NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Negotiations between General Motors Corp. and the striking United Auto Workers Union appeared to be inching toward a settlement Monday as the top union leader joined the talks.
Sources familiar with the talks at both the Delphi East complex and the Flint Metals Center plants said progress was being made.
"We woke up with a smile on our faces," said a source familiar with the Delphi negotiations, which centered on outsourcing.
At the more complicated talks at the Flint Metals plant, a source said he was "cautiously optimistic" that remaining issues could be settled soon. He would not elaborate on what had been settled and what the remaining sticking points were.
At Flint, one of the tough work rule issues had to do with a system that allows UAW workers to receive a full days pay even though they can stop work after a production quota of parts is reached.
Talks aimed at averting more strikes
Sources said talks were dealing not only with the Flint plants but with issues at two Delphi plants in Ohio and another GM plant in Indiana as well. The source said when an announcement is made it will cover all those plants.
GM has been concerned that the strikes in Flint would be settled only to have GM workers go out at other plants.
UAW President Stephen Yokich arrived at the talks Monday afternoon. He refused to comment but rarely attends negotiations until talks are in their final stages.
Meanwhile, union leaders in Canada, who have been closely monitoring the talks, predicted an agreement could come soon.
"The tone has changed clearly over the weekend and it would appear a settlement is imminent," Canadian Auto Workers union president Buzz Hargrove told Reuters.
General Motors of Canada, a wholly owned GM subsidiary, ran out of parts to build its new line of Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras in Oshawa, Ontario, last Tuesday.
The Canadian truck plant was the latest of 27 GM plants to close its doors.
The UAW strike began June 5 at a Flint, Michigan metal stamping plant after GM removed dies, or molds, from the factory in anticipation of a dispute.
GM returned stamping dies
GM returned those dies to the plant Sunday and the UAW allowed members to cross the picket line to set up the dies in anticipation of a resolution to the strike.
GM spokesman Gerry Holmes said talks resumed at about 10 a.m. Monday morning. While refusing to speculate on the progress of negotiations, he added GM is guardedly optimistic a resolution will come soon.
"We don't characterize the nature of talks, but they are obviously very serious at this point," he said. "There are top level folks in there and they've been meeting virtually all weekend."
GM and the UAW engaged in nonstop negotiations from Friday morning to midnight Sunday.
Holmes said the weekend talks were the most positive indication so far that both sides are trying seriously to resolve the two strikes that have crippled the nation's No. 1 automaker.
Reg McGhee, a union spokesman, said he could not discuss any progress made over the weekend or in negotiations Monday. Although both sides are hopeful, he said, there is no "way to determine whether today will be the day."
"We are certainly hoping to wrap it up as soon as we can," he said. "But there are just too many factors right now [still unresolved]."
McGhee declined to comment on what those factors include.
Strike has idled more than 200,000
The strikes have idled more than 200,000 GM workers and virtually halted the automaker's North American assembly operations.
A judge last week ordered GM and the UAW to submit to arbitration to end the strike that has cost GM about $2 billion.
GM contends the union is attempting to strike over national issues that are "non-strikeable" under the UAW-GM national agreement. Those issues include product placement and investment.
The UAW says issues at the Flint Metals Center and the Delphi East plant include concerns over health and safety, which are strikeable issues.
If Thomas Roberts, the arbitrator, decides for GM, the company could seek an injunction forcing 9,200 workers back to their jobs.
GM also could sue the union for its losses.
GM shares (GM) rose 1-5/16 to 72-3/8 Monday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.
--from staff and wire reports