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There are signs that beginning of end of strike against GM could be near


There are a few signs that negotiators are getting closer to a deal on a new four-year contract between General Motors and the United Auto Workers, as the union's strike against the company entered its 11th day.

GM announced on Thursday it would reinstate health insurance benefits for striking workers, after suddenly canceling the benefits the week before. The automaker says the benefits will be paid for at its own expense, not the union's.

The Detroit News also reports that GM asked its delivery truck contractors if they would be ready to start up again if the strike ends, or if they will need time to get drivers and trucks ready.

On Wednesday, lead union negotiator Terry Dittes told members that "all unsettled proposals are now at the Main Table and have been presented to General Motors, and we are awaiting their response. This back and forth will continue until negotiations are complete."

Art Schwartz is GM's former head of labor relations. He worked on seven union contract negotiations during his time at GM, as well as the negotiations for concessions from the union during the automaker's bankruptcy.

"Both sides are suffering," says Schwartz. "The company's losing money every day. I've seen numbers, $50 to $100 million a day. We lost two billion dollars for a two-month strike in Flint. And of course, the average legacy worker, who normally gets $1,250 a week; strike pay is $250. So that's a little short. So they're hurting too."

Schwartz says he hopes to hear more optimistic things by the weekend. But he says no one knows what's going on behind closed doors at the bargaining table, and how far apart the two sides still are.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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