The UAW called a strike against General Motors at 11 a.m. today after UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said he was shocked and disappointed by GMs positions at the bargaining table.
UAW Local 652 in Lansing, Mich., was the first local to confirm the walkout at 11:06 a.m. EDT.
At the UAW-GM training center in Detroit, cars full of UAW officials were leaving en masse after the strike call. One car had a picket sign hanging out the window.
The UAW said it set the strike deadline over the failure of GM to address job security and other mandatory issues of bargaining.
The strike against GM includes about 73,000 UAW-represented employees throughout the United States. It is the first stoppage against GM since 1998, when a 54-day strike at parts-making operations in Flint, Mich., shut GM production nationally, costing the company more than $3 billion. The last full-fledged strike against all of GM was in 1970.
GM spokesman Dan Flores said today that the talks involve complex issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force and the long-term viability of the company.
Tom Wickham, another GM spokesman, said in a recorded message on his cell phone that talks would continue and that GM would release further comment when appropriate.
We have nothing new to add at this point, he said in the message.
The union began the strike after weeks of marathon bargaining. The previous four-year agreement expired at midnight Sept. 14 and has been extended hourly since.
The UAW also is bargaining on behalf of 190,000 hourly workers at GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC.
The UAW selected GM as its strike target on Sept. 13, one day before the four-year contract expired. Ford and Chrysler arranged with the UAW to extend their master labor agreements as they try to agree on a new contract.
The White House issued a statement on the strike just before noon.
"We encourage both the company and the UAW to continue to work through their differences," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
GM stock, meanwhile, rose as much as 3 percent in early trading today but was in a steady decline after the strike call. As of 11:03 a.m. EDT, the shares were up 44 cents, or 1.25 percent, to $35.37 a share.