The United Auto Workers and General Motors Co. reported they made some progress overnight on some portions of the contract but the key issues including the status of temporary workers, which has become a critical issue for both sides, remain unsettled.
“All unsettled proposals are now at the Main Table and have been presented to General Motors, and we are awaiting their response. This back and forth will continue until Negotiations are complete,” Terry Dittes, the UAW’s to negotiator said in a message to the more than 48,000 UAW members on strike.
“We will continue to bargain this contract until your Bargaining Committee is satisfied that we have achieved an Agreement that properly addresses our Members’ concerns,” said Dittes, who also thanked union members for their support and “the sacrifice you are making every day for what is right.”
The UAW also said it was prepared to continue its strike and called on local union around the country to prepare for another “Solidarity Sunday” this coming weekend.
“We will continue to invite people of faith and others to join the picket lines in support of the ongoing strike until a strong agreement is reached. Additionally, at noon on Sunday, your local union chaplain will be available on the picket lines for words of support,” said UAW president Gary Jones, who has kept a low profile since he is also in the crosshairs of a federal investigation into corruption inside the UAW.
When asked about the talks, GM officials said, “We continue to talk, and our goal remains to reach an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our business.”
However, the unresolved issue includes all of the major issues at the heart of the strike, including wages, health care, temporary workers, profit sharing agreements and product allocation, according to sources familiar with the status of the negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly.
Union members picked up their last paychecks Friday and will now collect a $250 stipend each week from the UAW strike fund.
Joe Langley, an IHS Markit analyst, said at a conference on Wednesday GM could lose about 70,000 vehicles of production from a two-week strike and might not be able to make up the loss during the short term.
The strike has led to lay GM plants and joint ventures in Ohio and Ontario, Canada, not represented by the UAW. All told more than 3,200 GM workers represented by other unions have been laid off. On Monday, the automaker notified 525 employees at its DMax Ltd. plant in Moraine, Ohio, that they were temporarily laid off. The plant would not be producing engines for the GMC and Chevrolet pickups there during the strike at UAW-represented GM plants.
The UAW’s picket lines also brought another Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Thank you for having the courage to stand up to corporate greed,” Sanders told the crowd in front of the main gate at GM’s Poletown assembly plant on the Detroit-Hamtramck border. “All over this country, working people are sick and tired of working two or three jobs, while seeing their health care benefits go down seeing their wages go down and seeing the CEOs get huge compensation,” Sanders said.
“Workers here today and workers all over America are saying ‘Enough is enough,’” he said.
Unlike on Sunday when remained silent in the face of political criticism, GM responded to Sanders’ critique. “Criticism about the wages and benefits GM pays is unwarranted. The total compensation of our UAW workforce – including wages, profit sharing and benefits – is the highest in the U.S. auto industry,” GM said in a statement.