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Transplants Face Union Drive on Both Sides of Border

Canadian union targeting Toyota.

by on Jan.21, 2014

The popular RAV 4 is one of the products assembled at Toyota's two plants in Ontario.

Foreign-owned “transplant” assembly lines now produce a major share of the vehicles sold in North America but only a handful have ever been organized, a fact that rankles union leaders on both sides of the border.  And that’s something they’re aiming to change.

While the Detroit-based United Auto Workers Union is targeting Nissan and Volkswagen’s U.S. assembly plants, Unifor, the Canadian union that grew out of the merger of the Canadian Auto  Workers and communications, energy and paperworkers unions, is mounting a major drive to organize employees at two assembly plants operated by Toyota In the province of Ontario.

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The lines in Cambridge and Woodstock, which employ nearly 5,000 workers, are responsible for building a range of vehicles widely sold in North America, including the Lexus RX350, Toyota Corolla and Toyota RAV 4.

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Autoworkers Plan Auto Show Protests

More jobs, but harder work, critics complain.

by on Jan.11, 2013

The Detroit Auto Show has been targeted by a number of protests in recent years.

The auto industry has bolstered the U.S. economy but the increase in automotive production is also feeding some discontent inside the auto plants and some of the frustration will be on display outside Cobo Center in Detroit as the North American International Auto Show gets underway this weekend.

Supporters of the Auto Workers Caravan, which emerged in 2009 as an alternative voice for members of the United Auto Workers Union, are planning to demonstrate outside Cobo Center on Sunday afternoon to protest what they describe as “deteriorating working conditions.”

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Working in auto plants requires less heavy lifting than it did a generation ago but the pace of work is faster and blue-collar workers in both union and non-union plants are asked to multi-task at what amounts to a daunting pace.

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Auto Industry on Hiring Binge

Domestics and imports both putting out “Help Wanted” signs.

by on Jul.07, 2011

VW has already hired 2,000 workers at its new Chattanooga plant and will add still more for a planned second shift.

It seemed like the best of times; following its takeover by the German Daimler AG, Chrysler counted nearly 71,000 hourly workers on its U.S. payroll.  But by the time the partnership collapsed and the maker was rapidly plunging into bankruptcy, in 2009, the blue collar workforce had slipped to just 21,000.

The situation wasn’t all that different across town.  As the industry sank into its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and many analysts began to doubt whether Detroit’s Big Three makers would survive, the makers raced to close plants, abandon unpopular brands and slash employment.  Once employing close to a million hourly and salaried workers worldwide, General Motors emerged from its own run through Chapter 11 with a workforce barely a tenth that size.

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But two years later, there’s a very different situation.  Chrysler, for one, has boosted its blue collar headcount by more than 2,000 since hitting bottom in ’09, and several company sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that the maker is likely to keep rebuilding its factory rolls, especially if sales and share keep rebounding.  GM and Ford are also hiring.

And the “Help Wanted” signs aren’t just out in Detroit.  The new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee has already hired 2,000 workers, while that number will grow by at least another thousand when the maker adds an anticipated second shift at the sprawling factory, which is producing an all-new version of the midsize Passat designed specifically for the American market.

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UAW Will Seek Seats on GM, Ford, Chrysler Boards

Union doesn’t believe VW plant’s low wages set new precedent.

by on May.25, 2011

The UAW will seek to get seats on the boards of all three of the Detroit automakers, according to union president Bob King.

The United Auto Workers is preparing to tell General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC it wants seats on the boards of directors of all three companies during contract negotiations this summer.

UAW president Bob King said he did not want to negotiate through the press, but he said as a “general principle,” union members should have board representation.

“I believe there should be workers’ representation on all boards,” King said, noting workers are routinely given a seat on the boards of German companies by Germany’s codetermination law.

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German employees and unions elect members of what is known as the Board of Supervisors, which has authority to hire and fire top executives. By law, workers hold a minority of seats on the Board of Supervisors, while representatives of shareholders hold the majority of spots.

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Jiangling’s New Plant to Make Fords, Subarus

An investment of $300 million will add 300,000 annual capacity to the already booming Chinese market.

by on Jul.20, 2010

A small but potentially importand player in the Chinese comercial vehicle marekt is expanding.

Jiangling Motors Corp (JMC)  broke ground over the weekend for a new $300 million assembly plant in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, 775 km southwest of Shanghai.

The plant will have the capacity to produce up to 300,000 vehicles per year when it opens in 2012.

Jinagling will make both the Ford Transit and Maverick models (Yihu in China, Escape in U.S.), and a JMC- branded car, the Yusheng.

JMC is 30% owned by Ford.

The company is also said to be in discussions with Subaru to produce the Forrester SUV model in China.
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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

This week's raves, rejoinders and remembrances of things past.

by on Apr.24, 2009

Country Music Video Dramatizes Plight of Detroit’s Auto Workers

I’m not a big fan of country music, other than Willie Nelson, but there’s a recent country music video homage to the Detroit’s devastating automobile industry’s economic and personal abyss by country star John Rich.

Called “Shuttin Down Detroit,” the emotional, touching, poignant music video stars Kris Kristofferson as a laid off auto worker and recent Oscar nominee, Mickey Rourke is his shop buddy. Through series of well produced, acted and directed scenes Kristofferson’s story unfolds. Inter cut among the acting of two real pros is John Rich, photographed in a dismal empty factory singing his original lamentation about the industry’s economic woes, affected auto workers and Wall Street.

It’s tough stuff. Click here. Also on You Tube same music but with images and graphics added obviously by a native Detroiter.

TDB.com has also put up another country and western song about the collapse of Detroit. (more…)