This past spring, local UAW leaders from all over the country gathered in Detroit to meet UAW's top resellers at the Renaissance Center.
A driver noticed a 10-year-old Chevrolet Malibu sedan rolling up to the entrance, driven by a rather unassuming 62-year-old man. The car had posters taped against the windows: "GM: We invested in you. Now it's your turn to invest in the United States!"
"I thought it was really cool," the manager said. "He's taking it to the streets!"
A poster similar to the tape of the windows of UAW Vice President of the General Motors Department Terry Your car earlier this spring. (Photo: UAW member)
The man who got out of the car was Terry Dittes, UAW's top dealer in the current talks with General Motors.
"He appears to be woven from a different fabric than any of the other union leaders," said this UAW local leader. He has since met yours, Dit-us said, several times. He asked not to be named because he did not have permission to speak for the union.
"He gave me a hug," the manager said. "Others will show up with an entourage, they will be driven in a Cadillac. Not Terry. He drove himself."
Where conversations stand
UAW and GM are on day 24 of a nationwide strike.
It's starting to take a heavy load on workers, earning $ 250 a week in strike pay, GM and the broader economy. East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group estimates over the first three weeks of the nationwide strike, losses include $ 660 million in profits for GM, direct payroll losses for all employees in excess of $ 412 million, $ 155 million in lost federal revenue and payroll taxes, and $ 9.1 million in lost Michigan income tax revenue.
The group's new analysis on Tuesday estimated that as many as 100,000 workers in addition to the striking UAW members have also been laid off or facing lost wages from the nationwide strike against GM.
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But the president of the National Automobile Dealers Association said in Detroit that the strike had not yet affected sales at his GM stores, as the inventory has held up. NADA data shows that GM inventory is still well above the industry average.
Against this backdrop, Dittes and his GM counterpart, Scott Sandefur, are expected to resume negotiations Wednesday morning at RenCen despite some turbulence this weekend that caused Dittes to tell members if the talks had "taken a turn for the worse. »
This evening, Dittes sent an email to members stating that GM has not shown a" solid commitment "to building vehicles in the United States. UAW considers that the key to job security, and Dittes said it is one of the union's top agenda items with "little progress to report."
But on Tuesday, people near the talks said, both sides were quiet and hunkered down. GM waited for a union response to a proposal it sent to UAW on Monday. Progress seemed improved compared to the weekend, but work remained to reach a preliminary agreement, said one person.
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Meanwhile, about 46,000 GM unions remain on the fence lines, living off strike pay and relying on that guy behind the wheel of an old Malibu.
From the factory
Dittes, who joined the UAW in 1978, lives with his wife, Gail, in Philadelphia. They have six children and six grandchildren, says the UAW website.
But the roots of the East Coast do not fool those who know him, who say he is a Detroit guy.
"He's ready for a fight," said the local leader. "He came from the factory floor at a GM plant and worked his way up. He is very down to earth and an ordinary guy."
Yours has held a number of high-level UAW positions over the years, but his roots began on the line at the Fisher Body Plant in Trenton, New Jersey, according to the UAW website. Those who meet him say that he radiates the humility of his days on the floor.
"It was a bit like talking to someone you work with on the line, just a regular member," said Tim O & # 39; Hara, president of Local 1112 in Lordstown, Ohio, at his first meeting with Yours.
Tim O & # 39; Hara, President of Local 1112, was photographed in the union hall in Warren, Ohio, Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
(Photo: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press)
O & # 39; Hara met Yours at the UAW Solidarity House in Detroit last November, just days after GM said it would not allocate a new vehicle to Lordstown Assembly .
Lordstown built its last Chevrolet Cruze compact car in March, and then the plant went idle. GM's original proposal for UAW offered to build a battery cell manufacturing plant near the assembly plant. GM is also in talks to sell the existing plant to Lordstown Motors, a unit supported by electric truck manufacturer Workhorse.
But UAW wants a new GM product assigned to Lordstown. O & # 39; Hara has faith in yours to get that job done.
"We started out as line workers, moved up and elected to the post," said O & # 39; Hara. "So I liked him, and I was sure Lordstown's fate would be in his hands during the negotiations."
& # 39; Arrogant company & # 39;
O & # 39; Hara was in Detroit on September 15 as part of the UAW National Council. He was one of around 700 other executives who voted unanimously to strike against GM after Dittes and the negotiating committee rejected GM's original contract offer. GM made the offer two hours before UAW's 2015 contract expires at midnight September 14.
