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GM target of UAW in labor contract talks

Suzanne O'Halloran

The United Auto Workers will target General Motors first to set the framework as the union begins to negotiate a new contract with the industry, according to Dow Jones.

Contracts with the Big Three automakers expire at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 14. More than 96 percent of UAW members have voted to authorize strikes against the Detroit’s automakers if an agreement is not reached. If there is a strike, it would be against GM.

The union said Tuesday the vote means leadership is authorized to call strikes against not only GM, but Ford and Fiat Chrysler as well. But it doesn’t mean there will be a work stoppage.

Many observers expect a strike as the union seeks pay raises and the companies seek cost parity with foreign automakers that have plants in the U.S.

The union represents about 152,000 workers at the three companies.

Tension is high this year because the companies have been making billions of dollars in profits and workers want a bigger slice. But the automakers are looking to trim hourly labor costs, which have grown when compared with Southern U.S. factories run by Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai-Kia, Volkswagen and others. GM has also announced plans to shutter four factories in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, which the union has pledged to fight.

The relationship between the United Auto Workers union and its 400,000 active and 580,000 retired members, is growing strained after federal agents raided the home of Gary Jones, the president of the UAW, last week.

The FBI said it executed a search warrant at a home in Canton Township, Michigan, that is connected to Jones.

“As soon as news broke of this raid, we were receiving emails and phone calls from factory workers from all over the country who were very angry and very upset,” said Detroit Free Press autos and labor reporter Phoebe Wall Howard during an interview with FOX Business. “And so the contracts are due to expire. The factory workers are saying, 'these are the people we count on to advocate on our behalf. And now suspicion continues to grow.'”

Jones, who has not been charged, marched in Detroit’s Labor Day parade but exited the route before its completion and didn’t speak to union members. About 20 marchers carried signs calling for the union to be reformed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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