Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Now in its fifth week, the labor dispute between the United Automobile Workers union and General Motors may finally be nearing an agreement.
UAW has asked its National General Motors Council to meet in Detroit on Thursday, a signal that in the past has indicated a pending deal. The strike involving nearly 50,000 union workers entered its 30th day Tuesday.
The Detroit Free Press reported that an agreement isn't done, but experts say the end could be close. Summoning the council at this stage in negotiations is considerably unusual.
"One thing it can mean is they're close, but close isn't done. So does it mean they're going to get there? It could," said expert and professor Harley Shaiken, who added the last time the council was called at this point in negotiations was during a 1982 walkout. In that case, UAW asked the council to accept GM's contract offer.
The union's national council would have to approve any tentative deal with GM before it can be taken to membership for ratification. For now, the meeting of UAW's 175-member council is being called a negotiation update.
At the council meeting, the union could move to keep up the strike and negotiations, discuss a vote for unresolved issues or determine the next step in the event of a stalemate.
"Talks continue," GM spokesman David Barnas said simply on Monday.
UAW president Terry Dittes said Sunday union leaders have agreed to increase strike pay from $250 to $275 per week, and thanked workers for "holding the line."
"[Striking] was our last resort," he said. "We were forced into that situation by General Motors. We will continue this fight until we know that we can satisfy your needs of your family."
The UAW is also dealing with two other strikes. Hundreds of members at Aramark, which hires maintenance workers for five GM plants in Michigan and Ohio, have been striking since Sept. 15. More than 3,500 UAW members at Mack Truck left their jobs Sunday in a dispute over issues that include wages, health, safety and job security.