Unifor will take on the Detroit automakers this week, with the Canadian union undoubtedly planning to do everything within its power to keep as many jobs as it can manage. Unfortunately, that might be easier said than done, what with vehicle demand suppressed by months of lockdowns and an associated economic recession. Despite the positivity surrounding Wall Street, regular folks aren’t in the mood to buy lately.
No matter. Union negotiations are always famously contentious anyway. Corporations want rock-bottom prices for top-shelf work and labor associations always have to ask for more to rationalize their existence. Unifor President Jerry Dias noted that he’s ready for whatever the Big Three throw at him, though we doubt it will include totally sweet offers for line workers. The best the union can probably hope for in 2020 is not losing more Canadian jobs than absolutely necessary.
Sergio Marchionne seems to be taking a different tactic in this year’s UAW negotiations. Instead of threatening to take product out of North America and send it to China, the head of FCA is playing to the hearts and minds of the union membership, even going so far as to admit all automakers have screwed workers in the past.
“To be perfectly honest, we’ve all fucked with the UAW, right? We were threatened by them, so we took all the pickup trucks that we sell — and 90 percent of those pickup trucks are sold in this country, right — we took it away, and then we delocalized them” Marchionne told Automotive News’ Larry P. Vellequette.
As talks with the United Auto Workers continue, domestic automakers may be using global production strategies to leverage lower wages from the massive union, Automotive News is reporting.
News that Buick may import most of its lineup from outside North America, or Ford shifting production from Michigan to Mexico, could be weighing on conversations to keep production in the U.S. and Canada at union plants.
“It’s a veiled threat to the workers,” Gary Chaison, a professor of labor relations at Clark University told Automotive News.
The automakers may be saying: “If you ask for too much, we can take the work out of the U.S. So, give us a reason not to shift more production overseas,” he added.
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