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NEWS ARTICLE
INDEX

Ford again
the only
Detroit
automaker
to make
Consumer
Reports' Top
Picks list
_________

UAW
threatens
new strike
at Ford's
Kentucky
Truck Plant
if local
contract
isn't
resolved
_______

Ford Model
e COO: 'We
don't have a
future' if EV
market lost
to Chinese
automakers
_______

US closes
7-year probe
into Ford
Fusion power
steering
failures
without
seeking
further
recalls
________

UAW has
signed
majority of
VW workers
at Tennessee
plant to join
union
_______

Ford profit
sharing: Here's
how much UAW
members will
get for 2023
_______

Ford posts
year-over-
year sales
increase in
January
_______

UAW
President: If
corporations
won't pay
for pensions,
taxpayers
must
_______

Ford Kicks
Off 2024 By
Recalling
2 Million
Explorers
______

Ford cuts
F-150
Lightning
output, ups
Bronco,
Ranger
production.
Here's the
effect
on jobs
________

FCC chair asks
automakers
how they will
stop use of
car electronics
for stalking
______

Tesla is raising
factory worker
pay as auto
union tries to
organize
its electric
vehicle plants
________

Ford Recalls
1.0L EcoBoost
Engine
In Focus,
EcoSport
For Oil
Pressure
Issues
_______

Alabama
Mercedes-
Benz plant
hits 30% UAW
authorization
support
_______

Safety Alert:
Ford Initiates
Major Vehicle
Recall Over
Crash Risks
_______

Detroit 3
to skip 2024
Super Bowl
_______

Ford posts
best sales
year since
2020 even
as EV
growth
slows
_______

The Year
Ahead:
Politics
in 2024
_______

Ford Is
The Most
Recalled
Brand In
America
For 2023
And It's Not
Even Close
_______

20 years
of Dodge
muscle
comes to
an end in
Brampton,
Ontario
________

Ontario has
announced
big changes
to alcohol
sales. Here’s
how it’ll work
_______

Environmental
groups
demand GM,
Ford break
up with Auto
Alliance over
EV standards
_______

Ford
Executive
Doug Field
Buys $2
Million in
Company
Stock
_______

Ford
decreasing
F-150
Lightning
production
in Dearborn
amid EV
pullback
_______

GM has to
pay $8
million to
workers after
2018 decision
to make
plants
'unallocated'
_______

UAW
hits major
threshold in
organizing
drive at
Volkswagen
in Tennessee
_______

More than
1,000 VW
workers in
Tennessee
sign union
representation
cards - UAW
_______

Ford sales
down year-
over-year
in November
as EV sales
hit record
_______

Ford shares
new guidance
after UAW
strike costs
it $1.7B
________

Transport
Canada Warns
9 Cars Have
Been Recalled
Here's Which
Vehicles Are
Affected
_______

Detroit's
Big Three
Ratified
_______

UAW ratifies
deal with
GM after
late voting
support
_______

Autoworkers
to wrap up
voting on
contract with
General
Motors
Thursday
in a race
too close
to call
_______

UAW workers
at major Ford
and GM truck
plants vote
'no' on record
contract deals
_______

Unifor auto
talks: a quiet
end to one
of the year's
biggest
labour
clashes
_______

Honda hikes
production
workers' pay
after UAW
deals with
Detroit 3
_______

Biden wants
UAW style
labor deal
for all U.S.
auto workers
_______

Toyota’s non-
unionized
workers didn’t
go on strike
but are
getting a raise
anyway to keep
the company
competitive
with Detroit’s
Big 3
_______

Stellantis
Unifor workers
vote in favour
of collective
agreement
______

Ford's sales
down in
October on
impact of
UAW strike
_______

What's the
deal? UAW
details gains
of new four-
year contract
with GM
_______

What is the
CPP anyway?
And why is
Alberta
leaving it
different
from
Quebec?
________

Detroit 3
start calling
UAW members
back to work
after strike
ends
_______

Ford/UAW
Agreement
Highlights
Oct 2023
________

Unifor
reaches
tentative
contract
agreement
with
Stellantis,
ending brief
strike
_______

Unifor
sends 8,200
Stellantis
workers on
strike
as talks
continue
______

UAW
announces
tentative
greement with
Stellantis.
Here are key
provisions
_______

Ford details
UAW strike
impact,
further slows
down EV
plans
_______

Autoworkers
reach a deal
with Ford, a
breakthrough
toward ending
strikes
against
Detroit
automakers
______

UAW says
'more to be
won' despite
record
offers from
automakers;
declines to
expand strikes
_______

Unifor sets
Oct. 29 as
strike
deadline for Stellantis
talks
_______

Who Did It
Better, United
AutoWorkers
Or Unifor?
______

Ford
Executive
Chair Bill
Ford calls on
autoworkers
to end
strike, says
company's
future is
at stake
______

Unifor's
pattern
bargaining
threatened
by Stellantis
members in
Windsor, Ont.
_______

2023 UAW
strike update:
GM agrees to
place electric
vehicle battery
plants under
national
contract
________

UAW strike
day 21: GM
presents new
offer as union
plans another
'stand-up
announcement
_______

Ford's Q3
sales rise
on strong
sales of
trucks,
hybrids
_______

Ford makes
seventh
contract
offer to
UAW:
‘Strongest’
yet
______

UAW strike
day 17:
Negotiations
continue in
third week
of targeted
walkouts
_______

US expands
probe into
Ford engine
failures to
include two
motors and
nearly
709,000
vehicles
________

Ford CEO
says UAW
holding labor
deal 'hostage'
over fate of
battery plants
_______

UAW makes
new counter
proposal to
Chrysler
parent
Stellantis
-union
_______

Donald
Trump: UAW
negotiations
'don't mean
as much as
you think'
______

UAW strike
day 12:
Talks
continue
amid
presidential
visit
_______

Unifor chooses
next company
for Canadian
auto contract
talks
_______

President of
Unifor Local
200 'Elated'
by Tentative
Agreement
by Ford Motor
Company
______

Ford, Unifor
reach
tentative
agreement,
averting
strike in
Canada
________

UAW justifies
wage demands
by pointing to
CEO pay raises
So how high
were they?
_______

UAW strike
continues
Friday; GM
CEO says
she hopes
for quick
resolution
_______

UAW planning
targeted
strike of
specific
plants,
sources say
_______

The United
Auto Workers
may soon
strike.Every
American should
support them
______

UAW president
Fain sees
movement
from Detroit
Three despite
'inadequate'
Stellantis offer
________

WD-40 says
it will not be
banned, will
change
formula
to satisfy
Ottawa's
new rules
______

GM offers
UAW workers
a 16% pay
raise in
attempt to
avoid strike
_______

UAW president
says union has
filed unfair
labor practice
charges against
GM, Stellantis
over contract
talks
_______

Unifor picks
Ford for
pattern
negotiations
in 2023
auto talks
______

Canada's Unifor joins UAW in authorizing
Detroit 3strikes

_______

Unifor Detroit
3 members
deliver
overwhelming
strike mandate
_______

UAW president
threatens strike
if automakers
don't get it
together
_______

Retiree Garry
Ellwood Passes
Away August
24, 2023
_______

‘No trucks in,
no trucks out.’
Striking Metro
grocery
workers turn
up the heat
with picketing
at distribution
warehouses
_______

Wild horse:
800-hp,
$300k
Mustang GTD
track beast
takes aim at
Porsche 911
GT3 RS
________

Ford makes
first
Québec investment
with battery
partners for
cathode
manufacturing
plant
_______

'The clock is
ticking:' UAW
prepares to
step up fight
for contract
demands
______

Ford Motor
Co. reveals
details behind
$1.8B plan to
build electric
vehicles in
Oakville
_______

Millions Of
Canadians
Could Get
Money From
A LifeLabs
Class Action
& Here's
Who Is
Eligible
________

Unifor says
it will 'fight
and strike'
for higher
wages as
talks with
Detroit 3
automakers
begin
________

Autoworkers
prepared to
strike, Unifor
says, as
bargaining
begins with
Detroit 3
_______

Unifor
seeking
investments
in Windsor's
Ford engine
plant during
negotiations
with Detroit 3
_______

Ford posts
sales gain
in July
_______

UAW
president
Shawn Fain
trashes
Stellantis
contract
proposal
_______

UAW demands
46% pay hike
in talks with
Detroit Three
automakers
_______

‘Revenge of
the wage
earner’:
Metro grocery
strike part
of larger
labour trend,
experts say
_______

Ford to Seek
Flexible EV
Production in
Contract Talks
With UAW
_______

Jerry Dias
commentary:
For Detroit 3
contract talks
the pedal is
about to hit
the metal
________

Wave of
strikes in
Canada could
cause ‘knock-
on effect’ in
other sectors,
experts warn
_______

UAW
president
reveals 'the
members'
demands'
for Detroit
Three talks
_______

Ford recalls
870K F-150
pickups in
US because
parking
brakes can
turn on
unexpectedly
_______

Ford
increases
guidance
as Q2 net
income
soars; EV
losses
expected
to grow
______

Profits at
Detroit 3
set up
perfect
storm
for UAW
negotiations
_______

Did the Bank
of Canada
just push
Canada over
the tipping
point?
________

Ford cuts
F-150
Lightning
prices by up
to $10,000
just days
after
Tesla's first
Cybertruck
rolled off
the line
_______

What you
need to
know about
mortgage
renewals
with interest
rates at a
22-year high
_______

Ford to seek
flexible ev
production in
contract talks
_______

Ford
Oakville
Trans-
formation
Begins
in 2024
_______

Ex-Unifor
President
Jerry Dias
Speaks After
Bribery
Allegations
_______

Rising
interest
rates worry
7 in 10
Canadians
and another
hike
could be
coming
________

Ford sales
jump 10%
in Q2 on
pickup
strength
as EV sales
slip
______

Stellantis
deal reached
to restart
EV battery
factory
construction
_______

"Fighting for
COLA" UAW
calls on Big 3
to Reinstate
Cost of Living
Adjustments
_______

Ford's
product guru,
veteran
of tech
heavyweights,
riffs on
Blue Oval's
electrified
future
_______

A fight over
the future
of electric
vehicles is
unfolding in
Washington.
Canadians
are involved
_______

Hundreds Of
Ford’s White
Collar Workers
Are Reportedly
About To Be
Out Of A Job
______

EV metals
will come
from dead
batteries at
new U.S.
plant
_______

Ford Explorer
recall prompts
Transportation
Department
investigation
_______

Unifor kicks
off grocery
talks with
100 per cent
strike vote
by ‘fed up’
workers
______

Prominent
auto analyst
on UAW
contract
talks: 'I
think we're
going to see
a strike'
_______

Bill Ford
balks at
UAW ‘enemy’
rhetoric: ‘
That’s just
wrong’
_______

The Detroit
Three could
do more for
workers with
their profits
_______

Can police
demand to
have your
doorbell
video? Here's
what you
need to know
________

Electric
vehicles'
range falls
when carrying
heavy loads
_______

World first:
How a 200
mph wind
tunnel helped
develop the
Ford Mustang
Dark Horse
______

Unveiled:
Mustang GT3
will race for
2024 Le Mans
glory
_______

Ford on track
to produce
150,000 F-150
Lightnings,
lowering
customer
wait times
_______

Automakers
tell Congress:
Don't make
us keep
AM radio
______

GM invests
in next-
gen truck
production
at Oshawa,
Ontario, plant
_______

Ford tells
some Lincoln
SUV owners
to park
outdoors
because of
fire risk
______

Strong truck
sales lift
Ford's May
results
_______

Ford EVs
to get
access
to Tesla
charging
network,
CEOs say
________

'Pony up:'
UAW
leadership
details
priorities
for Detroit
3 contract
talks
______

Time to end
violations of
Canada Health
Act with illegal
fees for
service
_______

Talks stall as
Trudeau
and Ford’s
multibillion
offer to save
Stellantis EV
battery plant
falls short
_______

Ford's Farley:
'We see the
Chinese as
the main
competitor,
not GM or
Toyota'
________

Ford’s new
three-row
crossover
to be built
at Oakville
plant
_______

Ford reverses
course, will
keep AM
radio on
future
models
_______

Ford strikes
lithium deals
to support
increase in
EV output
_______

Canadian
autoworkers
union Unifor
lays out
priorities for
Detroit Three
contract talks
_______

Unifor Auto
Council
determines
bargaining
priorities
for D3
negotiations
_______

Automaker
set to 'pull
the plug' on
electric-
vehicle
battery
plant
_______

Ford posts
April sales
gain as
F-Series
comes
roaring
back
_______

Ford cuts
Mustang
Mach-E
prices
across
lineup,
reopens
order
banks
_______

Ford posts
strong
revenue
and higher
profit margins
exceeding
Wall Street
expectations
_______

Grocery giants
are screwing
Canadians &
farmers have
proof
________

Workers gain
protection as
pension super
priority Bill
receives
royal assent
______

Stellantis
offers
buyouts to
33,500 hourly,
salaried
workers;
UAW's Fain
fires back
_______

Stellantis
will offer
buyouts to
cut hourly
workforce
by 3,500
_______

UAW
president
on auto
contract talks
We're going to
do what we
have to do'
_______

Ford to
export F-150
Lightning
to Norway
______

Retiree
Joe Blum
Passes Away
April 14, 2023
_______

Volkswagen’s
new Ontario
plant will
dwarf
previous
automaker
investments
_______

U.S. House
Ways & Means
chair questions
Ford agreement
with CATL
in Marshall
project
________

U.S. Supreme
Court won't
hear GM's
2019
racketeering
lawsuit
against Fiat
Chrysler
______

Shareholders
support
Stellantis
CEO
compensation
_______

EPA unveiling
'strongest
ever' auto
emissions
standards in
EV push
________

Ford to
invest $1.3B
in Oakville,
Ontario, plant
to build EVs
_______

Here's how
much Ford
CEO Jim
Farley made
last year
_______

Unifor Local
444 to
celebrate
addition of
600 new
members
_______

Ford sales
up 10.1%
in first
quarter,
cedes No. 2
EV position
to rival GM
________

Can the
UAW Rise
Again?
_______

Retiree Keith
White Passes
Away April 2,
2023

________

Auto Workers
Convention
Lurches
Towards
Reversing
Concessions
________

Ford invests
in Indonesian
nickel-
processing
project
to lock
up goods
_______

Ford just
made this
type of
vehicle
extinct
_______

Lana Payne
Remarks
to UAW
Bargaining
Convention,
March 27,
2023

________

'It's a new
day in the
UAW': Fain
urges unity
in the face
of 'only true
enemy'
________

Ford reveals
EV losses
as it rolls
out new
financial
reporting
_______

Ford recalls
1.5M vehicles
to fix brake
hoses, wiper
arms
________

New Ford
distribution
centre set
toopen in
Casselman
this spring
_______

It’s a New
Day in the
United Auto
Workers
________

Ontario
income tax
credits
people
need to
know
about
_______

Retiree
Joe Vugts
Passes Away
March 17,
2023
________

Ford to lay
off 1,100 at
Spanish plant
in cost-cut
campaign
________

153,000
catalytic
converters
were stolen
in 2022, &
these 10
vehicles
are the top
targets
______

Ford recalls
18 F-150
Lightnings
over
battery
issue
_______

Volkswagen
to build
battery plant
in Canada
to fast-track
EV plans
_______

Ottawa warns
provinces not
to charge
fees for
medically
necessary
services
_______

GM offers U.S.
employees
voluntary
separation
program
_______

New Ford
patent
proposes a
burnout
mode for
electric
models
_______

A New Ford
Mustang
Shelby GT500
Like This
Could
Dominate
The Sports
Car Market
_______

Doug Ford’s
campaign
finance law
struck down
by court
_______

Ford sales
up 22% in
February on
better
inventory
flow
_______

Postal
Service taps
Ford to build
more than
9,000 electric
delivery
trucks
_______

F-150
Lightning
connected
to Amazon
rainforest
pollution
_______

Ford finds
fresh battery
issue in
some F-150
Lightnings
_______

Ford
government
criticized
for proposing
a change to
how elderly
residents
get medicine
________

Prioritize
retiree’s
pensions in
bankruptcy,
says Unifor
to Senate
Committee
_______

New
$265,000,000
electric vehicle
battery facility
bringing
hundreds
of new jobs
to Brampton
________

What Ontario
drivers need
to know about
major rollout
of licence
plate
scanning
technology
_______

Ford to
slash
thousands
of Europe
jobs as it
eyes
electric
future
________

Ford to
announce
$2.5B battery
plant in
Marshall
with Chinese
partner
________

As surgical
wait lists
grow,
Canada's
private
clinics
cash in
_______

Ford CEO
teases F-150
Lightning
electric
supertruck
with sneak
peek
_______

Ford to
launch
Formula 1
comeback
after 20
years
_______

'Accountability
starts at the
top:' Senior
Ford execs
to see
bonus cuts
______

A national
strategy on
aging? Health
leaders are
asking
Trudeau
to heed
their call
_______

U.S. Ford
hourly
workers
to get $9K
in profit
sharing
despite
headwinds
_______

Jagmeet
Singh says
the Canada
Health Act
could be
used to
challenge
private
health care.
Could it?
______

US probes
complaints
of parts
flying off
of Ford
Explorers
_______

Congratulations
to Retiree
Konrad Wilski
on his 99th
Birthday
Feb 1, 2023
_______

Retiree Pat
Brown
Passes
Away
Jan 26,
2023
_______

Ford recalls
nearly 383K
SUVs to fix
backup
camera
problem
________

Ford Firing
Thousands
Of Employees
_______

Ford's
BlueCruise
automated
driving
system tops
Consumer
Reports
study
_______

Ford to Pay
$2500 If
2023 Bronco
Customers
Switch to
another
Model
_______

Ontario
government
health line
is referring
patients to
virtual-only
doctors not
covered
by OHIP
_______

Profits
put patients
at risk
_______

GM appealing
to Supreme
Court in case
against FCA
________

Virginia
governor
scraps
Ford's bid
for EV
battery
plant with
Chinese
partner
________

Ontario
License
Plate
Renewal:
Everything
You Need
to Know
________

Former union
leaders
transferred
funds to
enrich
themselves,
OPSEU suit
claims
______

In arguably
biggest test
of new
NAFTA,
Canada &
Mexico defeat
U.S. in auto
rules dispute
________

Odometer
Rollback Is
On The Rise
_______

Ford F-Series
claims 'best-
selling truck'
title for 46th
year
_______

As 'Three
Amigos' meet
in Mexico,
experts call
on leaders
for North
American
vision
_______

Ford closes
2022 as
No. 2 EV
maker
as sales
slip 2.2%
_______

Ford Hits
Back at
Tesla
_______

Auto sales
for 2022
expected to
be worse
than 2020
_______

‘Schemes
for profiting’:
Privatizers
lick their
chops as
medicare
totters
_________

Edmonton
Retiree
Larry Gay
Passes Away
Dec 24, 2022
________

2022
Articles

Made In Canada Matters

Contact Us

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East Court Ford

News

Ford again the only Detroit
automaker to make Consumer
Reports' Top Picks list

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
March 3, 2024

Ford Motor Co. with its Maverick Hybrid is once again the only Detroit automaker to make the annual "Top Picks" list released Tuesday by Consumer Reports.

This is the second time the Dearborn automaker made the cut with its Maverick compact truck. The truck also made the list last year.

In 2022, Ford's electric Mustang Mach-E made the list. No Detroit Three vehicles made the list in 2021.

Consumer Reports also released its brand rankings, and again, as in past years, not one Detroit-based auto brand ranked in the top 10. European and Japanese brands dominated the list because of their solid reliability. General Motors Co.'s Buick brand placed the highest on the list of 34 at No. 13, followed by Cadillac at No. 14. GM's Chevrolet brand came in at No. 22 and GMC was GM's lowest-ranking brand at No. 31.

The Ford Motor Co. Ford brand came in at No. 17 and Lincoln came in at No. 21.

Stellantis NV's brands ranked at the bottom of the list with Chrysler at No. 24, Dodge at No. 25, Maserati at No. 27, Alfa Romeo at No. 28 and Jeep dead last at No. 34.

For "Cadillac, Ford, Buick, if you look at just the road test score, it's pretty similar to the same road test score average as an Acura or a Toyota," said Jake Fisher, CR’s senior director of automotive testing. "It's not that they're making bad cars that people don't like. They're actually making some very, very good cars. The issue tends to be the reliability, so the reliability kind of drags them down."

2024 Top Picks

Consumer Reports, a nonprofit consumer research and advocacy organization, selects the year's top models from hundreds of current vehicles.

"Top Picks" vehicles receive the highest scores in CR's ratings. They come standard with key safety features, have high marks for reliability and satisfaction from owners in CR's member surveys.

The organization tested more than 250 vehicles and had member survey stats on more than 330,000 vehicles that it used for both "Top Picks" and Brand Rankings.

Since plug-in hybrid demand is growing, CR expanded testing and rating for those vehicles.

The organization evaluated 13 popular PHEVs and found they are often "quicker, quieter, and more satisfying to drive than the gas-only versions of the same vehicles."

CR noted it made "key changes to its scoring for PHEVs. The fuel economy scores are now based on the overall fuel economy from CR’s testing and the EV range, which is based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, counts as a bonus. CR also added a new PHEV "usability rating" to assess PHEV-specific controls and displays, including electric-only range, and the ease of operating in electric mode.

Only three of this year’s "Top Picks" vehicles are repeat winners from the prior year: the Subaru Forester, Toyota Camry Hybrid, and Ford Maverick/Maverick Hybrid. The seven new entrants are the Tesla Model Y, Subaru Crosstrek, Mazda3, Toyota Prius/Prius Prime, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 Prime, and BMW X5/X5 PHEV.

The "Top Picks" by category:

  • Subcompact SUV: Subaru Crosstrek ($25,195-$32,195)
  • Hybrid/PHEV car: Toyota Prius/Prius Prime ($27,950-$39,370)
  • Compact SUV: Subaru Forester ($27,095-$37,395)
  • Small car: Mazda3 ($24,170-$36,650)
  • Midsized car: Toyota Camry Hybrid ($28,855-$34,295)
  • Small pickup: Ford Maverick/Maverick Hybrid ($23,815-$34,855)
  • Electric vehicle: Tesla model Y ($43,990-$52,490)
  • Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid ($40,720-$53,125)
  • Luxury SUV: BMW X5/X5 PHEV ($65,200-$89,300)
  • Plug-in hybrid SUV: Toyota RAV 4 Prime ($43,690-$47,560)

The Maverick, Fisher said, "is a nice package," with the hybrid version's 37 miles per gallon and reliability.

"In terms of the other Top Picks, what you see is there's a lot of hybrids," he said. "The domestics don't have a lot of hybrids. There it is one electric ... some of the electric vehicles from the domestic automakers are either very expensive or have reliability issues."

In a statement, Ford said it "is laser focused on delivering high-quality products and services that our customers deserve. While we are encouraged by Ford Maverick / Maverick Hybrid’s second year in a row as a Top Pick and Ford’s highest ranking since 2016, we continue working to increase vehicle quality and deliver the best experience for our customers."

Ford CEO Jim Farley tweeted about the Maverick again making the "Top Picks" list:

Brand rankings

CR's brand rankings are based on an average Overall Score, which is a combination of road-test scores, predicted reliability, safety ratings and owner satisfaction data. CR runs the vehicles through more than 50 tests at its 327-acre test facility in Connecticut. The tests include acceleration, braking, emergency handling and fuel economy.

To be included in brand rankings, CR has to test at least two current models from a company. Lucid, Polestar and Ram aren’t included this year because CR tested only one of their models.

For the second consecutive year, German automaker BMW landed in the No. 1 spot, making it the first back-to-back winner since 2017. Japanese automaker Subaru took the second spot as it did last year.

Volkswagen AG's Porsche is new to the top 10 this year at No. 3 after placing No. 14 out of 32 brands last year. Other brands in the top 10 were Honda, Lexus, Mini, Kia, Mazda, Toyota and Hyundai.

On the domestic side, thanks to reliability improvements Cadillac moved to No. 14 from the No. 24 spot last year, marking its highest ranking in seven years. Buick came in at No. 13 from No. 12 last year. GMC moved from No. 31 to No. 27. Chevrolet moved to No. 22 from No. 23.

