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The United Auto Workers union has signed indefinite contract extensions with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Ford Motor Co., according to letters dated Friday from the international union sent to local UAW leaders.

With General Motors Co. identified as the lead company in labor talks, the extension for the others is a typical step leading up to expiration of contracts. GM's contract was not extended past the 11:59 p.m. Saturday deadline, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg confirmed.

Ford's extension is for both the national as well as local agreements, though UAW leaders directed local bargaining committee members to continue to meet "with a goal of settling as soon as feasible," wrote Rory Gamble, director of the UAW's Ford department.

The Fiat Chrysler extension could be terminated by either party with three days of written notice, wrote Cindy Estrada, director of the UAW's FCA department.

Talks are ongoing at GM, with which the union selected to negotiate first and set a contract pattern the other automakers likely will follow. GM reported $27.5 billion in profit over the past four years and has made efforts to cut underutilized U.S. plant capacity.

The UAW has said it is looking to get a bigger piece of those profits, reduce the number of temporary workers and decrease the time it takes for new hires to reach the top of the pay scale. Meanwhile, GM says it must right-size its business and keep costs manageable as it looks to compete in a future of autonomous and electric vehicles that require capital to develop.

Talks between GM and the union were "progressing slowly," UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, director of the UAW's GM department, said in a letter to local leaders last week.

Also last week, Gamble said in a letter that most of Ford's subcommittees negotiating different parts of the contract have reached tentative agreements since beginning talks July 15.

"We look forward," Gamble said in his letter Friday, "to presenting a tentative agreement in the very near future that meets the needs of our membership."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

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