Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on GM, UAW extended negotiations

The UAW and General Motors are far apart on several key issues that could take a week or more to resolve before a tentative agreement is reached. That also means the strike could last at least two weeks longer if the UAW acts on a plan it is considering to keep members on the picket lines until the GM rank and file votes to ratify the deal. Other people close to the talks cautioned that breakthroughs can come quickly, speeding a resolution. Overall, the negotiations are said to be unemotional and very focused. Though bargainers have recessed each evening, those close to the talks said negotiators are prepared to do whatever it takes and work any amount of hours to reach an agreement. But a resolution will be slow because both GM and the UAW have high expectations that would require difficult trade-offs to craft a deal that both can live with, said Marick Masters, former director of labor at Wayne State University. “The tentative agreement they negotiate will have to be good enough to sell itself," said Masters. "The (UAW) leadership will not be able to sell an agreement that the membership will ratify, because they will not have confidence in the leaders.” That's because the talks are playing out against the backdrop of a federal corruption investigation now touching the highest levels of the union. But, said Masters, "The workers are going to stick up for each other and will stick up for the autoworkers as a union. They’re smart enough to separate the current leaders from the union and its role in helping them.”

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