Tag: Unions

By on September 6, 2019

While Hyundai seems to have miraculously dodged labor strikes in South Korea this year, General Motors does not appear to possess the same good fortune. However, it would be difficult to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Lady Luck.

GM’s been considering pulling out of the region over financial reasons for quite some time. In 2018, the automaker shuttered one of its four South Korean facilities — citing rising labor costs as the primary culprit. It’s also been losing money in the region for years. Hoping the company could be swayed from abandoning Korea like it did with Europe, the government floated General Motors 850 billion won ($712.85 million) in industrial aid.  (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2019

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: Volkswagen

The results of a Friday vote are in, and Volkswagen can breathe a sigh of relief. Five years after the United Auto Workers first attempted to place the automaker’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant under its umbrella, a second vote has yielded the same results.

Weeks and months of acrimony, ads, accusations, and other seemingly unavoidable aspects of union organizing led to a narrow win for the no-union side. As before, Southern auto plants remain just beyond the grasp of the UAW. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2018

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Each day brings new reasons why no one should ever waste their precious earthly moments on Twitter, yet many of us keep up the practice. If we’re not seen doing things on social media, are we really alive? Are we really part of modern society?

Maybe that’s a discussion best left for another time. Regardless, heated back-and-forths on publicly visible platforms have a way of complicating one’s life, and a former National Labor Relations Board head claims Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s recent tweetstorm could land him in hot water. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2018

hitler benz

On Wednesday, Daimler’s German workers union publicly expressed concerns that neo-Nazis are trying to organize within the automaker’s ranks. While it did not specify which political groups were involved, it named several individuals from the Untertürkheim Mercedes-Benz plant in southern Germany and described the overall situation as “not acceptable.”

The works council believes Nazis are currently using Zentrum Automobil, an alternative labor union formed in 2009, as a base of operations to infiltrate the factory and placed several of its members on its board. “The Untertürkheim plant now appears in the media as a reservoir for neo-Nazis and a center of right-wing extremist activities,” explained members opposing the supposed infiltration.

That’s not great publicity for a German automaker with a rich history dating back through the Second World War. However, if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that the term “Nazi” currently gets thrown around more than a frisbee at a picnic. Are the claims valid?  (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2018

Audi Q2 factory production

With the UAW currently coping with a high-profile corruption scandal in the United States, news of Germany’s widespread auto strikes has taken a backseat in domestic media. Last Friday, IG Metall concluded its third day of striking against Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Porsche, Audi, VW, and BMW.

However the 72-hours of downtime may only be the appetizer in the German union’s strike-buffet. While both IG Metall and the manufacturers have expressed a willingness to resume talks on Monday, the union remains on the cusp of a vote that could extend striking indefinitely. Here’s why they are so pissed:  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2018

Uaw-Logos

Former Fiat Chrysler labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli pleaded guilty to two of seven charges relating to his role in a plan to divert more than $4.5 million in training center funds to union and company officials on Monday. As part of a plea deal with federal authorities, Iacobelli provided information regarding confidential retirement offers and a former union vice president being groomed to support company initiatives.

In an admission that he and other FCA employees paid various senior UAW officials over $1.5 million in an effort to “obtain benefits, concessions, and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation, and administration,” Iacobelli is now helping map the deepening mire that is the FCA-UAW training center scandal. (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2017

VW logo, Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen has slashed salaries and suspended the bonuses of 14 members of its works council, including council head Bernd Osterloh, as officials investigate alleged overpayments. In May, it was made public that German prosecutors were looking into current and former executives at VW under suspicions that they paid the labor chief an “excessive” salary.

This was followed by a November raid, after which the council claimed the probe didn’t “target Osterloh.” Members specified that all payments were in line with Germany’s legal guidelines. The offices of VW’s chief financial officer, Frank Witter, and personnel director Karlheinz Blessing were also searched. (Read More…)

By on October 16, 2017

cami-assembly factory circa 2013

General Motors and Unifor representation at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, announced a tentative agreement on Friday. Today, that deal proved amicable to both parties, as union employees voted to approve a new four-year contract with the automaker — ending a month-long strike at a factory producing the incredibly popular Chevrolet Equinox crossover.

While the deal includes a salary increase of four percent over four years and $8,000 in lump sum payments over the lifespan of the proposal, it lacks Unifor’s primary demand of a written assurance that CAMI will remain the lead producer of the Equinox. GM proved unwilling to give way on that issue, which is likely due to the ongoing and uncertain nature of NAFTA renegotiations.

“Despite our every effort, General Motors steadfastly refused to accept our members’ reasonable demand to designate the CAMI plant as General Motors lead producer for the Chevy Equinox,” Unifor president Jerry Dias wrote to local union members prior to the factory vote.  (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2017

model car mechanic

Mechanics at roughly 130 new car dealerships in Chicago went on strike Tuesday morning. According to the Automobile Mechanics’ Union Local 701, nearly 2,000 grease monkeys threw in the towel before also tossing a wrench into dealer maintenance schedules — leaving customers to fend for themselves.

