Ford Transit Production Stalled for One Week, F-150 Assembly Remains at Full Throttle [UPDATED]

Ford Motor Company will be idling Transit production at its Kansas City Assembly Plant for seven days next week to account for waning sales (Update: Ford says its because of a recall. See the end of this post for details). Diminished deliveries aside, Ford’s Transit remains the preferred choice among van connoisseurs and was America’s best-selling large van in 2016. But not every year can be better than the last.

U.S. Transit sales dropped roughly 15 percent in August and stands at 80,292 units through the first eight months of the year —representing nearly a 22-percent loss against last year’s volume. Meanwhile, Canadian deliveries have been exceptional. But that’s not enough to compensate for the U.S. slump.

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Chevrolet Equinox Production Shut Down as Workers Go on Strike

Unionized employees at General Motors’ CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll, Ontario, are on strike. Unifor Local 88 and General Motors were unable to reach an agreement by Sunday’s deadline. At 11:00 p.m. ET, workers at the plant traded the assembly line for the picket one, ending production of the recently redesigned Chevrolet Equinox.

Despite both sides having spent the weekend saying they were making headway in talks, it wasn’t enough to avoid the shutdown. In a post-strike statement, General Motors reiterated this fact.

“While General Motors of Canada and our Unifor partners have made very positive progress on several issues over the past weeks, the company is disappointed that we were not able to complete a new agreement. We encourage Unifor to resume negotiations and to continue working together to secure a competitive agreement,” said GM.

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Strike at GM'S CAMI Plant in Ontario Looks Imminent

The workforce at General Motors’ Canadian sport-utility plant are threatening to strike unless a new labor deal is reached by Sunday night. Traditionally union deals close at the last minute but GM is cutting it exceptionally close this weekend.

Between now and 10:59 p.m. ET, the automaker needs to pen an agreement with Unifor Local 88, which represents about 2,450 employees at GM’s CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. The union has already conducted a final meeting for Sunday on how to direct union members on picketing strategies or how to apply for strike pay and benefits. Unifor also updated its website on Saturday to indicate a “fair and responsible agreement” did “not appear reachable” by Sunday’s deadline.

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Fiat Chrysler Minivan Production Stalled Through October

Fiat Chrysler will idle production of both the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan for over a month in autumn. But with the latter model seeing impressive sales in the United States last month, can FCA afford to hit “pause” on assembly?

Not really, but that doesn’t matter — the Grand Caravan has to meet updated U.S. safety standards if Dodge wants to keep selling them. Unfortunately, FCA only has a 19-day supply of the minivan in reserve after an exceptional August depleted inventories. On the flip side, Chrysler’s objectively good but slower-selling Pacifica has a 108-day vehicle surplus. Wait, that’s also bad news.

At least the line workers at FCA’s Windsor Assembly Plant have have some time off to look forward to.

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Ford CEO Shares Vision With UAW Before Wall Street Gets a Look at the Goods

Prior to outlining Ford Motor Company’s new strategy to financial analysts and corporate investors, CEO Jim Hackett wants to check-in with leadership from the United Automobile Workers. Hackett has been undertaking a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points — established during Mark Fields’ executive tenure — with a mind to reevaluate the status quo.

However, before he announces his new vision for the company to Wall Street, Hackett is giving the UAW a peek. Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department, called the move an important signal that the current boss is interested in putting workers first and starting things off on the right foot.

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Labor Relations Board Files Worker Rights Complaint Against Tesla; Musk Fires Back

The National Labor Relations Board has filed an official complaint against Tesla Motors, saying the company violated workers’ rights by suppressing their efforts to unionize.

While automakers hoping to keep employees from joining a union is nothing new, the NLRB’s issue focuses around an obligatory confidentiality agreement that may have prohibited them from openly discussing their working conditions and safety concerns at the company’s facility in Fremont, California. The agency also investigated allegations from the workers that Tesla intimidated and harassed them, which would be a violation of workers’ rights under federal labor law.

Meanwhile, Tesla has decided not to take any of this sitting down. The electric automaker has issued a scathing response to the complaint by giving the United Auto Workers a piece of its mind.

