GM strike, day 13: Talks end for the day with no deal

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

United Auto Workers and General Motors Co. negotiators ended talks after 7 p.m. Saturday with no tentative agreement reached. Some 46,000 union members nationwide, including 17,000 from Michigan, will return to the picket lines Sunday for day 14 of the strike.

Negotiators finished talks at around 10:15 p.m. Friday after discussions the previous day stretched to 2 a.m. These had been some of the latest times that talks have ended since the strike began. 

The United Auto Workers' national strike against General Motors Co. entered its 13th day on Saturday. Talks were to resume in the morning after stopping around 10:15 p.m. Friday.

In the event a tentative agreement is reached, workers could remain off the job for several more days if local union leaders decide to wait to end the national strike until after ratification of the contract. The walkout already is the longest against GM since 1970.

A second "Solidarity Sunday" is planned to encourage the public to join UAW members on the picket lines. Local chaplains will be on site to offer words of encouragement at noon Sunday. The union says it will hold "Solidarity Sunday" events until ratification. 

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will join picketers at noon Sunday outside GM's Warren Transmission plant. That plant stopped production in early August after the automaker "unallocated" product at the facility. It is one of four U.S. plants slated to go dark.

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, planned to visit GM picketers Saturday in Reno. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was expected to visit Saturday the "unallocated" Baltimore Operations plant in White Marsh, Md.

They follow other candidates, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who have visited Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke also visited striking employees around the country.

GM on Thursday gave one major indication it was looking to move forward with the union. The company reversed its decision and said it would pay for striking employees' health care. Last week, it had said it had shifted that responsibility to the union, a move that drew backlash from the UAW, other labor organizations and Democratic presidential candidates. The coverage includes medical and prescription drugs as well as dental and vision, categories that the union's strike fund would not have covered.

The automaker this week also took steps to ensure that companies who ferry parts between suppliers and GM manufacturing sites are ready when work can resume. Leslie Woods, customer logistics manager for GM Quality Carrier Management for Ryder System Inc. in Novi, said in a letter to the companies Wednesday that it was "a good idea to start the conversation of preparedness."

The strike is the UAW's first since the Great Recession and GM's federally induced bankruptcy in 2009. Now toward the end of its second week, it has left a lasting economic impact, experts have said.

Strike pay is $250 per week, but it won't be distributed until the 15th day of picketing. The starting wage for temporary production workers at GM is $15.78 per hour, which is about $630 per 40-hour week. Top-paid production employees, however, earn $30.46 per hour, or about $1,218 per week.

GM dealerships, meanwhile, reported having plenty of inventory of vehicles; GM's days' supply was 77 days at the end of August, according to Cox Automotive. But in recent days some dealers were running low on replacement parts for their body parts and were having to turn away customers.

The Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group estimates costs to GM have ballooned from $2 million per day initially to more than $25 million now. Some Wall Street analysts have forecasted costs to the company to be $50 million per day or more.

The strike also has affected GM facilities in Ohio and Ontario not represented by the UAW. All told more than 3,200 GM workers represented by other unions have been laid off. On Monday, the automaker notified 525 employees at its DMax Ltd. engine plant in Moraine, Ohio, that they temporarily were laid off.

GM suppliers, such as Magna International Inc. and Nexteer Automotive, also said they temporarily have had to lay off employees during the strike.