Magna, CAW To Outline 'Framework Of Fairness'

Company founder Frank Stronach has said Magna and unions need to work together to save North American auto industry jobs and create new employment.

TORONTO — Frank Stronach, who grew Magna International Inc. into one of the world's largest auto parts makers as an essentially non-union enterprise, has worked out the nuts and bolts of a ''framework of fairness'' with the Canadian Auto Workers.
 
Stronach and CAW president Buzz Hargrove were set to announce an arrangement Monday afternoon.
 
Neither side released details ahead of the meeting, but the Magna founder has been musing since the spring of 2006 about what he called the ''framework of fairness,'' after telling Magna shareholders that unions have an important role to play in balancing the naked corporate profit motive and promoting social justice and environmental sustainability.
 
Unions have generally failed to organize the workforce in Magna plants, which promote Stronach's entrepreneurial culture based on competitive pay, profit-sharing and an employee charter promising safety and fairness.
 
Stronach has said Magna and unions need to work together to save North American auto industry jobs and create new employment.
 
He indicated that under the framework the company ''would embrace the union,'' collect dues and deal with employee representatives, but there would have to be no-strike guarantees.
 
For the union's part, Hargrove has said Magna would be like a greenfield site and the CAW would start from a clean slate.
 
Magna has 83,000 employees in 23 countries, but only a few thousand are union members, largely at acquired plants that were already unionized.
 
For Stonach, 75, who founded Magna as a small machine shop in 1957 after immigrating from Austria, the union deal would be the second major shift this year in a company he has run as a benign dictatorship through multiple-voting shares.
 
Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska took a hand in controlling Magna through Russian Machines in a US$1.54-billion deal finalized in August.
 
Deripaska gets to appoint six members of the 14-person board of a new holding company controlling Magna, while Stronach's family trust names six members and two represent Magna's top management.
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