General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford Motor Co. collectively decided to reinstate masking mandates in Michigan over the weekend — stating that the impacted factories were in areas with high levels of COVID-19.
The automakers had lifted mask requirements for employees after the backlash against government-backed restrictions and mandates hit a fever pitch in March. While protests had begun swelling by the fall of last year, the Canadian Freedom Convoy that was forcibility disbanded in February drew national attention to the issue. Despite Detroit manufacturers suggesting they would walk back restrictions (if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was okay) for months, ditching masks initially involved a series of stipulations about vaccinations and job titles. It wasn’t until public outrage spilled over into the real world that sweeping changes began to occur.
With the Biden administration having announced that it would start requiring companies to vaccinate employees, automakers and UAW are finding themselves in a sticky situation. Unions had previously said they wanted to hold off on endorsing or opposing mandatory vaccinations until after they discussed things with the industry and their own members. Considering Joe Biden said he wouldn’t make vaccines mandatory less than 10 months ago, employers are getting caught with their pants around the proverbial ankles.
Automakers had previously been surveying white-collar workers to see what they wanted to do while upping on-site COVID restrictions, but operating under the impression that any hard decisions were likely a long way off and left entirely to their discretion. Now the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning a new standard that requires all employers with 100 (or more) employees to guarantee their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on a minimum weekly basis.
Despite American carmakers and the United Auto Workers abandoning mask mandates at the end of June, there’s been an about-face in Wentzville, Missouri. The state witnessed an uptick of cases, encouraging both the UAW and General Motors to reintroduce masks and social distancing protocols.
The facility is responsible for the GMC Canyon and Colorado, as well as Chevrolet’s Savana and Express. It’s also likely to be the first facility of many we’re assuming will be told it’s time to go back to the old masking rules. But why is this happening so soon after everyone was given the green light to return to normal operations?
The COVID-19 Joint Task Force comprised of Detroit automakers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) has announced that it will be removing mask mandates for vaccinated employees. After meeting on Monday to discuss changes within state and federal health policies, the group decided masks should be made voluntary items for staffers. They could not get the rule change to coincide with the date the decision was made, however.
Lineworkers will instead be waiting until July 12th to pitch their masks in the trash bin so they can be deposited upon beaches and sea beds around the world. Of course, if a government agency (city, state, or county) wants to uphold old mandates or introduce new ones, the COVID-19 Joint Task Force said it would automatically comply. But that might not matter if employees have already decided to stop observing pandemic protocols.
Hoping to bounce back from its ongoing corruption scandal, the UAW announced the placement of its new independent ethics officer on Wednesday. The union group expressed a need for an independent ethics officer after Rory Gamble took over for defamed former UAW President Gary Jones late last year.
“As the acting president, I’m committed to putting in place the right mechanisms to safeguard our union, regaining the trust of our members, and ensuring the misconduct that has recently come to light will never happen again,” Jones explained in November. “That is why I am ordering immediate actions that will lay the foundation for a more transparent, more accountable, and more responsible future for our union.”
The UAW then launched an national search for an ethics officer. This week, it settled on former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board Wilma Liebman.
Gerald Kariem has been unanimously selected by the UAW’s executive board to become its new vice president and director of the Ford department. Kariem, 63, has been a board member himself for almost ten years and currently oversees Region 1D. His placement frees up Rory Gamble to handle more presidential duties (Gamble having taken on the top role in November after former UAW President Gary Jones resigned amid a federal corruption investigation).
“Gerald brings a wealth of leadership in contract implementation, and he will be able to pick up on the recently ratified Ford contract,” Gamble said in a statement. “His experience in implementing the merger of Regions 1C and 1D and building teamwork through his leadership will be invaluable as we implement reforms within the UAW.”
The Detroit Fire Department has been going back and forth on the July 13th fire at the United Automobile Workers’ headquarters since its investigation began. Arson was initially on the table before being swiftly ruled out, and the probe continued by private investigators contending with insurance claims, seemingly free of suspicion.
Investigators now believe the fire could have been set intentionally, without attaching any conviction to those claims.
“I was told at the time that they did not think it was arson,” Detroit Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Dave Fornell told Automotive News in an interview from Monday. “That wasn’t a final verdict … When I did some inquiries with the press, I asked investigators and they were saying at that point it was ruled out.”
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, has said new details about the ever expanding UAW corruption probe have been trickling in. But he’s also criticizing the union for not providing adequate cooperation throughout the multi-year investigative process. Schneider indicated there was new evidence included additional details of malfeasance from former UAW President Gary Jones shared by the union in November. While the prosecutor did not offer details, he said it was the type of information that should have been reported to his office, not publicly.
