Hands Across The Border

A day after reporting huge third-quarter earnings, General Motors Chairman John Smith personally intervened to resolve the biggest threat to GM's fourth quarter: the two-week-old strike by Canadian workers. In an Oct. 16 Toronto meeting with Canadian Auto Workers President Basil "Buzz" Hargrove, both men seem to have given ground to produce what Hargrove calls a "framework" for a settlement. Serious bargaining is set to resume on Oct. 18, in hopes of reaching a deal by Oct. 21.

The strike was sparked by GM's refusal to accept outsourcing restrictions contained in the CAW's agreement with Chrysler Canada. GM now appears willing to accept this pattern, but only at Canadian assembly plants. In return, says Hargrove, Smith told him the CAW has to "find a way to recognize GM's legitimate" competitiveness problems at its component plants. Smith indicated that he was "prepared to continue the strike" if they could not hammer out an acceptable deal, Hargrove says. But Hargrove feels confident "we've broken the logjam."

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