DETROIT — The United Automobile Workers union on Saturday set a deadline of Sunday night for General Motors to agree to a new four-year contract, raising the prospect of a strike at G.M.’s American operations.
The current contract will expire at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday. The union could tell its 52,700 G.M. members to walk off their jobs at that time, though the union’s negotiators may postpone the deadline if they see progress toward an agreement.
G.M. and the union have been in talks since July and have, in the last several days, intensified negotiations to reach a deal. The union and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have a new contract that goes into effect on Monday, while Ford Motor Company has yet to enter heightened talks with the union.
In a statement, G.M. confirmed that it had received the negotiations deadline from the union and said, “We are working with them to address the issues and remain committed to obtaining an agreement that is good for employees and the business.”
In contracts with the union since 2007, G.M. has lowered its average labor costs to about $ 55 per hour from about $ 75. G.M. executives, including Chuck Stevens, the chief financial officer, have recently said that the company must keep labor costs in a new contract at a point where they do not threaten the double-digit profit margins that G.M. achieved in North America this year.
The union has repeatedly said that “this is our time” to receive compensation for concessions it made in 2007 and 2009, which helped the automaker survive bankruptcy in a government-sponsored bailout.
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