The Canadian Auto Workers does not expect to regain all of the concessions it made when automakers were struggling during the recession, but it wants to share in the profits now that the industry has rebounded.
"We won't be overzealous," CAW national president Ken Lewenza said Tuesday as the union kicked off contract negotiations with the three big North American automakers.
"We aren't going in there demanding everything back from 2009. We're just saying that we have to find a way to share in the successes that our members have built over many years."
The union met General Motors Canada and Chrysler Canada on Tuesday. It will meet Ford Canada on Wednesday. Contracts for workers at all three companies expire Sept. 17.
The union made concessions, including on wages, vacation time and cost-of-living payments, to help automakers during the 2008-9 recession.
Lewenza said it hopes to make some progress now that the companies are making a profit.
"The companies have learned to make money even at low volumes. Workers' sacrifices have been a big part of that success," Lewenza said.
But a Chrysler Canada spokesman said although the company has returned to profitability, it is not out of the woods.