DETROIT -- With the two sides still apart on key priorities, negotiations between General Motors and the UAW will continue Tuesday after both sides took a break from the bargaining table late Monday.
More than 46,000 union members will remain off the job for a second day as part of the first national strike since the financial crisis.
Talks will continue Tuesday after the break, though it's unclear when both sides will meet, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The company and UAW remain far apart as they try to hatch a new labor contract covering wages and benefits, the union’s top negotiator said earlier Monday.
“We have many unresolved issues,” Terry Dittes, vice president of the UAW, told Bloomberg News Monday while on the picket lines outside an assembly plant in Detroit-Hamtramck. “It’s not just a couple of things. How long will this take? I can’t say.”
Dittes said the two sides have only settled 2 percent of about 1,000 outstanding proposals and that there are 10 major sticking points which need to be settled, including wages for entry-level workers and treatment of temporary staffers.
GM's initial contract offer also called for workers to pay 15 percent of health care expenses — well below the national average of 28 percent but far higher than the 3 to 4 percent workers currently pay. The union balked at the proposal, and the automaker quickly walked it back and offered to keep members' obligations at existing levels, according to sources.
On pay, the automaker proposed two 2 percent wage increases and two 2 percent lump sum payments, according to Mike Warchuck, president of UAW Local 653, who was briefed on the plan Sunday by UAW-GM VP Terry Dittes.
The strike is testing both the union and GM, Detroit's most profitable automaker in recent years, at a time when the U.S. auto industry is facing slowing sales and rising costs associated with launching electric vehicles and curbing emissions.
Moody's Investors Service, days after lowering rival Ford Motor Co.’s credit rating to junk, said in a note Monday the critical issue is whether GM will "secure the operating flexibility necessary" to address challenges including higher hourly costs than foreign automakers, a potential severe downturn in U.S. auto sales, and the need for automakers "to begin transitioning to the production of more electric vehicles that will likely require fewer workers to assemble."
Workers at plants across the country marched on picket lines outside GM’s plants early Monday. Del Rese Ballard, a member of UAW Local 22 at the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, said one of his biggest priorities is the status of temporary employees.
“We have temp workers working right beside people, and they’ve been here for years,” he said. “Why can’t you get the same benefits everyone else gets?”
Roughly 7 percent of the union’s hourly workforce are temps, and Warchuck said GM did not offer a solution in its latest offer.
“It’s important to my membership that that gets fixed,” he said.
Dittes called the union’s first strike against GM since 2007 a “last resort” after negotiations broke down.
“It represents great sacrifice and great courage on the part of our members and all of us,” he said Sunday.
A union spokesman said it was a unanimous vote to strike.
The strike caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who tweeted: "Here we go again with General Motors and the United Auto Workers. Get together and make a deal!"
Dittes, in a letter to Scott Sandefur, GM's vice president of labor relations, expressed disappointment with the automaker's late offer -- describing it as its "first serious offer."
"Had we received this proposal earlier in the process, it may have been possible to reach a tentative agreement and avoid a strike."
Details the automaker presented about its offer are roughly in line with what workers accepted four years ago as part of its 2015 pact.
GM said in a statement that its offer to the UAW includes more than $7 billion in U.S. investments, higher pay and improved benefits. The offer includes more than 5,400 jobs, the majority of which would be new.