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Canadian UAW, Ford Push to Beat Strike Deadline

September 30, 1987|United Press International

TORONTO — Ford Motor Co. and the union representing its 13,000 Canadian workers haggled over non-monetary issues today, pushing for a contract settlement in the face of a 10 a.m. EDT Thursday strike deadline.

With most key money issues no longer in dispute, Ford's Canadian subsidiary and the Canadian Auto Workers union haggled over matters such as job classifications and working conditions, said union President Robert White.

One union local had settled in-plant issues and others were close but there were "troublesome" reports from two large locals, he said.

"The clock's really running on us," White said, but he was optimistic a strike could be averted at Ford Motor Co. of Canada's 10 assembly and parts facilities in Ontario province.

Ford earlier agreed to match basic monetary provisions of a three-year Canadian labor contract signed between the union and Chrysler Corp. after a six-day strike two weeks ago, meeting key union demands to boost wages of active workers and partially index pension increases to inflation rates among retirees.

Ford in the United States, which earlier reached a settlement with its union, was not involved.

White also was discussing job security provisions of the U.S. pact to ensure they did not threaten Canadian workers. After meeting Ford executives on that issue, White said he "was not all that troubled."

A settlement before the deadline would spare Ford Canada its first walkout since a four-day strike in November, 1976. A strike would halt daily production of almost 2,500 trucks and cars, including two models made exclusively in Canada.

Talks between the union and Ford Canada, which is 92% owned by the U.S. parent and last year earned $72.7 million, resumed last week. A three-year contract expired Sept. 14 but talks were put on hold to await the settlement with Chrysler, the union's strike target in talks with the Big Three auto makers.

Under the Chrysler settlement, pension increases for future retirees would be indexed to inflation rates within maximum limits in a six-year program. Current pensioners would receive fixed increases. The indexing provision reached with Chrysler was said to be a first among major industrial unions.

An assembler's wage would increase by 3% in the first year and the equivalent of 19 cents an hour--25 cents in Canadian currency in each of the last two years.

Assuming annual inflation of 5%, based on union figures, an assembler's hourly wage would jump by 1990 to the equivalent of $13.51, or about $18 Canadian, from $11.51 under the old pact.

After settling with Ford, the union will resume talks with General Motors Corp., which employs 40,000 unionized Canadians. Analysts expected GM also would meet the basic Chrysler pact.

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