DETROIT—Contract negotiations between the UAW and General Motors suffered a setback after the union said the company essentially rejected its latest offer, providing little hope the national strike, now entering its fourth week, will end soon.
Terry Dittes, vice president of the UAW-GM department, said in a Oct. 6 letter to members that GM this morning turned down an "extensive package" that addressed all of the union's demands, ranging from wages to profit sharing. He said the company instead fell back on a previous offer the union already rejected.
"The company's response did nothing to advance a whole host of issues that are important to you and your families," he said.
"It did nothing to provide job security during the term of this agreement. We, in this union, could not be more disappointed with General Motors who refuse to recognize the experience and talent of our membership who make their world class products and billions of dollars in profits."
He added that negotiations "have taken a turn for the worse," but said the two sides will continue to talk.
"We continue to negotiate in good faith with very good proposals that benefit employees today and builds a stronger future for all of us," GM said in a statement. "We are committed to continuing discussions around the clock to reach a resolution."
The UAW's Oct. 5 offer addressed at least 35 hourly and three salaried proposals, Dittes wrote in a letter to Scott Sandefur, GM's vice president of labor relations. Dittes said in the letter that GM did not explain why it rejected the UAW's offer.
"We expect the Company to respond and discuss the package proposal we presented (on Oct. 5). The law and basic decency require no less," Dittes said.
The UAW released the letter to GM on Oct. 6 following the previous note to members.
GM officials previously said the Detroit company's labor rates are the highest in the industry and it needs the ability to build some vehicles in other markets to keep costs down.
The tone of Dittes' letter stands in contrast to an Oct. 4 update that said the sides had made "good progress" on contentious issues like temporary workers and health care.
UAW members on the picket line at GM's Detroit Hamtramck Assembly plant said they have a "strengthened resolve" following the update on negotiations hitting a snag.
John Hatline, a 35-year skilled trades training representative at the plant, said news of the rejected proposal was motivating despite financial hardship caused by the strike.
"I think it only strengthened the resolve of everyone out here on the line," he said. "We're going to be here until it's over. We're going to last one more day than General Motors does."
Members' goals of "a fair contract with fair wages and affordable healthcare," Hatline said, must be met in order for the strike to end.
"They better get it settled because the UAW is going to win this," he said.
UAW members have received grocery donations from fellow local UAW offices, but some are suffering financially because of the strike.
"We've gone three weeks without a paycheck," Hatline said "A lot of our members are worried about putting groceries on the table for their families. A lot are probably even thinking about finding part-time work. It depends on the amount of money they have been able to save."
Scott Ferguson, a paint repair employee at the plant for 46 years, said he has co-workers struggling to meet car and mortgage payments.
"I'm doing okay," Ferguson said. "I've been saving for a long time, but I had to take money out of savings the other day to pay some bills. At my age I'm mostly fighting for the younger workers. There were guys before me who did the same thing for me."
He added that the strike is a good hard lesson for younger UAW members to understand the importance of the union.
"People in my age group know the fight," Ferguson said. "Younger people are starting to see the fight other people had to do before us. This strike is probably going to be longer than any of the ones I have encountered. I think GM wants to play hardball now. But we're ready. Bring it on."
Reuters contributed to this report.