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Tues. 10:10 a.m.: UAW workers vote to authorize strikes against Detroit 3

DETROIT (AP) – The United Auto Workers union has picked General Motors as the target company for this year’s contract talks with Detroit’s three automakers.

The move announced this morning means that GM will be the focus of bargaining, and any deal with the company will set the pattern for Ford and Fiat Chrysler. It also means that if the union decides to go on strike, it be against GM.

Contracts between the union representing about 152,000 workers and GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler expire at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14.

Earlier today the union announced that more than 96 percent of its members voted to authorize strikes against the companies.

The strike authorization vote is a normal part of the bargaining process, and it doesn’t mean that there will be a work stoppage. But tensions are high in contract talks this year because the automakers are making billions in profits and workers want a bigger slice. The companies, though, want to get closer to parity with foreign automakers with U.S. factories that are mainly in the South.

In a statement, the union said 96.4 percent of workers at General Motors voted to authorize a strike, while it was 95.98 percnet at Ford and 96 percent at Fiat Chrysler.

Picking GM as the target is no surprise because it’s the most profitable of the three companies, and it also has announced plans to shutter four factories in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland. The union has pledged to fight the closures at factories in Lordstown, two in the Detroit-area and another near Baltimore. Production already has stopped in Lordstown, Baltimore and one of the Detroit-area factories.

“We are focused. We are prepared and we are all ready to stand up for our members, our communities and our manufacturing future,” union President Gary Jones said in a statement this morning.

GM said it looks forward to “constructive discussions” with the union to build a strong future for employees and its business.

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