DETROIT - When it comes to contract talks, the old adage is: As long as they are talking, it's a good thing.
So the first box can be checked.
But General Motors brought a substantive offer about an hour and a half before the strike deadline. The union said too late and moved on with the strike.
As of Monday, things seemed as if they were back on track. United Auto Workers hit the picket line with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose.Yet, all the while, they were hoping it would not last for long.
UAW-GM vice president and lead negotiator Terry Dittes said he is glad to be at the table inside the Renaissance Center and expects to be there for a while.
"I think there are a lot of outstanding issues that will require serious movement between the parties and there is just a lot of issues that are important to our members right now," Dittes said.
On Sunday, General Motors made public its latest offer, which addresses many of those concerns, such as product in plants, annual bonuses and health care. It is a good start, certainly.
When pressed, Center for Automotive Research analyst Kristin Dziczek believes that, if all goes well, the end of the week may be the time for a settlement.
"I want to hope that it's possible, you know? What General Motors put out seems positive and like they're certainly working in good faith," Dziczek said.
The devil, of course, is in the details. Dziczek says she finds it encouraging when she looks at how General Motors is handling what little of its operations remain online.
"GM has their suppliers all working this week, building inventories, so they're not in, like, 'Batten down the hatches. We're in for a long haul. I think folks are fairly encouraged they're back at the table and hoping they get a deal," she added.
But the optimism can turn on a dime. In the meantime, it's been a decade since we last saw this kind of strike and, boy, has the world changed in that time.
- The UAW strike against GM began at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Picket lines have formed outside of plants Monday morning.
- The UAW says its roughly 50,000 members would be on strike.
- Workers have shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states and 22 parts distribution warehouses.
- UAW members who show up at the picket line will get $250 a week.
- As of Sunday morning, 850 employees across Michigan and Ohio had already walked off the job.
- The UAW said workers are striking to secure fair wages, affordable healthcare, their share of profits, job security and a defined path to permanent seniority for temp workers.
- GM said it presented "a strong offer that improves wages, benefits and grows U.S. jobs in substantive ways"
Workers have shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the United States, as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.
- Rod Meloni: Perspective on the UAW-GM national strike
- Click here to read General Motors' statement on the strike.
Officials said there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
On Sunday, during the buildup to the walkout, there was deep concern. But Monday morning, both parties are back at the bargaining table at the Renaissance Center in Downtown Detroit.
UAW and GM officials got back to business around 10 a.m. Monday.
GM officials talked about the offer they made just before the deadline Saturday night. The offer included $8,000 signing bonuses, annual bonuses for workers and health care that would remain largely the same as before.
Now, that's what officials are talking about Monday while workers picket. Workers said they're glad to be on the picket lines so they can get the company's attention.
"We're passionate about what we're doing," Matthew Coleman said. "We don't -- nobody wants a strike. But if you force our hand by trying to take away what's ours, we've got to strike. We don't have any other choice."
"I believe there is power in numbers and that our movement will be felt and maybe they'll take us more serious on what we need," Sierra Tucker said.
Local 4 is hearing from UAW and GM officials that there's a mood with the new offer that there's a lot of ground being covered.
Only 2 percent of what would amount to a large book of contracts had been settled as of Saturday night, Local 4 learned. With the new offer, there's a belief officials can quickly accelerate the pace, Local 4 has learned.
Officials have already started working. They haven't yet said they're going to go 24/7, but they're at least willing to do so, officials said.
UAW says GM should have made latest offer sooner
A top United Auto Workers official is telling General Motors that if the company had made its latest offer earlier, the union may not have gone on strike.
The letter from UAW Vice President Terry Dittes (DIT-ez) to GM's chief bargainer says the company waited to make the offer until two hours before the contract expired Friday night. He says it would have been possible to reach an agreement and avoid a strike if the company moved sooner.
Workers are going on strike to secure:
• Fair Wages
• Affordable Healthcare
• Our Share of Profits
• Job Security
• A Defined Path to Permanent Seniority for Temps
The decision to strike comes a day after UAW Vice President Terry Dittes notified General Motors leadership that the Union would not agree to extend the Collective Bargaining Agreements.
“We have been clear at the table about what GM members have indicated we will accept. We are standing up for what is right. We as local unions will sacrifice to stand up for what we deserve,” said National Bargaining Committee Chair Ted Krumm of UAW Local 652.
“Our members have spoken; we have taken action; and this is a decision we did not make lightly. We are committed to a strong contract at GM that recognizes our UAW members, who make some of the greatest products in the world and make GM so profitable.”
Ford, FCA contracts extended
The UAW said Friday that it was allowing its contracts with Ford and FCA to extend past the Saturday night deadline while the union focused on bargaining with GM. The UAW had announced earlier this month that GM would be the focus of bargaining.
Ford and FCA union leaders will wait to see what kind of deal comes out of the GM bargaining.
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