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Auto Industry Driving the American Economy, Says GM CEO

GM goes after the best-and-brightest.

by on May.14, 2012

GM CEO Dan Akerson.

The auto industry has given the U.S. economy a major lift in recent months, GM chairman and chief executive officer Dan Akerson told new graduates of the Columbia University’s business school.

That’s a big shift from just a few years ago, when it was one of the forces of economic decline.  And Akerson’s speech clearly was aimed at convincing the best-and-brightest of the school’s students that they should be taking a closer look at Detroit as they begin their promising careers.

“The auto industry has gone from being an anchor on the economy to being the wind in its sails… in fact, we’re one of the few bright spots,” said Akerson, who joined GM after it emerged from its 2009 bankruptcy. “We’re adding jobs and investing in America, just as America invested in us.”

Since mid-2009, GM has announced investments of more than $7.1 billion in 30 U.S. facilities and created or retained nearly 18,000 American jobs, the executive noted

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“No one, not even the most enthusiastic supporters, predicted this three years ago: The auto industry is adding jobs and driving the economy again,” Akerson said.  “And that’s because two very different Administrations both had the wisdom to understand how important the auto industry is to our economy, and had the courage to act.


Help Wanted: Automakers Can’t Fill All the Jobs

U.S. auto industry on a hiring binge and struggling to find necessary workers.

by on Apr.03, 2012

Automakers can't meet demand for all their open jobs.

The jobs were there, more than 1,000, according to the Engineering Society of Detroit, with everyone from the Detroit automakers to Korea’s Hyundai looking to hire.  What, or more precisely, who weren’t there were the job-seekers.

March was another good month for the U.S. auto industry, which is expected to report another month of double-digit, year-over-year sales gains today.  After years, of cutting back production – closing dozens of plants and eliminating an estimated 88,000 jobs during the Great Recession – that means automakers are racing to build back up production capacity.  They’re also looking to fill empty slots in design, engineering and other departments cut to the bone during the industry’s worst downturn in decades.

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Detroit makers alone have created 10s of thousands of jobs since hitting bottom in 2009 with the bankruptcy of Chrysler and General Motors.  And their foreign-owned rivals are also putting out the “Help Wanted” signs.  Volkswagen is already planning a second round of hiring at its new assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  BMW is expanding at its factory in South Carolina.  Hyundai’s Alabama assembly line needs more help to meet booming demand.


American Auto Industry A Highlight in Obama State-of-the-Union

“The American auto industry is back.”

by on Jan.25, 2012

Pres. Obama giving the state-of-the-union address.

At a time when the American government appears all but paralyzed by partisanship, where concerns remain about the U.S. economy and an upcoming election raises questions about the fundamental direction the nation must take, President Barack Obama came out swinging as he began his state-of-the-union address on Tuesday night.

And the president put the spotlight on two key success stories as a highlight of both what the nation can achieve – and what he and his administration have accomplished.  Members of both parties quickly jumped to their feet as he praised the men and women of the American military.  But there were cheers yet again when he turned to manufacturing and, in particular, to revival of the auto industry.

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“We bet on American workers.  We bet on American ingenuity.  And tonight, the American auto industry is back,” the president proclaimed.

It was an in-your-face reference to the controversial, $85 billion bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, a move that still has many conservatives referring to the two manufacturers as “Government Motors,” nearly three years after they entered bankruptcy, and despite their collective recovery.


Health Care Could Be Big Sticking Point Between UAW and Big Three

“We’re focused on jobs,” contends UAW’s King.

by on Jul.07, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King. Will the union make concessions on health care in order to win more jobs?

Steadily rising health-care costs will again become a key issue when the United Auto Workers begins contract talks with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group later this month.

Critics of the Obama administration’s 2009 bailout of General Motors and Chrysler Group have complained the union’s health-care benefits went through bankruptcy with only modest modifications – despite the union’s agreement, in 2007, to shift responsibility for retiree health care to independent trusts or Voluntary Employee Benefit Associations for each company.

Union members still pay less than 10% of their health-care bills through co-payments and deductibles. In the face of steadily rising health-care costs, so if the two sides win up with no change in the current formula it will represent the equivalent of a pay increase for union members.

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But that is something the carmakers insist they cannot accept as they struggle to hold total wage and benefits costs to around $50 an hour, roughly on par with the major transplant assembly lines operated by Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

Along with the cost-of-living increases now abandoned by the UAW, rising health care costs helped drive Detroit’s Big Three labor costs from about $47 an hour in 1999 to more than $76 by 2006 – before concessions began driving costs back down again.


GM Adding Shift, Rehiring Workers

Ford puts 3,000 on temporary layoff due to parts shortage.

by on Jan.25, 2011

Growing demand from small businesses for heavy-duty pickups leads GM to add a third shift at its Flint plant.

General Motors plans to add a third shift at truck assembly plant in Flint, Mi. to build heavy-duty pickup trucks, largely for commercial customers – a move that should come as good news to 750 workers currently on layoff.

But 3,000 Ford workers at a plant near the company’s headquarters have gotten less positive news, learning they will be temporarily idled, next week, ironically because increasing demand has led to a shortage of key powertrain components.

Mark Reuss, GM President – North America, said the automaker is satisfied demand for the trucks is growing and there are ample customers for the heavy-duty trucks which, in turn, suggest there’s growing movement in the economy.

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“Adding a third shift is a response to customer demand for heavy-duty pickups, which most people use to tow, haul and plow,” said Mark Reuss.

Flint Assembly currently employs nearly 2,100 hourly and salaried employees and operates two production shifts. In 2010 the plant produced 115,000 trucks, the majority of them regular and crew-cab versions of the heavy-duty Silverado and Sierra. Last year, the plant added production of regular and crew-cab version of the light-duty Silverado.


Indian Maker Tata Turns To Detroit For Engineering Know-How

Maker plans to hire 400 American engineers.

by on Dec.06, 2010

Tata Technologies, part of the Indian conglomerate producing the little Tata Nano, is looking to hire 100s of Detroit engineers.

Tata Technologies, a subsidiary of India’s Tata Group, plans to hire 400 engineers by the end of the year at its technical center near Detroit to help with engineering projects for car makers in North America.

Dan Saad, Tata Technologies’ director of communications in North America, said the Indian firm is looking at candidates with engineering, design and in product lifecycle management experience.

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“The 400 positions are currently open in our HR database to be filled by January 3 that are a result of new automotive program work our engineering and our PLM/Consulting groups have won over the past
months,” Saad said.

“The positions are at automotive client sites – about 80% in metro Detroit, about 20% elsewhere in the U.S. We have about 500 employees in the U.S. now, and about 350” are assigned to the company’s Novi, Michigan offices, he said..