Orion Workers To Picket UAW Over "Innovative" Labor Deal

I took some flack from TTAC’s Best and Brightest on Monday when I suggested that the UAW’s deal to give 40 percent of Orion Assemblys returning workers a 50 percent pay cut was “cowardly and despicable.” What I didn’t make clear enough was that I have no problem with the UAW working for a lower wage as long as the burden was spread evenly. Instead, the union has arbitrarily divided its existing workforce into the old guard “haves” and the relatively-recently-hired “have nots” as a ploy to make the union seem capable of profitably building subcompact cars in America. It’s bad enough to prop up the old guard by paying new hires less, but cramming down recalled Tier One workers is totally contrary to the very concept of a union. And I’m not the only one who finds the lack of solidarity and shared responsibility within the union troubling.

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UAW Saves Aveo Profitability By Pushing Workers Into Tier Two
Another day, another story on the ever-growing conflict between the UAW’s ownership stake in GM and responsibility to its members. Pre-bankruptcy, GM d…
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Tough Times For Tier Two
In 2007, the United Auto Workers came to a defining decision: rather than sharing sacrifice equally in the spirit of solidarity, the union divided its member…
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The UAW Comes Knocking In Italy
UAW boss Bob King is taking the fight abroad, visiting Fiat’s Italian plants in order to take a look at the World Class Manufacturing system that appar…
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Currency, UAW Doom US Production Of Ford's Kuga

Bloomberg reports that Ford will not build its Kuga compact crossover at its Louisville, KY plant due to the falling Euro and UAW recalcitrance. According to the report

The promise of Kuga production in Louisville began to fall apart in November when UAW members rejected Ford’s request to match givebacks it gave General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. Ford’s U.S. rivals, which each reorganized in bankruptcy last year, were granted a six-year freeze on wages for new hires and a ban on some strikes until 2015… The euro has fallen 14 percent against the dollar since Ford reached a tentative deal with the UAW in October to build the Kuga in Louisville alongside its mechanical twin, the Escape. At the time, the dollar had declined against the euro, lowering the cost of U.S.-made goods. Since then, the euro has dropped amid concerns Europe’s debt crisis may trigger another recession.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson explains

This is a reminder to the UAW that Ford’s U.S. cars don’t have to be produced in the U.S. Ford’s global architecture allows them to build anywhere. That’s good news if the U.S. has competitive labor costs. It’s bad news if they don’t

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Happy Labor Day, From GM CEO Dan Akerson

Editor’s note: GM CEO Dan Akerson sent the following email to GM’s employees, his first such communication as GM’s CEO, in recognition of Labor Day Weekend Eve.

GM Employees,

As Labor Day approaches in the U.S. and Canada, I would like to wish everyone at General Motors a safe, happy holiday weekend. I also ask that we pause for moment to reflect on what this day means as we celebrate labor’s many contributions here and around the world.

Of course, labor’s role in building up this nation and others is well recognized and rightly so. And, coming from a union family, I know on a very personal level the good things that unions can do.

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With Nothing New To Build, The UAW Charges Mitsubishi More

Automotive News [sub] reports that Mitsubishi will have to give UAW workers at its Normal, Ill plant a $1.60/hr raise because it doesn’t yet know what vehicle or platform it plans to build there in the future. Mitsubishi’s 2008 contract with the UAW required the disclosure, but the Japanese automaker requested an extension which the union membership proceeded to vote down. Because the extension failed, Mitsubishi is required by the terms of its contract to raise hourly pay to $25.60/hr. The plant in question currently builds Mitsubishi Eclipse, Endeavor and Galant models, which have collectively sold 11,215 units through August of this year. And thanks to the combination of low demand for Normal-built products, and the union’s failure to extend the decision period, it seems as though Mitsubishi may just walk away from the plant.

