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UAW's most contentious negotiation period evident in op-ed pieces

UAW negotiations
Posted at 6:20 PM, Sep 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-21 19:03:17-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The UAW strike will officially hit the one week mark Thursday at midnight. As negotiations continue, the public is starting to get a look at what’s happening behind closed doors at the bargaining table.

This past week, the union and General Motors executives went back and forth via op-eds pieces in the Detroit Free Press.

GM president Mark Reuss wrote an article Wednesday combating what he called myths about poverty wages and the company’s ability to share its record profits with auto workers.

The union fired back Thursday morning saying they have the facts on their side and that GM is not being honest about what they can reasonably provide to workers.

This marks the first time in a negotiation period where the public has been front row to what’s happening behind closed doors. Contentious sticking points are usually hammered out behind closed doors like the deal reached between Ford and Canadian autoworkers. The details of that deal are being kept quiet until members can vote on the agreement.

“The companies are trying to fight back,” said Wayne State Professor Marick Masters.

Masters says the companies and the UAW have not taken this sharp of a tone with each other in the public eye in past years.

“It’s certainly one of the most publicized (negotiation periods). With that being said it's also one of the most media slanted. The UAW has really tried to dominate the airwaves, so to speak, and frame the negotiations as a struggle between the working people and the elite in society,” said Masters.

Masters says the rhetoric on both sides helps to inform the public but is also likely a source of tension.

“I think what you're seeing is those media exchanges intensify and that will only continue as the parties, as the UAW ratchets up the tensions,” said Masters.

Friday morning, UAW president Shawn Fain is expected to give members an update on the state of negotiations and to reveal the next strike target if the union decides to move forward with expanding the strike.