The Truth About Cars » alliston http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 05 Dec 2014 17:06:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » alliston http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Editorial: A Tale Of Two Cities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-tale-two-cities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/editorial-tale-two-cities/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 18:03:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943617 Two weeks ago, residents of the Windsor, Ontario region learned that Ford would not be bringing a new engine program to the two Ford assembly plants in the area. Although the small engine program was a long-shot from the start (it had apparently been destined for Mexico, but union officials tried to “steal it away”), […]

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Two weeks ago, residents of the Windsor, Ontario region learned that Ford would not be bringing a new engine program to the two Ford assembly plants in the area. Although the small engine program was a long-shot from the start (it had apparently been destined for Mexico, but union officials tried to “steal it away”), news reports and enthusiastic publicity campaigns from union head Jerry Dias had given the impression that the new engine deal was all but sewn up. For residents of the auto-dependent city, with an unemployment rate of 8.9 percent (compared to 6.5 percent nationally), the decision was a blow to their collective morale.

A few hundred miles away, the stage was being set for an announcement by Honda Canada. A small car program would be coming to their plant in Alliston, north of Toronto, worth $857 million (CAD). The government would contribute about 10 percent of that. In return for the government grant,

“…Honda Canada will not only be the first plant in the world to launch the next generation Civic into mass production, but will be responsible for developing the manufacturing processes and tooling trials that will form the manufacturing base at all Honda plants globally that will build the next Civic model.”

 

 

While no new jobs will be created from this investment, it does safeguard the future of Alliston for a considerable amount of time. The Honda announcement also embodies two trends at play in Canada. The first is that big subsidies for auto manufacturing plants are on the decline for now. Ford’s small engine plant was apparently hobbled by a “big ask” from the Blue Oval. Honda’s grant, at around $85 million, is relatively small. Chrysler got nothing during their most recent attempt to get governments to chip in for a revamped Windsor minivan plant. In the end, they went ahead with Windsor anyways. Many in the pro-union camp argue that generous subsidies are the only way to attract auto investment and compete with the Southern United States and Mexico, who are keen to throw money at any auto assembly plant coming their way.

But the past year has seen Canada go from “the most expensive place to build a car” to a jurisdiction with a currency that now sits at roughly 10-15 percent lower than the U.S. dollar. This reduces labor costs while making exports more competitive for Canada, while reducing the outright need for generous government “investment” (though don’t think that will stop auto makers from trying). What was once considered a dying sector propped up by government cash now appears to have a future. Sort of.

GM is still almost certain to pull out of Oshawa in 2016, once their obligation to the Canadian government runs out. Ontario has also failed to attract a brand-new assembly plant since Toyota opened their Woodstock plant roughly a decade ago. But Ford has invested nearly $1 billion in the Oakville plant that produces the Edge, and Toyota is going to start producing the Lexus RX in Cambridge. Chrysler will not only build the next-generation minivan in Windsor, but its Brampton plant will likely crank out the 300, Charger and Challenger until the end of the decade.

For a stretch of time, Ontario looked to be the next Australia, with its auto manufacturing sector driven out by exorbitant costs (some of them related to a commodity-driven economy). But for now, things appear to be on the up.

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The CAW’s Long, Futile Road To Organizing Honda Plants http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/the-caws-long-futile-road-to-organizing-honda-plants/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/the-caws-long-futile-road-to-organizing-honda-plants/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 15:56:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450997 If you believe Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, the CAW is well on its way to organizing Honda’s Alliston, Ontario assembly plant. Lewenza told Ward’s Auto that “We’re getting some enthusiastic and strong support, but we’re not there yet.” The biggest problem for Lewenza is that the CAW has been in that position […]

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If you believe Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, the CAW is well on its way to organizing Honda’s Alliston, Ontario assembly plant. Lewenza told Ward’s Auto that “We’re getting some enthusiastic and strong support, but we’re not there yet.” The biggest problem for Lewenza is that the CAW has been in that position for almost two decades with respect to Alliston and hasn’t made any progress.

You may not know that, if the only thing you’ve seen so far are totally inaccurate, poorly aggregated articles like “CAW Begins to Organize Workers at Honda’s Ontario Factory“. This is simply not true. The CAW isn’t begging to organize workers at Alliston. Nor are Honda’s Canadian plant employees a bunch of pinkos who want to revolt against their foreign overlords while reaping the benefits of a union card. The truth is far more mundane and less exciting, as it usually is.

Honda hasn’t gone on the record with any publication regarding the CAW’s attempts – but we have sources that are familiar with the company, and are willing to talk to us. According to our source, the CAW has been trying this since at least the early1990s, but has never had much success.

There are assembly line workers at Alliston who want to unionize, but the majority apparently have no desire; wages are competitive and union dues don’t have to be paid. The union hasn’t been warmly received in the past either.  Alliston, which builds the Honda Civic, CR-V, Acura MDX and ZDX, is one of Honda’s crown jewels in North America, and to Honda brass, the idea of unionization is anathema to the Big H’s corporate culture.

“It runs counter to the Japanese concept of loyalty,” our source said. “The whole idea is that if you’re loyal to the company, they’ll look out for you and your best interests. The workers shouldn’t need a union for that.” Honda also doesn’t want an outside force interfering in the way their plants are run. As our source put it “…[Organizing] interferes with the management structure of the plant itself – which is unacceptable to them.” As for what would happen if Alliston, or another Honda plant unionized? “Well,” said my source “remember what happened to Wal-Mart in Quebec?”

The idea that the union is making “progress” like so many blog headlines suggest, may be relative to say, being nearly dead in the water over the past two decades. The CAW is, to put it lightly, f***ed if they don’t sign up new members, and in a world where even the Oshawa plant is at risk, their future is precarious at best.

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