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The South Korean Curse: Kia Loses Landmark Wage Dispute With Employees

Seoul Central District Court ruled against Kia Motors on Thursday, ordering the automaker to pay around 420 billion won, or $374 million, in unpaid wages. Kia employees first filed an initial lawsuit in 2011, claiming a 659 billion won wage disparity, following it up with an additional suit in 2014.

However, the automaker claims the final cost will be closer to 1 trillion won, or about $890 million, and could result in a third-quarter operating loss. Interestingly, this is roughly the same amount workers demanded over their six-year legal dispute (after interest).

“The current operational situation is such that the ruling amount is [difficult] to bear,” Kia said in a statement.

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General Motors Employees Authorize Strike in Ontario, Start Countdown

Unifor Local 88 just loaded its strike gun. Workers at General Motors’ Ingersoll, Ontario, assembly plant voted on Sunday to enact a strike if no labor agreement can be reached by next month. The union, which represents the CAMI factory employees, said 99.8 percent of workers at the plant voted for the strike authorization.

Negotiations started in July as GM announced it would lay off about 400 Ingersoll-based workers — resulting from the automaker’s previous decision to shift production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico. Unifor estimates roughly 200 workers took early retirement packages earlier this year.

About 2,450 hourly workers will be employed at the plant following the layoffs, as well as about 300 salaried workers. Now, the strike vote threatens the sole remaining model produced in Ingersoll — a strategically important one for GM.

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'Fat, Dumb and Happy': Fourth Executive Charged as Feds Dish on UAW-FCA Conspiracy

Federal prosecutors charged a fourth player in the widening United Auto Workers-Fiat Chrysler Automobiles corruption scandal on Friday, providing a clearer picture of how the years-long conspiracy went down.

Virdell King, a former senior UAW official and the first black woman to head a UAW-FCA local, now faces the same charges as three others indicted in the $4.5 million money-funnelling scheme. King, who retired in 2016, served on the board of the scandal-plagued UAW-Chrysler National Training Center — a facility prosecutors claim acted as a money pit for the enrichment of FCA and UAW execs.

In a document filed in U.S. District court in Detroit yesterday, prosecutors allege former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli opened the cash taps to UAW brass in an attempt to bribe them into taking “company-friendly positions.” The training center’s funds, earmarked for autoworkers, served as the bank. NTC credit cards apparently made making the lavish purchases a breeze.

“If you see something you want, feel free to buy it,” Iacobelli said, according to the court filing.

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High-end Shotgun, Designer Purses Among the Latest Items ID'd in UAW-FCA Spending Scandal

On the surface, the UAW-Chrysler National Training center is a facility offering a helping hand to blue-collar workers looking to improve their employability. But the widening spending scandal involving former top brass at both the union and automaker has exposed a previously unknown use for the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-funded NTC: a trough of cash at which to gorge oneself.

Two weeks after former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles financial analyst Jerome Durden, indicted for funnelling $4.5 million in training center funds to other execs, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States, the scandal has spread to existing execs.

The Detroit News reports current United Auto Workers Vice President Norwood Jewell (seen above, on left) became the recipient of some of those funds in the form of a high-powered gift: a $2,180 shotgun.

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Foreign Automakers, the South, Remain Off-limits to UAW as Nissan Workers Reject Unionization

The United Auto Workers spared no effort in its attempts to organize foreign automakers operating in the United States, but the workforce — and the South, for the most part — remains off limits to the union.

Yesterday, workers at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi assembly plant voted overwhelmingly to reject the UAW’s overtures, spelling an end to a heated, nearly decade-long unionization bid that saw the union file complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. Both sides have accused the other of dirty and unfair tactics aimed at swaying worker sentiment towards or against organized labor. Both sides, of course, deny any wrongdoing.

The UAW, which failed in two previous attempts to unionize Nissan’s Tennessee plant, described Nissan’s Mississippi efforts as one of the “nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labour movement.” Ultimately, it all came down to the vote.

