DETROIT - The first thing we know tonight is there will not be a tentative agreement.
Negotiators plan to knock off for the night about the same time they have all week, around 8 or 9 p.m. The intent is to return to the bargaining table first thing in the morning.
Tonight we are learning the hardball between the UAW and General Motors is ratcheted far beyond what we knew about last Sunday when the Union called its national strike. The UAW Sub-Council is made up of local leadership [local presidents] across the country. Its members flew into Detroit met last Sunday morning and voted to walk out. During that meeting, we just learned, the Council also gave itself a very powerful option that could cost GM hundreds of millions of dollars if exercised. It would also keep line workers off the job and on the picket line.
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If a tentative agreement is struck, the Sub-Council will now also vote whether to end the strike during the ratification process. That means it can opt to stay out on strike while the rank and file contemplate the deal’s quality. Here is how this gets complicated and expensive. Often tentative agreements mean everyone goes back to work.
The contract is brought to the rank and file through their individual locals where an education process starts. Each local holds meetings with all shifts to explain the deal and then conduct its local ratification vote. This takes a couple of weeks.
Tonight there is the possibility might not end until the full ratification process concludes with a thumbs up vote. If the rank and file votes down the deal, the strike continues and the negotiators go back to the table. Should the Sub-Council decide to keep everyone on strike during the ratification process, GM stands to continue losing between $50 and $100 Million a day. The striking line workers continue to draw only their $250 a week in strike pay and the union continues paying member COBRA from the strike fund as well.
This gives us all a window into just how contentious these talks are, lets us understand how far apart both sides are, and the destructive power of a strike for both parties.
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