Ford came in at No. 17, its highest charting since 2016. Lincoln dropped to No. 21 after hitting No. 16 last year.

Dodge went from No. 15 last year down to No. 25 this year. Jeep came in dead last this year after coming in second to last last year. Alfa Romeo came in at No. 28 from No. 29 last year and Chrysler came in No. 24 from No. 25.

Tesla came in at No. 18 after hitting No. 17 in 2023.

GM declined to comment on the "Top Picks" and brand rankings.

Stellantis in a statement said it "regularly consults third-party survey information to improve the experiences of our customers. We also compile data from multiple internal sources. We rely more heavily on this information, which may conflict with third-party results, because it is verified and draws from our entire customer base."

 

UAW threatens new strike at
Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant
if local contract isn't resolved

Breana Noble Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Feb 21, 2024

The United Auto Workers is threatening another strike next week at Ford Motor Co.'s largest and most profitable plant if local contract issues aren't resolved, the union said in a news release Friday.

Nearly 9,000 UAW members at the Kentucky Truck Plant could go on strike at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 23 if local contract issues with UAW Local 862 aren't resolved by then. The plant produces Ford Super Duty pickup trucks, Ford Expedition full-size SUVs and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

The threat comes a day after Ford CEO Jim Farley suggested that the Dearborn automaker is rethinking its U.S. footprint after the union opted to strike at the Kentucky plant last fall, making it the first truck factory hit during the Detroit-based union's targeted strike amid the 2023 contract talks. At the time, the automaker said the plant generated about $25 billion a year, which is a seventh of Ford's 2023 global revenues. The 41-day "stand-up" UAW strike last year cost the automaker $1.7 billion in profit.

It's been more than five months since the contract deadline for an agreement with Local 862, according to the union. Issues being discussed center around health and safety, including minimum in-plant nurse staffing levels and ergonomic issues, and skilled trades staffing. UAW Vice President Chuck Browning requested authorization from UAW President Shawn Fain to set the strike deadline.

“Negotiations continue," Ford spokesperson Jessica Enoch said in a statement, "and we look forward to reaching an agreement with UAW Local 862 at Kentucky Truck Plant.”

Unions are able to strike over local contracts, even with a national contract in place. Such work stoppages aren't unprecedented, but they're not as common as they once were in the early days of the union's activism. Members at UAW Local 1166 representing workers at Stellantis NV's casting plant in Kokomo, Indiana, went on strike over their local agreement in 2022.

Farley on Thursday told financial analysts during the the Wolfe Research Global Auto and Auto Tech Conference that Ford's relationship with UAW, which historically had been productive, has changed since the union’s battle with the Dearborn automaker last fall.

The automaker builds all of its full-size pickups in UAW-represented plants in the United States and employs approximately 58,000 autoworkers, more than its crosstown rivals. Still, Fain during talks characterized the automakers as "enemies" and said in response to remark by Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. that the union and Ford "being a team to fight other companies are over."

At Thursday's event, Farley said: “Our reliance on the UAW turned out to be we were the first truck plant they shut down. And that was a moment for us. Clearly, our relationship has changed … does it have business impact? Yes.”

As a result, Farley added, the company would "have to think carefully about our (manufacturing) footprint."

Local 862 President Todd Dunn said Farley's comment "doesn't have any bearing" on the union's announcement of a potential strike.

Making a threat of a walkout "has happened before," he said. "It's an oddity, or rarity. I've never seen or experienced a local contract strike. My job as president is to facilitate and execute that plan if necessary. (In the fall,) we saw what we were able to do, and the leverage we had. I don't know what would change (members') mind" on the solidarity they expressed then.

The warning, said Marick Masters, a management professor at Wayne State University, shows the "bottom-up" and "vigilant" approach that has marked the Fain administration, the first one directly elected by UAW members.

"UAW made clear that this is a whole new era of negotiations," he said. "They were going to be more audacious in their terms and demands than they have in the past. Their overall approach is to be more ambitious in their goals and be more willing to strike than in the past."

UAW members last year ratified record contracts with the Detroit Three automakers, securing a 27% compounded wage increase through April 2028, cost-of-living adjustments, increased pension and retirement contributions and the right to strike over plant closures.

Ford reported a $4.3 billion net income on $176.2 billion in revenue in 2023. A $2 billion effort to cut costs in manufacturing this year is expected to offset increased labor costs and expenses related to product refreshes.

Meanwhile, the union has been empowered by its bargaining gains that prompted non-union automakers to raise their workers' pay, cut wage progression timelines and improve benefits. It launched a campaign seeking to double roughly its 146,000 UAW autoworker members by organizing foreign and EV startup plants.

"They’re signaling to workers in general that they stand up for their workers at the local level," Masters said. "That’s very important that they not just represent their interests company-wide, but with the kind of concerns they have at the local level, too."

Along with Kentucky Truck, there are 19 other open local agreements across Ford, according to the union, along with several open local agreements at General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV.

 

Ford Model e COO: 'We don't
have a future' if EV market
lost to Chinese automakers

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Feb 16, 2024

Detroit — The chief operating officer of Ford Motor Co.'s electric-vehicle division said Wednesday the development of EVs is more than just about environmental concerns — it's a hedge against the potential threat of Chinese automakers in the United States.

"That's coming here eventually," Marin Gjaja, Ford Model e's COO, said during a panel on disruptive technology held by the automaker. "So, we better get fit now and better get going on EVs, or we don't have a future."

Chinese automakers are dominating their domestic market, making inroads in Europe, and setting up shop in Mexico with eyes on the United States. They led the way in introducing less-expensive EV battery chemistries, and subsidized material prices have helped them to provide low-priced vehicles. The BYD Seagull EV city car starts at roughly $11,000 (78,800 yuan).

“I don't know exactly the timing, but I think they're going to end up here,” Gjaja said, “just as the Japanese ended up here. The Koreans ended up here. The Germans ended up here. It's a big market.”

Traditional automakers have seen their share of the Chinese luxury market fall from 60% to less than 5%, Gjaja said: “It’s not that they haven’t tried to introduce EVs. They’re just that are far behind. … That’s the scale of the disruption.”

EVs in China represent nearly a quarter of its new-car market — close to 7 million vehicles, about 60% of EVs in the world. The United States’ adoption is less than 8%.

“The size of the market in China is so big that those players are going to be in a position to go potentially dominate the world, unless we as Ford and other OEMs can respond,” Gjaja said. “Think about all of the capital: the human capital, physical capital, financial capital that’s built into these ecosystems to build vehicles — that is all being massively disrupted, because this technology is progressing so fast.”

Ford understands this: It’s partnered with Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. to license its technology to make those lower-cost batteries with lithium-iron-phosphate chemistry in south-central Michigan’s Marshall.

Ford CEO Jim Farley last week during an earnings call also discussed a low-cost EV platform the Dearborn automaker has been developing for the past two years in hopes of having the flexibility to offer affordable options. Gjaja declined to detail timing on that, but says the goal is a sticker tag in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. With the $7,500 federal subsidy, that would bring the total price closer to $20,000.

“We look at the market, and you look at the scale that's required, and the installed base that you get with smaller vehicles, which are going to be where the fastest growth and adoption of EVs will be,” he said, “we need an affordable vehicle platform to be able to compete.”

In addition to EV affordability, the industry also is seeing hesitation because of insufficient public chargers, charging speeds and grid reliability concerns, which Gjaja dismissed.

Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said that based on the adoption curve of other technologies historically, hitting 1% population adoption is when there begins to be a faster uptake rate.

“Typically, what you need is some combination of a reasonable price point, and advanced functionality,” Sacconaghi said. “What we've observed is ... in a new product's evolution, once a product is sort of sufficiently attractive on a price and feature set that it commands 1% penetration, going from 1% to 80% happens really quickly.”

Gjaja said given the capital investment required for vehicles and based on results in other countries, he believes for EVs that the tipping point is closer to 10% of new-vehicle sales, though that still represents a drop in the bucket compared with total vehicles on the road. The adoption also depends on region. The San Francisco Bay Area adoption is around 40%, while North Dakota’s is 1%.

“There’s not a magic number, if you look across the geographies,” he said. “But I personally feel like at 10%, you’re hitting critical mass where people are like, ‘Oh, I see these charging stations.’ There are enough people buying.”

 

US closes 7-year probe into Ford
Fusion power steering failures
without seeking further recalls

Associated Press
Feb 14, 2024

U.S. auto safety regulators have closed a seven-year investigation into complaints about power-assisted steering failures in Ford Fusions without seeking additional recalls.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents posted Monday that its testing found only minor steering effort changes if the power-assist failed. It also found a declining failure trend, and a lower failure rate in Fusions that were not recalled.

The agency opened the probe in September of 2016 after getting over 500 complaints that the power steering failed suddenly, making the midsize sedans difficult to steer. The probe covered nearly 263,000 Fusions from the 2010 model year.

In 2017, the investigation was upgraded to an engineering analysis to look at the scope and frequency of the problem after the agency and Ford got thousands more complaints including allegations of 59 crashes and 13 injuries.

But the documents posted Monday said the agency did not find any safety-related defect trend.

NHTSA noted that in 2015, Ford recalled nearly 394,000 Fusions and other vehicles in the U.S. from the 2011 to 2013 model years to fix power steering that could shut down due to a steering motor sensor fault.

 

UAW has signed majority of
VW workers at Tennessee
plant to join union

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Feb 11, 2024

The United Auto Workers has signed up a majority of workers at Volkswagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant to join the Detroit-based union, according to a UAW news release sent Tuesday.

The news comes less than 60 days after the UAW said 30% of VW workers at the German automaker's only U.S. plant had signed union authorization cards. The facility employs about 5,500 workers and produces the Volkswagen ID.4, Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, according to VW. 

Tuesday's news marks the first time the UAW has announced majority support at a non-union auto plant, according to the union. The UAW launched a campaign to organize non-union automakers after negotiating record contracts with Detroit Three automakers last year.

Reaching this point at the VW plant is significant for the UAW because of the "shortness of time" since the start of the campaign, said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University.

"I would imagine that, like anything else, that getting the next tranche of workers to sign up will be more difficult," Masters said. "The easiest two tranches are the first two ... but when you try and go above and beyond that, that's when resistance may begin to stiffen and people have more reservations as you get closer to actually holding an election."

He added: "The sooner they can move on this and get an election held, once they reach that threshold, the better."

Zach Costello, a Volkswagen worker and trainer, said in a statement that "the excitement has been building, and now that we have reached 50%, it is just continuing to grow. New organizers are joining each day spreading our effort to every area of the plant. Just because we are in the South, it does not mean that our work is worth less, that our benefits should be diminished, or that we don’t have rights. All workers should have a voice, and I hope the success that we’re having here is showing workers across the country what is possible.”

"A clear majority" of about 4,100 hourly employees at the Chattanooga plant have signed cards to join the UAW, the union said.

When 50% of workers sign authorization cards at a plant, the UAW has said it will hold a rally there. At 70% support, the UAW would demand recognition from the company, or request a National Labor Relations Board election. The threshold needed to be able to pursue an NLRB election is 30%.

The union has not asked the company to recognize it yet and it has not filed to have an election.

“We respect our workers' right to decide the question of union representation," Michael W. Lowder, a VW spokesperson, said in a statement. "And we remain committed to providing accurate information that helps inform them of their rights and choices.”

This is not the first time the UAW has pursued an organizing drive at the plant. In 2019, VW workers at the plant voted 51.8% against union representation. There also was a narrow defeat in 2014.

“We realized that the working conditions could be a lot better,” said Victor Vaughn, a logistics team member at Volkswagen, in a statement. “And the employees, we don’t have a say in any of the decisions that are going on within the plant. We’re not being recognized as a major resource for the company. We have a very important job, to put a vehicle on the road that our families are buying, that our kids are riding in. We take pride in what we do, but we don’t have a voice in how we operate. That’s why we’re taking the lead.”

Other than VW, workers at Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai Motor Co. plants in Alabama have announced public campaigns to join the UAW.

 

Ford profit sharing: Here's
how much UAW members
will get for 2023

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Feb 8, 2024

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it will pay profit-sharing bonuses on average of $10,400 to hourly autoworkers in the United States for 2023.

The payout is a reflection of a new profit-sharing formula negotiated last year during contract talks with the United Auto Workers. Since the Dearborn automaker no longer reports financial results for North America, a new formula calculates the payout based on the company's global earnings figures, including Ford Credit. Ford recorded an adjusted operating income of $10.4 billion in 2023, which was flat year-over-year.

For the first time, temporary employees are eligible for profit sharing. Before the new contract, 2-3% of Ford's approximately 58,000 U.S. autoworkers were temps, though Ford agreed upon ratification to roll over temps with at least three months of experience. Autoworkers can expect to receive the payouts on March. 14.

For 2022, Ford workers could receive up to $9,176 in profit sharing. Under the formula used for that, workers received $1,000 for every $1 billion that Ford made in adjusted operating earnings in North America.

Last week, crosstown rival General Motors Co. said it would pay its 45,000 eligible hourly workers $12,250 in profit sharing, down from last year's record $12,750.

Stellantis NV will report its 2023 financial results and profit sharing for U.S. employees on Feb. 15.

 

Ford posts year-over-year
sales increase in January

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Feb 7, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s January sales increased 4.3% year over year with dealers selling 152,617 vehicles, the Dearborn automaker said Friday.

Ford's electric vehicle sales dropped 10.9% from 5,247 to 4,674. Meanwhile, hybrid sales were up a record 42.7% with 11,157 delivered. Sales of internal combustion engine vehicles increased 2.6% to 136,786.

Ford's SUVs and trucks saw sales gains of 8.5% and 1.5%, respectively. Car sales dropped 6%.

In January 2023, Ford sold 146,356 new vehicles in the United States.

The Maverick pickup saw record sales of 12,443 last month, with the hybrid version accounting for nearly half of that total. Maverick Hybrid sales of 6,092 marked an increase of 118% over last year.

Ford sold 80,726 trucks and vans in the month. The Transit commercial van's sales were up 40.1% over last year with 14,191 vans sold.

Lincoln saw a 20.3% increase in sales, with Corsair up 27.1%, Nautilus up 26.5% and Aviator up 58.3%.

Ford's gains came amid mixed results for other automakers that report monthly sales. Honda Motor Co. on Thursday reported its January sales increased 10.3% year over year with 93,210 vehicles sold. Kia Corp. said Thursday it delivered 51,090 vehicles in January, down slightly from last year January's sales of 51,983 and Hyundai Motor Co. said Thursday its January sales dropped 9% from last year with total sales of 47,543 vehicles. Subaru Corp. reported 44,510 vehicle sales for January 2024, a 0.3% increase from January 2023.

General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV do not release monthly sales reports.

In late January, analysts at Cox Automotive, an automotive services provider, estimated total new-vehicle sales in the first month of the year would come in at 1.08 million, below their previous forecast of 1.15 million, but up from year-ago levels.

“January is normally one of the slowest months for vehicle sales, as the December hangover and cold weather keep car and truck shoppers from wandering dealer lots,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, in a statement. “This January will be no exception, compounded by a few large storms and deep freezes across the country, which likely had an additional negative impact on sales. Unlike last year, though, available inventory and incentives will not be a problem.”

Cox expects 2024's total sales volume will be nearly 15.7 million, up slightly from 15.5 million in 2023.

 

 

UAW President: If corporations
won't pay for pensions,
taxpayers must

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
January 29, 2024

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain on Monday said government should make up for pensions if corporations won't pay for them, downplayed security along the southern border and called for a just transition to electric vehicles.

Fain's remarks came during the union's National Community Action Program Conference in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of members have gathered to discuss policy priorities and partake in workshops focused on activism during this year's presidential election. The UAW has yet to endorse a candidate even as other major unions have backed President Joe Biden, but Fain has suggested an endorsement could come as early as this week.

"We have to take the issues that matter to the working class and poor, and we have to make our political leaders stand up with us," Fain said during his opening remarks. "Our message in doing this is simple: Support our cause, or you will not get our endorsement."

Fain described political activism as an extension of the gains the union obtained this fall in its new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers. The new pacts delivered record wage hikes, resumed cost-of-living adjustments, obtained improvements to retirement packages and other benefits and secured billions of dollars in investments.

The union, however, was unsuccessful in delivering its demand to secure pensions and post-retirement health care for all 146,000 autoworkers. Those hired after 2007 have 401(k)s with matching contributions that were upped in the latest round of negotiations. Analysts have estimated the union's demand would cost billions of dollars.

"We're going to keep pushing for this in the next round of negotiations," Fain said. "But we're thinking even bigger, and we're not going to wait until 2028. Either the Big Three guarantee retirement security for workers who give their lives to these companies or an even bigger player does: the federal government."

He criticized identity politics as divisive contributors that distract from the focus on billionaires and "corporate greed." The idea of border security being a major issue in this year's election, he said, is "a joke."

"They try to divide us nationally by nationality," Fain said. "Right now, we have millions of people being told that the biggest threat to their livelihood is migrants coming over the border. The threat we face at the border isn't from the migrants. It's from the billionaires and the politicians getting working people to point the finger at one another, when in reality, we're all on the same side of the war against the working class."

He likened the situation to his own grandparents who crossed "state lines instead of federal lines" to become autoworkers and join the UAW: "They went somewhere else to find a better life. That's all these people are trying to do."

Fain also emphasized the need for a just transition to cleaner energy vehicles. He said the union must play a leading role in that, even as the UAW's own reports suggest the move to EVs could risk jobs.

"We have to, as a union, lead in the area of environmental safety," Fain said. "It does no good to bargain for another dollar an hour or another week's vacation, if on the vacation you take you can't swim in the lake, because it's dirty, and you can't breathe clean air."

 

Ford Kicks Off 2024 By
Recalling 2 Million Explorers

Story by Christopher Smith
January 25, 2024

The 2023 recall leader aims to keep the title thanks to A-pillar trim that could fly off while driving.

It's January 24, and Ford is already almost one-third the way to all the recalls it had last year. That's saying something, seeing as how Ford was the most-recalled automaker in 2023 by a wide margin. A total of5.6 million Blue Oval vehicles in the US were potentially affected by some issue, and now, 1.8 million Explorers in the States have trim pieces that could come off while driving.

That number expands to 2.2 million vehicles globally, according to Automotive News, and it all stems from a simple problem. Recall number 24V-031 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that "some of the exterior A-pillar applique trim clip attachments are not properly engaged due to improper assembly or repair." The issue affects Explorers from the 2011 through 2019 model years, and as you can probably guess, clips that "are not properly engaged" can lead to the trim piece flying off.

Ford states there have been no accidents or injuries resulting from this failure. However, there appear to be a good deal of incident reports. Perusing a chronology report on the recall, Ford identifies 568 Vehicle Online Questionnaire reports and 14,337 warranty reports of the exterior A-pillar trim either detached or missing. 

Curiously, the report states that Ford conducted an initial investigation on its own back in 2018 at the request of the NHTSA. It was deemed to be "not an unreasonable risk to safety due to the low mass/geometry of the part with NHTSA alignment." That apparently changed in February 2023 when NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation of its own into the problem, ultimately deciding that yes, plastic parts flying off a car could be a safety hazard to other drivers on the road.

Total Recall:

Fortunately, the fix is very simple. Ford dealers will inspect the Explorer's A-pillar trim and repair or replace if it's not securely fastened. Owner notification will begin in March, but folks with concerns can call Ford customer service at 1-866-436-7332 and reference Ford recall 24S02 for more information.

 

 

Ford cuts F-150 Lightning output,
ups Bronco, Ranger production.
Here's the effect on jobs

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Jan 21, 2024

Ford Motor Co.'s decision to reduce all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup production is affecting 1,400 jobs in Dearborn. Meanwhile, it's hiring nearly 900 people in Wayne for assembly of Bronco SUVs and Ranger midsize trucks.

The Dearborn automaker in a Friday news release said it’s seeking to balance production to meet customer demand. It says it expects growth for Lightning sales this year, but it’s less than previously anticipated. The production cut is the latest pullback by the automaker in the EV space.

“We are taking advantage of our manufacturing flexibility to offer customers choices while balancing our growth and profitability. Customers love the F-150 Lightning, America's best-selling EV pickup,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “We see a bright future for electric vehicles for specific consumers, especially with our upcoming digitally advanced EVs and access to Tesla's charging network beginning this quarter."

The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center will become a one-shift operation effective April 1. Roughly 700 affected employees will transfer to the Bronco and Ranger factory, Michigan Assembly Plant off Michigan Avenue in Wayne.

Ford is adding a 1,600-person third crew at Michigan Assembly in preparation for the launches of the new Ranger and off-road-focused Ranger Raptor. The plant will produce vehicles seven days a week instead of five with three crews working two shifts.

Others affected by the Lightning production cut will be placed in roles at the Rouge Complex or other facilities in southeast Michigan, according to the company.

Anyone else will be able to take advantage of the Special Retirement Incentive Program available this year through the new United Auto Workers contract. Depending on the number of employees who apply for the buyout, a few dozen workers at component plants supporting Lightning production could be affected. Ford says it would provide placements for those employees within southeast Michigan, too.

Lightning sales last year were up 55%, making it the country's best-selling all-electric pickup. Ford implemented a several thousand-dollar price drop in July.

In January 2022, Ford announced plans to double Lightning production to 150,000 vehicles per year. The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center was down for six weeks last summer to expand capacity.

Ford in October said it was cutting $12 billion in planned EV investment as the growth in adoption slows. That included almost halving the size of its planned west Michigan battery plant in Marshall and delaying by a year the launch of production at one of its two battery plants in Kentucky with SK On. The automaker also cut back production in Mexico of the Mustang Mach-E SUV and has decreased requirements for dealers to be EV certified in the coming years.

 

FCC chair asks automakers
how they will stop use of
car electronics for stalking

Associated Press
Jan 18, 2024

Detroit — The top U.S. telecommunications regulator is asking automakers how they plan to protect people from being stalked or harassed by partners who have access to vehicle location and other data.

In a letter sent Thursday to nine large automakers, Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel asks for details about connected car systems and plans to support people who have been harassed by domestic abusers.

“No survivor of domestic violence and abuse should have to choose between giving up their car and allowing themselves to be stalked and harmed by those who can access its data and connectivity,” she said in a statement.

Nearly all new vehicles have convenience features that use telecommunications to find cars in parking lots, start the engine remotely, and even connect with emergency responders, Rosenworcel's letter said.

“These features rely on wireless connectivity and location data that in the wrong hands can be used to harm partners in abusive relationships,” she wrote.

The letter asks automakers for details about their connected services and whether they have policies in place to remove access to connected apps and other features if a request is made by someone who is being abused. Rosenworcel asks if the companies remove access even from someone whose name is on the vehicle's title.

Letters were sent to top executives at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Mercedes-Benz Group, Nissan Motor Co., Stellantis NV, Tesla Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp. Similar letters also went to wireless voice providers, the commission said.

Messages were left Thursday seeking comment from the automakers.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a large trade association, said in a statement that misuse of connected vehicle technology to stalk or harass people is not acceptable.

"The industry is considering how to best broaden federal or state policies and other protections to help prevent these incidents,” the statement said.

The association has raised the issue with regulators previously, the group said.

Rosenworcel's letter to automakers said it came after a story last week in the New York Times about how connected cars are being weaponized in abusive relationships.

 

Tesla is raising factory worker
pay as auto union tries to
organize its electric vehicle plants

Associated Press
January 15, 2024

Detroit – Factory workers at Tesla have been told to expect pay raises this year, a move that comes as the United Auto Workers union tries to organize the electric vehicle maker's U.S. plants.

The UAW said Thursday that Tesla workers have told the union about company statements on the raises, which did not give details about the size of the increases.

After winning strong contracts with Detroit's three automakers last year, the union has embarked on an effort to organize all nonunion auto plants in the U.S., including Tesla's assembly and battery factories in Texas, California and Nevada.

The Tesla raises come after nearly all companies with nonunion auto plants announced worker pay increases shortly after the UAW contracts were ratified.

The UAW said its organizing drive will target more than a dozen U.S. plants run by Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo. Tesla also is on the list, along with EV startups Rivian and Lucid.

UAW President Shawn Fain has called the raises at nonunion automakers the “UAW bump," saying that they were given in an effort to thwart union organizing efforts.

