S&P Global: Marick Masters on factors behind UAW strike

A nationwide strike of General Motors Co. workers that began Sept. 16 could cost the automaker anywhere from $50 million to $100 million each day it continues, according to experts. Auto industry experts also say several major issues are preventing a resolution in the negotiations and that the strike could last from a few days to a few weeks. Marick Masters, business professor at Wayne State University, said it can be difficult for GM to address the union's concerns because the automaker's funds are being pulled in other directions. "GM needs capital to invest in technology and product development, and it needs to maintain a more agile and competitively paid labor force," he said. Masters said three factors could cause the strike to stretch past a few days. "The parties seem far apart on key issues such as product allocation — which is job security — general wage increases and protecting healthcare benefits as they are; the lack of trust between the parties, which is attributable in substantial part to how the initial plant closures and layoffs were handled by General Motors; and the cloud of suspicion hanging over the national UAW leadership," Masters said. Bribery charges and convictions from the federal investigation add "skepticism and doubt among members about what their leadership tells them," Masters said. As of Sept. 16, 10 former and current officials connected to the UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV have been charged in the investigation, nine of whom pleaded guilty. "Such doubt and skepticism complicates getting the members to ratify a tentative agreement, which in turn causes the leadership to stiffen its bargaining posture, making such an agreement in the first place more difficult to obtain," he said.

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