Knowledge@Wharton: Marick Masters on UAW, GM contract progress

As the strike at General Motors continues, the costs mount — and not just for the company and its striking workers: There is also the threat of a wider impact across the U.S. economy. Some 46,000 full-time workers walked out Sept. 15 at 30 factories across 10 states, a day after the previous four-year agreement with the United Auto Workers expired. The GM strike is the first in the auto industry since September 2007, when GM workers went on a two-day strike. The overriding issue between the two sides is to rebuild trust, because that will be needed over the longer term as the company adjusts itself to demand cycles, newer technology, and the economies of closing unprofitable plants and making new investments, including at overseas locations. Even as both sides are “in a difficult position” an agreement is achievable, said Marick Masters, professor of management and adjunct professor of political science at Wayne State University. “It’s just a matter of the parties trying to work through them. Both parties, although they seemed far apart a couple of days ago, may be making some progress toward narrowing their differences.”

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