GM-UAW talks take turn for worse; settlement not near

In this Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, photo a row of Chevrolet Suburban vehicles are shown at Wally Edgar Chevrolet in Orion Township, Mich. The 16-day strike has cost GM just over $1 billion, JP Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman estimated Tuesday in a note to investors. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
John Kirk, right, a 20-year-employee, pickets with co-workers outside the General Motors Fabrication Division, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Parma, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

DETROIT — Contract talks aimed at ending a 21-day strike by the United Auto Workers against General Motors have taken a turn for the worse, hitting a big snag over product commitments for U.S. factories, a union official wrote in an email to members.

The letter from UAW Vice President Terry Dittes casts doubt on whether there will be a quick settlement in the contract dispute, which sent 49,000 workers to the picket lines on Sept. 16, crippling GM's factories.

Dittes' letter says the union presented a proposal to the company Saturday. He said GM responded Sunday morning by reverting back to an offer that had been rejected and made few changes.

The company's proposal did nothing to address a host of items, Dittes wrote, specifying job security for members during the term of the four-year contract.

Normally in contract talks, the union bargains for commitments from the company to build new vehicles, engines, transmissions and other items at U.S. factories represented by the union.

"It did nothing to provide job security during the term of this agreement," Dittes wrote. "We, in this union, could not be more disappointed with General Motors who refuse to recognize the experience and talent of our membership."

In a statement, GM said it continues to negotiate in good faith "with very good proposals that benefit employees today and builds a stronger future for all of us."

The company says it is committed to talking around the clock to resolve the dispute.

But Dittes wrote that while both sides had made progress on important issues two days ago, the talks now "have taken a turn for the worse."

GM's U.S. factories have been shut down since the workers walked out Sept. 16. Parts shortages also have forced the company to close plants in Mexico and Canada.

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