Negotiations to end strike by 49,000 GM workers has 'taken a turn for the worse': UAW

PHOTO: John Kirk, right, a 20-year-employee, pickets with co-workers outside the General Motors Fabrication Division, Oct. 4, 2019, in Parma, Ohio. PlayTony Dejak/AP
WATCH GM strike negotiations taken 'turn for the worse'

Negotiations to end a nationwide strike by 49,000 General Motors workers have "taken a turn for the worse" after union leaders said their latest proposal to end the walkout was brushed off by the company.

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Sunday marked the 22nd day of the strike and there appears to be no end in sight as the union and the auto manufacturing giant reached another stumbling block in their on-going bargaining sessions.

"These negotiations have taken a turn for the worse," Terry Dittes, vice president of the United Auto Workers union, said in a letter to striking workers on Sunday. "Your issues are our issues, and our strength is with you, our great Membership. We will continue to negotiate on behalf of you, your families and all workers in our country."

PHOTO: John Kirk, right, a 20-year-employee, pickets with co-workers outside the General Motors Fabrication Division, Oct. 4, 2019, in Parma, Ohio. Tony Dejak/AP
John Kirk, right, a 20-year-employee, pickets with co-workers outside the General Motors Fabrication Division, Oct. 4, 2019, in Parma, Ohio.

Dittes told workers that the UAW's bargaining committee along with UAW international staff presented a new proposal to GM on Saturday afternoon that addressed numerous issues, including wage hikes, job security and profit-sharing.

"The Company’s response did not address our extensive package provided last evening. They reverted back to their last rejected proposal and made little change," Dittes wrote in his letter. "The Company’s response did nothing to advance a whole host of issues that are important to you and your families! It did nothing to provide job security during the term of this Agreement."

Dittes said union negotiators "could not be more disappointed" with GM's refusal to "recognize the experience and talent of our Membership who make their world-class products and billions of dollars in profits."

In a response to Dittes' letter, GM officials issued a statement on Sunday saying that they “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's statement reads.

The apparent setback in the negotiations came just two days after Dittes told UAW members that they were making "good progress regarding the issues of health care and a path for temporary employees becoming seniority members."

PHOTO: Charles Cooke, a 20-year employee, pickets outside the General Motors Fabrication Division, Oct. 4, 2019, in Parma, Ohio. Tony Dejak/AP
Charles Cooke, a 20-year employee, pickets outside the General Motors Fabrication Division, Oct. 4, 2019, in Parma, Ohio.

Union workers walked off their jobs on Sept. 16 and formed picket lines, 24 hours after the workers' four-year labor contract expired.

GM officials said they have offered to invest more than $7 billion in the United States, add more than 5,400 jobs and improve benefits.

Union leaders have argued that GM workers deserved a bigger slice of the company's record profits, which they say have totaled $35 billion in North America over the last three years. In August, GM reported solid second-quarter earnings with income up $2.4 billion, an increase of 1.6% over the previous year.

The strike comes nearly a year after GM announced it was laying off 15 percent of its salaried workers and shuttering five plants in North America. At the time, the company said it was "transforming its global workforce to ensure it has the right skillsets for today and the future, while driving efficiencies through the utilization of best-in-class tools."