Unions for Magna Workers: Consessions For Chrysler Workers.

May 9th, 2007

Quick question. If traditionally union-bashing Magna is buying Chrysler, and negotiating with the CAW to unionize Magna’s 30,000 workers, what is the CAW giving up in return?

Frank Stronach’s recent overtures to let North America’s auto unions organize Magna International Inc. may lead to a high-stakes swap whereby the unions agree to co-operate in Magna’s potential takeover of Chrysler Group in exchange for a much-needed boost to their membership.

Mr. Stronach, Magna’s founder and controlling shareholder, began discussions several months ago with leaders from the Canadian Auto Workers and the United Auto Workers unions on a new work arrangement for Magna’s North American employees that would involve unionizing Magna’s plants. He has said the current labourmanagement model in the auto industry is broken.

Magna’s recent efforts toward reconciliation with the labour unions may be the first step in what could be a lasting partnership, should Magna take a stake in Chrysler,” Fadi Chamoun, an analyst at UBS Investment Research, said in a new research report. While Magna is looking for flexibility from the unions on work terms, the unions see the potential for adding 30,000 Magna workers to their ranks. “It is this potential that is influencing the unions to favour Magna as an acquirer of Chrysler,” Mr. Chamoun wrote. “Inevitable concessions may be exchanged with a possibility to organize Magna’s non-unionized plants.

Isn’t this collusion? Is Buzz selling out Chrysler workers to gain unionization of Magna? Sure sounds like it. At least, this would be what in the real world of governance laws and conflict of interest guidelines, very questionable. But in the world of Canadian labour law, just another day. Question, what if those Magna workers don’t want to be unionized?

Oh, and where is the NCC on this? Workers rights were once one of their signature issues.

Update: I e-mailed Gerry Nicholls about this post, and in the process made a few more points. Here’s part of what I wrote:

I can’t think of another area in life where it would be OK for a middle party like the CAW to be negotiating two different, and so conflicting deals. Magna workers look like their about to get screwed – unionization whether they want it or not – and us Chrysler workers are going to be asked to take concessions from the same guy who’s handing his workforce over to the CAW. Martha Stewart went to jail for less.

CAW, freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy, I Love My Job, Wasted Away Again in Buzzistan

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