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According to a plan instigated by both Chrysler and the United Auto Worker’s union, an agreement between the two parties calls for a boost in Wrangler output to 90 vehicles a day at the Toledo Supplier Park facility in Ohio (the only one that builds the traditional Jeep), by June 2012.
In order to achieve that, some 25 workers normally employed on non production duties during the plant’s two shifts, will be reassigned to the assembly line, which will help increase Wrangler production by some five vehicles each hour.
The reason for the hike in production? Wrangler sales in the US were up some 30 percent last year and global sales up 10 percent. As a result, Chrysler wants to do its best to keep up with demand, though given the fairly intensive maintenance schedules required for machinery in use at the plant, around the clock vehicle production is essentially impossible.
Mike Manley, Jeep Brand CEO, has expressed his concern on the matter, stating that he’s “worried about having enough Jeep [Wrangler] production,” due to the fact that “orders are still coming in very, very strong, not just here in the US but worldwide.” That said, he also stated that Chrysler is “working very, very closely with the [Toledo] plant to try and get all the orders fulfilled.”
Chrysler set a record for Wrangler production at the plant last year (some 165,166 rolled off the line), so in the current economic climate, while keeping up with demand might be a problem, it’s definitely a good one.
[Source: Automotive News]
In what is perhaps an interesting turn of events, the United Auto Workers’ union organized one hour pickets in front of Hyundai dealerships in the US, from 12 noon to 1 pm Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, November 30th.
Ggiven the rhetoric from UAW President Bob King, who still says he plans to target the labor force of at least one overseas automaker this year, the pickets were surprisingly not targeted Hyundai’s US employees. Instead they were focusing on Korean workers.
In particular, the pickets aimed to shed light on the plight of one employee who was fired from a Hyundai subcontractor for reporting sexual harassment. The Korean Metal Workers union has been protesting against the dismissal and now, in a show of solidarity, has been joined by other unions around the world, including the UAW.
However, that said, the UAW is moving ahead with its own plans to implement more picket campaigns this year at dealerships belonging to automakers with non-union workforces, with regional representatives of the union being trained for the process. King hasn’t said which automaker and it’s dealerships will be targeted yet though, UAW vice-president Joe Ashton recently said “we’re very close to doing [that].”
UAW membership has been growing recently and was up by some 6 percent last year, to 376,612, no doubt spurred by economic uncertainty and a growing number of Americans struggling to make ends meet. Still, it’s a far cry from the Stagflation riddled late-1970s when the UAW boasted more than 1.5 million members.
[Source: Automotive News]
In perhaps a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, head of the Canadian Auto Worker’s Union, Ken Lewenza has expressed some concern over a tentative new agreement south of the border between the UAW and General Motors.
The problem centers around the fact that in order to meet the new UAW bargaining agreement, part of GM’s production of its small SUVs, the Chevy Equinox and GMC Equinox might be moved from the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, down to Spring Hill, Tennessee.
At present, GM hasn’t made any official announcements regarding the move, though an article in Nashville based newspaper, the Tennessean claims the General is seriously considering such a strategy, citing economic officials.
The resulting story was enough to cause concern for the CAW, making the matter more worrisome is the fact that GM has already pulled such a move, shifting production of it’s full-size Chevy Impala sedan, from Oshawa, Ontario, to the Hamtramck plant on the outskirts of Detroit, something Lewenza says he also first heard about through the newspapers.
As regarding the Tennessee rumors, during an interview with trade publication Automotive News, Lewenza said “where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.”
[Source: Left Lane News]
A group of 28 workers at General Motors’ Lordstown, Ohio plant are suing both GM and the UAW, claiming that they were wrongly classified as temporary workers, resulting in a 40 percent pay cut.
The workers were hired in 2006, fired in 2007 and then re-hired 6 months later. The workers say they were classified improperly in June of 2008. The workers are hoping to get $3-$4 million in back pay, and are suing both GM and the UAW, stating that the Union failed to look out for their interests.
[Source: MLive Photo: Cleveland.com]
Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers’ union has gone on the record as saying that his organization will label companies that try to disrupt efforts to organize workers as human rights violators.
“If a company makes the bad business decision to engage in anti-union activity, suppress the rights of freedom of speech and assembly, we will launch a global campaign to brand that company a human-rights violator,” King said during a speech in Detroit on January 12. “We do not want to fight, but we will not run from a fight.”
