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Jeff Rathburn of Local 598 and a GM Flint Assembly Plant material driver talk about the strike.
Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press

UAW's leading dealer in talks with General Motors told striking unionists Tuesday afternoon the two sides remain far from a tentative agreement on the 16th day of a nationwide strike.

letter to members, Terry Dittes said that GM made a "comprehensive proposal" at 2140 Monday. "This proposal that the company gave us on day 15 of the strike did not meet your contract requirements or needs. There were many areas that fell short like health care, wages, temporary staff, skilled trades and job security to name a few."

Dittes, who is the vice president of the union's GM department, said the company made suggestions that he described as seeking concessions from the union.

"We have responded today with a counter-proposal and are awaiting GM's next proposal for the union," Dittes wrote. "Regardless of what is published in print or social media, etc., many important issues remain unresolved."

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Sept. 16, 46,000 UAW workers went on strike against GM nationwide. The federation's previous contract from 2015 expired at midnight Sept. 14. [19659005] Dittes told members on Tuesday that UAW dealers are still committed to "exploring all options to reach an agreement that meets our membership."

GM issued a statement after Dittes sent his letter: "We continue to negotiate and exchange proposals, and is still committed to reaching an agreement that builds a stronger future for our employees and our company. "

Strike Effects

The cost of strikes is increasing for everyone involved.

The strikers must succeed for $ 250 per week strike pay. GM had lost about $ 113 million in profits last week, losing money at a rate of $ 25 million a day, according to an analysis released Thursday by East Lansing-based consultant Anderson Economic Group.

GM's supplier companies and the US economy are getting hit too. The strikes and workers who were laid off on GM's supplier network have lost a total of $ 266 million so far, the analysis says. That equates to about $ 68 million in lost federal income and payroll taxes.

On Tuesday, GM idled the plant in Silao, Mexico, due to a lack of parts from the UAW strike. This plant builds the highly profitable Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. GM said it would temporarily lay off 6,000 workers there.

On Monday, two of GM's suppliers in Mexico: Lear and the EKM plants laid off about 200 workers for the temporary closure, reports state. Published reports say that about 10,000 non-UAW representatives in North America with GM have been laid off because of the strike.

To further complicate matters, the conversations play on the basis of a federal corruption investigation that now touches on the highest levels of connectedness. Charges against Regional Director Vance Pearson implicated UAW President Gary Jones and immediate past President Dennis Williams in the misuse of union money.

Labor experts say that backdrop makes it critical for UAW leaders to have an agreement membership considers an obvious victory and willingness to ratify without the need for a trade union leadership title.

Unresolved issues

These are the most important unresolved questions:

  • UAW workers' share of health care costs
  • Temporary workers
  • Salary increase
  • Building more product in the United States.

GM's original offer on September 14 to UAW asked members to pay 15% of health care costs. They currently pay a total of 3%, far less than the average American worker's 28%. UAW appreciated GM's offer and the company went back to 3%.

But the topic was up for discussion last week, said one of the people familiar with the talks that raised questions for Free Press. GM again suggests that UAW members incur more of the cost of health care. GM said it pays around $ 900 million a year for US hourly workers & # 39;

More: GM closes Mexico pickup facility because of UAW strike

More: UAW strikers get first strike money as dealers striving to obtain an agreement

Another key issue is the use of temporary staff. UAW wants GM to create a temporary replacement process. Currently, some temps are on that status for years, earning less pay and benefits and getting no pay.

But GM wants to secure its ability to tap a temporary workforce. Using lower paid temps saves money and gives GM the flexibility to reduce staff when the market slows down. By using more temps, GM will also be more cost-competitive with foreign companies that build vehicles in the United States. GM's average total hourly labor force in the United States is $ 13 an hour more than foreign, unrelated automakers building vehicles here, according to the Center for Automotive Research, in Ann Arbor.

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

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