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UAW/GM talks take step back after GM walks back on offer to revive shuttered plants, sources say

Posted: 4:26 AM, Oct 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-07 07:26:42-04
UAW/GM talks take step back after GM walks back on offer to revive shuttered plants, sources say

Contract talks between General Motors and United Automobile Workers Union have taken a major step backward.

Monday marks the 22nd day of the nationwide strike, with some 46,000 workers walking picket lines rather than working on assembly lines and other jobs inside GM plants.

According to sources close to the talks, GM withdrew an offer to put product in two areas where it was closing major plants: Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown, Ohio. Re-opening the two plants has been a significant goal for UAW since the strike began.

Sources said that early in the talks, GM offered to build an all-electric truck in Detroit-Hamtramck and batteries for electric vehicles in the Lordstown area. Now, sources close to the negotiations say GM has taken that proposal off the table.

"GM has backed away from a commitment to American workers," one source said.

"GM is reluctant to make commitments on other plants."

GM ended production of the Chevy Cruze in Lordstown in March, and the Detroit-Hamtramck plant is set to close in January. Those two closings affect about 2,500 workers. Many workers have moved from Lordstown to other GM cities to keep working for the company, but the cuts have also bumped people with lower seniority out of their jobs.

The future of Detroit-Hamtramck workers remains uncertain. Workers on that picket line have been optimistic during the long strike that they would have jobs in the future.

The timing of GM's proposal crucial to tense negotiations. GM's own numbers show the company is flooding the U.S. market with new vehicles made in Mexico. According to figures on the GM website, at of the end of August, GM produced 573,661 total vehicles in Mexico, and all but 47,601 came to the U.S. More than 2,500 cars were exported from Mexico to Canada.

GM has taken sharp criticism from President Donald Trump since GM announced last November it had "unallocated" work for five plants in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Oshawa, Ontario. About 14,700 jobs were slashed along with the Lordstown and Hamtramck closings.

The UAW sent out an urgent letter to leaders Sunday morning that outlined additional trouble in ongoing contract talks. The letter says an extensive proposal was given to the company on Saturday evening, and on Sunday, the company responded by saying the offer "did nothing to provide job security during the term of this agreement."

"We couldn't be more disappointed with General Motors ... the company has shown an unwillingness to fairly compensate the great workforce of the UAW. These negotiations have taken a turn for the worse," UAW's letter, signed by Vice President Terry Dittes, said.

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"We continue to negotiate in good faith with very good proposals that benefit employees today and builds a stronger future for all of us. We are committed to continuing discussions around the clock to reach a resolution," GM said in a response statement.

Dittes released an additional letter on Sunday afternoon regarding the rejection of a package proposal.

"You didn't even have a professional courtesy to explain why you could not accept or why you rejected our package proposal for each item addressed," Dittes wrote in his letter.

Read the complete letter below:

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Job security and future production remain significant issues in the contract talks between GM and the UAW

This story was originally published by Jim Kiertzner on WXYZ in Detroit.