United Auto Workers begins contract negotiations

United Auto Workers contract negotiations that will affect the pay and benefits of tens of thousands of auto workers in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas kick off this week as the union begins meetings with General Motors Co., which operates an assembly plant in Wentzville, near St. Louis. Negotiations between the UAW and Ford Motor Co., which runs a plant in Claycomo, begin July 23.

UAW bargaining with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is expected to last through the summer. By the time the union’s current deal expires on Sept. 14, the UAW hopes to have a new work agreement for its roughly 139,000 members.

Some union officials are headed to the bargaining table focused on raising wages for the lowest-paid autoworkers. The carmakers, meanwhile, will focus on keeping costs low to remain competitive with foreign competition.

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