GM chief Mary Barra reportedly taking part in contract talks with UAW

Union members picket outside a GM facility

Almost 50,000 GM employees in the United Auto Workers union have been on strike against General Motors for the five weeks in key Midwest battleground states like MI and OH, and while primary candidates expressed support for the union, little was said about the demonstrations Tuesday night.

While a final agreement has not been announced, the No. 1 USA automaker and the union have agreed to terms on most issues but were finalizing the wording on some matters, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks were ongoing. For his part, U.S. President Donald Trump put pressure on GM Chief Executive Mary Barra before the strike to preserve jobs at a vehicle plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that she had targeted for closure.

Reports say UAW sources are saying there is no tentative agreement right now and that talks will resume at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

In addition, suppliers are feeling the effects of the work stoppage.

GM shares closed 1.1% higher at $36.65 on Wednesday after rising as much as 2.6% during the day.

Local United Auto Workers (UAW) union leaders were called to Detroit for a meeting on Thursday morning, FOX Business confirmed on Monday, in the strongest indication yet that a potential deal with General Motors could be close as the strike enters its fifth week.

But Terry Dittes, the union's top GM negotiator, accused the company of releasing "half-truths" that did nothing to reach a final agreement.

On Thursday GM accused the union of responding slowly to an offer it made early in the week and said that CEO Mary Barra urged it to speed up negotiations. The strikers are receiving modest strike benefits that were just raised 10% to $275 a week, rather than pay of more than $30 an hour that veteran workers receive when on the job at GM. Other issues included the fate of plants GM has indicated could close, and the use of temporary workers.

Details of GM's last offer emerged over the weekend and Reuters had reported that the company boosted the amount it plans to invest in the United States to about $9 billion from its previous offer of $7 billion.

In all, the change will affect 4,000 UAW workers at GM across the country, the person said. The union had also pushed for temporary workers at GM plants who earned less than permanent UAW employees to get an easier path to full-time wages and benefits.

The Center for Automotive Research in MI has estimated the strike's weekly costs to GM and the UAW strike fund at $450m and $12m, respectively. And after 29 days in which the two sides have met every day, and both have been critical of the other's bargaining positions, the scheduling of the meeting is certainly not a bad sign.

Twelve candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are scheduled to meet for a debate on Tuesday night in Ohio.



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