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Nissan Accused of 'Nastiest Anti-union Campaign' in Modern U.S. History

The United Auto Workers has accused Nissan of illegally intimidating workers at its Canton Manufacturing and Assembly Plant in Mississippi, calling its activities one of the “nastiest anti-union campaigns in the modern history of the American labour movement.” The alleged misdeeds include running anti-unionization videos on loop in factory break rooms and convincing plant managers to pull workers aside to discourage them from voting in favor of the UAW this Thursday and Friday.

However, if Nissan is guilty of rabid anti-union measures, the UAW is likely guilty of countering the company with its own door-to-door campaign. Southern states haven’t been as receptive to unionizing as the UAW would like, and the organization has doubled its efforts to get the Canton workers on board, hoping to negotiate higher wages and improved benefits.

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Growing Trend: GM Canada Extends Summer Shutdown at Two Factories

General Motors Canada will idle a pair of Ontario factories longer than usual this summer as it struggles with lagging demand. If that sounds familiar, it’s because GM has taken the exact same approach with two factories in the United States.

On Monday, the automaker confirmed it will also be eliminating the overnight shift for Chevrolet Malibu production at its assembly plant in Kansas City. That follows a trio of shift eliminations at three plants in Michigan and one in Ohio since the beginning of the year. It appears that Canadian jobs could now be in danger.

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Elon Musk Plans to Perform the Same Tasks as Tesla's Injured Workforce

Elon Musk has taken some rather extreme measures to ensure Tesla Motors’ employees don’t unionize. The CEO has a rigid production schedule he hopes to adhere to and doesn’t want organized labor throwing unforeseen variables into the mix. However, the UAW has made headway in the last twelve months after half-heartedly courting Tesla’s workforce for years.

Musk’s initial opposition came by way of written rebuttals to very specific criticisms regarding workplace safety and pay. He later accused a particularly aggressive critic of being a paid union stooge. Musk then hinted at the prospect of free frozen yogurt and roller coasters once the company approaches profitability.

Now, he’s apparently decided to reenact the circumstances of specific work-related injuries to prove the company is taking the appropriate safety precautions (or to sniff out areas needing improvement). It’s bizarrely parental but also kind of endearing, if you forget about the union angle.

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Hyundai's Newest Crossover Has Hit a Snag

Hyundai, which found itself lagging behind its rivals in the lucrative crossover and SUV market and figured it should do something about it, is having trouble getting its desperately needed subcompact crossover into production.

The 2018 Kona, which we’ve so far seen only a portion of, is part of a better-late-than-never product push by the Korean automaker. A new small crossover was needed to to mine a growing segment and boost Hyundai’s flagging U.S. sales, but the reality of building cars in Korea has thrown up a roadblock.

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  • Namesakeone If you want a Thunderbird like your neighbor's 1990s model, this is not the car. This is a Fox-body car, which was produced as a Thunderbird from MY 1980 through 1988 (with styling revisions). The 1989-1997 car, like your neighbor's, was based on the much heavier (but with independent rear suspension) MN-15 chassis.
  • Inside Looking Out I watched only his Youtube channel. Had no idea that there is TV show too. But it is 8 years or more that I cut the cable and do not watch TV except of local Fox News. There is too much politics and brainwashing including ads on TV. But I am subscribed to CNBC Youtube channel.
  • Jeff S Just to think we are now down to basically 3 minivans the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna. I wonder how much longer those will last. Today's minivan has grown in size over the original minivans and isn't so mini anymore considering it is bigger than a lot of short wheel based full size vans from the 70s and 80s. Back in the 70s and 80s everything smaller was mini--mini skirt, mini fridge, mini car, and mini truck. Mini cars were actually subcompact cars and mini trucks were compact trucks. Funny how some words are so prevalent in a specific era and how they go away and are unheard of in the following decades.
  • Jeff S Isn't this the same van Mercury used for the Villager? I believe it was the 1s and 2nd generations of this Quest.
  • VoGhost I don't understand the author's point. Two of the top five selling vehicles globally are Teslas. We have great data on the Model 3 for the past 5 years. What specifically is mysterious about used car values?