Automotive News surmised he was likely referencing details released late last month by the union’s executive board in an effort to remove Jones and Region 5 Director Vance Pearson. That report included allegations that Jones let his daughter use a UAW-rented townhouse in Palm Springs, California. Sources familiar with the situation have confirmed that the union publicly released information against the two at roughly the same time it was handed it over to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Our last update on the GM-UAW strike revolved around union reps playing hardball on issues like health care, wages, temporary employees, skilled trades, and job security. The United Auto Workers sent General Motors’ proposals back, holding its nose in disapproval.
With the strike now roughly one month deep and looking like it may disrupt the automaker’s well-laid plans, GM is firing back by suggesting the workers’ union is intentionally wasting everybody’s time. The company’s latest contract offer was issued Monday, with the union having yet to offer any formal feedback. Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra even joined negotiations on Wednesday in an effort to speed up discussions. But the UAW has said it will only issue a counter proposal after five separate committees address a “series of issues” and the automaker publicly furnishes its suggestions.
“We object to having bargaining placed on hold pending a resolution of these five areas,” Scott Sandefur, GM’s vice president of North American labor relations, wrote to UAW Vice President Terry Dittes on Thursday. “As we have urged repeatedly, we should engage in bargaining over all issues around-the-clock to get an agreement.”
A federal probe that’s been dropping United Auto Workers staff like flies has another one in its crosshairs, this time with ties to General Motors. Up until now, the investigation has primarily involved members connected to the union’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles department or the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center. But, according to court records filed Wednesday, retired UAW-GM Center for Human Resources board member Michael Grimes is also formally accused of corruption.
Grimes becomes the ninth individual to be slapped with corruption charges and the first with links to an automaker outside of FCA. He is not, however, alone. Court documents suggest he’s one of several UAW officials suspected of accepting bribes and kickbacks from automakers; they’ve just yet to be named.
Volkswagen’s singular U.S. plant has toyed with the idea of unionizing for the past five years. Chattanooga Operations, in Tennessee, initially seemed fine with the establishment of a German-style works council. However, while the United Auto Workers’ first attempt to seal the deal with votes failed in 2014, the union has since managed to rally more staff under its banner.
The UAW is now calling for another vote (its fifth), claiming a majority of the facility’s hourly workers are on its side. Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee spent the first part of this week pleading with plant staff not to unionize.
General Motors’ legal team has requested that the lawsuit filed by the United Automobile Workers, which claims that its decision to idle factories is in violation of an existing union agreement, be dismissed by a federal judge. The UAW alleges that GM sidestepped the collective bargaining agreement established in 2015 by closing plants prematurely. But the automaker has been careful to say that the facilities are being “unallocated,” claiming the union failed to adhere to the grievance arbitration procedure outlined in its contract — which forbids UAW from going to court until all other avenues have been exhausted.
The request came with a bundle of other motions, filed on March 21st, and included a request to transfer the case from Youngstown, Ohio (where the contentious Lordstown Assembly is located) to the eastern district of Michigan.
Opioid addiction is on the rise in America and the United Auto Workers wants to confront the problem in its next round of collective bargaining. While the issue is most visible in parts of the Western United States, large pockets of the Midwest, South, and Northeast have cited an influx of drug overdoses since 2002.
The UAW, knowing that prescription medications are being increasingly abused by factory workers (as heroin simultaneously makes a comeback), wants to nip the issue in the bud. In addition to promoting job security, higher wages, and healthcare, union officials have identified combating opioids as an important element of future contract negotiations.
Norwood Jewell, the former head of the United Auto Workers’ unit attached to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, has been charged by federal prosecutors in Detroit with violating the Labor Management Relations Act. This makes him the highest ranking UAW member to be charged in the union corruption case that appeared to be on pause while investigators reexamined suspects, following a string of convictions in 2018.
Federal investigators are relatively certain that FCA engaged in the widespread bribery of union officials who were able to tap into funds allocated for their National Training Center — a scheme dating back to 2009. According to defamed former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli, the goal was to keep union officials “ fat, dumb and happy.” Millions of dollars were believed to have been used to buy the UAW’s cooperation, and Jewell appears to have gotten a slice.
President Donald Trump weighed in on General Motors again this week. This time, the issue at hand was the fate of Lordstown Assembly — which was shuttered earlier this month as part of the automaker’s ongoing restructuring program.
“Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING. I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!”
Barra’s take on just how much the United Automobile Workers are to blame is questionable, but the president’s position is not.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- 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?