Maintenance workers strike at GM plants in US

The United Auto Workers union has called a strike at General Motors (AFP Photo/BILL PUGLIANO)

Detroit (AFP) - Some 850 maintenance workers went on strike Sunday at General Motors plants in Michigan and Ohio amid an impasse in negotiations between the US automakers and the United Auto Workers.

The strike was against Armark, a contractor that handles maintenance services at GM installations in the Midwest, but was seen as a possible prelude to a walkout by the automaker's 46,000-strong unionized workforce.

The union's contract expired Saturday and officers of UAW locals were to meet Sunday on whether to go on strike at GM.

On Friday, the union extended its contract with Ford and Fiat Chrysler, but in a letter to union officers the chief UAW negotiator said there would be no extension of the GM contract.

Terry Dittes, a UAW vice president and chief negotiator with GM, said there had been little progress in the talks and members would work without a contract until the union leadership decided on a course of action.

"There will either be an agreement or a strike after the meeting" Sunday of union officers, a union official said.

GM issued a statement late Saturday saying it was "prepared to negotiate around the clock" despite "some very difficult challenges."

"We are united in our efforts to get an agreement our members and their families deserve," Dittes said in the letter to union officers.

The only union members employed by GM who were scheduled to work Sunday were at a GM pickup truck assembly plant in Flint, Michigan, a GM spokesman said.

Aramark maintenance workers in the Michigan cities of Hamtramck, Warren, Flint, Grand Blanc and Parma, Ohio have been working on an extended contract since March of 2018, a UAW spokesman said.

The impasse comes at the end of a chaotic week in which a member of the UAW's executive board was arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiracy to use union dues for lavish personal expenses.

Vance Pearson, a UAW director in St. Louis, Missouri, was accused of using union conferences as a cover to justify long-term stays at luxury resorts in California.