Negotiations began Monday in Detroit on a new contract between General Motors and the United Auto Workers, less than a week after the Ford Motor Co. and the UAW agreed to a new three-year contract that includes sweeping job guarantees.
Many analysts are predicting that GM will not be able to match Ford's agreement, and that a strike will result.
GM's 4,000 workers at its Van Nuys assembly plant are anxiously awaiting the outcome. "There are a lot of people expecting to go out on strike," said Larry Barker, a 10-year Van Nuys veteran.
Plant manager Ernest Schaefer confirmed that workers are concerned.
"I get a lot of questions when I walk around the floor as to what's going to happen," he said. "They know we're at a crossroads."
The Van Nuys plant makes Pontiac Firebirds and Chevrolet Camaros.
Peter Z. Beltran, the shop chairman representing Local 645 in Van Nuys, said he expects to be called to Detroit in a week or two to meet with UAW executives. He said he anticipates a strike.