DETROIT (CBS DETROIT/ AP) — A letter dated Sunday by the union’s top negotiator said a strike by over 49,000 United Auto workers against General Motors could have been averted had the company made its latest offer sooner.

UAW Vice President Terry Dittes told GM’s labor relations chief in the letter that the latest offer could have made it possible to reach an agreement.

The strike shut down more than 50 GM factories and parts warehouses just after midnight on Monday.

The letter could suggest that the company and union aren’t as far apart as the rhetoric leading up to the strike had indicated. Negotiations resumed in Detroit on Monday after breaking off during the weekend.

But union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said they have come to terms on only 2% of the new four-year contract. “We’ve got 98% to go,” he said Monday.

In the letter to Scott Sandefur, GM’s vice president of labor relations, Dittes wrote that the company waited until just two hours before the contract expired on Saturday night to make its first serious offer. “Had we received this proposal earlier in the process, it may have been possible to reach a tentative agreement and avoid a strike,” Dittes wrote.

A week ago he had told union members that GM was moving slowly in bargaining.

GM wouldn’t comment on the letter.

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