By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Talks between the Detroit Three automakers and United Auto Workers union are nearing a Thursday night deadline to reach a deal on a new contract before a potential walkout by 146,000 U.S. autoworkers.
UAW President Shawn Fain has vowed to call strikes at General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler-parent Stellantis if no deal is reached when the current four-year labor deals expire on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Coordinated strikes would mark the first-ever simultaneous labor stoppage at all three Detroit automakers and one of the largest U.S. industrial labor actions in recent years.
A UAW strike that shuts the Detroit Three manufacturers could cost carmakers, suppliers and workers over $5 billion, Michigan-based Anderson Economic Group estimated and could lead to a disruption of the broader auto supplier network.
Talks went late Monday between the UAW and GM but there is was no breakthrough reached, with additional talks expected Tuesday between the union and Ford and Stellantis, sources said.
Fain said late Monday the UAW had made some headway, but an agreement was still not in reach. “We’ve made some progress, a little bit of progress but it’s still slow but we’re moving,” Fain told CNN.
Senator Bernie Sanders said in an opinion piece Tuesday that if the Detroit automakers “do not provide reasonable contracts to address longstanding inequities in the industry, there will be a strike – and all of us should support the strikers.”
House Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi praised the UAW push for higher wages. “I am proud to stand with UAW as they fight for a hard-earned pay raise, especially respecting new workers, as well as better working conditions and the job security that they deserve.”
Stellantis on Monday made another counteroffer after the union made a revised offer on Sunday and could make another one on Tuesday, a source said.
LAST DAYS BEFORE DEADLINE
The UAW on Friday had rejected revised offers from Stellantis, General Motors and Ford Motor. GM made a new offer to the UAW over the weekend, but the details were not immediately available.
GM said Tuesday CEO Mary Barra decided not to attend Business Roundtable meetings in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday because of the labor talks. Barra is chair of the association of more than 200 CEOs of major US companies.
“She changed her plans in order to stay close to the labor negotiations process,” GM spokesperson Jeannine Ginivan said.
The UAW initially sought a 20% wage hike upon ratification and four annual 5% hikes, but has trimmed those hikes to around 36% in total, three sources told Reuters.
Stellantis said Friday it offered U.S. hourly workers a 14.5% wage hike over four years, while GM had offered workers a 10% wage hike and two additional 3% annual lump-sum payments over four years. Stellantis last week did not offer additional lump-sum payments.
Ford last week hiked its offer to a 10% wage hike and lump sum payments after offering a 9% wage increase through 2027 and 6% lump sum payments.
The union’s demands include restoring defined-benefit pensions for all workers, 32-hour work weeks and additional cost-of-living hikes, as well as job security guarantees and an end to use of temporary workers.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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