Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is talking with the United Auto Workers and her state’s biggest automakers in an effort to stave off a strike, which is where she worries the negotiations over a new labor contract are headed.
“Any casual observer would recognize that there’s reason to be concerned about where it’s headed,” Whitmer said in an interview Thursday in Tokyo. Her trip is designed to promote commercial ties with Japan and visit companies important in the auto industry, including Toyota Motor Corp. and its two biggest suppliers, Denso Corp. and Aisin Corp.
Whitmer said the union and Detroit’s legacy automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis —- should be able to forge a deal ahead of a Sept. 14 deadline that allows the companies to stay profitable while also boosting hourly employees’ pay.
“I’m talking with the leadership of the Big 3 as well as the leadership of the UAW, hoping that they stay at the table and come up with an agreement that supports workers and averts a strike,” she said, noting it was “unclear” what more the state could do.