The Canadian Auto Workers union has shifted its attention to Japanese transplants, and president Ken Lewenza says the labor group is gaining momentum in organizing workers at Honda's Ontario plant. Before the CAW gets too far, however, the outcome of contract talks with General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler in September could slow the group down.

Workers at Honda's Alliston plant in Ontario recently received a company handout that said their wages of about $31 an hour were at the same level as workers at the Detroit Three's facilities in the region. However, the CAW claims the calculations omit lower-paid contract workers, and instead include full bonuses that not every worker receives. Honda's Alliston plant builds the Honda Civic and Honda CR-V, as well as the Acura MDX and Acura ZDX. Honda representatives were not available for comment -- we'll update this space as soon as we have more information.

Winning comparable wages isn't the only item on the union boss's agenda; Lewenza also wants to improve relations between labor and management. "We're competitors," he said to WardsAuto, "but if everyone is concentrating on wages, they're going to go down."

Lewenza has had his sights set on the Honda plant, along with two Toyota manufacturing sites in Canada because it could help strengthen union membership. While some Honda workers may support the labor union, CAW Quebec director John-Pierre Fortin told us things haven't been moving as fast with Toyota. "It's a matter of interest and the number of individuals we've been approached by," Fortin said. Honda has demonstrated both.

The upcoming talks with the Detroit Three will put issues like the strengthening Canadian dollar on the table. Some automakers complain it's made Canada the most expensive place to build vehicles, WardsAuto says. With new union members, the CAW could gain greater bargaining power -- the labor group currently represents roughly 25,000 Detroit Three factory workers.

Honda and Toyota transplant factories aren't the only ones affected by unions. The United Auto Workers has attempted to convince workers at Nissan's factories in Tennessee and Mississippi that pay disparities exist between the two plants.

Source: Wards Auto