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UAW letter to GM indicates that strike won’t end quickly

by Ace Damon
UAW

DETROIT – General Motors CEO Mary Barra has entered into contract negotiations with striking workers, asking the union to resolve outstanding issues and respond to a company offer this week.

But in a letter to GM's chief negotiator On Thursday, United Auto Workers vice president Terry Dittes wrote that there will be no response to Monday's offer until the committee's work problems are completed. He didn't know how long it would take.

Details of Wednesday's meeting between Barra and key trade union negotiators were disclosed in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press. It is an indication that there will not be a rapid end to the nearly one-month strike of 49,000 workers that halted production at all GM plants in the US.

Both sides are separated on important economic issues, such as wages and fixed payments and better pensions that will be negotiated at the "head table" by top negotiators.

The committees are working on issues such as factory products that GM wants to close, investments in other US plants, and training for union workers to deal with future technology, according to the letter from Dittes. They are also discussing legal services paid by the company to union members and the future of a joint UAW-GM training center in Detroit, the letter said.

But the company, in a letter to Dittes Thursday, said GM expects the union to move faster and respond to the larger offer before the committee's work is completed.

"At the meeting, Mary Barra emphasized the need to get a comprehensive union response as soon as possible," wrote Scott Sandefur, GM's chief negotiator.

Dittes wrote that when the committees are done, the union will deliver a comprehensive proposal in response to the company's offer.

"The conclusion of these committees is not yet known," Dittes wrote, adding that the committees have been meeting since 3:30 pm. Wednesday.

Workers quit their jobs on September 16 after the four-year contract expired. The strike will be one month old on Monday.

One analyst estimates GM is losing $ 82 million a day while workers have to live on $ 250 a week on strike.

The strike forced parts supply companies to lay off workers and caused GM to close some of its factories in Canada and Mexico.

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