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UAW-GM contract negotiations hit next level

Matthew McNulty

General Motors and striking United Auto Workers may be moving closer to an agreement with the strike entering its 11th day.

UAW Vice President Terry Dittes provided an update to union members, via a letter, saying that the main issues are now with General Motors as the two sides look to finalize a new contract.

GM, on September 18, commented on the situation saying, “our goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for everyone."

Dittes’ letter adds some sense of optimism for the 46,000 UAW workers at GM plants and facilities who went on strike just after midnight on Sept. 16 after the union rejected the automaker’s initial contract proposal which GM submitted just two hours before the previous contract expired at midnight on Sept. 14.

Negotiators from both sides have met daily since then, with the strike already the union’s longest since 1985, when the UAW walked out of Chrysler plants for 12 days. The strike, according to industry analysts, could cost the automaker an estimated $50 million per day at least.

Several sticking points have been a thorn in each other’s side, including GM’s closure of four U.S. factories last fall, as well as the use of temporary employees, with the union pushing for a better path to make them permanent while also gaining benefits in the process.

Temporary workers currently account for between 7 to 10 percent of GM’s U.S. hourly workers, which translates to about 4,100 temporary employees.

UAW’s strike against GM is actually one of two separate strikes, with 850 union-backed Aramark janitorial employees who work at GM facilities walking off the job a day before autoworkers did the same.

Sources close to the UAW and GM told the Free Press that the two sides must decide upon a new contract with both Aramark and autoworkers in a timely fashion, or else union workers will be forced to cross the others’ picket lines.

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