Detroit (AFP) - The United Auto Workers union called a strike against General Motors Sunday, with some 46,000 members set to walk off the job beginning at midnight amid an impasse in contract talks.
The decision, which the Wall Street Journal described as the first major stoppage at GM in more than a decade, came a day after the manufacturer's four-year contract with workers expired without an agreement on a replacement.
Local union leaders met in Detroit "and opted to strike at midnight on Sunday," the UAW said on its Twitter account.
"This is our last resort," said Terry Dittes, the union's lead negotiator with GM. "We are standing up for the fundamental rights of working people in this country."
UAW officials said the two sides remained far apart in the contract negotiations, with disagreements on wages, health care benefits, the status of temporary workers and job security.
"Our members have spoken; we have taken action; and this is a decision we did not make lightly," Ted Krumm, chair of the UAW's national bargaining committee said in a statement.
UAW's leadership had previously won overwhelming approval from its rank-and-file for a strike if it became necessary.
Workers at Ford and Fiat Chrysler agreed to extend their contracts, but GM management was informed Saturday that the union would not extend its contract.
Hours before Sunday's decision to strike, contract maintenance workers walked off the job at GM plants in Michigan and Ohio in a parallel dispute with contractor Aramark.