With thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact at stake, negotiations over a new labor contract for United Auto Workers members are reaching a crucial phase for the Kansas City-area economy.

The UAW is trying to negotiate a new labor contract with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., which have about 9,500 full-time-equivalent employees at their area production plants.

Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant (7,250 employees) in Claycomo produces the Ford F-150 and the Ford Transit. GM’s Fairfax Assembly Plant (2,229 employees) in Kansas City, Kansas, produces the Chevrolet Malibu and the Cadillac XT4.

The UAW labor contract is set to expire Sept. 14, and the parties still haven’t reached an agreement.

Concerned about the pace of the negotiations, the union asked members to authorize a strike if the contract expires. The UAW needs to have strike authorization in hand by Thursday. That doesn’t mean a strike will happen; it simply gives UAW leadership authority to call a strike.

Read more in the Kansas City Business Journal.