DETROIT (WWJ) – Smiles, ceremonial handshakes and matching blue shirts expressed a feeling of teamwork and optimism. But as the 2015 UAW-GM contract talks get underway, there are a lot of of difficult issues to be worked out.

The Union has made “closing the gap” between first and second tier workers a priority. But the UAW has stressed again an again they will do nothing to harm the newfound competitiveness of General Motors and the two other carmakers that will be the subject of this year’s negotiations.

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“As the bargaining teams shake hands, we know the awesome responsibility that we have,” said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who will lead the union’s team that negotiates with General Motors.

Estrada said the negotiators who stood on the stage have a goal of coming up with deals that will result in a win for both sides.

Other important issues include health care, pay raises and job security.

For GM CEO Mary Barra, the best job security is a profitable company.

“We have far more in common than we have differences,” she said. “The differences are things we have to understand and work through.”

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In addition to the major issues, the negotiators will work through scores of smaller issues, coming up with a contract that governs pay, work rules, job classifications and much more.

One company will be chosen as a “lead” as the mid-September deadline approaches. Unlike 2011, when the terms of the GM and Chrysler bailouts forbid the union to strike, everything is on the table this time.

UAW President Dennis Williams made it clear that while he’s willing to be confrontational, he prefers cooperation.

“A strike is a failure to the bargaining teams.”

Talks begin at Fiat-Chrysler on Tuesday, and Ford next week. Williams was asked if deals can be reached that make everybody happy.

“I’m going to give you a simple yes. I think we can. Y’know our productivity today is pretty damn impressive.”

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