“As great as these raises are, they still fall far short of what the companies can afford and what autoworkers are worth,” Fain said in a statement Thursday.

A message was left Thursday seeking comment from Tesla, which is based in Austin, Texas.

Tesla production workers, material handlers and quality inspectors will get a “market adjustment” pay raise, according to Bloomberg News, which reported the raises early Thursday.

The UAW said this week that over 30% of workers at a Mercedes-Benz plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have signed cards authorizing a vote on union representation.

The action at Mercedes comes after more than 1,000 workers at Volkswagen’s Tennessee factory signed similar cards authorizing a vote.

The union says its strategy includes calling for an election at factories when about 70% of the workers sign up. A union can seek an election run by the National Labor Relations Board once a majority of workers support it.

The UAW pacts with General Motors, Ford and Jeep maker Stellantis include 25% pay raises by the time the contracts end in April of 2028. With cost-of-living increases, workers will see about 33% in raises for a top assembly wage of $42 per hour, plus annual profit sharing, the union said.

Tesla also has found itself locked in an increasingly bitter dispute with union workers in Sweden and neighboring countries. The electric car maker’s CEO Elon Musk is staunchly anti-union.

 

Ford Recalls 1.0L EcoBoost
Engine In Focus, EcoSport
For Oil Pressure Issues

Story by Anthony Alaniz
Jan 14, 2023

US regulators are also investigating Ford’s 2.7- and 3.0-liter EcoBoost engines.

Not even Ford's nifty 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine could escape the regulatory eye of the US government. Ford has issued a recall for certain 2018-2022 EcoSport and 2016-2018 Focus models equipped with the three-cylinder engine and 6F15 automatic transmission. They could suffer from a loss of engine oil pressure due to a defect with the oil pump drive belt tensioner arm.

According to the recall notice, the belt tensioner arm may fracture because the retention caulk joint isn’t robust enough to withstand engine vibrations. If this happens, the tensioner could separate from the backing plate and cause the belt to degrade by losing teeth.

If this happens, the engine might experience a loss of oil pressure, which could damage and seize the engine. Drivers might experience a loss of engine and braking power, which could lead to an accident. Ford is aware of one crash allegedly related to this issue that injured two but is unaware of any fatalities. 

The recall arrives after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into nearly a quarter-million EcoSport crossovers for reports of alleged engine failure in 2018-2021 models in September. Ford’s EcoBoost engines have been under scrutiny since 2022 when NHTSA began investigating issues with the Bronco.

In October, the federal agency expanded its “catastrophic engine failure probe” to 700,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles. It’s now looking at the 2.7-liter and 3.0-liter EcoBoost engines that power the EdgeExplorerF-150Lincoln Nautilus, and Lincoln Aviator models.

The recall affects 139,790 EcoSport and Focus models, two vehicles the automaker no longer offers in the US. Last year saw Ford retain the unwanted title of being the most recalled automaker, with 54 affecting 5.6 million vehicles. That’s down from 68 recalls for 8.5 million cars in 2022.

 

Alabama Mercedes-Benz
plant hits 30% UAW
authorization support

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Jan 12, 2024

More than 30% of workers at Mercedes-Benz's plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have signed United Auto Workers authorization cards, the second transplant factory to hit the threshold, the union said on Wednesday.

Obtaining 30% support is legally what workers need to be able to pursue a National Labor Relations Board election to obtain union representation with a majority vote. The UAW's strategy calls for announcing a public campaign at a plant once it hits that threshold. It says it will demand that the company voluntarily recognize the union once 70% of workers sign online authorization cards or else pursue an NLRB election.

The Tuscaloosa plant is the second to reach the 30% threshold since the Detroit-based union in November formally launched its campaign to organize foreign-owned and electric-vehicle maker assembly plants. It's seeking to build off the momentum of record labor contracts with the Detroit Three automakers to roughly double the union's 146,000 automotive members. Volkswagen AG's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was the first plant where 30% of workers signed cards one month ago.

A request for comment was sent to a Mercedes-Benz Group representative on Wednesday afternoon.

The Tuscaloosa plant employs approximately 6,300 workers, according to its web page. It produces SUVs: the GLE, GLE coupé and GLS model series, including the Mercedes-Maybach GLS. It also assembles the all-electric EQS SUV and EQE. A previous attempt to organize the plant fizzled out in 2014 after years of seeking to gain support.

In a news release, the union highlighted the German automaker's $156 billion in profits over the last decade, including a 200% jump over the past three years. It says U.S. workers' wages have stagnated as Mercedes vehicles' prices rose 31% since 2020.

“Back in the day, you could get by on the pay here,” Derrick Todd, an online quality team member who’s been at Mercedes since 2005, said in a statement provided by the union. “We topped out in two years. Now some people go through a temp agency for years before they even get on the pay scale. Year after year, the company says they’ve got record profits and sales, but our pay doesn’t keep up. It’s time to set things right. It’s time that we had our voice heard.”

 

Safety Alert: Ford Initiates Major
Vehicle Recall Over Crash Risks

Story by Henrik Rothen
January 10, 2024

Ford has announced a recall of over 130,000 vehicles, citing a critical issue that could potentially lead to increased crash risks. This precautionary step is in response to a discovered fault in the vehicles' oil pressure system.

Affected Models and Risk Factors

The recall specifically targets two models: the Ford Focus (years 2016 to 2018) and the Ford EcoSport (years 2018 to 2022). The concern revolves around the possibility of the oil pump drive belt or the drive belt tensioner failing. Such a failure could result in a loss of engine oil pressure.

According to the details shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the loss of oil pressure might lead to an engine stall and a subsequent reduction in power-breaking assist – a scenario that significantly heightens the risk of accidents.

Scope and Solution

Approximately 139,730 vehicles are potentially impacted by this issue. Ford, committed to customer safety, has arranged for the replacement of the oil pump tensioner assembly and the oil pump drive belt at no cost to vehicle owners.

This measure aims to address and rectify the identified risk efficiently.

Customer Guidance and Contact Information

Ford plans to initiate owner notifications about the safety risk on February 13, with a follow-up notice once the necessary remedy parts are available.

Vehicle owners can reach out to Ford's customer service at 1-866-436-7332 for assistance and further information. The recall is officially identified as number 23S64.

 

Detroit Three to skip
2024 Super Bowl

Breana Noble, Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Jan 8, 2024

The Detroit Three automakers say they are passing on advertising at the 2024 Super Bowl, even with their hometown team having its best chance at winning the NFL title in years.

Pricing for Super Bowl LVIII set to air Feb. 11 on CBS is said to be around $7 million for a 30-second spot, according to Ad Age. Last year, 115.1 million viewers tuned into watch the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. The playoffs will determine who plays in this year's game outside Las Vegas. The Detroit Lions are their division's champions this season.

The auto industry in 2023 saw increased sales as supply-chain issues resolved and pent-up demand from the pandemic was satisfied. In 2024, that sales growth is expected to moderate as interest rates remain high, and customers are looking for incentives to make a purchase. That means squeezed profit margins unless the companies cut costs.

Skipping the super Bowl is Stellantis NV's latest move to adjust its marketing spending. The company this week pointed to challenging market conditions in its decision to evaluate its appearance at auto shows on a case-by-case basis. Stellantis won't attend next month's Chicago Auto Show

"With a continued focus on preserving business fundamentals to mitigate the impact of a challenging U.S. automotive market, we are evaluating our business needs and will take the appropriate decisions to protect our North America operations and the Company," according to a statement sent by spokesperson Diane Morgan. "In light of this assessment, we will not be participating in the Big Game this year."

Stellantis aired two commercials during last year's game. One promoted the Jeep 4xe plug-in hybrids with a new version of the "Electric Boogie." The second premiered the all-electric Ram 1500 REV. Five days later, the automaker closed reservations for the truck that'll launch in the fourth quarter.

The automaker's Super Bowl ads in the past have delivered buzz. In 2020, the commercial with actor Bill Murray and a Jeep Gladiator spoofing the "Groundhog Day" film topped USA Today's Ad Meter. Eminem introduced the Chrysler 200 in a 2011 Super Bowl ad that also focused on the revitalization of Detroit.

General Motors Co. in recent years has used the Super Bowl to sell its EV future, though it isn't doing so this year. Last year, the automaker brought in actor Will Ferrell to promote its EVs and a new partnership it had with the streaming service Netflix. The automaker also had Ferrell appear in a 2021 ad called "No way, Norway," where Ferrell goes on a mission to get back at Norway for selling more EVs.

"We continually evaluate our media strategies," GM spokesperson Arianna Kughn said in a statement, "to ensure they align with our business priorities."

Ford hasn't aired a Super Bowl ad in several years, and it won't again in 2024, said spokesperson Mike Levine, referring to a previous statement from CEO Jim Farley: "If you ever see Ford Motor Co. doing a Super Bowl ad on our electric vehicles, sell the stock."

 

Ford posts best sales year since
2020 even as EV growth slows

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Jan 4, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales rose 7.1% in 2023 compared to 2022, the Dearborn automaker said Thursday, marking its best results since 2020.

The Blue Oval was just shy of selling 2 million vehicles last year compared to 1.86 million in 2022. It maintained its position as the No. 2 seller of electric vehicles behind Tesla Inc., though its 72,608 EV sales rose 18% compared to 126% in 2022 over 2021 — hence, Ford's decision to cut $12 billion in planned EV investment as it anticipates the buildout of a charging network that will open the way for more consumer adoption.

Despite inflationary pressures, improved production in 2023 as supply-chain challenges were resolved from 2022 and pent-up demand stemming from the pandemic supported growth in vehicle sales last year. Automotive services resource Cox Automotive Inc. estimated that 15.5 million vehicles were sold in 2023.

Ford sold 192,343 vehicles in December, up 7.3% year-over-year. Fourth-quarter sales of 487,840 were up 0.8%. Ford hybrid vehicle sales were up 25% on record annual sales.

For a 47th year in a row, the F-Series trucks were the top-selling trucks, up 15% in 2023, with 750,789 pickups. That includes the all-electric Lightning, whose sales rose 55% to 24,165. Hybrid truck sales were up 41%.

General Motors Co. sold 555,148 Chevrolet Silverados, though the Detroit automaker sold an additional 295,737 full-size trucks with the GMC Sierra. Stellantis NV's Ram sold 444,926 pickups.

Ford's other EVs also saw sales increase and a record fourth quarter for EV sales. The Mustang Mach-E's deliveries rose 3.3% to 40,771 in 2023, and the E-Transit commercial van was up 18% to 7,672. The Transit van sales totaled 129,009, up 30%, leading its top-selling commercial van lineup for a 45th year.

“In a year of challenges, from a labor strike to supply issues, our amazing lineup of gas, electric and hybrid vehicles and our fantastic dealers delivered solid growth and momentum. We have the products that customers want,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “I am especially proud Ford remained the No. 2 EV brand in America and our next-gen, digitally advanced new EVs are on the way.

"Now we are spring-loaded for 2024 with new versions coming of our most popular trucks and SUVs, a full year of new Super Duty and Mustang, and a big year for Lincoln.”

Sales of Lincoln, Ford's luxury brand, fell 2% in 2023, but were up 8.8% in the fourth quarter.

Bronco SUV sales declined 9.7% to 105,665 last year, under the Jeep Wrangler's 156,581 sales, which also were down. The smaller Bronco Sport supplied an additional 127,476 sales, which were up 28%.

Explorer, one of the most popular Ford brand SUVs, saw sales fall 10% for the year, but a new Explorer is coming this year. Expedition sales were up 18% for the year.

In the truck segment, Ranger sales were down 43% in 2023, while sales of the popular Maverick rose almost 27%. More than half of Maverick sales were hybrids.

 

The Year Ahead: Politics in 2024

Emily Landau
Macleans
December 29, 2023

1. Justin Trudeau will face new challengers—both within his party and beyond

Many political insiders are predicting a federal election in 2024. But after nine years in power and three election wins, the bloom is off the rose for Justin Trudeau, who’s staring down generation-high interest rates, a dire housing crisis and his lowest approval ratings ever. A recent Angus Reid poll suggests most Canadians, including almost half of Liberal respondents, think he should step down before the next election; potential successors include Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, who’s already floated the idea of a leadership run. Meanwhile, Trudeau’s Conservative counterpart, Pierre Poilievre, will keep picking up popularity as he promises to lower the cost of living and calls for an end to carbon taxes. The CPC also stands to benefit from a redrawn federal electoral map, set to take effect in April.

2. The Liberals will prepare for a Trump victory in the U.S.

MSNBC is prepping its electoral map, the New York Times is dusting off its prediction needle and all eyes are on America as the Democrats prepare to square off against an as-yet-unknown Republican adversary. Should Donald Trump or another ultra-conservative prospect win in November, Canada might expect an influx of political refugees, increased economic and diplomatic isolationism and a rise in far-right movements on home soil. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has said the Trudeau government is readying a game plan for every scenario.

3. Danielle Smith will try to create an Alberta pension plan

Smith won the Alberta premiership last spring on a platform powered by anti-federalist sentiment. One of her top promises was that Alberta would pull out of the Canadian Pension Plan and create its own, with lower contributions and higher returns. Support is growing for the idea, and Smith plans to hold a referendum next year. A report commissioned by the province suggests that if it defects, it’s entitled to 53 per cent of the CPP’s $375 billion in assets—a figure disputed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which estimates the province would get 16 per cent, and economist Trevor Tombe, who puts the number between 20 and 25 per cent.

4. LGBTQ+ rights will be an election issue

In 2023, both New Brunswick and Saskatchewan tabled legislation requiring schools to receive parental consent before allowing students to use their preferred name or gender identity at school. These moves are part of a burgeoning movement called “parental rights,” which has received considerable pushback from students, parents and educators who claim that kids should be free to make identity choices without their parents’ involvement. Both provinces have elections scheduled for October, and the issue will no doubt be a litmus test for voters’ enthusiasm for—or abhorrence of—social conservatism.

5. The Greenbelt will haunt Doug Ford

Ontario’s premier spent much of 2023 touting the Greenbelt expansion, an ambitious plan that would allow urban development on a ribbon of the province’s pristine farmland. After months of outcry from farmers and conservationists, allegations that he favoured certain developers and a damning report from Ontario’s auditor general, Ford walked back the deal. But he’s not off the hook yet: the RCMP has launched a probe into the deal and allegations of corruption. (Ford has denied any criminal activity took place and promised to co-operate with the investigation.) In a symbolic gesture of regret, his government is introducing laws to ensure any further Greenbelt changes will occur via the legislature rather than regulations.

6. New policies will detect Pretendians

Last year, several notable Canadians were accused of feigning or fudging their Indigenous identity—alleged Pretendians included former judge Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond, ex–Memorial University president Vianne Timmons and folk music icon Buffy Sainte-Marie. To deter future fakers, a number of universities are implementing Indigenous identity verification systems for future hires, with requirements such as signed affidavits, government ID and references from family and Elders. This year, that practice will likely extend to school boards (the Toronto District School Board says it’s developing new procedures for verification) and the private sector (the Saskatchewan NDP is pushing for a policy requiring employers to independently confirm Indigenous identity claims).

 

7. Pharmacare could splinter a fragile political alliance

In 2022, the federal NDP and Liberals entered into a shaky coalition: in exchange for the NDP’s support, the Liberals agreed to push for affordable housing and a universal pharmacare program. A year and a half later, the Libs hadn’t come through on the pharmacare promise, and the NDP was threatening to pull its support unless the party made good. By the end of 2023, the parties had confirmed that the legislation will be tabled by March. A new report suggests that a single-payer drug plan will cost the government $11 billion in its first year, but create net savings of up to $1.4 billion for the economy, since the feds will be able to negotiate on bulk drug prices.

8. Canada will welcome half a million immigrants

The government plans to welcome 485,000 new permanent residents this year—roughly 1.2 per cent of the current population—and 500,000 in both 2025 and 2026. The goal is to boost the economy, fill labour shortages and compensate for Canada’s lagging fertility rate. The problem, critics say, is that Canada doesn’t have the housing, public resources or resettlement services to absorb that many newcomers in such a short period of time. But Immigration Minister Marc Miller insists that the influx of new Canadians is essential to solve deeply entrenched problems like the housing crisis: the government’s intention is to bring in the kinds of skilled workers who can build new housing stock.

9. Quebec will court Francophone newcomers

Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, established in 1991, Quebec sets its own immigration targets. This year, that means 60,000 new international students and economic migrants—but, as part of Premier François Legault’s aggressive francophone-first policy, all temporary foreign workers will have to pass a French-language exam before they’re admitted. This is in keeping with the government’s goal of having 89 per cent of the Quebec workforce qualify as French-language speakers (a huge bump from the 2023 goal of 66 per cent). The move has been controversial in Quebec, where business owners say the new requirements will add more barriers to hiring.

10. The federal government will pay for its past

Last summer, a federal judge approved the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history: a whopping $23.4 billion to compensate some 300,000 Indigenous children and families who were victims of Canada’s discriminatory child welfare system. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that, going back to 1991, the claimants in the case were adversely affected by racist government policies and, in some cases, denied services altogether in areas like health care and education. Each claimant is entitled to $40,000 plus interest, and payments will start rolling out this year. On top of that, the government has also agreed to set aside an additional $20 billion for long-term child welfare reform.

 

 

Ford Is The Most Recalled
Brand In America For 2023
And It's Not Even Close

Ford is the most recalled brand for the third straight year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

By: Christopher Smith
December 21, 2023

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) through December 20, Ford has issued 54 recalls potentially affecting 5,692,135 vehicles in 2023, the most of any automaker. This year marks the third year in a row Ford has held the top spot for recalls in the United States. 

Going strictly by vehicles affected, Ford had nearly twice as many as second-place Kia at 3 million, the bulk of which came through a single recall for leaking brake fluid leading to a fire risk. If you go by total recalls, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles USA was second to Ford with 45, affecting 2.7 million cars. BMW had 29 recalls, Mercedes-Benz had 27, and Nissan rounds out the top five for automakers at 22.

Ford's numbers are down from 68 recalls affecting 8.5 million cars in 2022 but it's still way ahead of other automakers. Things have improved roughly 30 percent over last year per Ford, which offered the following statement to Motor1:

"We’re constantly working to improve vehicle quality and deliver the best experience for our customers. Voluntary recalls are one of the ways we proactively protect customers from experiencing an issue. Our initial quality is improving and customers with our latest vehicles are benefiting from it. Compared with 2022, about 30% fewer Ford customers were affected by safety related recalls in 2023."

The surprise recall story for 2023 is actually Volkswagen. You may recall the German brand holding the number two spot behind Ford for 2022, clocking 45 recalls affecting 1 million vehicles. Imagine our surprise when VW didn't show up on NHTSA's pie chart for 2023, which only shows 12 brands. We thought perhaps data wasn't available, but searching specifically for the company reveals a total of 18 recalls for 332,700 cars. That's considerably lower than last year.

We asked VW about the year-over-year improvement. A spokesperson offered the following statement to Motor1:

"Volkswagen Group of America has been working diligently to improve the quality of its vehicles, which in turn reduces the potential for recalls. Recently, quality problems have been reduced significantly, warranty claims are at a historical low and our regional Quality Testing and Validation program is showing positive results."

While Ford still leads for recalls, Tesla takes the dubious honor of having the largest single recall for automakers in 2023 over its Autopilot driver-assist system. This one is likely fresh in your memory as it occurred in early December, affecting 2,031,220 vehicles. That's pretty close to every Tesla the company built for the US market, but it likely won't be a costly recall for the automaker. NHTSA determined that Autopilot doesn't do enough to prevent misuse, which Tesla plans to remedy with an over-the-air software update.

With a few days left in 2023, it's always possible a big recall could crop up. If that happens, we'll certainly update the post. But with folks headed out for extended holiday breaks, don't hold your breath.

 

20 years of Dodge muscle comes
to an end in Brampton, Ont.

DAVID KENNEDY
Dec 20, 2023 

After Dec. 22, 2023, output of the Dodge Charger and Challenger muscle cars and the Chrysler 300 sedan ends

An eight-year run for the boxy sedan with undersized windows and an unmistakable oversized grille would have been enough for Stellantis designer Ralph Gilles to call the Chrysler 300 a success. Yet nearly 20 years after workers at Brampton Assembly Plant built the first 300 in early 2004, production of the car continues to hum along northwest of Toronto, even if it’s more a trickle than a flood.

“It has exceeded all of our expectations,” and to this day, the “performance numbers it puts down are fantastic,” said Gilles, chief design officer at Stellantis, who was instrumental in bringing the 300 to life. “There were a lot of battles behind the car [for] a lot of our era. The company’s transitioned, yet it’s a constant,” he told Automotive News Canada.

 Dodge teases next-generation Charger in U.S. holiday ad

Gilles provided no details about what Chrysler plans to roll out, but said a new vehicle is on deck.

“I don’t think people are going to say it’s a new 300 per se, but they will say it’s a fantastic new Chrysler,” he said.

After nearly 20 years of the 300, Charger and Challenger, the Brampton plant will be down for up to two years for retooling.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR BRAMPTON?

In the spring of 2022, Stellantis pledged to transition the plant to build electrified vehicles, ending months of uncertainty about Brampton as production of the three cars comes to an end.

“That put ease in our members because we didn’t know what was going on, and now, we have a clear path,” said Unifor’s Beato.

The two-year timeline will be a long haul for members, he said. But given the rapid progress of some other recent EV retooling projects — namely the short turnaround of General Motors’ CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ont. — the union is optimistic that Stellantis will be able to reduce the downtime.

The Brampton plant is slated to build the new Jeep Compass crossover in both gasoline and battery-electric variants when it reopens in late 2025. Among other improvements, the plant will have a new paint shop, tandem stamping lines and new body-in-white and underbody spaces, Beato said.

Members have logged some “historic memories” over the past 20 years, he said. But with plenty of fans of the Jeep brand on the line, excitement is building for the new era.

“This new retool and transition for our plant into the EV future will support our members and their families for generations to come as well.”

 

Ontario has announced big
changes to alcohol sales.
Here’s how it’ll work

Story by Ryan Rocca
December 16, 2023

The Ford government announced Thursday that big changes are coming to the way alcohol is sold in Ontario, with beer, wine, cider, coolers, seltzers and other drinks coming to all participating convenience stores and grocery stores.

The changes will take effect no later than Jan. 1, 2026, which is just after an agreement with The Beer Store will come to an end and not be renewed, the province said.

"There’s no reason why Ontario consumers shouldn’t enjoy the same convenient shopping experience as Canadians in every other province when buying some wine for their holiday party or a case of beer or seltzers on their way to the cottage," Premier Doug Ford said.

Here are some of the highlights of what will be changing:

What will be sold in convenience, grocery and big-box stores

The changes will mean there will be up to 8,500 new stores where alcohol products can be purchased, which is the "largest expansion of consumer choice and convenience since the end of prohibition," the province said.

Ontario said it is is removing pack size restrictions and exclusivity, meaning all pack sizes will be allowed to be sold in all participating stores, including 12-packs, 24-packs and even 30-packs.

Spirits

The LCBO will continue to sell spirits.

'Competitive pricing'

The government said it will introduce "competitive pricing" to private retailers.

Retailers will have the option to set promotional prices consistent with regulations. Minimum pricing policies will remain in effect.

The LCBO, meanwhile, will "maintain consistent pricing" throughout Ontario to ensure people don't pay more based on where they live, the province said.

The government said it will continue to meet and consult with industry partners and producers "on additional areas of the future marketplace including licensing, wholesale pricing and taxes, mark-ups and fees."

"The province will also conduct a broader review of taxes and fees on beer, wine and alcoholic beverages with the aim of promoting a more competitive marketplace for Ontario-based producers and consumers," it said.

What will happen to The Beer Store?

The Beer Store, like the LCBO, will continue to sell products in the new marketplace, the government said.

More on Toronto

The Beer Store has also agreed to continue its "primary role" in the distribution of beer to retailers, bars, and restaurants until at least 2031, the province said.

More flexible distribution models will be allowed for small producers.

The LCBO will also work to distribute products in the expanded marketplace and will be the exclusive wholesaler for "all retail, bars and restaurants selling alcohol," the province said.

Empties

The Beer Store agreed to continue to run the provincewide recycling program for empties until at least 2031.

"The government will consult with retailers and industry stakeholders on the future of recycling and deposit return to ensure this important feature is maintained beyond 2031," the province said.

Supports for local producers

The Ford government said it is providing a range of supports for local producers, including extending dedicated shelf space requirements and introducing legislation that would eliminate the 6.1 per cent wine basic tax at on-site winery stores.

Responsibility

The province announced it is providing an additional $10 million over five years for the Ministry of Health " to support social responsibility and public health efforts to ensure alcohol continues to be sold and consumed safely in the expanded marketplace."

Existing requirements of minimum pricing, staff training, hours of sale and warning signs will be applied to all new outlets.

Additional information on the announced changes can be found on the province's website.

 

 

Environmental groups demand
GM, Ford break up with Auto
Alliance over EV standards

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
December 15, 2023

A group of 10 environmentalist organizations are calling on General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. to distance themselves from the lobby group Automotive Alliance for Innovation, which has voiced opposition to proposed federal standards that would demand a 56% reduction in emissions from model years 2027 to 2032.

In a letter sent to GM CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Jim Farley and other executives, the organizations that include the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and Center for Biological Diversity demand the companies break off connections with the trade association that represents most major automakers selling vehicles in the United States.

The request comes as GM and Ford have pulled back on electric-vehicle investment plans, decreasing battery-plant project sizes, delaying EV launches and postponing production targets. Demand for EVs has been less than expected, the companies say, even though EV sales are increasing. They're just not increasing at as fast as a rate as they once were as charging station availability, charging speeds, affordability and grid reliability remain obstacles to mass adoption.

"GM and Ford: Don't let AAI’s anti-EV lobbyists speak for you," the environmentalist groups wrote. "Unless you distance yourselves from the AAI and express clear support of the clean cars standards, your companies are complicit in blocking progress on EVs."

The other signatories were Ekō, Coltura, the Electric Vehicle Association, GreenLatinos, Interfaith Power & Light, Public Citizen and The Sunrise Project

The standards could push automakers to ensure more than two-thirds of their U.S. sales are EVs. The alliance, though, has expressed concerns that requiring automakers to spend more on reducing emissions will direct investments into improving gas engines and away from EVs to meet federal standards if EV demand isn't there.

AAI CEO John Bozzella was unavailable to respond to the letter on Wednesday while representing light-duty manufacturers at a federal working group on EV transition policies hosted by U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. A spokesperson directed The Detroit News to a post on Bozzella's LinkedIn on Monday.

"My mantra: the future is electric. This will happen," he wrote. "But … the auto industry, policymakers and everyone in between needs a realistic vision of success when it comes to automotive electrification and a real partnership to make this happen."

Missing emissions standards can subject automakers to fines or require that hey purchase credits from competitors. Ford, GM and Stellantis NV are the worst-performing of major automakers for fuel economy and carbon emissions in the EPA's most recent Automotive Trends Report.

“Our commitments and investments in an all-electric future place GM in an excellent position to contribute to the Administration’s goals," the automaker said in a statement sent by spoksperson Bill Grotz. "To best ensure industry can successfully achieve the transition to electrification, we encourage coordination across the U.S. federal government and with (the California Air Resources Board), to include alignment on EV regulatory ratings and vehicle class definitions.”

GM last week said it's still planning to be all-electric by 2035. Supply-chain issues resulted in the automaker selling fewer EVs than hoped this year, Barra said Wednesday before the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

The Detroit News reported late last month, though, that GM was considering the return of hybrids in North America. It withdrew its target of 400,000 production EVs by the first half of 2024; put off the launches of the Chevrolet Equinox EV and the Silverado RST for retail customers and the GMC Sierra EV Denali; postponed launching more capacity for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra EVs; and nixed an affordable EV program with Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

Ford did not immediately have comment on the letter, but a spokesperson directed The Detroit News to its written comments to the EPA on the proposed standards.

"Ford is all-in on electrification. ... As we begin the work of bringing EVs to scale here in the U.S. and globally, we are creating new jobs, supporting communities, and growing our business in ways that are good for people and the planet. Just like we did 120 years ago when we put the world on wheels, we are shaping the future of mobility — one that’s inclusive, equitable, and sustainable."

The Dearborn automaker reported record U.S. EV sales in November. Still, it has cut $12 billion in planned EV investments. That includes nearly halving the battery plant it's building in west Michigan's Marshall and delaying the launch of one of two joint-venture battery plants it's building in Kentucky with South Korean battery manufacturer SK On. It's also reducing production volumes of EV models.

 

Ford Executive Doug Field Buys
$2 Million in Company Stock

By Brett Foote
December 14, 2023

In the midst of a major executive shakeup as it continues to execute its Ford+ plan for the future, one of The Blue Oval’s many hires originating from tech giants was Doug Field, former Apple VP of special products, who was hired to be Ford’s chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer back in September 2021. Now, Field has reportedly made a major Ford stock purchase that totals a whopping $2 million, according to Barron’s.

According to a regulatory filing, that purchase totaled 182,000 shares of Ford stock, which Field acquired at an average cost of $11.05 per share – accounting for a total of around $2 million. It also brings Field’s total ownership of Ford stock up to 720,000 shares (not including restricted stock units), though this latest purchase appears to be the executive’s first open-market acquisition – at least in terms of The Blue Oval’s stock.

Back in December 2022, the automaker’s board’s compensation committee recommended that Field hold three times his base salary of $500,000 in Ford stock, though he has far exceeded that number now. As such, it seems as if Field is bullish on the current state of that stock, which has dropped by around 18 percent over the past year largely due to slow EV sales growth and soaring interest rates.

Regardless, large stock purchases by Ford executives are certainly nothing new, as CEO Jim Farley bought $1 million dollars worth of shares back in May 2020 – which, at the time, was the largest open-market share purchase by a Ford executive in at least the past 10 years. A few months later, executive chairman Bill Ford bought $2 million dollars worth of Ford stock as well, all while other auto execs were busy selling off shares.

 

Ford decreasing F-150
Lightning production in
Dearborn amid EV pullback

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Dec 13, 2023

Ford Motor Co. is decreasing production of its all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck after the new year in Dearborn, according to a report from Automotive News.

"We will continue to match production to customer demand," spokesperson Jess Enoch said in a statement, declining to provide specifics about changes at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, which employs 2,200 people.

In its report, Automotive News cited a supplier memo that states the automaker will produce 1,600 vehicles per week. The plant had planned production for double that.

The change is the latest in a series of moves by the Dearborn automaker and others in the industry to pull back on electric vehicle production. Availability of charging stations, charging speeds, grid reliability and EV affordability remain obstacles to mass adoption.

Ford in October said it was cutting $12 billion in planned EV investment as the growth in adoption slows. That included almost halving the size of its west Michigan battery plant in Marshall and delaying by a year the launch of production at one of its two battery plants in Kentucky with SK On. The automaker also cut back production in Mexico of the Mustang Mach-E SUV and has decreased requirements for dealers to be EV certified in the coming years.

"We're ... not changing our strategy," Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said last month, "but changing our tactics and pulling back on some of the capital investment around the capacity that we're putting in place so that we can better match capacity with demand."

The Lightning's U.S. sales are up. In November, they rose 113% to a record monthly and year-to-date high. But sales aren't growing as quickly as expected, despite a several thousand-dollar price drop in July.

In January 2022, Ford announced plans to double Lightning production to 150,000 vehicles per year. It was down for six weeks this summer to expand the capacity.

"The demand is there," Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer for Ford Model e, said when the expansion was completed. "We now have the supply to match it.”

 

GM has to pay $8 million to
workers after 2018 decision
to make plants 'unallocated'

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Dec 12, 2023

The United Auto Workers has secured nearly $8 million in back pay for General Motors Co. employees affected when the automaker "unallocated" three plants in Michigan, Ohio and Baltimore, UAW Vice President Mike Booth told members in a Dec. 5 letter obtained by The Detroit News.

The $8 million will be for about 800 union members and will include payments for lost overtime, 401(k) and pension contributions, performance bonuses and nearly $800,000 in interest, Booth wrote in the letter.

"The arbitrator awarded nearly everything the UAW sought as a remedy for GM's breach," Booth wrote in the letter.

GM in 2018 announced it would idle five plants: Detroit-Hamtramck, Warren Transmission, Lordstown Assembly in Ohio, Oshawa Assembly in Ontario and Baltimore Operations in Maryland. Of the five, GM closed Lordstown, Warren and Baltimore. Detroit-Hamtramck is now GM's Factory Zero electric vehicle plant and Oshawa workers, represented by Unifor in Canada, are back building trucks for the automaker.

The UAW sued the company in 2019, alleging GM had breached its 2015 deal with the union but then dropped the suit and agreed to go through arbitration as part of the UAW-GM 2019 contract.

In its lawsuit, the UAW said GM's use of the word "unallocated" purposely avoided the words "idle or "close," which were noted in the 2015 UAW-GM agreement.

At the time, GM said its unallocation announcement in 2018 did not "violate the provisions of the UAW-GM National Agreement."

The arbitrator in 2022 found that GM did violate the contract.

Booth in his letter said "the union is pushing the company to implement the award as soon as possible." He said the award doesn't resolve the union's issue with mutually satisfactory retirement benefits, "which the arbitrator found not to be subject to arbitration in an earlier phase of the case," but the union is going to "continue to fight" to get those benefits for eligible members.

In a statement, GM spokesperson Kevin Kelly wrote: "GM is pleased with the arbitrator’s decision related to the mutually satisfactory retirement benefits. We plan no further legal action regarding the arbitrator’s ruling."

 

UAW hits major threshold
in organizing drive at
Volkswagen in Tennessee

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Dec 11, 2023

More than 30% of Volkswagen AG workers at the German automaker's only U.S. plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., have signed union authorization cards in less than a week, the United Auto Workers said in a news release Thursday.

That includes more than 1,000 workers at the plant that builds the Atlas, Atlas Sport and electric ID.4, according to the union, which last week formally launched a campaign to organize workers at 13 non-union automakers across the country. Hitting the milestone means the organizing drive is going public there.

If 50% of workers sign authorization cards at the plant, the UAW says it will hold a rally there. If it receives 70% support, that's when it would demand recognition from the company, or else request a National Labor Relations Board election. The threshold needed to be able to pursue an NLRB election, though, is 30%.

“People are standing up like never before,” Steve Cochran, a skilled trades worker and leader of the workers building the union at Volkswagen, said in a statement provided by the UAW. “There are a lot of young workers in the plant now and this generation wants respect. They’re not okay with mistreatment by management. They see what’s happening at Starbucks and Amazon. They know that standing up to join the union is how you win fair treatment, fair pay and a better life.”

In a statement posted on Volkswagen's website, the company said workers in Chattanooga have a "world-class production environment" and recently received an 11% pay increase. It described its benefits and development opportunities as reflective of "our constant commitment to our team members."

"We believe in frequent, transparent, and two-way dialogue with our people to help them stay informed and connected and help shape our world-class assembly environment," the company said. "We also respect the right of our workers to determine who should represent their interests in the workplace."

Organizing foreign-owned assembly plants has been a long-sought goal that turned out to be just out of reach for the UAW as the Detroit Three's market share has fallen from competition. Many plants were built in right-to-work and southern states.

Tennessee is a right-to-work state, but General Motors Co. has an enormous Spring Hill Manufacturing campus southwest of Nashville. Hourly workers at the plant, which employs nearly 4,000 people, are organized. Chattanooga is about two-and-a-half hours southeast of Spring Hill.

It's not the first time the UAW has pursued an organizing drive at the VW plant. In 2019, VW workers at the plant voted 51.8% against union representation 833 to 776. There also was a narrow defeat in 2014.

Now, the UAW says VW has made $184 billion over the last decades. It noted its vehicle prices are up 37% in the past three years.

VW says it is "massively invested in our people, the city of Chattanooga and the State of Tennessee." Since 2008, the company has invested more than $4.3 billion in Chattanooga, creating more than 125,000 direct and indirect jobs. In the past two years, it added more than 1,200 production roles and another shift to build the ID.4 SUV.

"We are proud to be a part of the automotive growth and innovation happening in the American South," the company's statement said.

UAW President Shawn Fain last week told The News that thousands of workers at non-union auto plants have shown their support. The union's campaign is seeking to build off the momentum of three new four-and-a-half-year contracts at the Detroit Three that secured wage increases, cost-of-living adjustments, billions of dollars in investments and increased retirement contributions. Fain declined to provide a timeline or budget for the campaign.

In the wake of the UAW-Detroit Three agreements, some other automakers like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. said they were increasing wages, decreasing timelines to the top pay and improving benefits for their own workers.

The union has set up a website, uaw.org/vw, where workers can learn more and legally sign up to support representation.

 

More than 1,000 VW workers
in Tennessee sign union
representation cards - UAW

Reuters
By David Shepardson
Dec 8, 2023

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union said on Thursday that more than 1,000 factory workers at Volkswagen AG's Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant have signed union authorization cards.

Last week, the UAW said it was launching a first-of-its-kind push to publicly organize the entire nonunion auto sector in the U.S. after winning record new contracts with the Detroit Three automakers.

The UAW, which said 30% of workers at the VW plant had signed cards, has outlined its organizing strategy that says if 30% of workers at a nonunion plant sign cards seeking to join, it would make that public.

If 50% of workers seek to join, the UAW would hold a rally with UAW President Shawn Fain to tout the effort. At 70% and with an organizing committee in place, the UAW would seek recognition or demand a union representation vote.

The Detroit-based UAW said workers at 13 nonunion automakers were announcing simultaneous campaigns across the country to join the union, including at Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Rivian, Nissan, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Those automakers employ nearly 150,000 workers at their U.S. assembly plants, about the same number as those employed by the Detroit Three companies with which the UAW just signed new labor agreements.

The UAW's deals with General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis included an immediate 11% pay hike and 25% increase in base wages through 2028, cuts the time needed to reach top pay to three years from eight years and is boosting the pay of temporary workers by 150% and making them permanent.

VW said last month it would hike pay for factory workers in Tennessee by 11%, joining several foreign automakers who have announced significant pay and other compensation improvements in response to the UAW contracts. Many analysts and industry officials saw the move as an effort to keep the UAW out of their plants.

The UAW for decades has unsuccessfully sought to organize auto factories operated by foreign automakers. Efforts to organize Nissan plants in Mississippi and Tennessee failed by wide margins, and two attempts to organize VW's plant in Chattanooga narrowly failed. In 2019, VW workers at the plant voted 833 to 776 against union representation.

 

Ford sales down year-over-year in
November as EV sales hit record

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Dec 7, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales fell 0.5% in November, though electric vehicle sales hit a record high.

Ford on Monday reported selling 145,559 vehicles last month, down from 146,364 in November 2022. Sales of EVs were up 43% to almost 9,000 vehicles with Ford No. 2 behind Tesla Inc. Hybrid vehicle sales, meanwhile, rose 75%.

The record high EV sales come as the Dearborn automaker is pulling back its EV investments. Ford has cut $12 billion in planned expenditures, including nearly halving the size of its future battery plant in west Michigan's Marshall and delaying the launch of production at one battery plant in Kentucky. Those pullbacks are in response to slower growth in EV sales than had been forecasted, though EV sales volumes still are growing.

The bulk of deliveries in November, however, came from internal combustion engine vehicles. Those were down 6.5% as several products built at plants that the United Auto Workers had struck this fall during labor talks saw fewer sales than last year.

Pickup trucks took a hit. They were down 2.8% year-over-year. SUV sales were up 0.7%. Mustang sales were up nearly 32%.

Numerous nameplates under the Ford brand were down in October, including the Bronco SUV, the Explorer SUV, the Expedition SUV, the Ranger pickup, the Transit and E-Transit cargo vans, the F-Series trucks and heavy trucks. The plants producing most of these vehicles had been on strike as a part of the UAW's 41-day work stoppage that ended Oct. 25.

Although F-Series trucks were down 3.8% year-over-year, sales of the electric F-150 Lightning rose 113% to a record monthly and year-to-date high. The F-150 Hybrid's sales were up 36%. Together, they made up a quarter of F-150 sales. The Mustang Mach-E SUV rose 21% in sales.

The company highlighted the Maverick as the best-selling hybrid pickup, with sales up 252% over last year. Overall, Maverick sales were up 39% in November.

Sales of Ford's luxury Lincoln brand rose 2.2% on a nearly 58% increase in Nautilus SUV sales. Corsair and Aviator SUV sales dropped.

The Blue Oval's stock was at nearly 462,000 vehicles at the end of November, including 186,000 F-Series trucks alone. The company produced 2.278 million vehicles in North America through the first 11 months of the year, including more than 205,000 in November.

Ford has been ramping production back up at its three assembly plants the UAW struck: Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, home of the Ranger and Bronco; Chicago Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator; and Kentucky Truck Plant, which produces Super Duty trucks, the Lincoln Navigator and the Ford Expedition. The strike also disrupted production at numerous other Ford plants, resulting in thousands of temporary layoffs.

As of Monday, all workers had been called back to work, Ford spokesperson Jessica Enoch said. The company also has returned to full production schedules at the three assembly plants where workers went on strike.

Ford reported last week that the strike resulted in a $1.7 billion earnings hit. Sill, the company is forecasting a full-year adjusted operating income of $10 billion to $10.5 billion.

Ford workers in late November ratified a new agreement that includes 27% wage increases over four-and-a-half years, a shorter timeline to the top wage, cost-of-living adjustments, increased retirement contributions and $8.1 billion in investments. Ford says the contract will add $900 in cost per vehicle on average by 2028, which the automaker says it will look to absorb with improved efficiencies and cost reductions elsewhere.

Crosstown rivals General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV report sales on a quarterly basis. Of the automakers that report U.S. sales on a monthly basis, several reported year-over-year gains in November, including Honda Motor Co. Ltd. up 33%, Hyundai Motor Co. up 11% to a record volume and Subaru Corp. up 6.4%.

Auto information resources Cox Automotive Inc. was predicting a 6.5% increase in sales for November for the overall industry with a seasonally adjusted annual rate near 15.3 million vehicles. Inventory levels, now at 2.4 million, are recovering from years-long parts shortages and nearing 2020 levels.

 “A slight rise in sales volume is expected in November, but the sales pace will decline for the second straight month," Charlie Chesbrough, Cox's senior economist, said in a forecast. "October is normally one of the slowest sales months of the year, and the buying pace generally increases in November and December. This year, however, despite more discounting and more promotion, we are expecting the sales pace to slow slightly in a weak buying climate.”

 

Ford shares new guidance
after UAW strike costs it $1.7B

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
December 6, 2023

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday said it's anticipating full-year adjusted operating income of $10 billion to $10.5 billion in 2023 that reflects $1.7 billion in lost profits from the United Auto Workers' 41-day strike against it.

The Dearborn automaker had withdrawn its annual guidance last month pending the ratification of a tentative agreement with the Detroit-based union that wrapped up earlier this month. Now that workers have approved the agreement and to make up for expected decreases in electric-vehicle premiums, Ford is looking at cost-cutting measures and improvements to its manufacturing process.

After increasing its guidance following the second quarter from improvements in supply chain, higher volumes, new Super Duty trucks and lower commodity costs, Ford previously said it had expected an adjusted operating income of $11 billion to $12 billion in 2023. Its original guidance was between $9 billion and $11 billion.

"So, if you take that $10.5 (billion), if we hadn't lost that volume due to the strike," Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said Thursday at the Barclays Global Automotive and Mobility Tech Conference, "we would be at the high end of our original guidance of $11 to $12 (billion)."

The UAW employed a simultaneous, targeted "stand-up strike" against the Detroit Three. It interrupted production of high-margin trucks and SUVs, resulting in a loss of about 100,000 vehicles, Ford said. The bulk of the $1.7 billion in lost profits — $1.6 billion — will be reflected in fourth-quarter results to be shared on Feb. 6. That's when Ford will share 2024 guidance, as well.

Full-year 2023 adjusted free cash flow also is expected to be between $5 billion and $5.5 billion. That's down from the previously forecasted $6.5 billion and $7 billion as well as down from Ford's original 2023 guidance of about $6 billion.

Ford says its target is a 40% to 50% return to shareholders. What its 15-cent dividend doesn't cover will be issued in the first quarter of next year as a supplemental dividend.

The Blue Oval generated $4.9 billion of net income and $9.4 billion in adjusted operating income through the first three quarters of the year, prior to the full effects of the work stoppage.

In total, Ford said the new UAW contract is expected to cost $8.8 billion over the agreement's four-and-half years. Gross wages that include a 27% general wage increase, a three-year wage progression down from eight years and the returned cost-of-living adjustments account for the largest portion of the costs.

The company anticipates the deal will add about $900 in costs per vehicle by 2028, which is up to 0.7% of adjusted operating income margin. Ford hopes to offset that with lower expenses and improved productivity.

"We need to do that by reducing the number of hours it takes to build a vehicle, simplifying designs and reducing complexity," Lawler said, "as well as driving increased efficiencies through our factories, and that's what we're focused on."

The agreement allows the automaker to be able to rebalance manufacturing lines, its footprint and automation, Lawler said. The company sees opportunity on material, warranty and structural costs as well.

Those are a part of Ford's greater plans as it expects to earn a smaller premium on EVs than in previous years as the market shifts for early adopters to the mass market where customers are more price-sensitive. The next few years are about quality and cost, Lawler said.

Slower growth in EV sales has prompted a pullback in spending on EV investments. Ford has cut $12 billion in planned spending on capacity, halving the size of its battery plant in west Michigan's Marshall and delaying the start of production at one of two joint-venture battery plants in Kentucky. It also has altered its approach to bringing major components on EVs in-house to focus more on pieces like battery management systems and inverters.

"Now, vertical integration is going to be important in areas where you have a distinct competitive advantage," Lawler said. "And we did pivot a bit and say that over time, we don't believe batteries, per se the cell and pack, are going to be a differentiating element of the electric vehicle. And so if that's the case, you have to think about your capital allocation in that space."

For its second-generation EVs, Ford is expecting revenue to be equal to gas-powered vehicles, and the company is working on how to get to its 8% margin target with that.

"We're ... not changing our strategy," Lawler said, "but changing our tactics and pulling back on some of the capital investment around the capacity that we're putting in place so that we can better match capacity with demand."

When asked about the UAW agreement's impact on the battery plant, Lawler said: "Our battery plants are not part of the contract. They're joint ventures with SK (Corp.) and they are not part of the countract. They will have to be organized by the UAW. ... That may be different from what others had agreed to but the battery plans are not part of the settlement on this contract for Ford."

The Marshall plant, which is wholly owned by a Ford subsidiary, also would need to be organized by the UAW. The UAW agreement does allow the union to use a card-check system there that makes it easier to organize a plant. If a majority of workers sign cards to unionize, that plant would fall under the master agreement.

Ford's updated guidance comes after General Motors Co. on Wednesday reinstated a full-year guidance of $11.7 billion to $12.7 billion in operating profit after losing $1.1 billion in operating profit during the United Auto Workers' 46-day targeted plant strike. GM also announced a $10 billion accelerated share repurchase program.

GM expects its new UAW contract and three-year agreement with Canadian autoworkers union Unifor will cost the company $9.3 billion over terms of the deals. They are estimated to add $575 to the average cost of a new vehicle, which GM said it expected to be able to absorb for 2024.

Stellantis NV CFO Natalie Knight last month said the union's 44-day strike was expected to reduce the company's 2023 net income by less than $800 million, and the deal's financial impact per vehicle was in line with Ford's estimates.

 

Transport Canada Warns
9 Cars Have Been Recalled
Here's Which Vehicles
Are Affected

Story by Mike Chaar
November 22, 2023

Transport Canada has published several car recalls in Canada from manufacturers including Nissan, Toyota, Tesla and Honda to name a few. The recalls are due to several health and safety risks posed to both drivers and passengers of the affected vehicles.

From issues involving faulty seatbelt retractors, airbags and issues with the rearview mirror all the way to steering gearboxes that were not manufactured accurately, the federal department is urging Canadian drivers to verify if their cars are included in the recalls, and is instructing on which steps to take in order to fix the problem(s) concerning the current recall.

Here is the complete list of the nine recalled vehicles flagged by Transport Canada:

Recall Reason: Per the Transport Canada recall page, "the rear outboard seat belt retractors may not have been manufactured correctly. As a result, the seat belts may not extend and/or retract correctly."

What You Need To Do: Hyundai will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your vehicle to a dealership to inspect the left and right-rear seat belt retractors and replace them if necessary. "Hyundai recommends that if you hear a noise when extending the seat belt or are unable to extend it, you should not transport a passenger in that seat, and you should contact a dealer immediately to have the vehicle inspected," the recall warning indicated.

Hyundai

Recalled Cars:

  • Hyundai Kona 2024

Recall Reason: Per the Transport Canada recall page, "the rear outboard seat belt retractors may not have been manufactured correctly. As a result, the seat belts may not extend and/or retract correctly."

What You Need To Do: Hyundai will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your vehicle to a dealership to inspect the left and right-rear seat belt retractors and replace them if necessary. "Hyundai recommends that if you hear a noise when extending the seat belt or are unable to extend it, you should not transport a passenger in that seat, and you should contact a dealer immediately to have the vehicle inspected," the recall warning indicated.

Transport Canada recall page

Mercedes-Benz

Recalled Cars:

  • Mercedes-Benz Metris 2016, 2017 and 2018

Recall Reason: Per the recall warning page, the rearview camera image could freeze while backing up. If this happens, the driver's visibility can be greatly reduced and the likelihood of a crash is greater.

What You Need To Do: Mercedes-Benz will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your vehicle to a dealership to have the rearview camera replaced.

Tesla

Recalled Cars:

  • Tesla Model S 2021, 2022, and 2023
  • Tesla Model X 2021, 2022, and 2023

Recall Reason: According to the recall page, "on a small number of vehicles, the wrong airbag may have been installed on the steering wheel after it was replaced from yoke steering to a round steering wheel, or vice versa." A car fit with a poorly installed airbag could increase the risk of injury in a crash.

What You Need To Do: Tesla will notify owners by e-mail and advise you to contact Tesla Service to arrange for an inspection and, if necessary, the replacement of the steering wheel airbag.

Transport Canada recall page

Honda

Recalled Cars:

  • Honda Pilot 2023

Recall Reason: Certain vehicles may have a steering gearbox that was not manufactured accurately. This issue could lead to the steering rack locking up while the vehicle is in motion. Such an unexpected loss of steering control poses a significant risk of a potential collision, per the recall warning.

What You Need To Do: Honda will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your vehicle to a dealership to replace the steering gearbox.

Transport Canada recall page

BMW

Recalled Cars:

  • Rolls Royce Ghost 2017

Recall Reason: There is an issue with the driver's seat belt, as it may fail to lock up as intended during braking or in the event of a crash. This poses a safety concern, as a malfunctioning seat belt that doesn't lock properly in a crash could significantly increase the risk of injury, the Transport Canada page noted.

What You Need To Do: The company will notify owners by mail and instruct them to take their vehicle to a dealer to replace the driver's seat belt assembly.

Transport Canada recall page

Fiat Chrysler

Recalled Cars:

  • Jeep Wrangler 2021, 2022, and 2023
  • Jeep Gladiator 2021, 2022, and 2023
  • Jeep 1500 2021, 2022, and 2023

Recall Reason: "On certain vehicles equipped with a 3.0 L diesel engine, the high-pressure fuel pump could fail. If this happens, you may notice a change in engine performance, a fuel leak, or a malfunction indicator lamp and/or service electronic throttle control tell-tale may turn on. This could also result in a sudden loss of engine power while driving," the recall page indicated.

What You Need To Do: FCA Canada will notify owners by mail and instruct you to take your vehicle to a dealership to replace the high-pressure fuel pump.

Transport Canada recall page

Ford

Recalled Cars:

  • Ford F-250 2023
  • Ford F-350 2023
  • Ford F-450 2023
  • Ford F-250 Super Duty 2023
  • Ford F-350 Super Duty 2023
  • Ford F-450 Super Duty 2023

Recall Reason: Per the recall warning, a software glitch may lead to the incorrect rearview camera image being shown during the reverse process. Consequently, there is a possibility that the hitch or trailer view image might be displayed instead of the standard rearview image. It is important to note that Canadian regulations mandate the display of the rearview image when in reverse.

What You Need To Do: Ford will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your truck to a dealership to update the advanced drive assistance system module software.

Transport Canada recall page

Toyota 

Recalled Cars:

  • Toyota RAV4 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018

Recall Reason: "On certain vehicles, the battery hold-down assembly may not properly secure certain 12 V aftermarket batteries. As a result, the battery could shift positions and cause the positive battery post to contact the hold-down bracket. If this happens, there could be a short circuit," the Transport Canada page said.

What You Need To Do: Toyota will notify owners by mail and advise you to take your vehicle to a dealership to replace the battery clamp sub-assembly, battery tray, and positive terminal cover.

Transport Canada recall page

Nissan

​Recalled Cars:​

  • ​Nissan Altima 2019, 2020, and 2021
  • Nissan Sentra 2020, and 2021

Recall Reason: The wiring harness of the rearview camera is susceptible to damage from movement and vibrations. In the event of such damage, the rearview camera image may exhibit incorrect or no display at all. Compliance with Canadian regulations mandates that the rearview image must be visible during the reversing process, the recall page said. 

What You Need To Do: Nissan will send notifications to owners via mail, instructing them to take their vehicles to a dealership for an inspection of the rearview camera wiring harness. If necessary, protective tape will be applied, and the wiring will be rerouted. In cases where damage is detected, both the rearview camera and wiring harness will be replaced.

Transport Canada recall page

 

Detroit's Big Three

Union workers at Ford approved a new contract with the company by a 2-to-1 ratio after General Motors employees ratified it in a much closer vote.

Nov. 20, 2023,
NBC News
By Marley Jay

Union members at Ford, Stellantis and General Motors have ratified a new 4½-year contract, locking in at 11% pay increases secured after a six-week strike in September and October.

The United Auto Workers said that roughly 67% of Ford employees represented by the UAW voted in favor of the contract, which will last through April 30, 2028.

Voting officially ends Friday, but with around 57,000 union employees at Ford, the contract appeared headed toward easy ratification.

The contracts were negotiated after members of the UAW went on strike from Sept. 15 until late October.

Union members will get a total pay increase of 25% over the course of the deal. The new contracts also reinstate cost-of-living adjustments, let workers reach top wages in three years instead of eight and protect their right to strike over plant closures.

Both the UAW and the carmakers described the deals as “record” contracts based on those pay increases. The union also said members were regaining some of the benefits they agreed to give up after the Great Recession to help keep the automakers alive.

Workers at GM approved the contract, but they did so by a much narrower margin than Ford's employees did, with about 55% of workers voting yes.

While UAW President Shawn Fain has called the contacts a victory for workers, he has also said they are part of a larger plan to win back more benefits over the long haul.

According to the UAW's ratification vote tracker, Stellantis employees were on pace to approve the deal at margins similar to Ford workers. With 17,391 votes tallied as of Thursday evening ET, about 66% of ballots had been cast in favor of accepting the contract.

While the general terms of the contracts are similar, workers at Detroit's Big Three automakers are voting to accept or reject them independently.

 

UAW ratifies deal with GM
after late voting support

November 17, 2023

The agreement passed by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, winning by nearly 3,300 votes out of more than 35,000 cast. In contrast to the close voting at GM, the UAW's deals with Ford and Stellantis are easily headed toward ratification.

Hourly workers at General Motors component plants, parts distribution centers and battery plants canceled out opposition from higher-paid assembly plant employees to ratify a labor agreement that puts nearly everyone on the same wage scale.

The agreement passed by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent, winning by nearly 3,300 votes out of more than 35,000 cast.

The deal received support from about 81 percent of workers at GM Components Holding plants and parts distribution centers, as well as 96 percent of those at two electric vehicle battery plants. Many will receive immediate raises of up to 89 percent.

Meanwhile, 53 percent of workers at GM’s assembly, metal and propulsion plants voted no.

Workers who already were on GM’s top wage scale will get immediate 11 percent raises upon ratification. All workers also get a $5,000 ratification bonus.

The UAW and GM declined to immediately comment Thursday.

The agreement was in doubt earlier in the week after workers at seven of the company's 11 U.S. assembly plants rejected it. But support from 61 percent of workers at Arlington Assembly in Texas helped to prevent the deal's failure.

In contrast to the close voting at GM, the UAW's deals with Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis are easily headed toward ratification. Both were passing by roughly 2-to-1 margins as of Thursday afternoon.

Highlights of the terms

The GM agreement, which runs through April 2028, includes roughly $2 billion in new investment for future electric vehicle and parts production at three plants, brings employees at GM's joint-venture battery plants under the national UAW agreement and bumps wages and retirement contributions for its U.S. hourly work force. With the restoration of a cost-of-living adjustment, top wages would rise from about $32 per hour today to more than $42 by the end of the deal, and new hires would get to that level in three years instead of eight.

Temporary workers with at least 90 days on the job will see their wages rise between 51 and 115 percent at ratification as they are converted to full-time employees with seniority, the union has said.

Workers at GM’s parts distribution centers and components plants will move to the main production rate under the new agreement. Their wages currently start around $16 or $17 per hour, with top wages maxing out at less than $32 per hour for manufacturing workers.

The wage gains in this contract for newer employees at a GM parts distribution center in Hudson, Wis., will be “life-changing,” said Steve Frisque, president of UAW Local 722, where 93 percent of workers voted to ratify the deal.

“We feel they’re working right alongside us and should be making the same wage,” Frisque said.
 
He said he understands the desire among workers with more seniority to push for greater gains, including retirement benefits, but he believes the union was able to achieve everything it could in this round of talks.
 
“There’s only so much you’re going to get in negotiations,” he said. “Four years from now, we’ll go for the rest.”
 
Yet it’s not certain whether the economy will be as strong when the next round of bargaining begins in 2028, said Tony Totty, president of UAW Local 14, which represents hourly workers at the Toledo Propulsion Systems plant in Ohio.

Most Toledo workers opposed the deal, according to the union’s vote count. Totty said the plant has many employees who are nearing retirement in the upcoming contract cycle, and many employees are concerned retirement benefits in the agreement don’t go far enough.

GM agreed to increase its contribution into employees' 401(k) retirement accounts to 10 percent from 6.4 percent and provide a $5 increase to the basic monthly benefit for traditional pension holders, which would equate to an increase of $1,800 annually for future pensioners, the union said in a document highlighting the key contract changes.

The contract provides gains that workers are pleased with, but “there’s still a glaring hole in it, and that’s for the pension,” Totty told Automotive News.

“This is a better deal for somebody who doesn’t even work for our company yet than for somebody who just put in 30 years,” he said. “Now’s the time to fix it.”

Art Wheaton, a labor relations expert at Cornell University, said the close vote wasn’t a bad thing.

“It’s the sign of a good negotiations,” Wheaton said. “If they got a 99 percent vote, that means GM overspent. If they got 49 percent, that means GM was too cheap. If you’re at more than 50 percent, it means you threaded the needle.”

He said the vote revealed lingering differences among the various subsets of workers.

“Those with a higher seniority did not get as much of an increase because the union’s lifting up the lower-paid workers,” he said. “Those that were used to getting paid more than the others aren’t as happy.”

 

Autoworkers to wrap up voting
on contract with General Motors
Thursday in a race too close to call

The Canadian Press 
November 16, 2023

DETROIT (AP) — In a tight vote, thousands of United Auto Workers members at General Motors are expected to finish casting ballots Thursday on a tentative contract agreement that could be a giant step toward ending a prolonged labor dispute with Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

The outcome of the GM vote is uncertain, despite the UAW's celebrations of victories last month on many key demands that led to six weeks of targeted walkouts against GM, Ford and Stellantis, the maker of Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles. The union is expected to announce GM results Thursday.

The three contracts, if approved by 146,000 union members, would dramatically raise pay for autoworkers, with increases and cost-of-living adjustments that would translate into a 33% wage gain. Top assembly plant workers would earn roughly $42 per hour when the contracts expire in April of 2028.

Voting continues at Ford through early Saturday, where 66.1% of workers voted in favor so far with only a few large factories still counting. At Stellantis, workers had voted 66.5% in favor of the deal as early Thursday, with some large factories yet to finish casting ballots, according to a vote tracker on the UAW website.

Questions remain on new contract between UAW and GM

About 46,000 UAW members at GM were wrapping up voting. As of Thursday morning, those for the agreement outnumbered those against it by about 2,500 votes. That total didn’t include the tally from a 2,400-worker assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan, where 61% of members cast ballots against the contract. The union local there didn't release actual voting figures.

Of the four GM plants that went on strike, workers at only a large SUV plant in Arlington, Texas, approved the contract. Workers in Wentzville, Missouri; Lansing Delta Township, Michigan; and Spring Hill, Tennessee, voted it down. Workers said that longtime employees at GM were unhappy that they didn’t get larger pay raises like newer workers, and they wanted a bigger pension increase.

Several smaller facilities were still voting, many of them parts warehouses or component factories where workers got big pay raises and were expected to approve the contract.

Keith Crowell, the local union president in Arlington, said the plant has a diverse group of workers from full- and part-time temporary hires to longtime assembly line employees. Full-time temporary workers liked the large raises they received and the chance to get top union pay, he said. But many longtime workers didn’t think immediate 11% pay raises under the deal were enough to make up for concessions granted to GM in 2008, he said.

That year, the union accepted lower pay for new hires and gave up cost of living adjustments and general annual pay raises to help the automakers out of dire financial problems during the Great Recession. Even so, GM and Stellantis, then known as Chrysler, went into government-funded bankruptcies.

“There was something in there for everybody, but everybody couldn’t get everything they wanted,” Crowell said. “At least we’re making a step in the right direction to recover from 2008.”

Citing the automakers' strong profits, UAW President Shawn Fain has insisted it was well past time to make up for the 2008 concessions.

President Joe Biden hailed the resolution of the strike as an early victory for what Biden calls a worker-centered economy. But the success of the tentative contracts will ultimately hinge on the ability of automakers to keep generating profits as they shift toward electric vehicles in a competitive market.

Thousands of UAW members joined picket lines in targeted strikes starting Sept. 15 before the tentative deals were reached late last month. Rather than striking at one company, the union targeted individual plants at all three automakers. At its peak about 46,000 of the union’s 146,000 workers at the Detroit companies were walking picket lines.

In the deals with all three companies, longtime workers would get 25% general raises over the life of the contracts with 11% up front. Including cost of living adjustments, they’d get about 33%, the union said.

The contract took steps toward ending lower tiers of wages for newer hires, reducing the number of years it takes to reach top pay. Many newer hires wanted defined benefit pension plans instead of 401(k) retirement plans. But the companies agreed to contribute 10% per year into 401(k) plans instead.

Tom Krisher, The Associated Press

 

UAW workers at major Ford
and GM truck plants vote 'no'
on record contract deals

November 15, 2023
Andrea Hsu

Autoworkers at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, Ky., voted no on the contract agreement reached by the United Auto Workers union.

According to vote trackers on the UAW's website, 54.5% of the 4,118 ballots cast in Kentucky — Ford's largest plant — were no votes, the results showed Monday. The plant, which builds Ford's F-Series Super Duty pickup trucks among other models, is estimated to employ 8,700 workers.

This indicates that the road ahead for the UAW may not be as smooth as union leadership had hoped for, after reaching record agreements with all three major automakers following a six-week auto strike.

GM workers in Flint also voted no

This comes after another loss last week, when 52% of the 3,425 ballots cast at General Motors' Flint Assembly plant were also no votes. Roughly 4,700 workers at that plant build Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.

By most measures, the contracts have been generous. They provide workers with a 25% wage increase and in some cases more by 2027, cost of living allowances and improved retirement contributions.

But even with those historic gains, they don't bring workers back to where they were before 2007, when wages and benefits were slashed amid tough economic times.

Most workers must vote in favor

Only by 2027, will the top wage at each of the Big 3 reach where it was 20 years ago, when adjusted for inflation, and none of the carmakers conceded to the union's demands to bring back pensions and retiree health care.

"There were a lot of gains," says Kentucky Truck Plant worker Jenn Thompson, who voted no. "But there were just a few things that I would have liked to have seen in this contract that didn't make it," including retiree health care.

Despite these setbacks, a majority of the union members overall still support the contracts, with about 10,000 ballots cast so far at GM and 25,000 at Ford.

A majority of workers at each of the Big 3 must vote in favor of ratifying the contracts for them to take effect. UAW President Shawn Fain has repeatedly called the workers the union's highest authority.

Should any of the contracts fail to reach a majority of yes votes, negotiators would have to return to the bargaining table.

Finally tallies at the Big 3 automakers are expected this week and next.

 

Unifor auto talks: a quiet end to
one of the year's biggest
labour clashes

The Canadian Press
Nov 12, 2023  

Unifor auto talks: a quiet end to one of the year's biggest labour clashes© Provided by The Canadian Press

TORONTO — One of Canada's most highly anticipated set of labour talks in years wrapped up this week, but there’s no victory parade planned.

Unifor’s marathon three months of high profile contact talks with the Detroit Three automakers — where gains and losses often set the tone for other industries — instead ended with a tepid 60 per cent vote of support from Stellantis production workers Monday, before the union quickly moved on to other labour fights in a year that’s been full of them.

“It seems like every week we have another strike deadline that we're facing. This has been a very big bargaining year for us,” said Lana Payne, national president of Unifor in an interview.

But while the union has seen some 85,000 members at the bargaining table this year, expectations were especially high for the nearly 20,000 who work at Stellantis, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.

After decades of concessions to the automakers, the combination of high frustration about the rising cost of labour and the record profits of the companies had combined to create what looked like a generational opportunity to claw back past losses.

“We told the automakers that the expectations were high, and nothing short of a historic collective agreement was going to get ratified in these moments,” said Payne.

The result was a deal that secured base wage gains for production workers of nearly 20 per cent, along with a long list of other improvements including to pensions, job security, a faster path to seniority, bonus pay and more vacation days.

The low approval rate at Stellantis, along with the 54 per cent vote in favour rate at Ford in late September, show just how high those expectations were among workers.

“The most fascinating part of this round of bargaining was the contrast between the relative strength of the pattern agreement, and the relative weakness of the ratification,” said Brock University Labour Studies professor Larry Savage.

“Workers aren't content to tread water in the context of a cost-of-living crisis; they expect their unions to deliver more at the bargaining table.”

GM workers, heavily weighted toward recent hires at the Oshawa plant who will benefit the most from the faster route to senior pay, voted 84 per cent in favour. But older workers at other plants, some whom have lived through decade of belt-tightening and job losses, clearly wanted to make up more ground.

“I don't think it's that older generation of workers got a bad deal. It's just that they remember what things used to be like,” said Savage.

The wage picture shows just how much things have changed. The starting rate for workers will go from the current $24.26 an hour $31.16 by the end of the contract for a notable 28 per cent jump.

But the starting rate in 2007 was $28.82, which is almost $41 in today’s dollars, said Tony Leah, a labour activist and retiree at the Oshawa local.

“They're getting big increases only because of how badly they've been treated over the last 10 or 15 years,” said Leah.

The voting results also don’t reflect the voices of the thousands of union retirees like Leah, who made some of the biggest concessions in past bargaining rounds.

In 2007, for example, workers agreed to pensions that weren’t linked to inflation, and so haven’t seen a penny increase since.

This year, Unifor secured $800 a year in a ‘health-care allowance’ for those workers, but it’s not guaranteed long-term, and amounts to little more than a coffee a day, said Leah.

“There was a lot of anger from retirees because we had been told that pensions were the No. 1 demand.”

Payne said the union made improvements on pensions across the board this year, including a shift back to defined benefit plans. She said the boost for retirees, the last concession they were able to squeeze out of Ford, is something they can build on, but that it’s also the area where companies are most resistant.

“When you go to bargaining table, the last thing, and the hardest thing to do, is to bargain improvements in pension plans.”

Given how far autoworkers wages and benefits had slipped, it was never going to be regained in one contract, said Peggy Nash, a past labour negotiator with the Canadian Auto Workers, Unifor’s predecessor.

“You can't redress changes that have taken place over many, many years, all in one contract. Collective bargaining is always incremental” said Nash, who now heads the advisory committee at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Centre for Labour Management Relations.

There’s always the potential to push for more concessions, but negotiations are based on relationships, and at some point negotiators need to decide they’ve met their key demands.

“You just make a judgment call at a given point in time that you have bargained as much as you're going to be able to get, without a significant amount of pain on both sides.”

Unifor did go on strike at GM and Stellantis after the companies resisted matching the terms agreed to at Ford, but they only lasted about as long as a shift before the union secured tentative agreements. It was a sharp contrast with the aggressive stance of the UAW which spent six weeks in escalating strikes.

The Canadian union faces the extra complication of making sure the American companies stay committed to Canada.

“It reflects the fact that the union in Canada wanted to walk tight rope between making significant gains at the bargaining table, without scaring the (Detroit Three) into pulling investments out of Canada,” said Savage.

Payne said the question of investments, especially as auto companies undergo the massive transformation to the electric vehicle future, is always close at hand.

“Every conversation I have with the CEOs of these companies is why they should be investing more in Canada.”

She said the union has set a template for other sectors, while also putting autoworkers back on the road to prosperity.

“We've achieved a lot here,” said Payne. “People will look back on this moment as kind of a turning point in terms of building the sector up, and having these jobs once again be the premium jobs in manufacturing in Canada.”

 

 

Honda hikes production workers'
pay after UAW deals with
Detroit Three

Story by Reuters 
November 11, 2023

(Reuters) -Honda Motor said on Friday it was implementing an 11% pay hike for production workers at its U.S. facilities from January, days after the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and the Detroit Three automakers agreed to record contracts.

The company also said it would cut the time it takes for a worker to get to the top wage tier to three years from six, confirming an earlier Wall Street Journal report.

Non-unionized automakers such as Honda have come under pressure to improve pay and benefits following record contracts the UAW won at the Detroit Three automakers.

Honda, which began manufacturing in America in 1979, currently has 12 plants in the country which produce five million products annually.

The Japanese automaker has over 23,000 employees that help build its products in the U.S.

General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler-parent Stellantis have all agreed to hike employee base wages by 25% and restore cost of living allowances (COLA) in deals with the UAW.

Union workers are now voting on contracts from each of Detroit's Big Three automakers.

The UAW has also signaled that the next step in its campaign was to capitalize on its gains in bargaining with the Detroit Three, by launching organizing drives at Toyota, Tesla and other non-union U.S. auto factories.

Honda had told Reuters it was evaluating the recent UAW deals with the Detroit Three automakers and would remain competitive.

 

Biden wants UAW style labor deal for all U.S. auto workers

November 10, 2023

The president spoke to UAW workers here in Illinois as the Democratic president tries to rally support for his economic agenda and firm up sagging popularity numbers.

BELVIDERE, Ill. — President Joe Biden said on Thursday he wants all U.S. autoworkers to get labor deals like the tentative one the UAW reached with the Detroit 3 automakers after a more than six-week strike.

"I want this type of contract for all auto workers and I have a feeling the UAW has a plan for that," Biden said. He said Toyota Motor Corp. "had no choice" but to raise wages for U.S. hourly workers because of the UAW deal.

Biden spoke to UAW workers here in Illinois as the Democratic president tries to rally support for his economic agenda and firm up sagging popularity numbers, ahead of a re-election campaign next year.

Donning a red UAW T-shirt, Biden congratulated Shawn Fain, the head of the UAW, and highlighted the tentative contract agreements between the union and the Detroit 3 that ended more than six weeks of strikes. As part of the deal, Chrysler parent Stellantis agreed to reopen its assembly plant in Belvidere and invest billions of dollars in new operations in the area.

En route to the event, Biden told reporters that he “absolutely” supports the UAW's efforts to unionize Tesla Inc. and Toyota workers.

In response to Biden's remarks, Toyota said it wants to "foster positive morale" and boost productivity in its workforce. "The decision to unionize is ultimately made by our team members," the Japanese automaker said in a statement.

Nichelle Cruz, who was laid off from the Belvidere plant, said she was shocked when she heard Tuesday that Biden was coming to town. That shock then turned to nervousness when she was asked to tell her story and introduce Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

Cruz, who has been with the company for nearly 30 years, had worked at the plant since 2009. She came to Belvidere Assembly Plant after working at Chrysler's St. Louis minivan plant until it closed in 2008.

Cruz has been living apart from her husband, who lost his job in Belvidere in 2019 and now works at the Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio. Cruz proudly proclaimed during her speech that she was getting her husband back thanks to the UAW’s tentative agreement that is being voted on now, which will allow displaced Belvidere workers to return.  

The Belvidere plant, which was idled in February, now is slated to build a midsize pickup on two shifts starting in 2027. The plant last built Jeep Cherokee SUVs.

Stellantis also plans to open a $100 million Mopar parts hub next year by consolidating work from its Marysville, Chicago, and Milwaukee parts distribution centers in Belvidere. The UAW says the automaker will begin stamping operations in support of replacement parts for the Belvidere hub in 2025.

In 2028, Stellantis plans to open a $3.2 billion joint-venture battery plant in Belvidere that will create 1,300 jobs.

Cruz told Automotive News before her speech that she was honored to see Biden join the picket line with striking GM workers at a Detroit-area parts distribution center last month.

“I just think this is awesome,” Cruz said. “This is a beautiful day. To have the presence of him here, the president of the United States? Come on now. That is huge. Just for him to take time out his schedule to come here to support UAW.”

Belvidere Mayor Clint Morris spoke to Biden on Thursday and said it was a “historic day” for Belvidere.

Morris said he empathized with the laid-off workers because he went through a similar situation in 1982, when he lost his job in the machine tool industry while supporting his young family.

He was happy to see a deal come together that will bring jobs back to the area.

“I couldn't be more proud of the agreement that they were able to strike between Stellantis and the UAW,” Morris told Automotive News. “Then all the help that the state and the governor, Gov. Pritzker, and all the way up even on a federal level to local representatives here. We were able to pull together with a common goal and pull in the right direction.”

Musk fight

Biden's comments may renew friction between the U.S. president and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as the UAW seeks to organize Tesla workers.

Musk and Biden sparred in recent years, and in 2021 Musk said Biden's EV policy appeared to be controlled by labor unions. Biden first publicly acknowledged Tesla's EV production in February 2022, after Musk repeatedly complained about being ignored by the president.

Recently, the UAW tried and failed to win enough support from workers at Tesla’s Fremont, Calif., factory to hold an organizing vote. The plant was a UAW shop when it was jointly owned by GM and Toyota and known as NUMMI.

The UAW filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over a 2018 Musk tweet in which he asked "why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing." The NLRB ruled the tweet violated laws prohibiting management threats against workers for supporting unionization.

Endorsement questions

Thursday's appearance once again allowed Biden to showcase his pro-union credentials to the UAW, which has yet to endorse him, unlike most other labor organizations.

In September, UAW's Fain ruled out meeting Trump, casting him as an out-of-touch billionaire, who does not have "any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for."

Labor leaders and Democratic officials said an endorsement from the UAW for Biden is expected after the union's members approve their tentative contract agreements, which dramatically raises pay for auto workers and ended a strike targeting GM, Ford and Stellantis, the maker of Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles.

The relationship between Biden and Fain "didn't start as cozy as it is now," said Mark Burton, a partner at the law firm of Honigman and a former chief strategist of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.

But Biden taking on a "more supportive but silent role" during the UAW negotiations improved the relationship, Burton said, adding that Biden "has formed a good working relationship with Shawn Fain and I think the near-term result will be an endorsement."

 

 

Toyota’s non-unionized workers
didn’t go on strike but are getting a
raise anyway to keep the company
competitive with Detroit’s Big 3

BYCHESTER DAWSON AND BLOOMBERG
November 8, 2023

Toyota is raising wages for assembly workers in the US after its Detroit carmaking rivals reached tentative deals with their union to boost pay.

The Japanese auto giant plans to increase the highest wage for most assembly line workers by 9.2% to $34.80 an hour as of Jan. 1, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday. 

The move by Toyota follows major compensation gains negotiated by the United Auto Workers union on behalf of hourly workers it represents at plants in the US run by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV. Workers at US plants operated by Toyota, like other foreign brands and Tesla Inc., are not unionized. But UAW President Shawn Fain has vowed to expand his union’s reach beyond the Detroit three by 2028. 

Toyota currently operates nine auto parts and vehicle assembly plants across eight states and is building a new battery production facility in North Carolina. 

The wage hike by Toyota was reported Tuesday by Labor Notes, a trade publication that supports collective bargaining. 

 

Stellantis workers vote in favour
of collective agreement: Unifor

The Canadian Press
Nov 7, 2023

Stellantis workers vote in favour of collective agreement: Unifor© Provided by The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Unifor says Stellantis production workers voted 60 per cent in favour of a new three-year contract with the automaker.

The deal covers workers at the company's Windsor and Brampton, Ont., assembly plants and Etobicoke Casting Plant.

Approval for smaller agreements covering Stellantis workers in other units ranged from 85 to 100 per cent. 

The union reached the tentative deal with the automaker, which mirrored deals already in place with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., after a brief strike on Oct. 30.

Unifor members at Ford had voted 54 per cent in favour of the contract, while GM members voted 81 per cent in favour.

The Stellantis contract, which will cover around 8,200 workers, will see general wages rise by 10 per cent in the first year, two per cent in the second and three per cent in the third.

The deal also adds two paid holidays, makes pension improvements and halves the time for workers to reach full pay, among other gains. 

Alongside the improvements also gained by Ford and General Motors members, Unifor national president Lana Payne said in a statement that the contract confirms investment and product commitments for the three plants, including the retooling of the Brampton plant to build electric vehicles. 

In a press release, Stellantis said its operations in Canada will continue to play a critical role as it prepares to introduce more battery-electric vehicles in Canada and the U.S. by the end of the decade. 

“It was always our intention to reward our Unifor-represented employees for their contributions to our business during this round of bargaining,” said Mark Stewart, chief operating officer of Stellantis in North America, in the release. 

“The Canadian workforce plays a key role in the Stellantis global Dare Forward strategic plan as we make the transition to electrification, so it was especially important for us to reach an agreement that secures the future of the company for our employees, their families and our customers."

 

Ford's sales down in October
on impact of UAW strike

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Nov 6, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s sales fell 5.3% in October, the first month that reflected the impact of the United Auto Workers' strike of the Detroit automakers that halted production at numerous assembly plants.

Ford on Thursday reported selling 149,938 vehicles last month, down from 158,327 in October 2022.

Sales of electric vehicles were up 9.1%, sales of hybrid vehicles reached a new monthly record with a 37.9% gain, and sales of internal combustion engine vehicles — which make up the bulk of Ford's volume — were down 8.8%. The company has increasingly focused on growing sales of hybrid vehicles that are proving to be popular with customers.

SUV sales were essentially flat in October compared to a year ago, while truck sales dropped 10.5%. Car sales were up 10.7%.

Numerous nameplates under the Ford brand were down in October, including the Bronco SUV, the electric Mustang Mach-E crossover, the Expedition SUV, F-Series trucks, Ranger pickups, Transit and Transit Connect cargo vans, and heavy trucks. Sales were up across Bronco Sport, Escape, Edge, Explorer, Maverick and E-Series. Sales of the electric F-150 Lightning rose more than 50%.

Mustang posted an 11% sales gain for the month. Sales of Ford's luxury Lincoln brand fell 4.5%.

At the start of the week, Ford began calling back to work thousands of UAW-represented workers who had either been on strike or were laid off as a result of the strike. Ford and the UAW reached a tentative agreement on a new four-and-a-half year contract last week; the strike ended Monday after 46 days when the union settled with General Motors Co. The pacts must still be ratified by workers.

Ford is ramping production back up at the three assembly plants the UAW struck: Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, which assembles the Ranger and Bronco; Chicago Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator; and Kentucky Truck Plant, which builds Super Duty trucks, the Lincoln Navigator and the Ford Expedition. The strike also disrupted production at numerous other Ford plants, resulting in thousands of temporary layoffs.

Ford reported last week that the strike resulted in a $1.3 billion earnings hit.

Crosstown rivals GM and Stellantis NV report sales on a quarterly basis. But of the automakers who report U.S. sales on a monthly basis, several reported gains in October, including American Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor North America and Hyundai Motor Co.

Industry forecasters had been expecting sales to increase from year-ago levels in October. Cox Automotive had forecasted a 4% sales gain and for the month's seasonally adjusted annual rate to finish near 15.8 million units.

“Though there are many headwinds in the market today, new-vehicle sales continue to show gains over last year’s supply-constrained market," Charlie Chesbrough, Cox's senior economist, said in a statement ahead of the sales reports. "Concerns about high interest rates, a potential economic recession, and the ongoing UAW strike are all likely holding back some potential vehicle buyers. However, there are still enough individuals and businesses with the need and ability to buy vehicles, which has helped sustain the sales recovery.”

 

What's the deal? UAW details
gains of new four-year
contract with GM

Kalea Hall
Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
November 5, 2023

The United Auto Workers’ “record” contract with General Motors Co., outlined Saturday by top union leaders, raises pay and sweeps new groups of workers into a new national agreement likely to set a higher standard for labor in the U.S. auto industry as it marks the likely end of a months-long battle.

Similar to deals with Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV, the UAW-GM contract includes 27% in compounded base wage increases for hourly employees, revives cost-of-living adjustments, requires a shorter timeline to the top wage, sets rollover commitments for temporary/supplemental workers and charts a pathway for employees at future battery plants to become unionized under the union's master agreement with the companies. The deal would end in April 2028.

"We were able to wrench back so much of what these companies have stolen from us over the past few decades," UAW President Shawn Fain said on a Saturday Facebook Live where he detailed specifics of the deal to members with UAW Vice President Mike Booth. "We won back billions in contract gains. We won back our dignity as autoworkers. We won back our pride in being UAW."

A significant win for the union was persuading GM to agree to bring its joint-venture battery plant employees and subsidiary employees at GM Subsystems LLC under the master agreement. GM is so far the only Detroit Three automaker with an operating, and organized, battery cell manufacturing facility. GM and and LG Energy Solution's Ultium Cells LLC plant in northeast Ohio has more than 1,000 employees. The companies have plans to open two more battery cell plants together.

"After they said for months that it was impossible, Ultium Cells workers will now be under our national agreement," Fain said. "The significance of this cannot be overstated. Right now, the future of our industry is being defined and employers like GM have used joint ventures to drive a race to the bottom. These jobs at Ultium Cells are dangerous, difficult, and pay low wages. But all of that comes to an end in this agreement."

GM Subsystems, a subsidiary of GM, employs a lower-paid workforce to perform some jobs previously performed by workers under the national UAW-GM contract and tasks dedicated to battery electric vehicle production. Its employees work in Orion Assembly in Orion Township, Factory Zero at Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Center, Flint Assembly, Lansing Grand River and the Brownstown battery plant.

The UAW-GM tentative deal also includes $1.94 billion in investment for GM's Fairfax plant in Kansas, GM's Lansing Grand River plant in Michigan and Tonawanda Engine facility in New York, according to the UAW-GM contract highlighter.

GM's Lansing Grand River plant is slated to receive a $1.25 billion investment and Fairfax would get a $391 million investment also for future electric vehicles. Tonawanda would receive a $300 million investment for drive unit production.

GM declined to comment on the new tentative agreement and comments made during the union's Facebook Live event, but in a statement the company said: "We are pleased that the new tentative agreement allows us to continue to invest in our U.S. manufacturing footprint and provide good jobs for our team members. We'll have more specifics around product details moving forward."

After the Detroit Three deals are approved by members, the UAW's next goal will be to organize other automakers — a combination of foreign-owned rivals and such startups as Tesla Inc. that together represent the majority of vehicles sold in the rich U.S. market.

"The Big Three aren't the only auto companies making record profits," Fain said Saturday. "Autoworkers at Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Tesla, they deserve record contracts, too. And we're going to do everything we can to support them in the fight to win what they deserve."

Economics of the deal

Compounded, wage increases would total 27% over the four-and-a-half years, up from the $32.22 per hour top wage today. That includes an immediate 11% increase followed by 3% hikes in 2024, '25 and '26. Members would get a 5% increase in 2027.

There also is a $5,000 ratification bonus for all GM employees, including members at GM Subsystems, CCA, Ultium Cells and Components Holdings. All active temporary employees with 90 days service prior to effective date would also receive the $5,000 ratification bonus.

With reinstatement of cost-of-living adjustments that were suspended in 2009, the union estimated the top wage will rise 33% to more than $42 per hour. The starting wage would increase by 67% compounded with estimated COLA to more than $30 an hour.

For production workers, the top rate, not including estimated COLA, would increase to $35.88 from $32.32 upon ratification; to $36.96 next year; to $38.07 in 2025; to $39.21 in 2026; and to $41.17 in 2027. The union estimates that COLA would add $1.78 to base wages by the end of the agreement and a total value of about $8,800.

GM's temporary employees would start at $21 per hour and convert to full-time after nine months. All employees at GM Subsystems, Customer Care and Aftersales and GM Components Holdings will immediately convert to GM's main production rate upon ratification of the deal.

These union members will have an immediate wage boost of between 36% and 89%, according to the union. For example, a current Components Holdings member with three years of service making $18.96 per hour will have hourly wages increase nearly $17 upon ratification to $35.88.

The wage scales at Subsystems, CCA and Components Holdings are identical to the scale for in-progression GM workers with pay per hour starting at $25.12 and going to $35.88 in three years.

For health care coverage, the deal would come with no increases in co-pays, deductibles or out-of-pocket costs for members. Additionally, coverage will now start on the date of hire for all new employees.

The deal would end tiered vacation time and would make employees with 20 years or more of service eligible for 200 hours of vacation. GM has added Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

GM, according to the union, also agreed to provide eligible members up to two weeks of paid time off for a leave of absence for birth, adoption, surrogacy or foster care situations. This would be effective Jan. 1, 2024.

The deal with GM includes similar benefits to what's in the pacts with Ford and Stellantis including:

  • A three-year progression period to top wages, down from eight years.
  • Reinstatement of cost-of-living allowances.
  • All new temporary employees would be converted to in-progression employees after nine months.
  • All full-time temporary employees with 90 days would be converted to in-progression.
  • A 10% 401(k) employer contribution.
  • A $5,000 ratification bonus.
  • Right to strike over plant closings.
  • Temporary employees get profit sharing.

The UAW-GM agreement includes $500 annual payments for current retirees and surviving spouses. For current traditional members, it includes a $5 increase to the basic benefit that will bring an increase of $1,800 a year to future pensioners.

And the company plans to offer three special attrition programs starting in January and lasting through the end of the agreement. The program would offer $50,000 lump-sum retirement incentives for eligible traditional employees.

"The company and the union will agree on timing, size and scope of the offering," according to the highlighter.

And members with 401(k)s will see the employer contribution increase to 10%, with no required member contribution. The highlighter also notes a program that will allow members to purchase GM stock through payroll deductions "in the near future." 

For its represented salaried GM workers, the union touted that for the first time ever it was able to negotiate general wage increases for the unit. "Not only did we get GWIs, we got them every year, and matched our hourly raises for a total of 25% over the life of the contract," the union said in the salaried highlighter.

Gains at Ultium Cells

If the deal is ratified, Ultium Cells workers would receive an immediate pay increase of at least $6 to $8 per hour, according to the highlighter. All new hires at Ultium would make a minimum of 75% of the maximum wage rate under the deal.

Upon ratification of the deal, an Ultium worker making $20 per hour currently would see a 34% increase in pay to $26.91. By the end of the deal, that worker would go to $30.88 per hour.

The Detroit News reported Friday that the contract will allow workers displaced by the 2019 closure of Lordstown Assembly Plant the opportunity to transfer to GM's nearby joint-venture battery plant in northeast Ohio.

Should the deal be ratified, there would be a six-month window for former Lordstown employees working at the plant on Nov. 26, 2018, to apply to return and work for the GM and LG Energy Solution Ultium Cells LLC plant next door to the Lordstown facility GM closed after 50 years of production. Former workers who transfer would retain their current wages, benefits and seniority.

Ultium worker Liz Lisk, who currently makes $23 per hour as a crew leader, said in a statement: "It's great we are included in the national agreement, but seems it was truly an afterthought and we aren't valued the same as current employees. Our top wage is $5 less than everyone else. And to top it off, ex-Lordstown employees can transfer to our plant and keep their higher wages. How is that fair to those of us that have been there through the growing pains."

Ultium worker Johnny Pence was happy with the deal since the wage increases are "a far cry from where I started a year ago at $17." Pence currently makes $22 per hour on the night shift at the Ultium plant. Pence noted that others are "upset about not starting at the same wage as everyone else in the master," but in a statement he said he's "happy and shocked and thankful that we are even in the master. This sounded near impossible a few months ago."

 

 

What is the CPP anyway? And
why is Alberta leaving it
different from Quebec?

CBC News answers questions about how the Canada Pension Plan works and what Alberta could do

Anis Heydari
CBC News 
Nov 4, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith's government is looking into whether Alberta should leave the Canada Pension Plan. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The government of Alberta's plan to potentially create its own retirement plan and pull out of the Canada Pension Plan has prompted questions, concerns and confusion from any part of Canada that includes members of the existing CPP.

At CBC News, readers, listeners and viewers have sent in questions or commented about what's proposed and what's to come. Here's some of what you wanted to know.

What exactly is the CPP, anyway?

The Canada Pension Plan began in the late 1960s as a nationwide pension scheme that took contributions from workers' paycheques to provide pensions upon retirement.

Both employers and employees have been required by law to contribute to the CPP, except in Quebec where a separate QPP — the Quebec Pension Plan — was set up concurrently with CPP.

Combined, employees and employers paid 11.4 per cent of a worker's wages into CPP in 2022, based on annual income between $3,500 and $64,900. Retirees can receive a pension starting as early as age 60. Contributions have gone up from just above 10 per cent in 2019 to closer to 12 per cent by 2023.

"You all contribute with the understanding that when it comes your time to retire, you can expect your own steady stream of income where the risks are being managed directly by the plan," explained Sebastien Betermier, associate professor of finance at McGill University and executive director of the International Centre for Pension Management.

Jim Dinning watches as Premier Danielle Smith speaks at the Sept. 21 release of a report about an Alberta pension plan. Dinning, a former provincial finance minister, heads an engagement panel that will hold a series of telephone town halls across Alberta to gauge support for the proposed plan. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

For CPP members, those risks have been managed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), an entity created in 1997 that is independent of the Government of Canada.

The CPPIB manages $575 billion. According to its most recent annual report, it's had a net average return of nearly 10 per cent per year over the last decade, usually referred to as annualized return in the industry. It's also been ranked one of the top managed pension funds in the world.

CPP funds are "kept separate from government funds" and neither provincial nor federal governments can access the money in the Canada Pension Plan.

Betermier said his personal opinion is that the CPPIB would not want to have to sell off investments to be able to pay out Alberta for a theoretical departure.

"The best way to generate efficiency as an asset manager is to invest over the long term....  What you do not want is a situation where from one year to the next, you're losing a big chunk of your capital because that's going to require you to sell quite a few of the assets," he said.

How come Quebec can have their own pension plan but no one else can?

The federal act that created the Canada Pension Plan allows provinces to leave.

So, first of all, other provinces can have their own pension plans. In fact, any province that is not part of CPP must offer a comparable pension plan.

Alberta is permitted to leave if it chooses, by giving three years' written notice.

As for why Quebec has its own pension plan?

"Quebec is not part of [CPP] because Quebec opted out at the beginning," said Edmonton-based lawyer Dennis Buchanan, who has publicly opposed the proposal to separate from the Canada Pension Plan.

Lawyer Dennis Buchanan said Quebec and Alberta can't be compared when it comes to leaving the Canada Pension Plan, as Quebec was never in it. (Dennis Buchanan)

Buchanan said it's fair to describe Alberta leaving the Canada Pension Plan as a type of metaphorical divorce. Quebec didn't have to divorce the CPP because it never got married, so to speak. 

"Alberta ends up having to go through a process for exiting [the CPP] because we're part of it. Quebec was never part of it," he said.

Buchanan expects that if the government of Alberta tries to proceed with leaving the CPP under current demands that could amount to withdrawing more than half the value of the plan, it will end up in the courts and litigated.

"I don't see the federal government or the other provinces being OK with that," he said.

How would Alberta pulling their funds out impact other people's pensions?

The multibillion-dollar question — that has no clear answer — is just how much "their funds" would be. 

The Government of Alberta, citing a report it commissioned by TELUS-owned Lifeworks, claims it would be entitled to more than half of the CPP's assets — or $334 billion by Jan. 1, 2027.

However, their calculations have been disputed by independent experts such as University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe, who said if both Ontario and Alberta used the LifeWorks formula to leave the CPP, they'd withdraw more money than currently exists in the plan — a "potentially absurd outcome."

In an analysis Tombe wrote last month, he said there is not enough publicly available data to definitively assess what an Alberta exit would mean, along with uncertainty about how the law would be interpreted.

"There's fundamental ambiguity in the language of the act," the economist told Reuters.

However, Tombe has also said in interviews with both CBC News and Reuters that CPP contributions could increase for Canadians outside of Alberta if it leaves the plan.

Trevor Tombe is a professor of economics at the University of Calgary who has said non-Albertan contributions to the CPP could increase if Alberta leaves, depending on the conditions. (Erin Collins/CBC)

Even if Alberta took less than it is suggesting — say, more than 22.5 per cent of the plan's existing assets — CPP contributions from everywhere else in the country may have to increase.

And if Alberta were to take the 53 per cent proposed in its report, that could destabilize the fund entirely and would "dramatically" increase incentives for British Columbia and Ontario to also leave the CPP — and to do it quickly.

Do benefits follow if Alberta Pension Plan members leave Alberta?

Maybe.

This would be subject to negotiation between Alberta and other jurisdictions after leaving the plan. While CPP has agreements with other plans, including Quebec, Alberta would be negotiating from scratch after departing the plan.

"It's very unclear how portability might be affected if Alberta pulled out of the CPP," said Bill VanGorder, chief advocacy officer for the Canadian Association of Retired Persons.

VanGorder, who is based in Halifax, used the example of someone who worked in Alberta but lived — or planned to live — in Nova Scotia in retirement, saying at this point it's unknown whether employment hours or contributions in one region would count toward a full pension in others.

Why is CPP so low? We can't live on it

Experts say the CPP was never intended to be a complete retirement income on its own, and that Canadians should not have this expectation, regardless of a potential Alberta separation from the plan.

"It's supposed to represent about 25 per cent of your earnings [from] while you're working," said Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, director of financial security research at Toronto Metropolitan University's National Institute on Ageing.

According to MacDonald, the rest of Canadian retirement is meant to be funded by employer pension plans, private savings such as RRSPs or TFSAs, and the government's Old Age Security plan.

MacDonald admits that because a large majority of Canadians do not have access to an employer pension plan or to sufficient private savings, a stable CPP is of critical importance to all members.

Prime Minister Trudeau sends an open letter to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith warning of the consequences of pulling out of the Canada Pension Plan. The NDP drops a pharmacare ultimatum on the Liberals. Plus, Quebec’s plan to hike tuition fees for out-of-province students.

Will Alberta pensions go up if the province leaves CPP?

One of the potential benefits of an Alberta Pension Plan, as claimed by the United Conservative Party government, is the potential for increased benefits paid to Alberta seniors.

Experts say this — like everything else at this point — is unclear but it may be unlikely in the long term, according to Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald.

She pointed out that the amount of benefits paid out is going to be directly connected with how much money Alberta withdraws from the CPP.

"The idea that by Alberta separating, they're going to automatically be receiving higher pensions is a big assumption because nobody's agreed to what that number should be. And that would really be the first step to actually start then discussing how much the pensions would change," she said.

Federal Finance Minister Chystia Freeland will meet with provincial and territorial counterparts over Alberta's proposal to leave the Canada Pension Plan. (CBC News)

Finance ministers from across the country plan to meet to discuss Alberta's proposal later this week.

So what's next?

Alberta has said it could hold a provincial referendum on withdrawing from the CPP as early as 2025, but Premier Danielle Smith has said she'd need a number on how much Alberta would be able to withdraw from the plan first.

According to the first major poll conducted since Smith began making the pitch to take Alberta out of the CPP, the proposal is widely opposed by Albertans.

 

 

Detroit Three start calling
UAW members back to
work after strike ends

Jordyn Grzelewski Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Nov 2, 2023

Detroit Three autoworkers who were on strike or laid off as a result of the United Auto Workers' work stoppage are starting to return to work after tentative agreements were reached between the union and all three automakers.

Ford Motor Co. said in an update Monday night that all of its workers who had been on strike had returned to work and that it was in the process of calling back to work thousands who had been laid off at other plants.

Ford last week became the first of the Detroit automakers to reach a tentative agreement on a new four-and-a-half-year contract with the UAW; Stellantis NV followed over the weekend and General Motors Co. reached an agreement Monday.

Pending ratification votes by rank-and-file members in the next couple of weeks, the UAW agreed to immediately send members back to work. Still, auto executives and industry experts have said it will take weeks to fully restart production as the companies work to ramp operations back up to previous levels of output and re-engage suppliers who, in a tight labor market, may have to replace workers who left.

"The restart of this will be complex. We've got to bring back up operations that have been shut down. And we have to do it promptly but safely and without, most importantly, sacrificing quality," John Lawler, Ford's chief financial officer, said during the company's third-quarter earnings release last week. "Companies throughout our supply chain are going to have to do the same thing. And in many cases, our suppliers will have to rebuild at least a portion of their workforce where people left for other jobs."

As of Monday, Ford said it had called back about 94% of the nearly 20,000 workers who were either on strike or laid off. That includes all of the 16,613 workers who were on strike at assembly plants in Chicago, Louisville and Wayne, and 1,949 of the 3,167 workers who were laid off at 10 plants.

Meanwhile, as of Sunday night’s third shift, about 15,800 Stellantis employees had been recalled to work, spokesperson Jodi Tinson said in an email, after the union ended a 44-day strike against the automaker Saturday night. Stellantis’ chief financial officer, Natalie Knight, during a financial results call on Tuesday said the walkout had cost it less than $800 million in net income, 50,000 produced vehicles and $3.2 billion in revenue.

GM on Tuesday didn’t have specifics on employees being recalled after the UAW officially ended its strike against the Detroit automaker Monday afternoon.

“Our manufacturing plants and parts distribution centers that had been shut down,” spokesperson David Barnas said in a statement, “are working to safely restart operations over the next 12 to 24 hours.”

The UAW's unprecedented, simultaneous, targeted strike of Ford, GM and Stellantis ended Monday after 46 days with the announcement of a tentative agreement with GM.

The agreements, which are largely similar to one another, include 25% in base wage increases through April 2028. The top wage rate is slated to cumulatively rise by 33% to more than $42 an hour when accounting for cost-of-living adjustments, according to the UAW.

The deals also eliminate several wage tiers; restore COLA; reduce the time it takes to reach the top of the wage scale from eight years to three; improve wages and benefits for temporary workers; give workers the right to strike over plant closures; and include improvements to pensions and 401(k)s.

Ford's deal includes $8.1 billion in product commitments and plant investments; further highlights of the Stellantis and GM deals will be rolled out later this week.

 

Unifor reaches tentative
contract agreement with
Stellantis, ending brief strike

The Canadian Press
October 31, 2023

Unifor announced Monday it has reached a tentative deal with Stellantis, ending a brief strike at the automaker.

More than 8,200 workers represented by Unifor had walked off the job at Stellantis facilities in Canada after the two sides failed to reach a deal by a Sunday deadline, however the union and the company continued to negotiate through the night.

The union said that while the strike was brief, it was an "important act of solidarity and determination." 

Unifor Local 444 members were at the union hall on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, preparing for a possible strike action that could begin Monday if a deal is not reached by 11:59 p.m. Sunday. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

"It demonstrated the strength of our union and provided your bargaining team with the means to achieve a tentative agreement that meets both the core economic demands in the union’s pattern agreement and our Stellantis specific demands," Unifor national president Lana Payne, Stellantis master bargaining chairperson James Stewart and Vito Beato, Stellantis master bargaining acting vice-chairperson, said in statement.

The deal with the automaker behind such brands as Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep comes after Unifor reached earlier agreements with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. A strike by Unifor at GM also lasted less than a day.

Stellantis North America chief operating officer Mark Stewart said he was proud of the negotiating teams and thankful for their commitment.

"Once ratified, this agreement will reward our 8,000 represented employees and protect the long-term health of our Canadian operations," Stewart said in a statement.

Details of the Stellantis agreement were not immediately available, but Unifor had been seeking the automaker to agree to the same core economic terms the union reached with the other big companies. 

The union said last week it was also working on specifics from Stellantis on its electric vehicle plans for its Canadian plants.

Union members at Ford and GM ratified deals that will see workers get close to 20 per cent wage gains over three years, among numerous other improvements.

In the U.S., Stellantis had seen escalating strikes over the past six weeks from United Auto Workers members at its operations there, but the company reached a tentative deal with the union as of Saturday.

 

Unifor sends 8,200 Stellantis
workers on strike as talks continue

Breana Noble Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Oct 30, 2023

Some 8,200 Stellantis workers were called to strike minutes after the automaker and the Canadian autoworkers union Unifor reached an 11:59 p.m. bargaining deadline Sunday.

A bargaining update from union leaders, including Unifor President Lana Payne, instructed Stellantis workers in Canada to report for their next regularly-scheduled shift to receive instructions from their strike captain. Still, the leaders said negotiators would continue discussions throughout the night and said that progress had been made in the talks.

“We are extremely disappointed,” Stellantis said in a statement provided by spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin. “We will continue to bargain in good faith until an agreement is reached.  We look forward to getting everyone back to work as soon as possible.”

Unifor had instituted the deadline for the negotiations ahead of resuming talks with the maker of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles on Oct. 18 after workers at General Motors Co. in Canada ratified a deal with 80.5% support.

The union said in a social media post about 10:15 p.m. Sunday that negotiations "continue with progress being made" and to "stay tuned for further updates."

In an update on Friday, Payne said progress was slow after the company proposed "concessions" compared to the pattern adopted by Ford and GM, thought talks had picked up that day.

Sticking points mentioned by Payne included increased pension contributions, protections for salaried bargaining-unit workers, anti-outsourcing measures for parts distribution workers and the extension of bargaining rights to workers at the automaker's NextStar Energy joint-venture battery manufacturing plant with LG Energy Solution that is expected to launch production in the first quarter of 2024.

At Ford and GM, Unifor secured three-year deals with wage increases of 10% in year one, 2% in year two and 3% in year three; cost-of-living adjustments; a halved timeline of four years to the top wage; increased contributions to pensions and a new quarterly Universal Health Care Allowance for retirees.

The union extended talks beyond the contract expiration at Ford to reach a deal on Sept. 19. Workers there ratified the agreement with 54% support on Sept. 24.

Unifor did strike GM's plants for about 13 hours on Oct. 10 before the Detroit automaker agreed to follow its crosstown rival's pattern, putting the walkout on hold. The autoworkers there ratified their contract on Oct. 15.

************************************************************

Unifor says tentative deal reached
between Canadian autoworkers
and Chrysler parent Stellantis

Kerri Breen · CBC · Posted: Oct 30, 2023

A tentative deal has been reached between Unifor and Stellantis for its Canadian plants and workers, according to the union.

In an emailed statement sent at 7:40 a.m., Unifor's director of communications, Kathleen O'Keefe said, "A tentative agreement has been reached with Stellantis ending strike action at all Unifor facilities."

 

UAW announces tentative
agreement with Stellantis.
Here are key provisions

Breana Noble Marnie Muñoz
The Detroit News
October 29, 2023

Sterling Heights — The United Auto Workers and Stellantis NV have reached a tentative agreement, ending a 44-day strike at the maker of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles, the UAW confirmed in a video posted to social media Saturday evening.

The four-and-a-half-year agreement mirrors the economics of the tentative deal the union reached with Ford Motor Co. earlier this week, according to the union, which championed that the agreement would add 5,000 jobs and represents $19 billion in U.S. investments. The deal ultimately will have to be approved by a majority vote of the rank-and-file members at Stellantis.

The UAW National Stellantis Council will vote whether to send the agreement to members on Thursday when an update with more details will be shared.

The deal includes product allocation for most U.S. plants, including a midsize pickup truck at the Belvidere, Illinois, assembly plant that Stellantis idled earlier this year, UAW Vice President Rich Boyer said in the video. The automaker also committed new product to Trenton Engine, protecting jobs there, and to Toledo Machining, which would double the workforce there.

Saturday was the 44th day of the union's strike against Stellantis and General Motors Co., the same number of days as the original sit-down strike against GM in Flint for which this year's targeted "stand-up" strike against the Detroit Three was named.

"Once again, we've achieved what just weeks ago, we were told was impossible," UAW President Shawn Fain said in a recorded video update posted to social media in which he stated the company had been looking to cut close to 5,000 jobs when bargaining began. "The power of the stand-up strike cannot be understated. ... We have begun to turn the tide on the war on the American working class, and we truly are saving the American dream."

Mark Stewart, Stellantis' chief operating officer in North America, said in a statement that out of respect for the ratification process, the company would refrain from commenting on the details of the contract until they are shared with UAW members. The automaker, however, will provide a financial update on Tuesday when it reports its third-quarter shipments and revenues before stock markets open in Europe.

"Today, as we announce that we have reached a tentative agreement with the UAW on a new labor contract, I would like to thank all the negotiating teams who have worked tirelessly for many weeks to get to this point," Stewart said. "We look forward to welcoming our 43,000 employees back to work and resuming operations to serve our customers and execute our Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan to maintain Stellantis’ position at the forefront of innovation."

Stellantis and GM made new offers late this week that match a 25% raise over the course of Ford's agreement reached Wednesday that would expire in April 2028. Negotiations with GM were ongoing Saturday when the union called GM's Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee out on strike, joining nearly 15,000 other members.

The 25% at Stellantis breaks down to an immediate 11% wage increase upon ratification; 3% hikes in 2024, '25 and '26; and 5% in '27, according to two sources familiar with the deal who spoke to The Detroit News on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak on the subject publicly. Stellantis' top pay currently is $31.77 per hour compared to $32.32 at Ford and General Motors Co. The breakdown would bring the pay to $40.46 per hour at Stellantis by the end of the contract. There also would be a $5,000 ratification bonus.

With reinstituted cost-of-living adjustments that were suspended in 2009, the union estimated the top wage will rise 33% to more than $42 per hour. The starting wage will increase by 67% compounded with estimated COLA, to more than $30 an hour.

Supplemental workers would be converted to full-time before the end of nine months, Fain said. The Stellantis agreement would convert more than 3,200 supplemental current workers to full-time, according to two sources. Supplemental starting pay would be $21 per hour.

"The amount of money we won in gains for temporary workers in this contract," Fain said, "is more than the total amount in gains we won for everyone in the 2019 agreement. ... The days of low wage, unstable jobs at the Big Three are coming to an end."

These lowest-paid workers would see a raise of more than 165% over the life of the agreement, according to the union. Bringing Mopar parts distribution workers up to production pay would mean some of those employees see an immediate 76% increase upon ratification.

Stellantis also would extend the automaker's new car lease program, currently available to management, to workers with at least one year of experience, according to the two sources.

"We truly believe that we got every penny possible out of this company," Fain said. "We left nothing on the table."

Stellantis had more than 14,000 UAW members on picket lines at two assembly plants in Sterling Heights and Toledo, Ohio, and parts distribution centers across the country. Close to 10,000 General Motors Co. workers remain on strike. Hundreds more workers at both companies had been laid off because of the downtime.

The union had elevated its strike against both Stellantis and GM this week. On Monday, the UAW directed 6,800 members at Stellantis' Ram 1500 plant in Sterling Heights to go on strike. On Tuesday, hours after GM said the strike had cost it $800 million, the UAW sent out another 5,000 workers at its most profitable plant in Arlington, Texas, which makes full-size SUVs.

"Taking down that Ram 1500 plant helped put more pressure on them, because they can’t afford to lose that much revenue," said Art Wheaton, an automotive industry specialist at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School who has performed training for the UAW, GM and Ford. "There would be too much of a cost disadvantage, especially with Ford getting production back up. The purpose of the pattern always has been the other two would follow suit.”

The UAW's negotiations with the two automakers intensified after Ford and the union reached a "historic" tentative deal to end a 41-day strike targeting selected plants at the Dearborn automaker, particularly the Blue Oval's profit engine known as Kentucky Truck Plant, home to Ford's Super Duty pickups and full-size Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

Like the Ford agreement, the Stellantis deal more than doubled the value of the automaker's original proposal and included gains valued at more than four times what workers received in the 2019 contract, according to the union. It provides more in base wage increases than Stellantis workers have received in the past 22 years.

Following after Ford, it would take full-time Stellantis workers three years to get to the top wage. The agreement also would increase retirement contributions for current retirees, workers with pensions, and those who have 401(k) plans. The Stellantis deal also includes a right to strike over plant closures as well as a right to strike over product and investment commitments, a first for the union.

President Joe Biden and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer both praised the agreement in statements issued Saturday evening.

"This groundbreaking contract rewards the autoworkers who sacrificed so much to revive our auto industry with record raises, more paid leave, greater retirement security, and more rights and respect at work," Biden said. "This contract is a testament to the power of unions and collective bargaining to build strong middle-class jobs while helping our most iconic American companies thrive."

Whitmer said: "This agreement will raise wages for workers and shore up the company’s footprint in Michigan. ... Let’s build on our momentum and ratify these agreements so Michiganders can get back to doing what they do best — making the world’s best cars and trucks."

The UAW Ford National Council on Sunday will vote on whether to send its tentative agreement to the 56,000 members at the Blue Oval. A Facebook Live update for members with more details is expected that evening. The full ratification process could take two to three weeks.

Stellantis workers react

Flin Fike, 57, of Farmington Hills, who works in skilled trades at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, said he wishes the 25% wage increase would come all at once given the increases in inflation over the past few years.

"It seems like it would be a better gratitude toward us," the 36-year UAW member said. "Because it’s like making us wait. Eleven percent is really only a $3 raise."

Tomas Rangel, 33, a worker at the Sterling Heights plant, said he was excited to hear about the deal, especially the wage increases, and hopes that the membership ratifies it.

"It would mean a lot," said Rangel, who lives in southwest Detroit. "It would mean more chance of not living paycheck to paycheck. More chance to buy a home and things like that."

Plant worker Brandon Davis, 37, of Warren, has worked at the Sterling Heights facility for just over five years, installing dashboards and connecting wires in Ram pickups produced at the plant. Davis said the top thing he's looking for in the deal is significant improvement in wages so he can someday buy a house and treat his kids to restaurant meals and bounce house visits.

"As long as it's better than last contract and it makes a substantial increase to pay, I'm probably voting yes on it," he said. "But we'll see when the details come out."

Rickey Lawrence Jr., 26, lives about a mile from the plant, where he has worked for five years. He's hoping the tentative contract requires the automaker to upgrade temporary part-time workers to permanent full-time status faster. He said his girlfriend was a part-time stamping facility worker and went a long time without being scheduled for shifts.

"I came in, I was part-time for a couple months or something, then they rolled me over," he said. "But she was part-time for over a year. That's not fair to me."

The deals' possible impacts

Ford on Thursday said the agreement is expected to add about $850 to $900 per vehicle to its labor costs.

"Shawn Fain has achieved a stunning victory in 2023,” said economist Pat Anderson, CEO of Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group which specializes in the auto industry, of the Ford agreement. “He completely controlled the public debate and proclaimed victory on his timeline. The UAW has reset the playing field. The industry will not go back to bargaining the way they had for generations before this.”

Anderson sees the Ford deal being largely adopted by GM and Stellantis. “But there are two serious consequences of this unequivocal UAW victory. First, the rhetoric that Fain used declaring automakers the enemy will have long-tern negative consequences. And, two: Costs are reaching the point of no return and investments will be canceled. We already have acknowledgement of that fact from GM, Ford and Stelantis that have begun pushing back manufacturing plans.”

Stellantis in December announced that it was idling at the end of February its Belvidere Assembly Plant, about 70 miles northwest of Chicago, citing the cost of electric vehicles and a microchip shortage. The change in status of the plant affected 1,350 salaried and hourly workers.

Boyer confirmed Belvidere would be getting new product in the form of a midsize pickup truck on two shifts and a battery plant, which he said would bring "thousands" of jobs to the Illinois city, including more than 1,000 alone at the battery plant. A Mopar parts distribution hub would open there, as well, two sources said.

"My plant was idled, and now we're out here doing this," Alfonso Galindo, 44, of Sylvania, Ohio, who transferred to Stellantis' Toledo Assembly Plant in July after Belvidere idled, said on the picket line on Saturday morning. "I'd love to go back."

Boyer said workers who wish to return to Belvidere will have the right to do so, and those who lost their jobs at the plant without transferring elsewhere will be on temporary layoff and eligible for supplemental unemployment and health-care benefits until the Illinois factory gets back up and running.

There are risks with making the agreement at Stellantis before the Ford deal is ratified, experts said. UAW members at Mack Trucks Inc. earlier this month rejected a tentative agreement and hit the picket lines. Such a move could wreak havoc for the automakers.

But the offered raise and benefits in the record agreement with Ford are greater than what was initially offered to the Mack workers. Ratification at Ford could be a two- to three-week process, one of the reasons members there were sent home from the picket lines once the union announced the deal.

"There are risks, but they outweigh the cost of prolonging this strike," said Marick Masters, a a management professor at Wayne State University. "The union knew it wasn’t going to get a much better deal out of this strike. It's fish or cut bait at this point in time and give the membership a chance to vote."

Plus, the weather is getting colder for members on the picket lines, and high interest rates and consumer prices are hitting pocketbooks for those receiving the $500 per week strike stipend, Cornell's Wheaton said.

Since Sept. 15, workers at Stellantis' Toledo Assembly Plant, home of the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator, had been on strike. Workers on the picket line Saturday morning said they were hesitant to give resounding approval to the deal reached with Ford without all of the specifics, but several said they were ready to get back to work.

"Twenty-five percent and COLA? That sounds pretty good," said Sonny Lizcano, 32, of Toledo, a 12-year UAW member. "But I want to see the full details."

The union didn't mention anything about extending health-care coverage in retirement for workers hired after 2007. Several workers cited that as a concern, noting the toll working in the plants takes on their bodies.

"If I need to make ends meet, I always can get a part-time job," said Amanda Smith, 48 of Toledo, a 10-year UAW member. The health-care coverage "is what I need to be able to retire."

The team in the plant's paint shop on the picket line was celebrating with cupcakes the Sunday birthday of Lashanda Johnson, 52, of Toledo. Johnson said she normally celebrates a birthday weekend by traveling.

"I'm being responsible this year," the UAW member for almost 30 years said. "We have to be out here to be able to afford things like travel with the economy and prices the way they are."

 

 

Ford details UAW strike impact,
further slows down EV plans

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Oct 27, 2023

Ford Motor Co. on Thursday detailed the financial impacts of the 41-day United Auto Workers strike that was called off just hours before, and revealed a further slowdown in its electric-vehicle rollout due to market dynamics.

The Dearborn automaker reported taking a $1.3 billion hit to its earnings as a result of the strike and withdrew its earnings guidance for the rest of the year, pending ratification of the tentative agreement on a new labor contract it reached with the union Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, executives said they are pushing back some $12 billion in planned spending on the company's EV strategy and delaying the launch of one of two joint-venture battery plants it's building in Kentucky with South Korean battery manufacturer SK On.

Overall, the company delivered what executives characterized as "mixed" results for the July-September period, with results dragged down by the strike and nagging cost and quality issues.

Ford reported $1.2 billion in profit on revenue of $43.8 billion for the quarter. The profits compare to a loss of $827 million in the same period last year. Revenue was 11% higher than a year ago. Adjusted earnings stood at $2.2 billion for the quarter, up from $1.8 billion a year ago.

Ford Blue, the company's internal combustion engine and hybrid vehicle business, posted earnings of $1.7 billion. Ford Pro, the commercial vehicle business, reported nearly $1.7 billion in earnings. And Ford Model e, the business unit dedicated to electric vehicles and software, posted an earnings loss of $1.3 billion, which the company attributed to "continued investment in next-generation EVs and challenging market dynamics."

Ford posted $9.4 billion in adjusted earnings before interest and taxes through the third quarter. The company had previously said it expected to have adjusted earnings of between $11 billion and $12 billion for the full year.

The company now says that while it "had been poised to delivery profitability within that range," it is withdrawing its guidance due to the effects of the UAW strike and while ratification of the deal is pending.

Strike impact

John Lawler, Ford's chief financial officer, reported that the strike negatively affected the company's adjusted earnings by $100 million in the third quarter. In total, through last week, it cost the company about 80,000 units of production and $1.3 billion in earnings. The company expects to provide an update on expectations for 2023 results after an agreement is ratified and production is back up and running.

Lawler also said that while the strike is over, disruptions will continue to be felt as Ford and its network of suppliers begin the complex process of restarting operations at the three assembly plants that were on strike. The strikes at Ford's Chicago, Kentucky and Michigan assembly plants affected production at numerous other Ford facilities, as well.

“The restart of this will be complex," Lawler said. "We’ve got to bring back up operations that have been shut down, and we need to do it promptly but safely and without, most importantly, sacrificing quality.”

He declined to comment on the total cost of the tentative agreement to Ford and other specifics ahead of ratification by members, but said that it is expected to add about $850 to $900 per unit to the company's labor costs. The company also expects an impact of about 60 to 70 basis points of margin. The impact means that Ford must find ways to boost productivity and deliver efficiencies throughout the company, Lawler said, but "there's no doubt" that the company will remain profitable.

“This is something we’re gonna have to work on," he said. "But … we’re seeing inflation. And when you’re in a period of inflation, you have to pay your people, because it puts a hardship on them. And then you as a company have to go out and find a way to operate more efficiently, increase your productivity and eliminate waste. And that’s what we need to do going forward.”

The tentative agreement includes 25% in base wage increases through April 2028 and will raise the top wage, now $32.32 an hour, by over 30% to more than $40 an hour, and raise the starting wage by 68%, to over $28 an hour over the life of the contract, according to the union. Workers will receive an immediate 11% wage increase upon ratification.

Also included are cost-of-living adjustments and a reduction in the time for new workers to reach the top wage scale from eight years to three years. The deal also includes improvements for current retirees, workers with pensions, and those who have 401(k) plans. It also includes a right to strike over plant closures.

The agreement brings the UAW's unprecedented simultaneous strike of all three Detroit automakers closer to a resolution, as negotiations continue with rivals General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV and a ratification vote on the Ford deal is expected in the coming weeks. The targeted strike sent more than 45,000 autoworkers from eight assembly plants and 38 parts distribution centers to picket lines. About 20,000 Ford workers are now being sent back to work.

EV slowdown

Meanwhile, Thursday's report included further signals and confirmation that the EV transition is encountering some bumps in the road. Lawler emphasized that while consumer adoption of EVs continues to grow, it's at a slower pace than what Ford and others in the industry initially expected, prompting some pullback in plans.

Ford already had taken steps such as pushing back some of its EV production targets and pausing a planned $3.5 billion investment to build an EV battery plant in Marshall, which the company said Thursday it is still "reevaluating." Lawler also revealed Thursday that Ford plans to push back about $12 billion in planned EV investments after determining it wouldn't need additional capacity in the near term. The company also has reduced some production of its electric Mustang Mach-E.

“Given the dynamic EV environment, we are being judicious about our production and adjusting future capacity to better match market demand," Lawler said.

Still, executives reiterated the company's plans to launch a second generation of EVs and that development work continues on a third generation.

CFRA Research, an investment research firm, on Thursday reiterated its "hold" opinion on Ford's stock and reduced its 12-month price target to $12 from $13 per share.

"While we think the new labor deal will be ratified, we view the concessions the company made as significant and they will weigh on margins and affect its competitiveness relative to Tesla and other non-union automakers," Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research, wrote in a note. "Comps should also turn much less favorable in 2024 and we see a higher-for-longer interest rate scenario hurting sales volumes."