"When we took the strike vote, he called General Motors & # 39; one of the most arrogant companies he has ever worked with, & # 39;" so O & # 39; Hara. "It struck a chord with me because we've known it for a while here at Lordstown. They basically only followed the contract when it came to them. So I really liked it when he called GM arrogant."
Yours was not afraid to say how he felt about GM's face.
In March, when CEO Mary Barra went to GM's Orion Assembly Plant north of Detroit to announce that the company would invest $ 300 million to build a new electric car there, Dittes took the stage. He thanked GM for the new investment in Orion, but was quick to note, "There is adversity among four of our other locations, and we have made it clear that we disagree with that."
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Your told reporters that the UAW would not forget the four plants in the negotiations. The four plants that GM "assigned" were Lordstown, Detroit-Hamtramck and transmission facilities in Warren and Baltimore. Detroit-Hamtramck continues to run with reduced production and is currently scheduled to close in January.
No $ 1,000 Suits for Yours
Yours & # 39; s way to the main negotiation room at the Renaissance Center came amid the UAW upheaval.
January 2018, UAW's Executive Board lost Dittes to oversee the Fiat Chrysler Automobile department. He replaced Norwood Jewell, who withdrew for his involvement in a federal corruption probe involving millions of dollars from a joint fitness center allegedly under investigation by both union and company officials. Jewell has since been indicted and pleaded guilty.
Dittes had at that time been regional director on the east coast.
Then, in June 2018, UAW's new president Gary Jones appointed Dittes as GM's chief negotiator, and moved longtime vice president of GM department Cindy Estrada, over to handle FCA negotiations. Estrada represented the association in 2015 with GM.
Meanwhile, Joe Ashton, a former UAW vice president, had joined the GM board in December 2017 and hired a high-profile criminal defense lawyer in the middle of the FBI probe.
Yours is nothing like Ashton, said a local union leader who has met both men.
"Joe was like a gangster in New York. He was wearing $ 1,000 shoes and expensive suits. He had an entourage. How do you relate to working people?" said the local union leader. "Terry is a working guy. He dresses like a working guy. Drive his own car."
According to Union Facts.com, in 2015, Your salary was $ 133,665. At that time, Dennis Williams was UAW president, earning $ 159,059.
Don't let the deferential yours fool you, say other union leaders.
Some say he has been looking for a match since GM's announcement in November. And when many UAW local leaders voted for Ford Motor Co. is UAW's target company, it was Dittes who pushed for it to become GM.
"We wanted it to be Ford because it was where we thought we would get the job done," said another UAW local officer who asked not to be named.
In collective bargaining, UAW selects a target company to negotiate a contract first and then use it as a template with the other two Detroit automakers.
"But Terry said it was his turn," said the local officer. "He wanted a fight. He said he was the right man at the right time."
This leader worries that Yours might not bends enough to reach a deal.
"With negotiations you have to give something," said this manager. "The feeling is that Terry feels that if we stay long enough, we will get what we want."
Over the table from yours is GM's top dealer veteran dealer Scott Sandefur. Sandefur, 57, joined GM in 1986 and worked on previous UAW negotiations. GM said Sandefur is a "strong advocate for employee engagement and has worked with various trade union partners to promote collaboration."
Scott Sandefur, is General Motors Vice President of North America Labor Relations. He leads the negotiations with UAW for GM. (Photo: General Motors)
Those who work directly with Dittes said he is flexible, but he is also keen to listen to the concerns of union members.
"There are those who have to live with it," said a UAW leader familiar with Yours and this year's talks.
Yours is intense and focused, not willing to tip your hand during negotiations.
"Terry is fighting for an agreement that there is no need to explain it to members," the leader said. "They like it or they won't."
And despite the UAW's biggest turmoil, most of the strikers are on the line behind middle management negotiators and yours, they say.
"I have no qualms about it, knowing his experience as a dealer," said O & # 39; Hara. "He is fighting for the same things that the UAW has been fighting for since the 1930s, which is a fair and just contract. He understands the seriousness of these negotiations, not just for the next four years, but into the future."  Contact Jamie L. LaReau: 313-222-2149 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow her on Twitter @ jlareauan . Read more on General Motors and sign up for our car newsletter .
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