On the first day of the strike, Mark Bilek, senior director of communications for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, issued a statement that most affected dealerships would remain open with partially functional service centers. “They may not be performing complex repairs, but oil changes, stuff like that, it’s business as usual,” said Bilek in a statement.

However, the union stated that wouldn’t last for long if demands were not met.  It has been bargaining with the New Car Dealer Committee since June, citing uncompensated time, unacceptable schedules, unsatisfactory pay, and no opportunities for career progression as its chief complaints. Deadlocked since negotiations began, the union decided to halt all work at the beginning of August — despite Bilek’s assurance that customers could still get their oil changed or tires rotated.  (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

BMW Spartanburg Assembly Plant Factory

As the Trump administration applies pressure to encourage companies to manufacture goods within U.S. borders and bolster American employment (or potentially face towering tariffs), the president has more recently come out against foreign automakers directly. In late May, Trump responded to criticism from German Chancellor Angela Merkel by accusing her country of having a trade surplus with the United States — claiming its automakers send vehicles to North America while providing little else. Trump has levelled similar criticism at China.

However, there’s a problem with his assertion. Foreign companies may not always contribute the majority of their wealth towards improving the U.S. economy, but they do invest heavily into the country. In fact, a recent analysis of federal jobs data shows two-thirds of the 656,000 manufacturing jobs created between 2010 and 2014 can be attributed directly to foreign investment.

Accurate employment figures for the following years aren’t yet available. But, with an additional $700 billion in capital coming in from non-domestic sources, total foreign investment reached $3.7 trillion by the end of 2016 — a new record.  (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

VW logo

The National Labor Relations Board has again accused Volkswagen of unfair labor practices, stating the automaker increased health insurance premiums and altered working hours of employees who voted for union representation at its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory.

The facility — VW’s only U.S. assembly plant — produces the Passat and new Atlas SUV. A small portion of skilled-trade employees voted in 2015 to be represented by the United Auto Workers, but VW is claiming they shouldn’t speak for the entire workforce.

However, the NLRB says the UAW’s collective-bargaining rights for the select workers who maintain the plant’s automated machinery can’t be superseded by the federal appeals court case.

“Wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment of the Unit … are mandatory subjects for the purposes of collective bargaining,” reads the complaint. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2017

bob king

The former president of the United Automobile Workers, Bob King, says he supports President Trump’s plan to reconfigure the North American Free Trade Agreement — so long as it maintains labor’s best interests. Ironically, King’s support of the president’s trade plan came as he attended an Ann Arbor rally in support of an EPA testing facility in danger of being closed due to Trump administration budget cuts.

King, who served as the union’s president from 2010 to 2014, faults the trade pact for a loss of American jobs. It’s his belief that NAFTA allowed automakers to invest in more-affordable regions — like Mexico — at the expensive of the United States’ workforce. His successor, Dennis Williams, has echoed these claims and also wishes to see NAFTA reformed.  (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has said it is making efforts to resolve outstanding issues with Grohmann Engineering’s legacy clients, including Daimler, BMW, Bosch, Intel, and Volkswagen Group. After the Tesla takeover last November, CEO Elon Musk indicated to Grohmann’s management team that the brunt of its efforts should be diverted away from former customers in order to focus primarily on production facilities related to the Model 3.

The move placed Musk at odds with company founder Klaus Grohmann, eventually resulting in his abrupt departure, and was a major source of tension among the German workforce — which, backed by IG Metall, has threatened to strike. Negotiations have already yielded improved worker pay and hiring promises, but Tesla now appears to be tackling the issue of how to handle the numerous clients who have been hung out to dry. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has smooth-talked its Californian workforce out of unionizing for some time, but the labor war is now being waged on two fronts.

Since acquiring German supplier Grohmann Engineering, that company’s workforce has accused Tesla of unfair wages and dissolving established business ties to focus solely on the upcoming Model 3. Elon Musk was forced to personally reassure Grohmann, now called Tesla Advanced Automation Germany, to keep it from syncing up with autoworkers’ union IG Metall and going on strike.

Since the supplier is an essential part of the Model 3’s timely production, Tesla has changed tactics and is now throwing more money at Germany and promising extra jobs in the hope of avoiding work stoppages. It also apparently removed the company’s CEO and founder, Klaus Grohmann, after repeated clashes with Musk over the firm’s future.  (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2017

[Image: Wikimedia Comonns]

As Venezuela descends even further into economic and social turmoil, and as mass demonstrations turn violent, we learned yesterday that General Motors’ Valencia assembly plant is no longer in the hands of General Motors.

The plant, which has sat idle for months, was “unexpectedly taken by the public authorities, preventing normal operations,” the automaker stated. Supposedly, the reason for seizing the asset lies in a 17-year-old lawsuit filed by a disgruntled dealer group angry over torn-up contracts. The dealers wanted billions of dollars in compensation — a sum that GM said “exceeds all logic.”

A new report has shed more light on the automaker’s situation, revealing that the government wasn’t the first group to seize the factory and bar the doors. (Read More…)

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