* GM asks Cami plant workers to start talks early
* CAW workers vote Feb 10 on whether to open talks
* March 24 set aside for ratification vote
* Union reached pattern deal with GM in Sept
By Susan Taylor
TORONTO, Jan 21 The Canadian Auto Workers union
is recommending workers at a General Motors Co plant in
southern Ontario accept GM's request to start bargaining for a
new contract months ahead of the September expiration of the
current deal in the hope that doing so will help secure jobs.
A union official said on Monday he believes GM wants the new
contract so that it can lock in long-term costs before starting
construction of a major addition at its Ingersoll, Ontario,
The automaker has begun site preparation and moved "acres of
dirt," said Mike Van Boekel, chairman of the Cami plant unit of
Local 88 of the Canadian Auto Workers. Van Boekel believes the
addition will house a welding shop, which would be a requirement
for production of next-generation vehicles in two years' time.
The Cami plant, which last year produced more than 300,000
of GM's fast-selling Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain
crossovers, employs about 2,700 hourly workers.
Production runs 24 hours a day, six days a week, with
mandatory overtime, Van Boekel said, but still has not kept pace
There has been media speculation that production could move
to Spring Hill, Tennessee, and Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, in 2015,
Van Boekel said. GM said it has made no announcements about new
"GM has told us in meetings that they do plan on building
where they sell, and GM is selling a lot of vehicles in Canada,"
Van Boekel said.
Workers will vote Feb. 10 on whether to start talks early,
and could vote on a new contract on March 24.
The union said it will seek the same core terms as in the
contract negotiated in September 2012 for CAW members at other
GM plants in Ontario.
"Since the master agreement with the CAW was completed in
September 2012, it makes sense to pull ahead the CAMI
discussions," said GM spokeswoman Adria MacKenzie.
"With the master agreement already in place, these
discussions will be related to the local contract at CAMI ...
the March timing is possible, however, the local membership
needs to approve the change in timing before discussions can
Under the four-year master contract negotiated by the CAW
and GM, wages are frozen for existing workers for the first
three years. Workers get a cost-of-living adjustment in the
fourth year, and series of lump sum bonuses. New hires will
start at a lower hourly rate than under the previous contract
and take 10 years to reach the top level of the pay scale, up
from six years previously.