Unacceptable Employer Demands Continue to Slow Progress in Navistar Bargaining

June 28, 2009, 4:37 PM EST

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Negotiations between the CAW and Navistar continued on Sunday with little progress as the June 30 contract expiry date looms. CAW President Ken Lewenza said the company's refusal to move away from a series of unacceptable demands is hampering the union's effort to reach a fair and equitable collective agreement for workers at the Chatham truck plant.

"This employer is demanding a significant reduction in employment at the plant which will have devastating consequences for our members," Lewenza said.  "As we've said before, we will continue fighting for jobs in this plant and we are prepared to continue negotiating in support of our members and their families."

CAW bargaining committees for Local 127 (production workers and skilled trades) and Local 35 (office and technical) have made several proposals to the company in an effort to bring work back into the Chatham facility, already hit hard with major job losses. The company's proposed jobs cuts would result in over 1000 workers at the facility on lay off with little or no chance of recall.

CAW Local 127 Chairperson Cathy Wiebenga said that while the bargaining committee feels some progress is being made the company still insists on demands that the union will not accept, including granting third party supplier clearance to perform bargaining unit work, reducing new hire compensation and eliminating cost of living adjustments.

"The company has put a number of outrageous demands on the table that will jeopardize our members' standard of living and that, on principle, we will not accept," Wiebenga said.

Navistar has so far rejected a recent letter sent by the union which offered to extend the current collective agreement beyond the expiry date and bring in a mediator to assist the parties.

Despite the difficulties faced at the bargaining table, the union is making some progress in talks, said CAW Local 35 Chairperson Sonny Galea.
"The company has withdrawn their proposal to force active members to convert their defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution or RRSP-type pension plan as well as other demands on existing pensions," Galea said, crediting this success to the work of the bargaining committees.
The company also recently indicated it will not lock-out CAW members should negotiations extend past the contract expiry date.

The union is scheduled to hold a membership meeting on July 1 to update members on the negotiations.

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