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Associated Press
The Canadian Auto Workers union says it has tentatively reached a deal with Ford. CAW President Ken Lewenza said Monday the union hopes GM and Chrysler can use Ford’s four-year deal as a template for their own agreements.

Union, Ford strike deal in Canada

Lewenza

– The Canadian Auto Workers union said Monday it has reached a tentative deal with Ford, but a midnight strike deadline looms with Detroit’s two other automakers.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the union expects Ford’s four-year deal to serve as a template for GM and Chrysler and said if there is “light at end of the tunnel” they will extend the midnight deadline.

“If they say it is unacceptable, we will have no choice to withdraw our labor,” Lewenza said. “Don’t force us to use that last tool.”

The union earlier told its members it was optimistic strikes could be averted after the CAW decided to focus on talks with Ford who they say recognizes that the union won’t accept a permanent two-tier wage structure. Ford emerged as most likely to reach an agreement ahead of a strike deadline looming Monday night.

Its current contracts with the U.S. automakers expire at midnight Monday.

The CAW represents about 21,000 autoworkers in Canada and about 16 percent of auto production in North America. The CAW has about 4,500 workers at Ford, 8,000 workers at GM and another 8,000 at Chrysler.

The agreement averts a strike at Ford. It will see 800 laid-off Ford employees get back to work, partially through the creation of 600 new jobs at its Canadian operations. There are no base wage increases during life of agreement, which lasts until Sept 2016, but each employee will receive a $2,000 lump sum payment which will cover cost of living increases, and a $3,000 ratification bonus.

Lewenza said it’s a good deal in today’s economic climate. He said Ford workers will vote on the deal this weekend. He said when the other Detroit automakers reached lead deals in the past the others followed the pattern.

Ford declined to provide specifics on the tentative deal because it hasn’t been ratified by the workers.

“We believe that the tentative agreement offers unique-to-Canada solutions that will improve the competitiveness of the Canadian operations while providing employees the opportunity to earn a good living,” Stacey Allerton, a Ford Motor Company of Canada vice president, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Chrysler said the carmaker is reviewing the Ford deal and didn’t have immediate comment. GM declined comment on the Ford deal but said it is focused on an agreement to meet its competitive needs.

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