CAMI workers to lose benefits, gain GM product pledge

CAMI workers to lose benefits, gain GM product pledge


Chrissie Thompson
Automotive News | September 21, 2009 – 12:01 am EST

 

Canadian Auto Workers union members at CAMI, the joint venture between General Motors Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp., approved by a wide margin a contract that cuts their benefits and commits GM to keep building vehicles there.

The approximately 2,250 CAW members from the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, approved the three-year pact Sunday. About 61 percent of production workers and 89 percent of trades employees voted in favor.

“Our workers recognized the importance of long-term stability, and although no one wanted these contract changes, I believe stability is what we achieved with this new agreement,” said Mike Van Boekel, the CAW’s chair for the CAMI plant, in a statement.

Similar to agreements the union reached this spring ahead of GM and Chrysler’s bankruptcies, the CAMI deal freezes wages and pensions, cuts benefits, reduces break times and introduces a monthly health care contribution, the union said. It also makes CAMI base wages equal with GM’s companywide base for the first time in the joint venture’s history and guarantees a replacement product in 2014 for the GM vehicles built at the plant.

The factory now builds the Chevrolet Equinox and the GMC Terrain. GM plans to add a third shift in October.

Much of the agreement won’t take effect until September 2010, the CAW said.

While the plant is still building two GM models, production of its Suzuki model, the XL7 SUV, was suspended in May. Suzuki has said it is committed to the 20-year-old joint venture, but it hasn’t decided when it will resume production there.

Workers at the plant have survived GM’s bankruptcy, which ended July 10, along with a 54.9 percent decline in Suzuki’s U.S. sales this year through August.

The CAW is continuing its negotiations with Ford Motor Co. As of last week, the union said, Ford hadn’t agreed to commit to continuing manufacturing in Canada.

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