NEW YORK — General Motors has told the United Auto Workers union that it’s time the two sides reach a deal to end the nearly four-week-long strike. The work stoppage has ground GM’s vehicle production to a halt and forced nearly 50,000 hourly workers to live on strike benefits $250 a week.
In a letter to employees Friday, GM defended its offer to union.
“We have advised the union that it’s critical that we get back to producing quality vehicles for our customers,” said Gerald Johnson, the automaker’s head of global manufacturing, in the letter.
Johnson acknowledged the strike has been hard on workers, their families as well as the communities where the company is located. He noted the strike has been difficult for GM, its suppliers and dealers, too. He said GM made a comprehensive offer to the union this past Monday which included improved wages, a way for temporary employees to become permanent employees, maintaining the current health care coverage and commitments to invest billions of dollars in US plants to create thousands of new US jobs.
“We are committed to the collective bargaining process, and we are committed to our future together,” he wrote. “Our success depends on one another.”
The letter is another sign of GM’s efforts to end the auto industry’s longest strike in decades. On Wednesday, GM CEO Mary Barra met with union officials face-to-face for the first time since the strike started.
The union did not immediately comment on Johnson’s letter.
The strike started on September 16. Through this coming weekend, GM losses are expected to reach $1.13 billion, according to an estimate from Anderson Economic Group, while lost wages for GM employees are expected to have reached roughly $600 million.