It’s official: Volvo has chosen South Carolina as the home of its first factory in the United States.
The factory will built north of Charleston in Berkeley County, with construction set to begin this fall. Production is expected to begin in 2018, and up to 100,000 units per year are projected to leave South Carolina once operations commence.
Though Daimler senior management has said repeatedly that the decision to organize the MBUSI plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. was up to the workers on the floor, Daimler works council boss Michael Brecht is heading there in a few weeks to explore the possibility with the United Auto Workers.
Though the United Auto Worker’s fight for organization of the transplants in the Southeastern United States rages on, the union will not be taking as much from its war chest to fund the fight than in previous years.
Automotive News reports new United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams let it be known before the 1,100 delegates at the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit that the union’s focus will be on contract negotiations with the Detroit Three in 2015, and the national elections of 2014 and 2016. Regarding the former, Williams proclaimed that the time for making concessions had come to an end, vowing to fight on for workers’ rights and social and economic justice. He also addressed the leadership history of the union, providing examples of the challenges each president has had to face during their term, even if the answers left the membership confused at first.
Automotive News reports Volkswagen Global Works Council General Secretary Frank Patta addressed the 1,100 attendees in Cobo Hall during the first day of the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit. Through a translator, Patta urged the union to wage a new fight for the VW factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. — where both unions lost the right to organize workers in a close election back in February — proclaiming the election “was stolen” by outside anti-union politicians and political groups. Finally, he vowed that his works council will continue to back the UAW in all of the latter’s efforts to organize non-union shop floors throughout the Southeastern United States and elsewhere, believing the efforts will see both parties ultimately prevail in their respective goals.
Following the 712 – 629 decision against representation by the United Auto Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the union may be forced to throw in the towel on foreign-owned auto factories as the automaker’s works council vow to press forward with plans to establish their brand of representation in the plant.
On Tuesday, the New York Times published a look at the ongoing feud between pro- and anti-union forces at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It paints a picture of a political battle fought mainly by outside forces, utilizing the deep pockets of some of the nation’s most powerful lobbying groups.
Fords are loaded for export at the Port of Baltimore. Photo: Bill McAllen / Port of Baltimore
When most people think about countries that export cars one name that’s usually not on their list is the United States, but the U.S. is exporting more cars than ever. According to the Detroit News, the record total this year is likely to reach 2 million units and perhaps even more surprising than that number if the fact that half of the exports are cars made by GM, Ford and Chrysler. The remainder come from assembly plants located in the U.S. owned by German, Japanese and Korean automakers. Cars are the most valuable manufacturing export from the U.S., followed by aerospace. Spurring the growth in exports is the fact that the United States is currently one of the less expensive places to build a car, due to favorable currency exchange rates and reduced labor costs.
Norwood Jewell, a nominee to become a UAW vice-president, said that the autoworkers want to eliminate the two-tier wage system that pays new hires at a lower rate than higher seniority workers. The wage system was agreed to by the union to help the domestic automakers as they went through financial troubles when the economy turned down in 2007. New workers are paid slightly more than half of what veteran autoworkers earn.
“The international executive board hates two-tiers,” Jewell told Automotive News at a General Motors Co plant in Flint, Mich. as the automaker was announcing $1.3 billion in investments in some of its plants in the U.S. midwest, mostly in Michigan. Jewell is currently director of UAW’s Flint region. “We didn’t do two tiers because it’s a wonderful thing,” he said, explaining that the financial circumstances six years ago more or less forced the two tier wages on the union. “We hate them. We intend to eliminate them over time.”
Ever since Isaac Singer figured that he could make more money making sewing machines for the European market in a factory near Glasgow rather than export them from his Elizabeth, New Jersey plant, manufacturing companies have built products where they’ve sold them.
A good month after our trek to the South where we checked on the (un-) willingness of transplant workers to join the UAW, the hard-hitting team at the Reuters Detroit bureau did the same. In a special report, Reuters comes to the same conclusion as we did: It won’t be easy. Bernie Woodall and Ben Klayman of Reuters did more thorough digging. And they unearthed the secret strategy of the UAW: With the help of the German metalworkers union, they want to talk themselves into Volkswagen and Daimler:
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