General Motors on Tuesday brought the big guns to the main table in talks with UAW.
GM CEO Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss met UAW President Gary Jones and union leader GM dealer Terry Dittes around 9 a.m. Tuesday, a person near the talks said.
The meeting took place at the main negotiating table as the parties continued to work to reach a preliminary agreement on Day 30 of the UAW's nationwide strike against GM. Those present were members of the negotiating committee for both sides.
UAW President Gary Jones and General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra opens contract talks in 2019 for a new national deal with a handshake Tuesday, July 16, at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center 2019. (Photo: Kathleen Galligan, Detroit Free Press)
A GM spokesman denied to comment on whether it was a meeting. The union had no comment either.
The dealers had not reached a preliminary agreement, said people familiar with the talks.
Barra, along with her main distributor and production manager, met Jones and Dittes for about an hour last week. Sources said at the time that the meeting revived the talks that had subsided, but Thursday and Friday were among the most unfavorable days of the monthly strike.
The meeting came about 14 hours after the UAW sent a letter to the National GM Council convening trade union local officers to Detroit on Thursday for a morning meeting at downtown Marriott.
More: The UAW convenes the National GM Council for Detroit, but has no agreement yet
More: Here is what has been decided and what remains at stake in the GM-UAW talks
Tuesday's meeting between Barra and the top-level UAW leaders could signal that GM and the UAW are close to reaching a tentative deal, Harley Shaiken said, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who specializes in labor.
"They probably have a frame, and they have to iron it out," Shaiken said. "As always, it's not done until it's done. But this is clearly a promising development, and the timeframe will work to present a tentative agreement for UAW's GM Council on Thursday."
GM executives likely want to liquidate a The union members have shown solidarity to stay on the line and not admit, so that a strike can go further, Shaiken said.
If a tentative agreement is not reached by Thursday morning's meeting, the council can voting shift from ratifying a tentative agreement with something more sinister, he said.
"If we do not have a tentative agreement today or tomorrow, the council will come in to ensure members will endure a longer strike," he said. Shaiken. "GM may have a lot of money on hand, but having cash versus using it on strike – that's not how investors want the money spent."
Thursday's council meeting was billed as an update for the 175 council members on the status of the negotiations. The Council's approval of a tentative agreement is necessary before it could be submitted for ratification.
GM declined to comment on this letter other than to say: "Talks continue."
Notice of the local leaders at this point in the Negotiations is unusual, but something to take seriously, Shaiken said.
Early Monday, three main sticks remained between the two sides that the UAW strike against GM is approaching a month since 46,000 union workers entered strike at 55 GM plants across the country.
The three cases centered on shortening the time for progressive workers, those hired after 2007, to get a higher salary, improve pensions and 401 (k) formulas and for GM to ensure future product will be built in US plants.
Prior to being named GM president in January, Reuss served as the company's global leader in product development. With product allocation as a top agenda issue for UAW, bringing Reuss in the talks can signal high-level work to address these issues.
Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or jlareau @ freepress. com . Follow her on Twitter @ jlareauan . Read more on General Motors and sign up for our car newsletter .
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