G.M. and Autoworkers in Talks on New Labor Contract


General Motors and the United Automobile Workers were working Saturday to hammer out a new labor agreement in the final hours before their current contract expires.

G.M. is seeking to lower health-care costs and other expenses, while the union hopes to get the automaker to produce more vehicles at United States plants and to reopen a factory in Lordstown, Ohio, that was idled in March.

The union is focusing its negotiating efforts on G.M., while putting talks with Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler on hold. The four-year contracts with each manufacturer expire at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. On Friday, the U.A.W. agreed with Ford and Fiat Chrysler to extend their contracts indefinitely as the union bargains with G.M.

On Saturday, the U.A.W. said in a letter to members that it would not extend the G.M. contract and would continue working without a new bargaining agreement as talks continued. If the two sides fail to reach a tentative agreement, the union could strike at G.M. plants. “We are united in our efforts to get an agreement our members and their families deserve,” a U.A.W. vice president, Terry Dittes, said in the letter.

G.M. said it was prepared to negotiate around the clock to reach a deal. “We continue to work hard on solutions to some very difficult challenges,” it said.

G.M. closed the Lordstown plant, and others in Baltimore and in Warren, Mich., as part of a cost-cutting effort that eliminated 2,800 factory jobs and thousands of white-collar positions. A new contract could also decide the fate of a plant in Detroit that G.M. has kept open after originally designated it for closing. The union has complained that the job cuts are coming even as G.M. earns solid profits, including $35 billion in North America in the last three years.

The talks are taking place amid a widening federal investigation of corruption inside the union that has led to nine people being charged. The investigation is focusing on the use of union funds for lavish travel and personal spending by senior U.A.W. officials, including the president, Gary Jones, who is leading the talks with G.M.

The investigation is likely to increase pressure on Mr. Jones and other union negotiators to deliver gains for workers in any contract with G.M. and the other automakers, said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan business professor who follows the auto industry.

“Membership is going to be suspicious of the leadership,” he said. “The leadership is going to have to come back with a deal that shows how hard they are fighting for membership at a time when you’ve got this scandal that is just a total display of disdain for the ordinary worker.”



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