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The UAW officer leading talks with GM is from the assembly line and ready to fight

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

DETROIT -- This past spring, local UAW leaders from across the country gathered in Detroit to meet the UAW's top negotiators at the Renaissance Center.

One leader noticed a 10-year-old Chevrolet Malibu sedan roll up to the entrance, driven by a rather unassuming 62-year-old man. The car had placards taped to the windows: "GM: We invested in you. Now it's your turn to invest in US!"

"I thought that was really cool," said the leader. "He's taking it to the streets!"

The man who got out of the car was Terry Dittes, the UAW's top negotiator in the current talks with General Motors.

"He seems to be woven from a different cloth than some of the other union leaders," said this UAW local leader. He has since met Dittes, pronounced Dit-us, several times. He asked to not be named because he's not authorized to speak for the union.

"He gave me a bro hug," said the leader. "Others will show up with an entourage, they're being driven in a Cadillac. Not Terry. He was driving himself."

 

The UAW and GM are in the fourth week of a nationwide strike.

That is starting to take a heavy toll on workers, who make $250 a week in strike wages, GM and the broader economy. East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group estimates through the first three weeks of the nationwide strike, losses include $660 million in profits for GM, direct wage losses for all employees in excess of $412 million, $155 million in lost federal income and payroll tax revenue, and $9.1 million in lost Michigan income tax revenue.

The group's new analysis Tuesday estimated that as many as 100,000 workers beyond the striking UAW members have also been either laid off or face lost pay from the nationwide strike against GM.

But the National Automobile Dealers Association's chairman said in Detroit that the strike has not yet impacted sales at his GM stores, as inventory has held up. NADA data show GM inventory remains well above industry average.

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