GM Chairman Mary Barra talks with workers at the company’s Fort Wayne truck plant. UAW workers returned to work during the weekend.

General Motors Co. workers are heading back to work this week after the longest and most expensive strike in half a century, while union bargainers turn their attention to the Ford Motor Co., which has been selected as the United Auto Workers.

“We can confirm the UAW notified Ford it plans to negotiate with us next,” Ford said in a statement after the UAW was preparing to push Ford next for a new labor pact.

“As America’s No. 1 producer of vehicles and largest employer of UAW-represented autoworkers, we look forward to reaching a fair agreement that helps Ford enhance its competitiveness and preserve and protect good-paying manufacturing jobs.”

(UAW Workers Ratify GM Contract)

Rory Gamble, vice president for the UAW’s Ford Department, is leading the talks with automaker.

Meanwhile, Bank of America believes the just-ended 40-day strike at General Motors shaves more than $3 billion dollars off its bottom line, principally in the fourth quarter since it will take time for GM to resume full production.

However, GM did re-start its critical pickup truck plants in Flint, Michigan, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, a GM spokesman said in a text message.

Meanwhile, for Ford – and further down the road Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. – and for the UAW, the surprisingly narrow ratification vote, only 57% of GM’s workers voted for the contract despite being on strike for 40 days, also represents another challenge since workers remain restless over the purchasing power they have lost over the past decade.

(Proposed GM-UAW Contract Generates Torrent of Criticism)

The new contract did little to limit GM’s cost gap with its domestic competitors building vehicles in the Midwest or international rivals that building vehicles in the Southern United States but also Ford and FCA face different challenges.

UAW and Ford executives gathered at Ford World Headquarters to begin negotiations for the 2019 contract. Many of the issues are already settled.

GM wound up paying dearly for right to move ahead with closing four plants in the U.S. and the new labor agreement at Ford and FCA are expected to penalize both companies financially.

New limits on the use of temporary workers and new, shorter path to top wages for new hires also will hurt Ford and FCA since their workers are generally younger than those at GM.

(UAW Kicks Off Negotiations with Ford Talking Tough)

But neither Ford or FCA are preparing to close plants in the U.S. and are actually moving work from Mexico to the U.S. – a point they will play up as negotiations move into their final phase.

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