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UAW threatens strike against General Motors

UAW President Dennis Williams Holds News Conference After The Group's Special ConventionUAW President Dennis Williams Holds News Conference After The Group's Special Convention
United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams speaks to delegates at the UAW Special Convention on Collective Bargaining at Cobo Center March 25, 2015 in Detroit.Photograph by Bill Pugliano — Getty Images

The United Auto Workers union has warned General Motors that members will strike if the two entities don’t reach an agreement by the time their current contract expires at 11:59 pm on Sunday night, Reuters reports.

Negotiations between the UAW and GM (GM) began back in July, and talks have intensified in the past few days. The union is prepared to call off the strike at the Fort Wayne, Indiana plant if negotiators believe that progress is being made.

This is a similar strategy that the union utilized when negotiating a new contract with Fiat Chrysler. The carmaker was able to avoid a strike at the last minute, and recently ratified a new contract with the UAW. The four-year deal eliminates a two-tier payment structure by putting workers hired after 2007 on track to earn top wages within eight years of working for Chrysler.

The 52,700 UAW members employed by GM are looking for a similar deal, but they want the two-tier wage system to be eliminated within four years rather than eight. Brian Hartman, president of UAW local 2209, which oversees union operations in Indiana, says that the union is expecting more from GM since it’s in a more profitable position than Chrysler.

The union also believes that it’s time for workers to be paid back for concessions made in 2007 and 2009 to help GM avoid bankruptcy in a government-sponsored bailout. GM disagrees. It claims that the company will only remain in good shape if it can keep down labor costs to compete with foreign car makers that have plants in the U.S.