DETROIT – There's a glimmer of hope that the United Automobile Workers could be inching closer to a tentative deal with General Motors.
Talks have been going later into the night, which is a sign of negotiations heating up. On Tuesday night, both sides were working until 11 p.m.
One of the top sticking points seems to be the use of temporary workers.
In the meantime, there are new questions about what will happen when a tentative deal is eventually reached. It doesn't necessarily mean an immediate return to work, and the picket lines could remain for the next week.
Wednesday is the 10th day of picketing for workers, and strike captain Shawn Eaton, of UAW Local 652, is bracing for a long haul.
"How long do you think you'll be out there?" Local 4's Rod Meloni asked.
"I think maybe a couple months," Eaton said.
He might not be far off. As with past practice, when the two sides reach a deal, the union will announce a tentative agreement.
That will set wheels in motion to possibly end the strike. In the first 24 to 36 hours, two things will happen simultaneously: The union will assemble a deal summary and word will go out for all the local UAW presidents from around the country to fly or drive to Detroit.
They make up what's called the "subcouncil," which voted to approve the strike. They will meet to vote whether or not to approve the tentative agreement.
At that same meeting, they will take a vote on whether to send line workers back to the plants or wait until the rank and file ratifies.
If all goes smoothly, the UAW would likely hold a press conference to give a broad overview of the contract but provide no specifics.
Over the next few days, the next step is ratification. This is a process that usually takes two weeks. The union will work to keep it to one.
First come educational meetings at local union halls where the deal is explained. They usually wait a couple of days to hold ratification votes. This time, it's likely to happen within a day or two.
The UAW national office takes a day or two to count the votes. Once that's completed, if the rank and file gives the thumbs-up, workers return to the job.
It's difficult to predict whether the strike will end soon or continue for much longer. The first sign of the two sides getting close is if they negotiate overnight. So far, that hasn't happened.