UAW sets Sunday night strike deadline with GM – Detroit Free Press
The UAW on Saturday set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Sunday in its contract talks with General Motors at which point the union could call a strike if a tentative agreement has not been reached.
“Your UAW-GM bargaining team has served official notice to GM terminating the National Agreement and Salaried Master Agreement effective at 11:59 p.m. Sunday October 25,” the union said in a Facebook posting to the membership about 3 p.m. on Saturday.
GM, in a statement said, “GM confirms that we have received a negotiations deadline from the UAW. We are working with them to address the issues and remain committed to obtaining an agreement that is good for employees and the business.”
The UAW’s decision to set the deadline comes two days after it resumed high-level discussions with the automaker.
“They want to get all of this over with, and this puts pressure to do that,” said Art Schwartz, a labor consultant and former GM negotiator.
UAW President Dennis Williams has said several times that he views a strike as a failure of the union and company to reach an agreement but also has said he would be willing to call a strike if necessary.
It is not unusual for the UAW to set a strike deadline as contract discussions go down to the wire. The UAW set a one-day strike deadline earlier this month during negotiations with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. A tentative agreement was reached less than 20 minutes before the deadline was set to expire.
The same scenario could play out this weekend. The two sides talked late into the night Friday, were expected to do so again Saturday night and will likely continue to hash out issues into the evening Sunday.
But odds are against a strike.
“I don’t think there will be a strike; I don’t think anyone wants one,” said Schwartz. He does not see any issues worth the risk and losses associated with workers walking off the job, losing pay as the company loses revenue at a time when the auto industry is booming and demand for profitable trucks and SUVs is almost insatiable.
Still, Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said the UAW would not have set a strike deadline merely to look like it is talking tough.
“It sounds like maybe there are some sticking points that they need to get over,” Dziczek said. “The UAW has been negotiating the entire time that the contract with Fiat Chrysler was being ratified so there may just be a few remaining items they need to agree on.”
GM is the second of the Detroit Three automakers to be negotiating a new deal. The UAW reached its second tentative agreement with FCA on Oct. 7 — a previous pact was voted down by workers. The second deal was ratified and the results made official on Thursday.
The FCA agreement sets a monetary pattern that GM and Ford are expected to follow but there is room to diverge from the agreement in some areas such as signing, lump sum and performance bonuses. Schwartz said hourly wages and pensions usually follow the pattern; profit-sharing tends to be different.
The FCA agreement changed the formula that determines the amount of profit-sharing employees receive. GM and Ford might want to stay with the old formula that is simpler for workers to calculate how much they will receive.
An area of contention in the Fiat Chrysler talks is an alternative work schedule that is hard on the body and much-hated. GM does not have a similar shift in its plants.
Another controversial area was a proposed health care cooperative designed to keep costs down in the long term. But it was misunderstood by many FCA workers, and the UAW took it off the table. Health care is a big issue at GM, which has about 400,000 retirees compared with about 100,000 at FCA so there could be changes to the pattern in this area.
The UAW is not expected to start final negotiations with Ford until the GM agreement is ratified.
Contact Alisa Priddle: 313-222-5394 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlisaPriddle
UAW-Detroit Three contract negotiation time line
A recap of the major events in this year’s UAW contract talks with the Detroit Three: