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April 1, 2012 to August 31, 2012


Ford includes employees in
new Escape ad campaign

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
August 31, 2012

Ford Motor Co. this week will launch an ad campaign promoting the all-new Ford Escape through the employees who designed and engineered the popular SUV.

The ads will feature Ford employees highlighting four capabilities available on the Escape, including two EcoBoost engine options, a hands-free liftgate, additional cargo space and SYNC and MyFord Touch systems.

In one ad, featuring the hands-free liftgate, Vince Mahe, a Ford engineer, discusses a variety of situations where regular people have their hands full, but their feet free, like carrying groceries or a giant cooler. The Escape's hands-free liftgate allows drivers to swipe their foot under the rear of the vehicle to open the hatchback.

The ads build on Ford's "Go Further" campaign, which the Dearborn automaker debuted earlier this year to positive reviews.

Ford also said Thursday that in September it will debut "Escape My Life," an episodic comedy series broadcast online starring standup comedian Natasha Leggero and actor Joe Lo Truglio ("Superbad" and "Pineapple Express").

Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland" and the upcoming "Gangster Squad") will direct the show.

"Escape My Life" will run for eight episodes on its own YouTube channel, as well as Hulu, AOL, MSN/Wonderwall, Glam Media, Tumblr, Facebook and other online outlets.

The Escape, after arriving at dealerships this summer, has been the fastest-turning vehicle on Ford lots, the Dearborn automaker said. Those sales come despite two recalls on the 2013 model, including one where Ford urged 4,800 drivers to stop driving immediately because of fire dangers.


CAW may opt for parallel
talks with automakers

Wed Aug 29, 2012
(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway)

(Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers union said on Wednesday it may break with tradition and continue contract talks with all three Detroit automakers simultaneously, instead of targeting one of them to tackle first to set a bargaining pattern for the others.

The union is currently meeting with the Canadian management of General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote), Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote), and Chrysler (FIA.MI: Quote) in separate talks at a Toronto hotel.

"If we're making progress, we won't even talk about a target company," said Canadian Auto Workers National President Ken Lewenza. "I want to stay optimistic that we can get a deal."

If the simultaneous talks are not making progress, Lewenza said he will choose a target. But he denied media reports that he could wait to close to September 16 to make that call.

He said the decision would likely come at least five days before all three contracts expire on September 17 at 11:59 p.m. (0359 GMT). The union can strike any time after that.

In the past, the union has gone on strike more often at the target company than at the two that follow.

In the United States, the United Auto Workers said early in its 2011 contract talks with the Detroit automakers that it would seek to negotiate with all three companies simultaneously, but it ultimately settled on General Motors (GM.N: Quote) as its first target.

Canadian contract talks are expected to be tough, as companies seek to cut labor costs they say are the highest in the world, and the union argues that workers who helped keep the companies afloat during the financial crisis should share in the rewards of a return to profitability.


Auto industry jobs at
stake with talks

Workers need to make gains, Lewenza says

Winstar Star - Grace Macaluso
August 29, 2012

Stacey Allerton, chief negotiator for Ford Motor. Co., was nearing the end of a media scrum when CAW president Ken Lewenza cut in, wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and joked, "so, what has she been saying about me?"

Laughter filled the hallway outside the conference room at the Toronto hotel where the CAW recently held two days of contract talks with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.

It was a lighthearted moment in a round of bargaining which resumes today and is sure to grow more tense as the two sides try to reach agreements before the contracts' Sept. 17 expiration.

The negotiations, the first since the 2008-09 financial crisis, are ultimately about preserving the Detroit Three's manufacturing footprint in Canada. At stake are more than 20,000 good-paying, hourly jobs, the pensions of 51,000 retirees and the future of a $69-billion industry.

In Windsor and Essex County, contract talks affect more than 12,000 CAW members and come amid an uncertain future for Ford's Windsor Engine Plant and plans by Chrysler to eliminate the Town and Country minivan nameplate.

The car companies argue that CAW labour costs must fall and match those of their UAW counterparts across the border or risk jobs and investment at Canadian plants.

Union officials, however, point to the successful turnaround of all three carmakers as justification for rewarding workers whose "sacrifices" helped the auto industry survive its darkest hour.

The car companies have "no ethical or economic right to demand more concessions," Lewenza declared at the official start of bargaining earlier this month. "Our members have to make some progress in this round. They have to receive some recognition for the sacrifices they have made."

Allerton echoed the companies' stance of reducing costs in what they say is now the most expensive country to manufacture vehicles, in part due to a high Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. greenback and UAW contracts which have lower all-in labour costs.

"Everything is on the table," Allerton said. "In order to sustain and grow our operations in Canada, we have to be competitive."

The base wage of an assembler in Canada totals $34 versus $28 in the United States, Allerton said, while "all-in" labour costs are $79 in Canada versus $64 in the U.S.

The CAW maintains that there is only a five per cent difference between all-in Canadian and U.S. labour costs, but accepts the base wage figures. It also argues that such labour cost comparisons are unfair because they are distorted by the strong Canadian dollar.

"Let's increase productivity, let's get rid of the waste in the workplace," Lewenza said, adding there are ways to cut costs without hurting workers' paycheques.

However, even Lewenza has conceded that workers will have to accept lump sum payments, such as Christmas and signing bonuses, in lieu of annual wage hikes.

The union, he added, will fight any attempts to cut wages and pensions as well as introduce UAW-style profit-sharing and two-tiered wage systems.

The car companies also must come to the table with pledges to invest in their Canadian operations, said Lewenza. All three carmakers should fully utilize capacity at their Ontario plants, he said.

In Windsor, the Chrysler assembly plant will be losing a minivan nameplate - a change that could threaten the threeshift operation. In Brampton, Chrysler is under pressure to install a new paint shop and add a third shift.

Ford, meanwhile, has announced no new product for the Windsor Engine Plant, which employs more than 500 hourly workers.

Armed with a strong strike mandate from his members, Lewenza is slated to announce the strike target - the car company that will set a pattern agreement - around Labour Day.

Early indications from the union suggested that relations were far more amicable with Chrysler and Ford than with General Motors.


CAW Big 3 votes to strike

CBC News
August 27, 2012

Members of the CAW in Windsor say they have sent a strong message to Detroit automakers.

Local hourly employees are prepared to strike if they don't get what they consider a fair agreement during the next round of contract talks.

Workers at both Ford and Chrysler factories in Windsor voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action at separate meetings Sunday.

Ford Local 200 workers voted 97.6 per cent in favour of striking to back up their contract demands.

Chris Taylor is president of CAW Local 200.

"We would love to get some of the stuff that was conceded in 2009," Taylor said.

The CAW said it made several concessions during the height of the recession.

Chrysler workers, meanwhile, voted 99 per cent in favour of strike action, if necessary.

Dino Chiodo is president of their union local, CAW Local 444.

Chiodo said the employees are seeking a "decent" wage increase and also some sort of job security through new investment in the Windsor Assembly Plant, where Chrysler builds its flagship minivans. More than 4,000 hourly employees represented by the CAW work there.

"Hopefully we can make things happen and avert a strike," Chiodo said.

The current contracts expire on Sept. 17. Negotiations between the CAW and automakers resume Tuesday.

The union's national president Ken Lewenza said the focus is to concentrate on a new collective agreement, without a strike.

"I think we can maintain fixed costs at a reasonable level and still compensate our members in some way as a result of their success," Lewenza said.


Ford investing $600M
in China facility

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News

August 27, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is investing another $600 million in China, this time for an investment in a new manufacturing facility in Chongqing, the company's largest global manufacturing location outside of southeastern Michigan.

The expansion by Ford, along with its joint venture, Changan Ford Mazda Automobile, will be the third assembly plant in Chongqing.

The new plant — Chongqing 3 — should begin production in late 2014 and will have the capacity to produce 250,000 vehicles annually, Ford said.

Ford has invested about $5 billion in China, the world's fastest-growing economy.

"This expansion will allow us to continue to serve our Chinese customers with the very best in vehicle quality, green technology, safety and smart design as we bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015," said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO at an event in China. "To meet continued demand in China, we are doubling the number of assembly plants and doubling our production capacity."

CFMA already operates two assembly plants in Chongqing, with another engine plant and a transmission plant under construction.

Ford has five manufacturing facilities in China and is building five more with its partners.

The Dearborn automaker is also growing it SUV lineup in China. Chongqing will be home to the all-new EcoSport and all-new Kuga, previously showcased at Auto China 2012 in Beijing earlier this year.

Ford also plans to grow its truck lineup.

Earlier this month, Jiangling Motors Corp., which is 30 percent owned by Ford, announced plans to acquire local heavy truck maker Taiyuan Changan Heavy Truck Co.

Ford posted a loss in its Asia-Pacific-Africa region of $66 million during the second quarter, mostly because of higher costs associated with new products and investments.


Mazda bows out in Flat Rock

Ford to take control of production, invest $550M in plant

A Mazda6 winds its way down the line in Flat Rock. The automaker will move production of the Mazda6 to Japan. (The Detroit News)

By Bryce G. Hoffman
The Detroit News
August 26, 2012

The last Mazda is expected to roll off the assembly line in Flat Rock today as the Japanese automaker hands the keys to the plant back to its one-time parent, Ford Motor Co.

Known as AutoAlliance International, the plant has been run as a joint venture between Ford and Mazda since 1992, producing the Mazda6 sedan and the Ford Mustang muscle car.

Workers will mark the end of Mazda production with a small ceremony inside the plant today, but neither automaker is keen to draw attention to the event.

"The strategic cooperative relationship between Ford and Mazda has spanned nearly 30 years, and is one of the most successful partnerships in the automobile industry," said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen. "The alliance has been and continues to be an effective way to utilize the resources of both organizations and maximize joint synergies."

Mazda confirmed that production would end today, but offered no comment. Ford also confirmed the news and said it is moving forward with previously announced plans for a major expansion of the factory.

Ford will invest $550 million in the factory and add another 1,200 jobs. More than 1,700 workers are already employed at the plant, which will remain a 50-50 joint venture between the two automakers, at least for the time being.

"We continue to study various possibilities for the future of AAI, but we don't have anything to announce at this time," Nissen said.

The Flat Rock factory began life as a Ford casting plant in 1972, but the Dearborn automaker closed the plant in 1981.

Mazda purchased the factory in 1987 and transformed it into an automobile assembly plant. It produced the Mazda MX-6 and the Probe, a sport coupe based on the same platform that Mazda built for Ford.

In the early 1990s, Mazda was struggling. Ford, which had purchased a small stake in the Hiroshima-based company in 1979, began purchasing more Mazda shares in an effort to shore up its partner's finances. In 1992, Ford also purchased a 50 percent stake in its old Flat Rock factory, which was rechristened AutoAlliance International.

Under joint management, the plant produced the Mazda 626 sedan and Mercury Cougar. It was retooled to produce the Mazda6 in 2001 and Ford Mustang in 2004.

But Ford began unwinding its investment in Mazda when the financial crisis struck the auto industry in 2008. CEO Alan Mulally believed Ford's engineers were using Mazda as a crutch, and the company's shares were one of the few things Ford could still sell after mortgaging almost everything else to finance Mulally's restructuring plan.

Now, Ford plans to retool the Mazda line at Flat Rock to produce the new Ford Fusion sedan. That current version of Ford's flagship family car is produced in Mexico, but Mulally agreed to transfer production to the United States in exchange for concessions from the United Auto Workers in 2007 and 2009.

Mazda will shift production of the Mazda6 back to Japan. The automaker is opening a new factory in Salamanca, Mexico, to build the Mazda2 and Mazda3 subcompact and compact cars.


CAW delegates re-elect Ken Lewenza as national president

CAW National President Ken Lewenza speaks at the Canadian Automotive Workers' First Constitutional and Collective Bargaining Convention in Toronto on Wednesday, August 22, 2012.

Toronto Star August 25, 2012

TORONTO — Canadian Auto Workers' delegates have re-elected Ken Lewenza as the union's national president.

National secretary-treasurer Peter Kennedy was also re-elected and Sylvain Martin was elected Quebec director to replace retiring Jean-Pierre Fortin.

A number of new local presidents were also elected at the CAW's first constitutional and collective bargaining convention in Toronto.

The term of each position is three years.

Lewenza, who has been union president since 2008, was born and raised in Windsor, Ont. and has been a CAW member since he began working at Chrysler Canada in 1972.

Earlier this week, CAW delegates voted unanimously to merge with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, combining two of Canada's largest private-sector unions.

CEP delegates will vote on the proposal when they meet in October.

The new union would represent more than 300,000 workers across roughly 20 economic sectors.


Horsepower for Ford's
new Explorer Sport
higher than anticipated

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
August 25, 2012

The horsepower on Ford Motor Co.'s new Explorer Sport is a bit more than originally anticipated, the Dearborn automaker said Friday.

The Explorer Sport, the first performance version of the Explorer, has been certified at 365 horsepower, higher than the originally projected 350 horsepower.

The SUV, which has a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine and will go on sale this fall, has also received an Environmental Protection Agency-certified 16 city miles per gallon and 22 highway miles per gallon.

The fuel efficiency tops that of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango with 5.7-liter Hemi engines and Land Rover Range Rover Sport.

The Explorer Sport, manufactured at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant, has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $40,720


For Chrysler, stakes are higher
in Canadian contract talks

August 24, 2012
The Globe and Mail

Chrysler Group LLC faces a difficult choice as it prepares for contract talks with the Canadian Auto Workers: should it take a tough line to slash costs, or settle quickly to avoid a strike?

The third-largest North American auto maker, three years removed from a brush with oblivion that led to a takeover by Fiat SpA, has the most to gain from a union deal that saves money.

Chrysler's labour costs in Canada are more than $7 higher than U.S. costs of about $51 an hour, with the two countries' currencies at par. That is the biggest cost gap at the Canadian manufacturing operations of the Detroit Three.

But it also has the most to lose if a lengthy strike were to halt production – it's on a hot streak in the showrooms.

The situation at Chrysler could also present the CAW with a tough decision when it decides whether the Windsor, Ont.-based auto maker should be the so-called "target company" for negotiations. The union typically chooses one auto maker with which it tries to nail down an agreement. Normally, that deal is then extended to other two.

Chrysler's sales momentum in both the Canadian and American markets – which includes a double-digit increase in U.S. sales this year – means it will likely lose market share if its Canadian plants are shut down for a long time.

But the company also wants to slash its expenses because it's not competing only with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. More than half of vehicle sales in North America are being won by auto makers that have no unions and lower costs than any of the Detroit Three.

"I think Chrysler would really like to go first [in negotiations]," said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labour and industry group of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), an industry think-tank in Ann Arbor, Mich. "I think they're going to be really tough."

The wild card in the negotiations, Ms. Dziczek noted, is Chrysler and Fiat chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne, who was closely involved in the 2011 U.S. contract talks with the United Auto Workers.

"He's a tough customer," she said.

Mr. Marchionne has been vocal about how wage rates at Chrysler's Canadian operations are uncompetitive and how Canadian workers need to accept so-called two-tiered wages that provide new workers with pay that's about half of what established workers earn.

The $7-an-hour gap between Chrysler's Canadian and American plants arises mainly from the wage structure in its U.S. factories. Newly-hired Chrysler workers in that country will earn between $15.78 (U.S.) and $19.28 an hour between 2011 and 2015, compared with $29.11 for established workers.

About 35 per cent of its unionized U.S. workers are expected to be on the lower end of that scale by 2015, according to CAR estimates. That's higher than Ford and GM.

The Canadian plants of the Detroit Three also pay lower wages to new employees, but after six years, those workers are brought up to regular union rates.

Chrysler has more at stake in the Canadian contract talks because it has more employees covered by the CAW agreements than Ford or GM do. In addition, its Canadian plants produce 27 per cent of the vehicles it assembles in North America, again higher than Ford and GM.

But a strike would dampen the gains it has made this year. Chrysler has had the biggest sales increases of any of the Detroit Three in both Canada and the United States. Those gains have been powered in part by double-digit deliveries of minivans put together in Windsor, Ont., and large sedans assembled in Brampton, Ont.

Chrysler's Etobicoke Casting Plant in Toronto produces parts for engines and transmissions that are then shipped to all of the auto maker's assembly plants, so a labour dispute here would also quickly affect production at U.S. operations.

UBS Securities LLC analyst Colin Langan said in a research note that Chrysler's Canadian operations will contribute $800-million of Chrysler Group's estimated $3-billion in profit in 2012.

Chrysler said last week when negotiations with the CAW opened, that the talks provide an opportunity to establish a foundation for the company's future competitiveness in Canada.

Canadian Auto Workers delegates have voted unanimously to merge with the Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, combining two of Canada's largest private-sector unions. CEP delegates are to vote on the proposal in October.


CAW approves formation of new union with CEP

August 23, 2012
Tony Van Alphen
Toronto Star

The Canadian Auto Workers has voted unanimously to join the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers to form Canada's biggest private-sector union with the aim of changing the country's economic and social course.

More than 600 delegates at a CAW convention at the downtown Toronto Sheraton Centre accepted a package of proposals Wednesday for the new union that would pour millions of dollars more into organizing and open up membership to non-union workers and other Canadians.

"This union will pose a serious challenge to the unrepresentative, unfair economic and political systems workers now find themselves caught in." said CAW president Ken Lewenza after the vote.

"This new union has the potential to change the way workers are represented in this country, bringing about stronger democracy in the workplace and greater community involvement."

Delegates stood up in favour of a package that would improve the two unions' governing structure, financing priorities, servicing levels and strategic direction while making a major effort to extend their influence into communities for social change.

More than 40 delegates spoke in favour of the new union and many of them used their remarks to underline the need to mobilize workers and Canadians so they can dump right-wing governments in Ottawa and several provinces.

Several delegates said the new union and other groups must reverse a corporate agenda that is relentlessly cutting wages, retiree benefits and jobs while governments stand idly by. No one in the crowd of union activists. spoke to formally voice their opposition.

CEP will hold its own convention in Quebec City in October. If CEP delegates approve the same package, the two unions would hold a founding convention next year where they would consider a constitution and new name.

Peter Kennedy, the CAW's national secretary treasurer, said the new unnamed union could grow into a major political force by attracting people outside traditional workplaces that would be able to push for a better society.

The proposed new CAW-CEP union wants to open its membership to the unemployed, retirees, students and other people with similar social interests in communities around the country.

Among other changes, the unions want to double their spending on organizing to a combined $50 million during the next five years to build "density" in some sectors and improve their bargaining position

"We're imagining what this union can be," said Kennedy, who worked on the package with a group of other leaders over several months..

"Do you want to change the world," asked Gaetan Menard, the CEP's secretary treasurer.

"Yes," responded jubilant delegates.

The two unions started formal talks earlier this year in an effort to reinvigorate the labour movement whose membership and bargaining power has declined steadily during the last quarter of a century.

"The old ways haven't worked," said Local 222 preisdent Chris Buckley, who also worked on the package.

Former CAW president Buzz Hargrove applauded his union's move and said the labour movement has to fight back now otherwise the lives of workers, retirees and other Canadians will continue to deteriorate economically.

"Everything we're fighting for is under attack, and this is a turning point," he yelled.

"We're going to be a force to be reckoned with," added another delegate from Halifax.

At one point, Lewenza jokingly asked if their was a nurse in the convention hall as speakers became more emotional and passionate in their remarks.

The CAW and CEP currently represent 190,000 and 130,000 workers respectively in about 20 sectors.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is the biggest union in the country with more than 600,000 members.


Don't blame high Canadian dollar for export woes, Carney tells CAW

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, left, and CAW National President Ken Lewenza, right, shake hands at the Canadian Automotive Workers' First Constitutional and Collective Bargaining Convention in Toronto on Wednesday.

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada,
speaks before the Canadian Auto Workers union at
the Constitutional and Collective Bargaining Convention

Dana Flavelle
Business Reporter
August 22, 2012

The high Canadian dollar isn't the biggest problem facing Canadian exports, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said Wednesday in his first-ever public address to organized labour.

The high loonie accounts for just 20 per cent of the country's uncompetitive position on global markets, Canada's top central banker said at a gathering of the Canadian Auto Workers union on Wednesday.

The rest is due to Canada's excessive reliance on the U.S. market, which continues to recover slowly from the financial crisis of 2008, and the fact Canada is selling too little to emerging markets in India and China, Canada's top banker said.

The Canadian Auto Workers have complained the higher dollar is hurting their efforts to battle the Detroit Three automakers' demands for concessions in current contract negotiations.

"We're being challenged like never before throughout manufacturing as a result of the Canadian dollar," said Chris Buckley, chief negotiator on the CAW contract with GM Canada. "The Canadian dollar makes our negotiations with GM, Chrysler and Ford extremely difficult."

Carney acknowledged Canada's exports remain below pre-recession levels saying its export performance has been the second worst among the G20 developed nations for the past decade.

"In short, our underperformance prior to the crisis was more a reflection of who we traded with than how effectively we did it," Carney said. "We are overexposed to the United States and underexposed to faster-growing emerging markets."

In the new global economy where manufacturers can move production to the lowest-cost country, he said, Canada's best hope is to invest in education and training its workers to the highest possible level.

He used the aerospace industry as an example, where he said Canada enjoys a global advantage in engineering and design.

CAW president Ken Lewenza said later part of the problem is Canadian companies continue to hoard more than half a billion dollars in cash, instead of investing it in retraining and expansion.

Carney's appearance at the convention was a rare meeting of Bay St. and Main St. He came to the convention at the invitation of CAW president Ken Lewenza.

Lewenza said he saw an opportunity to raise the status of working men and women as equal partners in the future of the economy.

As bank governor, Carney influences policies that directly affect the union's members, including setting interest rates and controlling inflation.

The two men are a study in contrasts.

Carney, 47, an economics graduate from Harvard and Oxford universities, spent 13 years at investment house Goldman Sachs before joining the bank in 2003 as deputy governor. As governor, the soft-spoken, mild-mannered Carney has gained a reputation as the voice of reason in a chaotic global financial system.

Lewenza, 57, started at Chrysler installing mufflers in 1972. He ran the powerful Windsor Auto workers' local for 14 years and was also chief negotiator for the CAW's master agreement with Chrysler, where he forged a reputation for militancy and hard-nosed tactics.

A fiery speaker who has slammed his share of bargaining tables, Lewenza has seen first-hand the impact of the economic firestorm that has swept the North American auto industry in recent years.

Despite their differences, the auto workers gave Carney a standing ovation both before and after his wide-ranging address.

At one point, Lewenza said he planned to give Carney union cards for his four daughters to sign, and Carney agreed to do so. The union is trying to capture new, younger members.

He also invited Carney at some future date to tour CAW retraining centres, such as the one set up to help Electro-Motive employees, and witness first-hand the problems faced by older laid-off workers trying to find work


High flying dollar
looms over auto talks

The soaring loonie is making business tougher, say the big three auto makers. Nonsene, says CAW president Ken Lewenza.

Toronto Star
Dana Flavelle
August 22, 2012

The last time the Canadian Auto Workers negotiated a contract with the Detroit Three automakers three years ago, the Canadian dollar was trading around 80 cents U.S.

Today, it's worth more than the U.S. greenback (it fell 0.13 of a cent to close trading Tuesday at $1.0104).

That's made Canadian auto workers appear less competitive relative to their U.S. counterparts, the auto makers say.

It's one of the reasons GM, Ford and Chrysler all say they need a better deal from Canada's 20,600 auto workers in this round of talks.

GM's chief executive Dan Akerson has even gone so far as to say Canada is now the most expensive place in the world to build cars.

CAW President Ken Lewenza has said that's a ridiculous statement.

The high-flying loonie hurts Canadian exports of all kinds, not just cars, particularly since so much of Canada's exports go to the U.S.

But when combined with concessions the United Auto Workers have granted in the U.S., Canada's auto workers looking increasingly out of whack.

Depending on how the figures are calculated, Canadian labour costs are on average $2.50 to $10 an hour higher than in U.S. auto plants, according to the Centre for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. (The difference depends on which auto makers are being compared and whether legacy costs, such as retirees' benefits, are included in the calculation.)

Ford of Canada maintains its all-in labour costs are $79 in Canada compared to just $64 in the U.S. That's partly due to the UAW's decision to accept a lower wage structure for new hires and profit-sharing in lieu of wage increases.

But the dollar doesn't help. That kind of gap — which the CAW disputes — didn't look as large when the loonie bottomed out at 62 cents U.S. in 2002.

The CAW says it's being unfairly blamed for a problem that's beyond its control. The Canadian dollar has soared in part because of higher global demand for oil, the country's image as a safe haven in troubled economic times and a corresponding decline in the U.S. dollar.

In fact, the loonie is currently overvalued and should be trading closer to 80 cents U.S., according to the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation.

Furthermore, Canadians' purchasing power is lower than Americans, the auto union's economist Jim Stanford notes. In other words, Canadians pay more to buy the same goods.

In any case, Stanford says what the auto makers lose on the production side they gain on imports into Canada because while about 80 per cent of the cars made in Canada are exported to other markets, about 80 per cent of the cars bought in Canada are imported.

(Each auto plant specializes in a few makes and models so the rest are imported.)

Indeed, many cars are priced higher in Canada than in the U.S. regardless of where they're made.

Instead of picking on Canadians, the CAW's Lewenza says, the U.S. auto makers should be focusing more of their attention on the problems in Europe, where they're losing billions of dollars.

In fact, the auto makers are over-capacity in Europe, partly due to the financial crisis in the Eurozone, but closing plants in highly unionized countries like Italy is a challenge.

For Canada's auto workers, the current round of contract negotiations isn't just how much they're paid, but whether they'll have a job in the future.

An increasingly global auto industry can pick and choose the cheapest places to make its products for sale around the world.

When the Detroit Three say Canada needs to become more competitive they're talking about where they're going to expand production.

A rising dollar doesn't just make labour costs look more expensive, it also increases the cost of investment.

Critics say Canadian policy makers could be doing more to bring the dollar down to more realistic levels.

The Bank of Canada could sell more Canadian dollars into foreign exchange markets, a strategy adopted recently by the central banks of Japan, Switzerland and Brazil to dampen their overvalued currencies, said Erin Weir, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Or the Canadian government could raise taxes and royalties on the highly profitable resource sector to make it less attractive to foreign investors and thus dampen demand for Canadian dollars, Weir said.

The $15.1 billion bid by China national offshore oil company, CNOOC, for Canada's strategically important oil sands player, Nexen, is just the latest example, he said.

Mike Moffatt, an economist with the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business, disagrees.

"There's nothing wrong with having a higher dollar. We just have to recognize there are winners and losers. And one of the losers is clearly Canadian manufacturing.

"There are a lot of winners, too," Moffatt adds. "We're all wealthier. Our dollars go further when we purchased goods from other countries, whether they're goods or equipment or machinery."

Indeed, Canadian companies have been investing large sums in just the sort of technology and equipment that will ultimately make them more competitive in the long term, he says.

But will that create more of the kinds of relatively highly paid, low skilled jobs the auto industry used to generate?

In recent years, auto production has been growing faster in Mexico and the lower-wage southern U.S. than in Canada.


Ford-backed study: Japan-U.S.
auto partnership would cost jobs

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 22, 2012

Ann Arbor — A study released Tuesday by the Center for Automotive Research argues that allowing Japan to take part in nine-nation free trade talks could dramatically boost Japanese automotive exports to the United States, and cost more than 26,000 American jobs.

The study by the Ann Arbor-based group was partially underwritten by Ford Motor Co., which has hotly criticized Japan and lobbied to it out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In June, a group of nine nations invited Canada and Mexico to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, leaving only Japan uninvited among major nations seeking to participate.

The other nations in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

U.S. automakers are sharply opposed to allowing Japan into the partnership talks. They argue that the Asian nation hasn't done enough to open its market to U.S. auto exports.

A free-trade agreement could drop tariffs on Japanese vehicles entering the United States and make it more economically viable to build cars and trucks in Japan and export them to the U.S.

The Japanese pay a 2.5 percent tariff on cars and a 25 percent tariff on light trucks exported from Japan to the U.S.

The study estimates Japanese vehicle exports to the U.S. would increase by 105,000 units or $2.2 billion — up 6.2 percent — if the 2.5 percent car tariff were eliminated.

The study argues that U.S. vehicle production would fall by 65,100 units, and mean the loss of 2,600 direct American automotive manufacturing jobs.

An additional loss of supplier jobs is estimated at 9,000 and the loss of spin-off jobs at 14,900.

The study, "The Effects a Free Trade Agreement with Japan will have on the U.S. Auto Industry," also examines the effect of changing exchange rates on Japanese vehicle exports.

"The combination of a (free-trade agreement) between the U.S. and Japan and a significant depreciation of the yen versus the dollar would have serious effects on production and employment in the U.S. auto industry," said Sean McAlinden, executive vice president of research and chief economist at the center

Last month, 10 Democratic senators, including Michigan's Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, urged the Obama administration to block Japan from entering into talks aimed at creating one of the largest free-trade zones in the world.

"The history of U.S.-Japanese trade relations gives us little confidence that American negotiators can achieve an agreement that would create a truly level playing field between the two countries in the short timeframe of (Trans-Pacific Partnership) negotiations," said the letter to President Barack Obama.


New battleground of wage freezes takes centre stage with CAW talks Add to ...

CAW president Ken Lewenza speaks at the union’s convention Monday in Toronto on Monday, August 20, 2012.

The Globe and Mail
August 21, 2012

The economy is recovering in fits and starts, but there's one area where growth is accelerating: the number of employers telling workers to abandon any hope of winning wage increases.

The word to workers is that they must agree to freeze their wages – a position the Ontario government is taking in negotiations with teachers and a point the Canadian units of the Detroit Three car companies have made clear to the Canadian Auto Workers union.

But the most extreme example comes from Caterpillar Inc., whose workers at a plant in Joliet, Ill., capitulated to company demands after a three-and-a-half month strike and agreed to freeze their wages for the next six years.

The heavy equipment giant, which posted a profit of $4.9-billion (U.S.) in 2011, is "essentially saying that what you can expect from competitive success is less to workers," said Harley Shaiken, a professor at University of California, Berkeley, and a long-time observer of U.S. labour.

"And that unwinds the history of the U.S. in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, where competitive success resulted in more for workers, which in turn fuelled purchasing power and economic growth."

The attitude among companies that the coffers are empty when it comes to sharing with workers will be tested over the next month in CAW contract talks with the Detroit Three.

The union is insisting that workers be rewarded for the concessions they made to help save two of the companies during the recession.

The companies have no moral right to demand more concessions, CAW president Ken Lewenza told a throng of workers gathered Monday in Toronto for a CAW convention.

The pressure on unionized workers is not new, but stubbornly high unemployment levels and the fresh memories of the 2008-2009 recession are giving employers powerful leverage not only to hold the line on wages, but also roll back benefits built up over decades.

In Canada, companies in some cases have enjoyed extra help in the form of the federal government, which legislated employees back to work at Air Canada and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd.

Those high-profile disputes and the actions by Ottawa to intervene have emboldened other private-sector employers, noted George Smith, a professor at Queen's University in Kingston who specializes in collective bargaining issues.

"That does translate – employers do see that," Prof. Smith said.

That leaves unions fighting what is effectively a rear-guard action to hang on to what workers have, rather than demanding increases in hourly wages or monthly pension payments for retirees or better health-care coverage for both active and retired workers.

But if the labour movement banded together instead of being fragmented, unions would have more power to fight back politically and at the bargaining table, said former CAW president Buzz Hargrove, who noted that the public attitudes have turned upside down since the 1970s.

"When I started out in the labour force, you were envious of people doing well. That envy always led you to want to do the same to get decent wages and pensions and benefits and time off the job," Mr. Hargrove said Monday. "Today the envy is: take it away, they haven't earned it."

His call for unions to fight back was echoed by Charlotte Yates, dean of social sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton where United States Steel Corp. locked out workers for nine months in a pension battle that was eventually won by the company.

"They [unions] need to have a concerted political strategy, because they cannot win at the collective bargaining table on their own," Prof. Yates said. "There has to be a more concerted political and social strategy that starts articulating alternatives and talks about the need for governments to play a role."

Unions also need to convince the broader public of their value by taking stances that affect workers broadly, notably low-income workers who may not be unionized, she said. Members of the public look at unions and see pensions and vacations they don't share, so they have difficulty caring when unions are in disputes, she added.

At the CAW bargaining and constitutional convention Mr. Lewenza thundered that the auto makers should be grateful for the concessions workers made in 2009, which helped persuade the federal and Ontario governments to contribute to the bailouts of Chrysler Canada Inc. and General Motors of Canada Ltd.

Mr. Lewenza issued a warning to companies and governments that are insisting their employees surrender gains they have made over decades.

"The more you push us, the harder we're going to fight back," he declared.


Jilted Ranger loyalists deserting Ford for rival automakers


Only half of its small pickup owners stay with Dearborn firm

By Karl Henkel The Detroit News
August 20, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s decision to abandon the compact pickup truck segment in the U.S. has resulted in about half of Ranger pickup owners choosing to leave Ford for other automakers, according to automotive analysts.

Some former Ranger buyers are buying the larger and more expensive Ford F-150 — the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. — or even leaving pickups entirely for Ford's smaller Escape SUV and Focus, because they don't need or want a bigger truck.

But other manufacturers are gobbling up former Ranger loyalists, too.

"We do know that a good portion of would-be Ranger buyers are going to different brand," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry analysis for TrueCar.com. "Ford may have been too optimistic in their assumption of how many Ranger buyers want to buy an F-150.

"There's no question Ford has lost customers by not having a compact truck."

Ford does not release retention rates. About 40 percent of customers whose vehicles are discontinued stick with the manufacturer when buying a replacement, according to auto research company TrueCar.com.

Evidence from another research site, Edmunds.com, shows Ranger owners are looking to brands like Chevrolet, Toyota and Nissan — and to smaller vehicles.

"A lot of them do go into pickup trucks because they need to, but a lot of owners are long-time owners and need a car," said Jim Elder, general sales manager at Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights. "They are going for more fuel-efficient vehicles."

Ford is offering additional incentives to Ranger owners, to purchase not just an F-150, but any vehicle across the Ford lineup.

Edmunds.com found that nearly 29 percent of Ranger owners who purchased new vehicles between January and June opted for a later-model Ranger or an F-150.

The Toyota Tacoma, another compact pickup, is still top of mind for Ranger owners. More than 40 percent who researched on Edmunds.com have cross-shopped a Tacoma, twice as many as who cross-shopped an F-150, Edmunds.com said.

"We are retaining some Ranger buyers, with the bulk of them moving to F-Series and Escape," said Erich Merkle, Ford's U.S. sales analyst. "As for the compact pickup segment, it has become a much smaller part of the overall industry over the last 12 years."

The American compact pickup segment is scarce and dwindling, and has dropped from 6 percent of the overall market to 2 percent today. Analysts attribute the decline to the refinement of larger pickup trucks — and added incentives — which closed the price gap between truck segments.

During nearly a 30-year span, Ford built more than 6.6 million Rangers. But by the mid-2000s, popularity of compact pickups — which often were non-work vehicles used for hauling yard and do-it-yourself home supplies — dwindled to about 50,000 sales, an annual sales rate of seven times less than its peak.

That was the reason the Dearborn automaker killed off the U.S. Ranger in 2010. The last of them rolled off the assembly line in St. Paul, Minn., in December.

The two dominant compact trucks are the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.

Tacoma, Frontier and General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Colorado (which will have a redesigned look for the 2013 model) all posted sales gains during the first six months of 2012, as Ford clears out Ranger inventory.

But some analysts, dealers and consumers still question Ford's decision to leave the compact pickup market, mostly because of the customers who are leaving it for other brands.

"People are more conscious than ever of gas prices," Elder said. "When Ranger was popular, the gas wasn't really an issue.

"But I definitely think there's a market for the midsize pickup truck."

Steve Simon, owner of Oceanside Pools in Harwich, Mass., whose company regularly has a dozen Rangers to transport pool equipment, has considered future vehicle choices.

"The Rangers were the best fit for us in terms of size," said Simon, who weighed buying two of the last-model Rangers and parking them until they were absolutely needed. "There is no other truck that fits this niche."

Simon prefers the smaller body and cheaper price tag of the Ranger over Ford's best-selling F-Series trucks but conceded he is likely to stick with the brand despite the loss of its compact pickup.

Ford had said most Ranger buyers didn't buy the vehicle because it was a pickup; instead they were simply looking for something inexpensive. At the time the Ford F-150 was being reinvented as a more economical and fuel-efficient truck option, and soon the Ranger was treading on F-150's territory — both in size and price.

Ford still has a global Ranger, though there is no indication that will return to its U.S. lineup. And even if it did, it would come at a higher premium than its predecessors.

That's no consolation, however, to Glen and Cheryl Kitchens, retirees from outside Albuquerque, N.M., who own two Rangers — a 1996 and a 2003, both 4-by-4s with six-cylinder engines.

The Kitchens are now looking to Nissan's Frontier or Titan pickups as their next choice, a difficult decision for them to swallow, considering how much they like the Ranger.

"(It) gets drivenlike a Jeep, and due to the small size, it can go just about anywhere and get turned around in tight spots," Cheryl Kitchen said. "Even in its overlooked and not-updated latest edition, it was still the best compact truck on the market."


Auto review: Mustang Sally better strap in tightly with this GT500

2013 Ford Shelby

By Terry Box
Dallas Morning News
August 19, 2012

Thin clouds seemed to trail the sinister blue Mustang, their contents probably shredded and ingested by the car's big supercharger.

Dogs barked at its collection of nasty noises, which sounded like the rumbles and quakes from some distant urban war.

Most of your neighbors will glare at the 2013 Shelby GT500, too, a wildly muscled-up Mustang that flashes more horsepower beneath its puffed-up hood — an astounding 662 — than several minivans combined.

But after a week spent with a deep-breathing, grabber-blue GT500, I can report that this wonderfully excessive 'Stang is considerably more than a hard-hitting race car with an air conditioner and mufflers.

Get this: Ford claims that the street-legal GT500 — the most powerful production car ever in the U.S. — can exceed 200 mph.

If you drive it like a grown-up, however, the hulking Mustang is almost as tame as a tepid Taurus sedan. Kind of.

The GT500 — the baddest Mustang available from Ford — was no slouch last year, with 550 horsepower thundering through its aluminum 5.4-liter V-8.

This year, Ford's SVT group bumped the engine to 5.8 liters, fitted it with cams from the late, great Ford GT, boosted the compression and bolted on a bigger supercharger.

Besides the nuclear reactor that SVT slipped into the Mustang's engine bay, the car got improvements to its aerodynamics, drivetrain, cooling system and suspension.

It even looks a little better. My intensely blue Shelby featured prominent white skunk stripes over the hood, top and trunk, and slightly more subtle white side stripes.

Although the body and overall styling were mostly carried over from last year, the new GT500 is easy to spot because it has no center grille to slow the flow of critical cool air to the engine.

It felt fierce. Up front, intense HID projector headlamps added to the Mustang's already considerable scowl.

Sitting about an inch lower than a Mustang GT, the Shelby looks bulky and brooding. Dark 19- and 20-inch wheels wore huge 265/40 and 285/35 tires, respectively, that filled the wheel wells.

The Shelby announced its intentions with 3.5-inch stainless steel exhaust tips that could blow cellphone signals out of the air — and good riddance, I say.

While the 'Stang will never be mistaken for a four-cylinder tea-sipper, it is rated at 15 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway — an astonishing 1 mpg better in highway mileage than last year's car.

And unlike the less economical Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the Shelby's archrival, the Mustang avoids the gas guzzler tax.

You might wonder about the car's pretty basic interior, though, especially considering its hefty $63,080 price.

I viewed it as a nice mix of modern and retro — but I say that as a Mustang owner.

The GT500 I had featured black leather Recaro sport seats with white skunk stripes down the middle.

Likewise, the rear seats had matching white skunk stripes that will probably look fresh and new for years because no adult over 5 feet tall can fit back there, including me.

In addition to the Recaros, you get a great white cue-ball shifter for the six-speed, a nifty three-spoke steering wheel wrapped partly in velour and a semi-realistic 220 mph speedometer.

What more do you need?

Everyone will know when you're behind the wheel, preparing for blastoff.

The big blue engine fires off with a guttural snarl, settling in to a slightly lumpy old school idle from its new cams.

Let me warn you: The clutch is stiffer than some of the leg machines you use at the gym, but you'll get used to it.

That cue-ball shift lever is heavy, too, but its engagements are positive — and I'll take stiff and positive any day to the soft and sloppy shifter in my Mustang GT.

One of the beast's oddities is its relatively high 3.31 rear-end gear ratio, which complicates the car's drivability, I think.

The high gears help with those astronomical top speeds that maybe a dozen people will experience. But they make it a bit more difficult to smoothly depart stops.

You end up either leaving at too low an rpm, causing the car to stumble some, or juicing it up to a nice, healthy level and getting sideways in a billowing cloud of tire smoke — just as that mean Dallas cop pulls through the intersection.

In short order, though, you'll get accustomed to that, too.

Most of the Shelby's immense power is clustered up fairly high, between 3,000 and 6,500 rpm, so you can putt around town pretty discreetly if you want to do that for some reason.

If you really prod the Big Snake — which is vastly more fun — it will bite you in the blink of an eye.

As you might expect, first gear is all mayhem and wheel spin — and good for nearly 60 mph. The engine doesn't just push you back into the seat. It body-slams you.

Once, while entering an interstate, I got wheelspin in second gear at 55 mph when I attempted to, uh, merge quickly. Whoooeee, Andy.

Zero to 60, incidentally, roars by in a mere 3.5 seconds, according to Motor Trend.

Meanwhile, the ride was tolerably stiff. On smooth pavement, it felt firm and well-controlled, banging hard only on potholes.

What was surprising was how crisply the brutal, 3,900-pound Shelby turned into corners. Though not as agile as the Boss 302, it dived into moderate-speed curves with glee, displaying minimal lean even when the suspension was set for street.

I never pushed it really hard, remembering that big hammer up front waiting for the next fool to step up. But I can well imagine how vicious it might be in a high-speed corner on a track.

And while the Brembo brakes were superb, stopping the big Shelby from 60 mph in just 100 feet, the steering felt kind of murky and thick.

Though quick and reasonably precise, it just wasn't as impressive as the engine and suspension.

Nonetheless, this is easily the best GT500 ever.

Somewhere, as Automobile magazine noted, old Carroll Shelby is smiling.

2013 Ford Shelby GT500
Type of vehicle: Four-passenger, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe
Price as tested: $63,080
Fuel economy: 15 mpg city, 24 highway
Weight: 3,871 pounds
Engine: Supercharged, double-overhead-cam, 5.8-liter V-8 with 662 horsepower and 631 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Performance: 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds
Safety rating: Unrated


Ford sales in Europe
down 12.3 percent

Automaker's July numbers reflect weak
demand in European markets

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
August 17, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s European sales dropped 12.3 percent in July amid continuing weak demand.

Ford sold 83,100 vehicles in its traditional 19 European markets last month, 12.3 percent lower than the same month a year ago and the worst July in 17 years. Year to date, Ford sales were 700,200 units, down 10.6 percent compared to the same period last year.

By comparison, industrywide sales dropped 7.6 percent to 1.08 million during July and are down 7.1 percent to 8.75 million for the year, Ford reported. General Motors Co. did not have July sales figures for Europe on Thursday.

Ford's sales figures are from Europe's 19 traditional markets; the automaker's sales dropped 9.8 percent when all 51 European markets are included.

Continued concerns about Europe's sovereign debt crisis and high unemployment have dealt a blow to consumer confidence and automobile sales.

"Overall industry sales remain very weak across much of Europe given the economic environment," said Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and services at Ford of Europe.

Ford's market share dropped 0.4 percentage points to 7.7 percent in Europe's 19 traditional markets in July.

The Dearborn automaker said it saw sales gains in the United Kingdom — Ford's largest European market — plus Russia and Eastern Europe.

GM new car registrations of 560,934 in the European Union were down 10.8 percent in the first half of the year, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association. Fiat's new car registrations dropped 17.1 percent to 445,229 units during the first six months.

Ford's sales of 517,094 were down 10.4 percent for the same period, according to the association.

Overall, the European association says demand for new cars in the EU fell 6.8 percent during the first half of 2012 compared to 2011


CAW Retirees say they
want fair shake

Ken Lewenza Toronro August 2012

Dana Flavelle
Toronto Star
August 16, 2012

About 20 busloads of auto industry retirees are expected to converge on the CAW convention Monday to support the union's demands for a better deal from the Detroit Three auto makers for those still on the job.

Some retirees are hoping the union will also strike a better deal for them.

The Canadian Auto Workers opened negotiations this week with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler for a new contract, saying they shared in the pain in 2009, now they want to share in the profits.

Both active auto workers and retirees agreed to concessions three years ago as part of a massive $10.5 billion Canadian and Ontario government bailout of a North American industry in near collapse.

Active workers gave up several dollars an hour in wages, along with bonuses and some benefits, while retirees saw their pension levels frozen for six years and took a 20 per cent cut in health care benefits.

Despite a dramatic turnaround that has seen the Detroit Three return to profitability, the automakers say they need even more cuts in their Canadian labour costs to remain competitive.

They say labour costs in Canada are higher than in the U.S., and a rise in the value of the Canadian dollar has made the comparison worse.

CAW president Ken Lewenza said this week further concessions aren't acceptable to his members.

After meeting with Ford of Canada Wednesday, the last in a series of initial meetings with all three auto makers this week, Lewenza said again that the union is looking for a share of the automakers' success.

He cited, as an example, restoring the $1,700 annual bonus – called a Christmas bonus at some companies and a vacation bonus at others.

However, it's less clear how hard the union can or will be able to push the automakers on the retirees' issues.

"At the bargaining table we want to talk about the retirees getting some reward for the turnaround at the companies," Lewenza said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "But we don't know what that would look like and I'm not saying that would be easy. We've got multiple demands with very little space for investments."

The union also says its hands are tied by some of the terms and conditions of the government bailout.

The bailout included nearly $4 billion in benefits for GM pensioners, said CAW economist Jim Stanford, noting that without it some 30,000 GM Canada retirees would have lost two-thirds of their pension and all of their health care benefits as the pension plan was underfunded at the time the automaker filed for bankruptcy.

But some pensioners believe the automaker can now well afford to be more generous.

Noting that General Motors reported a record $7.6 billion profit last year, GM Canada retiree Chris White, in Oshawa, said some retirees have seen their buying power fall by 10 per cent since 2009 due to the loss of inflation indexing.

Retirees now pay more for prescriptions and also face possible further cuts to their health care benefits, White said.

Auto industry retirees are always invited to attend the CAW convention, said Dean Lindsay, the union's national co-ordinator who works with retirees.

About 350 retirees are expected to attend the first day of the union's week long national constitutional and collective bargaining convention at the Sheraton Centre hotel in Toronto, starting Aug. 20.


CAW says they want to share
Detroit Three automakers' profits

Dana Flavelle
Business Reporter
August 15, 2012

As Canada's first auto talks in four years got underway, CAW president Ken Lewenza issued a clear warning to the auto makers – stop asking for concessions.

Canada's 24,000 auto workers deserve to share in the gains the auto makers have made since 2009 when a multi-million dollar government bailout and worker concessions helped keep a struggling industry in business, he said.

"The companies have profited because of our members' sacrifices. They have no economic or ethical right to demand further concessions," Lewenza told a press conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto.

The CAW is holding its first formal meetings this week with each of the Detroit Three auto makers, General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, in what some have described as the most crucial auto talks in years.

At stake are the wages of some of the country's highest paid industrial workers, along with the future of auto industry investment in Canada, a key driver of Ontario's economy.

GM Canada opened the talks Tuesday morning saying it wants to cut its hourly labour costs in Canada, Lewenza said.

While the company has yet to make specific proposals, Lewenza said, "they made multiple demands in multiple areas that we would consider concessionary."

GM's U.S. chief executive Dan Ackerson has described Canada as the most expensive place in the world to build cars.

GM Canada recently announced plans to close an older assembly line in Oshawa and move some of that production to a lower cost facility in the U.S.

The company declined to comment on its demands saying only that "the North American auto industry today faces extremely challenging competitive conditions."

Ford of Canada will also be seeking more "overall labour cost competitiveness" both to protect its existing investment in Canada and also win new business, an official close to the talks said later.

Lewenza said Canada's higher pay rates are offset by the higher profits the auto makers earn on vehicle sales here. The cost of living in Canada is higher, and the Canadian dollar is overvalued by 20 per cent relative to the U.S. greenback, a problem that can't be solved in labour negotiations, Lewenza argued.

He added the union wants to work with the auto makers to make Canada's plants among the world's most productive. But it can't go back to its membership seeking more concessions, not when the companies have returned to profitability.

His members want to win back things like the Christmas bonus they gave up in 2009 to help GM and Chrysler avert bankruptcy, he said. The union also gave up several dollars per hour in pay, agreed to a four-year wage freeze, lost bonuses and time off, while retirees gave up pension indexing.

While he said he doesn't expect to regain all of the losses, the union can't agree to any further concessions given the companies are now profitable.

"One way or another our members have to make some progress," he said. He added the union would not agree to a U.S.-style two-tier wage system that would see new hires accept a lower pay grid.

Lewenza said it was too soon to say which auto maker the union will pick to negotiate a master agreement, which becomes the blueprint for the other companies.

The target last time, in 2008, was Ford. Ford is also looking at improving its overall labour-cost competitiveness in Canada, a senior official said Tuesday.

Lewenza said he's hoping to have a deal in place before the current contract expires Sept. 17. Bargaining will resume after the CAW's constitutional and collective bargaining conference ends Aug. 24.

The talks come amid strong growth in auto sales so far this year as pent up post-recession demand fuels purchases of newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles, a new report shows.

For the first six months, North America posted a double-digit increase in car sales, lifting purchases to the highest level since 2007, according to a global auto report by Scotiabank released Tuesday.

Light vehicle sales in North American have jumped 13 per cent so far this year.

Canadian auto sales are also beating expectations boosting the bank's 2012 forecast to 1.68 million units, the second highest annual total on record.


GM eyeing two-tiered
wages in CAW talks

David Wenner, left, general director of labour relations for General Motors, shakes hands with Chris Buckley, chairperson of the CAW’s GM master bargaining committee, in Toronto on Aug. 14, 2012

Lewenza calls system nothing but a Band-Aid

By Grace MacAluso, The Windsor Star
August 14, 2012

A two-tiered wage system could be on the table when General Motors kicks off contract talks with the Canadian Auto Workers union today, according to a company source familiar with the situation.

"The cost of new hires is uncompetitive and will need to be addressed," the source said. "This is critical because our demographics are such that we may have the opportunity to begin turning over the workforce."

GM is the first automaker, so far, to raise the issue of new hires in advance of Detroit Three-CAW bargaining that gets underway this week in Toronto.

"We're opposed to any kind of permanent two-tier wage system," CAW president Ken Lewenza said Monday. "In the short-term, it's nothing but a Band-Aid. And in the longterm, it will lead to individual unrest within the plant, reduced productivity and labour unrest."

The CAW, which represents 8,000 members at GM plants in Ontario, has opposed the system under which new employees at United Auto Workers plants earn about half the regular hourly rate of US$28. At CAW plants, new hires start at 70 per cent of the regular hourly rate of $34.50 but reach parity over six years.

"It's a divisive issue among workers who could be working side-by-side and making different wages on a permanent basis," Lewenza said.

"There's maybe some flexibility here but a permanent two-tier wage system is not sustainable and we remain opposed."

All three carmakers have put the CAW on notice that they expect contracts that align Canadian labour costs with those at their U.S. plants.

Including benefits such as pensions, health care and overtime pay, the CAW's total average labour cost is about US$60 an hour, according the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. That compares with $58 for U.S. workers at Ford, $56 at General Motors and about $52 at Chrysler.

"One of our key challenges involves addressing our growing labour costs in Canada," the GM source said.

"We are the highest-cost country. At the end of the day, we need to be competitive with our U.S. counterparts to even be considered for future investment."

GM also will resist any attempts to raise structural labour costs, the source said. "(Cost of living allowance) is an example of an uncompetitive wage escalator that will continue to increase our costs if it were to be part of our next agreement."

Across the Detroit River, UAW workers have secured product investment guarantees in exchange for lump sum payments, such as profit sharing, in lieu of hourly wages rates.

Profit-sharing or payments tied to the company's performance are preferable to hourly wage hikes, the source said. "Our preference is to find ways to have employees share in the upside of the company's performance," he said, adding that GM will look at "everything and anything" to bring costs down.

The CAW, meanwhile, on Monday called for more investment by the Detroit Three in their Canadian plants.

"We want the very best stateof-the-art paint jobs," Lewenza said. "We want the very best technology that's offered in the manufacturing of vehicles.

Because when you invest in the facility, you increase productivity. When you increase productivity, then you increase profits, and then wages become more sustainable."

He said the union made a number of "significant" sacrifices, including to wages, vacation time and cost-of-living payments, to help the struggling automakers in 2008 and 2009. While the union doesn't expect to regain all of those cuts, Lewenza said it's hoping to make some progress now that the companies are making a profit.

"We will have a tough conversation, but at the end of the day, both parties are committed to doing the right thing for our customer," the GM source said. "We're optimistic we can work with CAW partners to overcome the challenges together, to ensure we're competitive and come up with an agreement that's a win-win for both of us."

CAW leaders will hold separate kickoff bargaining sessions with GM and Chrysler today and with Ford on Wednesday. It is expected there will be no further talks following those sessions until after the week of Aug. 20, when the CAW holds its convention in Toronto.


CAW set to open auto talks
with Big Three in Toronto

Dana Flavelle
Toronto Star
August 14, 2012

The Canadian Auto Workers union is set to open contract talks with the Detroit Three auto makers this week, marking the official start of what could be the most challenging negotiations in years.

The union that represents about 24,000 auto workers in Canada has announced it will open a series of meetings with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler starting Tuesday in Toronto.

At stake are the wages of some of the country's highest paid industrial workers, along with the future of auto industry investment in Canada, a key economic driver for the province of Ontario.

The Canadian union, which made concessions during the government bailout in 2009 of a then struggling auto industry is hoping to play catch-up now that U.S. auto sales are recovering and the Detroit Three are back in the black.

Canada's auto industry, including Toyota, Honda and other car makers, has swung from a $1.5 billion loss in 2009 to an expected profit of $1.5 billion this year, the Conference Board of Canada estimated in June.

Despite this, the U.S. auto makers will be seeking concessions that bring Canadian wage rates more in line with their American plants.

"The Detroit Three have made it extremely clear that labour costs in Canada must be competitive with labour costs in the U.S. if the companies are going to invest in their Canadian plants," said Tony Faria, an auto industry expert at the University of Windsor.

This week's initial meetings at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto will give the bargaining teams a chance to lay out their positions. Full bargaining will begin Aug. 27 after the CAW's constitutional and collective bargaining conference. Closer to Labor Day, the CAW will pick one of the Big Three to negotiate a master agreement, which becomes the blueprint for the other companies.

The target last time, in 2008, was Ford.

The contract expires Sept. 17.

A key issue in the talks will be Canadian auto workers' wage rates.

The Canadian auto workers acknowledge its members make more than their U.S. counterparts -- on average $6 an hour, or $64 versus $58 an hour, including wages and benefits.

The United Auto Workers agreed last year to give up annual wage increases in favour of bonuses tied to the companies' financial performance. American workers also agreed to a two-tier wage structure that sees new hires start at lower rates.

The CAW, which split from its U.S. parent in 1985, has rejected both strategies though union president Ken Lewenza has recently softened his tone, Faria said.

A source close to Ford also recently indicated the auto maker is looking to be creative.

There are other ways the auto makers can cut costs, Faria noted, such as lowering the Canadian starting rate from 70 per cent of full pay to 60 per cent, or reducing the number of skilled trades on the plant floor.

The wage gap wasn't as noticeable before the Canadian dollar soared to par with the U.S. greenback in 2007, a fact the auto makers say they can't ignore

"We'll see whether we can get a solution on the table that makes sense given the economic environment and the differences between Canada and the United States on manufacturing costs," Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said on a recent conference call to discuss financial results.

"When we built the plants in Canada, the exchange rate was materially different than it is today," Dan Akerson, GM chief executive officer said in June. "As a result, and the CAW knows this, building a car in Canada is the most expensive place to build a car in the world right now."

Labour rates aren't the only factor in future auto industry investment. Government incentives also play a role.

Canadian and Ontario taxpayers provided $10.5 billion in a historic bailout of the auto industry, which was on the verge of collapse following the U.S. financial crisis a year earlier. Including concessions from workers, the rescue package came to $14.4 billion.

For now, GM and Chrysler are committed to ensuring a certain percentage of their North American production takes place in Canada, a condition of the bailouts.

Chrysler is still well above its commitments while GM is close to falling below their limits.

Those commitments expire in 2016.

CAW Ontario Plants


Pressure is on CAW as
contract talks begin

Big 3 pushing Canadian union for
lower labor and production costs

By Bryce G. Hoffman and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
August 14, 2012

This year's contract negotiations between the Canadian Auto Workers and the Detroit automakers, which begin today in Toronto, could prove far more contentious than last fall's talks with the United Auto Workers.

That is because Canada has become one of the most expensive places in the world to build cars and trucks.

CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling on General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC to make new product commitments to their Canadian factories, but he acknowledges that a strong looney is making that a harder case to press than in years past.

"The Canadian dollar is creating a little bit of a challenge," he said.

But Detroit's Big Three say that is only part of the problem. All three companies say the CAW, which represents approximately 21,000 hourly workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler facilities in Canada, needs to follow the example of the United Auto Workers and help them reduce labor costs if they want them to commit to future production.

"Canada is unfortunately one of the most expensive places in the world to manufacture vehicles. To a degree, it's a function of what's happened to the differential between the Canadian dollar and the U.S. dollar. But that's not the only reason. There are many other areas of opportunity," Ford's global manufacturing chief John Fleming told reporters during a recent dinner.

"We'd like to sit down with the CAW and to be able to have those discussions that allow us, over time, to start to improve the competitiveness of Ford in Canada."

Fleming said one way to do that could be to adopt a two-tier wage system similar to the one the UAW agreed to during its 2007 U.S. negotiations with Ford and the other Detroit automakers.

It pays new hires about half what veteran workers make and provides them with fewer benefits. About 15 percent of Ford's 42,000 hourly U.S. hourly workers were hired under the system, saving the company millions of dollars. And Fleming said Ford wants to see the system continue in the U.S.

"I'd like to see it as a permanent solution, because what it's allowed and what it will continue to allow is continued investment and jobs," he said.

And that is not the only part of the U.S. contract Detroit automakers would like to see the CAW adopt.

Chrysler Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne has made it clear that cost-of-living raises and wage increases are off the table. Instead, he would like the CAW to agree to a profit-sharing plan similar to the one negotiated with the UAW last fall.

That agreement only pays bonuses if the company is solidly profitable.

"The Canadian system needs to be as competitive as the American side," he told reporters earlier this year. "They are not today."

CAW members make about $60 an hour in wages and benefits, while Chrysler workers in the United States receive about $50 an hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

"We are opposed to profit-sharing," Lewenza told The Detroit News last month. "But this is a time in our negotiating lives when you're going to have to be creative."

The CAW has been holding back-channel discussions with all three companies for months. Formal negotiations with Chrysler and GM are slated to begin today, with the Ford handshake scheduled for Wednesday. Bargaining will take place at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto.

In the past, the CAW has waited until after Labor Day to announce a target, and this year is expected to be no different. Contracts have traditionally been for three years, but the current agreement was extended by one year during the auto crisis in 2009.

The CAW contract expires Sept. 17.


CAW, automakers gear up for talks

Brampton Guardian
Aug 13, 2012

The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union, which represents workers at Chrysler's Brampton assembly plant, will officially kick off contract talks with the Detroit "Big Three" automakers tomorrow (Aug. 14) in Toronto.

The CAW will hold separate meetings, starting with General Motors Canada and then Chrysler, followed by face-to-face sessions with Ford on Wednesday.

The CAW represents 24,000 members at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors and will aim, along with the employers, to strike new three-year agreements for workers.

Wages and the desire on the part of automakers to reduce production costs will be major hurdles to an agreement this time around.

Hurling the first shot, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler say Canada is now the most expensive place in the world to assemble vehicles, due largely to the recent strength of the Canadian dollar.

In contrast, the union wants its members to share in the relative prosperity of the automakers after agreeing to freezes on pay and benefits in the past few years.

Full bargaining won't start until after the CAW's constitutional and collective bargaining convention in Toronto, slated from Aug. 20 to 24. The union is expected to choose a strike target around Labour Day weekend.

Chrysler employs 3,500 assembly workers at its Brampton Assembly Plant, as well as 4,500 workers in Windsor and 300 in Etobicoke.


GM recalls more than 38,000
Impala police cars

The 2012 Impala Police. (GM)

By Tom Krisher
AP Auto Writer
August 13, 2012

Detroit — General Motors is recalling more than 38,000 Chevrolet Impala police cars in the U.S. and Canada because a part in the front suspension can crack and cause a crash.

The recall affects police cars from the 2008 through 2012 model years. The lower control arm in the suspension can fracture, causing sudden changes in handling that could make the driver lose control, GM said in documents posted Saturday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Impalas sold to the public have some different suspension parts and are not affected by the recall, spokesman Alan Adler said. "We tested for durability on the civilian Impala, and we believe there are no issues," he said.

GM doesn't know of any crashes or injuries from the problem. If a fracture occurs, a squeal or chirp is likely to come from the tire area at low speeds, GM said in the documents.

The company will replace the lower control arms at no charge to police departments. Parts are available, and departments can call dealers to schedule repairs, Adler said.

The problem was discovered after GM got reports from several police fleets that the lower control arms had cracked near a bushing sleeve. GM began investigating the problem in February, and in July, GM engineers had traced the problem to lower control arms that the company started using in the middle of the 2008 model year, the documents said.

All the cars were built at GM's factory in Oshawa, Ontario.


Ford recalls 16,000
Transit Connect vans


By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 10, 2012

Washington— Ford Motor Co. said Friday it is recalling 16,330 Transit Connect vans because wiper arms may not be adequately riveted, resulting in incomplete or inconsistent clearing of the windshield and possible detachment of the wiper arm.

The recall covers vehicles built in the 2011-12 model years. The Dearborn automaker said it is not aware of any crashes or injuries as a result of the issue. Ford said if the wiper arm detaches, the windshield wiper will fail and the driver's visibility may be reduced, increasing the risk of a crash. Some owners have complained of poor wiper performance and noisy wipers.

Ford dealers will replace both the passenger and driver windshield wipers and blade assemblies. The vehicles were built at Ford's Kocaeli plant in Turkey.

Ford began investigating the issue in February after seeing a high number of warranty claims. The automaker will begin notifying owners next week.


CAW: Union gaining ground at Ontario Honda plant

Toronto Star
August 10, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza says his labour group is drawing closer to organizing workers at a Honda assembly plant in Ontario, WardsAuto reports, while efforts to get inside two Toyota manufacturing sites are moving more slowly.

"We're active in Honda, not so active in Toyota," Lewenza told WardsAuto in an interview. "We're getting some enthusiastic and strong support, but we're not there yet."

CAW starts contract talks with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in September. The outcome of those negotiations could dictate the union's momentum in organizing the two Japanese automakers' workers.

As with U.S. counterpart Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers union, Lewenza has his eye on bolstering union membership rolls by organizing so-called Japanese transplants building cars and trucks in Canada.

And not unlike King, Lewenza says he faces "very anti-union employers putting a lot of resources and time into keeping the union out."

Workers at Honda's Alliston, Ont., assembly plant, which builds the Honda Civic and CR-V and Acura MDX and ZDX cross/utility vehicles, were recently provided a company handout showing that their wage is on par with the Detroit Three automakers that have production facilities in the region, the website said.

However, the CAW argues Honda's wage calculations fail to consider items such as lower-paid contract workers at Alliston and include full bonuses not every worker receives.

"When they are doing that in a very concerted way, you know we are getting (Honda's) attention," Lewenza says.

Beyond winning comparable wages between the transplants and Detroit Three in Canada, which Lewenza doubts would exist if the CAW were not representing workers at the GM, Ford and Chrysler factories, Lewenza says he seeks a common understanding of the competitive landscape between labour and management.

"We're all in this together," he says. "We're competitors, but if everyone is concentrating on wages, they're going to go down."

Weaker wages create a "race to the bottom," where multinational corporations see no obligation to the communities where they operate, Lewenza says.

Honda officials did not return calls seeking comment on the organizing efforts at Alliston, said the website.

The upcoming talks with the Detroit Three are seen as pivotal for CAW, which tinkered with its payroll structure during the industry crisis in 2009 just as the UAW did to bring all-in labour costs down to the level of transplants in order to receive government bailout money.

Since then, the Canadian dollar has strengthened and Canada has become the most expensive place to build vehicles, automakers say.

Lewenza would like the Canadian government to deflate the value of its dollar to make the region more competitive with countries such as Mexico, which has seen its auto industry grow in recent years while Canada's has shrunk.

Winning new union members would give the CAW, which represents some 25,000 workers at the Detroit automakers' factories, greater bargaining power.

Toyota operates a pair of Ontario assembly plants in Woodstock and Cambridge, where Lewenza says organizing efforts have yet to gain traction.


Baby boomers recall the
cars of their generation

Many bemoan today's autos, saying they lack
personality compared to flashy muscle cars

By Kim Hone-McMahan
Akron Beacon Journal
August 9, 2012

Akron, Ohio— Baby boomers came of age when muscle cars and in-your-face styling were cool. Manufacturers now sell copycat machines that allow boomers to recapture their childhood, but more often than not, it's difficult to tell one make from another.

People drive cars that look like toasters. If it weren't for the hamsters behind the wheel, would any of us be able to tell the difference between a Scion xB and a Kia Soul?

When boomers were teenagers, a favorite pastime for some was perching on the railing of the front porch and challenging their buddies or kid brother to name the make, model and year of passing vehicles.

Today, those same guys and gals wish they still had the cars of their youth, cherry wheels that are now worth a small fortune.

"From the time I was 16 until I went into the Army about 191/2, everybody I knew had a muscle car. Of course, the cars were all too fast for our driving skills, but we thought we were invincible," said Bob Christman. "At the Varsity — a Barberton drive-in — it was nothing on a Friday or Saturday night to have a hundred cars in there. Ninety-nine percent were muscle cars," that were usually, if not always, American built.

Sitting in their Barberton home, Bob and his wife, Sally, reminisced. To Sally's chagrin, the images of her days as a teenager are a little too in-her-face. On one wall of the living room is a floor-to-ceiling display case filled with 230 die-cast car models, which Bob routinely washes and waxes.

Bob explained that guys were always looking for a race while cruising their favorite spots.

"But the girls thought you were looking for us," Sally chimed in.

Bob chuckled.

"You knew from experience who had the fast cars. There was a pecking order. Sometimes there might be a guy who would come down from Lujan's restaurant and he had the hottest car," recalled Bob, who is laid up for a while after he was struck by a motorist while bicycling. "And even before they arrived, you knew they were coming."

It was a time before cellphones. But it was one guy talking to another, spreading the word.

A car that Bob wishes he still had is his 1967 Chevy Nova Super Sport.

"The biggest mistake I made when I went into the Army was selling it for $1,300. Now they sell them at the Barrett-Jackson (collector car auction) for $30,000 to $40,000."

But the 62-year-old stops short of saying he wants another old muscle car, settling instead for his 1989 Corvette.

"Most muscle cars don't have air-conditioning and you have to work on them all of the time," Bob said. "And the Corvette that I have now corners faster than I have nerve to drive."

1971 Buick
Another car guy, Bob Bonto of Springfield Township, was able to hold onto the Buick Riviera GS that he bought new in 1971. Today, the odometer reads just 19,270 miles, about what the average driver puts on a car in 15 months.

Bonto, who has judged the Stan Hywet Father's Day car show for the past 18 years, bought the car for $5,200 after being discharged from the Army in 1971.

For years he has done well in car shows with the immaculate, boat-size vehicle; and has the trophies to prove it. Like others, he is frustrated by the designs of this generation.

"The car companies are making cars today with no personality. They are mass-produced, cookie-cutter cars," Bonto lamented.

"As baby boomers, we had some of the most bold, daring designs that ever came out. They were innovative. You are never going to see those designs again."

Cars of their youth
We recently asked some baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) to tell us about cherished cars they had when they were kids:

"I saw the car (a 1955 Buick Special) sitting on the corner of the street in Akron. It would not go in reverse, so test driving was a real trick. But I have worked for several car dealerships and I knew a good-looking car when I saw it."

The car cost $300. The man who owned it said he wanted to sell it before getting a divorce, so his wife wouldn't acquire the Nile-green car with a steering wheel as big as a semi-truck. She sold the car in the early 1990s, with only 59,000 miles on it.

"I would not drive it in the rain or snow.

"It was time to let someone else have fun with it."


Ford's 2013 C-MAX hybrids post top mpg, electric-only speed

The Dearborn automaker said the electric-only top speed of the Energi plug-in hybrid is more than 20 mph higher than competitor Toyota Prius. (Ford)

By Melissa Burden and Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
August 8, 2012

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its new 2013 C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid can achieve a top electric-only speed of 85 miles per hour — the most of any plug-in hybrid. Ford also announced separately that its 2013 C-MAX Hybrid will get an Environmental Protection Agency-certified 47 combined miles per gallon.

The Dearborn automaker said the electric-only top speed of the Energi plug-in hybrid is more than 20 mph higher than the Toyota Prius Plug-In. The C-MAX Energi, which will begin arriving at Ford showrooms in 19 markets this fall, also will offer drivers an electric-vehicle mode button to give drivers electric power on demand.

The vehicle will offer drivers an option of three driving modes, which drivers can switch between. In addition to electric-only mode, the C-MAX Energi offers a normal mode, which uses electric and gasoline engine power based on demand and battery charge; and a battery-saving mode that saves battery-pack energy for later use.

"C-MAX Energi uses technology in new ways to provide customers smart choices in maximizing their energy usage based on where and how they drive their vehicles," Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president of powertrain engineering, said in a statement.

The base C-MAX Energi, priced at $29,995 after a federal tax credit of $3,750, will roll out nationally across the U.S. in 2013.

In a separate announcement, Ford said its C-MAX Hybrid, to launch this fall, gets equal fuel efficiency in the city and the highway.

"The all-new C-MAX Hybrid is a great symbol of how Ford has transformed into a fuel-economy and technology leader with 47 mpg across the board and a highway rating 7 mpg better than Toyota Prius v," said Joe Bakaj, Ford's vice president of powertrain engineering.

The Toyota Prius v gets 42 combined mpg — 44 in the city and 40 on the highway — according to the U.S. Department of Energy's fuel-efficiency website.

C-MAX Hybrid is currently available for order at select dealerships. The car can go as fast as 62 miles per hour in electric mode and has a base price of $25,995.


Ford eyes greater plant flexibility, fewer vehicle platforms

By Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
August 7, 2012

Ford Motor Co. — using its One Ford manufacturing operating system — is boosting plant flexibility, reducing vehicle platforms and plans to increase its global capacity usage by 27 percent in the next five years.

John Fleming, executive vice president of global manufacturing for the Dearborn automaker, said he wants Ford plants to achieve 100 percent plus capacity utilization globally in five years. The 27 percent boost is over the company's 2011 rate — which Ford would not disclose other than to say it was less than 100 percent and is based on two shifts.

"The real opportunity for us is to really leverage everything up to a three-shift operation," said Fleming, a speaker Monday at the Center for Automotive Research's Management Briefing Seminars.

Several of the company's plants in Europe operate on three shifts, as do plants in the U.S. such as its Michigan Assembly and Dearborn plants. But it still has some plants running one shift such as its Mustang plant.

Ford is working to reduce the number of core vehicle platforms to nine by 2015 and wants to increase the number of different products in plants globally from 3.6 today to about 4.5 by 2015 to give regions more flexibility, Fleming said.

Ford said some of its new plants in the Asia Pacific Africa region will be able to produce six or seven vehicles.

Ford continues to use virtual tools — which have helped reduce build issues when a vehicle is launched by more than 90 percent since 2006 — to help design assembly lines to reduce worker injuries and improve vehicle quality.

The company said virtual tools have cut investment to build a vehicle by more than 20 percent since 2009 and in the future expects the simulated tools and uniform processes to generate an 8 percent cost reduction for manufacturing investment around things such as tooling and facilities, Fleming said.

The results stem from the One Ford plan, a strategy used for five or six years that is built around "one team, one plant, one goal," Fleming said.

"It's about aligning the company," he said.

The company still must reduce capacity in Europe, said Fleming, who formerly headed Ford Europe. Fleming, though, wouldn't say how much the company needs to cut. The automaker has said it expects to lose $1 billion in Europe this year.

"We haven't come to any conclusion as to what we need to do. We've got a lot of things to look at," he said. "There's lots of ways to take capacity out. … You can reduce shifts, you can take cost out by taking overtime out. There's a lot of things you can do.

"We're just going through all of those with the principle that we've put in place… get capacity matched to demand and then decide exactly what needs to be done."


Ford Van Dyke plant adds jobs, hybrid transmissions

Automaker says it can tailor its
production to meet market's needs

By Karl Henkel The Detroit News
August 5, 2012

Sterling Heights —Ford Motor Co.'s Van Dyke Transmission plant has officially added hybrid transmission capacity, adding 225 jobs.

About 130 of those jobs are already filled and the rest will be filled as the plant ramps up production on transmissions for the Ford C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

The Dearborn automaker says it is the only front-wheel drive hybrid transmission to be made in North America.

The plant employs about 1,350 workers.

The transmissions are assembled on a new, flexible transmission line that also produces six-speed automatic transmissions, part of a $220 million investment.

"We want to be able to respond to whatever the market wants," said Jim Tetreault, vice president of North American manufacturing. Ford can now tailor production of its hybrid transmissions to better meet the demand.

Ford celebrated the official launch of its transmission line Thursday at an event, which included members from the United Auto Workers and Sterling Heights Mayor Richard Notte.

To show the flexibility of the new transmission lines, workers at the Van Dyke plant could — although it would be an extreme circumstance — alternate hybrid and six-speed transmission production by simply rotating a pallet on the line.

This process is made simpler by the use of "kits" — toolbox-like containers holding the necessary parts for each transmission.

Those kits are put together at Ford's Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti Township, which now handles those duties after taking them over from Mexican and Chinese auto suppliers.

Previous hybrid transmissions were produced by a supplier facility in Japan; the new transmissions are similar to the previous transmissions but weigh 25 percent less.

The plant also has two other six-speed transmission lines.

Tetreault said the plant is expected to produce 1.5 million transmissions next year. In-house development work reduced costs by 20 percent, the company said.

The new hybrid transmission will allow for higher electric speeds by using a cooling system and improved fuel economy. Precise specifications vary depending on vehicle and some have not yet received Environmental Protection Agency official ratings.

The new hybrid transmission is part of Ford's Power of Choice campaign, which includes Ford's tripling of production of electrified vehicles in North America.

"In the end, product is what wins in the marketplace," Tetreault said.


Sales of electric Focus dip sharply

Automaker sold 38 in July, less than half of June total

August 3, 2012
David Shepardson

Washington — Ford Motor Co. sold 38 electric Ford Focus cars in July — the latest sign of slow EV sales in the United States.

The Dearborn automaker said sales of Focus EVs fell by more than half from the 89 sold in June.

In seven months, Ford has sold 135 Focus EVs — including none in February, March or April.

The news comes at a time when other automakers are having mixed results selling electric vehicles in America.

Ford built 121 Focus EVs in July and now has assembled 884 this year, up from 763 through the end of June.

The automaker is only selling the Focus EV in New Jersey, New York and California. But it has heavily touted the vehicle, which will debut this fall in 19 markets — including Detroit.

Ford has repeatedly declined to offer forecasts for sales or production, saying instead that it will match supply to demand. It also declined to say how many of the 38 sales in July were retail or fleet.

Ford began making the electric Focus in December to get initial vehicles to fleet customers, who offered feedback on the vehicle in advance of retail sales. Ford declined to elaborate on the fleet consumer comments, but said more details will be made available later in the year.

Ford also said hybrid sales have fallen. It sold 10,648 hybrids in the first seven months of the year, below the pace in 2011 when it sold 27,100.

The company has built 9,260 hybrids in the first seven months of this year, compared with 32,645 for all of 2011 and 40,447 in 2009. The big dropoff is in part because Ford has ended production of the Ford Escape hybrid with the introduction of the 2013 version.

Ford built about 20,000 Ford Fusion hybrids in 2009 and 2010, 14,100 last year and 5,541 to date in 2012.

Another automaker is having trouble with electric vehicle sales.

The biggest EV seller in the United States, the Nissan Leaf, continued to struggle in July, as the Japanese automaker falls further behind its goal of selling 20,000 electric vehicles this year in the United States.

Nissan Motor Co. said Wednesday it sold 395 Leafs in July, down 58 percent over July 2011. For the year, Nissan has sold 3,543, down 26.3 percent.

Nissan has repeatedly insisted it will double Leaf sales this year to 20,000 from 9,679 in 2011, but with five months left it looks increasingly unlikely.

The automaker would have to sell nearly 3,300 a month for the rest of year — nearly as many as it sold in the first seven months — to meet the goal.

"Our target has not changed," said Nissan spokesman David Reuter on Wednesday, acknowledging that "sales to date have not met our expectations."

Rival General Motors Co. has had better success with sales of its Chevrolet Volt. Sales of the plug-in hybrid rose in July to 1,849 from 125 in July 2011. It was even more than the 1,760 GM sold in June.

For the first seven months, GM sold 10,666 Volts, up 270 percent from a year ago.

Volt sales have been boosted by California granting solo drivers of the extended-range electric vehicle access to carpool lanes. GM spokesman Jim Cain says one in three Volts are now sold in the Golden State. In July, 3 percent of Volt sales were to fleets.

Another indicator of the Golden State touch is that GM has a 52-day supply of Volts nationwide but a 34-day supply in California.GM had been forced to idle the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant for two stretches this year because of lower demand.

GM came under criticism for saying it would sell 10,000 plug-in hybrid Volts in 2011; it ended up selling about 7,600.

The company abandoned its 2012 U.S. sales forecast of 45,000, saying it would instead match supply to meet demand.

Toyota Motor Corp. said it sold 688 plug-in electric Prius vehicles in July for a total of 5,035 this year.

The new vehicle provides all-electric driving at longer distances than the standard Prius, the nation's best-selling hybrid.



CAW, CEP present merger plan
but leave divisive issues open

By Allison Martell, Reuters
August 2, 2012

TORONTO - Two major Canadian unions unveiled a formal plan to create the country's biggest private-sector union on Wednesday, but left open which political party they would support, who would lead the new organization and what it would be called.

The Canadian Auto Workers and Communications, Energy and Paperworkers want to join forces to form a 300,000-strong union that would span growing resource sectors such as Alberta's oil sands as well as central Canada's shrinking manufacturing economy.

The initiative is part of a strategy to shore up unions in the face of growing pressure on labor to make concessions, and a federal government increasingly willing to intervene in labor disputes, often to the benefit of management.

"Quite frankly, it will have the ability to fight," CEP President Dave Coles said as the two unions released the blueprint for their new organization, which members of both organizations will consider later this year.

The union would devote 10 percent of its revenue to organizing, up from 2 to 7 percent at CAW and 8 percent at CEP, pointing to a budget of about C$50 million over five years.

CAW and CEP will put the plan to delegates at their respective conventions in August and October. The blueprint cannot be amended, and a rejection by either membership could scuttle the scheme.


Canada has a relatively strong tradition of union membership and official statistics show that Canadian private-sector workers are more than twice as likely to belong to a union than their U.S. counterparts.

But union membership is falling as the manufacturing sector shrinks - CAW membership is down almost 30 percent in the last six years - and the Conservative federal government has stepped in several times to pass legislation that forces unionized workers back to work.

"If unions do not change, and quickly, we will steadily follow U.S. unions into continuing decline," the two unions said in a discussion paper earlier this year. "We must reverse the erosion of our membership, our power, and our prestige."

The unions' 45-page blueprint lays out a committee structure, a rough budget and priorities for the union - for example, looking for a way to represent contract workers, students and the unemployed.

The new organization won't decide on a leader or party affiliation - if any - until its first convention sometime in 2013. That means they will not resolve one of their biggest differences until after the merger.

CEP is formally affiliated with the left-leaning New Democratic Party, and in Quebec it supports the separatist Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois. The CAW is more flexible, occasionally backing Liberal Party candidates.

Coles expects the new organization will opt to back the NDP outside Quebec.

"I am very confident that there will be a very positive outcome on the floor around the debate, of support for the NDP, at least outside of Quebec," he told Reuters in an interview.

CAW members will outnumber their CEP counterparts by well over 50,000 in the combined organization, but the NDP, which replaced the Liberals as the official opposition in 2011, may now be well-placed to woo unattached members.

"It's up to our members to decide," said Peter Kennedy, the CAW's co-chair on the joint committee that drafted the blueprint. "Whether or not we affiliate directly to a political party is a convention decision, and I think it's absolutely proper to leave that in the hands of the delegates."

Delegates will also select a president. Both Coles and CAW National President Ken Lewenza have been front and center through the merger process, and asked about succession on Wednesday, neither said whether they would run.

CAW, formed when Canadian locals split away from the United Auto Workers in 1985, now represents workers at dozens of companies across the country. Its members work at Air Canada Inc , Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and Canadian National Railway Co as well as at the Canadian units of Detroit's Big Three automakers.

CEP, itself the product of a series of mergers, organizes in the energy industry, including Western Canada's expanding oil sands, as well as telecom giant Bell Canada among many other companies


Ford sues Dana Holding over subframes in Windstar recall

By David Shepardson

Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 1, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is suing auto supplier Dana Holding Corp. over more than 400,000 subframes supplied on recalled Ford Windstar minivans.

The Dearborn automaker filed suit against the Maumee, Ohio, auto supplier in Wayne Circuit Court, saying it has suffered "substantial damages" over subframes on 1999-2003 Windstar minivans.

"Dana has refused to take responsibility for the subframes," Ford said in its seven-page suit filed Friday.

In January 2011, Ford said it was recalling 425,000 Windstar minivans in 22 cold-weather states, including Michigan, to fix potentially corroded subframe brackets and mounts.

The recall covered the 1999-2003 model years and is intended to identify vehicles whose front lower control arm, rear attaching brackets and body mount attachments need fixing.

NHTSA opened a probe into the subframe issue in July 2010 after getting 87 complaints.

Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said the automaker "is asking the court to enforce the cost-sharing terms of our supply agreement with Dana.

"Ford is seeking the recovery of costs incurred by Ford in connection with certain parts that did not meet Ford's quality standards or those of our customers," he said.

Dana spokesman Chuck Hartlage said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Dana is a significant supplier to Ford.



Clock ticks on
Ford pension proposal

Automaker tries to slim $49B liability with lump-sum deals

By Karl Henkel The Detroit News
July 31, 2012

William Gryc is among about 98,000 Ford Motor Co. salaried retirees facing pension buyout offers, but this isn't his first brush with lump-sum buyouts.

Gryc, of Hartland, was a Ford employee for nearly 15 years. Before that, he worked nearly two decades at General Motors Co. and took a pension buyout from GM in 1988 worth about $84,000.

The retired engineer finds himself in a similar position. But this time he isn't sure if he'll take the buyout, which is about 10 percent less than the $250,000 he anticipated.

"The first time, it worked out pretty well," he said.

"At this point I'm not sure. I'm going to take some more time to evaluate it."

The 69-year-old Gryc is part of the first wave of Ford salaried retirees receiving notification of a lump-sum buyout, Ford's way of shedding up to one-third of its $49 billion U.S. pension liability.

Ford underfunded its $74 billion global pension liability by $15.4 billion at the end of 2011 and hopes many of its white-collar retirees will take the lump-sum payout to help close the funding gap and shore up its balance sheet, which could boost Ford's cash flow and stock price.

The automaker is sending its white-collar retirees two letters: The first informs them that they are eligible for the lump-sum option; the follow-up letter includes Ford's specific settlement offer.

Gryc and 15,000 to 20,000 fellow retirees have already begun to receive informational packets and expect to receive offers by Wednesday.

Gryc received his offer Monday; he said Ford did not detail exactly how his figure was calculated, though it is based on interest rates, life expectancy and actuarial tables the federal government uses to calculate pension obligations.

Other retirees not in the first wave will get their offers during the next year.

Retirees who receive an eligibility letter and a financial offer have a 90-day window in which to accept a buyout.

Marilyn Capelli Dimitroff, a certified financial planner who runs Capelli Financial Services Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, said as of Monday she had heard of only one Ford retiree who had received an offer.

"Folks are having more time to think about it," she said. "But the thing that everyone's looking for is, what is my offer?"

General Motors Co.'s lump sum pension offer to 42,000 salaried retirees expired July 20 — it's not saying how many opted for a lump sum — and some financial advisers who counseled retirees predicted a near even split among retirees electing to take the buyout.

But Kevin Van Dyke, president at Bloomfield Hills Financial, says it's likely a greater percentage of Ford retirees will take the lump sum.

The reason: As part of its changeover, GM will offload its white-collar pension liability to Prudential Insurance Co. of America starting in January, a safer move for those electing to stick with standard pensions. But Ford will retain responsibility for its pension liability, and pensions could be at risk if Ford defaults on its obligation.

This difference, however, hasn't entered into Gryc's decision-making process.

"It really didn't enter into my consideration and even if I had decided to remain with the pension, my concern about Ford's ability to keep paying would be minor," he said.

In Gryc's case, his wife, Joan, would receive 65 percent of his pension if he dies first. If she dies first, his children — living in an era when pensions will be more unpredictable — would get nothing from their father's traditional pension, he said.

"I don't feel my kids are going to have the same opportunity," he said.

"That's one of the reasons I'd like to be able to help them out."

The result will likely be a win-win for Ford and retirees, said Van Conway, CEO of Birmingham-based advisory firm Conway MacKenzie: Retirees who accept the lump-sum offer will receive guaranteed money and Ford can rid itself of expensive pension obligations.

"The pensions were supposed to be sacred," Conway said.

"But this will strengthen the balance sheet for Ford."


Eligible: 98,000 Ford salaried retirees and former white-collar workers.
The offer: The lump-sum payment will be based on interest rates, life expectancy and actuarial tables the federal government uses to calculate pension obligations.
When: By summer's end, offers will reach 12,000 to 15,000 randomly selected workers. The rest will be rolled out during the next 12 months.
Deadline: Retirees will have 90 days to decide once they receive the offer.

Eligible: 42,000 salaried General Motors retirees and former white-collar nonunion retirees.
The offer: The lump-sum payment was based on age, health, current benefits and length of service.
When: GM offered buyouts this summer.
Deadline: Ended July 20.


Ford mobile app to map
out public charging stations

By Karl Henkel

The Detroit News
July 30, 2012

Ford Motor Co. said Monday it launched a smartphone application for drivers of its electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The MyFord Mobile app will assist drivers in finding more than 9,400 public charging stations throughout the nation, the Dearborn automaker said.

The app, developed by Ford engineers for Ford vehicles, includes a public charger location database powered by MapQuest. Newly installed stations will be constantly added to the list. The app will also allow customers to manage remote charging, view current battery status and plan trips.

There are now 9,445 public stations in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Energy, up from about 2,500 public charging stations at the end of 2009.

Ford says that when using a 240-volt charger — what most public stations can deliver — Ford Focus Electric can fully charge in four hours and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid can fully charge in 21/2 hours.


Letter from Sergio Marchionne

July 30, 2012

Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO for the Fiat-Chrysler Group, sent this memo to Chrysler employees on Monday:

Recently, a well-known athlete told an interviewer that his team was playing with "humble confidence." The player went on to explain that while his team believed in its ability to contend for a championship, it would not forget the hard work and tremendous effort that it took to reach a competitive level.

I thought about "humble confidence" in the context of informing you that our preliminary second-quarter results, released today, show that your continued, determined efforts are putting us on a solid foundation to compete with the best. We reported a second-quarter profit of $436 million, an improvement from the $181 million Adjusted Net Income posted in the same quarter last year when we fully repaid our government loans. For the first half of 2012, net income came in at $909 million.

We posted a Modified Operating Profit of $755 million in the second quarter, up 49 percent from the same quarter last year. We increased our cash on hand by $800 million in the second quarter, which strengthened our cash position to $12.1 billion, helping to assure our ability to continue developing our brands with best-in-class products for an increasingly demanding customer base.

Our net revenue in the quarter grew by 23 percent to $16.8 billion, driven largely by a 20 percent increase year-over-year in worldwide vehicle sales to 582,000 units. This strong performance is directly related to the overhaul of our product portfolio which continues to receive a sound cadence of accolades from third-party organizations and the media.

During the first half of 2012, our portfolio became more balanced with our car mix increasing on a year-over-year basis, showing that our car offerings are becoming more competitive. We are building on this trend, as the all-new Dodge Dart began arriving at dealerships during the second quarter. I spent time on the shop floor of the Belvidere Assembly Plant when we celebrated the manufacturing launch of the Dart, and I was impressed by the incredible level of commitment displayed by the men and women who work there. They are an example of the pride, passion and culture of doing things well that has spread throughout our company. This goes a long way to explaining why the North American car industry is coming back with a roar.

During Q2, we also showed for the first time a significantly refreshed 2013 Ram 1500, with sizable improvements to fuel economy, and the all-new 2013 SRT Viper, marking Chrysler's return to the high-performance sports car market. When they become available to the public later this year, they will play important roles in the comeback story we are authoring.

Our accomplishments, made in the face of near-universal skepticism, imbue us with confidence going forward. Living through a near-death experience has revealed the depth of courage that exists within our house. We have learned that we can accomplish great things when we marshal all of our talent and commitment to work for a common goal.

But staying humble is just as necessary to sustain our success. History teaches that it is easy to develop bad habits during good times. This is no time to cut corners, no time to become undisciplined in our execution, no time to forget how difficult it was to claw our way back to viability. We cannot afford to abandon the values of integrity, meritocracy and accountability that have sustained us thus far.

I want to thank you for the tremendous determination and commitment that have helped transform our group in only three years. Let's continue to work, with humble confidence, to earn our success every day


Ford's 2Q earnings fall 57% to $1B; lowers outlook for rest of year

Earnings July 2012

Nathan Bomey
Detroit Free Press
July 26, 2012

Ensnared by a deepening economic crisis in Europe, Ford's second-quarter earnings tumbled 57% to $1.04 billion, and the company lowered its outlook for the rest of 2012.

The automaker now expects to lose $1 billion in Europe this year, nearly twice what it forecast earlier.

The good news is that Ford made $2 billion in North America, or twice its global profit. The bad news is Europe almost certainly will get worse before it gets better.

The entire European auto industry is seriously broken, and automakers are reacting slowly.

General Motors and Chrysler-Fiat will report their second-quarter financial results next week, with investors more focused than ever on what they are doing in Europe.

"Europe is a significant challenge," Ford CEO and President Alan Mulally said in a conference call. "We have made money there six out of the last eight years, but they're seeing a very significant deterioration in the economy and the industry."

Ford lost $404 million in Europe in the second quarter, but executives offered few details about their turnaround plan. Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said the changes would not include an executive change in Europe, where Stephen Odell leads the company's operations. In contrast, GM has replaced at least four top executives in its Germany-based Adam Opel unit.

Shanks also said the company is not pursuing partnerships with European automakers to spark a turnaround. GM recently acquired a 7% stake in PSA Peugeot Citroën and will consolidate some functions with the French automaker. But Peugeot reported that it lost 819 million euros, or $993 million, in the first half of this year.

Ford's worldwide revenue fell from $35.5 billion to $33.3 billion. Revenue in Europe fell 21% to $7.1 billion.

In the region Ford calls Asia Pacific Africa, which encompasses China, the company lost $66 million, in contrast to a $1-million profit a year earlier.

In South America, Ford made $5 million before taxes, down considerably from $267 million a year earlier. Shanks said the company has been battered by shifting free-trade policies and currency fluctuations in South America.

Fortunately, pre-tax profit in North America rose 5.3% to $2.01 billion, and its operating profit margin improved to 10.2% from 9.8%.

But Europe accounts for about 25% of Ford's global sales. Ford has laid off temporary workers and implemented shorter workdays, but with European new car sales running at the weakest rate since 1995, there are too many factories making many more cars than consumers can afford.

"This is structural in nature," Shanks told reporters. "It's going to take quite a long time for Europe to work through all of these issues."

Closing plants and laying off workers is much harder in Europe. Governments and unions are aligned to resist such moves. Then there is the reality that cost cutting will drive unemployment higher in the short term and further depress consumer spending.

Complicating the challenge is that some automakers, especially Volkswagen and Daimler, are discounting their vehicles in the weaker economies such as Spain and Italy to gain market share and draw down inventories.

Ford itself spent $189 million more than it did a year earlier on incentives in Europe in the second quarter.

Mulally said Ford would "include all the stakeholders, including the unions" in restructuring discussions while pursuing "a cost structure that allows us to produce vehicles with a reasonable return."

For the second quarter, Ford earned 30 cents per share, beating analysts' expectations of 28 cents per share.

Ford stock fell 9 cents to $8.97, its lowest closing price since Dec. 9, 2009.

GM shares slipped 22 cents to $18.80, its lowest close since its initial public offering in November 2010.

Still, two analysts say both stocks are undervalued.

Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold, in a research note, said the "results for Europe were modestly better than feared," while Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas said the report was "some relief for a very beaten-up auto stock."


GM Canada to invest almost $1 billion in R&D at Oshawa plant

July 25, 2012
Toronto Star

Tanya Talaga
Queen's Park Bureau

OSHAWA—After years of restructuring at General Motors, the company said Tuesday it is giving back to Canada by investing almost $1 billion in research and development at its Oshawa manufacturing complex.

The $850 million, which will be spent over several years until 2016, will be focused around engineering and engaging in research and development partnerships with Canadian universities, GM said. The research will focus on environmental technologies, reducing vehicle weight and intelligent transportation systems.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking from the GM complex in Oshawa, hailed the investment, saying it was worth it for governments to work with the automaker when it was in danger of collapse.

However, even though GM is investing almost $1 billion, the spectre of 2,000 assembly jobs about to be lost in Oshawa next year overshadowed the good news event.

"Look, obviously while this announcement was expected, we obviously are concerned when we hear about Canadians losing their jobs. That is why our focus as a government is on job creation," Harper told hundreds of autoworkers, local politicians and MP's who'd gathered for the press conference.

Premier Dalton McGuinty and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who is also the local MP, were in attendance at the complex, which builds the Chevrolet Equinox and Camaro models.

Harper countered questions from reporters on job losses by saying there are literally hundreds of high-paying engineering jobs supported by research investments like the one announced by GM.

While Canadian investment in R&D is "good news" it remains unknown which country would produce the vehicles that come from those efforts, Chris Buckley, president of the Canadian Auto Workers local in Oshawa, told The Canadian Press.

"I'd much prefer an announcement today that they are reinvesting in our Canadian operations as far as products that would save and create jobs," he said.

With GM closing the consolidated line in Oshawa next year, axing the jobs of some 2,000 workers currently employed there, Buckley said the Canadian government should have asked for a commitment for new vehicle assembly in Canada.

The investment is GM's payback after the unprecedented 2009 bailout by the governments of Ottawa and Ontario, which pumped $9.5 billion (U.S.) into the giant automaker's Canadian operation to avoid a broader collapse of car suppliers and parts.

After the bailout, General Motors promised to make significant capital investments back into Canada when it could.

Harper and his MP's took the opportunity in Oshawa to tout their low tax plans as the reason why the Canadian economy is doing so well as Europe crumbles.

"As the MP for Whitby Oshawa I have stood before you many times in the past several years, in good times and bad, to proudly declare our government's strong commitment to Canada's auto industry," said Flaherty.

The global economy echoes have been felt here at home, added Flaherty. "Nowhere was that more real than in the auto sector. Indeed, no sector is more familiar with competition and the realities of a global economy than the automotive sector."

Since 2008 automakers have had it rough, said Flaherty, but today they are "better positioned to compete than just a few years ago. That is because we worked at home to do what is necessary to protect our economy and jobs."

What happens in Europe, impacts Canada more and more, he added. "That is why we have been forceful in stressing Europe must address its challenges and help stabilize the global economy," he said.

There are 485,000 jobs in Ontario tied to the auto sector, said Premier Dalton McGuinty.

"I'm hopeful that we'll find some other way to deploy the 2,000 people that are working at the plant here which is scheduled for close. I appreciate the fact that GM is being transparent, but who knows what tomorrow might bring," said McGuinty.

"We remain the number one producer in North America. I think we have good reason to remain optimistic."


Survey: Ford has best industry buzz

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
July 24, 2012

Ford Motor Co. leads the automotive sector in brand buzz, but Toyota Motor Corp. gained the most ground during the past year, according to a mid-year branding analysis by YouGov's BrandIndex.

Ford led all automakers with a perception score of 34.1, thanks to new models including the redesigned Escape. Honda finished second with a score of 22.2 and Toyota third at 21.5.

Brands were rated using YouGov BrandIndex's Buzz score which asks respondents, "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" Perception scores can be both positive and negative, with higher positive scores meaning more positive brand recognition.

Toyota's score was 11.6 points higher than it was mid-year 2011, when it had an inventory shortage following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Chrysler Group LLC was the second-highest gainer during the past year. General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet brand ranked fifth for top brand buzz.


Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in
hybrid to have 550-mile range

The C-MAX Energi has a projected 188 horsepower and has a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine and a battery-powered electric motor. (Ford)

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
July 23, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s new 2013 C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid is expected to have a range of 550 miles after the Dearborn automaker says it drove from Sacramento to San Diego on a single tank of gas.

Ford's first plug-in hybrid, which will be available this fall, has a fuel economy equivalent 95 miles per gallon, Ford said, which includes a 20-mile driving range in electric-only mode, about double that of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, which gets an Environmental Protection Agency certified 11-mile driving range in electric-only mode.

Driving range identifies how many miles electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and compressed natural gas vehicles can go before recharging or refueling.

The C-MAX Energi has a projected 188 horsepower and has a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine and a battery-powered electric motor.

C-MAX Energi is like a traditional hybrid with two differences — owners must plug in the vehicle using its charge port and the car has a larger battery pack, Ford said.

The distance between Sacramento and San Diego is approximately 550 miles if traveling California State Route 99.

The vehicle will be manufactured at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, along with the C-MAX Hybrid, Focus, Focus Electric and Focus ST.


GM retirees make tough call at pension buyout deadline

Weeks of considering lump sum offer come to end for 42K

By Melissa Burden The Detroit News
July 22, 2012

For 42,000 U.S. salaried workers at General Motors Co., the potentially life-changing financial decision is over, after weeks of wrestling with the choice of a lump sum buyout of their pensions or continuing to receive a monthly check.

Election forms for the lump sum had to be postmarked by Friday, and those who didn't respond will keep receiving a monthly pension check, said GM spokesman Dave Roman. GM announced the pension changes on June 1.

Among those who took the pension buyout is John Christie, 63, who retired as a project manager from GM in 2005 and lives in Washington Township. He and his wife, Jeanne, 62, a retired teacher, mailed the form Thursday. The couple decided they would come out ahead financially after meeting with a lawyer, accountant and numerous financial planners.

"It's a lot of numbers to crunch. That's what it came to," Christie said. "It's very much not an emotional decision. It's very much a financial decision."

He plans to roll the payout into an IRA and reinvest the dollars from there to cover their future financial needs. "This has to last you the rest of your life," he said.

The pension buyout was offered to 42,000 salaried retirees who left the automaker between Oct. 1, 1997 and Dec. 1, 2011. The offer is part of a broader plan by GM to offload its U.S. white-collar retirees' pensions to Prudential Insurance Co. of America, a move expected to cut GM's pension liability by $26 billion. The pensions will move to an annuity Prudential will manage starting in January.

In total, 118,000 U.S. salaried GM workers will be affected, including the 42,000 offered buyouts.

"We're not announcing the number of salaried retirees who elected to take the lump sum distribution," GM's Roman said.

The company may have an idea internally how many took that option sometime next week. But those choosing the lump sum have a window to change their mind — until Aug. 23, Roman said.

GM will begin mailing checks to retirees on Aug. 24, and electronic distributions will occur on Aug. 27, he said.

The financial implications of the payouts, part of the larger shift to Prudential, will be divulged in GM financial documents later this year.

The short turnaround time to consider the buyout option left some retirees lying awake at night, trying to figure out which choice made the most financial sense for them and their families.

After a few sleepless nights, Rick Knoth, 60, of Lake Orion opted Thursday to take the lump sum, though he wouldn't say how much he'll receive.

Knoth, who retired in November 2008 as a manufacturing engineer after 37 years, said he was concerned about the third party, Prudential, being involved in his pension and had worries about inflation affecting — essentially cutting — his payments down the road.

He will roll his payout into an IRA. While he doesn't expect to reap big returns because of the market, he thinks in the future "there's more opportunity than what is on the table today for interest rates and earnings potential."

For others, the buyout numbers didn't add up.

Retired maintenance supervisor Chet Blackburn, 64, of Tyrone Township said he turned down a buyout worth about $300,000.

Blackburn, who retired more than a decade ago, said that after meeting with his certified financial planner, Margie Shard of Shard Financial Services Inc. in Fenton, he decided to stick with his monthly pension that nets him about $1,800.

"We elected not to take the buyout because of the amount of money," he said, referring to himself and his wife, Pamela, 60, a retired GM hourly employee.

"If I live beyond 10 years, which I hope to do … that (money assuming no return) would be gone."

Blackburn said Shard ran his numbers and couldn't match his monthly pension benefit with another guaranteed income stream today.

"Once that was used up, you had nothing," Blackburn said.

Shard, president and wealth adviser at Shard Financial Services, said she met with several clients with buyout offers ranging between $200,000 and $800,000. She said the buyout proved not advantageous for most of those she worked with.

"You don't want to just take it and invest it and not have any guarantee on your future income," she said.


India's Maruti Suzuki
shuts riot-hit car plant

By Ashok Sharma
Associated Press
July 21, 2012

New Delhi — India's largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, said Saturday it will not resume production at a factory hit by rioting during a labor dispute until an investigation is complete into the causes of the violence, which killed one executive and injured dozens of others.

The plant, one of two operated by the company in India, halted production on Wednesday night because of fire damage caused by the rioting. The company is a subsidiary of Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp.

The body of Avnish Kumar, the human resources manager, was found badly charred in a conference room after the rioting. Of 90 injured managers and executives, 24 with arm and leg fractures are still being treated in hospitals, Maruti Suzuki said.

"What has happened is an absolute shocker to us," chairman R.C. Bhargava told reporters Saturday.

Bhargava said a new wage accord was being negotiated with the workers' union but there were no other outstanding labor issues.

He said production would not be resumed at the factory in Manesar in the north Indian state of Haryana "until we are able to identify the causes and apply correctives" to guarantee the safety of managers and workers.

The Manesar plant makes 550,000 vehicles a year, including Maruti Suzuki's most popular cars, the Swift and the DZire.

The company said the unrest on Wednesday was sparked when a worker beat up a supervisor. It said the union prevented management from disciplining the worker, blocked exit gates and "held the executives hostage."

The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, in a statement Thursday, offered a different version of events, saying a supervisor had abused and made discriminatory comments to a low-caste worker.

Bhargava asked the Haryana state government to assist in investigating the violence. "We want to know the cause and who was behind it," he said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said police have arrested 88 Maruti workers on charges including murder and damaging property.

Labor unrest is a growing concern in India, as inflation squeezes workers' salaries. The widespread use of contract workers by companies eager to sidestep India's strict labor laws adds to friction.

Maruti Suzuki suffered three crippling strikes in 2011 which cost it market share and blocked production of tens of thousands of vehicles.

Honda, Ford, General Motors and Hyundai, among others, have also struggled with labor unrest in India.


Arbitrator rules against UAW

By Bryce G. Hoffman
The Detroit News
July 21, 2012

The United Auto Workers says an arbitrator has ruled against the union in its dispute with Ford Motor Co. over the automaker's decision to restore merit pay for salaried employees in 2010.

The UAW had challenged that move, arguing that it violated the principle of "shared sacrifice" that was the basis for a series of concessions the union agreed to in 2009 when Ford was struggling to return to profitability.

"Unfortunately, we have just been notified by telephone that the arbitrator has ruled against us on the equity of sacrifice grievance," the UAW told members in a statement posted on its Facebook page. "As soon as we have the full details and opinion of the arbitrator, we will post it and share it with you."

The company welcomed the arbitrator's ruling.

"We are pleased with the decision and respect the grievance process as a longstanding and effective way to work through issues," said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen. "More importantly, we look forward to continuing to work with the UAW as we together create the great products, strong business and contributions to a better world that will continue to deliver profitable growth for all."


Ford recalls 2013 Escape, tells owners to stop driving immediately

July 20, 2012

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. is telling Canadian and U.S. owners of one version of the brand-new Ford Escape not to drive the SUVs until dealers can fix fuel lines that can crack and spill gasoline, causing engine fires.

The company issued the unusual warning on Thursday and said it is recalling 2013 Escapes equipped with 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines. Dealers will pick up the Escapes and drop off a loaner car that customers can use until the repairs are finished. The company is hoping to ship parts and get all the SUVs repaired in the next two weeks.

Owners can contact Ford Canada at 1-800-565-3673.

Ford says it has three reports of fires: two at the factory and one while a customer was driving an Escape. No one has been injured.

The recall affects 11,500 Escapes in the U.S. and Canada. Only 4,800 have been sold to customers. The rest are on dealer lots and will be fixed before they are sold, spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said. “We are obviously taking very quick action in the interest of our customers’ safety,” she said.

Escapes powered by other engines are not affected, nor are other Ford models with 1.6-litre engines, Zwiebel said.

This is the second recall of the redesigned Escape, which went on sale in June. On Saturday, the company said it would recall more than 10,000 Escapes to fix carpet padding that could interfere with braking. The new version of the SUV is among Ford’s top-selling vehicles. People bought 28,500 Escapes last month, up 28 per cent from June 2011.

The Escapes in the latest recall were built at the company’s Louisville, Ky., plant from early April through July 11.

Ford says owners should call dealers to get the problem fixed. If parts aren’t available, dealers will drop off loaner cars for use until the repairs can be made. Once the parts arrive, it will take less than an hour for technicians to replace the fuel lines, Zwiebel said.

It’s safe to park the Escapes in your garage because the fires happen only while the vehicles are moving, she said.

Older-model Escapes may also have safety problems. Government safety regulators are investigating complaints that throttles can stick on Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs and cause them to crash. The probe, announced Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, affects 730,000 SUVs from the 2001 to 2004 model years that are powered by V-6 engines.

The safety agency received 99 complaints from owners of the SUVs alleging 13 crashes, nine injuries and one death caused by the problem. The throttles on the SUVs can fail to return to idle when the driver takes his foot off the gas pedal, according to agency documents.

The older Escapes have not been recalled to fix the problem, although a recall is possible


Ford upset EU wants
Japan free-trade talks

Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
July 19, 2012

Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday was the first automaker to voice displeasure after the European Union announced it wants to start free-trade negotiations with Japan.

Automakers fear the European Union, which currently imposes a 10 percent tariff on Japanese car imports, could lift that tariff as part of negotiations. The EU also charges a 10 percent tariff on autos imported from the United States.

"At a time when vehicle sales in Europe are their lowest point in nearly two decades, a one-sided trade agreement that brings a wave of imports into the market without a corresponding outflow of exports could further damage the European economy and imperil the close to 12 million jobs supported by the automotive sector in Europe," Ford said in a statement.

Japan imposes no tariffs on cars imported from the European Union. But officials say Japan has regulatory barriers to imports.

Both Ford and General Motors Co. are already dealing with chaos in Europe, where there is continued concern regarding the European debt crisis, high unemployment and low consumer confidence.

The EU thinks liberalizing trade will boost the economy, but automakers say any trade agreements need to be "truly fair," in Ford's words, and offer reciprocal import-export liberalization by trading nations.

"Experience tells us that the free-trade theories espoused in official agreements are not always matched by the practice of real-world fair trade implementation," said Stephen Odell, Ford of Europe chairman and CEO, in a two-page article outlining the company's concerns.

Automakers have pointed to a free-trade agreement with South Korea implemented last year that's led to increased imports of cars from South Korea. Sergio Marchionne, chief executive at Fiat SpA and president of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, has called the South Korea deal a "warning sign" about a potential deal with Japan.

The EU executive branch is asking member countries to give consent on talks with Japan; the EU is expected to OK the talks, which then could start next year.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said Wednesday an agreement would generate up to 400,000 jobs, as the EU would export more goods. "If growth in the next 20 years is likely to come from Asia, then overlooking Japan would a serious mistake in our strategy," he said.


Laid off autoworkers
still struggling

Brampton Guardian
July 19, 2012

A new report by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union says laid off autoworkers continue to struggle financially and personally three years after losing their jobs.

The CAW's three-year study on laid-off workers tracked the long- term experiences of 260 workers let go from three manufacturing plants including Chrysler's assembly facility in Brampton, which lost the third shift (about 1,000 jobs) in March 2008.

The study shows that many have been forced into lower quality jobs with a significant reduction in pay following the loss of good full-time employment.

About 30 per cent of workers surveyed have taken on temporary employment.

Of those surveyed, 63 per cent said they were worried about paying their bills; 40 per cent had difficulty meeting debt obligations and nearly half said they had done without something they needed in order to cover their rent or mortgage.

"Many workers, including those currently employed, report a financial debt legacy associated with their layoffs that continues," the report said.

"This includes ongoing repayment of loans from family and friends, credit card debt, depleted savings and retirement funds, and financial losses associated with the sale of family assets such as homes and vehicles."

The report says many Brampton workers laid off were recalled back to Chrysler by 2011.

Although many had secured employment during their layoff, almost all left their new jobs to return to Chrysler because of low wages, lower incomes and lack of benefits in their new jobs, the report states.

However, many former autoworkers continue to struggle in lower paying jobs.

Many are working in contract or temporary positions and have seen wages reduced significantly— in some instances between $10 and $15 an hour less that what they earned while employed in the auto industry.

"This study provides pretty clear evidence to contradict the notion that all jobs are created equal," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"There's a problem in our economy when the jobs being created don't provide stability, when they fuel insecurity and when they make people less healthy. This is exactly the track we're heading down and there are huge negative implications for Canadians as a result."

Other study highlights include:

• More than on in five reported being without income for longer than one year.
• 31 per cent reported their general health has deteriorated as a result of layoff.
• 48 per cent reported they had done without something they needed in order to pay the rent or mortgage.
• Nearly 60 per cent of those who completed job retraining programs found related employment.


Ford to cut labor costs
at Canada sites

Automaker to work with CAW as rising currency hikes costs

By Bryce G. Hoffman
The Detroit News
July 18, 2012

Ford Motor Co. says it will have to work with the Canadian Auto Workers to find a way to reduce labor costs in Canada so it can ensure its factories there are considered for future products.

"We're really looking at this round of negotiations as an opportunity to improve the competitiveness of the Canadian operations," said a senior Ford of Canada official, who spoke to The Detroit News on the condition of anonymity. "Canada has higher labor costs than anywhere else we do business. It's not sustainable."

According to Ford, the base wage for its 4,500 assembly workers at three factories in Canada is $34 an hour, compared with $28 an hour in the United States. For years, the gap has been masked by favorable currency exchange rates and legacy health care costs that no longer apply.

CAW President Ken Lewenza has acknowledged that a labor cost gap exists, though he argues that it is much narrower when all costs are factored into the equation.

"We have been meeting with all three companies and trying to define active costs," Lewenza told The News in a recent interview. "Where we're apart is because of the rising Canadian dollar. We don't have any control over that."

A stronger Canadian currency raises the cost of Canadian labor.

And Lewenza says Ford's calculations of labor costs do not take into account the productivity and quality of Canadian factories.

With good reason, Ford says.

"There really is no productivity or quality advantage," the company source said.

"We have a global environment — and it's very clear to us what it takes to compete in this industry at this time," the Ford person said. "It will be really important for us to help the CAW understand what their role is from a labor perspective to secure and sustain operations in Canada for the future."

But Ford is open to creative solutions. Its bargaining team will not be coming to the table with any "firm positions" other than improving competitiveness. That is unlike Chrysler Group LLC, which has said it will be looking for a deal similar to the one it negotiated with the United Auto Workers here last fall — a deal that replaced cost-of-living wage increases with a new profit-sharing formula.

"It's really about how we make progress on that labor cost gap in a way that works for everybody and works for Canada," the source said. "What works for the U.S. and the UAW may not work for the CAW."

Formal negotiations are scheduled to begin Aug. 15 at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto.


Ford Australia cuts
one in seven jobs

By David Fickling
July 17, 2012
Bloomberg News

Ford Motor Co.'s Australian division will cut production about 29 percent and slash one in seven jobs after sales of its flagship Falcon car and trucks slumped.

The automaker will reduce output in Australia to 148 vehicles a day from 209, and offer as many as 440 severance payouts, the Dearborn-based company said in an e- mailed statement Tuesday. Ford will fire workers should acceptance of severance offers fall short of the goal, it said.

Sales of the Falcon range, which Ford Australia has been manufacturing since 1960, fell 25 percent over the first six months of this year as Australians switched to more fuel-efficient vehicles, Bob Graziano, president of Ford's Australia division, said in a telephone interview. Falcon sales dropped 65 percent from 2000 through 2011, he said.

"Customers who traditionally purchased large vehicles are looking for alternatives," Graziano said. "We're matching our daily output to the demand."

More than half of cars produced will now be the Territory sports-utility vehicle, which is seeing continued demand even as many consumers switch to smaller cars, he said.

The decision to cut production and jobs isn't related to the introduction of a carbon tax of A$23 a metric ton in the nation on July 1 or to the strength of the Australian dollar, Graziano said. The local currency has risen 19 percent against its U.S. counterpart in the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The government will provide A$34 million ($35 million) to ensure continued production of Ford's Falcon and Territory models at Australian plants until 2016, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Jan. 10.

"If we hadn't stepped forward to work with Ford, we would be talking about job losses in their thousands," she told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.

The government has committed A$5.4 billion to the car industry to 2020, Greg Combet, industry minister, said at a media conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

"Of course we're disappointed with any announced job losses," Combet said. "The simple fact of the matter is that we've got to get this industry on a more competitive footing."

Ford employs 3,014 people at its two plants in Melbourne and the neighboring city of Geelong, Neil McDonald, a spokesman for the automaker, said by telephone.

While Australians bought a record number of vehicles last month, a drop in exports has prompted automakers including Toyota Motor Corp.'s local unit to announce job cuts.

Toyota's Australian division, the country's largest car exporter, said Jan. 23 that it would cut 350 jobs, more than a 10th of the workforce at its Altona manufacturing plant in Melbourne, after a 21 percent decline in annual production.

Passenger vehicle exports from Australia fell to their lowest level since 1998 in 2011, dropping 26 percent in a year to A$1.35 billion, the country's statistics bureau said in February. Car exports have slumped 64 percent since their peak of A$3.6 billion in 2008, when they were the largest export of Australia's manufacturing industry.

General Motors Co.'s Holden division, Australia's largest producer of cars for the domestic market, said Feb. 2 that it will fire workers because of the Australian currency's strength. The company won't disclose the number of job cuts, Emily Perry, a spokeswoman, said by telephone.


Ford's European car
sales drop 10%

    Karl Henkel - July 16, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s sales fell 10 percent in traditional European markets during the first half of 2012, falling in line with the weakest automobile demand there since 1994.

Ford sales in June dropped 16.1 percent to close the first half; the Dearborn automaker sold 617,600 vehicles in 19 European markets during the first six months of the year.

Though it remains the second-best selling brand in Europe, concern regarding the European debt crisis, high unemployment and low consumer confidence continues.

"The economic environment remains very difficult, obviously, and we are balancing the need to be price competitive, while remaining committed to improving net pricing, building brand strength and protecting residual values," said Roelant de Waard, vice president of marketing, sales and services of Ford of Europe.

Ford wasn't the only company to post sagging auto sales numbers during the first half of the year.

Volkswagen AG said sales dropped 5.7 percent in Western Europe, excluding Germany, though overall global sales jumped 8.9 percent.

VW Group Board Member for Sales Christian Klingler said Friday the economic situation, particularly in Western Europe, "remains tense and difficult."

General Motors Co. earlier this week reported its best-ever volume and market share in Western and Central Europe, increasing sales by 10.9 percent, though its market share was an anemic 1.24 percent. GM on Thursday replaced its top European executive.

Fiat SpA, the parent company of Chrysler Group LLC, through May had sold 376,000 vehicles, down 16.6 percent year-over-year.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which releases monthly economic indicators for major industrialized countries and regions, forecast this month a continued economic slowdown in the European region.

Annual auto sales there could be as low as 12.5 million, another reason automakers remain skeptical.

Ford has already projected big losses in Europe during the second quarter, but the automaker will still post an overall profit; specific figures will be announced July 25.

Ford is banking on new products like the B-Max and the new Fiesta and Transit Custom to refresh its European lineup heading into 2013


Ford recalling 10K Escapes
for braking issue

2013 Escape

David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
July 15, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 10,000 redesigned 2013 Escape SUVs because mispositioned carpet padding may lead to interference with braking.

The recall covers 8,266 Escapes in the U.S. and 2,193 in Canada. The Escapes being recalled were built at the Louisville Assembly Plant from March 8 through June 7.

The redesigned Escape went on sale in June and is a key vehicle for the Dearborn automaker. Ford plans to add a third shift in Kentucky by September to meet additional demand for the vehicle.

Ford said in early June, an employee noted the space between the brake pedal and the center console left-side trim panel which may result in the driver contacting the edge of the brake pedeal while transferring the foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal.

Ford said the issue could increase braking distance but says it has no reports of the problem happening with customers.

Owners will be notified starting July 23. Ford dealers will remove the carpet padding and replace the left-side console trim panel with a new panel that has a new surface contour.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans Zweibel said Saturday the recall also covers "a few hundred" Escape vehicles in Mexico. No vehicles outside North America are affected.

She said no reports or complaints from customers have been received.

In June, Ford had its best ever month for Escape as it offered incentives to clear out 2012 Escape SUVs. Sales were up 28 percent to 28,500 in June.

"The new 2013 Escape is off to a very strong start, with vehicles selling on dealer lots in less than five days," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president for U.S. sales, service and marketing, in a statement earlier this month.

Ford sent the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notice on July 2 in a letter that it was recalling the vehicles. But the notice didn't show up on a government website for more than 10 days.

Separately, Ford said it is recalling 783 2012 F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks built at an Escobedo Assembly plant in Mexico.

The clear and black primer may be missing on windshields that may result in an insufficient bond between the glass and cab - and could result in the windshield separating from the vehicle. Ford dealers will inspect and replace or reinstall the windshields.

Ford said last year it is moving production of the Ford F-650 and F-750 from Mexico to its Ohio Assembly Plant in Avon Lake.

Ford has built the medium-duty trucks at its decade-old Blue Diamond Truck LLC joint venture between Ford and Navistar International, which builds the Ford F-650 and F-750 trucks in Mexico.


Laid off women spend
longer looking for work, are less likely to land good full-time jobs, CAW study finds

Toronto Star
July 13, 2012
Stephanie Findlay and Josh Rubin

Tod MacDonald is in transition. Since the 55-year-old Windsor resident lost his job at the Electro-Motive plant in February, the former tool room machine operator is training to be a hospital dietary aid.

"The darkest period was when you started investigating, looking into second careers, there really isn't a lot out there," he said, "I'm totally well aware that for every ad out there are 1,500 people applying."

Unemployment takes its toll, said MacDonald. "There were marriage breakups. The wives didn't understand why you wouldn't go out and get a job," he said. "One guy in the plant tried to take his own life."

That toll is epidemic within the manufacturing industry, according to a study sponsored by the Canadian Auto Workers union which found laid-off workers struggle financially, experience health problems, marital woes and sleep disorders.

Some of the hardest-hit workers are women, who spent more time looking for another job, and were less likely to find something full-time and well paying.

Finding Their Way, released Thursday morning, is the second installment in a study looking at the lives of 260 manufacturing industry workers who were laid off in 2009.

One third of those reported finding full time permanent jobs with 30 hours or more per week since they were laid off. The rest were employed on short term contracts, or more casual jobs with variable hours.

One in six said they held multiple jobs.

Hourly wages had decreased for most workers. Almost one-half reported earning at least $10 less per hour than in their previous jobs.

"A significant number of participants report poor outcomes ranging from feelings of depression, disrupted sleep, physical inactivity, elevated stress and general deterioration in mental and physical health resulting from their layoff," said the report, compiled by Sam Vrankulj of McMaster University.

That was reinforced by comments from some workers who were part of the survey.

All participated in the study on the condition of anonymity.

"I'm 54. No one's going to hire me. I looked for work for almost two years. I couldn't find a job. I had some interviews, but I could tell the minute I walked in the room and they saw me they weren't going to give me the job," one said. "I doubt I'll ever find a decent full time job again. Temp jobs, picking up occasional cash work is all I can get. Not exactly the early retirement I had in mind."

"My marriage fell apart. I started drinking heavy. I'm on medication for depression," said another worker.

The study found that 45 per cent of the workers surveyed had difficulty sleeping in the wake of their layoffs, while 31 per cent reported their health had deteriorated.

A greater proportion of women than men reported being in financial crisis during their layoff, having to rely on emergency loans and other forms of support from friends and family members, wrote Vrankulj.

"Approximately 1 in 8 women participating in this study report utilizing a payday loan service to make ends meet," he said.

He said more than half the laid off workers experienced periods of at least one year without employment, while others reported periods with no income or work.

Beatrix Dart, a management professor at the University of Toronto and executive director of the Initiative for Women in Business, said women can have a harder time returning to the workforce because they are often seeking more flexibility in a job —to manage family commitments at home — than an entry-level position allows.

"Women find it much harder to commit themselves 100 or 120 per cent to a position," she said.

Sagar Parikh, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, said being unemployed is a major blow to a person's self-esteem.

"Working is a primary source of identity, it's not just about money, it's about who we are," said Parikh.

Living without the routine of a job has its own set of complications, said Parikh. "When we go to work it imposes a schedule on us which is actually healthier than being on an island in Tahiti," he said.

To fight feelings of worthlessness, Parikh said people have to take a multi-pronged approach.

"There are many strategies we have to use beyond medications that involve building an alternative daily schedule with meaningful activities," he said.

Still, says MacDonald, the dietician in training, even meaningful activities can't replace a job.

"The chores dry up, you find yourself looking at the clock, it's one in the afternoon," he said, "I don't want to start watching MASH and having naps yet."


GM, Ford stocks fall
despite high sales

By Karl Henkel
July 13, 2012
The Detroit News

Sales may be brighter for General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., but their stocks are taking a beating on Wall Street.

On Thursday, GM's stock price dropped to its lowest level of the year — $19.33 per share — while Ford Motor Co.'s shares fell to their lowest point — $9.13 — since December 2009. Still, Ford on Thursday announced a 5-cent dividend for the third quarter, payable Sept. 4 to shareholders of record Aug. 3.

Analysts said the automakers' stock prices are more of a reflection of the global economy than the companies' own financial performance. Automakers also are dealing with higher raw material costs and increased competition.

"Investors use autos as a high beta hedge against economic slowdown. Every time Greece sneezes, the American automakers catch a cold," said Eric Selle of J.P. Morgan. "The market still sees autos as cyclical growth sector. Prior to fixing their cost structures and balance sheets, automotive companies needed growth to cover high fixed costs. Now under below-trend growth, the sector has proven the ability to post profits and generate cash."

GM's stock was down 3 percent or 57 cents on Thursday, the same day Karl-Friedrich Stracke, GM Europe President and Opel CEO, stepped down, the automaker's latest move to right its money-losing European operations.

While outside factors have contributed to GM's stock price tumble, the decline has resulted in a class-action lawsuit alleging "false and misleading statements" about company practices that led to a devaluation of its stock.

In a suit filed June 29, George G. Scott of Florida claims GM falsely assured investors it was managing production by monitoring dealer inventory levels; however, a media report said the automaker was dumping inventory on dealers. Scott purchased 200 shares during GM's initial public stock offering in November 2010.

"I don't want to say it's ridiculous, but the bottom line is the stock price went down and people are upset," said Van Conway, CEO of Birmingham-based financial advisory firm Conway MacKenzie. "There's a lot more to it to just that. There are so many things that can affect inventory levels of cars, and nobody has a perfect crystal ball.

"Under that theory, any time a stock goes down you're going to have a suit."

The company brushed off the lawsuit.

"We're proud of our track record of candor, clarity and consistency," GM spokesman Jim Cain said.

Ford's stock, meanwhile, was down 2 percent Thursday. Its shares trended as high as $13.05 in January, but have declined steadily since then and have remained under $10 for the better part of two weeks.

Ford has said it expects to lose about $570 million internationally during the second quarter — roughly 80 percent of that from European operations alone — but still produce an overall profit. Its second-quarter earnings will be announced July 25. And despite record-setting June sales in China, the Dearborn automaker will likely have to deal with a consumer confidence slowdown in the world's fastest-growing economy.

The overseas dilemma has caused investor rating services such as Standard & Poors to predict decreased profits in 2012, though the long-term outlook for 2013 appears positive.

Chrysler Group LLC is not publicly traded.


Hyundai braces for first strike in four years after union vote

By Rose Kim
Bloomberg News
July 12, 2012

Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. workers authorized their South Korean union leaders to stage their first strike in years to demand higher wages and reduced working hours.

More than 70 percent of Hyundai Motor's 45,000 guild members voted in favor of empowering union leader Moon Yong Moon to call for the first walkout at the company since 2008, Kim Gi Hyuk, a union spokesman, said in a text message today. At affiliate Kia, which hasn't staged a strike since 2009, those in favor of pursuing a strike accounted for 67 percent of the vote. Union leaders haven't decided whether to go on strike.

A full-blown stoppage would end the lull in labor strife that helped the two Seoul-based carmakers -- both headed by Chairman Chung Mong Koo -- increase sales faster than any other major global automotive group in the past four years. After Hyundai Motor's union was formed in 1987, it went on strike in the next 21 out of 22 years, costing what Hyundai estimates to be more than 1 million vehicles valued at 11.6 trillion won ($10 billion) in lost sales.

"The new union leadership will strongly raise issues to show off their stance," said Heo Pil Seok, chief executive officer of Seoul-based Midas International Asset Management Ltd., which oversees $2.6 billion in assets including Hyundai shares. "The important thing is that the public sentiment has changed. People won't be as understanding as before, nor tolerate situations such as production halting at plants."

Stocks slump
Hyundai Motor, Korea's biggest carmaker, has fallen 11 percent in the past three weeks and Kia has fallen 8.5 percent amid mounting concerns about labor strikes. The benchmark Kospi stock index has declined 3.5 percent during the period.

Moon sought the union's approval to call for a strike after wage negotiations that began in May failed to yield an agreement. The union walked out of negotiations in late June, citing management's lack of sincerity in the talks. Hyundai said in a July 4 statement that it's regrettable the union is moving toward going on strike despite the need for more discussion.

"The company has requested the union to resume negotiations," said Yoon Gap Han, senior executive vice president, in an internal letter to Hyundai employees. "We can come up with a solution through negotiations, not strikes."

While Hyundai Motor has periodically faced partial stoppages in the past four years because of labor disputes, none were legally sanctioned and they rarely lasted beyond several hours. The last full-blown strike occurred in 2008, when a 12-day walkout cost the company an estimated 44,645 vehicles, or 691 billion won, according to Hyundai Motor.

Biggest union
Hyundai Motor, which has the nation's biggest workers' guild, has symbolized the dwindling aggressiveness of South Korean labor unions as wages improved, unemployment rose and employers shifted production overseas. The number of South Korean work days lost on labor disputes fell to 429 by 2011, a 73 percent drop from a decade ago, according to data compiled by the nation's Ministry of Employment and Labor.

Moon, 46, was elected as Hyundai's union leader last year after pledging to be a tougher negotiator than his predecessor, Lee Kyung Hoon, who was elected to a two-year term in 2009 after pledging to curb unnecessary strikes.

Moon said in a November interview that his activism in past protests led him to be arrested four times and laid off by the company three times since he joined Hyundai Motor's union in 1988.

Violent clashes
Past Hyundai union protests have resulted in violent clashes between police and militant union members, whereby unionists would wield steel pipes and chuck Molotov cocktails at police. In 1993, demonstrations were so disruptive that the Bank of Korea lowered its gross national product estimate, citing protracted labor strife at Hyundai as a key reason.

This year, Hyundai Motor and Kia workers are demanding a 151,696 won increase in monthly base pay and seeking the companies to return 30 percent of annual net income to employees as bonuses, said Kim Gi Hyuk, a Hyundai Motor union spokesman. Other demands include switching Hyundai Motor's plants to two eight-hour shifts from the current double 12-hour rotation system, according to Kim.

Chanwook Park, a Seoul-based analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, wrote in a July 1 report that the likelihood of a protracted strike at Hyundai Motor would be low and that a stoppage would last two weeks at most. Employees going on strike would stand to lose overtime payments and the 35 shares allocated for each employee for not engaging in strikes, according to Park.

Regaining share
For Hyundai and Kia, the possible strike looms as the South Korean carmakers seek to fend off Japanese carmakers, led by Toyota Motor Corp., which are regaining market share they lost after last year's natural disasters in Japan and in Thailand.

Worldwide, Hyundai sold 2.2 million vehicles for the first half of this year, up 12 percent from a year earlier, according to an e-mailed statement. Hyundai and Kia are also bucking the slump in Europe by increasing sales in the shrinking market.

The automaker will probably report a second-quarter profit of 2.4 trillion won, according to the average of 21 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

A strike today may be a lesser blow to Hyundai Motor than in past years after the company expanded production in the U.S., China, India and Turkey during the last decade. A new plant in China started production last month and another 150,000 unit capacity plant is scheduled to open in Brazil at the end of this year, according the company's e-mailed statement.

South Korean plants accounted for 46 percent of Hyundai Motor's production capacity in 2011, down from 60 percent in 2008 when the last strikes took place, and 93 percent in 2000.

"The radical labor union was also a reason behind Hyundai's expansion overseas," said Lee Sang Hyun, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co. "It's an Achilles' heel to the company," he said.


CAW seeks commitment
from Big 3 in new pact

By Bryce G. Hoffman and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
July 11, 2012

Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza is calling on Detroit's automakers to make new product commitments to Canadian factories as part of upcoming negotiations on a new national contract. But he acknowledges that a strong looney is making that a harder case to plead.

"The first thing we will try to do is get the investment necessary to secure future product," he told The Detroit News. "We also know we don't have a lot of space. The Canadian dollar is creating a little bit of a challenge."

The looney is trading near parity with the U.S. dollar. That means American automakers are paying Canadian auto workers a lot more than they were when the current contract was negotiated in 2009.

That agreement expires on Sept. 17, and formal negotiations are not expected to begin until August. But Lewenza said informal discussions are already under way with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

All three automakers have made it clear that wage and benefit increases are not on the table. Instead, they want the CAW to accept the same sort of profit-sharing deals they negotiated last fall with the United Auto Workers.

"The Canadian system needs to be as competitive as the American side," Fiat-Chrysler Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters earlier this year. "They are not today."

CAW members make about $60 an hour in wages and benefits, while Chrysler workers in the United States receive about $50 an hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

Marchionne has said wage and benefit increases are off the table this year. Instead, he wants CAW members to embrace the U.S. model that provided lump-sum payments when workers achieved specific productivity and profitability goals.

The CAW has historically opposed profit-sharing, and Lewenza said that has not changed.

"That argument is pretty consistent from all three companies. We've got the message," he said. "We are opposed to profit-sharing. But this is a time in our negotiating lives when you're going to have to be creative, you're going to have to be innovative and you can't ignore the realities around you."

And current exchange rates are creating some harsh realities.

Canada most expensive
Speaking to reporters before the company's annual shareholders' meeting last month, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said Canada is the most expensive place in the world to build a vehicle. Akerson's comments came just days after the company announced plans to close one line at its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, in June 2013 — a move that puts about 2,000 Canadian auto jobs in jeopardy.

CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley told The News the line closure was "offensive," given the concessions that workers and retirees were forced to make to help GM survive its recent near-death experience.

Those concessions were part of a broader bailout deal that included $9.5 billion in cash from the Canadian and Ontario governments. In exchange, GM made a series of product commitments to Canada — including the launch of five new vehicles and the introduction of a new Canadian-made hybrid — and promised to keep at least 16 percent of the company's North American production in the country through 2016.

"GM is committed to meeting its production targets as agreed to during the 2009 restructuring," GM spokeswoman Faye Roberts said in an email. She noted that closing the consolidated line in Oshawa would not keep the company from meeting its commitments.

Chrysler, which also received a bailout, paid back the Canadian government last year and says it is under no such restrictions.

GM is still partly owned by the Canadian and Ontario governments.

Ford, which did not take a bailout, said it is taking a hard look at its Canadian manufacturing footprint.

"When it comes to future investment, labor costs are one of the most important considerations. Labor costs at Ford of Canada need to become competitive now to sustain its manufacturing operations and to position the company for consideration for future investments," the Dearborn company said in a statement. "Ford is committed to working with the CAW to find innovative, unique-to-Canada solutions to improve the competitiveness of the Canadian operations while providing employees the opportunity to earn a good living. The 2012 agreement has the potential to either improve or erode Canada's labor cost competitive position."

CAW: We are competitive
Lewenza said most of his discussions with American automakers about competitiveness have been "one-sided."

"They're saying, 'You're not competitive anymore.' But they rarely talk about their retail success in Canada," he said. "We know how to measure ourselves against global competitors — and that doesn't just mean the United States. We still have an advantage because of our national health care program. We have better infrastructure and education. We still have some significant advantages."

But automakers say those advantages are not what they used to be.

In addition to less favorable exchange rates, the game-changing contract the UAW negotiated with Detroit's Big Three in 2007 — which transferred responsibility for hourly retiree health care from the companies to a union-run trust fund — went a long way toward closing the historic labor cost gap between the United States and Canada.

Since then, GM and Ford have closed factories and reduced their Canadian manufacturing capacity.

Chrysler has not, but it does plan to eliminate the Chrysler Town & Country, one of the two minivans it produces at its Windsor Assembly Plant, in 2014.


Ford, GM post China sales records

But with slowdown in economic
forecast, hot auto market could cool

July 10, 2012
By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News

The Chinese arms of Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. both set sales records in June, but an economic report released Monday forecasts a slowdown in the world's fastest-growing economy.

Ford set a passenger vehicle sales record for the third consecutive month in June in the world's most highly populated country, and overall vehicle sales are up slightly during the first six months of the year, the Dearborn-based automaker said Monday.

The sales total of 52,440 — which includes passenger and commercial vehicle sales — rose 18 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago.

Passenger sales climbed 28 percent, thanks largely to the sale of the new Ford Focus, which continued to lead the company's vehicle sales with nearly 15,000 sold.

Commercial vehicle sales dropped 1 percent; Ford attributed the decrease to a "slowdown in the commercial vehicle sector."

Ford's sales totals for the first six months of 2011 had about a 1 percent bump to 277,322.

GM, in comparison, posted record sales in China for the first half of 2012 and for June. The Detroit automaker said its sales of nearly 1.42 million commercial and passenger vehicles through the first six months of the year were up 11.3 percent compared with a year earlier.

Ford is realizing the gains of entry in China, though the company could still lose money in the Asia-Pacific-Africa region during the second quarter because of expenses relating to nine newly opened or currently under-construction facilities.

But the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which releases monthly economic indicators for major industrialized countries, says the Asian market is headed for a slowdown, China even more so than the Asian average.

Ford already noted "difficult market conditions" in India, where sales are slightly off last year's pace.

Sales in Thailand, however, were up 44percent during the first half of the year.

China's Premier Wen Jiabao said recently the country faces "huge pressure" to decelerate and may need to introduce additional stimulus measures.

The forecast about China's economy came after the Dearborn automaker already warned of international losses in Europe, an economy the OECD projects will continue its economic slowdown.

In June, GM sales in China rose 10.1 percent to 213,495 units compared with the same month a year ago.

"Despite signs of slowing economic growth in China, demand for GM products rose in all key segments in the first half of the year," Kevin Wale, president and managing director of GM China Group, said in a statement. "We expect sales growth to remain steady in the second half, driven by demand in China's interior provinces."

Buick sales were up 5.7 percent in the first half of the year; Chevrolet sales rose 1.8 percent; Cadillac sales increased 3.8 percent and sales of its Wuling brand jumped 13.6 percent over the same six months of 2011.



2013 Lincoln MKS and MKT
better in almost every way

2013 Lincoln MKS (foreground) and 2013 Lincoln MKT

July 9, 2012
Peter Bleakney
Toronto Star

Lincoln really wants our attention. It wants us to recognize the brand as a markedly separate entity from parent Ford — as a techno-luxury automaker that stands on its own and not just a purveyor of gussied up Blue Oval products to an aging demographic.

It's a tough image to shake. Coming later this year is the all-new MKZ mid-size sedan, which should go a long way toward rejuvenating the brand's mojo.

In the meantime, a couple of Lincolns that sit on the lower rungs of the marque's sales ladder see a comprehensive mid-cycle refresh for the 2013 model year. In showrooms now are the 2013 MKT seven-seat crossover and 2013 MKS full-size sedan, starting at $50,550 and $47,700 respectfully. You'll spot them by their redesigned (less garish) grills, incorporating finer strakes.

2013 Lincoln MKT

I was surprised to learn the Oakville-built, all-wheel-drive MKT crossover holds the dubious distinction of being the slowest-selling Lincoln. Surprised, because I consider this sizable hauler to be one of the better crossovers on the market.

Sharing the Ford Flex platform, it's quiet, refined and handles well. Okay, so it looks a bit weird, but if you're into art deco and old sci-fi movies (guilty as charged), then its adventurous styling will intrigue.

The new model rides on 20-inch wheels and comes standard with the punchy 3.5 L, EcoBoost twin-turbo, direct-injection V6 that makes 365 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque.

Last year's naturally aspirated 3.7 L base V6 is no longer on the menu, and the MKT is the better for it. It's better value, too — last year's optional EcoBoost model cost $2,800 more than the new model.

Also new is an adaptive damper system (continuously controlled damping) and Lincoln Drive Control, with driver-selectable modes — sport, normal or comfort — that alter the suspension, steering, engine responsiveness, and the thresholds of active safety systems.

On the road, the MKT feels surprisingly light on its feet. The EcoBoost gives it wings, and although body control is improved, the ride remains compliant. The six-speed auto also responds sharply to commands from the paddle shifters, adding a degree of unexpected fun.

The car also gets bigger and stronger brakes.

New safety systems available for 2013 include lane departure warning and aid (the electric steering will nudge you back in line if the audible warning and steering wheel vibrations go unheeded), blind spot warning, cross traffic alert, driver alert and inflatable seatbelts for the outside rear passengers.

The spacious interior benefits from a standard panoramic sunroof, a redesigned dash and gauge cluster, and an improved MyLincoln Touch, with simpler screen designs and bolder fonts. The system is still a bit slow and obtuse, however, and those hit-and-miss swipe controls for audio volume and fan speed below the screen should be banished forever. Form over function defined.

Niggles aside, Lincoln has improved the MKT in almost every measurable way, and with that robust EcoBoost under the hood, the three-row, seven-seater shows its art-deco derriere to the competition.

2013 Lincoln MKS

Built on the Ford Taurus platform, the MKS has plied the conservative full-size luxury sedan waters for a few years. Excitement is a word you would never associate with this car, and is likely a word most prospective buyers don't want to know about. So let's say Lincoln has engineered more "involvement" into the 2013 model.

Like the MKT crossover, the sedan is available only with all-wheel-drive and gets Lincoln's new adaptive damper system, Lincoln Drive Control (just normal and sport modes), greatly improved braking and the more restrained grill treatment.

The standard engine is a 305 hp, Ti-VCT 3.7 L V6, but for those in a hurry to get to the links, the 365 hp, 3.5 L EcoBoost is a $4,500 upgrade.

Speaking of links, the massive trunk now has a wider opening, so tossing in the clubs will be easier. The new passive and active safety systems introduced on the MKT are also found here.

On the road, the Lane Keeping Aid does indeed nudge you back in line if you wander from your lane above 65 km/h without signalling but, strangely, the tactile warning through the steering wheel was late in arriving.

Torque Vectoring Control, which brakes an inside wheel to help in cornering is also new.

Nineteen-inch wheels are standard, which may contribute to a ride that was busier than expected over less than perfect surfaces.

The interior is all new, from the door panels to the dash, and the sense of quality is palpable. Supple Bridge of Weir leather, fine detailing, heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel and great THX sound make for a rich cabin experience. Back-seat room is generous.

We had a chance to compare the new model with the 2012 MKS on a closed handling course, and the 2013 is in another dynamic dimension, especially in braking performance. That said; no one at BMW will be losing any sleep.

The MKT's major North American rival is the new 2013 Cadillac XTS (starting at $48,995), and the two are remarkably similar in layout and dimension.

The Lincoln wins out with its standard all-wheel-drive and higher base content level, whereas Caddy's slick CUE interface is more user friendly than MyLincoln Touch.

Peter Bleakney reviews cars for Wheels. Reach him at pebleakney@sympatico.ca

2013 Lincoln MKS

PRICE: $47,770

ENGINE: Ti-VCT 3.7 L V6; optional 3.5 L EcoBoost V6

POWER/TORQUE: 305 hp, 280 lb.-ft.; 365 hp, 350 lb.-ft.

FUEL ECONOMY L/100 km: 11.6 city, 7.5 hwy; 2.2 city, 7.8 hwy

COMPETITION: Cadillac XTS, Infiniti M37, Lexus GS, Acura TL, Buick Lacrosse

WHAT'S BEST: value, standard all-wheel-drive, interior appointments.

WHAT'S WORST: volume and fan swipe controls, MyLincoln Touch requires patience.

WHAT'S INTERESTING: SYNC functionality now includes Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities.

2013 Lincoln MKT

PRICE: $50,550

ENGINE: 3.5 twin-turbo EcoBoost V6

POWER/TORQUE: 365 hp, 350 lb.-ft.

FUEL ECONOMY L/100 km: 13.1 city, 8.8 hwy

COMPETITION: Acura MDX, Lexus RX350, Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9, Infiniti JX

WHAT'S BEST: EcoBoost engine, refined driving experience, second-row room.

WHAT'S WORST: third-row headroom, polarizing styling.

WHAT'S INTERESTING: built only in Oakville.


Former auto czar to testify at hearing on GM pensions

by David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
July 8, 2012

Washington— The former auto czar and two top former aides will testify Tuesday at a House hearing on the Obama administration's decision to allow General Motors Co. to "top up" the pensions of most union retirees at Delphi Corp.

Former auto czar Ron Bloom and former auto task force members Matthew Feldman and Harry Wilson are to testify on the disparate treatment of Delphi's hourly and salaried retirees, according to a memo obtained by The Detroit News.

In May, a government investigation into the Treasury Department's role in the decision of GM to top up the pensions of most hourly union retirees at Delphi — but not salaried employees — was stymied because the three former administration officials refused to cooperate. The three did not return messages seeking comment Friday.

Special Inspector General Christy Romero, who oversees the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program — the fund used to bail out banks, insurance companies and automakers — also is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the Wall Street bailouts. Some 20,000 salaried retirees and salaried future retirees at Delphi lost pensions and insurance benefits. Troy-based Delphi, while in bankruptcy in 2009, terminated the pension plans of 70,000 people and left a $7.2 billion shortfall. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the government's pension insurer, assumed the plans and must pay $6 billion of the losses.

The supplier's pension termination is the second-largest loss to PBGC in its history, behind only United Airlines' pension shortfall of $7.4 billion in 2005.

In a move that's brought harsh criticism from Congress, GM topped up the pensions of most union Delphi hourly workers and retirees, largely those of the United Auto Workers union. It took the action even though it wasn't legally obligated to do so.

GM did not do the same for Delphi's 20,000 salaried retirees and pension participants. The automaker also didn't agree to top up pensions of smaller unions.

Then-UAW President Ron Gettelfinger in January 2010 called the treatment of salaried retirees at Delphi "a grave injustice." Michigan's two U.S. senators, House Speaker John Boehner and many others in Congress have urged GM to reconsider its decision not to cover Delphi's salaried pensions.

GM has declined to do so.

In May, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, asked the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to interview the three former officials. Friday, he praised the hearing.

"The money they used to pick winners and losers wasn't Obama administration funds, or PBGC funds — those are taxpayer dollars. Taxpayers have rightfully been demanding an account for how those dollars were used," Turner said.

Of salaried and hourly workers, about half have seen their pensions cut by PBGC as required under the law.

The Treasury has insisted it didn't make the decision to top up hourly Delphi retiree pensions, but that it understood why GM decided to do so. GM expects the agreement will cost $1 billion.

GM told a government audit released in December it made the decisions "because of its dependence" on the UAW.

In June, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. turned over 62,000 pages of documents to a group of Delphi salaried retirees that are suing over the 2009 termination of the pension plan. It's the latest effort in a nearly three-year battle by retirees from the former Troy-based parts unit that was spun off by General Motors Co. in 1999.

This is the third hearing the committee has held on the fate of Delphi retirees since November. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has vowed to investigate the treatment of Delphi salaried retirees if elected.



Redesigned Escape
a runaway success

Kenaf, a tropical plant related to cotton and okra, is being used to replace oil-based materials inside the doors. Kenaf is combined with polypropylene in a 50-50 mixture inside the door to help save weight, which helps increase fuel economy. (Ford)
June is crossover's best-selling month since debut in 2000

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
July 7, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s newly redesigned 2013 Escape topped nearly all expectations in June, the crossover SUV's first full month of sales.

The Dearborn automaker sold about 11,000 new Escapes in June, comprising about 40 percent of the company's 28,500 total Escape sales as dealers clear out 2012 models.

And the 2013 models are spending little time on dealer lots before they're purchased: New Escapes are sold in an average of 41/2 days, leaving a short inventory for the refreshed model.

"We actually had people waiting in line just to test-drive them," said Mark Smith, president of Dick Smith Ford in Raytown, Mo. Escape sales are now the highest in four years, up 28 percent in June compared to the same month in 2011. That set a single-month record for the Escape since the first model was introduced in 2000.

New Escapes have a sleek, aerodynamic appearance, improved fuel mileage and bells and whistles including infotainment, active park-assist, push-button start and a hands-free lift gate.

"It sort of has this modern, athletic look to the vehicle," said Kristen Andersson, auto analyst at TrueCar.com.

"That's particularly appealing to consumers looking to make a bit more of a statement."

Smith said the new, less-boxy style look has turned off some longtime SUV buyers, but that many consumers are giving the refreshed Escape a chance because of its two EcoBoost engine options.

More than 90 percent of new Escape sales are equipped with Ford's turbocharged EcoBoost engine, which quickly gained popularity in the automaker's F-150 models.

Ford has a 30-day supply of 2013 Escapes; the healthy industry standard is between 45 and 60 days.

The shortage is partly due to a hailstorm in late April in Louisville, Ky., that damaged 3,500 new Escapes.

Smith already sold all six of his Escapes and hopes to get more.

Andersson projected an achievable goal of 18,000 to 20,000 monthly sales for the new Escape.

The Escape will be a global vehicle; in Europe and China, it will be known as the Ford Kuga.

So far, it's had even more fanfare than the redesigned Explorer. Ford earlier this year had an hour-long NBC reality series centering around the Escape titled "Escape Routes."

"Ford is good at making a buzz and good at making that splash," Andersson said.


Ford expands German
design studio for $14.4M

July 7, 2012
Alisa Pridle

Ford is spending $14.4 million to expand its German design studio so workers can better communicate and cooperate with colleagues around the world.

Ford's Merkenich-Cologne design center was designed to look like a floating boat with a virtual reality so-called powerwall to project designs and discuss them with colleagues around the world.

The Cologne design studio, first opened in 1968, is one of eight Ford design centers.

Its primary concentration is small and compact vehicles such as the Ford Fiesta and Focus.

In addition to the powerwall, which projects three-dimensional images, the upgraded center features new milling machines to make clay models for aerodynamic testing in wind tunnels.

"This powerwall will allow us to communicate in real time with our colleagues around the world so we can exchange design ideas, show progress and comment on the work in Australia, in North America and here in Europe," Martin Smith, Ford of Europe's head of design, said in a statement.

The expansion brings the structure's space to 172,200 square feet, which Smith called "a highly-motivational environment in which they are free to further develop Ford's design philosophy."

The center has open-concept space throughout.

"A design studio is not like a traditional office where people sit alongside each other in rows of desks," said Serife Celebi, Ford supervisor of color and material design.

"In a design studio, you need plenty of space and natural light in order to view designs and concepts from different angles and distances."


Tory labour reforms would drive down wages, NDP warns

July 05, 2012
Robert Benzie
Toronto Star
Queen's Park Bureau Chief

A controversial Progressive Conservative proposal to defang unions and give business greater workforce flexibility would drive down wages and undermine the middle class, the New Democrats charge.

The Tories' new 20-page "white paper" on labour law reform recommends Ontario move in the direction of many U.S. states allowing employees to opt out of unions.

While PC Leader Tim Hudak's scheme has been greeted enthusiastically in party circles and on many of the province's right-wing talk-radio shows, his political opponents are leery.

"Listen, this whole thing the Conservatives are talking about is a way of trying to find a way for people to make less money per hour," NDP House leader Gilles Bisson warned on Wednesday.

"At the end of the day a strong economy is built on people getting a decent wage. What Mr. Hudak is trying to suggest, by way of his labour reforms, would send us in a direction quite frankly (that) would hit the pocketbook of people," said Bisson.

"I don't think that's what we want to be doing."

The Timmins—James Bay MPP noted that unions have traditionally been one of the province's social pillars and lamented Ontario emulating lower-wage "right-to-work" jurisdictions like Indiana.

"We found a balance here in Canada, and in Ontario specifically, about ensuring that there is a strong labour movement that is there to protect the health and safety of workers, to negotiate on their behalf when it comes to benefits and conditions," said Bisson.

But Tory deputy leader Christine Elliott said "Ontario is clinging to outdated labour laws" and must follow the lead of other countries to compete.

"While Europe, Australia and New Zealand are ahead of us, the United States is working diligently to reform its labour laws," said the Whitby—Oshawa MPP.

"Canada is the only outlier today, falling further and further behind our major trading partners.

"So my message to these labour leaders is this: We cannot afford to compound our competitive disadvantage by clinging to labour laws that date back to the last century."

Indeed, unions have strongly opposed the plan — a reaction some Tory strategists privately welcome because they believe it could help them politically by motivating the PC base and appealing to a "silent majority" of Ontarians resentful toward the labour movement.


June US Auto Sales:
Ford sales rise 7 percent

July 04, 2012

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday its U.S. sales rose 7 percent in June on strong demand for the new Escape SUV.

BY THE NUMBERS: Ford sold 207,759 vehicles in June compared with 194,114 in the same month a year earlier.

TOP SELLERS: Ford's best-seller, the F-Series pickup, was up 11 percent as housing construction recovered.

HOT MODELS: Sales of the new Escape, which debuted last month, were up 28 percent. Ford said the Escape had its best month ever at 28,500 sold.

Ford also saw strong sales for its Explorer midsize SUV, which was up 35 percent.


CAW under pressure to consider
the unthinkable: Profit sharing

By Brent Snavely
Detroit Free Press Business Writer
July 3, 2012

The CAW is under intense pressure to consider what was once unthinkable: Profit sharing instead of wage increases.

A deal cut by the UAW with the Detroit Three last year, combined with the increased value of the Canadian dollar, is giving the automakers two powerful gambits as they prepare for negotiations to replace a CAW contract that expires Sept. 17.

"I fully believe this will be the toughest round of talks we've ever had outside of the concessionary agreements we did in 2008 and 2009," said Chris Taylor, vice chairman of the CAW's Ford bargaining committee.

When the Canadian dollar ranged between 60 cents and 80 cents, it was less expensive for U.S. automakers to produce in Canada.

But now the currencies are about equal, and the Detroit Three will oppose wage increases. CAW officials say when times were good for so long the companies did not share the extra savings.

"The companies are ... overzealous relative to using the Canadian dollar in their interest," CAW President Ken Lewenza said. "I have said to all the companies, 'It is convenient for you today to use the Canadian dollar as a disadvantage ... but you didn't bring work into Canada as a result of the Canadian dollar being at 70 cents.'"

Not the UAW
The Canadian union has preferred guaranteed wage increases to profit sharing that varies widely based on each company's performance.

In fact, opposition to profit sharing was among the reasons that the CAW and UAW split 37 years ago.

While formal discussions don't begin until August, automakers have already signaled that they want to model the new contract after last year's UAW deals that included profit sharing and no wage increases for veteran workers.

The UAW agreed to sweetened profit-sharing formulas and signing bonuses -- $3,500 per person at Chrysler, $5,000 at GM and $6,000 at Ford -- and preserved a two-tier wage system. In exchange, the companies pledged to add 13,850 jobs.

The UAW's agreement also ensures that the Detroit Three's U.S. labor costs will be lower than what they pay CAW's 25,000 autoworkers now.

"We understand what the UAW did," Taylor said. "But we are not going to the table expecting to match what the UAW did."

Parity expected
Chrysler plans to ask the CAW to reduce labor costs even though the company is profitable and gaining market share, according to a person who is not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly.

"The Canadian system needs to be as competitive as the American side," Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said in January at the North American International Auto Show.

"That's a competition you can't win until you are the lowest (paid)," said Gary Taylor, president of CAW Local 1498, which represents salaried and clerical workers at Chrysler's Windsor plant. "A plant full of workers that are making minimum wage does not help the Windsor community."

In U.S. dollars, the CAW's total labor cost for hourly wages and benefits is about $60 per hour, compared with $58 for U.S. workers at General Motors, $56 at Ford and about $50 at Chrysler, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

Taylor and other CAW leaders argue that it's unfair to ask for wage and benefit cuts because Canadians face a higher cost of living and pay more for everything from milk and gas to cars.

CAW workers gave up cost-of-living raises in 2008 and 2009 and agreed that new hires can start at a lower wage then work their way up over six years to the same wage as older workers. The union gave up Christmas bonuses and some health care benefits. Now that the automakers are earning profits, many CAW workers are expecting to see some concessions restored.

"You can't continuously ask for take-backs," said Dino Chiodo, president of CAW Local 444 and chairman of Chrysler's bargaining committee.

But if the CAW doesn't shrink the labor cost gap with its U.S. counterparts, it could lose more jobs and plants.

Last month, General Motors announced it would close one assembly line in Oshawa, Ontario, in January -- putting 2,000 CAW members out of work. The 2014 Impala will be built at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. Overflow production of the next-generation Chevrolet Equinox will be built in Spring Hill, Tenn. The current Impala is built in Oshawa and overflow production of the Equinox occurs there.

Ford closed its St. Thomas, Ontario, plant last fall when production of the Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town Car ended.

Given the slow recovery, Lewenza said the CAW must be "open-minded" on the issue of profit sharing.

One CAW leader suggested that the union might be willing to consider a variety of performance bonuses that preserve the union's core philosophy, while containing labor costs.

"We prefer (wage increases), but I think going into negotiations we have to be open-minded," Lewenza said.


Two unions move closer to biggest merger in Canadian labour history

Tony Van Alphen
Toronto Star
July 2, 2012

The two unions contemplating the biggest merger in Canadian labour history have moved significantly closer to reaching that goal.

A special committee of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) announced Friday they have reached agreement on structure, principles and financing, and are unanimously recommending the formation of a new union to their respective boards.

"The whole process is something like climbing Mount Everest," said committee co-chairman Peter Kennedy. "We've reached the first base camp. It's a critical point."

CAW and CEP leaders started discussing the formation of a new union late last year in an effort to become stronger and more relevant to workers as the labour movement struggles in difficult economic times. The CAW represents 195,000 members while the CEP has more than 110,000.

The executive boards of the two unions will consider the report and recommendation at meetings in early July. If they show support, delegates of the two unions will vote on it at separate conventions in August and October. Acceptance would lead to a founding convention next year.

The committee report recommends a 25-member national elected board with representation from all regions, major industries and workers of colour.

It calls for the invitation of new members who are in unorganized workplaces, unemployed and retired to broaden the union's appeal and build support in communities.

The report also says the new union must develop a brand and use better techniques in organizing and attracting members.

Furthermore, the report details numerous principles that will provide the framework of a constitution for the new union. If the boards and convention delegates approve them, working groups will then handle the issues of a formal constitution, operating procedures, a name and logo in preparation for the founding event.

Kennedy, who is also the CAW's secretary-treasurer, said the special committee received input from more than 1,000 people in meetings across the country during the last few months.

"There was a lot of debate and some of the meetings were intense," he said. "But there was a tremendous amount of goodwill among everyone. Ultimately, they know it's the right thing to do."


Tim Hudak's Tory vision for a
low-union, low-wage Ontario

July 1, 2012
Toronto Star
By Cohn, Martin Regg

Remember the Caterpillar catastrophe? That London factory closing marked a low point for Ontario early in the new year.

No lives were lost, just the livelihoods of 460 skilled workers when they rejected a humiliating demand to halve their wages. They were locked out, then laid off when Caterpillar relocated to a low-wage, right-to-work state.

Now, Ontario's PC party is coming to Caterpillar's defence — by branding the victims as the villains. Yes, blame the union — because big labour can't see the Caterpillars marching.

That's the forward-looking vision you'll be hearing from Opposition Leader Tim Hudak, who has unveiled a radical anti-union agenda to help rebrand his putatively Progressive Conservative party: the end of unionism, replaced by a more "flexible" future.

Hudak eschews the loaded phrase, "right-to-work," which evokes an aggressive, Wisconsin-style anti-union movement. But make no mistake, this is a declaration of war against organized labour by a politician firing the starter's pistol in a race to the bottom.

Under his new Tory roadmap, Ontario will become a province where Caterpillars crush unions. A place where workers who still benefit from collective bargaining need not pay union dues — so that membership atrophies, money dries up, and the labour movement is disemboweled.

"The recent loss of the Caterpillar locomotive plant in London was just one example of Ontario's new reality," Hudak's latest policy paper declares ominously.

He relegates unions to the dustbin of history, comparing them to rotary phones and typewriters that have been overtaken by smartphones and touchpads. Best to unplug unions so as to placate Caterpillars — and please other predatory employers.

The Tory policy paper, Flexible Labour Markets, would undo the so-called Rand formula, the grand compromise that requires workers to pay union dues in a workplace where collective bargaining has raised their wages and improved conditions. Not even former Tory premier Mike Harris tried to unravel Rand.

Hudak is turning sharply right, and not by accident. He was flanked for this announcement by the most extreme right-wing member of his caucus — Randy Hillier, the zealous libertarian who once led the Ontario Landowners Association that resembles a rural Tea Party rump.

He boasts of being a former electrician, but revels in the role of Joe the Plumber. Hillier not only opposes union dues, his household didn't pay its full tax bill until the Canada Revenue Agency came calling — a disclosure he failed to make as an MPP. Now, the politician who flouts the rules wants to rewrite them for the rest of us.

Together, Hillier and Hudak make the specious argument that Ontario's declining manufacturing sector and rising unemployment, relative to other provinces, can be blamed on unions. Their analysis ignores the upheavals of globalization, the appreciation of the Canadian dollar, and the commodity booms that benefited other regions.

And it conveniently overlooks the historical reality that in Ontario's boom times, the private sector was far more heavily unionized than it is today. Competing against right-to-work states won't prepare Ontario's highly educated workforce for the high-tech, high-value jobs of tomorrow.

As a final sop to business, the Tories want to privatize workers' compensation by allowing private insurers to compete with the WSIB, leaving it as an "insurer of last resort" for the most risky (and costly) enterprises. First emasculate unions, then endanger the already precarious protections for injured workers.

These labour proposals are not so much thought provoking as deliberately provocative. Hudak is scapegoating organized labour when unionization rates are down.

His attack may well strike a chord with the Hillier wing of the party. But aligning himself with that anti-union streak won't resolve the deep-seated economic challenges facing all Ontarians.

Blaming labour for Ontario's lagging productivity and manufacturing setbacks, while ignoring the inertia of our business brain trust, only undermines his credibility — and the Progressive Conservative legacy

(**As Retirees and Union Members we can't let this happen - We can all have a say at the ballot box)

Market surge bypasses Ford,
GM amid Europe concerns

by Karl Henkel and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
June 30, 2012

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 278 points Friday after European leaders announced a plan to rescue banks, relieve debt-burdened governments and restore investor confidence. But lingering concerns about economic turmoil resulted in a rough ride for Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

Ford shares closed at $9.59 per share, down 5 percent, a day after the Dearborn automaker predicted it would lose about $570 million internationally in the second quarter, due to ongoing European troubles.

Ford said Thursday it expects to remain profitable for the 12th consecutive quarter, driven by the success of Ford North America and Ford Credit. But it said it will not be as profitable as it was during 2011's second quarter, when it earned a $2.4 billion profit. Friday's close, the last of the quarter, marked the first time since Nov. 29 that Ford shares closed below $10.

A $570 million loss would not only triple Ford's first-quarter international losses, but triple many analysts' loss predictions as well. Ford lost $190 million internationally in the first quarter, 80 percent of that in Europe.

Itay Michaeli, analyst for Citi Investment Research, which lowered Ford's target share price from $15 to $14, said the losses overseas aren't surprising, but their accelerated nature when compared to the first quarter is cause for concern.

"As conditions in Europe continue to deteriorate, we could see a reduction in demand for goods imported from the United States," said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book. "This could negatively impact financial markets as stocks of export-dependent firms take a hit in anticipation of revenue declines."

Debt-ridden Italy and Spain, a Greek election, fright regarding the Euro and low consumer demand have hampered auto sales this year. Gutierrez said that could lead to stagnant hiring trends, which in turn could lead to drops in U.S. consumer confidence and auto sales.

Morgan Stanley on Friday cut Ford's target share price from $18 to $17, and said the automaker has "immediate needs to address excess capacity through near-term action." Ford says it has no plans to close any European plants.

Morgan Stanley's European team estimates Ford's European capacity to be lower than competitors other than Fiat SpA.

GM's stock closed Friday at $19.72 a share, down 10 cents or one-half percent from its previous close.

Chrysler Group LLC is not publicly traded.

GM spokesman Jim Cain said Friday that the company is providing no guidance on second-quarter performance in Europe. GM lost $256 million before taxes and interest in Europe during the first quarter. Last year, it lost $747 million there.

Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson told reporters in Chicago on Thursday that he is concerned about the soft European economy in the second half of the year.

He told shareholders this month that Europe remains the company's biggest challenge.

On Thursday, a board for GM's Opel brand in Europe approved a plan to bring the automaker to profitability in Europe.

Colin Langan, an analyst with UBS, said Friday he expects GM will lose $500 million in Europe in the second quarter and anticipates a $1.3 billion full year loss in Europe. He said he expects GM's losses to continue for the next four years.

"The major opportunity to cut costs is through capacity reductions, which won't be until 2016," Langan wrote in an email. "There are other means of finding cost savings, but the savings will be smaller and not enough to offset the current losses."


Global problems to result in higher quarterly losses for Ford

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
June 29, 2012

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it expects its second-quarter international losses to triple compared with the first quarter, brought on by deteriorating economic conditions in Europe, and investment and growth costs in its North American and Asia-Pacific-Africa regions.

Pre-tax losses could balloon to $570 million in the second quarter, which ends this week, according to a filing the Dearborn automaker made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"The international situation has gotten worse than Ford or anyone else expected," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at auto website Edmunds.com.

The Dearborn automaker had a pre-tax loss of $190 million during the first quarter. Approximately 80 percent of those losses came from Europe alone.

Ford said it expects to remain profitable for the 12th consecutive quarter, driven by the success of Ford North America and Ford Credit.

But it said it will not be as profitable as it was during 2011's second quarter, when it earned a $2.4 billion profit.

Ford said its international operations continue to face "increasing pressure," particularly in Europe, where a massive debt and currency crisis as well as low consumer demand have put a damper on sales.

The company has seen profit margins decline and doesn't predict the trend will change for the foreseeable future, though the company stressed Thursday it has no intention of closing any of its European plants.

"It's very difficult to do," Krebs said. "European plant closures are rare. Europe is still an important market."

Ford isn't alone in trying to combat the European debt and economic crises. General Motors Co. posted a $300 million loss in Europe during the first quarter.

Ford spokesman Mark Truby told The Detroit News earlier this month that the auto industry "has not faced up to the overcapacity issues despite the severe economic issues since 2008."

Ford South America is facing "growing competitive and pricing pressures," according to the company, as well as changes in government policies affecting trade and access to foreign currency.

Other losses in Asia-Pacific-Africa are associated with nine newly opened or currently under-construction facilities.


Newest Ford technology
senses distraction, stress

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
June 28, 2012

Dearborn —Ford Motor Co., which earlier this week announced developments to curb traffic delays, is now targeting driver distractions.

Researchers at the Dearborn automaker are developing a technology based on readings from sensors placed on the steering wheel, seat and safety belt that can measure a driver's heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature. The sensors are similar to those on some treadmills.

Coupled with a driver workload estimator — an algorithm that uses data from existing radar and cameras combined with input from the driver's use of the accelerator, brakes and steering wheel — a vehicle could silence in-car distractions if it deems the driver is under too much stress or is too distracted.

Existing sensors and cameras can determine if surrounding traffic is too heavy or if accelerator pressure has increased. In other words, the system will determine if the driver is already too preoccupied with driving to deal with an outside distraction.

The vehicle could then trigger a "do not disturb" feature through MyFord Touch that would delay an incoming phone call or text message until the situation becomes less stressful. Alert drivers who are not distracted could field phone calls and text messages as usual.

"While these features are still in research, they show significant opportunity for us to leverage data already being captured by the vehicle and apply an intelligent decision-making system to simplify the driving experience," said Gary Strumolo, manager of vehicle design and infotronics of Ford Research and Innovation.

There is no timeline for when this technology could first appear in Ford vehicles.

Ford plans broaden its traffic park assist technology to include backing into perpendicular parking spaces and that it is working on another technology to help improve traffic flow.


Ford retiree group critical of company's lump sum pension offer

By Jaclyn Trop
June 27, 2012
The Detroit News

An association for Ford retirees has hired consultants, lawyers and accountants to review Ford Motor Co.'s plan to offer lump sum pension payouts this summer.

The FAIR (Ford Actions Impacting Retirees) Alliance is the second major group to speak out against a Detroit automaker's plan to narrow its global pension obligations by offering a lump sum in place of the annuities retirees currently receive.

The General Motors Retirees Association sent a letter to General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson earlier this month, protesting GM's announcement that it will offer to buy out the pensions of 42,000 U.S. salaried retirees.

FAIR Alliance sent a letter to members earlier this month.

The letter argues that the plan, which takes effect in August when the first wave of 98,000 white-collar retirees receives formal offers, is a sure win for the automaker and certain loss for anyone who takes the lump sum.

"It's a benefit to the company," Don Whitehouse, president of Madisonville, Ky.-based FAIR, said Tuesday. "It's not a benefit to us, unless somebody's dying."

"I've only had one person — of all the people we've been in contact with — who said he'd take the buyout no matter what. His wife died, he has no kids and he has cancer. His doctor gave him three months to live."

Since Ford's unprecedented April announcement that it would offer payouts, the automaker has emphasized that retirees have a choice whether to receive their pensions in a lump sum or in monthly installments, according to Ford spokesman Jay Cooney.

"It is a voluntary opt-in program," Cooney said in an email Tuesday. "The decision to take a lump sum is highly personal and dependent (upon) one's unique set of circumstances."

Ford's $74 billion global pension liability was underfunded by $15.4 billion at the end of 2011. The payouts are part of a strategy to close the funding gap and reduce its debt.

The first wave of offers will reach 12,000 to 15,000 randomly selected workers by the end of the summer. Ford will roll out the rest of the offers over 12 months, Cooney said.

The letter to FAIR Alliance members argues that the existing pension system is the best one for retirees.

"There is no possible way that we can receive better returns on investments with the existing stock market, CDs or any other financial choices without taking a loss and Ford Motor Co. knows that very well," read the letter from Whitehouse.

Whitehouse declined to say how many retirees belong to the group but said FAIR has members in 48 states. About 28 percent of FAIR's member don't use computers, which means that they're missing the Blue Oval, the Ford's official digital newsletter for salaried retirees.

Sandy Mooradian, 70, of Northville is one of those retirees who doesn't use email. The former Ford analyst, who spent 34 years with the automaker, said it would be difficult for most retirees to manage the lump sum on their own, especially in a tough economy.

"Everyone I've talked to is not interested in the plan, including myself," Mooradian said. "As you get older and become more frail, how will you make sure you have enough monthly income?"

"How would you live?"


Ford takes wraps off
new luxury F-150

2013 F-150 Limited (Ford)

On sale this fall, Limited to be pricier than the Platinum

By Karl Henkel
The Detroit News
June 26, 2012

Ford Motor Co. today unveiled a luxury version of its best-selling F-150 pickup, calling it the most refined model to date.

The 2013 F-150 Limited, the latest high-end trim offered by the Dearborn automaker, will arrive at dealerships this fall.

A price point will not be set until later this year, though it will be priced above the Platinum F-150, another luxury model, which has an MSRP of $44,635, according to Ford's website.

The 365-horsepower F-150 Limited will come with a 3.5-liter Ti-VCT EcoBoost engine and will get 22 highway miles per gallon in the two-wheel-drive model.

"The F-150 Limited signifies the highest levels of design refinement, luxury and technology that we've ever offered in a Built Ford Tough pickup truck," said Raj Nair, Ford Group vice president for product development. "The F-150 Limited reflects a growing trend — more and more customers today have high expectations for luxury and convenience, yet their needs call for a truly capable truck."

The new F-150 Limited will come with red and black full-grain leather seats, standard moon roof and rearview camera.

The truck comes in three colors: Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat; Tuxedo Black Metallic; and White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat. It has 22-inch polished aluminum wheels.

The F-150 Limited will also be equipped with MyFord Touch powered by SYNC, for coordinated operation of cell phones, music, navigation and interior environmental control.

More than 30 percent of F-150 sales — which have topped all truck sales for 35 consecutive years — come from high-end trims, which range in price from about $35,000 to $50,000.

Ford's previous luxury truck models include the King Ranch F-150, launched in 2001, and the F-150 Platinum, which was launched in 2009.

The new 2013 F-150 Limited will come with red and black full-grain leather seats, standard moon roof and rearview camera. It also will be equipped with MyFord Touch. Ford


GM still pitching pension buyouts

Some are leery of changes; white-collar reps to meet

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
June 24, 2012

General Motors executives are continuing to lobby white-collar retirees on major changes pending for their pensions, but not everyone has yet embraced the plan.

The two sides held an hour-long conference call Friday, called by GM, to discuss the planned pension buyout offer to 42,000 salaried retirees.

Also, GM is offloading $26 billion of its $134 billion in pension obligations to Prudential Insurance Co., which means about 118,000 salaried retirees will see their pensions swapped for lump-sum payments or paid by Prudential, not GM.

GM's decision to terminate its salaried pensions and transfer them to Prudential has angered many retirees. Some have threatened to stop buying GM vehicles.

Retirees have stopped short of calling for a formal boycott or demonstration at GM's Renaissance Center headquarters in Detroit.

However, leaders of a group representing white-collar retirees plan to hold a conference call Monday to decide their next steps.

Jim Shepherd, the General Motors Retiree Association president, wrote GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson this month questioning the pension plan changes, noting that retirees will lose the protection of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. — the government's pension insurer — along with federal law that governs employee pensions.

GM officials on Friday's call said the July 20 deadline to decide whether to accept the lump sum will not be extended. "It was mostly a question and answer period," said Shepherd in an interview after the call.

GM spokesman Dave Roman said pensions were the topic of a regularly scheduled call Friday with presidents of GM retiree clubs across the country.

He declined to provide any details of the meeting.

The automaker invited about 30 or 40 retirees — leaders in the GM Retiree Association — to the conference call, said Wayne Williamson, GMRA treasurer/secretary.

Williamson, 74, of Bay City, a retired GM senior buyer in purchasing, said the call didn't leave enough time for questions — or result in any good answers.

"We're going to go after them," he said.

He said one option may be an informal boycott by individual members.

Williamson said GM hasn't explained why it offered lump-sum buyouts to some retirees, but not to others.

The key issue is "what happens if Prudential bellies up, which is highly improbable," Shepherd said.

"But 10 years ago, who would have felt that GM would file for bankruptcy?"

About 10,000 people attended 75 meetings GM held across the country to answer retirees' questions about pension changes.

Roman said GM has received thousands of calls to its call center and hits to its website and boycotts are not coming up.

Cindy Brinkley, GM's vice president of global human resources, defended the plan in a letter to Shepherd last week.

"We believe that these changes are good for retirees … and for the company, which will see its pension obligation reduced significantly," wrote Brinkley.

"Strengthening our balance sheet will allow GM to do something we haven't done in decades — focus our attention and resources on being the best carmaker we can be."

In a follow-up letter Thursday, Shepherd said he agreed that "GM management must prove they can create a low debt, high equity driven company with an investment grade rating as high or higher than Prudential enjoys today.

"This should include honoring its pledge to fund the salaried plan liability. It seems GM favors funding union plans, similar to the way the Delphi union plan was funded, but not its salaried retiree plan."


Feds investigate '11
Ford Explorer, Chrysler 200

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
June 23, 2012

Washington— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday it is opening investigations into 170,000 2011 Ford Explorer and Chrysler 200 vehicles over complaints of steering problems and engine stalling.

NHTSA said it was opening two preliminary investigations.

The agency is investigating 87,288 Chrysler 200 and Chrysler 200 convertibles for engine stall.

NHTSA has received 15 complaints alleging incidents of engine stall in the 200s with a 3.6 liter engine. All 15 incidents reported stalling without warning during low-speed decelerations such as braking for a stop sign or traffic light.

NHTSA didn't identify any crashes or injuries.

Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said the "V-6 is an award-winning engine featured in 12 models across three brands and has accumulated millions of miles of problem-free driving. Performance by any engine is subject to numerous factors, from fuel quality to software. The complaints in this case occurred infrequently and did so only in low-speed, low-risk situations, such as coming to a stop. However, Chrysler Group takes this action very seriously and is working to assist NHTSA with its investigation."

In the second investigation, NHTSA said it is investigating 83,000 2011 Ford Explorer SUVs.

NHTSA said it has received 15 complaints alleging loss of power steering assist and increased steering effort in model year 2011 Ford Explorer vehicles equipped with Electric Power Assisted Steering.

NHTSA said it has also identified field reports provided in Ford's Early Warning Reporting data submissions that relate to the alleged defect.

Some of the complaints indicated observing a power steering warning message when the failure occurred. In some cases, the condition was corrected by turning the vehicle off and restarting. However, some reports indicate the condition returned after restarting the vehicle.

NHTSA has no reports of crashes or injuries.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said the company is "fully cooperating with the agency on" the investigation.


More firms to offload pensions

June 21, 2012
•By Zachary Tracer and Tim Catts
•Bloomberg News

General Motors Co.'s deal to cut pension obligations by $26 billion and shift plans to Prudential Financial Inc. is poised to fuel more transfers as U.S. firms face a retirement-funding shortfall the size of Greece's debt.

MetLife Inc. and Prudential are among insurers that expect the GM deal to encourage more corporations to offload plans. Pension liabilities exceed assets by more than $435 billion, according to a Bloomberg review of data disclosed by firms in the Russell 1000 Index of large U.S. companies. Greece, facing demands for austerity measures in exchange for rescue funds, had total debt of about $450 billion at the end of 2011.

Employers who endured two stock-market crashes in a decade and 10-year Treasury yields near a record low may be tempted to follow GM's lead by paying insurers to take the risk that market returns are inadequate or that beneficiaries live longer than expected.

Transferring the obligations can reduce swings in earnings tied to securities and relieve companies of the need to manage large pools of money.

There "may be a greater willingness to pull the trigger and execute a transaction," said Robin Lenna, executive vice president of MetLife's corporate benefit funding group. "They have a model. Somebody already did it in a big way."

GM, the largest automaker, said most of the 118,000 retirees and surviving beneficiaries affected by the shift will get Prudential annuities, with about 42,000 having the option of lump-sum payments. GM pensions were underfunded by $25.4 billion, the largest gap among the biggest U.S. companies, as of Dec. 31. The Detroit-based firm had global pension obligations of about $134 billion.

GM will contribute $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion in cash to the salaried pension plan to help fund it and purchase the annuities from New Jersey-based Prudential, GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said.

The transaction will be completed by the end of this year, the company said.

"The pension world will forever remember this transaction as the beginning of the era of pension de-risking," said Dylan Tyson, head of pension risk transfer at Prudential, the No. 2 U.S. life insurer. "This is a market whose time has come."

The employers most likely to transfer obligations have high cash levels and "meaningful" underfunded retirement obligations, said Stephen Brown, an analyst at Fitch Ratings.

Timken Co. is among firms that may follow GM's path. The maker of bearings has spoken with Prudential and other insurers about annuitizing its pensions, which have $2.6 billion in assets and $3.1 billion in liabilities, said Glenn Eisenberg, the Ohio-based company's executive vice president of finance and administration.

Timken this year began offering retiring employees the option of receiving benefits in a lump sum, Eisenberg said. Contributions to the company's pension plans consumed $521 million since 2010 and are expected to cost $165 million this year, according to a company filing. Every 25 basis point reduction in the discount rate the company uses causes its liability to increase about $70 million, Eisenberg said.

"We had put cash into the plans and gotten them fully funded, only to see interest rates continue to drop over the last decade while asset returns were volatile," Eisenberg said. "That caused these big unfunded positions, and we had to throw more cash into it."

To pay for the transaction, Timken must fully fund the plans and contribute about an additional 15 percent of their assets as a premium to compensate the insurance company it eventually chooses, he said.

The cost may discourage other employers from striking deals with insurers, said John Ehrhardt, a principal at consulting firm Milliman Inc. Ford Motor Co. is offering lump-sum payments to about 98,000 U.S. salaried retirees and former employees.

Ford rejected offloading its obligations to a separate company in favor of investing in global expansion and new models and paying dividends, CFO Bob Shanks said.


Ford salaried staff strikes in England over cutbacks

Although the company declared that the employees agreed to this package that includes new hire rates and changes to defined benefit pensions, the workers went on strike on Monday at seven Ford locations in Dunton, Warley, Dagenham, Bridgend, Southampton, Daventry and Halewood.

  • By Jaclyn Trop
  • The Detroit News
  • June 20, 2012

Ford Motor Co. salaried workers in England staged a 24-hour strike Monday to protest a proposal for pay and pension cuts for new hires.

White-collar members of Britain's Unite union began the strike Monday morning in response to the automaker's proposal to lower pay rates and close its defined-benefit pension plan to new employees.

Hourly workers have agreed to a package that includes changes to defined benefit pensions and new hire rates, the company said.

Workers went on strike at seven Ford locations in the United Kingdom: Dunton, Warley, Dagenham, Bridgend, Southampton, Daventry and Halewood. There were no reported interruptions to production as of Monday evening, said Ford spokesman Brian Bennett.

Ford, which faces a $15.4 billion gap in its global pension funding, is taking its lead from the private sector. Close to 80 percent of private firms in Britain have closed their defined-benefit pension funds to new hires, according to Bennett.

Ford believes "its existing final salary pension provisions stand comparison with the best pension arrangements in the U.K. private sector," Bennett said.

Ford's pension funds have "a significant deficit," he added.

The cuts are part of Ford's effort to close its global pension funding gap and become profitable in Europe. But they affect so few workers that they won't have much impact on the bottom line, a Ford spokesman said.

The automaker announced last month it will offer to buy out the pensions of 98,000 U.S.-based salaried retirees and former white-collar workers starting in August. Its defined-benefit pension plan has been closed to new workers since 2004.

The offer hasn't aroused the same level of anger General Motors Co. saw when it announced similar proposal for 42,000 U.S. salaried workers who retired between Oct. 1, 1997, and Dec. 1, 2011. The General Motors Retirees Association sent an irate letter last week to GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson in protest of the plan, which would move other retirees to an annuity program controlled by Prudential Insurance Co. of America.

Two-thirds of the Unite union, the United Kingdom's largest union that represents nearly 1,200 white-collar Ford employees, voted in May to authorize a strike if it couldn't reach an agreement with Ford.

"Ford remains willing and available to continue discussions with the union representing these workers," Bennett said."The vast majority of the company's employees are not involved in this disagreement, or the decision to take industrial action."

Representatives for the Unite union couldn't be reached Monday.


No-cost banking: The end of an age

Globe & Mail
Rob Carrick

June 19, 2012

The more seniors there are, the more expensive it is to give them freebies and special discounts.

So with our aging population, it's easy to see Toronto-Dominion Bank 's decision to stop opening no-cost bank accounts for clients aged 60 and older as a trendsetting move. As of March, TD Canada Trust branches have been offering three different account packages to older clients with a 25-per-cent discount off regular account fees. Other banks and credit unions still offer no-cost banking to seniors, but you can bet they'll be studying TD's move.

Canada's second-largest bank has forestalled a backlash by allowing more than two million current holders of its no-cost Plan 60 account to maintain the status quo. But clients who turn 60 now have to pay fees of $8.20 to $22.45 a month after discounts unless they maintain large enough balances to qualify for fees to be waived entirely. That takes a minimum $2,500 to $5,000 a month, depending on the account.

TD spokeswoman Barbara Timmins said the free seniors account was chopped as part of a regular review of how the bank's products mesh with changing demographics.

"With an evolving boomer group, that means offering accounts to customers over 60 that reflect their diverse situations – whether that's something basic, mid-range or premium," she said. "We also have to balance those considerations with the bank's longer-term needs for continued growth."

Statistics Canada estimates that the country's population could exceed 40-million by 2036, and that as many as 10-million to 11-million people could be seniors. Offering free banking to that many people is a lost revenue opportunity of major proportions. Banks would be extra sensitive to that in today's world, where low interest rates and treacherous financial markets have hurt other lines of business.

But there's another trend at work here. Bluntly put, many baby boomers don't need banking discounts.

"The seniors of today are quite different from what they were back when the senior's plan was invented [decades ago]," said David McVay of McVay and Associates, a financial services consulting firm. "Many are still working, and many are better off than [seniors] were back then. The question at the banks is always, why are we discounting banking services for what turns out to be our wealthiest customers?"

Other banks may be asking that question, but they still offer no-cost accounts to seniors. Bank of Nova Scotia's Scotia Plus Program for Seniors offers cost-free banking for seniors with a refreshing lack of fine print or hidden fees. It also kicks in when customers turn 5 9, not the usual 60. Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce also offer free plans to seniors.

A couple of other banks have also done away with dedicated seniors accounts, but they haven't been so bold as TD in eliminating free banking for this group. Royal Bank of Canada offers a seniors' rebate that offsets the monthly cost of a variety of accounts to varying degrees. Note: In some cases, the client may need to have certain RBC products to qualify for a full rebate. HSBC Canada offers a fee waiver on an unlimited chequing account to seniors.

Credit unions are also an option for seniors seeking no-hassle, no-fee bank accounts. Here's what Southern Ontario's Meridian Credit Union offers to clients age 60 and older: Free unlimited debits, one free order of cheques a year, no charge for paper monthly statements, no charge for using a passbook (remember those?), free certified cheques and travellers cheques, a limited number of free money orders and discounts on safe deposit boxes.

TD's updating of its seniors accounts represents a modernization in more ways than one. With two of the three accounts, customers must pay $2 for a monthly paper statement and $2.25 for a passbook. Otherwise, they can use paperless recordkeeping, where you monitor your account online or download online statements. Both paper statements and passbooks are free to existing Plan 60 clients.

The aging population may eventually put an end to free chequing accounts for people 60 and older, but seniors shouldn't feel forsaken. Notice the growing numbers of financial planners in branches to help with retirement planning, and also the availability of sit-down teller windows and low ATMs. Wait a second – if seniors are such important customers, doesn't that suggest they should insist on free banking? Just asking.

Banking charges for seniors

Toronto-Dominion Bank's TD Canada Trust branches have stopped offering free chequing to seniors signing up for a new account. Options for the bank's clients aged 60 and over now include three chequing accounts offered with a 25-per-cent discount.

Monthly fee (after discount)
Fee waived with this minimum balance
Number of debit transactions

1. Select Service

2. Infinity

3. Value Plus
25 per month

Existing customers of TD's no-cost Plan 60 account can continue with that option.


GM pension changes leave retirees' money unprotected, group says

June 18, 2012
Melissa Burden
Detroit News

The General Motors Retirees Association is protesting GM's plan to buy out pensions of up to 42,000 U.S. salaried retirees and move other retirees to an annuity program controlled by Prudential Insurance Co. of America.

The association calls GM's decision "galling" and says it threatens retirees' financial security. In a letter to GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, signed by association president Jim Shepherd of Scottsdale, Ariz., and posted on its website, the group asks GM to reverse course.

"By eliminating this large class of salaried retirees from the pension plan, you are abandoning the hard-earned benefit of an ERISA-protected pension promised to thousands upon thousands of GM retirees in return for their commitment and loyalty," the letter reads. "This surpasses basic unfairness; indeed, it is sheer irresponsibility and greed."

ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the 1974 federal law that sets standards for private-industry pension plans.

GM Friday called the plan "good for retirees."

The automaker announced this month that it would offer lump-sum buyouts to salaried retirees who retired between Oct. 1, 1997, and Dec. 1, 2011, and off-load its U.S. salaried retirees' pensions to Prudential Insurance Co. of America.

In total, 118,000 U.S. salaried workers will be affected, including 42,000 who have been offered buyouts. Those that don't take them will have their pensions moved to the annuity Prudential will manage. The moves are expected to trim GM's pension liability by $26 billion.

The association says retirees lose in both cases, because the plan puts pension assets at risk and leaves retirees without coverage under the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a federal agency that protects pension benefits in private-sector plans. Once GM transfers pension assets to Prudential, the PBGC coverage goes away.

"Ninety-nine percent of the emails that I'm getting agree with the letter," Shepherd, a retired GM fleet account executive, said in a phone interview Friday.

"The most frequent phrase is 'GM threw me under the bus.'"

On Friday, Cindy Brinkley, GM's vice president of global human resources, sent Shepherd a letter via email. In the letter, the automaker said it believes the changes will provide salaried retirees with more choices and greater protection for retirement benefits.

"We believe that these changes are good for retirees … and for the company, which will see its pension obligation reduced significantly," wrote Brinkley. "Strengthening our balance sheet will allow GM to do something we haven't done in decades — focus our attention and resources on being the best carmaker we can be. That is good for everyone with a stake in GM's success."

Shepherd said of 200 emails he received Thursday and Friday, only one person was happy to be offered a lump sum; the choice between taking a lump sum and continuing with regular pension payments is voluntary.

Shepherd said some are concerned that there is no guarantee of protected funding with Prudential. Many are cautious, given the past collapse of investment banks such as Bear Sterns.

Roman said insurance regulations protect annuities, though coverage varies by the state each retiree lives in. For example, Michigan's maximum annuity protection is $250,000.

GM praised Prudential's record in the retirement business. GM noted that Prudential is an investment-grade company, and GM is not. Prudential must use a separate account to make benefit payments to GM retirees. And those assets would not be subject to claims of general creditors should Prudential fail and file for bankruptcy, the automaker said.

If the GM salaried retiree annuity funding were to drop, Prudential would use funding from its general account to continue making annuity payments to GM retirees, adding another safeguard, GM spokesman Dave Roman said.

"The plan will be fully funded when it moves to Prudential," Roman said.

GM has received some retiree questions through call centers and emails. The company has scheduled more than 75 meetings for retirees across the country, Roman said. He said GM won't update how many of the 42,000 retirees take the lump sum until after their decisions, which are due on July 20.

GM will spend between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion cash in the pension deal.


2013 Ford Escape delivers
more with less

The new Escape completely sheds the boxy truck look of the past and embraces its true crossover identity. The grille reveals the Focus family connection

Doug Guthrie
June 14, 2012

There's plenty of anticipation for Ford's all-new 2013 Escape.

As I drove a pre-production model on Interstate 94 toward some interesting backroads west of Ann Arbor, passing drivers shouted questions through their open windows.

"Is that the new one?" asked a man in a current model Escape with Canadian license plates.

"Awesome. I want one," said another guy in a Chevrolet pickup. I suspect he was a Ford fan driving the boss's truck.

While the new Escape isn't perfect, fans like this won't be disappointed when it arrives in showrooms this month. Already on sale in Europe as the Kuga, the new Escape is strikingly styled outside and comfortably appointed inside.

When Ford introduced the Escape in 2000, some said it wasn't enough truck to be called a sport utility vehicle. Yet it became the nation's top-selling SUV.

The new Escape completely sheds the boxy truck look of the past and embraces its true crossover identity. The grille reveals the Focus family connection. The Escape and more than a dozen other Ford vehicles have been built on the same compact platform.

With its car-like styling, the new Escape appears smaller than the old model, but it actually has more interior space. The wheelbase is almost three inches longer, adding leg room for back seat passengers. The shape is more aerodynamic and smooth panels underneath also increase fuel efficiency. Shutters automatically open and close behind grille openings.

Although the Escape no longer handles like a truck, it still isn't as nimble as its lower-to-the-ground compact brother, the Focus.

The Escape is wider, lighter and has a lower roofline, but it has just as much ground clearance as the previous model, keeping its center of gravity high. There was noticeable body lean during quick lane changes but the Escape felt comfortable and secure when cruising on the highway or following winding roads.

Meet 'Samantha'
Inside, the Escape is upholstered in the latest soft-touch materials and offers all of Ford's new technology. The eight-inch touch screen in the center console — in upscale models — can play video from a portable source, but only when the transmission is in park.

I had some difficulty operating the new simplified MyFord Touch hands-free system for communication, entertainment and navigation. But after a 20-minute session with Alan Hall, Ford's technology communications chief, who was sitting in the front seat with me, I was barking effective commands at "Samantha." Yes, that's the name Ford's engineers have given the system's recorded female voice — just Sam, when you get to know her.

Sam recognizes 10,000 commands, up from 100 in Ford's first-generation Sync. It's a good idea to take the dealer's offer of a personal instruction session. Ford also has a website with "Sync My Ride" Q&A, video tutorials and a live chat room.

Front-wheel drive, a six-speed automatic transmission, and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that gets an estimated 22 mpg city and 31 highway are standard. There are two more engine options, including a 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbocharged engine that gets the model's best fuel economy at 23 city and 33 highway. The top horsepower option is a 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder that gets 22 city and 30 highway mpg. Optional all wheel drive available only with the EcoBoost engines slightly reduces fuel economy.

Ford's four-cylinder EcoBoost system has a single turbocharger that isn't as refined as V-6 EcoBoost engines with twin turbochargers. The Escape has noticeable acceleration hesitation before the single turbo builds boost. But the 2.0-liter engine provided plenty of passing power.

The Escape no longer offers a V-6 engine or a manual transmission. Not with the 240 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder providing just as much power and better mileage. Properly equipped, the Escape can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The Escape hybrid also is gone because all of the new engines beat its highway fuel economy. They don't come close to the hybrid's city EPA number of 30 mpg, though. Ford will introduce another small crossover hybrid called C-Max this summer.

A new feature introduced with the Escape is the hands-free operation of the rear liftgate. When the key fob is in your pocket and your arms are wrapped around two bags of groceries, the rear hatch electronically opens when you swing your foot under the rear bumper. Two sensors under the bumper look for not only your foot but an attached leg too, so Ford claims rolling balls, running dogs and bumper-scrubbing hands won't accidentally trigger the opener.

Working out the kinks
The fit and finish inside and out are a testament to advances in production quality. The electronic features are enticing, but it's how the doors hang with body lines perfectly matched that show how far U.S. manufacturers have come.

Close the Escape's front door and it makes a satisfying thump that only a few years ago was exclusive to luxury cars. But closing one of the Escape's rear passenger doors, I heard a different, more hollow sound. I told Escape's chief engineer Eric Loeffler about the doors and a persistent sound of wind tumbling past the side windows when traveling at 70 mph. He was ahead of me on the wind noise, saying new door seals already are being used and assemblers are paying close attention to mirror mounts at the assembly plant in Louisville. I suspect the back door is getting some attention, too.

Suggested price of the base S model is $23,295, including an $825 delivery fee. An SE model will start at $25,895, the SEL for $28,695, and top-level Titanium $31,195. The hands-free liftgate is standard on Titanium and is part of an almost $1,900 option package on the SEL.

2013 Ford Escape
Price: $23,295 to $31,195, plus $825 delivery ($36,525 as tested)
Type: Five-passenger, four-door compact SUV
2.5-liter, direct injected, four-cylinder
1.6-liter, EcoBoost turbocharged, four-cylinder
2.0-liter, EcoBoost turbocharged, four-cylinder
168 horsepower; 170 pound-feet of torque with 2.5-liter engine
178 horsepower; 184 pound-feet of torque with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine
240 horsepower; 270 pound-feet of torque with 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
EPA gas mileage:
22 mpg city / 31 mpg highway with 2.5-liter engine and front-wheel drive
23 mpg city / 33 mpg highway with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and
front-wheel drive
22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway with 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and
all-wheel drive
22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway with 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and front-wheel drive
21 mpg city / 28 mpg highway with 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and all-wheel drive

Report Card
Overall: HHH
Exterior : Car-like styling that is wider, longer, lower and lighter
Interior: More space, more upscale materials and the latest technology
Performance: Improved power, economy and handling
Pros: Lots of improvements to an already popular vehicle
Cons: Some will miss the smoother power of the V-6

Grading Scale
HHHH Excellent HHH Good
HH Fair H Poor


Ford makes big investment
in Louisville

Ford Escape

By Bruce Schreiner
Associated Press
June 13, 2012

Louisville, Ky.— Ford has transformed a nearly 60-year-old assembly plant into the new home of the redesigned Escape, its entry in the ultra-competitive small SUV category. And it's bolstered the workforce to make the vehicle.

Ford Motor Co. invested $600 million to revamp its Louisville Assembly Plant, which features a new body, paint and trim assembly lines. The plant produced Ford Explorers from the early 1990s until late 2010.

On Wednesday, the plant is celebrating the launch of the new Escape, which goes on sale this month.

The plant's hourly workforce will swell to about 4,200 once a third shift is added this fall, the company said. As a spinoff, suppliers are adding more than 900 jobs in support of Escape production, Ford said.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer calls it a "generational type of investment" by the automaker.

"It's a wonderful shot in the arm for our economy," he said.

Many of the jobs were filled by incumbent Ford workers in Louisville or from places where factories closed or downsized.

But some 18,000 applicants scrambled for about 1,800 new jobs at the plant; those jobs have since been filled.

Once the third shift cranks up, the Louisville plant will rank among the largest workforces at Ford's domestic assembly plants. The plant's wage scale ranges from nearly $16 per hour for new hires to about $28 per hour for the most skilled workers.

That work force had shrunk to about 1,100 when the last Explorers rolled off the assembly line at the Louisville plant in late 2010. Production of that mid-size SUV has shifted to a Chicago plant.

Some employees thought they had pulled their last shifts at the Louisville plant when it was idled.

"When we went down, there were a lot of people who didn't believe we'd ever retool," said Steven M. Stone, the UAW chairman for the Louisville Assembly Plant.

Now, the remodeled plant is touted as the most flexible in Ford's domestic assembly chain, capable of producing up to six different models at the same time. It can build small, medium or large vehicles, but Ford officials haven't discussed any other models for the plant.

"We're putting that flexibility in for a reason, to take advantage of it in the future," said Jim Tetreault, Ford's vice president of North America Manufacturing.

The plant, which first opened in 1955, will be the model for future renovations of other Ford plants, he said.

"Our whole idea is to maximize capacity, because we're going to run them on all three shifts, which we didn't do years ago, and be able to produce multiple vehicles," Tetreault said.

Employees see the plant's versatility as a plus for job security, Stone said.

"That will give us a lot of opportunity to change with the market," he said. "That's the good part for job security. But I don't anticipate any time soon that we'll be building anything but the Escape."

Ford will get $240 million in tax incentives from state and local governments over the next decade for the plant's renovations.

Across town, the Kentucky Truck Plant in eastern Louisville employs about 4,000 people. The facility makes F-series Super Duty pickups as well as the Expedition and Navigator sport utility vehicles.

Once the third shift is added at LAP, Ford's employment will surpass 8,000 in Louisville — where the company has been making vehicles since 1913. Only the Detroit area will have more assembly line workers than Louisville, Tetreault said.

Nationally, Ford has added more than 5,200 hourly jobs this year — nearly half the 12,000 new hires Ford has said will be added by 2015.

"We'll pass the mark well before 2015," Tetreault said.

Ford isn't the only major manufacturer to add jobs in Louisville.

So far this year, General Electric has hired more than 1,000 workers to handle production of a hybrid water heater and bottom freezer refrigerators at its sprawling Appliance Park in Kentucky's largest city.

The company plans to start a second shift in its refrigerator factory later this summer, creating more jobs.

GE also says preparations are under way to open another plant at Appliance Park to make front load washing machines and matching dryers in early 2013. GE said it expects to create hundreds of new jobs from introducing new laundry products within the next year, including investments in its top load washers.

In Kentucky, manufacturing accounts for about one of every 10 jobs, down from about two in 10 jobs in the early 1990s, said University of Kentucky economics professor Ken Troske.

"We're never going to return to that," he said. "Will manufacturing employment kind of stabilize? Maybe. Will it grow? Maybe just a little."

The unemployment rate in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, was 8.1 percent in April, down from 9.8 percent a year earlier.

Fischer said he's seeing broader signs that employers are making investments and expanding work forces.

"We're not back into the glory days, and we all know now in retrospect those were overheated," he said. "But we're having a slow comeback out of the recession."


Ford shows off its
gallery of gas misers

Automaker shows off its gas misers for
those feeling the pinch at the pumps.

Wheels.ca - June 12, 2012

We're all feeling the pinch at the pumps.

Unlike the Europeans who've long embraced alternative methods of travel with their excellent mass transit, dedicated bike lanes and an enthusiastic scooter culture — most of us, with our vast distances between waypoints, are still firmly attached to our personal vehicles.

Although hybrids and electric vehicles have now become commonplace, there's no one-size-fits-all solution to our fuel and environmental woes, no single vehicle the definitive answer.

Instead, there's a variety of choice.

With that in mind, Ford recently rolled into Toronto on the final stop of their cross-Canada "Power of Choice" tour with a variety of vehicles ranging from the conventionally powered but fuel-efficient EcoBoost utility vehicle, regular and plug-in hybrids, to full-on electric — each designed to fulfill different consumer needs.

Exhibition Place's former Automotive Building is now the LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Allstream Centre and considered Canada's "greenest" conference centre.

It was an appropriate venue for an event beginning with a display of all the eco-friendly materials used in Ford's interiors.

Insulation and carpet backing containing recycled blue jeans, bio-foam seat cushions made from soybeans, and reclaimed plastics that have rerouted an estimated 2 million plastic bottles from landfill sites are all part of Ford's initiative to reduce environmental impact.

By 2013, the company claims that over 90 per cent of their lineup will feature the efficient EcoBoost engines, which boast a 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and 15 per cent fewer C02 emissions.

Although the 2013 Fusion Hybrid, which goes on sale this fall, was on display in the lobby, it was not available for testing.

Instead, there was a lineup that included the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, a pair of 2013 Ford Escapes — each with a different EcoBoost engine — and the 2012 Fusion Hybrid.

Over a short drive route that encircled the Toronto Exhibition grounds and incorporated part of the upcoming Honda Indy race course, we had a brief taste of each.

The Focus EV is a jaunty little hatchback with an Aston Martin-esque face.

Other than a trunk that's been compromised by the intrusion of its 23kW lithium ion battery pack, the Focus EV differs little from its gas-powered counterpart, with the same steering and handling feel.

Remarkably unremarkable, it provides a completely conventional driving experience — albeit one that's eerily silent.

Ford's first all electric vehicle, the Focus EV boasts a new home- charging system that will recharge the battery in three hours — half the time of competitor Nissan Leaf. It has no tailpipe, no exhaust, therefore, no emissions whatsoever.

The conscientious energy-conserving driver is rewarded with an info screen full of butterflies — inspired by the "butterfly effect" wherein small things (such as the adage of a butterfly's flapping wings disrupting the weather) can cause big change in eventual outcome.

With a range of up to 160 km, the Focus EV is well-suited to the urban dweller. Not so much the commuter from outlying bedroom communities. Crestfallen, one young participant realized the EV would be entirely unsuitable for her regular visits to the cottage, 400 km away.

Such a driver would be better served by a hybrid, using a parallel gasoline-electric system which constantly regenerates energy spent through braking, storing it in an on-board battery pack, or a plug-in hybrid, which can run solely on battery power — the gasoline engine taking over once the energy is depleted.

Both choices alleviate the all-important range anxiety. Although Ford hasn't released detailed specs on the upcoming plug-in Fusion Energi, they claim it will be more efficient than either the Chevrolet Volt or Toyota Prius. These claims have yet to be proven, since so much depends on driving styles and effects of climate on battery range.

The current Fusion Hybrid won accolades when it was introduced two years ago. It's a handsome sedan that returns a combined fuel economy of approximately 6.0L/100 km combined, displaying a nearly seamless transition from electric to gasoline power.

Again, the dash display rewards the careful driver, this time with leafy greenery that grows more abundant as less energy is expended.

The fleet was rounded off by a pair of 2013 Ford Escapes, both with EcoBoost engines: one, a 1.6L with 173 hp and 177 lb.-ft. of torque that will offer the greatest fuel economy, and a 2.0L EcoBoost with 237 hp and 250 lb.-ft. that, with tow-packaged equipped Escapes, boasts a rating of up to 3,500 lbs.

While the larger engine consumes 10.7L/100 km city and 7.8L highway, the 1.6, with 10.2/7.1 L/100 km, offers the best fuel economy in its segment: clearly a compelling choice for those weekend cottage dwellers with toys to tow.

There's no single answer to our energy dilemma, rather, a thought-provoking series of choices depending on individual circumstances. What's also becoming obvious is the important role that the driver plays, regardless of vehicle type, in conserving fuel.

Whether you choose to drive an EV, hybrid or gasoline combustion engine powered vehicle, fuel-efficient driving tips such as those provided by Natural Resources Canada on its website can make a big difference in your fuel consumption.


Auto makers tell union wage
hikes won't happen

June 11, 2012

The Detroit Three auto makers have fired an early salvo at their unionized Canadian work force, warning that they are determined to hold the line on wages and other fixed costs in contract negotiations that begin next month.

Each of the companies sent a letter to the Canadian Auto Workers asking the union to forego a small wage increase, known as cost of living adjustment (COLA), that went into effect this month. The auto makers want the workers to agree instead to lump-sum payments, and are warning that such automatic wage increases would further damage the competitive positions of their Canadian plants.

The auto makers' declarations offer a glimpse of their key goal in bargaining – holding down their hourly labour costs, one of the key fixed costs they can control. They also want wages to be more closely tied to profitability. That sets the stage for difficult bargaining, because the union is intent on raising wages and recovering some benefits they surrendered during the 2008-2009 auto crisis.

"One of GM's main objectives for 2012 bargaining is to ensure that we maintain our break-even point by not adding fixed costs," David Wenner, general director of labour relations of General Motors of Canada Ltd., told CAW head Ken Lewenza in his letter.

The union rejected the request to trade the COLA increase for lump-sum payments or bonuses, which means workers will get their first wage increase since 2007 – even though it's only 28 cents a hour on wages of about $32.

The companies' proposal frustrated Mr. Lewenza, who noted the union agreed to freeze cost-of-living adjustments – and base wage rates – until the final quarter of the cost-saving contracts it signed during the crisis.

Those agreements helped secure federal and Ontario contributions of about $14-billion to the bailouts of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

Ford Motor Co. did not seek a bailout, but many of the cost-saving initiatives in the GM and Chrysler contracts were extended to Ford.

"That was part of the sacrifices and at the very first opportunity, they're looking at mechanisms to pay out differently or in some cases, which isn't in writing, eliminate it totally," Mr. Lewenza said in an interview.

In a sign of how far apart the union and the companies are even before bargaining that covers about 18,000 employees starts next month, they can't agree on the size of the gap in all-in hourly labour costs between Canadian and U.S. plants.

Ford's Canadian plants were operating at a $15 an hour disadvantage to U.S. plants, Michael Hyland, Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. labour affairs manager said in his letter to the CAW.

Restoring the COLA payment will help increase that gap to $30 an hour by the end of 2012, Mr. Hyland said.

"It is the company's opinion that together we must do all that we can to reduce this disparity and restore some of Canada's cost competitiveness, not erode it further," he wrote.

But the $30-an-hour figure is "absolutely ridiculous," Mr. Lewenza said.

The figures for all-in labour costs are closely guarded secrets at the companies, but the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., pegs Chrysler factory costs at $52 (U.S.) an hour in the United States, those of GM at $56 and Ford's at $58.

Costs at Chrysler factories in Canada are $10 (Canadian) higher than they are in the United States and a COLA clause in a new four-year contract would add another $4.80 to the gap, said a letter to Mr. Lewenza from Todd Bested, Chrysler Canada Inc.'s director of labour relations.

Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler, has been the most vocal among executives about Canadian costs, but each of the companies wants the CAW to shift compensation to pay based on company profit, rather than annual percentage increases.

The CAW has rejected pay based on profit.




December 4, 1933 - June 9, 2012

Bob Allison Bob Allison - Recent
Retired Dec 1, 1996
28 Years Service

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the sudden
passing of Retiree Bob Allison on June 9, 2012.

Our Deepest Condolences go out to his family.

Funeral and visitation will be at St Andrew's Funeral Home,
8190 Dixie Road, Brampton

Visitation: Tuesday June 12 - 2 PM to 4PM and 7 PM to 9 PM

Funeral: Wednesday June 13 - 11AM


Allison Robert (Bob) It is with much sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Bob Allison on June 9. With his late wife Dorothy (2005) he was the proud father of daughters Lynn and Laurie and twin sons Russell and the late Rob (2008). He is survived by his sister Ruth Trainor and his friend Shirley Lukala. Bob will be sorely missed by his eight grandchildren Allison, Joshua and James Alderton, Samantha and Callan McCorriston, Tyler Allison and Jacob and Connor Allison. Also by his sons-in-law Jeremy Alderton & Doug McCorriston, his daughter-in-law Jill Brennan- Allison and his many nieces and nephews.

Listening to Bob talk about the people he had met throughout his life made it seem like he knew everybody. From his years as a manager at various Dominion stores, his work at Ford Motor Company in Bramalea, his home away from home at Sand Lake, and from the years spent coaching girls' and women's softball, Bob could recall everyone he had ever met and tell stories that always brought a laugh.

Bob was a story teller. His laugh and humor filled any room he was in. Bob was hard not to notice; he was a big man with a big personality and will leave a big hole in all of our lives. We will miss his quick wit, the twinkle that was always in his eye and his larger than life presence. He was Bob.

Visitation to be held at the Andrews Community Funeral Centre (8190 Dixie Rd., Brampton N. of Steeles Ave. 905-456-8190) on Tuesday from 2-4 & 7-9 pm. A Celebration of Bob's Life will take place Wednesday June 13th, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. in the Chapel. Interment to follow at Brampton Memorial Gardens. If desired donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated by the family.


Bob Allison sitting with Orville Shaw, Doug Berry and
Peter Zebedee following our May 2012 Retirees Meeting


Student of Ford history puts
classics up for sale in N.H.

A 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Sportsman convertible is ready for auction, along with neon signs, in Hampton, N.H. (Jim Cole / Associated Press)

By Kathy Mccormack
Associated Press
June 9, 2012

Concord, N.H. — Michael Dingman has spent much of his life collecting vintage Fords and classic neon signs, restoring and keeping them well-preserved for years. Now, the former Ford Motor Co. director is ready to share his slice of Americana with others.

Nearly 50 cars, many of them from Ford's flathead era, and well over 1,000 signs are up for auction this weekend at his property in Hampton, N.H.

Dingman, a businessman and investor who was a Ford director for more than 21 years and also raced cars, sees himself as a student of Ford history. He said in a recent interview with the auction house that he enjoyed the car hunt and grabbed the best convertibles, woodies and others he could find through the years.

"In the Ford world, the V-8 flathead Ford is like up on a pedestal," said Michael Fairbairn, co-founder of RM Auctions Inc. "It may not be the fastest, it may not be the prettiest," but it draws car collectors. "It's what's in their blood. It's what they think of when they think of a great Ford."

Dingman bought and restored them.

"He really loves these cars, wants to make them the best he can and views it almost as a calling in life to leave behind almost as many great ones as he can," Fairbairn said.

One of his most prized cars, estimated at $225,000 to $275,000, is a rare restored 1936 Ford custom Cabriolet by Glaser, the coachbuilder of choice for "deluxe" Fords in Europe. The black car with chrome trim and directional signals on the windshield pillars won its class at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2011.

Another is a 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Sportsman convertible estimated at $240,000 to $280,000, representing the epitome of Ford's open woodies.

Other items in the auction include a pair of Porches, an Aston Martin Vantage Volante and a Prevost XL40 Conversion Motor Home with kitchen trailer, which was converted for Dingman to use during his racing career.

While there are many automotive signs and posters in Dingman's collection, there are also ones for soft drinks, beer and other products. In addition to the neon ones, they are made of tin, porcelain, wood and glass. The collection also includes a series of Route 66 signs.

"When I was growing up, you saw neon signs everywhere," said Dingman, 80. Now, most have disappeared. "I wanted to capture that period."


Ford plans first bond sale since rising to investment grade

June 8, 2012

By Zeke Faux Bloomberg News

Ford Motor Co. sold $1.5 billion of bonds in its first benchmark issue since the second-largest U.S. automaker regained investment-grade ratings from Moody's Investors Service last month.

Ford Motor Credit Co., the carmaker's financing unit, sold the 3-percent, five-year notes at a spread of 230 basis points more than similar-maturity Treasuries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The spread was reduced from initial talk of about 240 basis points, according to a person familiar with the offering who asked not to be identified because details are private.

Moody's raised its rating on Ford by two levels to Baa3, the lowest level of investment grade, from Ba2, on May 22. The move, which followed Fitch Ratings's upgrade of Ford from junk status on April 24, enabled the company to regain control of its logo and other assets pledged as collateral to obtain a $23.4 billion loan to keep the business going in 2006.

"Management has stuck to its goals and shown that they've been able to not only reduce debt but improve the business overall," Jody Lurie, a corporate credit analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, said in a telephone interview. "Many didn't expect the company to get into investment-grade range so quickly."

The spread on the new bonds was more than 120 basis points less than the premium on Ford's last sale of five-year notes in January, Bloomberg data show. At that time, the company sold $1 billion of 4.25 percent debt that yielded 354.1 basis points, or 3.54 percentage points, more than Treasuries.

Those securities have climbed to 105.9 cents on the dollar at 4:04 p.m. today to yield 2.89 percent, with the spread tightening to 218 basis points, according to Trace, the bond- price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker's second upgrade meant that its debt shifted out of Barclays Plc's and Bank of America Corp.'s junk-bond indexes to their high-grade gauges. Many bond-fund managers adjust their holdings to match the indexes.

Ford Motor Credit converted $2.5 billion of asset-backed securities into unsecured debt yesterday. The bonds, linked to vehicle loans, were issued in 2011 and designed to automatically convert when two of the three major rating companies lifted the automaker's credit ranking to investment grade.

Ford slid to junk in 2005. High-yield, high-risk, or junk bonds, are graded below Baa3 by Moody's and lower than BBB- at Standard & Poor's and Fitch. Benchmark sales typically are at least $500 million.


Ford: Global plans key
in pension moves

Automaker decided to invest in new cars, dividends, expansion

June 7 2012
Keith Naughton
Bloomberg News

Ford Motor Co., which has a $15.4 billion unfunded pension liability, rejected offloading its retiree obligations as General Motors Co. is doing in favor of investing on global expansion, new models and paying dividends.

The second-largest U.S. automaker considered shifting its salaried pension plan to an outside company as GM is doing by purchasing an annuity with a Prudential Financial Inc. unit, Bob Shanks, Ford's chief financial officer, said Monday.

GM said it will spend $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion to purchase the group annuity and offer pension buyouts to 42,000 salaried retirees.

"That's a huge outlay," Shanks said. "When we look at our spending plans, look at our plans for dividends, look at our plans for pension contributions, when we think about our growth plans, product plans. As we do all that, we don't think we have excess cash."

Ford is offering lump-sum pension payments to about 98,000 U.S. salaried retirees and former employees.

Shanks can't say how much that may lower Ford's global $74 billion pension liability because it's unclear how many retirees will take the buyout.

GM said it aims to cut its pension obligation by $26 billion through offering buyouts and creating the annuity.

"We've looked at all sorts of options," Shanks said. "It's not like it's rocket science, there's only so many things you can do to de-risk a pension plan. We are comfortable with what we've done thus far."

Ford is contributing $3.5 billion to its global pension plans this year and will begin making buyout offers to salaried retirees in August, Shanks said.

GM's move to also offer lump-sum payments to retirees isn't likely to have any impact on the take-rate at Ford, Shanks said.

"If it were me, it would be very personal," Shanks said. "I'd have my own point of view about how I felt from a financial perspective. I'd have my point of view about how I felt about the health of the company because, obviously, by not taking a lump sum you're assuming and depending on Ford continuing as an ongoing operation for the balance of your lifetime."


Allan McLean RENNIE

Al Rennie

Al Rennie was a supervisor at the Bramalea National Parts Depot for many years.

RENNIE, Allan MCLean - Peacefully at home in Newmarket on June 1, 2012 in his 93rd year. Predeceased by wife Dorothy. Survived by children Ken (Liz), Judy (John), Jim (Brenda), Suzanne, and grandchildren Melissa, Ian, Scott, Kara, Heather, Shannon, Cameron, and great- granddaughter Elizabeth. Private services have been held. For those wishing to make a gift in lieu of flowers, a donation to The Council of Canadians (www.canadians.org) or The Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.org) would be appreciated. We would like to express our sincerest appreciation to the dedicated staff of the Clock Tower Retirement Residence in Newmarket for their commitment and caring during the past six years, and particularly during his last few months. Thanks also to visiting community nurse Dale and Cathy from CCAC for their many years of support.


US Auto workers urged to oppose Japan's entry into trade talks

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
June 5, 2012

Washington -The United Auto Workers union and Ford Motor Co. urged the automaker's more than 40,000 hourly workers to oppose Japan's entry into free-trade talks.

"Japan's auto industry has not done the hard work we had to do to remain globally competitive. Bailing out the Japanese auto industry with a one-sided trade agreement will jeopardize the American auto recovery," said the letter distributed at all of Ford's U.S. plants signed by UAW vice president Jimmy Settles and Ford vice president for North American manufacturing Jim Tetreualt. "We need a level playing field where we compete on even terms. By further opening our market in the U.S. without insisting first on reforms in Japan, we are locking in one-way, unfair trade."

The Trans-Pacific Partnership talks currently include Australia, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam. Canada, Mexico and Japan may be invited to join the talks as early as this month.

Last week, Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally was in Washington to hold meetings with Congress and the Obama administration, opposing Japan's entry into the trade talks.

The letter asks UAW members to "contact the White House, your senators and congressman now and ask these elected leaders not to jeopardize the American auto recovery and your job by bailing out the Japanese auto industry."

A free trade agreement could drop tariffs on Japanese vehicles entering the United States and make it more economically viable to build vehicles in Japan and export them to the U.S. The Japanese currently pay a 2.5 percent tariff on cars and a 25 percent tariff on trucks exported from Japan to the U.S.

Japanese automakers have complained about the value of Japanese yen — which tends to increase the cost of its exports to the U.S. — and have been talking about moving production outside of the country unless the yen weakens. U.S. automakers argue such a move could amount to currency manipulation and an unfair trade practice.

Japanese automakers note the auto imports in Japan have been rising and question whether U.S. automakers are offering the right types of vehicles to meet Japanese consumer preferences.

Japan is the world's third-largest automotive market. It ranks last out of the 30 member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in access for imported automobiles.

U.S. automakers say Japan has intentionally kept foreign cars out. They note that Hyundai Motor Co. recently completely withdrew from the Japanese market.


GM offers lump-sum
buyout of pensions

42,000 salaried workers eligible; will reduce liabilities by $26B

By David Shepardson and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
June 4, 2012

General Motors Co. said Friday it will offer lump-sum pension buyouts to about 42,000 salaried retirees and offload its salaried retiree pensions to Prudential Insurance Co. of America — moves that will reduce its pension liability by $26 billion.

The announcement follows a similar offer from Ford Motor Co., which said Thursday it will offer pension buyouts to 98,000 qualifying white-collar retirees and former workers.

GM salaried retirees who are offered the lump-sum choice have until July 20 to make a decision. Payouts will come in September for those who take it. The lump sum payment will be based on factors including age, years of employment and current pension amount.

The Detroit-based automaker said it will spend $3.5 billion to $4.5 billion cash in the deal. That includes $1 billion cash used to fully fund the plan before transferring assets to Prudential, and another $3 billion to $3.5 billion to buy the annuity or contract from Prudential.

"We've made a big step forward," GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said, adding it helps "toward our objective of de-risking our pension plans and will further strengthen our balance sheet and give us more financial flexibility going forward."

This is the latest effort by GM to reduce what's become the world's largest pension obligations. The move will reduce GM's worldwide pension liabilities from $134 billion to $106 billion — and cut its salaried pension obligation from $36 billion to $10 billion.

GM will retain U.S. hourly pension plans with $71 billion in liabilities and $61 billion in assets. "Clearly, pension has continued to be a significant issue for General Motors," Ammann said. Ammann would not directly answer whether GM plans to make a similar offer to its U.S. hourly retirees. He declined to talk about discussions with the UAW about hourly pensions. "We're going to continue to look for opportunities down the road," he said.

UAW officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

GM will transfer $29 billion in assets from its salaried pension plans to Prudential in the move and said it "sets precedent for additional actions."

The company expects to take special charges of between $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion in the second half of this year; the ongoing annual impact to its earnings will be a decrease of about $200 million, as a result of a drop in pension income.

Company officials also said the action is an important step toward regaining investment grade credit ratings.

Fitch Ratings said Friday that it views the moves as "incrementally positive to GM's credit profile," but it didn't change its ratings on the automaker. Fitch called the pension moves a "positive step in reducing the risk of future volatility in the company's cash pension obligations."

Moody's Investors Service also left GM's credit rating unchanged, saying the actions cancel each other out.

Bruce Clark, senior vice president at Moody's, said the deal comes at a cost for GM.

"… When all is said and done, the company's total underfunded pension liability will be reduced by only $1 billion," he said in a statement.

Other analysts say the move will help GM in the long haul.

"We view this announcement favorably as it reduces GM's risk and improves their flexibility," wrote Joseph Spak, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets LLC, in an investor note. "Moreover, we believe this sets a template to deal with the larger U.S. hourly worker pension obligation."

GM is offering buyouts to about 42,000 of its 118,000 salaried retirees and beneficiaries. Those eligible retired from GM on or after Oct. 1, 1997, and before Dec. 1, 2011. The automaker doesn't plan to offer lump sum buyouts to U.S. salaried workers who retired before 1997.

GM will buy a group annuity contract from Prudential Retirement, and Prudential will pay and administer future benefit payments to most of the remaining U.S. salaried retirees.

As a result, GM won't be responsible for any current salaried pension retirees after the deal closes by year's end.

The Detroit-based company also will establish a new pension plan for active salaried employees and terminate its current salaried pension plan.

GM's pensions grew worldwide from $22.2 billion underfunded to $25.4 billion. U.S. pension underfunding increased from $11.5 billion to $13.3 billion. The company has the world's largest pension plans with nearly $110 billion in assets.

In February, GM said as part of its strategy to "de-risk" its pension plans, it anticipated a more conservative growth in its investments.

GM earned 8 percent on pension investments in 2011 and expects to earn 6.5 percent for its hourly pension plan and 5.7 percent for the salary pension plan.

GM said earlier it is freezing its salaried pension plan, which will mean salaried workers will stop accruing additional pension benefits after Sept. 30. Active plan participants will receive additional contributions to its 401(k)-style plan and an extra week of vacation.

That change affects 19,000 salaried employees hired before 2001 who still receive traditional pensions, which provide retirees with a fixed amount of money each month for the rest of their lives.

As part of its new contract with the UAW reached last year, it barred new hourly workers from receiving defined benefit pensions.

But the UAW said GM sought cuts in hourly pensions for older workers. The UAW rejected it.

GM froze its cash balance pension plan for entry-level employees on Jan. 2, and expects to terminate it in June. Participants in the plan and all employees hired after October 2007 will participate in a defined contribution plan, GM said.

Pension buyouts
Looking to reduce its pension obligations, General Motors Co. is offering some U.S. salaried retirees a voluntary pension buyout. Here are some details of the company's proposal:
The offer: One-time single lump sum payment; workers can opt to continue to receive their monthly payments, which in the future would be paid by the Prudential Insurance Co. of America.
Who's eligible: U.S. salaried workers who retired on or after Oct. 1, 1997 and before Dec. 1, 2011.
Number eligible: About 42,000
Deadline to participate: Responses due by July 20, 2012.
Payments: Made in September 2012


Ford claims top auto
sales spot in May

CBC News
Jun 2, 2012

Ford Motor Company of Canada Friday claimed top-selling position in May, saying car and light truck sales rose 31 per cent from a year earlier, to 32,338.

Sales of Ford's full-sized pickups rose 46 per cent.

Sales for the first five months of the year reached 111,538, 4.3 per cent above the same period a year earlier.

Chrysler Canada enjoyed its 30th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth in May as sales rose seven per cent to 26,218 vehicles, the company said Friday.

"There have only been three months in the last 10 years that have hit the 26,000 sales mark and I'm thrilled to count May 2012 among them" said chief operating officer Dave Buckingham.

The increase in vehicle sales in May, up from 24,406 in May 2011, gave Chrysler its best retails sales numbers in the calendar year to date since 2002, the company said in a release.

Japanese automakers seemed to rebound thoroughly from supply challenges faced since the country's massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Toyota Canada Inc. said it has regained momentum from "post-tsunami" challenges and saw sales jump to 19,810, a 64.7 per cent increase over May 2011. Sales of its Prius family of hybrids were especially strong, seeing a whopping 804 per cent increase over last May.

Nissan Canada Inc. said it sold 9,204 units, an increase of 36.9 per cent over May 2011.

Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. Said May sales rose two per cent to 14,249, its 41st consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. For the first five months of the year, Hyundai's sales have risen by 4.7 per cent.

Kia Canada's sales rose 22.1 per cent, to 8,460.

Toyota leads U.S. sales jump
Toyota, as expected, led sales increases with an 87 per cent rise from a year earlier, when the earthquake disrupted its supply of new vehicles.

In the U.S., Chrysler said it sales jumped 30 per cent last month, as pent-up demand led Americans replaced their aging cars despite the falling stock market and shaky consumer confidence.

"You have so many old vehicles on the road," said Tom Libby, lead analyst for the Polk automotive research firm. He sees auto sales continuing to grow through the next two or three years.

Chrysler was followed by Volkswagen at 28 per cent and Nissan at 21 per cent. Ford sales rose 13 per cent and GM was up 11 per cent.

Total U.S. sales for May should rise 30 per cent to 1.4 million cars and trucks, according to forecasts from industry analysts.

They expect sales for 2012 to reach 14.5 million, up from 12.8 million last year.


GM to close one of Oshawa plants

Globe & Mail

June 1, 2012

The Canadian Auto Workers union squeezed five more years of production than originally scheduled out of a car assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., but received the official news Friday that the factory will close next year, eliminating as many as 1,500 jobs.

General Motors Co. told the union the plant will cease production next June, five years later than the original closing date of 2008. That 2008 date was the time frame set out in 2005 when GM first announced the closing in one of a series of plant shutdowns and job cuts it made before the biggest restructuring of all when it went into chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009.

"This is absolutely sickening," said Chris Buckley, president of CAW local 222, which represents workers at the two GM car plants in Oshawa.

The plant produces the Chevrolet Impala mid-sized sedan and the Chevrolet Equinox crossover.

Impala production will shift to the neighbouring flex plant that also produces Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS cars, which means some workers whose jobs will disappear in the plant that's closing could be hired on next door if that plant it adds a third shift. About 2,000 people work in what is known as the consolidated line and will have first crack at the third shift jobs, but GM would not confirm Friday that it will add a third shift at the remaining plant, Mr. Buckley said.

If a third shift is added, employment in what is known as the flexible plant would rise to about 2,500 from 2,000 now, he said.

But that means direct layoffs of at least 1,500 people, plus thousands more at suppliers.

The Chevrolet Equinox crossovers that were being shipped to Oshawa from Ingersoll, Ont., for final assembly will instead be built at the company's former Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., which GM is reopening after closing it when it killed off Saturn during the chapter 11 restructuring.

The Spring Hill plant is reopening because the United Auto Workers agreed to allow the company to hire a large number of workers at wages of about $14 (U.S.) an hour and minimal benefits. That compares with about $32 (Canadian) in hourly wages in Oshawa.

The CAW calls such wage-cutting a race to the bottom and has stood fast against wage reductions.

If the Canadian union agreed to such cuts, it would soon be asked to match the $6 an hour Mexican workers are being paid, Mr. Buckley argued Friday.

He added that workers in Oshawa and other GM and Detroit Three auto maker operations in Canada made sacrifices in 2009 when GM Canada's parent company went into chapter 11 protection, but the Canadian unit stayed out of protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

The redesigned version of the Impala will also be assembled at a plant in the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Mich., beginning next year.

CAW president Ken Lewenza said there's a faint hope of keeping the plant open if the current recovery in the market continues and GM finds it needs to boost capacity, as Ford Motor Co. has discovered in recent months.

The closing is the final piece of GM's pre-bankruptcy restructuring, which included shutdowns of two other large Canadian plants that eliminated about 5,000 jobs—a full-sized pickup truck plant in Oshawa that closed in 2009 and a transmission making factory in Windsor, Ont., that closed in 2010.


Ford: US Pension buyout offers
to 98K may start in August

By Jaclyn Trop
The Detroit News
June 1, 2012

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it will make offers as early as August to buy out the pensions of 98,000 U.S.-based salaried retirees and former white-collar workers.

The Dearborn automaker, in offering more details of a plan announced in April, is making the pension pitch as part of an unprecedented strategy to shed up to one-third of its $49 billion U.S. pension liability.

Ford hopes the lump-sum payout plan will help close the funding gap for its pension obligation and shore up its balance sheet, a move that could also boost its cash flow, credit rating and stock price. Ford's $74 billion global pension liability was underfunded by $15.4 billion at the end of 2011.

It's unclear how many workers will accept the offer, said Ford spokesman Jay Cooney.

"The level of participation is difficult to predict, given the voluntary and unprecedented nature of the program," Cooney said. "It is a highly personal decision and will depend largely on an individual's unique set of circumstances."

"It's absolutely and completely voluntary," he added.

The first wave of offers will reach 12,000 to 15,000 randomly selected workers by the end of the summer. Ford will roll out the rest of the offers over 12 months, Cooney said.

Hourly workers comprise the remaining two-thirds of Ford's U.S. pension obligation.

Retirees will have 90 days to decide to accept the one-time offer of a lump-sum payment based on interest rates, life expectancy and actuarial tables the federal government uses to calculate pension obligations.

Ford can calculate the payout amounts using a corporate bond rate instead of the 30-year Treasury rates, thanks to a change in U.S. pension law this year.

The decision by Ford executives to offer the payouts was not controversial, said Rick Popp, Ford's director of employee benefits.

"Was there debate?" Popp said. "It was more about: 'Can we do this? Is it possible?'"

"It could take millions or billions of dollars of obligations off our books," he added.

General Motors Co., also facing a pension burden, is reportedly considering pension payouts. "We're looking at opportunities for our de-risking strategy," said GM spokesman Dave Roman.

Retirees had mixed reactions when Ford first announced a broad brush of the plan in April.

"I think clients are excited to see the offer," said Kevin Van Dyke, president at Bloomfield Hills Financial. "I think at first there was a certain amount of skepticism. (People thought) if it's a good move for Ford, then it can't be a good move for me."

The offer likely makes most sense for higher earners, who are more at risk if Ford defaults on its pension obligation, Van Dyke said. Retirees will consider factors including longevity, risk tolerance and succession planning when evaluating the offer.

"It's not a good or a bad deal across the board," he said.

Reducing Ford's pension liability will appeal to investors and help the company achieve its goal of maintaining its investment-grade credit rating, which it regained in May. Moody's Corp. became last week the second ratings house to upgrade Ford's debt from junk bond status for the first time since 2005, one month after Fitch Ratings did the same.

"We don't see the program as a risk," Cooney said of the pension buyout plan. "From our standpoint, it's proactive."


Ford salaried pensioners face choice: lump-sum payout or monthly checks

Darla Mercado

Investment News

About 90,000 white-collar retirees of Ford Motor Co. and the financial advisers who help them are facing a major decision: Continue to receive a monthly check from the defined-benefit pension plan, or leave the plan by taking a lump sum that the automaker will offer over the next 30 to 60 days.

In what has been cited as the largest voluntary buyout in history, Ford said last month that it wanted to lighten its $49 billion U.S. pension obligation by offering nonunionized former salaried employees a one-time payment.

The size of that payment depends on the number of retirees who choose it, but Ford thinks that its offer could reduce its U.S.-based pension obligation by about a third (or roughly $16 billion), Ford CFO Bob Shanks said during an earnings conference call last month.
How big a payout?

Shanks didn't disclose information on the assumptions to be used to calculate payment size.

The key factor in determining how much Ford will offer is the interest rate that it will use to calculate the current value of retirees' pensions. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires that 30-year corporate bond yields be used to calculate minimum lump-sum payments from defined-benefit plans.

Using that yield, now at about 3.25 percent, would save Ford a considerable sum over using the rate for comparable Treasury securities, now about 2.8 percent. Pension plans were required to use the Treasury rate until this year.

In the meantime, many financial advisers, especially those in Michigan, are preparing clients for what could be their most important choice in retirement.

Considerations going into the lump-sum or payment-stream decision include individual and spousal life-expectancy assumptions, tax-planning issues, legacy plans and the fairly negative investment outlook most advisers see over the next five to 10 years.

'Transfer of risk'

"The first conversation I'm having with these clients is making sure that they understand the transfer of risk," said Wayne B. Titus III, founder of AMDG Financial Advisory Services in suburban Detroit, which manages $40 million in assets.

"Ford bears the investment and longevity risk if the retirees leave the money there, but if my clients take the lump sum, they are transferring risk to themselves," he said.

"Health also is a huge consideration," said Lynn M. Vance, senior partner at Global Financial Planning Group, a suburban Detroit firm with $150 million in assets under management.

"People don't understand that with a pension, they only own the income stream. If you take the lump sum and die in six months, then you've won," she said.

Generally, advisers suggest opting for annuitized income if the client is in good physical shape and has a family history of longevity. The lump sum might make more sense for individuals who haven't been in the best health.

'Stay conservative'

Leon C. LaBrecque, CEO of LJPR, also in suburban Detroit, cited the case of one of his Ford retiree clients: a woman in her 60s, in remission from cancer, whose husband is in good health. His firm manages $420 million in assets.

"I'm probably going to suggest that she take the lump sum, and we'll invest heavily into fixed income," he said. "The payment she's receiving from Ford now is like a super bond, and we want to stay conservative."

Another situation favouring a lump sum is one in which the spouse of a deceased retiree receives survivorship benefits. That payment stream ends once the surviving spouse dies, leaving nothing for any heirs. But if the survivor opts for the lump sum and invests it wisely, whatever remains after generating retirement income becomes part of the survivor's estate.

Tax consequences

Making the choice of a lump sum or an annuity payment stream also carries tax consequences. For those under age 59 1/2, taking the lump sum and rolling it over into an individual retirement account means they cannot touch the money without paying a 10 percent penalty.

Vance has a personal interest in the dilemma. Her 57-year-old husband, a Ford retiree, is among those being offered the buyout. The two are inclined to continue the payment stream, as they are using the income.

Ford retirees who opt for the lump sum and roll it into an IRA should be aware of the tax implications that could occur if they make a large one-time conversion to a Roth IRA.

"Advisers need to determine how much money they can convert from a regular IRA to a Roth without boosting the client into a higher tax bracket," Titus said.

He added that if a retiree is between 62 and 66, and yet to begin taking Social Security benefits, his or her income may be low enough to begin converting an IRA to a Roth with less of a tax bite.

The conversion only makes sense, however, if the client has enough money to live on and expects to pass the Roth account onto heirs, as the Roth account should be invested for growth, Titus said.

Negative outlook

Advisers opting to have their clients remain in the pension plan cite the safety of a guaranteed income stream in the face of a negative investment outlook.

They argue that it is unknown whether the lump sum can generate sufficient principal to provide the 4 to 4.5 percent withdrawal rate that advisers estimate is necessary to maintain sufficient assets during retirement.

"You can't beat that rate with a Treasury ladder or with a single-premium immediate annuity," said LaBrecque, who is suggesting to his clients that they keep their pensions.

But choosing a payment stream has risks, too, advisers said. For instance, if Ford were to become financially unable to pay off its pension obligations, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. could step in and continue paying the pension -- but probably at a much-reduced rate.

"At the executive level, [the risk of insolvency] is more relevant," said Jason Close, an adviser at Capelli Financial Services Inc. of suburban Detroit. About a dozen of his clients will be choosing between a lump sum and an annuity payment.



Kim Clout

(September 23, 1969 - May 29, 2012)

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing
of Kim Clout past CAW Local 584 Plant Chairman on May 29, 2012.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Clare and Family.

Passed away peacefully with his family by his side at the age of 42 after a long battle with cancer. Beloved husband of Clare. Loving father of Austin, Victoria, and Jennifer. Loving brother to Chris (Darlene), Don, and Christine (Craig). Lovingly remembered by many nieces and nephews. Beloved son-in-law of Dave and Donna Symonds. Predeceased by his father Kimball Clarke Sr. Forever loved and missed by all family and friends. Friends may call at the Brampton Memorial Chapel & Visitation Centre, 10061 Chinguacousy Rd (at Bovaird) 905-460-9155 on Friday, June 1, 2012 from 2-4 & 6-8p.m. Funeral Service to take place on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10a.m in the Chapel. Private family interment. If desired, donations to Prostate Cancer Canada would be appreciated by the family. Online condolences may be made here.


Funeral Arrangements

Brampton Memorial Chapel & Visitation Centre
                     10061 Chingcousy Rd.
                     Brampton, On.
                     L7A 0H6
                     Tel: 905-460-9155
                      Fax: 905-460-8922

Get Map Here
Public Visitation:
Friday, June 1, 2012

2-4 & 6-8 pm

 DATE:   Saturday, June 2, 2012
Location:    Brampton Memorial Chapel

TIME: 10 am
Reception: 11am
INTERMENT: Brampton Cemetery, Monday June 4, 2012  at 11 am

Ford can't keep up
with auto demand

Mulally says automaker will add shifts, but not plants, to increase production

Ford can't keep up with auto demand

May 31, 2012

Washington— Ford Motor Co. President and Chief Executive Alan Mulally says his company can't build enough vehicles to meet demand.

Mulally said Wednesday Ford will continue boosting production this year, acknowledging that crimps in the parts supply chain are among the challenges that will prevent it from making as many cars and trucks as it wants — at least in the short run.

"We're going to increase production through the rest of the year," Mulally told reporters after making the rounds among Michigan's congressional delegation and other key Washington officials on several issues.

"We have limits on our production as we're going up, because as we restructure the entire business, we're bringing along the entire supply chain, so we really can't make as many vehicles as people want right now."

Ford and other automakers are adding shifts, tweaking work schedules and boosting production to meet North American demand.

"Within the next two quarters," Mulally said, "we'll be adding all the third shifts and the extra production so by the end of the year, we'll be able to produce the amount of vehicles that people want.

"But we'll take a hit in the near term — just because we're limited in production."

Some of its hottest vehicles, including the Focus, Fusion and Explorer, are in relatively short supply.

Ford's first quarter U.S. market share was 15.2 percent — down from 16 percent in the same period in 2011. The Dearborn-based company had projected it would own about 16.5 percent of the U.S. market this year, but it withdrew that forecast in April. It gained market share for three straight years.

Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst at IHS Automotive, said Ford's market share is down for a number of reasons — and said production is a "contributing factor."

"The industry is so pared down; there was such a dramatic drop-off and (suppliers) are terrified of retooling for 15 (million) or 16 million (sales a year)," Lindland said.

U.S. sales last year totaled 12.8 million, and recent estimates put this year's sales at 14.4 million cars and trucks. Many analysts expect May sales, to be announced Friday, will have risen nearly 30 percent over May 2011.

Lindland said Ford faces pressure from competitive General Motors and Chrysler products, as well as Japanese automakers recovering from last year's natural disasters that hamstrung their production. "The amount of competition Ford is facing, like everybody, is incredible," she said.

Sweeter incentives may be luring more buyers to Ford vehicles, leading to further dwindling inventories and increased pressure on its factories. Ford said Wednesday it raised incentives this month after reducing them by about $300 a vehicle in April, Bloomberg News reported.

"We pulled back perhaps a little too much in the month of April, which is why we had a bit of a dip," Erich Merkle, Ford's sales analyst, said Wednesday in Dearborn. Ford boosted its incentives to be in line with the industry, which remains "very disciplined" in its use of discounts, Merkle said.

Suppliers hesitant
Automakers closed dozens of plants over the past decade and are running those that survived at close to 100 percent capacity. But some suppliers are hesitant to dramatically boost capacity, keenly recalling the sharp decline in auto sales in 2009 that forced many of them out of business, and two of Detroit's three automakers into bankruptcy.

Ford has been bulking up production by adding shifts — a third shift this month at Michigan Assembly in Wayne, where it builds the Focus, plus a third shift at its Chicago Assembly, where it builds the Ford Taurus and Taurus SHO, Lincoln MKS, Police Interceptor and Explorer.

Ford's Kansas City Assembly plant got a second shift to build the F-150 truck, which is the best-selling vehicle in the country.

By September, the automaker will add a third shift at Louisville Assembly where it builds the new Escape — a key vehicle in its lineup.

Summer schedule tweaked
Ford also is paring back its customary two-week summer shutdown. It will shutter for just a week at 13 plants, and the additional plant time will enable it to produce nearly 40,000 more vehicles.

Five of those plants are in Michigan, and another is in Windsor.

The altered summer shutdown schedule is part of Ford's plan to increase annual production capacity by 400,000 vehicles by the end of September, to 3 million.

Mulally said Ford has room to grow in North America, but has no plans to bring additional plants online.

Ford isn't the only automaker to tweak its summer schedule to boost production.

Auburn Hills-based Chrysler has canceled the traditional summer shutdown at three more of its factories to keep up with demand.

The Toledo Supplier Park in Ohio, the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois and Chrysler's plant in Toluca, Mexico, will join Detroit's Jefferson North plant in working through the summer.

In addition, Chrysler's factories in Sterling Heights and Saltillo, Mexico, will close for just one week this year. Detroit-based GM has announced no recent production changes.

"We build to meet market demand," said GM spokesman Greg Martin.


Census shows spike in seniors, increasing East-West labour gap

Bill Curry - Globe & Mail
May 30, 2012

Canada's latest census numbers underscore the growing obsession of federal and provincial governments with demographics, as the retiring baby boom generation is starting to have major policy implications for labour markets, taxation and the quality of key social programs like health care.

Nationwide, the number of seniors aged 65 and over increased 14.1 per cent between 2006 and 2011, a rate that was more than double the 5.9 per cent increase for the Canadian population as a whole.

Growing Western provinces need more workers to fill labour shortages for both skilled and unskilled labour, but if those jobs are filled by Easterners, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces will be left with dwindling revenues to cover the higher costs of an aging population.

This will add to the inter-provincial tension over issues like equalization, given that Canadians are supposed to receive comparable levels of social services regardless of where they live in the country.

The 2011 census numbers on age and sex, released Tuesday, reveal two very different Canadian realities: an increasingly older population in the East with fewer taxpayers to support provincial social programs, while booming Western provinces enjoy a much younger tax base.

The numbers confirm the share of the working-age population has increased in Ontario and the Western provinces and decreased in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec, where the population is aging faster.

The demographic changes – which will not come as a surprise to federal and provincial leaders – are already driving efforts by provinces to curtail the growth of health costs. At the federal level, concern over labour shortages and Ottawa's long-term bottom line are behind plans to raise the eligibility age for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 and to nudge recipients of Employment Insurance back into the workforce more quickly.

But the numbers show there is more to the demographic shift than East and West. The age shift in Canada is also a move from rural to urban, and some Atlantic Canadian cities are among the highest when it comes to growing percentages of working age residents.

Calgary tops the list in this category, with over 70 per cent of its population aged 15 to 64. Yet Halifax and St. John's round out the top three.

One of the major factors driving government concerns over demographics has been Canada's low fertility rates. Canadians are simply not having enough babies – nor bringing in enough immigrants – to replace all the current taxpayers who will be retiring in the coming years.

Yet Statistics Canada's census-takers did find more toddlers than they have in more than 50 years.

The population of children aged four and under increased 11 per cent between 2006 and 2011. This was the highest growth rate for this age group since the period of 1956 to 1961, during the baby boom.

The largest increases in young children occurred in Alberta, up 20.9 per cent, Saskatchewan, up 19.6 per cent, and Quebec, up 17.5 per cent.

Another fast-growing age group is the over 100 crowd. The 2011 census found 5,825 centenarians, up from 4,635 in 2006. Of those, only 955 were men. Statistics Canada projects there will be 78,300 centenarians by 2061, most of whom will be women.

More women than men reach the age of 100 because women have lower probabilities of dying at all ages than men. In 2008, life expectancy at birth was 78.5 years for men and 83.1 years for women.

Internationally, Canada's rate of centenarians per 100,000 persons (17.4) ranks fifth in the G8, behind Japan (36.8), Italy (26.6), France (25.8) and the United Kingdom (20.3).


The Battle of the Overpass, at 75

Three Ford men, left, approach union leaders Robert Kanter, Walter Reuther, Richard T. Frankensteen and J.J. Kennedy. (Scotty Kilpatrick / The Detroit News)

Fight between Ford, UAW a turning point in Detroit history

By Bryce G. Hoffman
The Detroit News

May 25, 2012

Saturday, May 26 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Overpass, the infamous encounter between leaders of a young United Auto Workers and Ford Motor Co. security men on a footbridge over Miller Road outside the company's River Rouge complex. It would prove a defining moment in the history of Detroit and American labor.

The UAW had won its first major victory in the fight to organize American automakers with its famous Sit-Down Strike against General Motors' operations in Flint that ended in February 1937.

By May of that year, all the big car companies had capitulated, except for one. A defiant Henry Ford still vowed that his company would never recognize the union or its right to bargain on behalf of his employees.

"Labor unions are the worst things that ever struck the earth," he declared.

Ford treated his employees better than his rivals, and many were devoutly loyal to the man and his company. But times were changing, and Ford's Old World paternalism was rejected by a growing number of labor militants.

Ford resented what he saw as ingratitude and ordered his private police force, the notorious Ford Service Department, to do whatever was necessary to keep the UAW out of his factories.

But the union was undeterred. It redoubled its efforts to organize Ford under the leadership of the young, charismatic labor activist Walter Reuther.

Billboards went up near the Rouge declaring "Fordism is Fascism; Unionism is Americanism," and secret meetings were held inside the sprawling factory complex.

On May 26, Reuther and other union leaders decided to make what they characterized as a reconnaissance trip to the factory. If it was, it was a reconnaissance in force. They were accompanied by a large group of clergymen, reporters, photographers and even staffers from the Senate Committee on Civil Liberties. Scores of women from the UAW Local 174 auxiliary were on hand to pass out leaflets to workers as they filed out via the Miller Road Overpass outside Gate 4.

The footbridge had already been the scene of a bloody battle five years before that had left five workers dead and dozens more wounded. Reuther and the other UAW men knew there could be trouble this time, too. And they were not disappointed: Dozens of Ford Service men were waiting in cars outside the plant.

Detroit News photographer James "Scotty" Kilpatrick was one of the news media on hand to record the event. Just before the 2 p.m. shift change, he asked Reuther and three other UAW leaders to mount the staircase to the overpass so that he could snap a picture with the Ford logo behind them.

Seventy-five years ago, on May 26, 1937, "The Battle of the Overpass" became a key event in labor history, when labor organizers clashed with Ford Motor Co.'s security force in Dearborn. The groundwork was laid earlier in the 1930s, when the union movement was gaining momentum. (Scotty Kilpatrick / The Detroit News)

As the men turned to face Kilpatrick, a group of thugs rushed them from behind. Kilpatrick shouted a warning, but it was too late. The Ford Service men set upon the four union activists and began beating them savagely as the photographer's camera snapped picture after picture.

Reuther later described the beating he received.

"Seven times they raised me off the concrete and slammed me down on it. They pinned my arms … and I was punched and kicked and dragged by my feet to the stairway, thrown down the first flight of steps, picked up, slammed down on the platform and kicked down the second flight. On the ground they beat and kicked me some more," he recalled.

alter Reuther and a bloodied Richard Frankensteen regroup after the beatings. "The very most we anticipated," Frankensteen later recalled, "was that Harry Bennett might order the firehoses turned on us. But we miscalculated." (Scotty Kilpatrick / The Detroit News)

His companion, Robert Kanter, was pushed off the bridge and fell to the ground 30 feet below. The jacket worn by Richard Frankensteen, who headed the UAW's Ford organizing drive, was pulled over his head, and two men held his legs apart while a third kicked him repeatedly in the groin.

Ford's thugs then took the fight to the crowd that had gathered to support the union leaders.

One man's back was broken, and several of the women from Local 174 auxiliary were also beaten, according to eyewitnesses.

The Dearborn police refused to intervene.

"The very most we anticipated was that Harry Bennett, then head of Ford security, might order the fire hoses turned on us," Frankensteen told the Associated Press in a 1975 interview. "But we miscalculated."

So did Ford.

When The Detroit News' photographs went out on the wires, they turned the public against Henry Ford and galvanized support for the UAW.

Washington began pressuring Ford to negotiate with the union.

"That one incident — the sheer stupidity on the part of Bennett and his men — did more to build the UAW in the auto industry than any other incident in the history of organized labor," Frankensteen said.

Four years later, the UAW finally struck the Rouge and forced Ford to recognize the union. And Reuther would go on to become one of the most powerful figures in U.S. labor history.

"The Battle of the Overpass was one of the defining moments of the UAW," says Harley Shaiken, professor of labor studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

"It was comparable to the role of Lexington and Concord in the American Revolution. It was an unexpected moment that underscored a young leader and an emerging union. It was a defeat at the time, but it led to a major victory four years later."

UAW Local 600, which represents workers at the Rouge today, will commemorate the anniversary with a breakfast on Friday and will hang a banner off the overpass paying tribute to those who fought and bled for the union.

"It means a lot. To us, it was the beginning of the unionization of Ford," said local president Bernie Ricke.

"Things were bad at Ford then. We started out with the worst relationship and I believe we have the best relationship now."

In fact, Ricke said the banner will read: "Working from a dark beginning towards a bright future."



New CAW local executive
told to work together

National president Ken Lewenza says
now is not a time for "division"

May 22, 2012
CBC News

Members of CAW Local 444 have been told by national president Ken Lewenza to put differences aside and work together.

Local membership voted for a new executive and the person outgoing president Rick Laporte blamed for causing friction at the union hall has been re-elected.

Local 444, whose members include Chrysler and Caesars Windsor workers, has been troubled by political infighting for about a year.

Most of the problems are between Dino Chiodo, who has been acclaimed new president, and David Cassidy, who was re-elected financial secretary treasurer.

Cassidy accused Chiodo of being behind a series of Youtube videos, which suggest Cassidy was not doing a proper job in representing casino employees.

Chiodo has denied the accusation and was asked if he and Cassidy could work together for the next three years.

"The membership has told us very clearly what they want, and in saying that, now it's a matter of coming together," Chiodo said. "We are going to do what we need to do for our membership moving forward. We'll be working together."

CAW national president Ken Lewenza used to be head of Local 444. He said he's not close to the "politics" of the local.

He did say the local has to work as one.

"They have to. At the end of the day, it's about the membership. It's not about any individual," Lewenza said.

The new executive officially takes office at the end of the month.

Lewenza said there are important issues ahead for the CAW, such as contract talks with Chrysler Canada:

"The reality is the union just doesn't have any space for division," Lewenza said.


Ford Begins Taking Orders for C-MAX Hybrid - America's Most Affordable, Fuel-Efficient Hybrid Utility Vehicle


DEARBORN, Mich., May 21, 2012

•Ford dealers are now taking orders for the Ford C-MAX Hybrid, which will be more affordable than Toyota Prius v while achieving better fuel economy
•Class-exclusive technologies include hands-free liftgate, active park assist for easier parallel parking and next-generation SmartGauge® with EcoGuide to help customers increase their fuel economy
•C-MAX will launch this fall as part of Ford's power of choice strategy to deliver leading fuel economy across its lineup while tripling electrified vehicle production capacity by 2013
Ford dealers are starting to place orders for America's most affordable and fuel-efficient hybrid utility vehicle – the 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid – with innovative technologies such as a hands-free liftgate, spaciousness for five passengers and cargo as well as the fun-to-drive character shared with well-handling cars including Ford Focus.

The C-MAX is a compact hybrid utility vehicle and the company's first dedicated line of hybrids. The 2013 C-MAX Hybrid will be available this fall with a base price of $25,995 – approximately $500 lower than the Toyota Prius v's base price.

The C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid will follow later this year with better electric-mode fuel economy and overall driving range than the Prius plug-in hybrid.

"C-MAX Hybrid offers better fuel economy, performance, technology and functionality than Prius v – and C-MAX Hybrid customers will pay less at the dealership and at the pump," said Ken Czubay, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. "Ford is delivering the power of choice for leading fuel economy across its lineup – from EcoBoost to electrified vehicles – because customers increasingly want to save money at the pump, even as gas prices rise over time."

The C-MAX Hybrid blends fuel economy with performance, with projected best-in-class horsepower and torque along with Ford's third-generation powersplit technology that allows for higher speed while in electric mode than Toyota Prius v.

C-MAX Hybrid benefits from 20 years of research and innovation behind the software and hardware technology driving it, with many of Ford's almost 500 hybrid vehicle-related patents contained within.

That means that along with SYNC® with MyFord Touch®, drivers get class-exclusive features like hands-free liftgate (offering hands-free cargo access with a simple kicking motion), SmartGauge® with EcoGuide, regenerative braking and an advanced lithium-ion (li-ion) battery pack that is being used for the first time in a Ford hybrid.

C-MAX Hybrid – being built on Ford's global C-segment platform – also benefits from a proven design and nameplate with more than 156,000 units of the gasoline version sold in Europe since its 2010 launch.

Room to move
C-MAX Hybrid is a compact hybrid utility vehicle jam-packed with features and room for five people and cargo.

The vehicle has a high roofline (63.9 inches) offering ample interior space and flexibility. C-MAX Hybrid offers 99.7 cubic feet of passenger space compared with 97 cubic feet in Prius v. The spacious C-MAX Hybrid also provides greater headroom in both front and rear seats than Prius v (41/39.4 inches vs. 39.6/38.6 inches).

For cargo, C-MAX Hybrid has 60/40 split-fold rear seats that easily fold flat with 54.3 cubic feet of space behind the first row and 24.5 cubic feet behind the second row.

C-MAX Hybrid features the company's innovative hands-free liftgate, allowing for quick and easy access to the cargo area without messing with keys. A gentle kicking motion under the rear bumper opens the liftgate when used in combination with a key fob the user keeps in his or her pocket or purse that tells the car it's OK to engage. The same motion can close the liftgate.

The vehicle also features the newest version of MyFord Touch to help inform, enlighten, engage and empower drivers. MyFord Touch offers multiple ways for customers to manage and control their phone, navigation, entertainment and climate functions through voice commands, menus accessed through controls on the steering wheel, touch screens, buttons or knobs.

C-MAX Hybrid also offers the next generation of SmartGauge with EcoGuide. Designed to help drivers get the most from the C-MAX Hybrid, information such as instantaneous fuel economy can be displayed on the left cluster to help drivers more closely monitor how their driving behavior affects the vehicle's efficiency.

The left cluster also shows Brake Coach, a feature that helps drivers optimize their use of the braking system so that driving range can be enhanced through proper braking techniques. In the right cluster, redesigned imagery of green leaves shows overall driving efficiency – as drivers improve their efficient driving, they are rewarded with more leaves.

Quality and ingenuity
The 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid is new, but its software and hardware technology have been evolving for nearly two decades.

C-MAX Hybrid is powered through the combination of a gasoline engine and a battery-driven electric motor. When powered by gasoline, the C-MAX Hybrid uses the all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine – a powerful and fuel-efficient engine and among the most advanced non-turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains Ford has ever offered.

The electric motor of the C-MAX Hybrid is powered by an advanced li-ion battery system designed to maximize use of common, high-quality components, such as control board hardware that has proven field performance in Ford's critically acclaimed hybrid vehicles.

C-MAX Hybrid also offers Ford's next-generation powersplit architecture that allows the electric motor and gasoline-powered engine to work together or separately to maximize efficiency. The engine also can operate independently of vehicle speed, charging the batteries or providing power to the wheels as needed. The motor alone can provide sufficient power to the wheels in low-speed, low-load conditions and work with the engine at higher speeds.

In the C-MAX Hybrid, the li-ion battery pack is recharged when the gasoline engine is in operation. Further, the regenerative braking system can recapture more than 95 percent of the braking energy that would otherwise be lost, and is able to use that power to help charge the battery. C-MAX Hybrid requires no plug-in charging.

Made in U.S.A.
C-MAX Hybrid is being produced at Ford's Wayne, Mich.-based Michigan Assembly Plant alongside Focus, Focus Electric and Focus ST. More information about MAP can be found online here.

It is one of five electrified vehicles Ford plans to produce in North America in 2012. In addition to C-MAX Energi, the other vehicles include Focus Electric, Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid. More information about Ford's electrified vehicle lineup can also be found online here.

Customers interested in C-MAX Hybrid build and pricing options should visit here. A video featuring C-MAX can be viewed online by clicking here.


2013 Lincoln MKZ: Things
are definitely looking up

Lincoln MKZ

Toronto Star
May 20, 2012
Mark Hacking

Make no mistake: In terms of design, Lincoln was on a bit of a roll already. The luxury division of Ford Motor Company has enjoyed a mini-renaissance with the MKS and MKZ sedans, MKX compact crossover, MKT large crossover and Navigator SUV; new versions of all have been released within the last five years.

Sure, the MKS and MKZ are on the conservative side, but the MKS is better looking than the Ford Edge (upon which it's based) and the mammoth, hearse-like MKT is unlike anything else on the road today. But there have been criticisms. Some observers point out that the MKT looks like a hearse, for example. Others note that the entire Lincoln range consists of rebadged Fords with fancier, re-skinned interiors.

Very recently - as recently as four weeks ago in fact - that label became a little out-dated. That's because, four weeks ago, the all-new 2013 Lincoln MKZ was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show. Sure, the new sedan is still based on a Ford, the latest Fusion in this case. But the design team did not simply slap a waterfall front grille on a staid-looking four-door - new director of design Max Wolff, who forged his reputation at Cadillac, has made sure of that.

Apart from the fact that the new MKZ is a very slick-looking car, it also features some interesting technology. For one, the car dispenses with your typical gear-shifting mechanism in favour of something called Lincoln Drive Control - a push-button gear selector high on the centre console.

The removal of the need for a shift lever has opened up significant space in the centre console and the use of Ford SYNC system with MyLincoln Touch has made things look even cleaner. Thumb-wheel style controls on the steering wheel can operate many of the car’s comfort features, while other functions can be voice-activated through the SYNC system.

But in terms of wow factor, the most impressive part of the new Lincoln is the panoramic glass roof, the world's widest and one of the largest ever for a production vehicle. When retracted, the tinted roof slides backwards on rails, on the outside of the car, over top of the roof and the rear window.

“It's a great product, a full module that incorporates the roof and the back glass,” reported Scott Tobin, Director of Lincoln Product Development, during the reveal in NYC. “It goes back 600 mm, has 5-mm thick tempered glass and a laminate on the inside. The rigidity and the structure are very safe - it meets or exceeds all the safety criteria.”

The roof is reinforced with an aluminum and boron steel frame; this frame is integrated into the overall structure of the car to protect occupants in the event of a rollover. The roof is also rated at SPF 100 to protect from overdoses of vitamin D.

The Lincoln MKZ roof is quite a sight to see, but vision, as it were, seems like it might be an issue: With the darkened roof over top of the rear window, sightlines might be obscured a touch. “There are some small limitations around the cut lines,” Tobin conceded, “but nothing significant, nothing that should cause worry.”

Some people were also divided on how the profile of the MKZ looked with the roof hanging above and beyond the rear window. There's no question that it's a different look compared to every other mass-market sedan around. “There are many exciting things coming in terms of open-air systems from Lincoln,” Tobin confirmed. “Roof systems are right up front on our radar screens.”

While it's certainly far too early to tell if the 2013 Lincoln MKZ will be the car that singlehandedly resurrects the Lincoln brand and sets the stage for a head-to-head-to-head battle with segment leaders Cadillac and Lexus, it definitely looks the business.


Ford to spend more this
year on Facebook ads

Automaker reports success engaging consumers on site

By Jaclyn Trop
The Detroit News
MAy 19, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is ramping up its advertising relationship with Facebook, as cross-town rival General Motors Co. will halt paid ads on the world's biggest social media service.

Ford said Wednesday it plans to spend more money this year on advertising its vehicles through Facebook, which has gone public Friday. GM announced Tuesday that it plans to cancel its $10 million budget for Facebook promotions, saying that advertising through the social media network is ineffective. It will keep a Facebook presence through fan pages.

Ford sees opportunities with Facebook to engage consumers for the launch of new vehicles, including this summer's much-anticipated Ford Escape crossover utility vehicle and Fusion sedan, said Scott Monty, Ford's director of social media. "We find it's a very effective way for us to reach consumers."

Ford has found success reaching many consumers at once through Facebook. More than a million interacted with the automaker's Mustang customizer feature when it launched earlier this year on its Mustang Facebook page.

Monty declined to say how much Ford planned to spend this year on its Facebook advertising campaign.

Social media consultant Erik Qualman said he's not surprised GM is pulling out of Facebook advertising. "Social media at its core is all about relationship building and Facebook is trying to put an old messaging system, which is kind of billboard messaging, onto a new era, which isn't working," Qualman said.


CAW Contact
Volume 42, No. 19
May 18, 2012

 BC Labour Board Rules Email Addresses Must Be Provided 

CAW Local 114 was involved in a significant victory on a recent reconsideration case at the BC Labour Relations Board involving Viking Air.
At issue was whether or not a provincially regulated employer was required to turn over email addresses in its possession to the union upon request and whether or not this right was inherent in the BC Labour Relations Code. The union argued the email addresses were critical to efficient communication with its membership.
The CAW filed the complaint against Viking Air when it moved to a paperless pay stub system and required all employees to provide an email address for this purpose. The CAW took the position that the union should be on an equal footing with the employer with respect to employee contact information.
The CAW filed an appeal of the original Viking Air decision and approached BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair to put the word out to other unions to join in fighting on this important issue, said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle.
UFCW Local 1518 intervened and filed a brief in support of the CAW application with the BC Labour Relations Board.
The BC Labour Relations Board issued its reconsideration decision on April 25, 2012, overturning the original decision and ruling unanimously in favour of the union.
As a result, all provincially regulated employers in BC must now provide not only names, addresses and phone numbers to any union upon request, but also must also provide email addresses of members if it collects them, as long as the information can be easily supplied and the employer does not have a sound business reason to refuse to provide the information, said McGarrigle.
"This decision is one of the first in Canada to deal explicitly with the issue of email addresses," McGarrigle said. "We believe this decision is a major step forward into the twenty-first century in the labour movement's ability to represent and communicate with our members using modern technology."

Youth Unemployment Requires Government Action

Despite some good news about job creation in Canada last month, CAW President Ken Lewenza says he remains concerned that younger workers are not benefitting and he renewed his call for a national jobs strategy.
Lewenza was reacting to Statistics Canada's monthly report on jobs for April released on May 11 that showed that employment increased by 58,000 jobs, but Lewenza said the report also highlights numerous troubling issues for job seekers in Canada.
Even though employment increased, the unemployment rate last month actually nudged up by 0.1 per cent to 7.3 per cent as a result of more people looking for work.
Lewenza said while there is some good news with more full time jobs being created, the unemployment rate remains high and noted that younger workers in particular are having a tough time finding jobs.
Statistics Canada said youth employment in April was little changed with an unemployment rate of 13.9 per cent. Youth employment has remained around the same level since July, 2009, Stats Canada said.
"Young people are not able to find jobs in this economy and the federal government must do more to ensure our youth secure decent full time jobs," Lewenza said. "The federal government must show a lot more leadership on the stubborn issue of youth unemployment in Canada."
Lewenza repeated his call for a multi-stakeholder, national good jobs summit in the wake of ongoing structural changes in the Canadian labour market, including the loss of more than half a million good paying manufacturing and processing jobs in the last seven years.

Food is a Human Right: National Food Policy Needed

As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food winds up his mission to Canada, Food Secure Canada is calling for a national food policy,  based on the recommendations in Resetting the Table: A People's Food Policy for Canada. 

"The Special Rapporteur has traveled in Canada for the past 10 days, hearing staggering statistics and stories about food insecurity, health issues and the outrageous costs of food in remote and Northern regions. He has reminded us that food is a basic human right, and Canada is failing in its obligations to fulfill this right," said Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, in a May 16 press release.
"In order to change this, we need to move towards developing a comprehensive national food policy. As underlined by the Rapporteur, any national food policy must be participatory and include dedicated seats at the table for civil society, Aboriginal peoples and those who are directly affected by food insecurity. The ground-breaking process behind the People's Food Policy can be used as a model."
Based on the input of over 3,500 Canadians, the People's Food Policy calls for:
1. A federal poverty prevention and elimination program, with measurable targets and timelines. At a minimum, all government income supports and minimum wage must be set at rates that guarantee being able to fulfill basic rights, including food and shelter.
2. A national children and food strategy, including federal support for student nutrition programs. Every time a child goes to school hungry because they cannot access food, it is a denial of their human rights.
3. Taking immediate steps towards support for ecological and local food production and consumption, including movement on institutional procurement.
4. Public promotion of healthy food choices - which can save billions of dollars in health care.
5. Immediately addressing the ongoing food insecurity and water crises in Native and Northern communities, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples and other Northern communities.
FSC helped organize meetings between the U.N. Special Rapporteur and civil society groups in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg. The CAW is a member organization of FSC. For more information please visit http://www.foodsecurecanada.org/.

Reverse Changes to Temporary Foreign Worker Program

A growing group of unions and non-government organizations (NGOs) say that recently announced changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) permitting employers to pay migrant workers up to 15 per cent less and fast tracking employer applications for these workers are unfair and misguided. The CAW is supporting this joint effort.
"Allowing employers faster access to migrant workers and paying them less for their labour sends a message that this government believes migrant workers are not equal," says Hassan Yussuff, Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress. He was speaking at an Ottawa news conference attended by unions and NGOs on May 15.
Ottawa has announced changes, effective immediately, to the TFWP and has included those changes in a large omnibus budget bill that is being pushed through Parliament.
"Canada's laws don't support wage discrimination based on where you come from," says Yasmeen Khan, with Migrante Canada. "Many people recognize the majority of migrant workers are people of colour and oppose wage discrimination based on race."
Naveen Mehta, General Counsel and Director of Human Rights, Equity and Diversity with the United Food and Commercial Workers, says, "Rather than further skewing Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program to unfairly serve employers' interests, what is needed are stronger compliance, monitoring and enforcement measures to protect migrant workers' rights."
Sign onto the pledge to call for the reversal of the discriminatory changes to the already flawed TFWP: http://www.canadianlabour.ca/action-center/pay-less-wage-model-unfair-migrant-workers 

WTO called on to Dismiss Japan, EU Challenge to Renewable Energy Policy

Canadian NGOs and labour unions, including the CAW, have sent an amicus curiae submission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) prior to a May 15 hearing into Japan's and the European Union's joint attack on the Ontario Green Energy Act.
The groups address Canada's failure to properly defend Ontario's actions and call upon the WTO to respect the priority of Canada's international climate change obligations.
"These are the first international trade disputes which create the potential for conflict between a nation's commitments under the WTO and its obligations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol," says the submission.
"It raises fundamental questions about whether the goals of trade liberalization can be reconciled with ecological imperatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and if not, which are to prevail," says the joint submission from Blue Green Canada, the CAW, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union of Canada, the Council of Canadians and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
Canada, the EU and Japan are signatories to the Framework Convention and Kyoto Protocol, which seek to avert catastrophic climate change.
Unfortunately, say the Canadian civil society groups, the Harper government is playing into Japan's and EU hands by ignoring these international climate change treaties. In fact, having recently repudiated its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, Canada has threatened to use the WTO to challenge climate measures such as fuel quality standards in the United States and EU.
The Canadian NGOs and labour unions involved in the amicus curiae submission have a strong presence and hundreds of thousands of members in Ontario, including those in the green energy sector. They support the phase-out of coal-fired electrical power generation and the development of renewable energy infrastructure and power generation to replace it.
The submission was prepared by Steven Shrybman, international trade and public interest lawyer with Sack, Goldblatt Mitchell LLP.
The Canadian NGOs and labour unions insist that the WTO should resist efforts by countries like Japan, the EU and Canada to enlist its dispute procedures to defeat or discourage climate measures. WTO dispute panels must recognize and accede to the jurisdiction and competence of multi-lateral institutions and instruments, including the Kyoto Protocol, designed to address the climate change imperative.

Two Workplace Fatalities

Two FFAW/CAW members died on the job during the first week of May.
Ralph Rose, 64, from St. Carol's, Newfoundland and
Labrador died May 1 after he fell backward from the shelter to the main deck on a fishing vessel.
Harrison Genge, 57, from Anchor Point, Newfoundland and Labrador died on May 7  after being crushed by a shrimp dumper.

Outstanding CAW Retired Worker of the Year Award

Nominations are being sought for the Outstanding CAW Retired Worker of the Year.
This annual award is presented to a CAW retired activist who has made a major contribution to their local union and community.
All nominations must comply with criteria for the award and must be approved by the chairperson of your Retired Workers' chapter and the local union executive board, and be signed by the President.
The deadline for submitting nominations is June  15, 2012. They may be faxed to 416-495-6554, attention of Dean Lindsay.
Please contact Dean if you have questions regarding the award at 1-800-268-5763, ext. 3791, directly at 416-495-3791 or email to deanlindsay@caw.ca

Women in Trades Conference

CAW Atlantic Area Director Les Holloway; Anna Marenick, Human Resources Manager, Irving Shipbuilding; Koren Beaman, Chairperson of the Women's Committee, CAW/MWF Local 1; and Rachael Farrell, Welder/Apprentice Steelworker, Halifax Shipyard




More than 160 participants took part in a women in engineering, science, trades and technology conference in Halifax recently.
The conference highlighted the opportunities and important role that women can play in trades and technology. A number of CAW members participated in the conference, which ran from May 3 to 5.   
"I feel as a woman in the trades that we are making great strides in becoming more and more involved with trades and science," said Koren Beaman, chairperson of the CAW/MWF Local 1 Women's Committee. "At the conference it was nice to see so many younger women interested in trades and science," Beaman said.
"I feel the conference was a huge encouragement to the women and men in these fields," said CAW member Rachael Farrell, an iron worker apprentice in the Halifax shipyard. "Even though we still have along ways to go, we as females have made a huge impression in the trades. And we will continue to grow the more we work together and make it a traditional work place for women. Going forward, I feel the conference was a huge success and should continue for years to come," said Farrell.

Health and Safety Conference: Reminder

The 2012 CAW National Health and Safety Conference will be held June 8 to 10 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.
The conference will feature plenary sessions and workshops offering interactive tools, information, thought-provoking exercises, dialogue and it will help develop shifts in perspective.
The deadline for registration is May 18. For more information contact the CAW Health and Safety Department at cawhse@caw.ca.

CLC Job Posting

The Canadian Labour Congress has a vacancy for a regional representative in the Pacific Region, based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Please send your application to hr@clc-ctc.ca and include bulletin number 2012-03 in the subject line. Only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted.
Applications will be accepted until May 28, 2012.



Ford to lead rollouts of new models

Automaker to change 26% of its lineup for 2013-16, report says

May 17, 2012
By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. will offer more new car models over the next three years than any other automaker, according to a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch report released Wednesday.

Ford will change 26 percent of its lineup for the model years 2013 through 2016 compared with an industry average of 23 percent, the bank's annual "Car Wars" report said.

General Motors Co. will replace 25 percent of its vehicles, followed by Toyota Motor Corp. at 24 percent and Nissan Motor Co. at 23 percent. Chrysler Group LLC will change only 20 percent of its vehicle lineup.

Most of those new models will be crossover utility vehicles, luxury sedans and light trucks.

Consumers gravitate toward new models, which can help increase an automaker's market share, profits and stock price. Automakers that replaced the most models and had the youngest cars in the showroom "generally gained market share" between 2002 and 2012, the report said.

GM and Chrysler replaced just an average of 13 percent of their vehicle models between 2002 and 2012, the lowest in the industry, followed by Ford at 14 percent. During that time, GM and Ford lost market share of 8.7 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. Chrysler maintained its market share for the decade.

The industry as a whole will introduce 176 new vehicle models between 2013 and 2016, about 19 percent more than were introduced between 1990 and 2012, according to the report.

"Company turnarounds are not built solely on cutting costs but also on generating higher revenue on new vehicles," said Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs.

"It's very simple," Krebs said. "The company with the newest vehicle wins" with more sales volume and higher profits.

New vehicles with strong consumer demand, such as Ford's highly anticipated Escape SUV and Fusion sedan this summer, require fewer incentives and can command a higher price, Krebs said.

Both Ford and GM have had recent success revamping new models, including the new Ford Explorer and Focus and the new Chevy Aveo and Cobalt, Krebs said.


Ford ad campaign bucks traditional principles to build 'intrigue'

The 2013 Ford Escape starred in the reality TV series “Escape Routes,” a show that featured a cast of six teams of two in a road-trip contest. (Ford)

May 16, 2012
Jaclyn Trop - Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. plans to launch its new models and appeal to the coasts with a new advertising campaign that leverages its national reputation for promoting fuel efficiency and avoiding a taxpayer bailout — without showing the automaker's name or logo until the very end.

The automaker launched a series of commercials this month as part of its "Go Further" campaign to prime consumers for the arrival of its new most anticipated vehicles of the year: the Fusion and the Escape. But in an advertising twist, the first commercial spot keeps mum on the brand's identity for most of the commercial in order to challenge viewers' perceptions of the Blue Oval.

"We're not trying to invent a new reality for Ford," said Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co.'s group vice president for global marketing, sales and service. "We're trying to document the goodness in the company already."

Ford's marketing strategy emphasizes the fuel efficiency of EcoBoost, the automaker's proprietary engine that combines turbocharging and direct fuel injection, and aims to convince drivers on the East and West coasts to consider the Dearborn automaker in a year with several breakout vehicles, including the small minivan C-Max.

"Fuel efficiency is the proof point of how competitive you are," Farley said.

The two television commercials airing this month aim to portray Ford as a maker of sleek vehicles that won't pinch drivers at the pump.

The campaign was created by Dearborn-based Team Detroit, a joint venture comprised of five agencies from the ad firm WPP (JWT, Y&R, Wunderman, gilvy and Mindshare) that help run Ford's global advertising.

"What we needed to do was interrupt and surprise people," said Matt Van Dyke, Ford's director of U.S. marketing communications.

The late appearance of the Ford name and logo is an effective technique when used sparingly, said University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Mike Bernacchi.

"It violates the principle of get the brand out there — brand, brand, brand. But the ad, which features a shrouded car, 'is mysterious enough,'" he said. "It keeps the intrigue going."

Ford has also embraced the concept of a pre-launch campaign, sometimes promoting vehicles as early as a year before launch using social media. Ford reported success with its NBC primetime reality show "Escape Routes," a six-week contest to promote the 2013 Ford Escape, and 2009's Fiesta Movement, a social media campaign for bloggers to share their Fiesta driving experiences. The buzz that the Fiesta Movement created around the vehicle "became a real guiding light for us," Van Dyke said.

The commercials drive traffic to the Go Further website, where marketing executives were surprised to find consumers reading up on new models such as the C-Max, Focus, Fusion and Escape instead of the automaker's mainstays, the Mustang, Explorer and F-150 pickup truck, Farley said.

Ford's previous campaign, Drive One, was launched four years ago to tell Ford's story compared to Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., Van Dyke said.


Ford recalls 70,000 vehicles
for variety of issues

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
May 14, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is issuing several small recalls for 70,000 vehicles to address rusting issues and potentially faulty gear shifts.

The Dearborn automaker is recalling 10,500 2011-12 F-150s, 2012 Expeditions, 2012 Lincoln Navigators and 2012-13 Ford Mustangs for potential problems with the transmissions.

Ford said the transmission may not go into reverse — or if it does reverse, the "R" may not illuminate on the dashboard — or when the driver pushes the shift level, the backup lamp on the rear of the vehicle may not light up.

Ford will inspect and replace the transmission range sensor that was calibrated out of specification. The recall will begin on June 25.

Ford is also recalling 50,000 Ford Windstars sold or registered in Virginia in two campaigns that were built between 1999-2003.

Both are expansions of recalls announced in 2010 and 2011.

Ford is also recalling 9,400 1998-2003 Windstars sold or registered in Puerto Rico that could have rear axles that could crack.


Mulally will lead Ford
until job accomplished

Daniel Howes
May 13, 2012

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally addresses the media during a news conference after the Ford 57th Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Wilmington, Delaware.

Rest easy, Ford Motor Co. shareholders: CEO Alan Mulally isn't going anywhere anytime soon because he doesn't have to — and because he's not done.

The industrial revival of the Dearborn automaker Mulally has led for nearly six years is by now an undeniable fact. But the sustainability of that comeback, and the enduring legacy of its leader, depends on whether the king of the house Henry Ford built can replicate his success in old Europe and, especially, across Russia, China and India.

No, he's not done, as Mulally and his boss, Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., signaled Thursday at Ford's annual meeting in Delaware. Mulally wants it all — American revival, European sustainability, Asian expansion — and he wants credit for doing it the old-fashioned way:

No direct federal bailouts; no wholesale housecleaning of the executive ranks; no shotgun alliances with weak foreign competitors to fix operational problems that good, solid products usually can fix; and no question that he is the pre-eminent turnaround guy in American business.

Enter Mulally 2.0, even if they don't officially call it that. It's the push by Ford to inoculate itself against complacency and become a world-class automaker to rival the best from Japan, Germany and South Korea. And it's the push by the CEO to assemble a predictable leadership succession plan devoid of the surprises that can lead to jarring changes in strategy.

Investors generally don't like surprises and they don't like arbitrary change, which is why this recurring "when-will-Alan-leave" obsession is so infantile and so dumb. Why would the fit, energetic 66-year-old CEO want to go now, why would he want to see his successor come from outside his carefully nurtured team, and why would Bill Ford and the company's directors want him to go when a) his job isn't done and b) his succession plan is in place?

He wouldn't and they wouldn't. That's why a longtime director told me earlier this year, as rumors swirled that CFO Lewis Booth was mulling a retirement he's since taken, that Ford's board hoped to retain the existing management team — with Mulally at its head — for as long as possible.

Given the Blue Oval's fractious history of executive infighting spinning the revolving doors atop the Glass House, there is little long-term purpose served by sending ol' Alan packing back to Seattle just because he'll turn 67 in August. Anyone out there remember the name Bob Lutz?

The chances that Mulally will be running Ford into his 80s, a la Lutz, are nil. But the chances that the CEO will be replaced by Americas President Mark Fields — "The job is his to lose," says Bryce Hoffman, author of "American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company" — are very good, but not certain and just not yet.

Six years and billions in profits into the Mulally era, Ford still is in the process of proving itself. Make money in the United States with a union workforce? Check. Retire debt to even the competitive landscape with rivals? Check. Deliver cars, trucks and crossovers customers around the world want to buy? Check.

But three critical areas remain unproven: Can Ford transform itself outside North America with the same clarity and competitive legitimacy as its U.S. turnaround? Has it exorcised complacency from its corporate DNA, or will it re-emerge soon after Mulally and his discipline do, finally, leave?

And can a company with a long, Byzantine history of driving talent out the door prove, with Mulally's successor and evolving management team, that it can develop top flight talent all by itself? The answer will shape Mulally's legacy, test Bill Ford's judgment and influence Ford's ability to recruit talent.

Whether executive succession at Ford ends up being home grown (preferred by Bill Ford and the company's directors) or is once again imported from another industry also will affect the Blue Oval's perception among investors and, ultimately, the value of the company.

That's another reason Mulally isn't done: Despite demonstrable progress, the people who make a living studying companies and reflecting their judgment in the buying and selling of shares still don't think the Blue Oval has finished the job Mulally began in September 2006.

And he knows it.


Idea man Carroll Shelby
was auto legend

High-performance vehicle designer worked
in racing, consulting, philanthropy

Doug Guthrie
Detroit News

May 12, 2012

The great snake charmer, Carroll Shelby, the force behind Ford's Cobra Mustangs and Chrysler's Viper racing and high-performance street machines, died Thursday at a Dallas hospital. He was 89.

"Carroll Shelby is America's Enzo Ferrari. He created some of the greatest American performance cars the world has ever seen," said Scott Oldham, editor of automobile authority Edmunds.com. "His legend will live forever through those great machines."

A down-on-his-luck chicken farmer from east Texas who took up auto racing at almost age 30, Shelby parlayed his on-track successes driving sports cars into a career as a high-performance innovator. He wasn't an engineer and said he never wanted to be, just an idea man and a force to make things happen.

He also was one of the nation's longest-surviving heart transplant recipients, having received a heart in 1990. Shelby's son, Michael, donated a kidney to his father in 1996.

Shelby was a consummate pitchman, building more than a half-dozen successful careers as a champion race car driver, racing team owner, automobile manufacturer, automotive consultant, African safari tour operator, raconteur, chili entrepreneur and philanthropist. He was married seven times.

Shelby's last Cobra was unveiled this spring. The 662-horsepower 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang is the most powerful production V-8 in the world, according to Ford Motor Co. Shelby worked with Ford engineers on the race track at Sebring, Fla., and the automaker's Arizona Proving Grounds, sometimes driving more than eight hours in the car.

Born into poverty, Shelby served as a flight instructor during World War II and went bankrupt as a chicken farmer. But as a racing driver, he was twice named Sports Illustrated magazine's Driver of the Year.

His first race was a quarter-mile drag meet in 1952, behind the wheel of a V-8 Ford-powered hot rod. In 1959, he became only the second American to win the prestigious 24-hour race at Le Mans. He co-drove an Aston Martin with Roy Salvadori.

Shelby's legend grew when it was revealed that he took nitroglycerin pills while racing to ease searing chest pains from a heart condition.

He stepped out of the cockpit shortly after the LeMans win to turn his attention to owning and designing race cars.

"He's an icon in the medical world and an icon in the automotive world," his longtime friend, Dick Messer, executive director of Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum, once said of Shelby. "His legacy is the diversity of his life. He's incredibly innovative."

The first Cobra used Ford engines in a British AC sport car chassis. It was the fastest production model ever made when it was displayed at the New York Auto Show in 1962.

A year later, Cobras were winning races over Chevrolet's Corvettes, and in 1964 the Rip Chords had a Top 5 hit on the Billboard pop chart with "Hey, Little Cobra."

"Spring, little Cobra, getting ready to strike, spring, little Cobra, with all of your might. Hey, little Cobra, don't you know you're gonna shut 'em down?"

Shelby went on to lead Ford's GT40 team that beat Ferrari in 1966 at LeMans, taking all three of the top spots. Ford won at LeMans in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

It was Lee Iacocca, then head of Ford Motor Co., who assigned Shelby the task of designing a fastback model of Ford's Mustang that could compete against the Corvette for young male buyers.

Turning a vehicle he had once dismissed as "a secretary car" into a high-performance model was "the hardest thing I've done in my life," Shelby said.

That car and the Shelby Cobra made him a household name.

"Today, we have lost a legend in Ford Motor Co.'s history, and my family and I have lost a dear friend," said Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford.

"Carroll Shelby is one of the most recognized names in performance car history, and he's been successful at everything he's done. Whether helping Ford dominate the 1960s racing scene or building some of the most famous Mustangs, his enthusiasm and passion for great automobiles over six decades has truly inspired everyone who worked with him. He was a great innovator whose legend at Ford never will be forgotten."

When the energy crisis of the 1970s limited the market for gas-guzzling high-performance cars, Shelby weathered the downturn by heading to Africa, where he operated a safari company.

By the time he returned to the U.S. in 1981, Iacocca was running Chrysler and he hired Shelby to design the supercharged Viper.

Shelby returned to Ford to collaborate on the rebirth of the Ford GT supercar and the continuing series of high horsepower Shelby Mustangs.

In 1991, he founded the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation to provide assistance for children and young people needing acute coronary and kidney care. Detroit News writer and author Bryce G. Hoffman said Shelby sensed his nervousness taking the icon for a ride on a rainy day in 2006 around Ford's Dearborn test track in a 500-horsepower Shelby GT. Even at 83, the thrill of speed and confidence in his creation came shining through.

"Don't worry," Shelby told Hoffman. "You can push her as hard as you want. … Let's show 'em a nice rooster tail."

Hoffman said Shelby also was reflective.

"By the time you reach my age, you realize that things like ego and money don't matter," Shelby said.

"I do what I do because I love it. I've spent my life building and driving cars like this. It doesn't get much better than that."


CAW Contact
May 11, 2012
Volume 42, No. 18


SNC-Lavalin Puts High-tech Jobs at Risk, says CEP and CAW

SNC-Lavalin is jeopardizing the future of the struggling CANDU industry, and sending highly-skilled workers out of the country, by forcing its employees into a strike position, say two of Canada's top labour leaders.
CEP and CAW have each pledged $1 million to help finance a potential strike by the Society of Professional Engineers and Associates.
More than 94 per cent of SPEA members voted recently to take strike action following repeated attempts by their employer to extract concessions at the bargaining table, including a weaker pension plan. 
"Our joint support sends a clear message about the importance of keeping highly-skilled workers here in Canada," says CEP President Dave Coles. "We need to be taking measures to keep these jobs in here, not send them down south."
"SNC-Lavalin appears intent on provoking a labour dispute, instead of working to strengthen the industry and promote much needed innovation," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "This is extremely short-sighted and we will continue to support the SPEA."
Coles says a strike will undoubtedly result in a serious shortage of highly-skilled staff, impacting ongoing projects as well as thousands of spin-offs jobs.

Evraz Camrose Works Locks Out Local 551 Members

CAW Local 551 members locked out at Evraz Camrose Works in Alberta.




Pipeline manufacturer Evraz Camrose Works has locked out workers at its plant in Camrose, Alberta.
The company locked out members of CAW Local
551 on May 5, including trades persons, machine operators and labourers in an attempt to extract pension, retiree benefits and other concessions from the workforce.
"Despite a recent collective agreement with a sister plant the company continues to refuse to offer a fair and equitable agreement for our members," said CAW national representative Todd Romanow. At an emergency meeting on May 4, the membership unanimously endorsed the bargaining committees' recommendation not to accept the company's last offer.
Romanow said the CAW bargaining committee remains determined to negotiate an agreement and urged the company to return to the bargaining table.
The CAW contract with Evraz expired on February 1, 2012 and negotiations have been ongoing since November 2011. Evraz manufactures tubular goods and line pipe for the oil and natural gas industries.

Lobster Pricing Dispute Over in Newfoundland

The FFAW/CAW and the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador have reached an agreement on lobster prices for the remainder of the 2012 season, which brings to an end a two-week dispute in which many lobster buyers refused to buy lobster
The agreement continues to tie prices to market conditions, adjusted on a weekly basis.
FFAW President Earle McCurdy said the key factor from the union's perspective is that the price to harvesters will continue to be based on market conditions.
During collective bargaining this spring, the union proposed a price-to-market formula, while buyers wanted to set the price themselves. Most of those buyers refused to buy after a provincial panel ruled in favour of the FFAW.
The union filled the vacuum by organizing harvesters into a co-operative structure in partnership with the Fogo Island Co-op. The co-op has shipped five tractor trailer loads of lobster or about $1million worth.
"The buyers were convinced we would fall flat on our face with this initiative," McCurdy said in a May 4 news release. "They only got serious about settling the dispute when they realized that we meant business, and that the harvesters didn't need them to move their lobsters."
McCurdy said it was "remarkable" that a fledgling organization was able to coordinate the sale on short notice, but with the lobster season set to open on the Northern Peninsula and other areas the co-op would have been "hard pressed" to keep up with demand.
Establishing the co-op structure was crucial to getting buyers back to the table, McCurdy said.
But he added that the co-op is here to stay. With the price impasse resolved the elected board of directors will have the time, in co-operation with the union and the Fogo Island Co-op, to develop a long term plan.
"Now we have time to organize the kind of infrastructure and marketing structure you need to be a major player in that industry."
McCurdy said he's confident that 2012 will end up being a "turning point in the evolution of the lobster fishery in this province."

Walk for Peace Highlights Native Land Claims

CAW members from numerous local unions took part in The Walk for Peace, Respect and Friendship on April 25 in Caledonia, Ontario.
(Photo by Kevin Konnyu).


The Walk for Peace, Respect and Friendship in Caledonia, Ontario on April 28 remained a peaceful expression of support for native land claims, despite predictions from critics it would turn nasty.
"Everyone who took part, including many CAW members, are just so pleased with the peaceful, incident-free way that the walk unfolded," said retired CAW national representative Steve Watson, an organizer of the event. Caledonia is located about 35 kilometres south west of Brantford, along the banks of the Grand River. 
Ken Hewitt, Caledonia's mayor, tried to get an injunction to stop the Walk for Peace. No injunction was granted.
"I was so impressed by the young activists in the Six Nations Solidarity Network and the skill and resourcefulness they displayed in navigating one of the trickiest disputes in Canada," said Watson.
The CAW was well represented in the walk. There were members from CAW Locals 504, 1106, 1285, 252, 2163, 636 and the Retired Workers Chapter of CAW Local 127. They included two Local Union Presidents Bill McLachlan (1106) and Carl Cywink (Local 2163). 


Ford profit picture is praised
at annual meeting

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, left, and Executive Chairman Bill Ford address the media during a news conference after Ford's meeting of shareholders Thursday in Wilmington, Del. Mulally said Ford expects global sales of 8 million vehicles by 2015 from 5.3 million in 2010. / William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Alisa Priddle
Detroit Free Press
May 11, 2012

There was more praise than controversy from the 63 shareholders who attended Ford's 57th-annual meeting Thursday in Wilmington, Del.

Even a grilling afterward by the few reporters who attended got more joshing than straight talk in attempts to pin down how long CEO Alan Mulally, 66, will stay on the job. Mulally is credited with turning the company around, and Ford wants to ensure a smooth succession when he retires.

The shareholder meeting, over in a record 45 minutes, saw the election of the 16 current directors, and none of the proposals to alter the dual-stock status or voting rights passed.

No one complained that Ford stock has fallen 29% since May 10, 2011. It closed at $10.71, up 2 cents from Wednesday and well below the 52-week high of $15.35.

Instead there was applause for a leadership team that has delivered three consecutive years of increased profitability, culminating in 2011's $8.8 billion in pretax operating profit and this year's restoration of a dividend suspended since 2006.

"Your company is doing well these days," Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said, renewing a commitment to reduce costs while investing for growth.

Ford's $136.3 billion in 2011 revenue ranked ninth in the 2012 Fortune 500 list, released earlier this week.

"We are no longer turning around; we are moving ahead," Mulally told shareholders.

But he warned it will be difficult to maintain last year's 16.8% market share in the U.S. because of the overall strength of the recovering market.

He said about one-third of sales will come from Asia-Pacific by 2020 and while Europe is recovering, it remains an area of uncertainty that is dragging down Ford's share price.

Mulally said Ford expects global sales of 8 million vehicles by 2015 from 5.3 million in 2010.

"In the past couple of years, Ford has emphasized small cars with the new Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta. But this year marks a significant transition to all-new Escape and Fusion models," said Edmunds.com analyst Michelle Krebs.

"This year is also important as Ford executes a very pricey initiative to add manufacturing capacity, distribution and new models in Asia Pacific, most notably in China and India. This is a massive effort at the expense of Ford's profits right now, but is necessary for a future payoff in those fast-growing markets."

The few people who stepped up to the mike at the meeting were full of praise for the automaker.

Jane Garcia of Detroit, who Bill Ford described as a "human dynamo" in the community, thanked Ford for being a strong company and taxpayer.

An emotional Janice Smith, a retiree in Cleveland, thanked the company for a "wonderful career" and offered to share her ideas to promote Ford going forward. She said her first car was a Ford Maverick, something she has in common with President Barack Obama.

Shareholders also endorsed compensation of the top executives -- Mulally received a 2011 package worth $29.5 million -- without comment


CAW Local 584 Elections



Dave Champagne 136 Elected

Alison White 88

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2


Recording Secretary

Christine Parise 107

Michelle Hilts 116 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 3



Pam Lyon 131 Elected

Jim Williams 88

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 7


Sergeant at Arms

John Honcharsky 133 Elected

Bryan Levasseur 91

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2


Trustee (3)

Arlene Rudolph 148 Elected

Chris Brookbanks 106

Sandy Brook 153 Elected

Terri Fletcher 61

Brad Mayberry 142 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2


Committeeperson – Shift 2

Barb Morrison 100

Dan Armstrong 105 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 5


Committeeperson – Shift 3

John McCloskey 106 Elected

Tony Gilmour 99

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 5


Alternate Committeeperson – Shift 2

Vito Bellomo 99

Michelle Harwood 107 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 4


Alternate Committeeperson – Shift 3

Greg Barnard 98

Nasir Naghar 108 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 4


Health and Safety Rep

Thayne Smith 139 Elected

Francois Bilodeau 70

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 1


Alternate Health and Safety Rep

Kim Timmins 93

Steve Burns 115 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 2


Benefit Rep

Michelle Harvey 105 Elected

Monica Pelyea 34

Sandy Knight 70

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 1


Alternate Benefit Rep

Sandy Pitman 100

Claudio Parise 104 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 210
Spoiled Ballots: 6


Women's Committee Chairperson

Tammy Dempsey 70

Brandy Lafortune 140 Elected

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 16


By-Laws Committee (2)

Jason Karaim 161 Elected

Mariola Lombardi 124 Elected

Gerald Andrukonis 96

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 11


CAW Council Delegate (2)

Gary Rumboldt 174 Elected

Dave Champagne 151 Elected

Alison White 94

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 2


CAW Convention Delegate (2)

Dave Champagne 152 Elected

Gary Rumboldt 176 Elected

Alison White 90

Total Ballots Cast: 226
Spoiled Ballots: 1

*Retirees can vote for Executive and Standing Committee Chairs. They are not eligible to vote for in plant, health and safety, benefits or any of their alternates. Retirees will be required to enter through the lobby on Dixie and sign in with security. The polls will be open on May 8 from 11:30am - 5:00pm in the downstairs cafeteria. Run offs, if necessary, will take place on May 23 from 11:30am - 5:00pm.

President/UPC *

Dave Champagne 

Alison White 


Christine Parise 

Michelle Hilts

Guide *

Pam Lyon 

Jim Williams 

Sergeant at Arms *

John Honcharsky 

Bryan Levasseur

Trustee (3) *

Arlene Rudolph 

Chris Brookbanks

 Sandy Brook 

Terri Fletcher 

Brad Mayberry 

Committeeperson Shift 2

Barb Morrison

Dan Armstrong 


Committeeperson Shift 3

John McCloskey 

Tony Gilmour

Alternate Committeeperson Shift 2

Vito Bellomo 

Michelle Harwood 

Alternate Committeeperson Shift 3

Greg Barnard

Nasir Naghar 


Health and
Safety Rep

Thayne Smith 

Francois Bilodeau 

Alternate Health
and Safety Rep

Kim Timmins

Steve Burns 


Benefit Rep

Michelle Harvey 

Monica Pelyea 

Sandy Knight

Alternate Benefit Rep

Sandy Pitman 

Claudio Parise 

Committee Chairperson

Tammy Dempsey

Brandy Lafortune 


Committee (2)

Jason Karaim 

Mariola Lombardi 

Gerald Andrukonis 

CAW Council Delegate (2) *

Dave Champagne 

Gary Rumboldt  

Alison White


CAW Convention Delegate (2) *

Dave Champagne 

Gary Rumboldt 

Alison White 



New Focus drives 24%
increase in Ford China sales


Automaker in midst of growing its lineup, production in Asia

The 2013 Ford Focus is lifting Ford Motor Co.'s China sales, comprising 10 percent of automaker's April sales there in its first 10 days on the market, the company said Tuesday.

The automaker is in the "heavy investment phase" of its plan to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015, said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford's Asia and Africa regions. The Focus is the first vehicle to roll out on Ford's global platform under the plan.

Ford's plan is intended to counter a slowing China market by broadening its range of products and gaining brand awareness, Hinrichs said. The automaker predicts average annual growth of 5 percent for the decade, a far cry from the double-digit gains the China car market saw at the end of the last decade. The market grew less than 3 percent last year.

The slowdown is "not unexpected" and 5 percent annual growth is a "sustainable rate," Hinrichs said.

Mike Jackson, director of North American vehicle production forecasting and analysis at IHS Automotive in Northville, said, "Ford is making good on its need to catch up with other players in the space in China. It's really going to come back to product and execution to see who wins and who loses."

Ford will be in a strong position to compete across a wide range of segments as more products arrive on the China market, Jackson said.

The Dearborn-based automaker has invested $4.9 billion in China in an effort to catch up with larger competitors who entered the market earlier and added capacity before China imposed additional restrictions on production, Hinrichs said.

Ford announced last month plans to double passenger-car production capacity in China by mid-decade with expansion of its Chonqing and Hangzhou plants.

The automaker will debut in China later this year three SUVs as part of its growth plan. They are the Explorer, EcoSport mini SUV and Kuga (known as the Escape in North America).

It is building seven more plants in Asia — five in China, and two in India where the market has also slowed over the last nine months due to interest rate hikes over fears of inflation.

Ford also is focusing on Thailand, where last week it opened a new assembly plant that will manufacture the Ford Focus, among other vehicles. The country is an export hub for pickups, which the government has incentivized, Hinrichs said.

The small pickup Ford Ranger has proved especially popular in Thailand, where Ford has 11,000 orders outstanding. The Ranger is one of the most important products for the Asia-Pacific region and could catapult Ford to dominance in the Asia Pacific pickup segment, Hinrichs said.

The pickup is produced in Thailand in a joint venture with Mazda, in South Africa and soon-to-be in Pacheco, Argentina. It's no longer sold in the U.S.

"The demand is outstanding," Hinrichs said. "It's one of those good-bad problems where you can't make enough."


McGuinty says Ontario
will assist its 'leading
goal scorer' – the auto sector

Ford has said it will not update it's Oakville, Ont., plant without government support.

Globe and Mail
May 9, 2012

The cash-strapped Ontario government is prepared to invest more money in the auto sector to help car companies respond to a strong sales recovery, Premier Dalton McGuinty says.

"They are in a sense our leading goal scorer," Mr. McGuinty told reporters Tuesday. "They put the puck in the net over and over again on behalf of the Ontario economy. We need to find ways to ensure that they remain healthy.

Mr. McGuinty made the comments after speaking to a business audience at the Bloomberg Canada Economic Summit in Toronto.

He was responding to a Globe and Mail report about a study done for the federal government that said the Detroit Three auto makers could run short of vehicle-making capacity later in the decade after slashing capacity deeply during the 2008-2009 recession and auto crisis.

The need to increase capacity by 2018 comes as Ottawa and the Ontario government assess a Ford Motor Co. plan to spend $1.2-billion to upgrade its Oakville, Ont., plant to assemble vehicles based on a global platform. The auto maker wants financial assistance for the project and has said it will not go ahead unless there is government support.

Based on the 20-per-cent financing level the two governments provided for the retooling of that plant in 2005-2006, the auto maker is seeking at least $240-million in financial help for the global platform.

Mr. McGuinty said he will look at whether his government should "deploy our limited business supports" in the auto sector, which is a key pillar of Ontario's battered manufacturing sector and is bouncing back so strongly that Ford, its Detroit rivals and other auto makers are boosting production as quickly as possible.

The Detroit Three slashed production capacity by 2.6 million vehicles in 2008-2009 and now they're struggling to meet demand that is recovery more quickly than their ability to meet it.

Ford said Tuesday that the usual two-week summer shutdown will be cut to one week at U.S. assembly plants and seven North American engine and transmission factories – including the Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont. – as it tries to crank out more cars and trucks.

Those moves will boost production by 40,000 vehicles during the third quarter, Ford said.

Ford operated its North American assembly plants at 108 per cent of capacity during the first quarter.

"This is a great kind of a problem to have," Mr. McGuinty said. "They're telling us that we need to produce more cars, so we'll have an opportunity to consolidate if not indeed enhance our standing as the No. 1 producer of cars in North America."

The auto sector has grown in Ontario and retained its pre-eminence even in the "darkest days of the recession," Mr. McGuinty said, because his government has worked hand in hand with it.


Canada seen benefiting as U.S. auto makers scramble to restore capacity

Globe & Mail
May 9, 2012

The Detroit Three auto makers suddenly can't make enough vehicles – a development that could benefit Canada and give the federal and Ontario governments the upper hand as the companies seek hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to redevelop Canadian vehicle assembly plants.

Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. slashed so much production capacity during the 2008-2009 crisis that they have to rush now to restore it to respond to a strong sales recovery and forecasts that the North American market will be even more robust later in the decade.

"By 2018, capacity shortages are projected to be an issue for the Detroit Three," says a study done for the federal government by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), an industry think-tank based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The current shortage and the one looming near the end of the decade will make it difficult for the companies to close any more Canadian facilities and to persuade policy makers to step up with subsidies or see billions of dollars in auto investment directed elsewhere.

There are also implications for the Canadian Auto Workers union in crucial talks on a new contract this summer with the companies. The need to keep pumping out vehicles to meet robust demand means the companies will be less willing to risk a strike.

The production shortages even raise a glimmer of hope for a shuttered GM truck plant in Oshawa, Ont.

While each of the Detroit companies is adding production at U.S. plants, the CAR study indicates Chrysler and GM will run short of capacity to make pickup trucks and other full-frame vehicles by 2015, while Ford will need more capacity for passenger cars and crossovers – known as unibody vehicles – by 2018.

The CAR report, which was designed to assess the importance of the companies' Canadian factories to their North American operations, was submitted to the federal government on Feb. 27 and obtained through an Access to Information request by The Globe and Mail. Industry Canada refused to make public 21 pages of the 28-page study.

If forecasts that GM's sales will rise to 3.6 million vehicles by 2015 and 3.7 million by 2018 are correct, GM could lose market share because it won't be able to build enough trucks, the CAR study said.

"GM's Oshawa plants (including the idled Oshawa Truck) could each be candidates for full-frame investment or conversion," it said.

Ford has asked the governments for financial aid to build a global platform at its assembly plant in Oakville, Ont., a project worth more than $1-billion. The plant makes crossovers, the kind of unibody vehicles for which demand is rising.

Ford had said before the market turnaround that the project wouldn't go ahead without government support, and that if it was scrapped, the factory likely would have to close.

"I don't see them having the room, frankly, to shut another plant," said one industry source familiar with Ford's future production needs.

But keeping the factory open will likely still require help from the governments and the CAW, which will be under pressure to reduce labour costs.

The robust market that's causing the Detroit Three to add shifts and cancel summer shutdowns strengthens the union's position. Chrysler's plant in Brampton, Ont., for example, is the only factory assembling the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and Challenger full-sized sedans.

Combined sales of the three cars soared 63 per cent in the first four months of the year, so Chrysler could be reluctant to undergo a strike.

Auto makers eliminated 2.6 million units of production capacity between 2008 and 2011.

"If the U.S. market is coming back at 10 or 11 per cent a year for the next three years, where are you going to make them?" asked one U.S. industry analyst.


Ohio Court of Appeals reverses
$2B judgment against Ford

By Keith Naughton and David Voreacos
Bloomberg NewsMay 8, 2012

The Ohio Court of Appeals has thrown out a $2 billion award against Ford Motor Co. and ordered a new trial for a class of commercial-truck dealers who claimed the automaker overcharged them for 11 years.

The reversal of the largest judgment Ford had faced was revealed by the automaker Friday in a government filing. The state appeals court in Cleveland found May 3 that the trial judge improperly excluded evidence presented by Ford. The dealers can request that the Ohio Supreme Court review the ruling.

The dealers sued Ford in 2002, claiming the company broke an agreement to sell trucks at published prices, which forced them to pay more from 1987 through 1998 and cut into profits. Cuyahoga County Judge Peter J. Corrigan last June upheld a $4.5 million verdict awarded to one Ohio dealer in February 2011 by a Cleveland jury. He also said Ford had to pay similar damages and interest to a class of about 3,000 other dealers.

"We look forward to trying the case before a jury that will be able to consider all the evidence that was improperly excluded in the first trial," Marcey Evans, a Ford spokeswoman, said Friday.

The $2 billion award was five times higher than the largest-ever jury award against Ford in a lawsuit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. The largest jury verdict against Ford was for $369 million in a products-defect case awarded in California in 2004. That verdict was later reduced by trial and appellate courts.

James Lowe, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, declined to comment.

Ford, based in Dearborn, had been identifying the $2 billion award as a financial risk it faced in U.S. filings. The total comprised $800 million in damages and $1.2 billion in pre-judgment interest, Ford said in the filing Friday.

Ford was accused in the lawsuit of breaching an agreement with truck dealers by failing to publish to all of them all price concessions that were approved for any dealer, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Corrigan allowed the dealers to pursue claims against Ford in a class action, or group suit, in 2005. The class includes all Ford dealers who bought from the company any 600 series or higher truck over a period of about 11 years, starting in 1987.


Europe's auto woes unsettle
Detroit 3 carmakers

May 7, 2012
Greg Gardner - Detroit Free Press

Despite the Detroit Three's collective first-quarter profit of $3.2 billion, shares of Ford and General Motors have plunged to their lowest level since December, plans for Chrysler's initial public offering seem like a distant rumor and the potential loss to U.S. taxpayers when the government unwinds its stake in GM is swelling.

The reason is more complicated than one word, but "Europe" is a good place to start.

The European auto industry is suffering the kind of meltdown that happened in the U.S. in late 2008 and 2009. Sales have plummeted to their lowest level in 14 years. And unemployment in some Eurozone countries is the highest on record.

Rather than learn from the successful surgery of GM and Chrysler's 2009 bankruptcies, or from Ford's self-financed North American turnaround, European automakers, to some extent, are able to hide behind the profits of the strong recovery in the U.S.

Europe Car salesWhen a multinational company such as GM makes $1.7 billion in North America, a $256-million loss in Europe may seem manageable. It also can encourage a denial that delays a solution, perhaps indefinitely.

"Europe is the single biggest drag on GM's stock price," said Peter Nesvold, a Jefferies & Co. analyst who follows the company. "They're really between a rock and a hard place."

This has a direct impact on U.S. taxpayers, who still own about 32% of GM's common stock. With those shares closing Friday at $22.36, more than $10 below the price of the company's November 2010 IPO, the government would lose more than $15 billion if it sold all those shares at the current price.

Pain and paralysis
Every automaker knows plants in Europe must close. Some companies will fail or find partners. Tens of thousands of jobs will disappear. But without one unified government and a multinational consensus of how to spread the pain, the industry seems paralyzed.

Each government wants to protects its companies and employees. Those who act first fear competitors will discount their cars and grab market share.

"Somebody is playing chicken with the train here, because everybody is standing there and watching for the other guy to move first and effectively he benefits on the act," Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne told analysts last month.

Marchionne has called on the European Union to come up with a comprehensive plan that has all participants suffering some pain. But in Germany, where GM's Opel unit is languishing, union contracts don't expire until sometime in 2014. France elected a Socialist president, Francois Hollande, on Sunday. Hollande will work with Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen to keep their plants open.

GM's partnership with Peugeot, announced in February, can save money through joint purchasing and shared development of future models, but GM Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said Thursday that those savings won't show up in earnings until 2015 or 2016.

Ford of Europe CEO Stephen Odell told Bloomberg News last week that Ford will cut workdays at plants in Valencia, Spain, and Cologne, Germany, and is reducing output at a third plant in Saarlouis, Germany. Between April 1 and the end of June, Ford plans to build 15% fewer cars in Europe than it produced a year earlier.

Ammann said Opel might be offering buyouts to more senior workers in the near future. GM's $256-million first-quarter loss in Europe was less than many analysts expected.

"We're making progress week to week on the cost front," Ammann said. "Not everything will come with some big announcement."

Damper on spending
Unfortunately, recovery of auto sales could take longer. Most European countries, facing gaping budget deficits, are cutting government spending and raising taxes. Such austerity has boosted unemployment to as high as 24% in Spain and 9.8% in Italy. Although they are meant to bring more discipline, these moves have dampened consumer spending.

"The austerity program is by definition going to ... worsen the demand," Marchionne said. "If there is any value at all in the European Union existing as a functioning body ... this is the time to show its capabilities."


Ford's new Interceptor set
to strike fear into felons

Ford Interceptor

Peter Bleakney
May 6, 2012

The final Ford Crown Victoria rolled off the assembly line in St. Thomas, Ont on Sept. 15, 2011. While the loss of this antediluvian rear drive sedan was of little concern to car buyers below, er, a certain age, it was a blow to law enforcement agencies across North America.

The Vic was the perfect tool for the job: good outward visibility, cheap to buy, hard to break, easy to fix and it had lots of grunt from its 250 hp, 297 lb-ft SOHC 4.6L V8 engine. Okay, so the Crown Vic isn't universally loved by the guys and gals who drive it. After speaking with a few Toronto police officers, I heard complaints of evil handling in the wet and cramped front quarters.

It's a given police forces will be driving these old warhorses 'til the wheels fall off, but eventually the untold thousands of Vics will make it to that big Tim Horton's in the sky.

So what will be the next iconic cop car to be seen cruisin' the highways and lurking beneath overpasses?

Ford hopes to carry on where it left off with the 2013 Police Interceptor. Built in Chicago, the Interceptor is a purpose-built Taurus sedan kitted out for enforcement duty, and unlike its V8 body-on-frame rear-drive progenitor, this is a modern unibody vehicle. The base Interceptor comes in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive and carries a 288 hp, 250 lb-ft 3.5L Ti-VCT V6.

Felons will be particularly worried by the AWD twin-turbocharged direct-injection 3.5L V6 EcoBoost model making 365 hp and 350 lb.-ft of torque.

To quote Bill Gubing, chief engineer for the Police Interceptors: "EcoBoost powertrain performance is optimized for closing speed and maximizing takedowns, thus preventing high-speed pursuits from even forming."

For the first time, Ford is also offering a "Utility" Interceptor in the form of a toughened Explorer powered by a 300 hp 3.7L Ti-VCT V6.

Having recently spent some time (in the driver's seat, thank you) in the new 370 hp Dodge Charger Hemi Enforcer, I was very curious to experience Ford's offering.

Like the Dodge, this Ford is fitted with a column shifter that frees up the console for the computer, coffee cups and other brick-a-brack. The sedan benefits from heavy-duty suspension, extra cooling capacity and brakes with 60 per cent larger swept area.

Ford set up a closed handling course at Ontario Place, and there I got to sample the AWD 288 hp Interceptor — a configuration accounting for most of the orders. Dynamically it's in another world from the Crown Vic. It felt agile, predictable and reasonably neutral, with strong brakes and a nice linear power delivery from the V6. The six-speed auto shifted smoothly and for the most part stayed in the right gear over this aggressive run.

While the Dodge Hemi Enforcer has a wicked exhaust note and it can perform spectacular tail-out antics (like all good movie cop cars should), the Ford Interceptor EcoBoost is faster, and its speed and power are easier to exploit.

But don't take my word for it. This comes from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's yearly comprehensive shakedown of police vehicles where they are subjected to a barrage of tests that include braking, acceleration, and handling on a high speed course and a tight "pursuit" course. The Interceptor faced its major rivals, the Dodge Charger V6 and V8, and the Chevy Caprice PPV (a rear-drive Australian Holden sedan) V6 and V8. It bested them in almost every category. Criticisms included compromised outward visibility along with ingress and egress issues due to smaller door openings.

Ford isn't giving out Interceptor pricing, but they say it is very close to the Crown Vic – this will be crucial.

Safety is improved thanks to its modern crash structure and full complement of airbags. Ford is also pushing the fuel economy benefits of this newbie. The base Interceptor is 25 per cent more fuel efficient than the old Vic, and while idling (which a city cop car will do for more than half of a ten-hour shift) Ford claims a 35 per cent improvement.

Certainly good news for us taxpayers. Although repairing the front-wheel-drive Interceptor when Officer Bob jumps a curb at 40 km/h might be a different story.

So what black-wheeled sedan will we be looking out for in the future? The Ford Interceptor appears to be the critical favourite, although repair costs could be an issue. The Brampton-built Dodge Charger Enforcer, while not as slick, has the classic rear drive platform that enforcement agencies favour. Being an Aussie transplant, the rear-drive Chevy Caprice PPV is an unknown entity, and it is saddled with a console mounted floor shifter.

It's anybody's guess. But one thing is for sure. Like a cockroach, the Crown Vic is hard to kill. And with the Toronto Police Service buying that last 300 to roll off the assembly line, it will be many years before the last Vic fishtails into oblivion.


Video: 2013 Ford Police Interceptor


Ford touts small engines,
higher gas mileage

Ford is focused on its EcoBoost line of turbocharged engines. (Ford)

Car company's about face part of
industry's race to hike efficiency

By Jerry Hirsch
Los Angeles Times
May 5, 2012

In a once-unthinkable turnabout, Ford Motor Co. is bragging about how it now makes some of the smallest car engines in the industry — a sign of evolution for a company that once made its money selling powerful trucks, SUVs and the Mustang muscle car.

Ford's race to smaller engines represents a trend in the industry as all automakers woo fuel-conscious consumers and work to meet increasingly stringent fuel-economy standards, said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at TrueCar, an auto price information company.

"We believe that we are going to pay more for energy going forward and that fuel efficiency is the top reason to buy. That is going on all around the world now," said Alan Mulally, Ford's chief executive.

Mulally said that Ford's strategy of making powerful but smaller engines is part of the automaker's goal to "increase the fuel efficiency every year forever."

Ford has focused on small, turbocharged engines, which it calls its EcoBoost line. Although Ford vehicles with these engines carry a premium over standard models, they have among the quickest paybacks from gas savings in the industry, Toprak said.

A recent TrueCar analysis of the latest industry offerings of small but powerful engines — with and without turbochargers — found that the Mazda3 with the SkyActiv engine and transmission was the best economic proposition. The Mazda engine features a high compression ratio and avoids the added expense of a turbocharger.

Chevrolet's tiny Sonic with the EcoTec engine had the second-quickest payback.

Ford excelled at building big vehicles with small engines. Its Edge sport utility vehicle with the EcoBoost four-cylinder engine was third, and its big F-150 pickup truck with a six-cylinder EcoBoost engine was fifth.

The small Kia Forte sedan was fourth in the TrueCar analysis.

Ford is now marketing that with new introductions later this year, it will have seven vehicles with the smallest engines in their respective segments.

They include the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engines going into the new Escape crossover and Fusion family car, the 2-liter four-cylinder that's already in the Edge SUV, its bigger Explorer sibling and the Taurus large sedan and a 3.5-liter V-6 it is placing in police Interceptors and F-150 pickup.


CAW Contact
May 4, 2012
Volume 42, No. 17

Ontario Northland Target Premier McGuinty's Office

Demonstrators rallied outside Premier Dalton McGuinty's Ottawa constituency office on April 27.

Two Ontario Northland Motor Coaches with concerned Northerners on board traveled to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's constituency office in Ottawa on April 27 to tell him Ontario Northland is not for sale. The General Chairperson's Association (GCA) representing all unionized employees at Ontario Northland chartered the buses.
"As the Premier has so far refused to meet with anyone from the North on this important issue, we thought we would save him the trip and travel to his home town to voice our displeasure with his government's ill-advised decision to sell off Ontario Northland," said GCA spokesperson Brian Kelly.
"We had requested a meeting for today with the Premier but instead of meeting with the Premier we were told that we could only meet with his assistant.  As is his usual response to Northern issues Mr. McGuinty simply is too busy to meet with Northerners," said Kelly.
"From the lumber industry to the closing of the Kidd Creek smelter in Timmins and now the selloff of Ontario Northland the Premier's disdain for the North can no longer be ignored," Kelly said.
"We call upon Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath to hold this government to account and ensure that Northern issues are no longer treated with total disregard by the McGuinty government," concluded Kelly, who is also president of CAW Local 103, which represents approximately 450 Ontario Northland workers.

 CAW Takes Auto Policy Pitch to Ontario Minister Duguid

Approximately 150 CAW members, family, politicians and community allies crowded into the CAW Local 27 hall on May 1 for the final auto community town hall meeting.  In all, there were eight meetings across southern Ontario spanning three weeks.

CAW President Ken Lewenza and CAW Economist Jim Stanford met with Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Innovation Brad Duguid to present the union's proposals on strengthening the province's auto industry. 
The pair was joined by GM Master Bargaining Committee Chair and CAW Local 222 President Chris Buckley, Ford Master Bargaining Committee Chair and CAW Local 707 President Gary Beck and CAW Pensions and Benefits Director Jo-Ann Hannah.
The April 30 session was the first meeting with government officials since the launch of the CAW's Re-think the Economy, Re-think Canada's Auto Industry campaign on April 16.  Other meetings are currently being scheduled.
Lewenza described the meeting as constructive and positive, with the presentation being well-received by government officials. Lewenza said that the union plans to take the proposals to all federal and provincial party auto caucuses.
The campaign policy proposals include developing a transparent and consistent auto investment policy, building a green industry, negotiating Canadian manufacturing footprint commitments, in addition to a number of other measures. See the entire list of proposals at: http://www.rethinktheeconomy.ca/resources.
For more information on the Re-think the Economy campaign or for an outline of the CAW's proposals, please visit Here.

CAW Local 222 Family Auxiliary Celebrates 75th Anniversary

CAW Family Auxiliary #27 celebrated its 75th anniversary at CAW Local 222 hall on April 21. Pictured are CAW President Ken Lewenza; Jackie Finn, CAW Family Auxiliary #27 President and CAW Director of Women's Programs Julie White.


CAW President Condemns Changes to TFWP
Changes to the temporary foreign worker regulations will only increase abuse and lower conditions for migrant workers, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.
Lewenza was responding to a change in regulations which now allow employers to fast track bringing in skilled temporary foreign workers and paying them up to 15 per cent less than the prevailing wage, effectively paying foreign workers less than Canadian counterparts.
"This government-endorsed, employer-driven program is already rife with exploitation," said Lewenza. "In its current form, there are few checks and balances in the program, leaving workers with little protection and few avenues to enforce rights afforded to Canadian workers."
Lewenza voiced outrage that changes made by federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley will only serve to lower conditions for workers right across the board. Under the new rules, employer requests for importing highly skilled workers will be responded to within 10 days, as opposed to the current 12-14 weeks required for a Labour Market Opinion. And the government has indicated that while these changes only apply to highly skilled occupations, it could soon expand to other classifications.
The CAW already has temporary foreign workers in some of the workplaces the union represents, including some fish processing plants, resorts and aerospace firms and is familiar with the complex set of problems the program creates, said Lewenza.
"The federal government has allowed the corporate agenda to dictate the terms and conditions of our immigration system. This is not the model of fairness that Canadians support," said Lewenza
"With more than 1.5 million unemployed Canadians, there is no labour shortage in this country.

Suggesting that Canada has a labour shortage and that these changes are necessary is dishonest and deceitful."
As a nation, Canada has a dark history of bringing workers into the country to toil in terrible conditions for paltry wages, said Lewenza. "No government of any political stripe should ever attempt to turn back the clock."

Women's Rights Are Not Up for Debate: Open Letter

The following are excerpts from an Open Letter by the CAW on Women's Rights
"Women's rights are not up for debate - in the House of Commons or anywhere else in Canada.

Yet the federal Conservative government seems to think they are.
The issue of a woman's legal right to safe and accessible abortion services was settled by the Supreme Court in 1988. The only question that still remains is whether women across Canada have the ability to exercise this right. Even today, women in rural settings still do not have adequate access to services - a situation that must be addressed.

Women and men alike watched in disgust as Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's motion, supported by a number of his colleagues, called into question the ability of women to make choices over their own bodies. M-312 proposes the creation of a Parliamentary Committee to examine whether the Criminal Code definition of "human being" should be expanded to include fetuses. In effect, the motion opens the door for the criminalization of abortion and the revival of the long concluded debate over women's reproductive rights and autonomy over their own bodies.

Time and time again, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged that the Conservative party would not reopen the abortion debate...

The CAW stands with the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada and the YWCA's call to uphold women's legal right to abortion and prevent the infringement on women's Charter rights. We will continue to work alongside women's and other progressive organizations across our country to defend women's reproductive and legal rights in the weeks and months ahead.
Stephen Harper, women's reproductive rights are not up for debate. Live up to your word."
Here is the link to the full letter: http://www.caw.ca/en/11156.htm
Take action now!
Sign the petition opposing M-312 HERE

Download and send a postcard to tell your MP that your choice is pro-choice

Planning for Your Future in Winnipeg

"On April 21, a one day Planning For Your Future Area School was held at the Winnipeg Regional Office, instructed by discussion leader and CAW Local 468 President Mark Armstrong.
The course was very well received by participants who were encouraged and thankful for the wealth of information provided.
This seminar-based course featured several guest speakers including representatives from Service Canada, the Financial Assiniboine Credit Union, and Myers Weinberg LLP. CAW retired member John Marlow was in attendance to assist and deliver a presentation which shared insight about being "retired from the job but not the fight."  CAW retired member Jack Morrison was also in attendance to observe and add some tips on how to keep active in the union as a retired member.

Evraz Serves 72-Hour Lockout Notice to Alberta Workers 

Evraz Camrose Works has issued a 72-hour lockout notice to the CAW in an effort to extract pension, retiree benefits and other concessions from the workforce. The company intends to lockout the employees as of 9 am on May 5.
CAW Local 551 represents a bargaining unit of 105 workers at Evraz Camrose Works in Camrose, Alberta including trades persons, machine operators and labourers.  Major outstanding bargaining concerns include wages, benefits, pension contributions, and job security clauses. Few economic or language issues have been settled to date, with the company offering no general wage increases over a three year contract.
"It is completely unfathomable that workers in the oil and gas industry working in the hottest economy in North America are being attacked and threatened to give back long fought gains," said CAW National Representative Todd Romanow. "The company has begun an attack on these workers and the community, who have supported the plant for over 60 years and have helped make the company incredibly profitable."
The CAW contract with Evraz expired on February 1st, 2012 and negotiations have been ongoing since November 2011.  The union has met with the company for over 9 days of negotiations with no success, with the company still intent on extracting major concessions from the workers.
Evraz located in Camrose, Alberta (previously known as OSM Tubular Camrose) manufactures tubular goods and line pipe for oil and natural gas. 

New Pay Equity Training Program

Participants in the CAW's new Pay Equity Training Program gather at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario





No matter how you look at it, women still earn less than men in every sector of the economy and Ontario is no exception.
Ontario has one of the highest gender pay gaps in the world - for every $1 earned by men, women earn 71 cents. And we know without enforceable laws or the CAW's work at the bargaining table, employers will continue to pay workers as little as possible - and history tells us that if they can get away with paying women less, they will.
As the CAW continues to negotiate improved wages and benefits for all members, it recognizes that wage inequities between men and women still exist. The new pay equity program was designed to assist CAW bargaining committees to develop the skills, tools and confidence to work to close the wage gap between men and women who work in different jobs but have similar skills.
To that end, the CAW Education Department, working with the Women's Department, developed a new four day Ontario Pay Equity Training Program that was launched on April 22-25 in Port Elgin at the CAW Family Education Centre.
Through a variety of exercises, including a mock pay equity session, participants were able to identify ways to end discriminatory pay affects and ensure that their employers are meeting their obligations under the law.
"In the last 25 years the wage gap has closed by only 7 per cent through the Pay Equity process," said Theresa Farao, President of CAW Local 240. "This course is a good step forward to ensure and correct the inequities between men and women wages in our workplaces."

To download a copy of this  letter please visit Here


When should workers
take a pension buyout?

A Ford logo is seen on the car maker's booth during the first media day of the Geneva Auto Show at the Palexpo in Geneva, March 6, 2012

By Mark Miller

May 4, 2012

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Ford Motor Company is making an offer it hopes 90,000 former employees can't refuse: a lump sum buyout of their pensions.

The auto giant plans to offer a voluntary buyout of defined benefit pensions to salaried retirees and former employees, with payouts to start later this year.

Although Ford hasn't revealed the exact terms of the payments, the scale of the offer is unprecedented for a corporation that isn't actually terminating a pension plan. Ford hopes the strategy will reduce its pension liabilities and balance sheet volatility. If successful, Ford could be starting a trend that other companies follow.

Is a lump sum offer a good deal for Ford's pension beneficiaries? How about workers at other companies, many of whom are offered lump sum options at retirement in lieu of a lifetime income stream from a pension?

I posed the question to one of the top experts in North America on pensions, retirement and annuities - Moshe A. Milevsky. He's a finance professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto and CEO of QWeMA Group, which licenses intellectual property and algorithms used in retirement calculators. His latest book, "The Seven Most Important Equations for Your Retirement and the Stories Behind Them" (John Wiley & Sons), was published this week.

Milevsky cautions that there's no one-size-fits all answer.

"But my default position is not to take the lump sum and I therefore have to be convinced to give up the pension annuity. Not the other way around," he says.

"In most cases, the lump sum won't compensate for loss of the pension, unless you're in poor health and don't expect to live very long."

In deciding whether a lump sum is a good deal, Milevsky advises retirees to consider three key factors:

Mortality. "How healthy do you think you are in relation to the rest of the population? If you have reason to think you'll live longer than average, the pension probably beats a lump sum."

Interest rates. The lump sum is a good deal only if you are very certain you can beat the rate of return (referred to by the numbers folks as the "discount rate") that your pension plan is using to calculate what your pension is worth as a lump sum.

"We're in a very low rate environment, so that makes the pension worth more," says Milevsky.

By law, the lump sum calculation is pegged to yields on corporate bonds. The rates vary depending on your age and are adjusted monthly by the Internal Revenue Service. The published rate for March for a 65-year-old is about 4.25 percent, according to Ellen Kleinstuber, a principal with Savitz Organization, an actuarial consulting firm. For that retiree, the choice would be between receiving $700 per month lifetime, or approximately $108,000 as a lump sum.

That means, in order to come out ahead, you'd need to be able to beat that 4.25 percent rate investing the lump sum. That's impossible to do if the money is invested in risk-free investments, such as certificates of deposit. You could choose to assume a higher rate of return from investing in equities, but the risk must be factored in, Milevsky cautions.

The amount you're getting. "How much is your employer actually proposing to give you? If it's a trivial sum, take the lump sum," Milevsky says. "If it's a large amount, you need to run the numbers."

Lump sums have two other potential pitfalls.

The actuarial tables that govern lump sum calculations are unisex. That's bad news for women, since they outlive men, on average, by about four years. That means female workers who take lump sums get shortchanged compared to male workers.

You also may get shortchanged on the value of any early-retirement pension sweeteners your employer might offer for early retirement, because they generally aren't included in lump sum calculations (a consideration that doesn't apply to Ford, since all the workers involved are retired or former employees.)

Although Milevsky leans in most cases toward keeping the pension, he notes that there are a couple downsides to pension annuity streams, too. First, private sector pensions aren't adjusted for inflation, so the value of the income streams erodes over time.

Safety is another concern. In the event that your employer goes belly up and the plan defaults on its obligations, the government-sponsored Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) steps in to take over and continue making payments. But highly-paid workers could be in line for benefits that exceed the PBGC's insurance protection levels. The payout rates available from the PBGC are based on your age at the time the plan is terminated and are updated annually (here). For 2012, the maximum monthly benefit for workers retiring at age 65 is $4,653.41, or $4,188.07 if you elect a joint and survivor option that pays benefits to a spouse.

Milevsky's book contains formulas for figuring this out - but he urges retirees at Ford and elsewhere to get a professional financial planner to run the numbers, given the magnitude of the decision and the complex factors involved.

"You need someone who can work it through on a spreadsheet," he says. My view: your best bet is a fee-only planner, since planners compensated on a percentage of your portfolio have a built-in vested interest in a lump sum decision.

As a researcher, Milevsky also hopes someone will study the decisions made by Ford workers, given the unprecedented size of the group facing the lump-or-not decision.

"I hope someone keeps careful data on who chooses what," he says. "It will be a gold mine for researchers on human behavior and behavioral finance."

He adds that it's a shame workers aren't given a choice to take a portion of their benefit as a lump-sum and a portion as a pension annuity.

"All-or-nothing decisions are always harmful relative to the ability to diversify," he says.

Milevsky could get his wish soon; the U.S. Treasury has proposed a rule changes that would make it easier for plan sponsors to offer that kind of flexibility as part of a broader set of policies aimed at expanding lifetime income choices available to retiring workers.


Ford will open $450M
Thailand plant

2nd facility in nation part of automaker's global expansion plan

By David Shepardson

Detroit News Washington Bureau
May 3, 2012

Ford Motor Co. today planned to mark the opening of a $450 million auto plant in Thailand, part of its strategy to boost sales in Asia.

The 215,000-square-foot plant is Ford's second plant in Thailand, and one of eight new manufacturing facilities Ford will open by 2015 across the Asia Pacific and Africa region as part of its global expansion.

Next month, the Dearborn automaker will launch production of the new Ford Focus at the Thai plant; it's already being built at five other Ford facilities around the world.

"The opening of this new, world-class facility is the latest example in our aggressive growth plan for this region, which represents Ford's largest industrial expansion in half-a-century," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

The vehicles are "part of our plan to launch 50 new vehicles and powertrains in Asia Pacific and Africa by mid-decade," he said.

Along with China and India, Thailand serves as one of the key global production and export hubs for Ford.

Ford Thailand Manufacturing has an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles; the plant increases the company's annual capacity in Thailand to 445,000. That makes Ford one of the largest producers and exporters of vehicles in the country.

In a telephone interview from Thailand, Hinrichs said the new plant will initially have capacity for 150,000 vehicles a year but could eventually expand to about 300,000, and that Ford is considering adding new products.

Ford predicts that in the Asia-Africa region, auto sales will double by the end of the decade.

"There's a lot of growth still to come," Hinrichs said.

Since 2007, Ford has invested more than $1.5 billion in Thailand.

Overall, Ford is the second-largest automotive investor in the country, with cumulative investments totaling more than $2.5 billion.

The facility has the potential to support up to 11,000 new jobs, including 2,200 direct jobs with Ford and 8,800 indirect jobs through its supplier and dealer networks. There are already 1,600 workers on-site, preparing for production launch.

Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst at IHS Automotive, said Thailand is a very manufacturing-friendly place.

"The reality is Asia is where the new volume is going to be. It's one of the few markets that has enormous potential," Lindland said.

Ford plans to buy up to $800 million worth of components locally through Thailand's automotive manufacturing supplier network


Chrysler has its best April in
4 years; Ford, GM down

Car Sales

By Bryce G. Hoffman
and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
May 2, 2012

US Automakers reported another month of solid sales Tuesday as strong performance by Chrysler Group LLC and a resurgent Toyota Motor Corp. helped boost overall industry sales 2.3 percent in the U.S., easing concerns that the industry's strong first-quarter numbers were unsustainable.

And those numbers only tell part of the story. This April had three fewer selling days and one less weekend than April 2011. The seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate actually soared to 14.4 million units last month from 13.2 million units a year earlier.

"The rate of sales in April shows that the strong recovery in the first quarter of this year was not a blip," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for TrueCar.com. "Many thought the first-quarter sales rate was not sustainable. This shows it was."

At least for foreign automakers.

Domestic automakers saw their sales slip 1.5 percent year-over-year and their combined share of the U.S. market drop from 46.5 percent to 44.8 percent. But Asian automakers posted a 3 percent sales increase and saw their market share grow to 45.3 percent from 44.9 percent last year. European automakers — led by Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG — posted even more impressive gains, with sales soaring 18.8 percent and their combined market share increasing from 8.6 percent to an even 10 percent.

"It was our best April sales since 1971," said Jonathan Browning, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America.

Back then, VW was the leading import automaker in America. Last month, its U.S. sales were up 27.3 percent, and its share of the market increased from 3.3 percent to 4.2 percent.

But Chrysler posted an even more impressive share gain, claiming 11.9 percent of the market compared to 10.1 percent in April 2011. The Auburn Hills automaker sold 141,165 cars and trucks last month, a 20.4 percent increase over last year.

"We recorded our 25th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, and we reported our strongest quarterly profit in 13 years," Chrysler U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland said Tuesday in a statement. "This business is all about product, and the quality and fuel efficiency of our current vehicle lineup has never been better, which is evident in our results."

General Motors Co.'s sales were down 8.2 percent on volume of 213,387 units. GM's share of the market fell to 18 percent from 20.1 percent a year ago, but the company said it was pleased with its strong retail performance and pickup sales.

"Pent-up demand, that's really helping drive the pickup segment," said Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales operations. "If you look at our heavy-dutys, we are gaining share in the segment."

Ford Motor Co. reported sales of 179,658 vehicles — a 5.1 percent decrease over the same period last year. Ford's share of the market slipped from 16.3 percent to 15.2 percent.

Like GM, trucks were Ford's silver lining.

Ford F-Series sales were up 4.4 percent last month, making for the F-Series' best April since 2007. But the F-Series lost more than a point of share to rival manufacturers.

"Consumers are still needing replacements," said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, noting that more than 50 percent of all trucks are more than 10 years old.

The increase in pickup sales is encouraging because they tend to be a leading indicator of overall auto sales, Toprak said.

"There are some signs of life in the housing and construction segments, and the main buyers of these trucks are small businesses in the construction segment," Toprak said. "There's actually a chain-reaction effect that happens. When one business buys a new truck, the others in that town see that as a green light."

Last year, all three Detroit automakers benefited from big sales declines at their Japanese competitors who had begun running out of vehicles to sell in the wake of that nation's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Now, Japanese automakers have recovered and their dealer lots are full again.

Toyota, for one, is back with a vengeance. It posted a 11.6 percent sales increase on volume of 178,044 vehicles, propelling its market share from 13.8 percent to an even 15 percent.

"Toyota has been doing phenomenal this year. Their recovery has been stronger and faster than we thought it would be," Toprak said. "They've not only regained all the market share that they lost in 2011, but they've also done it much more rapidly than anyone thought they would."

"Buyers are drawn to Camry and the Prius family," said Bob Carter, general manager of the Toyota division, while adding that fleet sales were also up as the company worked to catch up on orders from the second half of 2011.

Results for the other major Japanese automakers were mixed.

Honda Motor Co. sales were down 2.2 percent, while Nissan Motor Co. was down 0.3 percent

South Korea's Hyundai Motor, which had been posting consistently strong sales gains month after month, was up just 0.8 percent in April


Dakkota strike puts
Chrysler on offensive

Union ratifies on threat of work being pulled

By Grace MacAluso, The Windsor Star
May 1, 2012

WINDSOR, Ont. -- A swift end to the strike at Dakkota Integrated Systems after a threat by a "vindictive" Chrysler Canada to move the work elsewhere hints at tough negotiations ahead for the Canadian Auto Workers union, said Rick Laporte, president of CAW Local 444.

"It sends the bargaining committee of the other suppliers a message," Laporte said after an emergency meeting Monday that saw 75 per cent of 170 Dakkota workers approve a tentative agreement they had rejected Sunday.

"It puts more pressure on bargaining committees knowing that Chrysler pulled the job security letter.

"I'm convinced if we couldn't get this contract ratified today, Chrysler would be vindictive and do everything it could to outsource that work in the future, whether it's a year or two years down the road."

The short-lived strike temporarily halted production at three other Chrysler auto suppliers as well as the Windsor Assembly Plant, which assembles the Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans. The Dakkota workers manufacture dashboard instrument panels for the minivan.

Even Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne weighed in on the dispute during an unrelated news conference in Detroit and urged Dakkota workers to "come back to their senses" before the second vote.

"This is not the way to build a car company," he said in a report carried by Detroit news media.

"Our people have an incredibly short memory of what happened back in 2009."

"I have zero empathy for that process today. I would ask everybody to come back to their senses and clean this stuff up."

Just prior to the second ratification vote, workers were told that Chrysler withdrew a letter of understanding that secured production at Dakkota during the life of the three-year agreement. The letter was removed after workers initially rejected the deal by a 62 per cent margin over the issue of wage hikes and short shifting.

The union will have to repair damaged relations with the carmaker, Laporte said. "The commitment that we lost means we will have to gain the confidence of Chrysler corporation. This particular work group was a shining star in the corporation's eye before the rejection yesterday."

Michele Carr, a line worker a Dakkota, said Chrysler's threat left workers with little choice but to rescind the rejection. "We gained our jobs back, that's pretty much it," said Carr. "We had to look at the reality of the whole situation.

"The union did a better job of presenting the facts to its members," Carr added. "Everything was more clear today. Yesterday people broke out in a frenzy so nothing was heard properly of what the contract contained. People were more calm today."

The union said it also had secured a pledge from Dakkota to address workers' complaints over short shifting. Employees are seeking a guaranteed workweek instead of being sent home up to 30 minutes early because of such disruptions as parts shortages.

Agreement highlights included a 50cent an hour increase every year for the next three years, four extra holidays a year, a $500 signing bonus, increases to benefits and improvements to plant working conditions. At the end of the previous contract workers made between $17 and $27.50 an hour.

The company issued a statement praising Local 444 officials. "We appreciate the way in which Local 444 worked together with our negotiating team in an environment of trust and mutual respect while protecting the interest of their members," Dakkota said.

The union will move on to contract negotiations with three other feeder plants - Oakley SubAssembly, TRW Ltd. and HBPO Canada. The CAW represents about 300 workers at those plants.

"We're bargaining tomorrow morning with TRW," said Laporte. Chrysler's action "sends a clear message."

The CAW also will begin Detroit Three negotiations later this summer.

Tony Faria, business professor at the University of Windsor, said the CAW was wise to take Chrysler's threat seriously.

"Companies can move their parts facilities very easily from one location to another," Faria said.

"That's a negotiating hammer a company can and will use."

Click here for video


Resculpted Ford Escape crosses
over from boxy SUV look

The all-new 2013 Ford Escape, launched in San Francisco, is scheduled to arrive at Ford dealers soon

By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
April 30, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO – In this city of inclusion, where dot-commers, fashionistas and bedraggled street denizens share the same fog-shrouded hillsides and stunning views, there's one arrival that never felt welcome: a boxy, fuel-gulping sport-utility vehicle.

So perhaps it's fitting that Ford chose the city of the Golden Gate as the place to introduce its completely transformed Escape compact crossover to America.

Far from the squared-off, purposeful SUV looks of the current generation, the body of the 2013 Escape is a sculptor's playground of complex curves, creases and swooshes. It's as if Ford Motor came to San Francisco seeking artistic validation.

Sure, the new model gets a boost in fuel economy, an entertaining leg-activated tailgate and rear seats that are easier to fold down. But those features pale compared with the change to a more car-like appearance. The looks carry over to the road, where Escape is a sweet driving experience — precise, quiet and lacking SUV sway, roll or clunkiness.

While artistic raves count, Ford executives make it clear they are intently focused on improving Escape's share in one of the most crucial market segments in the auto industry. Compact crossovers, along with midsize sedans, are at the heart of the family vehicle market. Together, they account for about 30% of all new vehicle sales per year in the U.S.

Succession won't be easy, given that the current Escape has done just fine, even with its aging looks.

Though on the way out, sales of the current model were 58,604 through the first quarter, up 4.7% compared with the same period a year ago, Autodata reports.

Just how much is at stake for Ford? From only 1.3% of the company's overall sales in 2000, Escape commanded 12.3% last year, car research site Edmunds.com reports. About one of five compact crossovers sold in the U.S. last year were Escapes, although many have been carrying discounts lately.

"We're trying to replace a product that is doing really well," says Hau Thai-Tang, Ford engineering vice president. "We have really big shoes to fill."

The decision to take what Thai-Tang terms a "revolutionary" step in the design of Escape partly reflects Ford's preoccupation with designing models that can be sold in more markets around the world. Escape will be made in Louisville, Spain and China. In many foreign markets, "they want dynamic design," he says.

V-6 option dropped for turbo-four

Ford is being just as bold when it comes to Escape's engine choices: all four-cylinder powerplants; there's no longer a V-6 option. The base is a 2.5-liter producing 168 horsepower. Then come two with turbochargers: a 1.6-liter with 173 horsepower and a 2-liter that puts out 237 horsepower. On a long drive over windy roads north of San Francisco, the smaller turbo felt adequate, the larger one substantially more confident on the highway.

The automaker is betting consumers will come to appreciate how its EcoBoost-branded turbo engines boost gas mileage at less of a price bump than that for a hybrid. At least buyers had better appreciate it, because Ford is ditching Escape's hybrid model, which once showcased the automaker's environmental commitment.

With a 33 miles per gallon rating for highway driving, the 1.6-liter turbo EcoBoost engine in a front-wheel-drive Escape outpaces the current hybrid front-wheel drive by a couple of miles per gallon. But its 23 mpg city rating falls well below the doomed hybrid's 34 mpg.

The new Escape's base model will start at $23,295 plus $895 in shipping, $200 less than the current model. The fanciest model, the Titanium, will go for $31,195. Deliveries start this spring.

Hands-free tailgate: Kick to open

The fully loaded Titanium comes with what is sure to be Escape's most talked-about feature as standard equipment, the kick-activated liftgate. Waving an ankle under the rear bumper in a kicking motion opens the gate electrically. It can be closed the same way. It's intended for people who, arms loaded with groceries or kids, can't be fumbling for key fobs.

The feature seemed a little balky, but maybe it requires practice. Marketing Manager Jason Sprawka says two sensors activate the gate, both mounted on the center line of the vehicle. If you don't kick your leg right down the middle, it might catch one sensor but not the other, and it won't work. "You have to trip one, then the second," he says. Sprawka says accumulated ice won't interfere with its operation.

If that kind of innovation thrills some buyers, Ford is banking they'll be equally drawn by other touches. For instance, folding down the rear seats to make way for cargo formerly involved having to pull off headrests and several other actions. Now, it's a simple, one-touch operation, and the headrests fold down out of the way automatically.

The more upscale versions also come with the MyFord Touch infotainment system, front-and-rear temperature controls and an optional feature that aids in parallel parking.

But fancy stuff aside, it's all about the looks.


Feds expand probe into Ford minivan rust problems

April 29, 2012

DETROIT (AP) -- Federal safety regulators have expanded an investigation into rust in wheel wells on Ford and Mercury minivans that can become unsafe.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its website that the rear wheel wells can rust so thoroughly on Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans that owners can't latch the third-row seat properly.

Investigators began looking into 2004 model year vans in December. Now they're studying data from the 2005 through 2007 model years because the seat designs are like the 2004 vans. The probe covers more than 82,000 minivans in states where salt is used to clear snow.

The problem hasn't caused any crashes or injuries. The safety agency has upgraded its probe to an engineering analysis. The vans have not been recalled


Ford may buy out retiree pensions

Company says 90,000 former workers qualify for lump sum offer

By Jaclyn Trop
April 28, 2012
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co., which posted a $1.4 billion first-quarter profit Friday, is offering to buy out the pensions of white-collar retirees to reduce its debt.

The move could put Ford closer to an investment grade credit rating that would help it reclaim the assets its mortgaged five years ago — including its Glass House headquarters in Dearborn and the iconic Blue Oval logo.

The automaker said it will give 90,000 U.S. salaried retirees and salaried former employees the choice to continue receiving their monthly pension payments or take them in a lump sum. General Motors Co. said it is considering a similar plan.

"We really haven't seen this" pension payout offering from a major public company, said David Kudla, a retirement planner at Mainstay Capital Management in Grand Blanc. "It's the largest program of its type in the country's history."

Ford is trying to get out from under its underfunded pension liability. At the end of last year, Ford's pension obligation totaled $74 billion and was underfunded by $15.4 billion. That's a drag on its bottom line and has kept two major ratings houses — Standard & Poor's and Moody's — from rating its debt as investment grade.

Fitch Ratings upgraded Ford's debt Tuesday to BBB-, the first level of investment grade. When Ford receives a second upgrade, it will reclaim the assets it pledged in 2006 for a $23 billion lifeline.

It's not clear how much money the pension buyouts will save the company — "it depends on how many opt in," said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans — nor how they would be structured or when they will be offered.

Ford previously announced it would offer the same payout to its other U.S. salaried workers retiring after July 1. The automaker did not specify when the pension buyouts would begin.

"Continuing to improve the underlying strength of our balance sheet remains a fundamental part of financing the One Ford plan," said CFO Bob Shanks. "Providing the option of a lump-sum payment to current salaried U.S. retirees and former employees will reduce our pension obligations and balance sheet volatility."

The offering is a solid step toward a second investment grade rating, said David Sowerby, portfolio manager for Loomis, Sayles & Co. LP investment management in Bloomfield Hills.

"Any further retiring of debt is another step in the right direction," Sowerby said.

First-quarter report
On Friday, Ford announced its 11th consecutive profitable quarter, even as profits fell 45 percent from the first quarter of 2011.

Ford's 45 percent drop in first-quarter earnings narrowly beat analysts' expectations. Profits fell to $1.4 billion on revenue of $32.4 billion, from $2.6 billion the same quarter last year.

About half the decrease was due to a higher tax rate, with the remainder due to factors such as softening global markets and comparisons with a strong first quarter last year, the automaker's best since 1998.

"Our team delivered a solid performance during the first quarter, with particularly strong results in North America, despite a challenging global external environment," said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO.

"We remain focused on investing for future growth and developing outstanding products with segment-leading quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value."

Pretax operating profits fell 19 percent on analyst expectations of a 26 percent decrease, according to Thomson Financial Network.

Analysts expected Ford on average to report 35 cents per share on $31.27 billion in revenue. Ford reported earnings of 39 cents per share on pretax operating profits of $2.3 billion.

Ford stock closed Friday at $11.60, down 27 cents a share.

The company's operations are strengthening. Ford's sales grew nearly 9 percent to 539,624 vehicles in the first quarter compared with the same period last year even as it cut incentives by an average of 4.2 percent, or $120, per vehicle, according to Edmunds.

Ford's performance was bolstered by sales of its fuel-efficient vehicle lineup and profitable trucks. The automaker has also found a sweet spot with small cars, such as its Focus and Fiesta models, as drivers shoulder higher gas prices.

But a weak European market and a slowdown in the China market continue to concern Ford and analysts. Ford has invested $4.9 billion in China to double passenger car production capacity and catch up to its larger rivals.

"Compared to sluggish earnings in Ford's beleaguered Europe and Asia-Pacific markets — where the company is investing billions of dollars — North America was the bright spot in the first quarter," said Edmunds analyst Michelle Krebs.

Crunching the numbers
Whether retirees should opt for the lump sum from Ford depends on age and investment savvy, experts said.

"When you do the math, for those who are young, I think it would not be a wise decision," said Don Whitehouse, president of nonprofit group Ford Actions Impacting Retirees Alliance Inc.

It could be a smart move for retirees who are in their 80s or beyond, Whitehouse said, as long as they crunch the numbers and family members help make the decision.

Greg Samp retired from Ford 10 years ago. He worked for the company for 36 years, including 20 as an electrical engineer at the Dearborn Engine Plant.

Samp, 64, of Fife Lake, said his first reaction to the payout plan was shock by the unconventional move.

"A lump sum could be a great thing if I survive for another two years, but if I live for 20 more years, it wouldn't be so good," he said. "Being 64, I'm not so sure it's a good idea for me."


CAW Contact
April 27, 2012
Volume 42, No. 16

Orion Bus Closure Caused by Government Inaction, says CAW

The closure of Orion Bus in Mississauga has been unnecessarily caused by the chronic underfunding of public transit right across Canada, said CAW President Ken Lewenza. Lewenza was responding to the announcement by Daimler that it will end production at Orion Bus, throwing hundreds out of work.
"For years, successive federal, provincial and municipal governments have failed to live up to the needs of Canadians for affordable, accessible public transit and adequately invest in infrastructure," said Lewenza.
"And as we see today, the implications are disastrous for our communities who are poorly served and workers who lose their jobs because of government inaction. This lack of foresight on public transit and government procurement contracts is having the effect of hollowing out our industrial base," said Lewenza.
When governments prioritize the local procurement of goods and services, particularly for transit investments, communities thrive. When this doesn't happen, communities feel the brunt of poor decisions through job loss and a dwindling tax base, said Lewenza.
Lewenza said that he is worried the plant could be closed immediately, despite assurances by the company to wind down production over the next 12 months. Lewenza voiced concern that Orion may be planning to move remaining work to its facility in Oriskany, New York and pledged that the union will be watching the situation closely.
CAW Local 2011 represents nearly 200 active workers at Orion and another 200 on layoff.

Rally Against Austerity Budget Descends on Queen's Park

More than 15,000 people assembled at Queen's Park on April 21 to protest the proposed Ontario Liberal austerity budget.
The demonstration and march, organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour, saw the convergence of more than 90 community groups, student organizations and trade unions under the banner of "We are Ontario."   Nearly 100 buses brought people to the Ontario legislature, some travelling from as far away as Sudbury and Timmins.
Speaker after speaker warned of the impact the budgetary cuts would have on the poor, on Ontario's schools, and Ontario families more generally.
"Legislated wage freezes do not save the government money and have no place in Ontario," said NDP leader Andrea Horwath. "You cannot have collective bargaining unless you sit at the table and actually bargain."
OFL President Sid Ryan said it is "shameful" that the burden of paying down Ontario's deficit will be shouldered by ordinary citizens - many of them getting by on mid-to-low incomes or social assistance. He warned that Premier Dalton McGuinty was losing the support of Ontario workers, many of whom had voted for him and his party in the last election.
CAW President Ken Lewenza railed against cuts to social assistance which would have seen rates frozen for thousands of assistance recipients.  On April 23, in a deal reached by the Ontario Liberals and NDP to win support for the budget, social assistance rates were raised by 1 per cent per year, along with a few other changes such as an additional tax on the wealthiest in the province.
For more information on the We Are Ontario campaign, please visit: http://www.ofl.ca/

Hundreds Demonstrate in Support of Navistar Workers 

More than 300 workers, family members and supporters took part in a noisy demonstration at the National Truck Show in Mississauga, Ontario on April 21, calling on Navistar to bargain a decent closure agreement for its Chatham workforce.
The demonstration was held outside the entrance to The International Centre, where Navistar was sponsoring Truck World, Canada's National Truck Show.
At one point in the demonstration hundreds of participants crowded into the foyer of the centre blocking the entrance to the show and calling on Navistar to bargain a fair agreement for its Chatham workforce.
CAW President Ken Lewenza blasted the company for failing to treat members of CAW Local 127 and Local 35 with respect and dignity after officially announcing the closure of the Chatham truck plant in July 2011. Production ceased in 2009, forcing hundreds out of work.
Outstanding issues in the Navistar dispute revolve around pensions, severance pay and other matters. Demonstrators were reminded of how important Navistar was to the Chatham community - including the fact that at one point the facility had more than 2000 workers.
"These jobs were vital to the community. I am dismayed that although Navistar is still able to sell its trucks in Canada, the company is under no obligation to maintain jobs here in Canada," states a leaflet signed by hundreds outside the truck show.
"This is particularly deplorable considering Navistar received tens of millions of dollars in public monies to put towards re-tooling its facility. The workers must now move on with their lives, but in the meantime, they have the right to be treated fairly."
CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie said Navistar took tens of millions in government support, but failed to keep production and good jobs in Canada.
Other guest speakers included Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Hutchinson and CAW Local 127 President Rick Reaume.

CAW Calls on Government to Reform Bankruptcy Legislation

Since Nortel entered bankruptcy protection in January 2009, its pension plans have been devastated; incomes for disabled and terminated employees have been lost, and the health benefits paid for with years of service have vanished.  In the meantime, "vulture" investors have been arguing that not only are they entitled to enormous profits on their investment, but interest amounting to almost a billion dollars.
The CAW is calling on the federal government to review and amend the legislation that allows one creditor group to reap an enormous reward on a speculative investment while those who worked to build the company are treated as second class creditors. 
"Amendments to the bankruptcy laws must ensure that all Nortel's creditors are treated equally and equitably," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "Our bankruptcy laws fall far short and there is not a greater example of this injustice than that of Nortel."
Three years after first entering bankruptcy protection, almost all of Nortel's assets have been sold to international bidders and the proceeds, almost $7 billion, are sitting in a trust account awaiting some sort of plan to distribute them to the company's global creditors.  The claims of those creditors are far greater than the amount available to pay them.
The bulk of Nortel's creditors are pensioners and former employees in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.  Pensioners in Canada have seen their pensions reduced by up to 50 per cent and others will suffer a similar fate, given the massively underfunded status of Nortel's pension plans. 
Financial speculators dealing in Nortel bonds, many of which were purchased for as little as 12 cents on the dollar after January 2009, are seeking not only the full value of those bonds, but interest as well. 
April 23, Ontario's Chief Justice Warren Winkler began a court ordered mediation which could overcome the impasse that has kept billions of dollars locked away in a New York bank.  However, unless the government acts now, the bond holders will persist with their demands for outrageous profits and the likelihood of success in the mediation will be dramatically reduced. 

CAW Brings Severance Fight to Bay Street

CAW activists demonstrate in downtown Toronto at 77 King St, outside the Royal Trust Tower, urging severance pay for Snowbear workers. CAW Local 112 President Rolly Kiehne mc'd the event, which was the 2nd downtown Toronto rally in support of these workers.

CAW activists demonstrated in the heart of Canada's financial district and outside the offices of private equity firm Catalyst Capital on Monday April 23, protesting the company's refusal to provide severance pay to workers laid off from a plant closure in Guelph.
CAW Local 1917 members at Snowbear, the largest Canadian manufacturer of utility trailers and snowplows, have been left without hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance pay since their facility was idled in the fall of 2011.
The workers, along with over 150 CAW supporters, marched from the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto to the front doors of the Royal Trust Tower, head office of private equity firm (and secured lender to Snowbear) Catalyst Capital, demanding a meeting with the firm's top executive Newton Glassman. The Tower entrance was locked down by security personnel and patrolled by police.
"We've been reaching out to Catalyst Capital for months to discuss this issue of severance pay, without any response," CAW President Ken Lewenza told the crowd that was waving placards and holding a banner asking: "Where's Our Fair Share?"
Catalyst is trying to sell the assets of the company to recoup lost investments, said Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President. Dias said the CAW has not been provided any assurances that 36 laid-off workers at Snowbear will receive the approximately $500,000 in severance pay they are still owed.
"Current rules in Canada put workers at the end of the line when it comes to recouping lost severance pay," Dias said. "For many of these workers, severance pay is what puts food on the table and pays the rent as they look for new work."
CAW Local 1917 President Robin Dudley said a few thousand dollars doesn't mean much to rich executives like Newton Glassman but it means a heck of a lot for the rest of us.
Gary DeLong, CAW Plant Chairperson at Snowbear and Bill Gibson, CAW Kitchener Area Director also addressed the crowd.
Snowbear joins a long list of Ontario workplaces that have denied workers severance pay in the wake of a plant closure, including Aradco/Aramco in Windsor, Progressive Moulded Products in Toronto, Polywheels Manufacturing in Oakville and Edscha in Niagara Falls, among others.
To hear independent social justice reporter John Bonnar's podcast of the Snowbear rally, visit: http://www.rabble.ca/

Re-think Canada's Auto Industry Meetings in Full Swing

 As part of its Re-think Canada's Auto Industry campaign, the CAW launched a series of 8 community town hall meetings that have so far travelled through the Ontario cities of Windsor (pictured above), St. Catharines, Oshawa, Brampton, Ingersoll and Oakville, from April 17 through April 25. The community town hall meetings have been used, in part, to articulate the CAW's 10-point package of policy proposals to revitalize and strengthen the auto sector.
The meetings have also provided an opportunity for the union's community partners (including social service agencies, food banks, women's shelters, and others) to highlight the importance of creating and sustaining good jobs as a means to building stronger communities. Upcoming town halls will be taking place in Kitchener (April 30) and London (May 1). The CAW is also planning a town hall meeting in Alliston, home to Ontario's Honda manufacturing facilities.


CLC's Hassan Yussuff Elected President of TUCA

CLC Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff, middle and CLC President Ken Georgetti at TUCA convention





Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff has been elected to a four-year term as president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas. Yussuff was elected on April 20 at a TUCA convention occurring in Brazil.
"I am pleased to be elected president, especially with the many problems facing our movement in this hemisphere," says Yussuff. "We live in a world where transnational corporations have a global reach and this poses special challenges for the labour movement. In this difficult context, we also have to work aggressively at a global level to promote union membership, to push for government policies that create employment, and to protect our labour and human rights."

Yussuff is the former CAW Human Rights Director and has been a CLC officer since 1999.
TUCA represents more than 50 million workers belonging to 50 active trade union affiliates in 29 countries, including Canada, the U.S., Brazil and nations in Latin America. TUCA belongs, in turn, to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), with headquarters in Brussels.
TUCA has offices and permanent staff in Brazil and Costa Rica. Yussuff will perform his duties from the CLC's Ottawa office and will continue in his role as CLC Secretary-Treasurer.

CAW Easter Bunny Drive for Children in Calgary Hospital


CAW Local 4050 executive members Jim Connelly and Dawn Munro donated more than 215 Easter bunnies to the Alberta Children's hospital in Calgary, Alberta.
This was enough for every child staying in the hospital who received a bunny to help bring a smile to their face during the recent Easter weekend.
This initiative was started by Dawn Munro and Valerie Saliba, two members of the  women's committee, who canvassed the local for donations and support.  Members from DHL Calgary came out in full force and managed to bring in more than 60 bunnies from a workforce of 30.  A further cash donation was made from the members of Pincher Creek Co-op in Southern Alberta.
After the success of this years drive, the women's committee will be making this an annual event with next year's goal to reach all children's hospitals across the province.  CAW Local 4050 is an amalgamated local with 12 employers and 1300 members in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Lobster Fishermen Set Up Co-op in Newfoundland and Labrador

Following meetings in Marystown, Harbour Breton and Stephenville, more than 300 lobster fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador have decided to set up a co-op to buy their lobster.
FFAW/CAW lobster harvester members voted to form their own company following the meetings on April 22. The company will be based on co-operative principles and will begin buying lobster at prices set by the province's Fish Price Setting Panel.
"This comes as a result of the companies, represented by the Seafood Producers of Newfoundland and Labrador, refusing to buy lobsters this season," the FFAW said.
"We have to have more of that fishery returned to the primary producer," said FFAW President Earle McCurdy. "There's no real processing content there. Essentially people buy it and flip it.so the idea is to cut down on cost and get as much of the return as we can to the primary producer," McCurdy told CBC News.

CAW Long Term Care Bargaining Leadership Meeting

National President Ken Lewenza addresses a gathering of 100 workplace leaders at CAW-represented long term care facilities throughout Ontario during a bargaining leadership meeting and strategy session in Toronto at the Sheraton Centre on April 23.
The CAW is gearing up for a string of important, and challenging, provincial bargaining negotiations in the long-term care sector, covering workers in large, privately owned nursing home chains (like Extendicare and Revera) as well as a series of independent homes. Lewenza said the recent Ontario austerity budget includes demands for wage freezes on health care workers (and others in the public sector), which creates a difficult bargaining climate, even for workers at profitable nursing homes. CAW Director of Health Care, Katha Fortier and Assistant to the President Deb Tveit organized the meeting which ran from April 23-24.

CAW Retiree Cashes-In On Group Insurance Contest

CAW Local 200 Retiree Ernest Pinsonneault took home $1,000 for winning the CAW Group Home and Auto Insurance program "Refer a Friend" contest. Pinsonneault was presented with his cheque at the CAW Local 444/200 hall in Windsor, Ontario on February 24. Shown in the photo (from L-R) is Kevin Kiely (Breckles Insurance), Dan Cassady (CAW Local 200 Financial Secretary), Ernest Pinsonneault, Marilyn Pinsonneault, and Marc Renaud (CAW Local 200 Vice President). For more information about the CAW Group Insurance Program and to participate in the next Refer a Friend contest, visit www.insuranceandwin.com/caw
(Photo by Mike Lovric, CAW Local 444)


Ford earnings down 45%
in Q1; Sales up 9%

By Jaclyn Trop
April 27, 2012
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. reported a 45 percent decline in first quarter earnings Friday, narrowly beating analyst expectations.

Profits fell to $1.4 billion on revenues of $32.4 billion, from $2.6 billion the same quarter last year.

About half the decrease was due to a higher tax rate, with the remainder due to factors such as softening global markets and comparisons with a strong first quarter last year, the automaker's best since 1998.

The company also announced Friday it is offering lump sum pension buyouts for retirees, the first program of its kind, according to spokeswoman Marcie Evans.

Ford's $74 billion pension liability was $15.4 billion under funded at the end of last year.

It's not clear how much money the buyouts will save the company, Evans said.

"It depends on how many opt in," she said.

But the company's operations are strengthening.

Ford's sales grew nearly 9 percent to 539,624 vehicles in the first quarter compared with the same period last year even as it cut incentives by an average of 4.2 percent, or $120, per vehicle, according to Edmunds.

Ford's performance was bolstered by sales of its fuel-efficient vehicle lineup and profitable trucks. The automaker has also found a sweet spot with small cars, such as its Focus and Fiesta models, as drivers shoulder higher gas prices.

Ford is on an upswing, reaching a milestone Tuesday when a major ratings house upgraded its debt to investment grade. It will receive the assets it mortgaged for a $26.5 billion loan in 2006 - including the blue Oval, glass house and plants - when a second ratings agency awards the company investment-grade status.

The automaker reported gains of $20.2 billion last year for its third consecutive annual profit. Last year's results were boosted by a one-time accounting gain of $12.4 billion after moving deferred tax assets back onto the company's books.

Now that the company is making more money, it will be taxed an about 35 percent instead of the roughly 8 percent it paid last year.

Analysts expected on average Ford to report .36 cents per share on $31.49 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Financial Network.

But a weak European market and a slowdown in the China market continue to concern Ford and analysts. Ford has invested $4.9 billion in China to double passenger car production capacity and catch up to its larger rivals.

"Compared to sluggish earnings in Ford's beleaguered Europe and Asia-Pacific markets - where the company is investing billions of dollars - North America was the bright spot in the first quarter," said Edmunds analyst Michelle Krebs.

Ford is making strides in fuel efficiency, announcing Friday that the new Ford Escape, a small SUV, has been certified at 33 miles per gallon, 5 miles per gallon better than the outgoing model.

"The fuel economy of the all-new Escape showcases the continued success of Ford's development of smaller, yet more powerful engines," said Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford Global Product Development. "Ford understands people want fuel-efficient vehicles without sacrificing power and space requirements."

Chrysler Group LLC's first quarter profits quadrupled to $473 million, the company reported on Thursday.


Lush Lincoln MKS muscles up

Lincoln Chief Designer Max Wolff, right, and Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of global product development, reveal the 2013 Lincoln MKS at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Nov. 17, 2011. (Lincoln)

Doug Guthrie Detroit News
April 26, 2012

I expected the leather and wood interior, the spacious, quiet cabin and smooth ride. I didn't expect an athletic performer beneath the subtly elegant exterior of Lincoln's latest full-sized luxury sedan, the 2013 MKS.

In "D," the big car drives boulevard-smooth like your grandfather's Lincoln, but shift into "S," and the 2013 MKS powers away from four decades of being sold as nothing more than a stodgy and expensive Ford.

Lincoln Drive Control, new and standard on all 2013 MKS models, instantly sport-tunes electronically controlled dampers, steering, throttle, brake and transmission responses. The computerized traction control system anticipates and preemptively acts to improve handling, smooth bumps, and counter understeer and oversteer.

That system enabled the 4,000-pound car to dance in some rapid test driving on the undulating "hill course" at Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Proving Grounds.

Add the optional 365 horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V-6, and the new MKS becomes more powerful than the comparably priced Audi A6 with a 310 horsepower supercharged V-6, and the Mercedes-Benz E350 with a 302 horsepower V-6.

On comparison drives over what was obviously favorable home turf at Ford's facility in Romeo, the new MKS easily outperformed the 2012 MKS. And, it matched, if not bettered, the Mercedes.

All of this, says Ford, while getting an EPA estimated 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with the standard 304 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6, or 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with the smaller but more powerful EcoBoost engine.

Base price of a 2013 MKS with front-wheel drive is $42,810. The all-wheel drive version is $44,805. An all-wheel drive model with the EcoBoost engine starts at $49,800.

The heavily optioned all-wheel-drive MKS — with a price tag of $58,265 — I took for a drive to Grand Rapids is the kind of car that can spoil you, but in a mix of city and highway driving, I got only 23 mpg. Maybe that's because it would have driven my pappy to drink'in if he'd know how I was driving that hot-rod Lincoln.

The lyrics I just mangled were written and first recorded in 1955 by the late Charlie Ryan about his hot rod — a 1948 Lincoln with a V-12 engine and a 1930 Model A Ford body. I was told new brand-specific engines are on the horizon for Lincoln, but I doubt that means the return of a passenger car V-8. Not with the EcoBoost V-6 producing 180 percent more power than Ryan's 130 horsepower flathead V-12.

The MKS exterior isn't dramatic. And it isn't muscular like the angular Ford Taurus, whose architecture lies hidden beneath the MKS' smooth sculptural shape. Understated is what comes to mind. It was only subtly refined from last year. The hood and front fenders are new. Gone is the coarse crate-like "waterfall" grille. It is replaced by a delicate chrome face patterned after the wings of a bird, tipped by the sculpted coverings of new HID projector headlamps. Making the MKS look less like a Mercury was a good idea.

Touch-screen console

Inside is the obligatory big, center console, color, touch-screen. It displays GPS navigation, backup camera, dual zone interior environmental settings, CD, AM/FM, and satellite radio. Coordination of personal portable audio devices and hands-free cell phone connectivity can be handled with Ford's recently simplified Sync or MyLincoln Touch system. I was irritated by the touch-sensitive bar on the center console used to control audio volume. It is annoyingly imprecise.

The 12-way electronically adjustable front seats are heated and air conditioned. The interior is spacious but the MKS has surprisingly narrow foot wells up front, where the cabin has been expanded so far that the wheel wells intrude. The trunk opening was redesigned for better access. There is enough room to accommodate luggage for multiple travelers.

Flexible cruise control

The MKS I drove had optional adaptive cruise control. It allows the driver to set a speed and relax because the car will apply the brakes to slow to the speed of a slower car in the lane ahead. It maintains your choice of a pre-set following distance. Shift into the passing lane and the car automatically accelerates to the previous top speed.

The sensor system issues warnings when something is riding in your blind spots. Using data from the car's forward-looking camera the system not only warns when the vehicle wanders from a lane, it actually uses the electric power steering to nudge the car back across the center or side stripe.

The six-speed transmission shifts smoothly on its own and remains crisp when the driver takes over in sport mode for some higher rpm performance. I was disappointed with the flimsy plastic shifter paddles mounted on the steering wheel. How about higher quality metal units like in other performance and premium vehicles?

New artificial materials used inside alongside the rich leathers and wood veneers are soft to the touch and stitched. The Bose 14-speaker THX-II certified sound system not only plays music - it also helps quiet the cabin by broadcasting a low frequency noise-canceling tone. And, under acceleration, the audio system ads a bass growl to the V-6 dual exhaust note.

But will all of this ever be enough to convince luxury car buyers that Lincoln has equaled its revered competition?

The improvements offered this year, on the verge of a total model redesign by the first independently assigned Lincoln design and engineering staff in decades, represent at least another step toward restoration of the historic marque and its reputation for building a full-sized American luxury sedan with unique appeal.

2013 Lincoln MKS

Type: Full-sized, five-passenger luxury sedan. Front-wheel drive standard, all-wheel-drive optional.
Engines: Standard 3.7-liter V-6 with 304 horsepower, 279 pound-feet of torque. Optional 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost (turbocharged) with 365 horsepower, 350 pound-feet of torque
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual paddle-shifter override.
EPA gas mileage : Standard engine, 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway. Optional engine, 17 mpg city / 25 mpg highway

Report Card

Overall: HHH
Exterior: Understated elegance. Lincoln’s new independent design staff moves the car farther from its Ford Taurus roots.
Interior: Spacious. Leather, wood and chrome with all the latest infotainment, navigation, comfort and safety offerings.
Performance: Electronically adjustable suspension gives the big car ability to be your choice: Boulevard smooth or sure-footed.
Pros: Luxury was a given, but it comes with a surprising boost in performance.
Cons : The image; it’s still a Lincoln trying not to be just an expensive Ford.
HHHH Excellent HHH Good
HH Fair H Poor


Fitch upgrades Ford to investment grade for first time since 2005

April 25, 2012
Detroit News

The Fitch Ratings agency on Tuesday restored its credits ratings for Ford Motor Co. and the Ford Motor Credit unit to investment grade.

Both were given a rating of BBB- from Fitch, up from a BB+ rating. The Dearborn automaker had previously had its debt at junk status since 2005.

When Ford gets two of the three major ratings agencies back to investment grade, it gets the blue oval back. The company mortgaged most of its assets, including its trademark, to borrow $23.5 billion and avoid bankruptcy.

"The upgrade of Ford's ratings reflects the automaker's significantly improved financial performance, balance sheet repair and product portfolio improvement that have taken place over the past several years," according to a released statement from Fitch.

"Since the last recession, Ford's management has been heavily focused on increasing profitability, growing liquidity, lowering debt and reducing the company's pension obligations.

Ford lost its investment grade status in 2005 as it was losing billions of dollars when the SUV and truck boom went bust. Its $23.5 billion loan allowed Ford to revamp its cars and trucks and avoid bankruptcy protection. Crosstown rivals General Motors and Chrysler didn't have enough cash to make it through the 2009 economic downturn and were forced into government-funded bankruptcies.

Bob Shanks, Ford's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a release Tuesday that Ford was pleased with the ratings decision by Fitch.

"It is an important proof point of the continued progress the Ford team is making with our One Ford plan," Shanks said. "Moving forward, we will continue to focus on driving profitable growth for all of our stakeholders. In fact, our One Ford plan includes achieving strong investment grade ratings and maintaining investment grade throughout an economic cycle."

Added Ford spokesman Jay Cooney: "Obviously, this is an important milestone for the company."

Ford began its turnaround in 2006 when Bill Ford Jr. fired himself as CEO and hired Alan Mulally from aviation giant Boeing Co. The company used the borrowing, which Mulally calls a "giant home improvement loan," to restructure. It closed plants, shed brands and cut its global workforce by one-third. Ford has now reported billions in profits for three straight years. It resumed paying a dividend last month for the first time since September 2006.

Last year, the company reported net income of $20.2 billion, or $4.94 per share, but much of that came from an accounting change in the fourth quarter.


CAW Auto Policy Meeting - CAW 1285 Hall - April 23, 2012

Photos by Ken Donaldson


That certain Flex appeal

2013 Ford Flex Michael Bettencourt for The Globe and Mail

Globe & Mail
April 24, 2012

After living with two nearly identical Dodge minivans for a few years, our neighbour was ready for a change. So when I saw him filling up a Flex at the local station, I bee-lined over to get his thoughts, having just driven a similar but updated 2013 Flex that Ford has just tweaked and prodded for the latest (early) model year.

He liked his 2012 Flex's better handling in corners, the easy foldability of its rear seats, and some of the newer features it offered as standard: back-up sensors, the (now Ford-wide) cap-less fuel filler nozzle and its passenger climate controls.

But he missed his van's roominess: in the cargo area (especially with all three rows up), in the driver's seat, and in the second row. He didn't have the MyFord Touch system, so there were plenty of real, tactile buttons on its centre console, and therefore none of the complaints that Consumer Reports had about the flashy but occasionally buggy touch screen system.

Because the Oakville, Ont.-built Flex replaced Ford's only minivan back when it was launched in 2009, its reception amongst current minivan owners is key. The Flex represents Ford's gamble that people have tired of minivans, and are ready to trade a touch of practicality in exchange for an extra dose of style, power and high-tech comfort.

With the conventional Explorer SUV seven-seater selling so well, Ford in the United States seems ready to relegate the Flex to niche family-hauler status. Group U.S. marketing manager Amy Marentic confirmed that the Flex will carry forward with a small U.S. ad budget, with much of that going toward social media. This is not good news for the workers at the Oakville plant, especially as the Flex's more upscale Lincoln MKT sibling is not exactly burning through dealer calculators either.

Inside, the 2013 Flex gets an upgraded MyFord Touch system that actually responds reliably when you touch its iPad-like screen, or the flat touch-capacitive buttons on the centre console. The touch screen now works with big bulky gloves, and the system's vocabulary of voice commands is now more than 10,000. This means that you can handily control the navigation system by voice, though the buttons were easier to use for the climate and stereo controls, even if they did take your eyes off the road.

This MyFord Touch system is now standard on all but base Flex SE models, part of a significant jump up from the SE's $30,499 starting price to the next up SEL's $37,099. The top-line Limited with all-wheel-drive similar to the one I drove starts at $44,399, not counting the $1,500 freight charge on all Ford models – no matter how close one lives to the factory.

The Flex's interior pampers you with safety technology as well as high-tech gear. Industry-unique inflatable rear seatbelts are available, which help spread out pressures across the entire belt in case of a collision, a boon to more fragile child or elderly torsos.

Optional safety features include a radar-based cruise control system that can adjust your speed based on that of the vehicle in front of you, a reverse camera system and a blind-spot information system with (importantly) cross-traffic alert.

Cargo room is surprisingly tight with all six seats up, but expands to nice and flat romper room with the third row folded away. The cargo area features handy buttons in the Limited that can power both the third- and second-row seats up and down, which is handy for shorter folks. But there's no sliding rear door that makes mall parking lots a ding-free affair, nor do the second-row seats fold away nicely into a recessed bin in the floor, as on Dodge's Stow-'N-Go-equipped minivans.

The tweaked base 3.5-litre V-6 now puts out 20 more horses to 285 hp, with a slight increase in fuel economy as well, although it's still right about in line with the majority of similarly sized V-6s in this relatively thirsty class. The 355-hp EcoBoost engine is unchanged, still providing V8-like power, but at a notable increase in fuel consumption, at an overall average of about 13.1 litres/100 km, compared to an 11.8 overall average on the U.S. government's more realistic five-cycle ratings.

Overall, the Flex is certainly one of the safest and most sophisticated family haulers on the market, with fine handling for such a large vehicle, with advanced technology and high-quality materials throughout that justifies its entry-luxury pricing. Yes, a family who want to maximize their vehicle-per-dollar ratio can receive more space for less moolah in a minivan. But not with the overall sophistication offered in a Flex.

Tech specs

2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD

Type: Full-size, seven-seat crossover

Base price: $30,499; as tested, $45,999

Engine: 3.5-litre V-6

Horsepower/torque: 285 hp/255 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel (front-wheel-drive standard)

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.7 city/8.7 highway; regular gas

Alternatives: Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Dodge Grand Caravan, GMC Acadia, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander

Globe rating for the 2013 Ford FlexOur ratings guide

8.5 Ride
Comfortable ride and among the best handlers among similarly large SUVs and crossovers, and much better handling than most minivans.

8 Looks
Against fairly generic rivals, the Flex still stands out, but its boxy body has been smoothed out somewhat.

8 Interior
Not as spacious as your standard minivan, but the high-tech MyFord Touch's iPad-like touch screen is visually impressive, and ergonomically much improved.

8 Safety
Offers top-rated crash protection, unique inflatable rear seat belts, blind-spot monitoring, radar cruise control and various other safety features, though many are optional, sadly.

6 Green
No hybrid or plug-in option, base engine about same as thirsty rivals, up-level EcoBoost turbo engine heavy on the Boost, worse on the Eco.

8 Overall
(out of 10 / Not an average)


Ford unveils the EM-mobile

Josh Noble
April 23, 2012

OK, it isn't exactly called an EM-mobile, but the new Ford Ecosport, on show at the opening day of the Beijing auto show, is just that.

Ford EcosportDeveloped in South America by Ford's design team, the small SUV is an update from the Brazilian Ecosport original, which has been in production since 2003. This model, however, is going global.

First shown as a concept car at the Delhi auto show earlier this year, the Ecosport will be made in four places – Brazil, India, Thailand, and China.

Ford is billing the car as an "aspirational sports utility vehicle alternative to a small car". But the aim is clear: to build something for emerging market middle class families to upgrade to. The target audience lives in "youthful markets" currently experiencing "tremendous growth".

Ford Ecosport

There is, as yet, no release date for the new Ecosport, nor is there any indication on pricing.

But we do know some of the features, and one of them in particular is pretty neat. SYNC – a voice command interface developed with Microsoft – will be included in the new model. This allows the driver to change music, and send and receive text messages without taking a hand off the wheel. That will be welcome to many emerging market drivers, some of whom have a habit of not concentrating on the road.

What's more, SYNC will come in 19 different languages. In China, it'll be able to understand 13 regional accents – including Sichuanese and Beijing dialect.

Ford plans to release the car in over 100 markets, which means it will find its way onto the forecourts of many western countries. And the company is being careful to avoid calling it an emerging market vehicle.

But their own description of the target market, and the promotional snaps of it in bamboo forests and sweeping tropical beaches tell us enough. This is a car designed with the backroads of Delhi and the highways of Hubei in mind.


Ford rolls out three SUVs for Chinese market at Beijing auto show

Ford Motor Co. launched three sport utility vehicles for the Chinese market at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. (Ford Motor Co.)

By Jaclyn Trop
The Detroit News
April 22, 2012

Ford Motor Co. launched Sunday three sport utility vehicles for the Chinese market at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

The automaker announced plans to sell its Explorer, EcoSport mini SUV and Kuga (known as the Escape in North America) in China starting later this year as part of its plan to corner the SUV market and gain a foothold in the world's biggest auto market.

Ford is focusing on SUVs in the emerging Chinese market because the automaker already has a reputation for sturdy and stylish vehicles in other parts of the world, said spokesman Mark Schirmer.

The emphasis on larger vehicles is part of Ford's plan to launch 15 new vehicles and 20 powertrains in China by 2015.

The automaker announced Thursday it will double passenger car production capacity in China to 1.2 million units annually with a $760 million investment in a new plant in coastal Hangzhou.

This latest venture follows Ford's $600 million investment in its Chongqing facilities, where the new Ford Focus and the Kuga will be built on the automaker's global C-segment platform.

The Kuga comes with a 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and Ford's six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission that lets drivers shift between automatic and manual controls.

"We're able to bring this popular compact SUV to China — and to assemble it here — because of the One Ford strategy, which allows for resources and expertise to be shared across regions," said Dave Schoch, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor China.

Ford is promoting its EcoSport mini SUV as a reliable alternative for city driving with more trunk space than a compact or sedan. The EcoSport will feature Ford's new 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine and will be built in China.

"The all-new EcoSport is designed and engineered specifically for customers in global growth markets using Ford's global SUV engineering expertise and reflecting our commitments for quality, leading fuel economy, safety and smart technology," said Raj Nair, group vice president, Global Product Development, in a statement. "We're delivering innovative products like this to drive our global growth."

The 3.5-liter V6 Explorer will be imported from the United States but will change the Chinese market's perspective on what an SUV can do, according to Schoch.

"The Ford Explorer simply does everything well," said Schoch. "Certain to change market perceptions about SUV style, fuel efficiency, technology and user-friendliness, the Explorer will give today's SUV buyers the attributes they really want and value."


CAW Local 584

April 20, 2012


Dave Champagne       Accept

Alison White             Accept

Vice President

Ken Donaldson     Acclaimed

Carolyn Willson      Decline

Pat Riley            Decline

Financial Secretary

Arvin Gangwar       Acclaimed

Recording Secretary

Christine Parise          Accept

Michelle Hilts             Accept


Pam Lyon             Accept

Jim Williams         Accept

Terri Fletcher         Decline

Jamie Barclay        Decline

Sergeant at Arms

Bryan Levasseur         Accept

Terri Fletcher               Decline

John Honcharsky         Accept

Sandy Brook                Decline

Trustee (3)

Chris Brookbanks      Accept            

Brad Mayberry     Accept

Sandy Brook      Accept 

Chris Moody        Decline

Terri Fletcher         Accept 
Kim Timmins      Decline

Lisa Girgenti          Decline
Arlene Rudolph     Accept

Bryan Levasseur        Decline


Gary Rumboldt          Acclaimed

Carolyn Willson         Decline

Committeeperson – Shift 2

Dan Armstrong           Accept

Barb Morrison             Accept

Committeeperson – Shift 3

John McCloskey          Accept

Tony Gilmour              Accept

Alternate Committeeperson – Shift 2

Vito Bellomo           Accept

Michelle Harwood    Accept

Kim Timmins           Decline

Alternate Committeeperson – Shift 3

Nasir Naghar         Accept

Bryan Levasseur     Decline

Greg Barnard          Accept

Health and Safety Rep

Thayne Smith           Accept

Francois Bilodeau      Accept

Alternate Health and Safety Rep

Steve Burns           Accept

Kim Timmins         Accept

Benefit Rep

Michelle Harvey       Accept

Monica Pelyea          Accept

Sandy Knight            Accept

Alternate Benefit Rep

Sandy Pitman            Accept

Claudio Parise           Accept

Lisa Girgenti               Decline

Sharon Crossley          Decline

Education Chairperson

Mark Machado          Acclaimed

Kim Timmins                 Decline

Social Services Chairperson

Pat Riley                  Decline

Sharon Crossley      Accept

Social Services Chairperson

Penny McCabe          Decline

Brandy Lafortune      Decline

Recreation Chairperson

Sandy Pitman          Acclaimed

Tammy Dempsey     Decline

Human Rights Chairperson

Lisa Girgenti          Acclaimed

Women's Committee Chairperson

Enid Gates              Decline

Brandy Lafortune   Accept

Tammy Dempsey     Accept

Pride Committee Chairperson

Terri Fletcher            Acclaimed

Women's Advocate

Arlene Rudolph          Decline

Melony Luffman        Decline

Women’s Advocate

Pat Riley          Acclaimed


Glen Swatman     Acclaimed

Alternate EFAP

Bryan Levasseur          Decline

Nasir Naghar              Acclaimed

By-Laws Committee (2)

Mariola Lombardi     Accept  
Greg Barnard        Decline

Gerald Andrukonis    Accept  
Brad Mayberry     Decline

Rick Stoner          Decline 
Jason Karaim       Accept

CAW Council Delegate (2)

Alison White       Accept   
Dave Champagne     Accept

Gary Rumboldt   Accept 
Carolyn Willson       Decline

Barb Morrison    Decline

CAW Convention Delegate (2)

Gary Rumboldt    Accept

Dave Champagne    Accept

Alison White       Accept
Carolyn Willson      Decline

Barb Morrison     Decline

Labour Council Delegate (3)

John McCloskey     Acclaimed

Penny McCabe        Acclaimed

Christine Parise       Acclaimed

*For PDF Click Here


CAW Contact
Vol 42, No 15
April 20, 2012

CAW Council April 13-15, 2012 Port Elgin, ON

A New Vision for Canada's Auto Industry

The CAW is calling on the federal and Ontario governments to launch a National Auto Policy to ensure the Canadian auto industry and the jobs in communities across the country supported by this key value-added industry flourish and grow.
CAW President Ken Lewenza announced the new auto policy at a press conference in Toronto on April 16.
The 50-page report called "Re-thinking Canada's Auto Industry" outlines a new vision for the industry based on a ten point policy program, which includes changes to automotive trade policy, establishing a fair value Canadian dollar, and negotiating Canadian manufacturing footprint commitments, among others.
Lewenza said Canada's auto industry is at a critical juncture for a number of reasons and that it's vitally important for all Canadians that the country adopt a National Auto Policy to help ensure more investment and more good jobs in local communities.
"If both governments step back from their responsibilities, for their own reasons, it will make things much worse," Lewenza said. "We need good jobs now and into the future, to support our families, to strengthen our communities, and to pay taxes."
CAW Economist Jim Stanford outlined details of the policy paper, stressing that Canada is one of the only auto-producing jurisdictions in the world that doesn't have a formal National Auto Policy.
While Canadian communities and workers have suffered through five auto assembly plant closures since 2001 other auto producing countries have not been impacted nearly as hard, he said.
"Germany has not closed an assembly plant since World War II," Stanford said. "So the idea that you have to accept this wholesale destruction of an industry simply isn't true."
The CAW will outline details of the policy at community forums in eight cities in Ontario over the next three weeks.
CAW Council unanimously voted to support the campaign.
To find out more about the CAW's new auto policy, please visit http://www.rethinktheeconomy.ca/.
You can sign the Good Jobs Pledge addressed to governments and auto companies.

 Galvanizing the Labour Movement

CAW and CEP leadership attended CAW Council together in Port Elgin, Ontario.  Pictured are CAW National Secretary Treasurer Peter Kennedy, CEP National Secretary Treasurer Gaetan Menard, CAW National President Ken Lewenza and CEP National President Dave Coles.

More than 600 CAW Council delegates unanimously endorsed a recommendation expressing support for continued discussions aimed at moving the CAW/CEP New Union Project forward.
Delegates went to the microphones April 13 stressing the importance of promoting the New Union Project, which if approved will bring together more than 300,000 CAW and CEP members into a new, broad based and vibrant union.
Former CAW President Buzz Hargrove said the new union would not only inspire change across the Canadian labour movement it could also, through its example, reinvigorate the American labour movement.
"This is one of the most exciting opportunities for our two unions and the broader labour movement," Hargrove said. He stressed the importance of labour and the progressive movement not accepting the status quo.
CEP Secretary-Treasurer Gaetan Menard, who attended CAW Council along with other CEP leadership, said it's an exciting project, aimed at building a new union with strong connections into all the communities where it represents members.
This new union will not only work hard to defend it's members interests, but also fight corporate greed and the right wing governments that constantly challenge workers rights, Menard said.
"We are in the process of developing the machine that will defeat Harper," Menard said to a huge round of applause.
CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates said he strongly supports the new union project that will lead to the creation of a stronger and new Canadian union.
He and other delegates congratulated the leadership of CEP and CAW for their courage and vision in pushing ahead with the project, which will be critical to building a more progressive Canada in the years ahead.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the discussions between CEP and CAW and all the work being done by the New Union Process Committee amount to an important opportunity to define a brighter future for workers, their families and countless Canadian communities.
He said the new union will represent 300,000 members from its onset with members in all regions of the country and all sectors of the economy. Lewenza said it's not about CAW or CEP alone, but is really about creating greater union density and creating a more vibrant movement.
CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy provided a detailed analysis of both the challenges and the opportunities which the New Union Project presents. He also outlined the work of the Proposal Committee, made up of representatives of both unions, which are preparing proposals to be brought forward to the conventions of each union later this year.

 To learn more about the CAW/CEP New Union Project, please visit http://www.newunionproject.ca/

New Union Project Positive Antidote to Capitalism

The New Union Project, could be a powerful response to the increasingly aggressive nature of global capitalism, says CEP National President Dave Coles.
New approaches are needed to ensure that workers are not crushed, said Coles and the creation of a larger, stronger and more militant union should be one of them.   "We must change to ensure responses from workers are not only heard, but are victorious," said Coles, in a fiery address to CAW Council. "Our plan is that all workers will be able to unite under this New Union Project."
Coles spoke of the growing unification and consolidation of labour organizations that is taking place around the globe to create a stronger force for working people. The most recent example is the merger between global union federations - the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (to which the CEP is affiliated) and the International Metalworkers' Federation (to which the CAW is affiliated), which are in the process of uniting under the new name of IndustriALL. The new body will represent 55 million workers.
Coles said that unions should be proud of their storied histories, but these histories should not be a barrier to moving forward with a new model and new reality. Within CEP, there are local unions who have been certified for more than 140 years, the early printing press unions who were among the first in the country to organize. 
"We understand the premise that together we can win, but divided we will lose," said Coles. "It's our game to win, so let's win it."
For more information on the New Union Project, please visit:  http://www.newunionproject.ca/

A United Progressive Movement Can Stop Harper

In a special presentation to CAW Council, Brigette DePape, the 22-year old woman best known as Canada's "rogue page" told delegates that the path to stopping a Stephen Harper government can be found if progressive groups break down barriers and work more closely together.
DePape is known as the rogue page for staging a protest using a 'Stop Harper' sign during the 2011 federal Throne Speech.
"This is such a critical time right now in Canada with the Harper government attacking everything we value," DePape said. "We have to recognize the power we have if we are going to reclaim our vision for the future."
DePape spoke about her upbringing in Winnipeg and how she perceived a "palatial" House of Commons and the federal government as a means to make a difference.
"I thought I'd maybe become a politician one day, starting as a page and working my way through the bureaucracy, until I saw what the federal government actually did," DePape said.
"I saw how the Harper government is disrespecting workers, disrespecting the environment, disrespecting Indigenous people, and I felt compelled to act." DePape acknowledged the work of the CAW in leading the fight for workplace justice as well as for climate justice in Canada. DePape is an active volunteer for the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, a youth-lead environmental organization that the CAW co-founded in 2006, and is helping to organize Power Shift 2012, alongside young CAW members across Canada.
DePape led delegates in rousing chants of "Stop Harper," and expressed her enthusiasm for the CAW/CEP New Union Project as a means to better engage non-union workers and young people in the broader progressive movement.
CAW Council President Tim Carrie named DePape an honourary CAW member.

Continuing the Fight Back after Electro-Motive

CAW Council delegates are calling for major government policy changes in the wake of the closure of the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario. Delegates from the Electro-Motive plant thanked CAW members, locals and community activists for supporting them during the company's lock out of workers and the closure.
Todd Sleeper, who worked 23 years at Electro-Motive, said the picket line support and community support of the workers in London made a huge difference.
"We had great public support," Sleeper said during an emotional address.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the local and the community came together during the Electro-Motive fightback. He urged delegates to continue fighting back against the anti-worker agenda of the corporations and the Harper government.
"The corporations have the government on their side. These guys are working together. We've got a Harper government that wants to turn the clock back by 50 years," Lewenza said.
Delegates unanimously approved a recommendation with demands for four major policy changes to prevent another Electro-Motive closure. These changes are:

. reform the Investment Canada Act to prevent foreign giants from taking over and then shutting down Canadian operations;
. reform Canadian trade policies so that companies like Caterpillar must pay a penalty if they eliminate Canadian jobs;
. reform the tax system, forcing companies like Caterpillar to pay back the tax assistance they received from government, if they eliminate Canadian jobs;
. reform labour laws to give workers more protection at the bargaining table against lockouts and plant closures.
CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie urged delegates to continue the fight against corporate greed by actively supporting the four major policy demands.

Delegates Commit to Challenge Harper's Free Trade Agenda

CAW Council delegates unanimously endorsed a call to step up efforts in coming months to oppose a new generation of free trade deals being negotiated by the Harper government that includes deals with the European Union and Japan.
The Harper government has placed a heavy emphasis on signing trade agreements as a centerpiece of its economic policy and this is cause for concern, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
"Free trade is not about trade," Lewenza said. "Free trade, in the eyes of Stephen Harper, is about allowing multi-national corporations to move global capital from one country to the other, unimpeded by government."
Since coming to office in 2006, the Harper government has signed deals with the European Free Trade Association (that includes Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein), Peru, Jordan, Panama, Honduras and Colombia. There are over a dozen more deals in active negotiation.
Canada's experience with free trade has not been a favourable one, said Angelo DiCaro, CAW national representative who delivered a presentation on the topic to delegates. 
Since the signing of the North America Free Trade Agreement in 1994, Canada has seen a dramatic rise in its manufacturing trade deficit (a $12 billion surplus in 1996 has turned into a $90 billion deficit in 2011), hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs have been eliminated, real wages have stagnated and governments are hamstrung to introduce new, jobs-creating policies for fear of breaching trade rules and reprisal.
CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates urged delegates to participate in a campaign targeting municipal governments, urging them to call for an exemption from the EU-Canada CETA. The proposed CETA includes never before seen language that would empower private corporations to challenge public policy across all levels of government.
"This is a bad news trade deal for cities and for workers and their families," Gates said. "CETA is a first glimpse into a new breed of free trade deals that could radically re-shape Canada."
Gates, also a Niagara Falls, Ontario city councillor helped pass a motion on April 11 requesting a permanent exemption from Niagara Falls from the CETA. CAW members in Mississauga, Ontario and New Westminster, BC have also led efforts to pass similar motions in their communities.
For more information on the CETA campaign, visit: www.caw.ca/ceta

 CAW Recognizes Day of Mourning

Emil Mesic CAW Council Health and Safety Committee Chairperson from Local 707 plays a song that he wrote in honour of the Day of Mourning.  The day was named 28 years ago, but since then the rate of workplace deaths, accidents and illnesses have not dramatically decreased, said CAW Director of Health, Safety and Environment Sari Sairanen.  Each year 1000 workers in Canada die on the job. She called for increased militancy and vigilance on health and safety issues in the workplace.

Ontario Northland Not For Sale

The Ontario Liberal government must live up to the commitment made by Premier Dalton McGuinty to maintain and enhance the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission as a provincial crown agency, CAW Council delegates are demanding.
Delegates approved a recommendation calling on the provincial government to maintain the northern Ontario rail, bus and telecommunication service rather than privatizing or crapping it altogether.
CAW Local 103 represents 450 workers at Ontario Northland.
CAW national representative Brian Stevens urged delegates to actively support the campaign to maintain Ontario Northland by sending a message to Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath outlining that they oppose the sale of Ontario Northland. The NDP's support is particularly crucial under a Liberal minority government.
Delegates were also urged to go to the Ontario Northland Facebook page to send messages of support and to find more information.
On March 23 the Ontario Liberal government announced plans to wind down Ontario Northland as part of cutbacks under its latest budget, despite McGuinty's pledge from years before. 

Send along your comments to NDP leader Andrea Horwath about the budget and the possible sale of ONTC: http://www.ondpcaucus.com/yoursay/
Visit the facebook page: Here

Stop Pipeline Construction and the Export of Natural Resources

Delegate after delegate urged all CAW locals to support the campaign of CEP and other progressive Canadian organizations to stop construction of pipelines to export raw bitumen from western Canada.
In addition they called for the development of a progressive national energy strategy for Canada, based on concepts promoting the use of Canada's natural resources for sustainable economic development.
This national energy strategy would feature policies that maximize Canadian content in mining, processing and refining Canadian resources. Delegates unanimously approved a recommendation on the issue.
CEP President Dave Coles, who was a guest at CAW Council, said a key national energy issue for Canadians is the lack of a pipeline from Alberta to anywhere in Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes. As a result oil and gas must be imported to eastern Canada, he said.
Coles stressed that the export of bitumen from Western Canada has killed tens of thousands of Canadian jobs which would have existed if the bitumen were refined in Canada.
"We need to have access for the majority of the citizens of Canada to the oil and gas of the west," Coles said.
Despite the Harper government's push for a northern pipeline to B.C.'s coast, it will never be built, Coles stressed. He said CEP members don't support the export of raw bitumen to foreign countries and that a strong and growing coalition of First Nations, small business, labour and other progressive groups are determined to stop its construction.
CAW British Columbia Area Director Susan Spratt said if a single ship carrying raw bitumen were to go down along Canada's west coast, it would destroy the fisheries. She stressed that B.C. First Nations, progressive groups and British Columbians in general are totally opposed to the construction of a pipeline to the west coast.
"We need to build refineries in B.C. and Alberta and keep these jobs in Canada," said Spratt.

CAW Economist Jim Stanford blasted the Harper Conservatives for pushing policies that have destroyed hundreds of thousands of good jobs in manufacturing, tourism and other economic sectors.

There is no doubt that Harper's strategy for the Canadian economy is to dig out natural resources like western oil and gas as fast as possible and export it for refinement faster than ever, Stanford said.
But Stanford stressed that the rapid export of natural resources drives up the value of the Canadian dollar which at the same time destroys other sectors of the economy like manufacturing, exports, and tourism that flourish under a properly valued Canadian dollar.
He said Canadians must demand that jobs and investment used to extract our natural resources is done in a careful and sustained manner that benefits the Canadian economy and creates Canadian jobs.

Preserving Good Jobs in the Gaming Sector

Delegates spoke out against a recent Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation report that calls for greater privatization which will impact thousands of workers and their families as pressure increases to reduce full time work.
"They are saying that the government is no longer going to play that role and that the private sector will have a larger role," said Lewenza. "This means that we are going to have more social ills and more precarious work. Working full-time in the gaming industry and diversifying the economy is going to be challenged as the race to the bottom continues."
Lewenza said the gaming recommendations released March 12 were based on talks with 50 stakeholder groups, but none represented the interests of OLG workers in casinos, racetracks, teletheatres and other gaming sites. 
Days after the report's release the OLG abruptly announced the closure of three slot operations in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia, which threw 500 people out of work. Lewenza cautioned that further plans to eliminate slot subsidies to racetracks and to encourage privatization will wreak havoc on the good jobs this sector was meant to create.
Council delegates also called on the Ontario Racing Association to demand the provincial Liberal government, through the Ontario Lottery Corporation, preserve the revenue sharing agreement with the industry, preserving the 60,000 jobs associated with it.
"We are going to fight hard to say to the gaming industry that you do not have the right to eliminate 60,000 jobs in Canada, mostly in rural communities."
The CAW is Canada's largest gaming workers' union with more than 7000 members at Caesars Windsor Casino, Brantford Casino, Slots at Sudbury Downs, Great Blue Heron Casino, Edgewater Casino, the Woodbine Racetrack and other locations.

Friends of Wind Ontario Commends CAW for Action on Environment

 In a special address to CAW Council delegates Gary Zavitz on April 15, co-founder of wind energy advocacy group Friends of Wind Ontario, congratulated CAW for its long-standing commitment to protecting the environment and for embracing sustainable energy sources, through it's newly constructed wind turbine (located on the grounds of the Family Education Centre in Port Elgin).
Zavitz was on hand for the weekend council speaking to delegates about the work of Friends of Wind and the importance of wind power more generally. The CAW wind turbine is fully constructed and tentatively scheduled to begin operation in mid-May. The turbine was the site of a weekend protest, involving representatives of the federal and provincial Conservative parties as well as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and members of the Saugeen Shores community. The union is continuing dialogue with the town in the hopes of launching a community-based committee to oversee the turbine's operation.

Locked-Out Fishing Trawler Workers Ratify New Agreement



 FFAW/CAW member James Antle of the Newfoundland Lynx votes at the ratification meetng in Marystown, Newfoundland and Labrador.




  CAW/FFAW members who had been locked out from the Newfoundland Lynx fishing trawler have overwhelmingly approved a new collective agreement, ending the labour dispute which began February 4.
The FFAW represents 44 workers on the vessel who voted 100 per cent in favour of the new agreement, which expires September 15, 2014.
FFAW Industrial Director Greg Pretty said the deal includes an agreement on halibut, turbot and redfish prices. He said it also establishes a committee to monitor the income of fishermen.
Ocean Choice International locked the workers out and brought in a replacement crew, but workers tried to prevent them from gaining access to the vessel. Police were called in during this dispute

Walk for Peace, Respect and Friendship - April 28

River territory (near Brantford, Ontario) will be holding a walk and rally for "peace, respect and friendship," to remind all Canadians and government that Six Nations land rights and treaties need to be respected.
The event is being organized by the April 28 Coalition, comprised of indigenous and non-indigenous groups and individuals who are trying to promote a peaceful and respectful dialogue between the larger non-native population, government leaders and the Six Nations at the Grand River Territory.
CAW members interested in attending should visit the April 28 Coalition website at: http://www.april28.net/
You'll be able to sign up for a bus ride to the event. Buses will be travelling from Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Brantford, St. Catharines, Hamilton and Dundalk.
Walkers are asked to gather at Edinburgh Square (link to map: http://g.co/maps/fwd4a across from the Caledonia Fairgrounds in the Township of Caledonia. From the square, participants will peacefully walk down Argyle Street to the site known as Kanonhstaton or "protected place", where there will be a potluck meal, live music, games, activities and discussions.
Grand River Territory is the site of a centuries old land dispute between Six Nations and the government of Canada that remains unresolved. A 2006 protest against a controversial housing development sparked tensions among native and non-native residents of Caledonia, casting a national spotlight on native land claim disputes in Canada. 
For a detailed timeline of the Grand River Territory land dispute, click here (link to: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/caledonia-landclaim/)
For more information, contact retired CAW national representative Steve Watson at stevewatson51@rogers.com or (416) 727-3793.

CAW Video Contest

For more information visit: www.caw.ca/videocontest


Ford shifts into overdrive to
sell SUVs to Chinese market

Ford CEO Alan Mulally kisses the new EcoSport, among the vehicles Ford is expected to launch this year in China. (Associated Press

By Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News
April 20, 2012

Ford Motor Co. is expected to introduce a full lineup of crossovers and sport utility vehicles next week at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, banking on a growing middle-class appetite for larger vehicles to help it pull ahead in China.

The automaker will signal its intention to take leadership in the SUV segment in the world's biggest auto market Monday. Beijing has become the most important auto show of the year for Ford and other automakers looking for quick global growth.

Ford will debut four vehicles as part of its plan to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015. That would make China the only market in the world that sells Ford crossovers and SUVs in every size category.

Three of those debuts are SUVs, which Ford hopes will have similar success to the Edge since it launched in China last year.

The vehicles Ford is expected to launch this year in China are the next-generation Focus ST, Explorer, EcoSport mini SUV and Kuga (known as the Escape in North America). The EcoSport is mainly available in Brazil and will include a three-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, which has only been sold in Europe.

Detroit's other hometown automakers, Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co., also have offerings to show in Beijing. Chrysler will unveil a production prototype of the flagship Chrysler 300 developed for the Chinese market, as well as a Jeep production concept. GM's Cadillac brand will show its all-new large luxury sedan, the XTS, and is expected Monday to announce it will build the large luxury sedan in China later this year.

SUV segment to grow
"Ford is relatively behind in China compared to Volkswagen and General Motors," said Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer. "We have work to do in the biggest market in the world."

Ford already sells the previous-generation Focus in China, as well as the Fiesta, Mondeo (Fusion) and SMax crossover minivan. But the fast-growing Chinese middle class is hungry for American consumer goods, including sturdy SUVs.

SUV sales in China grew exponentially during the final years of the last decade, according to Schirmer. Growth moderated in 2011 to 9.8 percent, compared with 82 percent in 2009 and 75 percent in 2010, he said.

Ford expects the SUV segment to continue to grow by more than 10 percent annually, Schirmer said.

SUVs provide higher ground clearance and a better view than sedans, said Lin Huaibin, Chinese sales forecast manager for IHS Automotive. Higher ground clearance makes it easier to travel in the countryside where roads are not as good, Lin said. Meanwhile, the styling of SUVs speaks to more personality — higher, tougher and sporty — than traditional sedans.

The most popular SUVs in China are compacts such as the VW Tiguan and Honda CR-V, according to Lin.

Targeting first-time buyers
About 80 percent of Chinese car shoppers are first-time buyers, and Ford wants to establish itself as the go-to automaker when they visit dealerships, said Trevor Hale, Ford's Shanghai-based spokesman.

First-time buyers have an average annual household income of $5,000. More people are reaching the takeoff point where they can purchase a vehicle, Hale said.

Chinese workers' new earning power helped the country eclipse U.S. vehicle sales last year by 50 percent.

But the growth is moderating: Vehicle sales in China slowed to 2.5 percent gains last year after several years of double-digit growth.

Ford's China sales grew 11 percent last year, but a first-quarter loss this year shows the automaker must do more to gain a foothold as a new Chinese middle class goes car shopping.

China is central to Ford's growth plans this decade. The automaker expects as much as 70 percent of its global growth by mid-decade will come from the Asia Pacific and Africa regions.

But an analyst said that Ford, which entered the Chinese market in 2003 — long after its rivals — has catching up to do.

"Ford's expansion in China is long overdue and speaks well for the potential of the firm," said John Holsapple, founder of Ann Arbor-based Chinese consulting firm Sino Ambassadors. "The process of getting the appropriate approvals was no simple task."

Ford's late entry into the market will handicap the automaker as the Chinese government removes special incentives that encouraged foreign investment in the auto industry, Holsapple said.

"The Chinese government is concerned with overcapacity and fragmentation in the industry," he said.


Ford to invest $760 million in
new assembly plant in China

Detroit Free Press
Alice Priddle
April 19, 2012

Ford will double the number of passenger cars it can build in China with today's announcement it will invest $760 million to build a new assembly plant in Hangzhou with its joint venture Changan Ford Mazda Automobile.

Construction will begin later this year and when the new plant opens in 2015, Ford will have the capacity to make 1.2 million passenger cars annually in the world's largest market.

"These are incredibly exciting times for Ford in Asia," said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, in a release from China where the deal was sealed today.

"So far, Ford's investments in China and across Asia represent its largest and most rapid global expansion in fifty years," Hinrichs said

"This expansion will help us realize an increase in global sales by about 50% from 2010 to about 8 million vehicles annually by mid-decade," Hinrichs said.

Hinrichs expects the Chinese market to reach 30 million sales annually by 2020 and even though Ford's auto sales in the country fell 13.6% in the first quarter, the forecast is for continued growth, especially with the ability to build more vehicles domestically.

Ford's CFMA joint venture already has two assembly plants in Chongqing, the automaker's largest manufacturing hub after southeast Michigan. Additional engine and transmission plants are under construction.

Two weeks ago Ford said it will invest $600 million to expand capacity at Chongqing by 350,000 vehicles to 950,000 by 2014.

The joint venture also has an assembly plant and engine plant in Nanjing.

Hangzhou gives Ford further geographic diversity and a presence near China's more affluent coastal areas.

The news will bring Ford's total investment in China to about $4.9 billion to date.

Officials are not saying which vehicles will be built in Hangzhou.

Next week Ford will use the Beiing auto show to unveil the Focus and three utility vehicles for Chinese consumers: the EcoSport, Explorer and Kuga (Escape).

"The Chinese auto market remains one of the most vibrant in the world," said Dave Schoch, head of Ford China which is on course to introduce 15 new vehicles and 20 new powertrains to China by 2015.

"This latest plant expansion again highlights that Ford is ready to go further for its customers in China," Schoch said.

Ford's China sales are about a fifth of the volume of leaders General Motors and Volkswagen


Union urges Canada to adopt national automobile policies

Frederic Tomesco and Colin McClelland
April 18, 2012

TORONTO (Bloomberg) -- Canada should adopt a national auto policy and investigate the possibility of establishing a domestic car company to safeguard employment in the industry, the Canadian Auto Workers union said.

The nation should negotiate "manufacturing footprint commitments" with automakers and intervene to lower the value of its currency, the Toronto-based union said in a policy paper posted Monday on its Web site.

The call for government intervention comes as the CAW prepares for contract talks with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat SpA's Chrysler unit. Canada's auto industry employs112,000 people who last year produced vehicles and parts valued at C$69 billion ($68.8 billion), according to union figures.

"Canada is one of the only auto-producing jurisdictions in the world that doesn't have a formal national auto policy," CAW President Ken Lewenza said at a news conference in Toronto. "This is a huge weakness."

Canada's car industry has shrunk by about one-third since 2000, eliminating about 50,000 jobs, according to CAW estimates.

Canada, which ranked as the world's fourth-largest car producer in 1999, has slipped out of the top 10, the union said. The industry will be in a "precarious" situation in the next five to 10 years if the government fails to implement the suggestions, Lewenza said.

The union leader plans a series of "town hall" meetings in eight cities in Ontario, the country's car-producing hub, during the next three weeks to promote the 10-point proposal.

'Make some progress'

Lewenza said that in-depth talks with the U.S.-based carmakers haven't started and that he doesn't yet know which company the CAW will negotiate with first.

"I'm confident that we're going to make some progress" in the talks, he said "Not significant progress; we're going to make tiny steps forward."

A 59 percent increase in the Canadian dollar against its U.S. counterpart in the past 10 years has made Canadian factories less competitive globally. The currency is "an enormous artificial cost penalty" amounting to C$3.7 billion a year on auto parts made in Canada, said Jim Stanford, the union's economist.

Labor costs in Canada are about C$6 to C$7 an hour lower than in the U.S., when considering prices for houses that can be 138 percent higher and the same cars can cost 20 percent more in Canada, Stanford said. Also, Canadian compensation is weighted more toward wages and pensions, while in the U.S. a larger portion is for bonuses and health care, he said.

'Cost penalty'

"We actually have a labor cost advantage in Canada but it's an overvalued currency that has converted that to an apparent cost penalty," Stanford said.

To counter that, Canada should slow the development of the Alberta oil sands and limit foreign investment in the energy industry, he said.

"It's clear that the over-valuation of the dollar is tied to the oil industry," he said. "Canada is not just an oil producer. But our currency is behaving as though we were."

The government should keep its minority stake in GM and "utilize that share in a more proactive effort to ensure that Canada's economic interests are respected in GM's future business decisions," the CAW said in the policy paper.

Through state-owned agencies such as Export Development Canada, the government should gradually acquire equity stakes in other carmakers that commit to maintaining factories in the country, the union said.

Canada acquired the GM stake in 2009 when the automaker reorganized under bankruptcy protection with aid from the U.S. and Canadian governments.


Canadian Auto Workers' leader confident union will make gains

GREG KEENAN — Globe & Mail
April 17, 2012

The Canadian Auto Workers is gearing up to win new investment for Canadian plants and regain benefits its members surrendered during the crisis, setting up a battle with auto makers determined to hold the line on labour costs.

Union president Ken Lewenza said Monday he believes the CAW can achieve both goals in negotiations with Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. later this year.

"I'm confident that we're going to make some progress," Mr. Lewenza said. "Not significant progress. We're going to make tiny steps forward."

That confidence butts up squarely against public comments by senior auto industry executives – notably Chrysler chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne – that labour costs in Canada need to be reduced and annual pay increases eliminated in favour of profit sharing.

The difference of opinion sets the stage for tough negotiations at a critical time in the industry as the Detroit Three collectively ponder whether to make billions of dollars worth of investment at their Canadian operations, where competitiveness has taken a beating because of the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar.

At the same time, the companies have slashed their U.S. labour costs and governments in Mexico and some southern U.S. states are throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at auto makers to land assembly plant investments. Volkswagen got more than $500-million (U.S.) from the state of Tennessee and municipal governments, while Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. have announced that they will be building new assembly plants in Mexico.

Contracts covering about 25,000 auto workers at plants in the Ontario cities of Windsor, Oshawa, Oakville, Brampton, St. Catharines and the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke expire in September. The two sides will kick off negotiations in July. After those talks, the CAW chooses what is known as a target company, with which to reach a contract that will serve as a template for the other two.

The CAW leader made his comments as the union released a policy paper beseeching the federal government to adopt a national automotive policy as Brazil, Japan, Germany and other major auto making nations have done. Canada does not have a policy despite more than 10 years of discussion, reports and policy initiatives set out by the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, a joint industry-government-union group set up in 2002 to assess the health of the industry.

The federal government could follow its own precedents, such as its participation in the more than $13-billion bailout of Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. it shared with the Ontario government or recent shipbuilding contracts that were open only to Canadian companies, the CAW said.

Federal and provincial governments need to jump in again to help win the new investments and make sure the industry continues to grow, Mr. Lewenza said, adding that an official policy is necessary rather than ad hoc decisions.

"We're not going to grow jobs without an effective auto industry strategy," he said. "Make no mistake about that. We can't deal with this in bargaining, in isolation without the government."

The paper calls on the federal government to lead the way with strong government intervention in the sector. The CAW wants Ottawa to encourage the creation of a Canadian-owned auto maker, cease free-trade talks with South Korea, Japan and the European Union, and slap tariffs on auto makers that sell vehicles in Canada without making any here.

Much of the paper sets out to refute the idea that labour costs are higher in Canada.

They're about $60 (Canadian) an hour, including wages, pension contributions and health care and other benefits, the CAW said.

The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., says agreements signed with the United Auto Workers last year cut Chrysler's U.S. costs to $52 (U.S.) an hour, GM's to $56 and Ford Motor Co. all-in hourly costs to $58.

But CAW economist Jim Stanford says those figures don't take into account the fact that Canadians pay higher prices for goods and services than Americans – including for those vehicles CAW members put together at assembly plants in Ontario.

The higher prices mean a basket of goods and services that costs Canadians $1 would cost Americans 81 cents when the dollar is at par, he said.


93-year-old woman parts car
after driving it 567,000 miles

After 567,000 Miles And 48 Years,
Florida Woman Parks Her 'Chariot'

Rachel Veitch and "Chariot," her 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente

April 16, 2012

When 93-year-old Rachel Veitch picked up the newspaper on March 10 and realized that the macular degeneration in her eyes had developed to the point where she couldn't read the print, she knew it was time to stop driving.

But there's much more to the Orlando, Fla., woman's story.

The decision meant she would no longer be getting behind the wheel of her beloved 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente, a car she calls "The Chariot." Veitch has pampered her ride for nearly five decades and 567,000 miles.

You read that right: 567,000 miles. (Not, by the way, 576,000 as some other news outlets have reported — a bit of transposing that Veitch is quick to correct.)

This afternoon she told All Things Considered co-host Robert Siegel that "there's no car on this earth I would trade for my Comet." It's been, she said, the "pumpkin that turned into the golden chariot and I'm Cinderella."

The "misty yellow" Chariot, which cost just under $3,300, still has her original engine. The air conditioner's also original. She's had her oil changed every 3,000 miles — Veitch buys it by the case and purchases filters too, then stands right there to make sure the mechanic does things right every time. (We're referring to Chariot as "she" or "her," by the way, because Veitch told Robert that's the way to do it.)

Chariot has outlasted the "lifetime guarantees" on three sets of shocks, eight mufflers and 18 batteries. "I'm the lifetime guarantee people's nightmare," Veitch said.

The car also has been with Veitch through three husbands.

Veitch says she's never considered trading Chariot in. The reason is simple: "I love my car."

Now, Chariot will only make rare trips away from home. A grandson (he's 50) will be taking her to a car show in Cocoa Beach this weekend. In July, Chariot will be shipped by friends to a show in Milwaukee. Veitch will fly there.

As for what happens when she's no longer around, Veitch knows one thing — she doesn't want anyone in her family to get Chariot. "No way would they take care of it like I do," she told Robert.

What she would really like is for Jay Leno, who's well known for his love of cars, to add it to his collection. She was on The Tonight Show in 2010, and Leno gave her a private tour of his garages.

And as for Chariot, Veitch is convinced that the car could have gone for many more miles if someone took good care of her.

Veitch puts a sign in one of Chariot's windows every time she passes another milestone. "It will soon be 570,000 and I've already got the signs made for 580 and 590," she said.

As you can tell from her experience with Leno, Veitch is no newbie when it comes to the news media. GrowingBolder.com did a video report about her and Chariot back in 2007, when the car only had 540,000 miles on the odometer.



U.S. Car industry brings in
$135B in tax revenue, study says

Auto business a huge state and federal economic driver

By David Shepardson

Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 15, 2012

Washington— The auto industry accounts for more than $135 billion of the nation's federal and state tax revenues — including about 13 percent of all state tax revenue — a study released Wednesday found.

The study by the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research was commissioned by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and seeks to highlight the huge economic impact of the sale and use of the nation's more than 250 million vehicles.

"This study confirms that the U.S. automotive sector has a huge economic impact throughout the country," said Mitch Bainwol, president & CEO of the alliance, the trade organization representing Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. and eight others. "Cars are a massive economic driver, from their production and sales to their use and maintenance."

Total auto taxes accounted for 13 percent of all state tax revenue in Michigan, or $2.8 billion out of $22.2 billion in 2010.

In California, the auto industry accounts for $10.9 billion in tax revenue, or 10 percent of the state's budget. Oklahoma had the largest share of taxes dependent on automobiles, with 23 percent of the state budget coming from the auto sector.

The smallest percentage was Alaska, where just 2 percent of revenue came from autos.

"The automotive industry accounts for 13 percent of all state government tax revenues," said Kim Hill, director of the Sustainability and Economic Development Strategies group at CAR and the study's lead author. "This analysis furthers our understanding of how the automotive sector has a substantial impact on the U.S. economy by contributing to the fiscal stability of state and federal governments. As economic conditions continue to improve, auto companies could see an increase in sales and employment that would generate additional state and federal tax revenues."

In 2010, the industry generated about $43 billion in federal tax revenue, including $14 billion in income taxes and $29 billion from federal motor fuel taxes.

The auto industry also generated more than $91.5 billion in state government revenue in 2010, or 13 percent of total state tax revenue on average. Of the total state tax revenue, $60 billion was produced from use taxes and fees — fuel taxes, license and registration fees. Another $30 billion of state tax revenue is generated from sales and service of vehicles, the study found.

Revenue from car sales totaled over $564 billion in 2010, an increase of 17 percent from the previous year. The manufacture and sale of parts, along with repairs and service, account for another $173 billion in economic activity. So, automobiles drive more than $735 billion into the economy each year, the study found.

"In this country, 8 million people are employed directly and indirectly as a result of the manufacture, sale and repair of automobiles. Those 8 million people earn $500 billion in compensation," Bainwol said. "So, auto policy is central to the economic vitality of virtually every state."


Ford has 8,000 orders
for all-new Escape

Ford says the 2013 Escape delivers the versatility and cargo capacity SUV customers expect with a sports-inspired design they desire. The new Escape is sleeker than the rugged SUV it replaces. When the Escape debuted a decade ago, automakers wanted car-based crossovers to look like the macho body-on-frame SUVs they were replacing. / Ford

April 14, 2012
By Alisa Priddle
Detroit Free Press Business Writer

Ford has about 8,000 orders for the new 2013 Escape SUV that will hit showrooms in late May with a base price of $23,295, about $200 less than the outgoing model.

But the base S trim level is expected to account for only about 10% of sales of the crossover that has been completely redesigned as a global vehicle to be sold as the Kuga in Europe and China.

The more popular upper trim levels are priced higher than the outgoing models, and the new lineup includes a fourth trim level: the top-of-the-line Titanium that can take the price to about $37,000, fully loaded with features like a panoramic roof.

The new Escape is much sleeker and more modern-looking than the rugged utility vehicle it replaces. When the Escape debuted a decade ago, automakers wanted car-based crossovers to look like the macho body-on-frame SUVs they were replacing.

But the introduction of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V made a softer look more popular, and Ford officials said their customers have said they love the capability of the Escape but wanted more style.

Sales remain strong. They are up 5% through March.

The high-volume SE trim level will start at $25,895, or $200 more than the XLT it replaces, but the automaker has added $1,100 in extra standard equipment, said spokeswoman Angie Kozleski.

Half of the orders so far are for the higher trim levels: the new Titanium and the SEL which at $28,695 is $1,500 more than the model it replaces but has $2,300 in additional standard equipment, Kozleski said.

The new Escape also continues Ford's goal of introducing ever more fuel-efficient vehicles. The 2013 model comes with a choice of a 1.6- or 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, with direct injection and turbocharging to deliver power with the smaller and more fuel-efficient engine.

Most buyers are expected to choose one of these engines over the carryover 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

Unlike the outgoing Escape, the new generation does not have a hybrid version. Ford hopes to direct these customers to the new C-Max crossover hybrid and plug-in hybrid coming out later this year.

The new Escape is being built at the retooled Louisville, Ky., plant with early production models running down the line now.

Workers in Kansas City, Mo., will continue to make the current Escape until production stops at the end of the month. Kansas City is being retooled to make the Transit commercial van


CAW Contact
April 13, 2012
Volume 42, No. 14


Austerity Plans a Gross Miscalculation for Canada

CAW President Ken Lewenza welcomed the news that Canada's economy created 82,000 new jobs in March. But he also raised concerns that the large boost in employment signals a gross miscalculation on the part of the Harper government, as well as various provincial governments, aiming to push through austerity budgets.
 "Tens of thousands of new jobs could be the first hopeful sign of a real jobs recovery in Canada," said Lewenza, responding to the release of March unemployment figures via the Statistics Canada monthly Labour Force Survey on April 5.  "But the federal government's austerity budget and those of other provincial governments will strongly undermine the hope of any economic turnaround, as thousands more join the ranks of the unemployed, due to massive budgetary cuts."
"Economists the world over have warned politicians to steer clear of harsh, short-term austerity measures as a means of balancing budgets yet Canadian governments have chosen to plug their ears," said Lewenza.
"The worry now is that workers and their families will pay the price of this short-sightedness and misjudgement. With spending cuts poised to eliminate tens of thousands of jobs at all levels of government, what could have been a hopeful sign of positive change for Canada's approximately 1.5  million unemployed could be no more than a temporary blip."
Lewenza renewed his call for a national jobs strategy which would seek to create good, sustainable, permanent jobs and stop the growth of precarious, temporary jobs.

Vote to Kill Gun Registry a Loss for Canadians, CAW says

CAW President Ken Lewenza called the April 4th  final vote to pass Bill C-19 and officially kill the national long-gun registry a win for gun industry lobbyists and a loss for Canadians. Bill C-19 aims to fully dismantle the long-gun registry, weaken the oversight requirements for gun purchases and destroy years of records used to track gun ownership.
"Today, I can't help but think of all the victims of gun violence and the families of those victims, past and present, and shake my head at the Harper government's motivations," Lewenza said.
"This registry was an important tool used to protect against dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands. The Harper government is pushing an agenda of zero accountability for gun ownership. It's shameful and it's unacceptable."
Canada's gun lobby has made it clear that the dismantling of the long-gun registry is only a first step in weakening the country's gun control program. Members of the Public Safety Minister's Firearms Advisory Committee have called for licensing to be weakened, including one member testifying at the Senate hearings that spousal notification should be eliminated.
Lewenza said it is shameful that the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs opted not to invite women's safety experts or front-line women's organizations to participate as witnesses during the review process of Bill C-19 - despite the fact many organizations had requested to speak and that it is well-known that this issue disproportionately affects women's safety.
The province of Quebec, which has been a strong proponent for maintaining the long-gun registry, has filed for an injunction with the province's Supreme Court to prevent federal government from deleting the existing registry data. The injunction is expected to be heard after Bill C-19 receives royal assent.
Lewenza said he is encouraged by the Quebec government's efforts. He hopes that other Canadian provinces will speak out and put a stop to the destroying of existing registry data and consider establishing sub-national registries.
"There's an absence of leadership and lack of vision from the top of the house and it's incumbent on our provinces to pick up this ball in the best interests of Canadians."
The CAW has been a long-standing supporter of strong gun control and the national long-gun registry. In 1993, the CAW Council (the union's parliamentary body made up of workplace representatives) voted to support initiatives aimed at stricter gun control in the wake of the 1989 fatal shooting of 14 women at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.

No Justice After Vancouver Bus Driver Assault, CAW says

In the wake of a conditional sentence for a man who assaulted a Vancouver bus driver, CAW Local 111 is continuing to push for changes to the criminal code to ensure harsher penalties for assaulting transit drivers.
The local union, which represents more than 3,800 Coast Mountain bus drivers, is seeking changes to the federal criminal code that would ensure assaults of transit operators are treated the same as assaults of police, paramedics and other first responders.
CAW Local 111 President Don MacLeod said the BC provincial court decision on April 3 sends a terrible message.
The conditional sentence was too lenient and provided "no justice" - not for the victim (bus driver Charles Dixon) not for other bus drivers who face assaults, and not for bus riders.
"The Crown asked for nine to twelve months in jail because Del Louie had previously been convicted of attacking a woman bus driver, assaulted Dixon and his son and broke his bail conditions three times, including further assaults on a police officer and emergency service workers," MacLeod said in a news release.
"Our members felt even that sentence would have been inadequate but at least a step forward to deterring the ongoing violence against bus drivers," MacLeod said.
"Instead, the Judge gave Del Louie 18 months house arrest and gave bus drivers another message that  the courts do not regard violence against them as serious - a terrible message to send."
MacLeod said bus drivers are furious with the sentence. There have been more than 1000 assaults on bus drivers in Vancouver in the past 10 years and more than 145 since Dixon was attacked in February 2011. Dixon suffered serious injuries to his face, a concussion, neck and other injuries. He has not worked since the assault.

Snowbear Demonstration: Monday April 23 at 11 a.m. in Toronto 

Snowbear, the largest Canadian manufacturer of utility trailers and snowplows, has since the fall of 2011 shut down production and issued layoff notices to members of CAW Local 1917.
The Catalyst Capital Group, secured lenders to Snowbear obtained a court appointed receiver for the purpose of selling the assets of the company, which is located in Guelph, Ontario. CAW members who worked at Snowbear are owed approximately $500,000 in severance.

Catalyst Capital is a private equity investment firm located in downtown Toronto, which has billions in assets under management.
The CAW has been calling for a meeting with Catalyst founder and managing partner Newton Glassman to no avail.
As a result a demonstration has been called for Monday, April 23 at 11 a.m. outside the offices of Catalyst Capital Group Inc, Royal Trust Tower, TD Bank Centre, 777 King Street West, (King and Bay) in Toronto.

Ontario Day of Action Against Cuts: April 21

Join thousands of other Ontarians concerned about cuts to jobs and public services following banker Don Drummond's 400 recommendations to the provincial government for cutbacks.
The Ontario Federation of Labour is holding a Day of Action Against Cuts on Saturday, April 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Queen's Park in Toronto. Participants are being asked to tell Premier Dalton McGuinty to build Ontario, not tear it apart.
At a time when Ontarians are in desperate need of economic recovery, these cuts will jeopardize every aspect of society: from health care to full-day kindergarten to pensions. For more information visit www.ofl.ca

Important Reminder

Navistar Demonstration 

April 21, at Truck Show

The CAW is planning a mass demonstration in support of Navistar truck employees from Chatham, Ontario who are seeking a fair and equitable closure agreement with the company.
Since the official notification that the Chatham truck plant was closing in July 2011 the union has been unable to convince the corporation to treat these CAW Local 35 and 127 members with respect and dignity, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
"At one point in their history, this facility had over 2000 people," Lewenza said. "It is unconscionable that after many years, Navistar refuses to bargain a decent closure agreement. To date the issues revolve around pensions, severance pay and other matters," Lewenza states in a March 26 letter to southern Ontario CAW locals.
The demonstration will be held Saturday, April 21 at 12 noon at Truck World - Canada's National Truck Show, the International Centre, 6900 Airport Road in Toronto. The show is being sponsored by Navistar.


Ford sales up 30% in Russia

April 12, 2012

Ford Motor Co.'s first-quarter sales rose 30 percent in Russia, led by demand for its Ford Focus.

Ford Sollers of Russia sold 27,323 vehicles in the first quarter, up from 20,919 for the same period last year.

Ford started the joint venture with Russian partner Sollers OJSC last year after recognizing Russia as a growth market. Ford of Europe Chairman and Chief Executive Stephen Odell said at the time that Russia is set to become Europe's largest market for new vehicles by mid-decade.

The partnership sold 19,596 Focuses the first three months of the year. The car was voted Russian Car of the Year 2012 in the compact car segment.

Sales for the Ford Transit nearly doubled for the quarter to 2,016.

Automakers sold nearly 2.5 million cars and light commercial vehicles in 2011.


Big 3 battle for supremacy in patrol market with new pursuit vehicles

The Ford Police Interceptor FWD and AWD both have a 3.5-liter engine that produces 280 hp at 6500 RPM and an AWD EcoBoost with 3.5-liter engine that produces 365 hp at 5500 RPM. The FWD will travel 0-60 mph in 7.77 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. (Michigan State Police vehicle evaluation)

By Jaclyn Trop
The Detroit News
April 11, 2012

Last fall, Ford Motor Co. retired its Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, a veteran of police departments across the United States. Its retirement after a run that began in the early '90s left a void in the ranks that General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have rushed to fill.

GM and Chrysler have three vehicles each — a mix of SUVs, trucks and sedans — that they hope will earn their stripes. But Ford hopes to preserve the Crown Victoria's 70 percent market share with two rookies modeled on the Ford Taurus and Ford Explorer.

Police fleet sales help automakers achieve high visibility and a reputation for producing durable cars. While overall sales numbers are relatively small, sticker prices can reach $70,000 per police vehicle.

The Big Three's lineup of six pursuit vehicles is the strongest offering in recent years, according to Sgt. Jim Flegel of the Michigan State Police's precision driving unit, which road-tests police vehicles annually. After testing last fall, state police decided to replace the Crown Victoria with Chrysler's Dodge Charger Pursuit as its primary patrol car. In March, the state police ordered 198 Charger Pursuits, as well as 50 Chevy Tahoes and 20 Ford Police Interceptor Utilities, Flegel said.

"The patrol cars are increasingly getting better every year," Flegel said. "All the manufacturers want to produce the best-quality patrol car out there."

It's too early for hard sales numbers, but the Chicago Police Department recently said it would spend $3.5 million on 100 Ford Police Interceptor sedans and SUVs made at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant.

The shakeup comes as the police vehicle industry records declining sales. Sales were about 35,000 units last year, compared to a peak of about 55,000 units in 2006, according to Lisa Teed, Ford Police Interceptor marketing manager.

But the market is ripe for Ford and its rivals: Several police agencies that held off buying new cars during the economic downturn are ready to invest in new patrol vehicles.

Some police departments stockpiled the Crown Vics before Ford's final production run. They liked the car's rear-wheel drive for high-speed chases. And its body-on-frame structure made it easier to fix and swap parts within the fleet.

The Sacramento Police Department, for example, recently ordered 30 to 50 of the same Crown Vics its officers have driven for years, said Sgt. Andrew Pettit. The department hasn't decided which vehicles it will order when it comes time to retire its fleet.

Crown: 'A dinosaur'
Ford canceled the Crown Vic because it would have been too expensive to comply with new standards for fuel economy and rollover and roof crush protection, according to Aaron Bragman, a senior analyst with IHS Automotive.

"In order to update it, they'd pretty much have to redo the entire car," Bragman said. "It's kind of a dinosaur, and to update it wouldn't be worth it."

The Charger Pursuit, created for police use only, went on sale last spring to replace the Charger Police Vehicle. Chrysler added two special service vehicles — a Ram truck and Durango SUV — that will be sold later this year to broaden the automaker's reach and cater to officers who need to go off road or carry cargo.

"Of course we saw an opportunity in the market" with the retirement of the Crown Victoria, said Chris Ellis, Chrysler director of government fleet sales and operations.

The Durango will compete against Chevy's Tahoe, which dominates the police SUV market.

General Motors hopes to gain share in each market segment with its 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, Impala and Caprice models, said Dana Hammer, manager for law enforcement vehicles. "We have a complete portfolio of vehicles to meet every customer's needs," Hammer said.

The Chevy Tahoe is "growing exponentially" and has the advantage of being the market's only body-on-frame model, Hammer said. The model comes in rear-wheel drive for high-speed pursuit vehicles, and four-wheel-drive for special service.

The Chevy Caprice, resurrected last year after being discontinued in 1996, is the largest sedan in the police market and is gaining sales momentum, Hammer said. Like the other automakers, he would not disclose sales figures.

The third GM police vehicle, the Chevy Impala, has been a police department staple for 10 years.

Its new powertrain and chassis for 2012 is the most economical model, with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that gets 28 miles per gallon, according to Hammer.

Ford has advantage
Ford is promoting its Police Interceptor models for their fuel efficiency: The 3.5-liter, V6 engine in the Ford Police Interceptor sedan and utility vehicle get at least 25 percent better gas mileage than the Crown Vic's 4.6-liter V8 — an especially significant feature since police cars idle an average of 6.5 hours every 10-hour shift.

"We're very confident in what they're doing," said Kevin Koswick, Ford North America fleet director. "Make no mistake about it. Our goal is to maintain our business."

Analysts say it's too soon to tell how the market will shake out this year, but Ford has the advantage of being an incumbent with a loyal following.

Ford's task is to convince buyers that the Dearborn automaker's models still reign supreme, Bragman said.

"The fleet buyers are fairly loyal," Bragman said.


Canada's dented auto union
seeks new road map

By Allison Martell
April 10, 2012

OSHAWA, Ontario, (Reuters) - Bev McCloskey had only been working at General Motors for a couple of weeks in 1949 when word went out that there was trouble on the line.

It was her first strike, but not her last. In those years, McCloskey and the other workers at GM's Oshawa, Ontario, plants walked out over almost every contract, winning a string of concessions and forging Canada's most powerful union.

"In every strike we've ever had, we've made gains...until we had a good standard of living," says McCloskey, whose mother cleaned houses to support her five children in the years before GM turned Oshawa into a mini-Detroit. "We were middle class, you know. You could go travel."

Twenty-seven years after breaking away from the United Auto Workers, the once-mighty Canadian Auto Workers may disappear, subsumed into a new mega union as jobs vanish in Central Canada's manufacturing sector.

The CAW's membership has fallen almost 30 percent in the past six years, and its leaders see a merger with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP), another major private-sector union, as the best way to stay relevant.

"If unions do not change, and quickly, we will steadily follow U.S. unions into continuing decline," the two unions said in a joint discussion paper released last month. "We must reverse the erosion of our membership, our power, and our prestige."

In a move that underlines the seriousness of the threat, CAW and CEP leaders want to build a new 300,000-strong union, the private sector's largest by far, with a new name that has yet to be decided.

It would span more sectors, tap into sentiment that has driven the Occupy movement, and do more to appeal to non-unionized workers. The new union would also inherit CEP's strength in Alberta's oil industry, the strongest sector in the Canadian economy.

It is too early to say whether the plan will go ahead, let alone achieve its goals. But the combative CAW, which has long dominated collective bargaining in Canada thanks to its political savvy and financial clout, knows it has to change.


According to a government survey of major unions, the CAW's membership has fallen 28 percent since 2006. The union says the decline is closer to 23 percent, from 250,000 to 193,500 members. Either way, it has been a sharp, painful reversal.

After splitting with the UAW in 1985, the CAW increased its membership through 2004. Mergers brought in members in new sectors, from airport check-in staff to university lab assistants.

A well-paid membership and a centralized structure that let media-savvy national presidents speak on behalf of any local gave the CAW outsized political influence, which boosted its forays into other sectors.

It was a remarkable performance, given that overall Canadian unionization rates peaked in the 1980s. By contrast, the UAW diversified less, and its membership has fallen about 75 percent over the last three decades.

The CAW has held more radical positions than the UAW, and it has taken over 42 smaller unions since 1985, mostly under its charismatic former national president, Buzz Hargrove.

Front and center in every CAW dispute from 1992 to 2008, Hargrove was prominent in mainstream politics and the labor movement, a tough-talking leader who was accessible to union members, management and media alike.

"You have to know Buzz," says Ken Lewenza, the CAW's current national president. "There was a natural attraction to the CAW. I mean, we didn't get 40 mergers, the majority of them under Buzz, without him reaching out and saying, 'you can do better with us'."

But now, Lewenza says, job losses are outpacing growth from organizing drives and mergers. That has hurt the union's revenue, especially since new recruits in the service sector earn less than auto workers. Since 2008, the CAW has trimmed its own head office staff through attrition.

The CEP merger talks, first acknowledged in December but not much discussed until the two sides launched slick joint websites last month, suggest that a gradual decline has reached a critical point. ()


Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, says unions turn to big mergers when they are in trouble: "This is really dramatic stuff. This is where unions are going to have to give up some of their identity."

"Usually a merger is not the first course of action, but the last," he says. "It's something unions do very reluctantly."

CEP's membership has also fallen more than 20 percent over five years, to about 110,000, as the pulp and paper industry has faded. The union, itself formed when three unions merged in 1992, is among Canada's largest, but with a highly decentralized structure, it lacks the CAW's political clout.

It's hard to fault any Canadian union for coveting the CAW's influence, if not its membership base. The labor movement feels under fire as governments step in more frequently to prevent labor disputes, and companies, hit by a strong Canadian dollar, push to cut costs.

That's something the CAW used to fight more or less successfully. Indeed, even as trade liberalization eroded organized labor's power through the 1990s, the CAW held onto its confrontational tactics, and its bargaining power.

Take October 1996: CAW Local 222 members took over GM's Oshawa north plant after they heard the company was planning to restart production during a strike over a new contract, potentially breaking the strike.

Gary Ainsworth, then a shop floor rep, recalls that a carefully selected group broke down the front door. Once management and security were out, Ainsworth circled the plant, welding doors shut.

It's difficult to imagine a similar scene playing out when Local 222 goes into talks this summer.

Foremost in CAW leaders' minds is Caterpillar Inc's Electro-Motive plant in London, Ontario. On Jan. 1 the company locked out CAW members, demanding up to 50 percent wage cuts. A month later, it shut the locomotive-making facility, laying off at least 450 workers. The next day, it hosted a job fair in Muncie, Indiana.

"It's a highly competitive industry, and right now, at the current exchange rates, Canada is a high-cost producer," says Art Schwartz, a consultant and former GM negotiator. "I think they're being asked to kind of get in with everybody else."

In contract talks with the CAW this year, the Detroit Three automakers will push for performance pay, a concession the CAW, unlike the UAW, has resisted for decades. This time around, Chris Buckley, who heads up Local 222, will not rule it out. He worries about GM leaving Canada entirely.

Buckley, who with his handlebar mustache has been a fixture around the Oshawa plant for almost 30 years, doesn't see the next generation making the same gains he did. He wishes his daughter, who works in auto parts, was in another industry.

"I think we're going to scratch and claw for every job we hang on to for a very, very long time," he says.


Lewenza says the CAW has the resources to survive without CEP, but says the union should do something more ambitious - try to boost unionization rates nationally, and shift trade policy to protect high-quality jobs.

He emphasizes the political advantages of a merger. CEP organizes in the energy industry, including Western Canada's expanding oil sands, as well as at telecom giant Bell Canada . While the CAW's power is concentrated in Central Canada, a merged union would be a significant force across the country.

Dave Coles, CEP's president, focuses on the benefits of a merger in bargaining, building big strike funds and drawing on support from other sectors during long conflicts.

"In our union ... there's a history of having industrial disputes that last a year or more, and winning them," he says.

Members may object, however. The CAW is highly centralized, unlike CEP. Also, CEP is aligned with the left-leaning New Democratic Party nationally, and in the province of Quebec with the separatist Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois. The CAW has been more flexible, occasionally supporting Liberal Party candidates to counter conservative parties.

Any deal will require compromises on both sides.

"There's going to be a new name for this organization. Is the Canadian Auto Workers near and dear to my heart? Absolutely. But I can get over that," Buckley says.

Ainsworth, from the 1996 occupation, says he will trust Buckley. But he doesn't reach for upbeat talking points as quickly.

He grew up around the labor movement - his father once served 15 days in jail for joining another company's picket line in defiance of a court order.

Ainsworth became a union rep at GM and stuck with it even though it didn't win him many friends.

"I haven't thought of it a whole lot, but yeah, I hate to see it," he says of the merger. For a moment, he struggles for words. "I hate to see us have to join somebody to keep our head above water."



Ford recalling 140,000
'12 Focus vehicles

2012 Focus

By David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 8, 2012

Washington — Ford Motor Co. said Saturday it is recalling 160,000 2012 Ford Focus cars over potentially faulty windshield wipers.

Ford said a seal plug on the passenger side windshield wiper motor electrical connector may be missing, which allows water into the motor and may make it inoperative.

Ford said the recall of 140,310 cars covers 2012 models built through Oct. 18 at its Michigan Assembly plant in Wayne.

The automaker says the recall also includes about 20,000 outside the U.S. for a total of about 160,000.

Ford will install a redesigned seal plug. If it is missing, Ford dealers also will grease the electrical connector and ensure the wipers are working.

Ford told its dealers of the recall on Tuesday and notified some owners on Friday.

Rental car company Avis Budget Group said it is pulling 10,000 recalled 2012 Ford Focus vehicles from its rental fleet until they are repaired. That accounts for about 3 percent of the company's 300,000 vehicles in North America.

Ford spokesman Daniel Pierce said no crashes or injuries have been linked to the wiper motor issue.


GM CEO, 2 other execs
of firms that got bailouts
won't get raises for 2012

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 7, 2012

Washington — The CEOs of three companies that received large government bailouts — including two Detroit firms — will receive no pay raises in 2012, the Treasury Department's special master overseeing executive pay said Friday.

But several other senior executives for General Motors Co., Ally Financial Inc. and AIG will get raises, according to determinations released Friday by Patricia Geoghegan, the Treasury's acting special master who oversees pay for those companies.

GM CEO Dan Akerson will receive $9 million, including $1.7 million in cash, as he did for 2011. Ally CEO Michael Carpenter will receive $9.5 million, none in cash. Insurance giant AIG's CEO Bob Benmosche will receive $10.5 million in total compensation, including $3 million in cash.

GM spokesman Selim Bingol said Friday the company has no comment on the ruling.

Ally said in a statement its compensation is in line with government guidelines, "and the management team is squarely focused on delivering value for shareholders and repaying the remaining U.S. Treasury investment."

GM sought to hike pay for 12 of its 23 highest-paid executives, but the Treasury didn't approve all the raises sought by the Detroit automaker. (Two of the top 25 have departed the company.)

Overall cash compensation for the top 23 executives at GM decreased $2.3 million or 14 percent; total direct compensation decreased $8.8 million or 12 percent from 2011.

The top 23 execs will make a grand total of about $65 million in compensation. Much of it is in long-term stock that vests over time and is tied to GM's performance.

The lowest paid of the top 23 GM execs will get $1.2 million in total compensation.

At Detroit-based Ally Financial Inc., overall cash payments decreased $1.07 million or 9.3 percent; total direct compensation decreased $2.6 million or 3.3 percent.

The top 25 executives at Ally will receive about $75 million in total compensation, or $3 million on average. The lowest paid of the top 25 Ally execs gets $1.9 million.

Four of the original seven recipients of exceptional assistance — Bank of America, Citigroup, Chrysler Financial and Chrysler — have exited the government's $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program and are no longer subject to oversight.



Ford to expand Chinese
factories again

By Associated Press
April 6, 2012

Dearborn— Ford will expand its biggest factory complex in China to meet growing demand in the world's largest car market.

The $600 million expansion will include a new assembly line, body shop and paint shop at its Chongqing site in southwestern China, Ford said Thursday. Chongqing is the company's largest manufacturing operation outside of the Detroit area.

Ford is trying to catch up with rivals who have been in China longer and command a bigger share of sales. The expansion will give the automaker the ability to make 350,000 more vehicles per year, increasing its total to 950,000 by 2014. That will help Ford's goal of tripling the cars in its Chinese lineup to 15 over the next three years.

Ford opened a new vehicle assembly plant at Chongqing in February, one of four new factories due to begin operations by the end of next year. The company already has two assembly plants and an engine plant in operation there.

Like many other automakers, it is banking on the potential for growth in sales in China's vast hinterland, where most families have yet to buy their first cars and demand is expected to soar with rising incomes. The growing factory complex in Chongqing is part of Ford's plan to boost worldwide sales by nearly 50 percent by 2015, to about 8 million vehicles per year.

Ford will invest in the factory with joint-venture partner Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Limited. Changan Ford Mazda makes the Mondeo midsize car, the Focus compact, Fiesta subcompact and S-Max small van for sale in China. Changan Ford Mazda also has factories in Nanjing, China.

Ford has a relatively small presence in China. Its January and February sales fell 16 percent from a year earlier to 71,954. General Motors' China sales rose by 7.7 percent to 487,208 over the same period.

Overall, China's vehicle sales weakened further in the first two months of this year as the economy slowed and higher fuel prices deterred some buyers.


CAW Contact
April 5, 2012
Volume 42, No. 13

Budget Cuts Won't Deliver Progress for Canadians, CAW says

The Harper government's retirement reforms will cause needless hardship for poor seniors and worsen the growing concern over youth unemployment in Canada, said CAW President Ken Lewenza, following the release of the 2012 federal budget.

The budget called for an extension of Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement age requirements to 67, a move Lewenza said is reckless.
"We have a problem in Canada where seniors can't afford to retire and young people can't find adequate jobs," Lewenza said. "So, instead of fixing that problem, our government announced a plan to make retirement less affordable and to keep young workers unemployed."

Lewenza urged the government to reconsider its OAS/GIS reform proposals and to expand the Canada Pension Plan as a means of solving Canada's pension funding crisis.

In the budget, the Harper government announced major departmental budget cuts that are expected to eliminate 35,000 public sector jobs, which marks a major setback on Canada's job creation efforts. These cuts offset six months' worth of modest job gains in Canada.

Lewenza said this austerity budget comes at a time when economists continue to warn that wrong-headed spending cuts could actually do more harm than good to struggling economies.

"Canadians were looking for a jobs budget and a growth budget," Lewenza said. "Instead, Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty have saddled us with job cuts, pension reductions and delayed retirement."

Rally Against Rio Tinto Lockout in Alma, Quebec

CAW Supports Locked-Out Workers in Quebec. Left to right: CLC Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff; CAW Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy; CAW President Ken Lewenza; Mark Maltais, President of USW Local 9490; USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann; USW Quebec Director Daniel Roy and (centre) CAW Local 2301 President Ed Abreu.

Thousands of activists, including CAW representatives from Quebec to British Columbia, marched through the streets of Alma, Quebec demanding an end to the lock out of Rio Tinto Alcan smelter workers.

CAW President Ken Lewenza spoke at the March 31 rally which was attended by CAW Quebec Director Jean Pierre Fortin, activists from CAW Local 2301 as well as Pierre Deschenes, president of CAW Mining Council.

"It's outrageous that this giant, multi-billion dollar corporation is bullying workers into accepting needless concessions here in Quebec," Lewenza said.

CAW Local 2301, which represents Rio Tinto workers in Kitimat, British Columbia, has decided to temporarily increase dues during the lock out to help support the Alma workers. This is expected to yield approximately $78,000 in support per month over the next four months.

"This is a tremendous show of solidarity by the CAW Local 2301 membership in support of our brothers and sisters at Rio Tinto in Quebec," said CAW Local 2301 President Ed Abreu.

In addition the CAW national union has donated $25,000 to help this group of Quebec workers and the CAW Mining Council an additional $2,500.

"Companies such as Rio Tinto need to remember that they are making their profits thanks to the communities in which they are operating," said Jyrki Raina, President of the International Metalworkers' Federation. "They need to show respect for current and future workers and stop callously cutting labour costs and decent jobs without any regard for the local economy."

The United Steelworkers represent 780 workers at Rio Tinto Alcan's (RTA) smelter in Alma Quebec, who were locked out December 30. The dispute centres on RTA's plan to replace regular workers with subcontractors paid at half the wage rate, the USW states in a release.

Thousands of demonstrators at the rally came from across the Lac Saint-Jean region and Quebec, as well as communities outside the province. Supporters also included union representatives from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico and several other countries.

Earth Hour a World-Wide Success

On Saturday, March 31, 2012 between 8:30- 9:30 p.m. people across Canada in 511 cities joined millions around the world in participating in Earth Hour. Now in its fifth year, Earth Hour has continued to grow, spreading to more than 150 countries in approximately 6,525 cities, towns and municipalities - showing once again that citizens around the world believe that together, we can inspire action on climate change.

Earth Hour is more than just switching off lights for one hour once a year. It is meant to raise awareness about climate change issues, which continue to worsen.

At the CAW's Family Education Centre (FEC) in Port Elgin, Ontario, guests and staff joined the leadership of CAW Local 2458 to recognize Earth Hour and to cheer our very own FEC Clean Energy Wind Turbine.

The CAW Wind Turbine is a symbol of the union putting its principles of environmental protection and sustainability into practice. The union's progressive approach to generating clean energy along with the many other environmental initiatives our members participate in every year is helping to create a better future for generations to come.

Financial Appeal for Locked Out Trawler Crew

CAW President Ken Lewenza is urging financial support and messages of solidarity to the locked-out crew of the factory freezer trawler Newfoundland Lynx.

The dispute began on February 5, 2012 when Ocean Choice International locked out the crew of the trawler. The FFAW bargaining unit is made up of 44 members, divided into two crews who work on a trip-on, trip-off basis.

The main issues in dispute at the start of the lockout were fish prices, employer demands for exclusions from the bargaining unit, and the employer's attempt to circumvent the Collective Agreement by moving high-valued shrimp to a non-union vessel, and demanding that the crew of the Newfoundland Lynx fish lower-valued species. This would drastically reduce their incomes.

The dispute escalated dramatically when the company brought in a scab crew. The locked out trawlermen held the scabs at bay for several days, but eventually about 75 riot police forced the issue and got the crew on board the vessel. Since then the vessel has sailed with a scab crew, landing in Nova Scotia.

The company has compounded the issue by adding additional demands during bargaining sessions aimed at settling the dispute.

Donations in support of the locked out crew can be sent to FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy, P.O. Box 10, St.John's, NL, A1C 5H5. Make cheques payable to the FFAW/CAW.

Workers Owed Severance Demonstrate in Toronto

Frustrated CAW members owed approximately $500,000 in severance payments demonstrated near King and Bay in downtown Toronto outside the headquarters of the private equity firm which is a secured lender to manufacturer Snowbear Limited.

The March 22 demonstration was held outside the Royal Trust Tower, which houses the offices of Catalyst Capital Group Inc. and its founder and managing partner Newton Glassman.

Snowbear has shut down production and gradually wound down operations since the fall, when it employed up to 200 workers. All the workers have now received layoff notices.

The CAW has been calling for a meeting with Mr. Glassman to discuss the situation.

Catalyst Capital Group has billions in assets under management, according to the Financial Post Magazine. Catalyst's portfolio has included major firms including Allsteam, Canwest, Hollinger Inc, IMAX and Stelco Inc, among many others.

Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President, said it is unbelievable that such a rich company is hanging a small group of 40 workers out to dry on severance owed.

"A few thousand bucks might not mean a lot to guys like Mr. Glassman, but it sure does mean a lot for folks living paycheck to paycheck."

Dias said the demonstration was held in an effort to secure a meeting with Catalyst Capital to negotiate the full severance payments owed to Snowbear workers. So far, repeated union requests for a meeting have gone unanswered.

Catalyst has since moved to put Snowbear into bankruptcy. Dias said this is an attempt to avoid paying the workers severance.

CAW Local 1917 represents workers at Snowbear Limited, which manufactures utility trailers and snowplows at its Guelph, Ontario plant.

CAW Youth Activist Program

On March 25 to 29 the union ran its first week-long Youth Activist workshop at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin. This pilot session was attended by 19 young CAW members from across the country. Through a mixture of workshops, open forums and activities, young members explored issues relating to the union's structure and its history as well as the challenges young workers face at work and in society. The course also helped inform participants about ongoing union campaigns and, through interactive exercises and role-plays, helped instill confidence in members to play a greater participatory role in the union. The Youth Activist workshop is set to run again in 2013. Visit www.caw.ca/education for more information.

CAW Local 725 Members Approve New Contract at WAJAX

CAW Local 725 members who work at WAJAX, formerly Detroit Diesel, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia have overwhelmingly approved a new three-year agreement.

The CAW represents Diesel technicians who work on diesel engines at WAJAX.

The agreement includes a wage increase of three per cent in each year, a new vision care benefit, improved vacation accrual, increases to premiums and a boot allowance.

The company also wanted to introduce an incentive which the committee was reluctant to accept based on their negative experience with the current incentive program. In response the new contract secures a guarantee that the plan must payout in the first year of the agreement and if not the second and third year of the agreement will be increased to 3.5 per cent. This was a first income "insurance" protection ever negotiated for this group.

The bargaining committee was made up of chairperson Matt Hutt, shop steward Tony Kearley and national representative Chad Johnston.

Education Conference - Registration Deadline April 13

Activists will gather in Port Elgin from May 4-6 for the 2012 CAW Education Conference. The theme for the conference is Building the Union through Education. A key focus will be the role of education in building and strengthening CAW locals for the challenges ahead.

The deadline for registration is Friday, April 13. To read the conference call letter please go to: www.caw.ca/assets/images/Education_call_ltr.PDF. For more information please email educate@caw.ca or call 1-800-268-5763.

Rain Barrel Bargain in Durham Region

Due to the overwhelming popularity of 2011 community rain barrel sales, RainBarrel.ca will again partner with CAW Durham Regional Environment Council in support of local environmental education and community cancer prevention initiatives.

You can order now for a Monday, April 16th, 2012 pickup for a $50 rain barrel in the Oshawa, Ontario area.

Each rain barrel comes fully equipped with a leaf and mosquito filter basket, an overflow adaptor that permits multiple barrels to be connected in series, 1.2m of overflow hose and a spigot that attaches directly to a garden hose. (Additional overflow hose can also be purchased if required).

Distribution will be on April 16 from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm at CAW Local 222 Hall, 1425 Phillip Murray Ave. Oshawa. No household limits and no residency requirements are imposed however, only barrels ordered in advance are guaranteed to be available.

Order your barrel online at http://rainbarrel.ca/oshawa/the sale event) or call Dave at 905-404-1279 or Jesse at 905-434-0491 for information not available on the website or if you need assistance with online ordering. Bring your receipt to CAW 222 Hall, 1425 Phillip Murray Ave. in Oshawa to the south parking lot tent to pick up your barrels on April 16.

CAW Employment Insurance and CPP Conference

The CAW's Employment Insurance and CPP Conference will be held May 25 to 27 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

The convention will focus on EI rules, policies and practices; Canada Pension Plan benefits; networking and building a support system, advocacy and much more.

The registration deadline is Friday, May 13. For more information contact CAW National Representative Cammie Peirce at 416-495-3759 or email cammie.peirce@caw.ca.

You can download a copy of the conference registration form by visiting: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/2012_UI_-_CPP_Conference_Call_Letter_ammended.pdf.


Ford raises forecast for 2012
total US auto sales

* Sees total US auto sales of 14.5 mln-15 mln, up from 13.5 mln-14.5 mln
* Ford expects to lose US market share

By Bernie Woodall

April 4 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co has raised its forecast for total 2012 U.S. auto sales after the industry's solid first quarter, Ford President for the Americas Mark Fields said on Wednesday.

Ford now expects the U.S. auto industry sales for the year to be 14.5 million to 15 million vehicles, including medium and heavy trucks. That is up from its previous forecast of 13.5 million to 14.5 million.

At the same time, and because of the stronger overall industry, Ford is likely to lose U.S. market share this year, Fields said. In 2011, Ford was No. 2 with 16.8 percent of the U.S. market behind crosstown rival General Motors Co at 19.6 percent.

In 2008, before the U.S. auto industry went into a deep slump, GM's market share was 22 percent and Ford's was 15 percent.

Fields, speaking at a Bank of America auto industry conference in New York, also said that Ford will lose money in Europe and in Asia in the first quarter, but the company is on track with its previous forecast of a higher automotive pre-tax operating profit this year than in 2011.

This year's total company operating profit is expected to be about the same as in 2011, Fields said, which is unchanged from its previous forecast.

For Ford in Europe, Fields said, "We expect first-quarter results to be about the same or somewhat worse than the fourth-quarter 2011 pre-tax loss of $190 million."

In keeping with previous forecasting, Fields said Ford expects "full-year 2012 results for Ford Europe to be limited to a loss of about $500 million to $600 million."

Fields also said that Ford will realize a "small loss" in Asia in the first quarter because of major investments in new products like the midsized pickup truck Ford Ranger in Asia and Africa, the launch of the Ford Focus in China and the expense of opening an assembly plant in Chongqing in China.

Ford in Asia will be profitable for the full year in 2012, Fields said.

Ford's North American business will continue to be the company's strong point, Fields said.

The overall European market continues to weaken, Fields said, so Ford has slightly lowered its expectation for industry auto sales in its key 19 counties there to the low end of its previously announced 14 million to 15 million vehicles range.

In the United States, Ford joins several companies that have raised 2012 auto sales forecast based on the unexpectedly strong first quarter, when the industry quickened the pace of what had been a slow recovery from the 2008-2009 downturn.

Most of the auto industry tracks auto sales without counting medium and heavy trucks as Ford does. This light vehicle auto sales rate generally runs about 300,000 fewer sales than if the bigger trucks are included.

Ford's new expectation for total light vehicle U.S. sales for the year would be between 14.2 million and 14.7 million vehicles.

First-quarter U.S. light vehicle auto sales were about 14.5 million to 14.6 million vehicles, which was the best quarterly sales rate in four years.

So far, 2012 sales indicate a much quicker recovery than in recent years.

Last year, U.S. light vehicle sales were 12.8 million. Sales in 2010 were 11.6 million and in the lowest level since World War II accounting for population, 2009 sales were 10.4 million.

In a 10-year period ending in 2007, U.S. auto sales averaged nearly 17 million vehicles


Ford Canada: Top-selling
automaker for March

Second best March in a decade

March Highlights:
·         Ford Focus sales increased 16%
·         Ford Mustang sales rose 120%
·         Ford Edge sales were up 9%
·         Ford Flex sales increased 7%
·         Ford Transit Connect sales were up 100%
·         Ford F-Series sales increased 3%
·         Lincoln MKS sales were up 5%

OAKVILLE, Ont., April 4, 2012 – Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited saw solid performances across the line-up including Ford Focus, Edge, Flex and F-Series, making it the best-selling automaker for the month of March. Ford Focus sales were up 16 per cent, Edge sales increased by 9 per cent, Flex sales rose 7 per cent and F-Series sales were up 3 per cent. Overall, Ford of Canada sales were down slightly by 3 per cent compared to the same month last year.

 “By consistently offering value, capability and great fuel economy, we’re seeing sales strength right across the product line up – from small car to full-size pickup, ” said Dianne Craig, president and CEO, Ford of Canada. “There was a slight decline in March, however it was still a very strong month considering that last March we set a 12-year record.”

March also saw total Ford CUV sales rise 8 per cent, driven by popular crossover utility vehicles like the Canadian-built Edge and Flex.


Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited
March 2012 Vehicle Sales




% Change

Total Vehicles




January – March








Total Cars




January – March








Total Trucks




January – March





Ford Motor Company Posts Strongest U.S. March Sales
in Five Years; Fusion, Focus, Edge Post Record Sales Months

  • Ford Motor Company posts its strongest U.S. March sales in five years with 223,418 vehicles sold – a 5 percent sales increase over last March
  • Ford Fusion posts its best sales month ever at 28,562 vehicles
  • Ford Focus has its best March sales ever at 28,293 vehicles
  • Ford Edge has its best March ever at 14,058 vehicles
  • F-Series March sales of 58,061 are up 9 percent, its best March sales performance since 2007; EcoBoost accounts for 41 percent of the F-150 retail sales

Download Full Sales Release (With Tables)

DEARBORN, Mich., April 4, 2012 – Ford Motor Company posted its best March U.S. sales month since 2007 – with the Ford Fusion recording its best month ever, Ford Focus and Ford Edge achieving their best March ever and the F-Series showing the strongest March sales in five years.
Total company sales totalled 223,418 vehicles for March, a 5 percent gain over year-ago levels. Retail sales increased 11 percent for the month.
For the first quarter, Ford Motor Company’s sales were up 9 percent versus year-ago levels, totalling 539,247 vehicles sold. The increases were driven by the popularity of Ford’s most fuel-efficient models posting record sales months.    
March sales highlights:

  • Fusion set an all-time monthly sales record, with 28,562 vehicles sold.
  • Focus delivered its best March sales performance ever, selling 28,293 cars.
  • F-Series sold 58,061 for the month – a 9 percent increase versus last March and F-Series’ best March sales performance since 2007. EcoBoost accounted for 41 percent of the F-150 retail sales, with all V6 engines comprising 56 percent for the month.
  • The Ford Edge had it best March sales month ever, with 14,058 vehicles sold.
  • Ford began selling its Police Interceptor Sedans and Utilities at the end of March.

During the first quarter:

  • Car sales at Ford Motor Company were up 8 percent. The fuel-efficient Focus was the biggest seller among Ford’s car lineup, with sales up 78 percent during this period, with 66,043 vehicles sold.
  • Utility sales totalled 150,415 vehicles, a 6 percent increase versus year-ago levels. Escape sales were up 5 percent, making it the strongest-ever first quarter start for Escape – America’s best-selling utility.
  • Ford Motor Company truck sales increased 11 percent, with 195,807 vehicles sold. F-Series pickups – America’s top-selling truck for 35 years – posted sales of 143,827 vehicles for the quarter, a 14-percent increase versus the same period in 2011



Ford: Higher gas prices
boost auto sales

By Dave Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 4, 2012

New York -Ford Motor Co.'s Americas president Mark Fields says some Americans are buying new cars because of higher fuel prices.

As gas prices near $4 a gallon, auto sales have remained strong. Many auto execs now believe auto sales for all of 2012 could near 15 million vehicles or even top them.

"Higher gas prices is spurring people to buy vehicles because they want vehicles that get better fuel economy," Fields said on the sidelines of an event to unveil the new 2013 Lincoln MKZ. "We're very well positioned."

General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson told The Detroit News last month that the automaker predicted that total U.S. auto industry sales for 2012 will be higher than the company forecast at the end of December, and could top 14.5 million or 15 million.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne also said last week that he thought U.S. sales were running ahead of earlier estimates.

But Fields said one issue of concern is the unseasonably warm weather. "There's the question of the weather factor: How much has the good winter actually pulled sales forward," Fields said.

He noted that Ford is boosting capacity this year.

"We do have capacity that's coming on in the second and third quarter," Fields said on the sidelines of an event to unveil the new 2013 Lincoln MKZ. "We had always expected the industry to come back, and we are adding a number of shifts."

Fields said Ford is adding three equivalent shifts. Ford is adding a third shift at Michigan Assembly and Chicago Assembly.

Fields said the U.S. economy is improving and people are feeling more confident about buying a new vehicle. "Employment growth is accelerating," Fields said.

Fields said he would offer an update on Ford's sales forecast later this week.


MKZ sedan is a link
to Lincoln's future

mid-size 2013 MKZ sedan

Mid-size model marks beginning of luxury
unit's comeback, president says

By David Shepardson Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 4, 2012

New York —Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln division showed Monday night its new mid-size 2013 MKZ sedan that will go on sale later this year. The MKZ is a key vehicle in the automaker's effort to revive its struggling luxury unit.

Ford Americas President Mark Fields said the reveal — in a fancy New York office building ahead of this week's New York International Auto Show — marked the beginning of the turnaround, noting that over the next three years the company will release seven new or heavily refreshed models.

After more than 90 years as part of Ford, Fields said Lincoln is "a brand with a history, but also a future." Fields says the turnaround will be a "span of years … We realize we have a long journey in front of us."

The new MKZ will be released later this year in both a hybrid version and a traditional powertrain.

Jim Farley, Ford' s group vice president, global marketing, sales and service, says the MKZ will compete with the Infiniti G35, Lexus ES, Cadillac CTS, as well as mid-sized models from BMW and Mercedes.

Farley said the design, fuel efficiency, service and technology — including noise-canceling technology — will help luxury buyers give Lincoln a chance.

The mid-size premium segment is one of the fastest-growing parts of the automaker, and will likely jump more than 20 percent by 2015, Fields said.

Dave Sullivan, manager for product analysis for AutoPacific Inc., said Lincoln's new MKZ sedan may turn some heads.

"For Lincoln to come out with a vehicle that is not a cookie-cutter of the Ford Fusion, where people can get this glass roof that's coming out, it's really going to get people to give a second look at Lincoln," he said.

Lincoln sales continue to lag Ford sales in the United States. Through the first two months of 2012, Lincoln is up 4.6 percent; Ford brand sales are up 11.2 percent.

In the first two months of the year, Ford sold nearly 304,000 Ford brand vehicles — and just 12,000 Lincolns.

In 2011, Lincoln sales fell 0.2 percent to 85,828, while Ford sales were up 17 percent. Lincoln's market share tumbled to a five-year low as it killed the Town Car nameplate that was used for airport limos and other fleet cars. Lincoln was the only U.S. brand to lose market share in 2011.

But Fields said the growing number of Ford buyers are a good market for the next generation of luxury buyers.

"Growing the Ford customer base is a good thing for Lincoln," Fields said.

With a panoramic glass roof, distinct design and sweeping profile, the MKZ received rave reviews when Ford unveiled the concept version of the MKZ at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The concept version was virtually identical to the production version unveiled Monday.

This is the first Lincoln created by a new dedicated Lincoln design team. Ford still hasn't set the price, release date or offered any forecast for planned sales.

"The new Lincoln MKZ represents the future of Lincoln in both style and substance," said Farley said. "It is proof of our commitment to deliver a new breed of Lincolns for a new generation of Lincoln clients — motor cars that are distinctive, elegant, full of technology and a delight to own."

Separately, Lincoln said it will provide "around-the-clock online concierge services" to prospective buyers starting in 2013. Essentially, the service will make it easier for customers to figure out which Lincoln best suits them before going to a dealership.

The automaker said it is working to improve how it works with customers, collaborating with a well-known organization of hotel concierges — Les Clefs d'Or — to create a better service experience.

Farley said the brand must add "personal and innovative customer service at every step." Lincoln will train customer service reps known as "Lincoln Luxury Culture Ambassadors" starting this summer.

Lincoln is considering a "Lincoln date night" — where a prospective owner would get a test Lincoln for two days — and a dinner on Lincoln to help luxury owners to switch vehicles, Farley said. He said Lincoln is considering honoring the "anniversary" of the day people buy Lincolns, perhaps by replacing floor mats and wiper blades.

Lincoln is also considering embedding vehicles with a radio-frequency ID so dealers would know who an owner was before they got out of their vehicle.


Ford exec salaries rise in '11

But bonuses down for top 5
officers over missed targets


April  2, 2012
Jaclyn Trop The Detroit News

Salaries rose but bonuses fell for Ford Motor Co.'s top five officers in 2011 compared with the year before, as the automaker missed several performance targets.

Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally received $29.5 million in total compensation, according to the automaker's proxy filing Friday. The package, which includes $2 million in salary and a $5.46 million cash bonus, makes Mulally the highest-paid U.S. auto executive. The UAW said Friday that performance of Ford stock doesn't justify his compensation.

The $29.5 million represents an 11.3 percent raise over the $26.5 million Mulally received in 2010, which included $1.4 million in salary and a $3.1 million cash bonus.

GM Chief Executive Daniel Akerson received $9 million in total annual compensation. Akerson told The Detroit News this week that the Treasury Department said his pay was in the bottom tier of CEOs of similarly sized companies.

Fiat and its Fiat Industrial subsidiary awarded Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne about $22 million in 2011. He received no pay from Chrysler.

United Auto Workers Vice President Jimmy Settles said Friday that Ford's stock price, which fell 36 percent in 2011, doesn't justify what Mulally was paid.

"It's as if there's an echo in here," said Settles, who directs the union's National Ford Department.

"As UAW President Bob King said last March on this very subject: Alan Mulally's a good CEO. But it's hard to justify the big salary and huge stock options he received for 2011, especially when the company's stock isn't performing."

The United Auto Workers agreed to freeze base wages for veteran Ford workers under the four-year contract ratified in October.

Mulally earned more than any other global auto industry executive in 2010, according to Towers Watson, a compensation consultant in Southfield. Several foreign automakers have not yet released 2011 compensation.

Ford spokesman Jay Cooney said, "The compensation committee felt that our exceptional performance in 2011 merited" the awards.

Ford exceeded its 2011 targets for global profits before tax and global automotive operating-related cash flow. It fell short of its own expectations for cost performance, market share and quality.

The missed targets mean Ford's other top four officers receive less in bonuses in 2011, even though their total compensation rose. These officers include Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth, and Executive Vice President and President of the Americas Mark Fields.

Joe Hinrichs, group vice president and president of Asia Pacific and Africa surpassed John Fleming, executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs, to round out the top five.

Ford Jr. received $2 million in salary and $1.56 million in cash bonus for a total compensation of $14.46 million in 2011. In 2010, he received $1.4 million in salary and $2.7 million in cash bonus.

His $26.46 million payout last year included salary for 2008 and 2009 and the value of stock awards made for 2008.

Total compensation includes stock and option awards as well as personal expenses.

Booth, who retires from the automaker today, received $1.25 million in salary and $1.4 million in cash bonus for a total compensation of $7.7 million. Booth received $8.2 million in 2010, including $1.24 million in salary and $3 million in cash bonus.

Compensation for Fields remained stable this year at $8.8 million, including $1.35 million in salary and $1.56 million in cash bonus. In 2010, he earned $1.34 million in salary and $3.6 million in cash bonus.

Hinrichs received $5.3 million in total compensation, including $751,250 in salary and $925,000 in cash bonus.

Ford announced earlier this month that Mulally also received $58.3 million in company stock as part of a 2009 long-term incentive package.

After taxes, Mulally received 2.86 million shares of stock worth $34.5 million.

Ford's stock was $1.96 a share at the time of the 2009 awards. The stock fell 20 basis points Friday to close at $12.48 a share.

Mulally's total 2011 compensation includes a stock award from Ford's board of 376,016 shares that will vest in 2014. Those shares are currently valued at $4.55 million. Mulally also was awarded options to buy 1.275 million shares of Ford stock at $12.46.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. was awarded 175,473 shares worth $2.1 million that will vest in 2014. He received 595,238 options that allow him to buy shares of stock at $12.46.

Mulally and Ford received stock options to buy 1.275 million and 175,473 shares, respectively, at $12.46. The options are exercisable over three years, with 33 percent per year.

2011 CEO pay

Alan Mulally , Ford: $29.5 million
Martin Winterkorn , VW: $23 million
Sergio Marchionne , Chrysler: $0 ($22 million from Fiat)
Dieter Zetsche , Daimler: $11.4 million
Dan Akerson , GM: $9 million



Lincoln continues its
comeback with MKS

Lincoln continues its comeback with MKS

April 1, 2012
Doug Guthrie

Lincoln took another step in its self-described journey back toward luxury car credibility Friday when it allowed the motoring press its first chance to drive the refreshed 2013 MKS.

The full-size sedan has received more than a cosmetic makeover. Lincoln's flagship got major suspension improvements, including a continuously controlled damping system that had the big car dancing Friday on the undulating roads of Ford's Michigan Proving Grounds.

The new, more refined styling and interior of the 2013 MKS were revealed in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The MKS remains first a luxury car, quiet and well-appointed with all the latest electronic infotainment offerings.

More powerful engines, more efficient brakes and touch-of-a-button suspension adjustments that offer "normal," "sport" and "comfort" settings put the MKS closer to its competition.

"We believe the ride is as good as the Audi A6 and better than the Mercedes-Benz E350," said Scott Tobin, Lincoln's director of product development.

The standard 3.7-liter, 305-horsepower V-6 engine gets an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. The optional 3.5-liter, turbocharged, 365-horsepower EcoBoost V-6 gets an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

The car is due next month in dealer showrooms. Base price of a 2013 MKS with front-wheel drive is $42,810. The all-wheel drive version is $44,805. An all-wheel drive model with the EcoBoost is $49,800.

Onboard computers proactively adjust the electric-assisted power steering and traction-control system to improve ride and handling. New safety systems warn the driver of unexpected lane changes and possible collisions through rapid computer analysis of images from a forward-facing camera. The dashboard displays a lighted image of a coffee cup when a driver habitually wanders outside lane markers.

All the sheet metal ahead of the windshield is new for 2013, and the trunk opening was redesigned to make access easier. Lincoln's designers say the MKS no longer shares any exterior parts with the underlying architecture originally designed as Ford's full-sized Taurus.

Lincoln's marketers also are stepping away from not the appearance of the brand's signature grill shape, but from referring to its vertical fins as a "waterfall." Instead, the more delicately styled grille on the 2013 MKS is being likened to the wings of a bird.

"We had fallen behind in the game," said C.J. O'Donnell, Lincoln marketing manager. "The MKS is another step in Lincoln's transformation."

Lincoln was in trouble: The average Lincoln buyer's age is 65. Sales fell more than 60 percent over the last two decades. But the MKS and up to six other new models and dramatic renovations expected by 2015 are aimed at younger, better-educated and more-affluent buyers.

"It's not do-or-die with the current models being introduced," said Aaron Bragman, senior analyst with IHS Automotive Group.

"Ford bought themselves a great amount of room with Lincoln because they sold everything else off. Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mercury was killed off. They are at the start of a process that Cadillac successfully made over the last 10 years."

To do this, Ford created the first independent Lincoln team of engineers, designers and marketers in decades.

Distancing the look and feel of Lincoln's cars from their underlying Ford beginnings was among the first priorities.

The 2013 MKS will move Lincoln down that road. Designers and engineers said Friday there's more to come.







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