Don Jackson, manager of Volkswagen’s spanking-new plant in Chattanooga, dispelled rumors that unionization of the VW works is imminent. “No one from the UAW has visited the plant, or asked to visit,” Jackson told Bernie Woodall of Reuters. Jackson said that neither he nor anyone else at the new VW plant has been in contact with UAW representatives, and dismissed talks about the UAW representing workers at the plant as “speculation.”
What TTAC readers have known for a while already, Germany’s Financial Times has realized: The UAW is trying to get its foot into the door of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. Apparently, the UAW is banking on the fact that the plant is new, that Volkswagen is used to working with the unions, and most of all, that wages in Chattanooga are lower than at Daimler, BMW, Toyota and Honda. Financial Times Deutschland reports that a worker makes $14.50 an hour in Chattanooga, $19.50 after three years. Now the German Metal Workers Union IG Metall wants to help the UAW – by establishing a works council in Chattanooga.
Earlier this year, UAW President Bob King said that if the union didn’t organize foreign auto plants, “I don’t think there’s a long-term future for the UAW, I really don’t.” Now why would he say such silly things if chances for success on that front are slim to none? Currently an intricate plot unravels. The goal: To lower expectations in the rank & file for big breakthroughs at the Detroit bargaining sessions. After all, the UAW still holds a lot of stock in certain Detroit companies, and they don’t want to shoot themselves in both feet in that regard. But what does that have to do with unionizing the foreigners?
The Freep is peeling a complicated onion of arguments that brings us to tears.
Uh-oh: The UAW has reached out to unions representing workers of Chrysler and Fiat in other countries. They want to form a “global network.” The group will not collectively bargain with the companies, King told reporters from Reuters. The group will be just an innocuous clearing-house for information.
In an (especially for Japanese tastes) strongly worded joint statement, Toshiyuki Shiga. Chairman of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, and Koichiro Nishihara, President of the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions threw down the gauntlet to the Japanese government. Executive summary: “We are sick as hell of the high yen and we can’t take it anymore. Do something, or kiss those jobs sayonara.”
Assembly lines at South Korea’s Hyundai Kia ground to a halt this weekend after the companies ran out of a needed engine parts. Production of Hyundai’s Tucson ix, Santa Fe and Veracruz and Kia’s Carnival has stopped. On Wednesday, production of most of Hyundai’s and Kia’s cars will be affected unless the parts shortage is solved. The Korean units of GM and Renault will suffer, as well as Ssangyong. Do they all get their engines parts from Japan?
No war of words, no strikes, no hard feelings: After only two rounds of negotiations, Volkswagen and the metalworkers union IG Metall had a deal late last night. There will be a 3.2 percent increase in base pay effective May 1, 2011, and each employee will also receive a one-time payment corresponding to one percent of his or her annual pay but no less than €500.
Usually, unions take to the streets when their company is supposed to be sold. In Italy, unions demand the sale of their company.
In Milan, union representatives marched to the German consulate and handed the consul a letter in which they demand that Fiat lets Alfa go and that Volkswagen takes over.” With the letter delivered, the demonstrators grabbed megaphones and shouted: “Alfa has no chance with Fiat. We want Volkswagen!” Scusami?
German media calls it the “second economic miracle.” The German industry is hitting on all cylinders, a lot driven by exports. Europe’s biggest economy is officially forecast to expand by 3.4 percent this year, equal to the rate of 2006 and the highest since German reunification in 1990. When the recession/credit crunch hit a couple of years ago, the mantra from management to the unions was quite clear. “We need concessions to keep the company competitive and prevent going under.” Unions gave the concessions and life went on. But now, the climate is different. Volkswagen announced massive profits and Ford are also rolling in it. Well, if things are that good… ?
Fiat could do more if it could cut off Italy
Having been handed a bankruptcy-rinsed Chrysler by the American government, Fiat’s Canadian-born CEO Sergio Marchionne is beginning to see Italy as nothing more than aging, uncompetitive factories and troublesome unions. And now he’s not just telling the Italian media that not only would Fiat be better off without the country that birthed it. According to Reuters
The CEO added that not a single euro of the 2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) of trading profit that Fiat is targeting for 2010 will come from Italy, where all Fiat car passenger plants are loss-making.
The funny part: Chrysler still holds a value of precisely zero dollars on Fiat’s balance book. And with the Fiat and Alfa-Romeo brands headed to the US, Italian-ness is still an important element of Fiat’s identity. But until Marchionne’s Chrysler revival and Italian invasion take hold stateside, and as long as mother Italia is a drain on its resources, Fiat might be best described as a Brazilian company.
Italian speakers can enjoy Marhionne’s interview here.
USA Today reports that Tennessee’s 2 Republican Senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander and GOP congresswoman Marsha Blackburn received a rather frosty reception when they went to Spring Hill on Friday to toast GM bringing jobs back to the Ex-Saturn plant. They got booed and heckled. Why the frosty reception? Well, if you remember, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (along with the unnamed Congresswoman) were very vocal opponents against the bailout of GM and Chrysler. So, for 3 politicians to come back to their state and welcome back the very jobs which they would have been quite happy to see lost in the name of free market economics, probably stuck in the craw of the electorate. Namely, the UAW.
When GM went into bankruptcy, people had their money on Saturn going to die. The odds changed a bit when Roger Penske was in talks to buy Saturn. But, in a cruel twist of fate, Saturn was condemned to death by a bunch of executives in France. They vetoed Carlos Ghosn’s idea of supplying Penske with Renault cars for the Saturn brand. The death of Saturn meant that its manufacturing plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, would join Saturn in the grave. And so it did, along with 800 people who lost their jobs. Suddenly, there is the proverbial glimmer of hope for those 800 workers and the economy of Spring Hill.
Earlier this week, newly-elected UAW President Bob King gave a speech before the Center For Automotive Research Conference, touting the deep changes that have transformed the union. The first half of King’s speech sounded a much-needed note of contrition, and highlighted the new spirit of cooperation between the UAW and Detroit’s management class. But a number of observers noted that the second half of King’s speech represents the flip side of the UAW’s new sense of responsibility for the fate of Detroit: a commitment to targeting the transplant factories that have made life hell for the union and the Detroit automakers alike. After all, nothing brings enemies together like a common adversary. But the UAW’s enemy isn’t just South of the Mason-Dixon line… it’s lurking within its own confused body politic.
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- HotRod It took longer than it should have, but I respect VW for openly acknowledging the system's numerous flaws. Hearing that they intend to bring back physical controls for commonly used features, and that they wish to standardize them across their lineup was the biggest surprise in VW's announcement. It's just so sensible. Rather than using completely different configurations of physical buttons, capacitive controls and touchscreens for every single model, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis would be wise to consider a similar strategy.
- Zerofoo Ugh - a MKIV VW. Heavy, slow and terrible interior durability to boot. The 1.8t in these things had awful lag, and was made worse by owners swapping K03 for K04 turbos.No Thanks.
- Oberkanone I'm into it. An occasional trip on the WABAC machine is of interest to me.Thinking of Nissan I have to suspect being an underachiever is their goal. Not since the SE-R has the Sentra been class leading. "Most likely to be a rental" is as appropriate in Nissans yearbook in 2022 as it was 2012.
- EBFlex Quality though? Was never on the table at Ford.
- Oberkanone Prefer Trail Duster on rarity basis. Here is a nice one. 1979 Plymouth Trail Duster Sport 4x4 for sale on BaT Auctions - closed on May 14, 2020 (Lot #31,407) | Bring a Trailer