high health care and pension costs.
In response to these media statements, Hargrove says "we're (CAW) wearing that as if we are part of the U.S., just another state."
Hargrove pointed out to investors during their conference with investors at Morgan Stanley, that the high costs affecting GM and Ford
comes from the American workforce, not the Canadian side. "The 40,000-plus CAW members who work for the Big Three's Canadian
operations pay for their health care through their taxes. And despite health care costs rising in Canada faster than the inflation rate, the
health care cost on a per vehicle basis is minuscule compared with U.S. health care costs," explained Hargrove.
GM has taken the strongest stand both publicly and privately over the need to freeze its labour costs. However, Hargrove said the union
will not agree to any concessions in Canada, "there not needed nor are they possible."
The Big Three's utilization in Canada is better than Toyota's in North America (about 118 per cent in Canada in 2004 versus 107 per cent
for Toyota in North America). Canada's labour costs almost perfectly match the "blended average" for North America, even at current
exchange rates, the union explained to analysts.
CAW targets Ford:
On September 9th, the CAW announced that they will target Ford to set the pattern for all the Big Three bargaining.
Ford makes an offer:
Last night (Sunday, September 11th), Ford offered the CAW Ford Bargaining Committee an offer. During a media briefing following the
offer being made, Buzz Hargrove responded saying that "the settlement offer is the result of responsible bargaining and appears to
satisfy many concerns of CAW members."
For more updates and information on the CAW's Big Three bargaining, log on to www.caw.ca and click on the link - Big Three