DETROIT — The United Auto Workers union said Sunday that its members at General Motors will walk out by midnight if the automaker does not meet its demands, setting the stage for the nation’s first auto strike in 12 years.
A union statement suggests the two sides are still very far apart in negotiations for a new contract.
As union officials met in Detroit Sunday morning, the union issued a new strike threat.
“If GM refuses to give even an inch to help hard-working UAW members and their families then we’ll see them on the picket lines tonight,” said the statement.
The union’s contract with GM had expired at 12:01 a.m. Sunday but the union’s 46,000 members at GM did not walk off the job at 31 GM factories and 21 other facilities across the nation at that time.
While there had been some progress in talks, there remained “significant differences between the parties on wages, health care benefits, temporary employees, job security and profit sharing,” said Terry Dittes, the union vice president leading the negotiating team, told membership in a letter late Saturday.
Those issues suggest it will be difficult to reach an agreement in time to avoid a strike, said Kristin Dziczek, vice president of industry labor and economics for the Center for Automotive Research, a Michigan think tank.
“You can’t solve one of those issues without solving all of them,” she said.
If the union goes on strike, it will be the largest by any union against any US business since the last time UAW members struck GM in 2007.
Dittes accused GM of refusing “to put hard working Americans ahead of their record profits of $35 billion in North America over the last three years.”
“We are united in our efforts to get an agreement our members and their families deserve,” he added.
GM, the largest US automaker, said in a statement that it is willing to work around the clock to try to reach a deal to build “a strong future for our employees and our business.”
“We continue to work hard on solutions to some very difficult challenges,” said the company’s statement. It said “there are thousands of GM families and their communities — and many thousands more at our dealerships and suppliers — counting on us for their livelihood.”