The United Auto Workers union agreed to temporary contract extensions with Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Friday as it grappled with a federal corruption probe that has implicated its president.
The move puts added pressure on bargainers for both sides as they approach the contract deadline and the union starts to make preparations for a strike.
The unions contract with the Big 3 expires at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, but the extension will allow workers and Ford and FCA to continue working on the contract negotiated in 2015.
Dittes' letter says there will be a UAW-GM National Council meeting on September 15 in Detroit for local union presidents and shop chairpersons and UAW International staff.
Its contract has not been extended, raising the possibility a strike could begin as early as 12:01 a.m. Sunday if no deal or extension is announced, UAW spokesman Brian Rothenberg said.
The complaint has raised questions, not only about the once powerful union's leadership, but about the status of the collective bargaining talks with Detroit's automakers. On Thursday, a regional director of the UAW was charged with embezzling union funds as part of the widening government investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation raids last month on the homes of Gary Jones, the current president of the United Auto Workers, and his predecessor, signaled a dramatic escalation of a four-year probe into illegal payments.
Jones and other union executives met privately at a hotel at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Friday.
"While these allegations are very concerning, we strongly believe that the government has misconstrued any number of facts and emphasize that these are merely allegations, not proof of wrongdoing", the UAW said in a statement Thursday. "Regardless, we will not let this distract us from the critical negotiations under way with GM to gain better wages and benefits", Rothenberg said. 13, UAW Local 598 in Flint posted detailed instructions to members if a strike is called. The local represents workers at a plant that straddles the border between Detroit and the hamlet of Hamtramck.
By comparison, autoworkers in Mexico earn $2.70 an hour and have no union. The factory, which makes the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6, is one of four that GM plans to close.
Strikes at GM by the UAW have lasted a couple of day to weeks in past years. The union wants annual pay raises to guard against an economic downturn, but the company wants to pay lump sums tied to earnings.
GM reported $27.5 billion in profits in the past four years as it cut underutilized plant capacity. Temp workers are paid as little as $15 an hour.
GM has said the lion's share of its investments are made in the US, where it has 33 plants operating compared with four facilities in Mexico. UAW members pay about 3% of their healthcare costs compared with 28% paid by the average USA worker.
The last strike against GM came in 2007 and ended after two days.
The union may have to strike at least for a while to show workers that it got as much from the company as it could, Wheaton said.
The UAW has been telling its members that talks are moving slowly.