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UAW contract deadline an elephant in the room at industry's marquee auto show in the Motor City

In the midst of a banner financial year and standing next to a showcase of their newest products, representatives remained tight-lipped on the fate of Big 3 workers.

DETROIT — The North American International Auto Show is a celebration of the automakers and their newest line of vehicles.

But on the show floor in Detroit, there's also a sense that the Big Three - Ford, GM and Stellantis - are trying as much as possible to ignore the very real possibility of a strike.

Stop by any of the booths this year and the representatives are all smiles, ready to answer just about any question you might throw their way.

You can ask them how they're liking the show so far.

"Oh it's fantastic, it's a lot better than last year, we have more vehicles here and we're really excited about the F-150," Klaus Mello, VP engineering manager for F-150, said.

Or how their company is doing this year.

"It's been a great year for GMC, a really strong year for our subbrands," Rebecca Sparling, the GMC Crossover marketing manager, said.

But there's one question that truly seems taboo and it's a question on the minds of 150,000 people who made the cars they're showing off.

"So obviously there's a little bit of a shadow over the event today with the potential UAW strike, has that been on anyone's minds?" WTOL 11 reporter Michael Sandlin asked.

"No, that's not something I can answer," Sparling replied.

That was the most common response WTOL 11 received Wednesday.

No one felt comfortable facing the reality that come Friday, the vehicles they're promoting could soon no longer be in production if workers strike.

RELATED: UAW president says deal still far apart, lays out strategy for 'targeted' nationwide strikes against Big Three

In fact, a Stellantis representative told WTOL 11 that we could forget asking about UAW questions altogether because they weren't going to field them.

Only the Ford representative gave an answer with a little bit of thought to the people on both sides of the line in the sand.

"Well the UAW are great partners in our journey, the labor representatives are taking care of it, and we hope for the best for all stakeholders in this," Mello said.

Everyone on and off the show floor will find out if the UAW strike will actually happen by Thursday at 11:59 p.m. as contract negotiations continue to play out.

Regardless of the outcome, in Detroit, the show must go on.


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