The auto workers walked off the job Monday, shutting down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the USA, as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses, when contract negotiations failed after a midnight deadline.
"We stood up for General Motors when they needed us most", said Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and head of the union's GM department.
GM in a statement to The Hill said it has offered more than $7 billion in investments, more than 5,400 jobs, and improved wages and benefits in negotiations so far.
Thousands of UAW members went on strike at the General Motors manufacturing complex in Flint at midnight on Monday.
The deal with General Motors will set a template for upcoming contract negotiations with Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Any agreement reached with GM will serve as a template for talks with the other two companies.
The strike will test both the union and GM at a time when the USA auto industry is facing slowing sales and rising costs associated with launching electric vehicles and curbing emissions.
In the letter to Scott Sandefur, GM's vice-president of labour relations, Dittes wrote that the company waited too long to make the offer.
On Monday, 49,000 full-time and temporary UAW workers at GM went on strike.
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Auto analysts say the mistrust of UAW top officials could make auto workers a harder sell on a final contract.
The union said the strike was a last resort but that the two parties are still far from reaching an agreement.
'We are standing up for what is right, ' Krumm said.
UAW's leadership had previously won overwhelming approval from its rank-and-file for a strike if it became necessary.
UAW members who show up at the picket line will get $250 a week. Since the beginning, the union has been trying to prevent GM from closing two production plants located in the states of OH and MI. But GM still builds the overwhelming majority of cars it sells in the USA market in North America.
The union is seeking higher hourly wages, lump sum payments and a better profit sharing plan.
- The union also wants new products for four factories GM wants to close. That would mean fewer vehicles for consumers to choose from on dealer lots, and it would make it impossible to build specially ordered cars and trucks.
Many union-ambivalent workers cited the corruption scandal in UAW's recent high profile defeat in its attempt to unionize Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant in June. But supplies of the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban large SUVs, which generate big money for the company, are well below the industry average.
Sanders noted GM received a US -taxpayer funded $50 billion bailout a decade ago. Union members working Sunday were to report as scheduled.