Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on UAW strike tactics

The UAW is considering staying on strike against General Motors until rank-and-file members approve a tentative agreement, a process that could add more than a week to the length of the work stoppage, the Free Press has learned. No deal has been reached yet. Negotiations continued Sunday as the strike reached its seventh day. When the UAW's National Council reconvenes in Detroit to vote on a tentative agreement, whenever it comes, it will likely also vote to either end the strike or stay on strike until GM's 46,000 workers across its 55 facilities in the United States approve the deal, say those familiar with the process. If the council does vote for the strikers to stay off the job until the entire membership votes, the UAW leaders can expedite the ratification process beyond the typical two weeks it takes under normal circumstances, said Marick Masters, business professor at Wayne State University who specializes in labor. Masters said the tactic makes sense from the union's standpoint. “One of the worst things they could have happen is to send the workers back to work and then they do not ratify," said Masters. "Then where would their bargaining leverage be?” It also is a show that UAW leadership is including its members in the contract negotiation process and meeting rank-and-file demands. "It’s my understanding that they’ve been engaging the rank and file through their subcommittee negotiations to make sure that whatever tentative agreement they come up with, they can say it is percolating from the membership, not being dictated by the leadership." 

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