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The clock is ticking for General Motors executives to reach a proposed tentative agreement with UAW, people near the talks said Tuesday.

The union's move to convene its national GM council in Detroit for a meeting Thursday morning was a pressing tactic to ask GM leaders to reach an agreement acceptable to the UAW, three people familiar with the talks said.

Negotiations continued Tuesday, with GM Managing Director Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss joining UAW President Gary Jones at the "main table" with UAW's main negotiator, Terry Dittes.

phase, but no agreement was reached on Tuesday afternoon. Those present were members of the negotiating committee for both sides. A person close to the conversation said Barra and Reuss were not standing up for discussions throughout the afternoon.

"Mary has two days to come up with a contract, then the National Council meets to decide what to do next," said one person briefed on the negotiations late Tuesday.

For such heavyweights to show up at the main table indicates that a proposed deal is likely at hand, likely to occur late on Wednesday or in the early morning hours of Thursday before the National Assembly, a person who had been briefed on the talks said.

"If they don't have an appointment, they will give us an update and tell us what the protocol is at that time," said a local UAW leader who asked not to be named. "Product distribution is a question GM has come to the table late on."

Product distribution refers to the company's commitment to invest in US facilities and to create or maintain jobs. Early in the process, GM said they had committed $ 7 billion over the four years of the contract, which would create or preserve 5,400 jobs. Free Press reported that only half of these jobs would be new, and some of the investment would be through joint ventures if jobs would pay less than GM autoworker positions.

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General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra speaks before the 2019 contract speaks for a new national deal on Tuesday, July 16 at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center 2019. (Photo: Kathleen Galligan, Detroit Free Press)

How the process of coming is working to a tentative agreement:

  • UAW's top national dealers accept GM's offer. It then becomes a proposed tentative agreement.
  • It goes to the local UAW presidents and chairmen of the National GM Council.
  • If these leaders vote to recommend it for ratification, it is an official tentative agreement that is sent to 46,000 union members for either ratification or rejection.
  • Provided there is a tentative agreement, the National GM Council must decide when to end the strike.
  • The UAW International Executive Board then adopts the contract for membership ratification.

In pattern negotiations, the union chose to negotiate with GM first, and intended to use this contract as a template for a deal with Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Car manufacturers tend to want to go first because the target company can work in a contract that best serves their business needs.

But if the union does not get an acceptable contract from GM at Thursday's council meeting, some UAW regional executives on Tuesday said they would recommend UAW management to switch to Ford as a target company while leaving GM on strike, said people familiar with the discussions .

This could be a disaster for GM, so its fate falls into the hands of a crowded rival as the union continues to hit 55 sites in 10 states, freezing production there and at its Mexico facility.

UAW President Jones decides whether the union should switch target company. It has never done so before, only threatened, labor experts said.

"The union already has the contract it wants with Ford," said one person close to the calls. "Ford has the union's desired contract sitting on the table. It won't require much fine-tuning."

Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or . Follow her on Twitter @ jlareauan . Read more on General Motors and sign up for our car newsletter .

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