According to the Brazilian enthusiast site webmotors, the UAW has come on down for the São Paulo Auto Show for the first time ever. Could it be that they were interested in checking out the product specialists?
Officially, no. The UAW is hard at work researching how and what factors drive Brazilian consumers to buy the cars they do. More specifically, the UAW wants to know if Brazilians consider or would be willing to consider work relations and conditions as factors in their decision.
Ginny Coughlin, the UAW representative in Brazil declared to webmotors.com: “The future of the car industry is in Brazil. As purchasing power has risen over the last ten years, everyone wants in on the opportunities.”
The Federação Nacional dos Metalúrgicos (or, National Federation of Steelworkers), the Brazilian union, is helping out the UAW on this endeavor. João Cayres, the Federation’s International Relations secretary, stresses that they want to build awareness in Brazilians of the conditions under which their cars are built.
Case in point: Salaries. São Paulo area workers are the Germans of the Brazilian car industry. On average they earn twice as much as workers in other areas. Cayres likes the still Swedish Volvo trucks as the company that pays the best. According to him, those who sweat under the Italians at Iveco (Fiat’s truck arm) get the lowest salaries of all.
UAW’s Coughlin likes what she sees in Brazil and doesn’t like what she sees a home. Coughlin bemoans that “America is going off in the opposite direction of Brazil. Income distribution is worsening as are work conditions.” She attributes that to the fact that unlike Brazil, U.S. labor laws are local and automakers actively take steps to block unionization. She also complains that temp workers are hired in a de facto permanent condition (without their corresponding rights), maternity leave is only ten days, workers don’t have rights to a vacation and bonuses. In Brazil, all workers have 30-day paid vacation, Christmas bonus, severance compensation and up to 5 months of maternity leave.
So, what do you say? Do you consider worker benefits, salaries and conditions when buying a car? Does Coughlin have a point and should the U.S. become more like Brazil?