Auto Parts Workers Say "No More Cuts"

May 3, 2010, 2:13 PM EST

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 Auto parts workers represented by the CAW are sending a strong message to major auto manufacturers that the union will not tolerate any further downward pressure on parts workers.

"Under the threat of closure or moving work to other plants, employers are coming to our members with outrageous demands and attempting to pit worker against worker," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

More than 250 CAW elected workplace and local union leaders from the auto parts sector, along with the bargaining committees from each of Chrysler, GM and Ford, met April 30 - May 1 in Port Elgin, Ontario to discuss the challenges facing auto parts workers.

"We are leaving this conference united in sending a clear message to auto parts companies and auto assemblers that enough is enough," said Lewenza.

Lewenza said that auto workers have delivered top levels of quality and ever-increasing productivity to the industry, and have also provided significant and painful cost savings for auto assemblers and parts companies during the turbulence of the past few years to help ensure the survival of the industry.

"Government rightfully supported domestic automakers crippled by the financial crisis, in recognition of their importance to the broader economy, specifically the half a million jobs in Ontario supported by the industry," said Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President, in charge of the auto parts sector of the union. "But governments did not pitch in and we did not renegotiate our collective agreements with the auto companies to give them a mandate to relentlessly drive down conditions for auto parts workers."

"Now we are being told by some auto parts companies that in order to secure future work at our plants that we must make dramatic cuts to wages - in one instance to as low as $9 per hour. That is not only outrageous, but also illegal as it's even below the Ontario minimum wage. Clearly, we're going to have to stop this downward spiral," Dias said.

Delegates to the conference discussed and debated the situation in the auto industry, and the challenges ahead. In charting a way forward delegates endorsed the development of a plan with a number of measures, key among them:

. Reconfirming our commitment to our bargaining principles and rejecting the idea that jobs will be saved by endless cost-cutting.
. Setting in motion a process to strengthen and consolidate our bargaining power in the sector, including a mechanism for workers to develop common minimum standards for wages and working conditions.
. Strengthening links between workers in assembly and parts plants to ensure that our auto parts work is not moved to non-union and low-wage facilities.  

"This conference was a first step in launching a broad and far-reaching campaign," said Lewenza. "Over the coming weeks and months we will bring our message in a variety of ways to the companies and to workers across the auto parts sector - both organized and unorganized - that we are strengthening our resolve to stand up together in defence of the interests of auto parts workers and their families."

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