September 25, 2007

General Motors strike in U.S. could affect up to 100,000 Canadian workers

Detroit, Michigan – Responding to the decision by General Motors’ United Auto Workers union to go on strike yesterday, Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) president Buzz Hargrove said GM workers in Canada will be almost immediately affected by the strike. He stated that between 80,000 to 100,000 Canadian workers at GM, independent parts suppliers, and service companies will be affected if the strike lasts until the end of this week, and that CAW workers will not be handling parts from U.S. GM plants now out on strike.

“GM appears intent on making workers and their communities pay for the problems caused by unfair trade and the flood of imports,” he says, and warns that next year in Canada, bargaining with GM will probably be the same approach with the CAW.

Factory workers at General Motors went on strike across the U.S. yesterday for the first time in 37 years after the United Auto Workers (UAW) and GM failed to reach a new labour agreement by the union’s strike target of 11 a.m. on Monday.

The walkout came ten days after the union extended the previous contract past its expiration during negotiations. The issues reflected GM’s need to cut labour and health care costs, and the UAW’s goal of protecting the pay and benefits of its members.

The UAW last called a nationwide strike against GM in 1970, which lasted 67 days. Since then, the union has struck at selected plants.

In a statement, GM said that “We are disappointed in the UAW’s decision to call a national strike. The bargaining involves complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. workforce and the long-term viability of the company.”

In his statement, UAW president Ron Gettelfinger said, “We’re shocked and disappointed that General Motors has failed to recognize and appreciate what our membership has contributed during the past four years. Since 2003, our members have made extraordinary efforts every time the company came to us with a problem: the corporate restructuring, the attrition plan, the Delphi bankruptcy, the 2005 health care agreement. In every case, our members went the extra mile to find reasonable solutions. Throughout this time period, it has been the dedication of UAW members that has helped GM set new standards for safety, quality and productivity in their manufacturing facilities. And in this current round of bargaining, we did everything possible to negotiate a new contract, including an unprecedented agreement to stay at the bargaining table nine days past the expiration of the previous agreement.”

In a separate statement, James P. Hoffa, General President of the Teamsters, says that the Teamsters will not cross a UAW picket line, and the 10,000 automotive transport members will not deliver General Motors cars.

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