King is in the process of trying to organize the factories of several foreign automakers, who have assembly plants, mainly in southern states, though he declined to say exactly which ones.
For the longest time, overseas auto manufacturers have resisted attempts to organize workers into unions, fearing a loss of productivity and competitive edge, citing past problems between the UAW and Detroit’s Big Three, which contributed to the decline of the American auto industry.
However, in order to help make a case that the UAW and the manufacturers can work together to achieve common goals, King is highlighting the recent cooperation the union has developed with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
“We want to encourage the kind of relations we have, which is not to beat each other up or hold each other hostage,” he said.
However, Honda isn’t biting. The Japanese automaker, which has long taken a hard line against unionized workers said it is not talking with the UAW.
“Honda has had no dialogue with the UAW and has no interest in a discussion with them,” said company spokesman Ed Miller in a recent email statement. “The issue of union representation is ultimately one for our associates to decide and, for more than three decades, Honda associates have spoken loudly and clearly by choosing to reject UAW outreach efforts.”
However, King believes that the workers deserve to get their fair share of the upside and rewarded for the sacrifices they make, pointing to the concessions UAW workers have made since 2005 to help the U.S. auto industry get back on track.
Now that things are looking up for the Big Three in terms of sales and profits, he believes the time has come for the workers to have their slice of the pie. “What’s important is that both through profit-sharing checks and through collective bargaining, the members feel they are being respected and that they’re getting their fair share,” he said.
In stark contrast to most trends in the manufacturing sector in Michigan, General Motors has announced that it will be investing $190 million at its Lansing Grand River assembly plant in the state. By doing so, the General will be creating 600 new jobs and a second shift for Cadillac‘s new BMW 3 Series rival, rumors to be called the ATS. Currently the plant currently builds the CTS and STS models.
Reports have indicated the ATS will come standard with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, along the lines of the 255-hp unit found in the Buick Regal GS.
Joe Ashton, UAW vice president of the GM department declared, “this announcement is further proof of what UAW President Bob King said earlier this summer. The UAW recognizes the paramount importance of innovation, flexibility and partnership with management to respond to global economic pressures. We are proud to play our part in the turnaround at GM. Our mission is to make the highest quality products for the best value.”
The actual timing of when the new jobs will start, along with production of this new model of ‘baby’ Cadillac has yet to be determined, but one thing’s for certain – an announcement like this could not have come at a better time for the beleaguered Great Lake State and Governor Jennifer Granholm; who’s been looking at ways to cut the deficit and stimulate growth – Michigan was on the states hit hardest by the economic downturn in 2008.
[Source: General Motors]
General Motors will buy $2.1 billion worth of preferred stock as part of a move to pay off its $49.5 billion in federal bailout loans. GM will also launch a series of measures to reduce its debt by $11 billion.
GM will make contributions to the UAW pension fund, to the tune of $6 billion, and secure a $5 billion line of credit from a series of banks, which should help reduce its total debt obligations by a total of $11 billion.
“These actions will bring down our leverage by $11 billion by reducing debt and improving our pension funding position,” GM CFO Chris Liddell said in a statement.
[Source: Automotive News]
General Motors, recently announced that is preparing to invest $483 million and create 483 new jobs at it’s Spring Hill, Tennesse Powertrain complex, which currently builds Ecotec four-cylinder engines. Providing that state and local officials are in agreement, the investment should provide a major shot in the arm for the General, the Spring Hill area and also the United Auto Workers’ union, since the new jobs will be filled by workers laid off, in accordance with the UAW/GM National Labor agreement.
According to Mark Reuss; GM North America President; “The engines made in Spring Hill will drive the success of GM to meet our customer demands for advanced powertrains which offer high fuel economy without sacrificing performance.” He went on to say that, “this new commitment to the Spring Hill team will help GM almost triple its North American production volume of four-cylinder engines with direct injection by 2012.”
Included in the announced spending package is $23 million that will be used to add 30 hourly jobs in response to increased production of current generation Ecotec engines, beginning in the first quarter of 2011. The rest of the money and jobs are planned for development and production of the next generation of Ecotec engines, which are said to be significantly more efficient than those currently available in vehicles such as the Chevy Equinox, GMC Terrain, Buick LaCrosse and Regal.