UAW & GM auto talks break down

by Tracie Potts
NBC News

Thousands of union workers are on strike against automaker General Motors.

The United Auto Workers called the nationwide strike Monday morning after talks broke down over the weekend.

The UAW says they didn't want this strike, but felt pushed in a corner after GM refused to give as much as it was getting.

The strike came nine days into a contract extension.

73-thousand union workers from Detroit to Texas walked off the job at 82 General Motors plants and warehouses.

"This is nothing that we wanted. Nobody wins in a strike. But there comes a point in time when somebody can push you off a cliff -- and that's exactly what happened here," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

The union is reportedly trying to get GM to commit to building new vehicles in the U-S.

In a statement, GM says it's "disappointed" the UAW called a strike, that the issues are "complex" and "difficult", and the company is "fully committed" to finding solutions.

Experts say they may not come quickly.

"Once a union and a company have gone into a strike mode, it means both people have dug their heels in a little bit and it seems the bargaining position, the negotiating stance, of each of them is a a bit more rigid," explained Heather Boushey of the Center for Economic Policy and research.

Also on the table is health insurance for retired workers.

GM wants to move 51 billion dollars in un-funded health costs to a trust fund managed by the union.

While on strike, workers get 200 dollars a week from the union.

Experts say GM has enough inventory on hand to withstand a short strike.

Both sides say they want to head back to the bargaining table quickly.