Toronto, Ontario – The president of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) said he has recommitted the union to a constructive dialogue with Chrysler Canada. Ken Lewenza said he rejected “destructive innuendo” regarding the automaker’s comments that it may relocate its manufacturing facilities from Canada if its demands are not met, including a $20 drop in hourly wages.

“We are engaged in a process of information sharing and exchange with both Chrysler Canada and Ford Canada, so that both sides can better understand each other’s positions and accurately measure our current situation,” Lewenza said. “It is essential that this process continue, and we will continue to negotiate with these two companies in a respectful and confidential manner.”

The union said that labour costs in Chrysler’s Canadian operations are presently several dollars per hour lower than in its U.S. facilities. The CAW said it has committed to ensuring that this Canadian investment advantage is preserved in coming years, even as U.S. auto operations are restructured and U.S. labour contracts are renegotiated.

Lewenza would not comment on cost comparisons being discussed with Chrysler due to the confidential nature of the negotiations, but did say, “Chrysler’s claim that CAW labour costs are $20 per hour too high is utterly false, and is not justified even by their own internal data.”

The union said that its current collective agreement with Chrysler bars closure of any Canadian facilities until at least the expiration of the contract in September 2011. The contract and Canadian labour laws also impose additional requirements on the company regarding large severance costs, notice of plant closure, and other aspects of plant closures.

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