Autos

GM urges UAW to engage in 'around-the-clock' bargaining to reach a deal, potentially end strike

Key Points
  • About 48,000 UAW members have been picketing outside GM's U.S. facilities since Sept. 16.
  • Negotiations have been ongoing but have mainly ended in the early-evening.
  • The work stoppage has rippled throughout the automaker's North American operations, causing thousands of additional layoffs.
United Auto Workers members on strike picket outside General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant on Sept. 25, 2019 with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (far left) in Detroit.
Michael Wayland | CNBC

DETROIT – General Motors is urging the United Auto Workers to agree to "around-the-clock" bargaining in an attempt to reach a tentative agreement and potentially end the union's strike against the automaker, which is now in its 25th day.

In a Thursday letter obtained by CNBC, GM Vice President of North America - Labor Relations Scott Sandefur criticized the union for not promptly responding to a Monday offer from the company. He also encouraged the union to "engage in bargaining over all issues around-the-clock to get an agreement."

"Your members and our employees' lives are being disrupted, and they deserve our commitment to getting any remaining issues resolved as quickly as possible," Sandefur wrote to UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, who oversees the union's GM department.

Sandefur, in the letter, said the company has repeatedly urged the UAW to participate in "around-the-clock" bargaining. Since the strike began Sept. 16, negotiations have been ongoing but have mainly ended in the early-evening.

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Sandefur's letter follows another message obtained by CNBC from Dittes to Sandefur that discussed a Wednesday meeting between the union and company that included UAW President Gary Jones and GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra, among others.

Barra, according to two people familiar with the negotiations, has been "involved" in the talks. One source said she has allowed Sandefur and others to lead the day-to-day negotiations. The Wednesday meeting is the first Barra has attended with the union leaders.

Dittes, in the late-afternoon Thursday letter, said the union's subcommittees have been deliberating on several issues that were part of GM's Monday proposal, including "Future of Work," "Sourcing," and a jointly-operated training center. He said the union will "prepare and provide a comprehensive proposal" to submit to GM but did not provide a timeline for completion.

"We will continue to work towards reaching a Tentative Agreement between the parties," Dittes wrote.

Sandefur said GM objects "to having bargaining placed on hold pending a resolution" to the issues mentioned in Dittes' letter. Others issues included a "Statement on Technological Progress," "UAW Legal Services" and "Document 13," which involves plant closures and sales.

GM declined to comment on the letters. The union did not immediately have a response.

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Others in attendance at the Wednesday meeting included Dittes, Sandefur and GM Executive Vice President Gerald Johnson, according to Dittes' letter.

A potential deal wouldn't mean an immediate end to the strike. The pact would still need approval from local union leaders as well as rank-and-file members. The local leaders also would decide whether workers would remain on picket lines or return to work during the voting process.

About 48,000 UAW members have been picketing outside GM's U.S. facilities since Sept. 16.

The work stoppage has rippled throughout the automaker's North American operations, causing thousands of additional layoffs. Wall Street analysts estimate GM is losing roughly $50 million to $100 million per day in lost production.

It also has contributed to a double-digit decline in GM shares during the past four weeks. GM shares closed Thursday at $34.66, up 1.5%. The stock is down about 11% since Sept.13, the last Friday before the strike began.