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Bonus Gallery: "No Foreign Car Parking" Signs

The core hypocrisy of the UAW is that it claims to work on behalf of workers everywhere, while actually serving only the interests of its most senior members. And the cognitive dissonance produced by this grotesque contradiction can lead to some interesting challenges in the day-to-day life of the union, particularly in the design of parking lot signs designed to keep the competition out. The sign shown above and the sign shown in the post preceding this one show the UAW at its most honest: if it’s built by one of the Detroit Three, it’s OK. If it’s got a “foreign nameplate” it’s not. But this honesty also betrays the fact that the UAW simply wants everyone to support it’s employers, rather than lead a nationalistic or class-based crusade.

At most locals the signs are more simple and ideal-oriented, but they’re also completely misleading. For example, a Japanese-built Camry or Korean-built Elantra should be OK in a lot with a “Union Made Vehicle Parking Only” sign, and an American-built Camry or Sonata should be fine in a lot with a “No Foreign Cars Allowed” sign… but of course, neither scenario would be tolerated. While you’re pondering the deeply cynical self-delusion at play here, enjoy this hastily-assembled gallery of union parking lot signs.

Update: Picture 417 has been removed at the request of the photographer. The original photo can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlavander/4034221120/#/

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Quote Of The Day: Press Relations, UAW Style Edition
We are sorry you were inconvenienced and had to worry about where your car was parked while you covered the signing. The UAW member you encountered in the UA…
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UAW Sells Out Members, Holds On To Black Lake Resort

Since taking office in June, UAW President Bob King has ramped up the rhetoric level at Solidarity Hall considerably, as he seeks to portray the union as a defender of the American middle class. But, as the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words… and King’s actions this week couldn’t paint a clearer picture of the UAW’s priorities.

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French Workers Protest "Chevy-fication" Of Renault

Autocar reports that Renault workers in France are jumping on a bus and heading to the Paris Motor Show. Are the doing it because they fancy a day out? Maybe they want to see all the nice cars on display? Nope, they’re going there to protest. OK, so who do you think they are going to protest? Hyundai? Toyota? Ford? Nope. They’re protesting against Renault. So, a bunch of French Renault workers are going to the Paris Motor Show to protest against their own company? Why?

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Korean Auto Industry Shooting For Strike-Free Year

There’s a constant temptation for commentators on the American auto industry to idealize labor relations outside of the reach of the United Auto Workers. But, as the JoongAn Daily reports, even resurgent automaking nations like Korea still face a number of challenges from unruly workers. Hyundai, Ssangyong and GM-Daewoo have already closed deals with their unions guaranteeing a strike-free 2010, but Kia is still locked in negotiations over

several issues, including wages and role of full-time union representatives. The management wants to enforce restrictions on the number and work practices on union representatives before discussing the wage issue. The union wants to negotiate the two issues at the same time.

If Kia reaches a deal with its union, it will make 2010 the first year in the last 24 without a strike by Korean autoworkers.

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Quote Of The Day: Organize This Edition
I still don’t understand why they are picketing our dealerships when the dealerships have nothing to do with the workers. Our workers make the ultimate…
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Quote Of The Day: Jobs, Justice And Peace Edition

We have made a decision at the UAW that to do the best job taking care of our membership we’ve got to be out there in the streets fighting for social and economic justice

Newly-minted UAW President Bob King kicks off a “Jobs, Justice and Peace” campaign with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, by feeding the Freep some seriously idealistic rhetoric at a news conference announcing a march commemorating Martin Luther King’s Freedom Walk. But, as King confirms to Automotive News [sub], the best way to live up to these high-minded ideals is to demonize Toyota.

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General Motors, At The Dawn Of The UAW
With UAW members and leadership meeting to debate the union’s future, it’s the perfect time to look back at the conditions from which the UAW eme…
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  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.
  • Tassos The Euro spec Taurus is the US spec Ford FUSION.Very few buyers care to see it here. FOrd has stopped making the Fusion long agoWake us when you have some interesting news to report.