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UAW workers continue strike at Wentzville GM plant

Striking United Auto Workers union members stand outside the Wentzville GM assembly plant holding signs for passing motorist on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

DETROIT — Talks for a new four-year labor contract between General Motors and its striking workers took a “turn for the worse” on Sunday after the United Auto Workers rejected the largest U.S. automaker’s latest offer but the two sides were still talking.

GM made an offer to the union that basically repeated one the UAW had previously rejected, Terry Dittes, the UAW vice president in charge of the GM department, said in a letter to members. The union provided a copy of the letter to Reuters.

“These negotiations have taken a turn for the worse,” he said.

“We, in this union, could not be more disappointed with General Motors,” Dittes said. “The company has shown an unwillingness to fairly compensate ... the UAW.”

Dittes said the UAW made an offer on Saturday to GM that covered wages, signing bonuses, job security, profit sharing and other issues. He said GM responded on Sunday morning with its counteroffer, which “did nothing to advance a whole host of issues.”

GM said in a statement that it was committed to negotiating “around the clock” to reach a deal.

“We continue to negotiate in good faith with very good proposals that benefit employees today and build a stronger future for all of us,” the company said in the statement.

The GM strike began on Sept. 16 with nearly 49,000 UAW members seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of the automaker’s profit and protection of health care benefits. The sides have been meeting daily. More than 4,000 workers at GM’s Wentzville plant are affected.

Meanwhile, a Missouri-based UAW official who was charged with corruption last month has stepped away from the national organization.

UAW officials said in a statement that Vance Pearson of St. Charles began his leave of absence Thursday.

Pearson is the director of UAW’s Region 5, which covers thousands of union members in more than a dozen states. The organization’s national office in Detroit will oversee the region in Pearson’s absence.

Officials did not give a reason for Pearson’s leave of absence or say if he would still be getting paid.

Pearson is accused of embezzlement, fraud, filing false reports and conspiracy. He is the 10th person charged in an investigation of the Detroit-based union’s finances. 

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