With a handshake, contract negotiations begin for the state and its largest employees union, UAW Local 6000.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and Director of the Office of the State Employer Scott Bowen ceremoniously shook hands across the table. Others gathered on both sides then stood and shook hands too to signal the start of bargaining.
Members tell News Ten health benefits and working conditions are two big issues.
"At this point and time we're coming in here pretty optimistic we can negotiate a fair agreement for state employees," says UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.
Some 17,000 state workers are represented by UAW Local 6000.
Gettelfinger says, over the years, they've sacrificed a lot. "The state employees have literally given up hundreds of millions of dollars to help the state along the way," Gettelfinger said just before negotiations got underway.
Governor Granholm's spokesperson Liz Boyd says because of the current budget crisis,"...we will likely be asking for additional savings from them in this round of contract negotiations."
UAW Local 6000 is one of five state employees unions with a contract expiring at the end of the year.