GM CEO Barra joins bargaining table in bid to end UAW strike -sources

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors Co (N:) Chief Executive Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss took part in contract talks with the United Auto Workers union on Tuesday, in a sign that a 30-day strike of 48,000 U.S. hourly workers could be nearing an end, two people briefed on the matter said on Tuesday.

On Monday, the UAW scheduled a meeting for Thursday morning to update local union representatives on the status of the talks, sources have previously said. The sides have not reached a tentative agreement that would end the strike, but progress has been made.

GM declined to comment on the involvement of the No. 1 U.S. automaker’s top two executives in the negotiations. A UAW spokesman declined to comment.

Shares were up 2% in midday trading.

Barra met with UAW President Gary Jones and the union’s lead GM negotiator, Terry Dittes, on Oct. 9 to push for a swift resolution to the strike. Prior to that, UAW officials had been urging Barra to get involved in the negotiations.

The UAW strike began on Sept. 16, with the union’s members at GM seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of profit and protection of healthcare benefits. Other issues included the fate of plants GM has indicated could close, and the use of temporary workers.

After GM angered UAW negotiators last week by appealing directly to workers and revealing details of the Detroit automaker’s latest offer, the sides have continued talking. The UAW made a counter offer to GM on Friday.

The Center for Automotive Research in Michigan has estimated the strike’s weekly costs to GM and the UAW strike fund at $450 million and $12 million, respectively.

President Donald Trump and many lawmakers have weighed in on the talks between the UAW and GM, urging the automaker to build more vehicles in the United States and shift work from Mexico.

The UAW’s membership is largely in the Midwest, in states that could be critical to both sides in the 2020 presidential election.

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

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