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Striking United Auto Workers (UAW) members from the General Motors Lansing Delta Plant picket in Delta Township, Michigan. Image Credit: REUTERS

Michigan: Stellantis NV is raising its wage offer to 23 per cent, matching General Motors and Ford Motor as negotiations with the United Auto Workers heat up, people familiar with the discussions said.

The offer may not be enough to assuage the UAW, which is now asking for a 25 per cent increase, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The talks are accelerating ahead of a livestream address union President Shawn Fain is scheduled to give at 4 pm Detroit time.

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GM said Friday it would offer most UAW workers $40.39 an hour, matching the 23 per cent increase that Ford had already made. That raise, combined with cost-of-living increases, could get the total pay hike closer to 30 per cent, which is the minimum the union hopes to achieve.

The union and GM are still working out other issues. At a rally in Detroit Thursday, UAW Vice President Mike Booth said GM’s retiree benefits were unresolved. The bargaining talks are still fluid, and progress doesn’t rule out the possibility of more strikes.

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The bargaining talks are still fluid, and progress doesn’t rule out the possibility of more strikes.

Ford talks picked up this week following a lull after the union struck the automaker’s largest factory, its Kentucky truck plant, on October 11, according to people familiar with the negotiations who are not authorized to speak publicly about them. The two sides have resolved about 85 per cent of the terms of the contract, one of the people said.

Final sticking points in the Ford talks include how to cover future workers at battery plants under construction and at its Blue Oval City complex in Tennessee, which will include a new battery plant and an electric-truck plant when it opens in 2025, one person familiar with the talks said. The two sides also are still working out final economic terms, the person said.

UAW President Fain had said the union would abandon its practice of announcing new targets on Fridays and instead escalate the strike without prior warning. The shift was a response to the companies’ behavior, Fain said, because they were gaming the timetable and slow-walking talks before making any substantial offers.

While picketing in Center Line, Michigan, on Wednesday, Gene Orr, a striking Stellantis worker said that the union has been “reaching for the stars” in contract talks. But ultimately he’d be satisfied as long as the contract has a sufficient pay increase and cost of living adjustments, protects health care and makes it possible for battery workers to unionize.

“Everything else is icing on the cake,” said Orr. “You can get the cake, but you don’t get the icing, so it might end up being a pound cake.”

And John Jake Kincaid, a 27-year Stellantis employee, said “a lot of things that we gave up, we’re just trying to get them back.” “They were doing bad, we sacrificed,” he said. Now that “they’re doing good, it’s time to reward us.”