By Michelle Franzen
The United Auto Workers union has called off its strike against General Motors after union negotiators and G.M. representatives reached a tentative contract agreement early Wednesday.
"We're pleased to announce that at 3:05 this morning we reached a tentative agreement with General Motors Corporation pending ratification by our membership," said U.A.W. President Ron Gettelfinger.
After two days on the picket lines, United Auto Workers are headed back into G.M. plants, jumpstarting production after a strike sidelined some 73,000 workers and idled General Motors facilities around the country.
U.A.W. member Chuck Wise said, ""I'm glad it's over. I really need to get back to work. I've got a family and a lot of years left at this plant. We need to get these contracts settled for my family."
Details of the contract are still emerging, but both sides say the deal puts responsibility for retirees' health care into the union's hands, via a U.A.W. run trust.
G.M. would pay about 70 percent of that cost.
The agreement must still must be ratified by union members but union leaders say they are confident members will vote to ratify the deal.
"Everybody is losing money. Who's in the business of losing money?" asked union member and G.M. worker Art Cobb.
The nation's largest automaker was losing about $100 million a day while workers were off the job and the strike could be an example for the other two major U.S. car makers.
Ford and Chrysler are next on the U.A.W's list and leaders say they don't want to waste any time now getting those deals done.
The U.A.W will announce by the end of the week whether it will negotiate with Ford or Chrysler first.