The people say that there are still many issues to settle before the current contracts expire at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Workers for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are expected to keep working indefinitely under the old contracts.
One of the people says a deal with GM is still possible by the deadline. GM is ahead of the others in bargaining. The people did not want to be identified because the talks are private.
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters in Germany Tuesday that bargainers are not close to an agreement.
In Canada, the Detroit Three carmakers will negotiate with the Canadian Auto Workers union on new contracts in 2012.
With files from The Canadian Press