Toronto, Ontario – Members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) ratified separate contracts reached with General Motors and Chrysler, following a series of meetings on the weekend. The contracts were negotiated and ratified more than four months prior to the expiration of the current contracts.

Workers at General Motors locations voted 84 per cent in favour of their contract, while Chrysler employees voted 87 per cent in favour. The contracts closely follow that established at Ford two weeks earlier, which was ratified with approval by only 67 per cent of its CAW employees, and wrap up the 2008 round of negotiations between the union and the three domestic automakers.

The three-year GM agreement resists two-tier wages, and provides productivity and quality bonuses, improved restructuring incentives, benefit improvements, cost-of-living allowance increases in the second and third years, and improved language on health and safety issues. The contract also included product commitments by the automaker to its facilities in Oshawa and St. Catharines, Ontario, and a close-out agreement for workers at GM’s transmission plant in Windsor, Ontario, which the automaker announced it will close in 2010, eliminating approximately 1,400 jobs.

The Chrysler agreement is similar, and includes product commitments at the company’s Brampton, Ontario plant for the launch of the new C-series vehicles in 2010, and confirmation that the plant in Windsor, Ontario will continue to be the lead producer of minivans in North America. Chrysler also agreed to keep its Etobicoke Casting Plant in Toronto open until 2011, with the intention of selling the plant or making it into a joint venture. The company had earlier threatened to close the plant.

“We entered this round of bargaining knowing the unprecedented economic and political challenges facing auto workers in Canada,” said CAW president Buzz Hargrove. “Despite the odds being stacked against us, we were committed to reaching an agreement that would protect the important gains our union has made over the years. I’m pleased to say that we did that.”

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