 

Autoworkers reach a deal with
Ford, a breakthrough toward
ending strikes against
Detroit automakers

Story by The Canadian Press 
October 26, 2023

DETROIT (AP) — The United Auto Workers union said Wednesday it has reached a tentative contract agreement with Ford that could be a breakthrough toward ending the nearly 6-week-old strikes against Detroit automakers.

The four-year deal, which still has to be approved by 57,000 union members at the company, could bring a close to the union’s series of strikes at targeted factories run by Ford, General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis.

The Ford deal could set the pattern for agreements with the other two automakers, where workers will remain on strike. The UAW called on all workers at Ford to return to their jobs and said that will put pressure on GM and Stellantis to bargain. Announcements on how to do that will come later.

“We told Ford to pony up, and they did,” President Shawn Fain said in a video address to members. “We won things no one thought possible.” He added that Ford put 50% more money on the table than it did before the strike started on Sept. 15.

UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, the chief negotiator with Ford, said workers will get a 25% general wage increase, plus cost of living raises that will put the pay increase over 30%, to above $40 per hour for top-scale assembly plant workers by the end of the contract.

Previously Ford, Stellantis and General Motors had all offered 23% pay increases. When the talks started Ford offered 9%.

Assembly workers will get 11% upon ratification, almost equal to all of the wage increases workers have seen since 2007, Browning said.

Typically, during past auto strikes, a UAW deal with one automaker has led to the other companies matching it with their own settlements.

GM said in a statement it is "working constructively" with the union to reach an agreement as soon as possible. Stellantis also said it's committed to reaching a deal “that gets everyone back to work as soon as possible.”

Browning said temporary workers will get more in wage increases than they have over the past 22 years combined. Temporary workers will get raises over 150% and retirees will get annual bonuses, he said.

“Thanks to the power of our members on the picket line and the threat of more strikes to come, we have won the most lucrative agreement per member since Walter Reuther was president,” Browning said. Reuther led the union from 1946 until his death in 1970.

Fain said that the union’s national leadership council of local union presidents and bargaining chairs will travel Sunday to Detroit, where they’ll get a presentation on the agreement and vote on whether to recommend it to members. Sunday evening the union will host a Facebook Live video appearance and later will hold regional meetings to explain the deal to members.

While on the picket line at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant west of Detroit Wednesday night, local union leaders invited workers across the road to the union hall for a briefing on the deal. As they trickled out of the building, many were smiling and most were relieved.

“It’s an emotional time for me. I’m emotional,” worker Keith Jurgelewicz said as his eyes welled up with tears. “But just super excited that this is over with. I just can’t wait to get back to work and just get on with my life.”

Jurgelewicz said he is happy that the end of the strike came during his shift on the picket lines, where he has faithfully appeared for all of his shifts.

“Hopefully, GM and Stellantis can get their deals done. … Historic day for us,” he said.

In a statement, President Joe Biden, who had visited GM picketers near Detroit early in the strikes and has billed himself the most union-friendly president in American history, praised the settlement. “I’ve always believed the middle class built America and unions built the middle class,” Biden said. “This tentative agreement is a testament to the power of employers and employees coming together to work out their differences at the bargaining table in a manner that helps businesses succeed while helping workers secure pay and benefits they can raise a family on.”

Workers with pensions also will see increases for when they retire, and those hired after 2007 with 401(k) plans will get large increases, Browning said. For the first time, the union will have the right to go on strike over company plans to close factories, he said.

“That means they can't keep devastating our communities and closing plants with no consequences,” Browning said. “Together we have made history.”

Ford said it is pleased to have reached the deal, and said it would focus on restarting the huge Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, as well as the Chicago Assembly Plant. The Louisville plant alone employs 8,700 workers and makes high profit heavy duty F-Series pickup trucks and big truck-based SUVs.

In all, 20,000 workers will be coming back on the job and shipping the company’s full lineup of vehicles to customers, Ford said.

Ford’s statement made no mention of the cost of the contract. Company executives said last week they were at the limit of what they could pay while still being able to invest in new vehicles and the transition from internal combustion to electric vehicles. All three companies have said they don't want to be saddled with high labor costs that could limit their ability to invest in future vehicles and potentially force them to raise prices.

“This agreement sets us on a new path to make things right at Ford, at the Big Three, and across the auto industry. Together, we are turning the tide for the working class in this country,” Fain said.

Associated Press Writer Mike Householder contributed from Wayne, Michigan.

Tom Krisher, The Associated Press

 

UAW says 'more to be won' despite
record offers from automakers;
declines to expand strikes

Michael Wayland  
CNBC
Oct 22, 2023

  • The United Auto Workers union believes there is "more to be won" in ongoing contract negotiations with the Detroit automakers, UAW President Shawn Fain said Friday.
  • Fain's remarks come despite record contract offers from General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis that now include 23% hourly pay increases during the terms of the four and a half-year deal.
  • The UAW has been gradually increasing the strikes since the work stoppages began after the sides failed to reach tentative agreements by Sept 14.

DETROIT – The United Auto Workers union believes there is "more to be won" in ongoing contract negotiations with the Detroit automakers following five weeks of labor strikes against the companies, UAW President Shawn Fain said Friday.

His comments come despite record contract offers from General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis that now include 23% hourly pay increases and other significantly enhanced benefits during the terms of the four and a half-year deal.

"There is more to be won," Fain said during an online broadcast. "These are already record contracts, but they come at the end of decades of record decline. So it's not enough to be the best ever, when auto workers have gone backwards over the last two decades. That's a very low bar."

Despite Fain's comments, the union did not announce additional strikes Friday against any of the companies. He said the "bottom line is we've got cards left to play, and they've got money left to spend."

Fain did not address a Friday report by Bloomberg that the union has asked for a 25% increase in general wages.

The union has not announced any additional strikes since initiating an unexpected walkout on Oct. 11 at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant that produces highly profitable pickup trucks and SUVs. That's despite Ford having the best proposal regarding economics, as outlined Friday by Fain.

Fain spent quite a notable amount of time during the online broadcast discussing how the union plans to use these talks to assist in organizing non-union plans. He also heavily criticized the Monday comments of Ford Chair Bill Ford to bring an end to the negotiations.

"Bill Ford said it shouldn't be Ford versus the UAW. He said it should be the UAW and Ford against foreign automakers," Fain said. "I want to be crystal clear on one thing: The days of the UAW and Ford being a team to fight other companies are over ... Non-union autoworkers are not the enemy. Those are our future union family."

Ford said it remains "eager to conclude these negotiations with a contract" that benefits its workers, citing it's "good that Mr. Fain acknowledged Ford's contract offer 'already' is a record and remains the best one on the table."

Stellantis said the sides "continue to be productive, building on the momentum from the past several weeks," but declined to discuss specific details. GM declined to comment regarding Fain's comments, citing details it released of its most recent offer earlier Friday.

The UAW hasn't expanded strikes at GM since Sept. 29 or at Stellantis since Sept. 22, despite offers made this week not meeting details of Ford's proposal from last week and Fain last week saying the union was initiating a "new phase" of strikes and contract negotiations.

"Right before a deal is when there's the most aggressive push for that last mile. They just want to wait us out," Fain said. "They want division. They want fear. They want uncertainty. And what we have is our solidarity."

The strike at Ford's Kentucky plant — responsible for $25 billion in revenue annually — marked a major escalation in the UAW's targeted, or "stand-up," strikes. It also represents a shift in strategy, as Fain had previously publicly announced the targets before the work stoppages occurred.

The UAW has been gradually increasing the strikes since the work stoppages began after the sides failed to reach tentative agreements by Sept 14.

About 34,000 U.S. automakers with the companies, or roughly 23% of UAW members covered by the expired contracts with the Detroit automakers, were on strike.

Here are details of current proposals by the companies to UAW:

  • Wages: All three automakers have offered a 23% pay increase over four and a half years.
  • Wage tiers: All three automakers have agreed to eliminate wage tiers at parts facilities where workers have historically been paid less than production-line workers.
  • Wage progression: Ford has offered a three-year progression to the top wage rate, a system that was in place from the mid-1990s until the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis. GM has also offered a three-year progression, but only for current workers. GM wants a more gradual four-year progression for future hires. Stellantis has offered only a four-year progression.
  • Cost of living adjustments (COLA): Ford has offered to restore its COLA formula to the level last used in 2009, meeting the UAW's demand. Fain said that GM is "approaching restoration but not fully there," while Stellantis wants to delay cost-of-living adjustments by a year.
  • Job security: Ford and Stellantis have agreed to give the union the right to strike over plant closures, a key UAW demand. GM has so far rejected that demand.
  • Temporary workers: Ford has offered to convert current temp workers with 90 days of service to full-time employees, with a raise to $21 per hour for remaining and future temps. Whether those future temps will be converted to full-time employees automatically is still being negotiated, Fain said. GM has proposed to convert current and future temps with one year of service to full time employees, and has matched Ford with a $21 per hour wage for remaining and future temps. Stellantis agreed to convert "thousands" of current temps to full-time status, with a wage increase to $20 per hour for remaining and future temps. As with Ford, the automatic conversion of future temps is "still being negotiated," Fain said.
  • Retirement plans: All three automakers have offered a $3 increase to pension benefits. Ford and Stellantis have offered to increase their 401(k) contributions to 9.5% plus $1 per hour. GM offered an increase to 8% plus $1.25 per hour.
  • Payments to retired workers: Ford offered annual lump sum payments of $250 to retired workers, with surviving spouses eligible to continue to receive the payments. GM offered a one-time lump sump payment of $1,000, with surviving spouses not eligible. Stellantis rejected all increases to retiree pay. Fain said all three offers were "deeply inadequate."
  • Profit sharing: Ford offered to improve its existing profit-sharing formula by including profits from Ford Credit, its financing subsidiary, and to make temp workers eligible to receive profit-sharing payments. Stellantis and GM both want to maintain their current profit-sharing formulas, but GM has offered to make temp workers with 1,000 hours of service eligible to receive payments. Stellantis has not offered to make its temporary workers eligible to receive profit-sharing payments.
  • Work-life balance: All three automakers have offered to make Juneteenth an official paid holiday and have offered two weeks of paid parental leave.

 

Unifor sets Oct. 29 as strike
deadline for Stellantis talks

October 19, 2023

'We also have the added challenge of negotiating future product commitments for the Brampton Assembly,' says Unifor President Lana Payne

Unifor will restart talks with Stellantis on Wednesday, six weeks after the union put bargaining with the automaker on hold as it concentrated on securing new contracts with Ford Motor Co. and General Motors

It also set a strike deadline, giving the automaker until 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 29 to agree to a deal or face a walkout.

The union said it is “looking forward” to locking in a deal that matches the pattern set by collective agreements with the other two members of the Detroit Three, while making “additional gains” on workplace issues specific to Stellantis. 

“We also have the added challenge of negotiating future product commitments for the Brampton Assembly plant that secures a future for all of our Stellantis members in the EV transition,” Unifor President Lana Payne said in a release. 

Unifor represents about 8,200 Stellantis workers at nine workplaces across Canada. The majority work at assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton, Ont.

As in its deals with Ford and GM, Unifor is seeking roughly 20-per-cent wage increases for longtime workers over a three-year term, bonuses of $10,000 for full-time staff and a compression of the wage grid that allows workers to climb the pay scale in four instead of eight years. 

“Our bargaining team is fully committed to negotiating a strong agreement that delivers on the core priorities set by our members and ensures that unionized autoworkers continue to set the highest standards for all manufacturing workers in Canada,” James Stewart, Stellantis master bargaining chairperson, said in a statement. 

As union negotiators battle the company for the desired contract terms, Unifor’s national office is also feeling internal pressure from Local 444 President Dave Cassidy, who represents workers at the Windsor Assembly Plant. 

Cassidy has repeatedly said his local members are not satisfied with the pattern set at Ford and GM, and has telegraphed he may push members to break pattern to pursue a better deal. 

To date, Unifor leadership has rejected any calls to make changes to the core tenets of its agreement and expressed faith in its pattern bargaining strategy. 

The company says it's set to resume talks following the weekslong hiatus.

“We look forward to productive ongoing discussions with Unifor and are confident we will reach an agreement that both rewards the contributions of our employees, as well as ensures our future competitiveness in today's rapidly evolving industry,” Stellantis spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin said in an email.

 

Who Did It Better, United
AutoWorkers Or Unifor?

October 18, 2023
Adam D. B. King


Over the past weeks, all eyes have been on bargaining and, in the United States, strikes at the “big three” automakers. Given that auto talks are happening simultaneously in Canada and the U.S., comparisons between union demands and strategies on either side of the border have been all but inevitable. That roles seem to have reversed, with the formerly conservative United Auto Workers (UAW) taking a more militant stance and Unifor appearing traditional and reserved in its approach, makes such comparisons all the more interesting. 

While the UAW under new reform president Shawn Fain broke from tradition and chose to bargain with all three major American automakers at once, Unifor went the traditional “pattern bargaining” route of selecting a lead firm — in this case, Ford — and later attempting to replicate the Ford contract with General Motors (GM) and Stellantis.  

The UAW strategy was and is intimately tied to its strike preparation, and now, job action. The UAW, like the U.S. Teamsters before them, has been mobilizing its members for strike action since Fain and his allies narrowly won the union leadership. The American auto union, with a much deeper legacy of givebacks and concessions to employers than the Canadians, faced a consequently larger battle. A new orientation was required if it was going to make significant bargaining improvements and win back what has been lost over the past decades. 

The result is the current “stand-up strike” strategy, whereby the union selectively strikes at different employers’ production sites according to how bargaining is progressing (or not) at the table. While innovative and proving quite effective, in effect the stand-up strike ends up looking much like an iterative process of pattern bargaining. Strategically placed and timed strikes move one employer on an issue or a set of issues in bargaining, which the union will then seek to apply to the other two firms.  

By contrast, in Canada, Unifor reached its deal with Ford on September 19, after extending bargaining for 24 hours and narrowly avoiding a strike. Indeed, it appeared from the initiation of bargaining with Ford that Unifor was committed to avoiding job action. Nevertheless, after resistance from GM, the union then struck the latter firm on October 10, but reached a tentative agreement just 12 hours later. Members at GM will now vote on roughly the same deal secured at Ford in Canada. How things will unfold at Stellantis are uncertain.

While union leadership characterized the pattern agreement struck with Ford as “life-changing,” there was noticeable dissension and criticism from both members and commentators. Comparisons with the seemingly bolder demands of the UAW were widespread and were surely expected by Unifor’s leadership. 

It’s important to keep two things in mind, however. First, the UAW’s contracts with the U.S. automakers are very different from those between Unifor and the companies. American auto workers surrendered past gains on wages, pensions and employment security much earlier than Canadians (in fact, such concessions motivated the Canadian section to leave the UAW in the 1980s). Consequently, across job classifications, American auto workers make lower wages than Canadians. The UAW thus had a much steeper hill to climb, and not only on wages. The American union’s bold demands must be placed in this historical context to be fully understood and appreciated. 

Second, demands are one thing, final contracts are quite another. We can assess the strategies and progress of Unifor and the UAW as the bargaining and strike processes unfold, but a final accounting is only possible when both have ratified new collective agreements with all three companies. Many Canadian union members and labour commentators are understandably inspired by the new leadership at the UAW and hoping for a positive outcome from its current job action, myself included. But at this stage, most of what we have from the UAW are demands. 

The Unifor-Ford Contract

Unifor characterized the deal in its master bargaining report this way: “This three-year deal meets the extraordinary moment we are in. It addresses each of our core priorities and provides significant, and in some cases ground-breaking, gains for everyone – active and retired.” 

On wages in particular, the union pitched its gains as “record-setting.” While this might be slightly hyperbolic, the wage settlement is nevertheless impressive. Unifor secured base wage increases of 10 per cent in 2023, 2 per cent in 2024 and 3 per cent in 2025, for a total of 15 per cent over the three-year contract. A cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will also be folded into the base wage rate before new increases apply. In addition, skilled trades workers will see special adjustments of 2.75 per cent in 2023 and 2.5 per cent in 2025, on top of their general wage increase. These are well above current average union wage settlements in Canada. 

To put this in perspective, a full-time production worker currently earning $37.33 per hour will see their wage increase to at least $44.52 by the last year of the contract (before any further COLA increases are applied). A worker with a skilled trade will go from $44.77 to a minimum of $55.97 per hour in 2025. The union also negotiated the reactivation of a limited COLA meant to provide some protection against inflation going forward, effective as of 2024. Notable improvements across the benefit package were also secured.

The contract additionally provides for a one-time “Productivity and Quality Bonus” of $10,000 paid to all permanent employees. When this bonus is combined with base wage increases and COLA payments, production and skilled trades workers will see over $40,000 and $57,000 in total salary increases over the life of the agreement, respectively.  

Improvements to the wage progression system will also go a long way in equalizing compensation among members. Here, the central improvement is the compression of the wage scale from eight to four years. Whereas it previously took a newly hired full-time worker eight years to reach 100 per cent of base pay, it will now take only four. In addition, the base percentage of new hires will be increased from 65 to 70 per cent, with the base percentage growing in each of the following three years to achieve full pay in year four. 

However, the persistence of a temporary part-time (TPT) worker pool is likely to continue to sow disconnect among a sizable slice of the workforce. Those with a TPT classification earn much lower wages and are either shut out of or receive reduced amounts of other benefits. For example, instead of the $10,000 bonus paid to full-time, permanent employees, TPT workers will receive a separate $4,000 productivity and quality bonus. Unifor negotiated additional contract language to limit company use of TPT workers, but whether or not this seriously impedes the growth of temporary work remains to be seen. 

In the area of pensions, assessments have been more mixed. Pension improvements were a core priority for the union in this round of bargaining. Just as wages and employment security had been “tiered” in previous rounds, leaving workers doing identical or comparable work earning unequal wages, so too had retirement security been hollowed out for many. Defined benefit (DB) plans were replaced by defined contribution (DC) and hybrid plans, while inflation ate away at pension benefits. 

In this round, Unifor managed to make various pension improvements. Retirees receiving a DB pension will see an increase of roughly 7 per cent effective January 2024. Starting in 2025, workers hired on or after Nov. 7, 2016, and currently enrolled in the DC plan, will be transferred to a “defined benefit plus” (DBplus) plan, the immediate advantage of which is that it increases the employer’s mandatory contribution from 4 to 7 per cent of earnings. While the creation of this new pension scheme will certainly improve retirement security, questions remain about what the “plus” in DBplus indicates. As well, workers will not be able to move prior pension contributions from the DC to the DBplus plan, leaving a good chunk of previous retirement savings less secure. 

Several other smaller gains are also worth mentioning. Health care benefit deductibles, which can represent sizable payments depending on a person’s health needs, will be eliminated for all workers, retirees and surviving spouses. Two new paid holidays will be added — Truth and Reconciliation Day and Family Day — while bereavement leave will increase from four to five days. 

When it comes to the electric vehicle (EV) transition, Unifor’s deal is light on details. Much of what was negotiated addresses supplemental unemployment benefits and other payment and income security measures for those displaced in the transition to electric vehicles, even if only temporarily. Ford also reconfirmed its commitment to transition its Oakville Assembly Complex to EV production in 2025. It seems that the UAW has made the EV transition a markedly more central plank in their negotiations and strike. To much celebration, Fain announced recently that GM had agreed to bring its EV battery manufacturing under the UAW master collective agreement, something which the company had previously resisted. 

Backlash to the Unifor-Ford Deal

Perhaps the heaviest criticism that can be levelled at Unifor is that the union provided very little time for members to discuss, debate and vote on the Ford contract. Indeed, Unifor president Lana Payne hinted at the possibility of members rejecting the tentative agreement when interviewed by the Toronto Star just after the deal with Ford was announced. Payne indicated that the union would “try to do our best to make sure it [rejection of the agreement] doesn’t happen.” A relatively closed negotiation process and a perceived lack of transparency during ratification stood in stark contrast to the ongoing UAW bargaining and auto strikes in the U.S., where member participation and updates from the leadership via daily social media engagement have been key features.  

Although some features of the Unifor deals with Ford and GM could have been better, it’s difficult to argue that these contracts don’t contain quite impressive gains. Yet, it appeared to many members and commentators alike that these were arrived at through a top-down and opaque process. Indeed, with debate largely shut down and voting taking place online, the Ford deal barely secured the votes of a majority of Unifor members. It will be interesting to see how the ratification process plays out with Unifor members at GM, and eventually, Stellantis.

That a deal as good as the one at Ford was ratified by such a narrow margin indicates how high workers’ expectations were. At the same time, we should avoid making unfair comparisons with the UAW. As of now, it looks like the wage offerings of the automakers in the U.S. will likely turn out to amount to less than in Canada — this on top of the already higher wages earned by Canadian auto workers (keep in mind as well, that the UAW is seeking a four-year deal, whereas Unifor has secured a three-year contract). On pensions, things look equally bleak south of the border. All three automakers continue to refuse to restore the defined benefit pensions conceded during the 2008 financial crisis and auto bailouts. Unifor, by contrast, made notable pension gains in this round with Ford and GM in Canada.

The real comparison ought to be between the tactics and strategies of the two unions. The UAW’s more militant approach is a response to the legacy of its much deeper concessions and a new reform leadership willing to organize the membership against them. While Canadian auto workers have sacrificed and lost important past gains as well, there was simply no comparable set of grievances, nor a leadership willing to organize against them.  

Nevertheless, for many this surely feels like an opportunity lost, despite an historic contract settlement. Had Unifor channelled member expectations and energy and deployed a bargaining and strike preparation strategy that looked more like the UAW, there could very well have been even more positives to celebrate in the recent Ford and GM deals. With the labour market softening, some of that momentum may soon wane. But with only a three-year deal, the union leadership, and perhaps more importantly, Unifor members, will get a chance to reconsider their auto strategy in the not–too-distant future.

Adam D.K. King is an assistant professor in Labour Studies at the University of Manitoba.

 

Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford
calls on autoworkers to end strike,
says company's future is at stake

Tom Krisher,
The Associated Press
Oct 17, 2023

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford called on autoworkers to come together to end a monthlong strike that he says could cost the company the ability to invest in the future.

In a rare speech during contract talks in the company's hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, Ford said high labor costs could limit spending to develop new vehicles and invest in factories. “It’s the absolute lifeblood of our company. And if we lose it, we will lose to the competition. America loses. Many jobs will be lost,” said the great grandson of company founder Henry Ford.

The company, he said, builds more vehicles in America and has more United Auto Workers employees than any company, which has increased its costs in a highly competitive industry.

Ford has 57,000 UAW workers compared with 46,000 at GM and 43,000 at Stellantis. “Many of our competitors moved jobs to Mexico as we added jobs here in the U.S.,” Ford said.

The company is near an impasse with the United Auto Workers union, which walked out in targeted strikes at all three Detroit automakers on Sept. 15,

Last week 8,700 union members walked out at the largest and most profitable Ford plant in the world, the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

Ford said the strike at the Kentucky plant is harming tens of thousands of Americans who work for parts suppliers and Ford dealers. The strike also could cause a fragile parts supply base to collapse, he said. “If it continues, it will have a major impact on the American economy and devastate local communities,” he said.

There was no response from the UAW on Monday when The Associated Press sought comment.

Bill Ford, only the fourth family member to lead the 120-year-old company, said he has watched other countries lose their auto industries, then all of their manufacturing base. He said strong American manufacturing is essential for national security.

“We need to come together to bring an end to this acrimonious round of talks,” Ford said. “I still believe in a bright future – one that we can build together. I still believe the automobile industry is a major force for good in our country. We will continue to be there when America needs us most.”

Last week, after the Kentucky strike began, a top Ford executive said on a conference call with reporters that Ford had reached the limit in how much it was willing to spend to end the strike.

At the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne west of Detroit, few workers are on the picket lines Monday afternoon said they listened to Ford’s speech.

When told what Ford said about investing in the future, line worker Steve Applebee said he agreed. “I get that,” he said. “I can see both sides.”

But he also said Ford is paying CEO Jim Farley $21 million per year when starting pay for Ford factory workers is up only about $3 per hour from when he started with the company 31 years ago.

Ford’s offer of a 23% general wage increase barely covers inflation over the last three or four years, said Applebee, 59.

Carlos Hollins 47, of Detroit, who just started with Ford in July and is at the low end of the pay scale, said workers gave up raises in 2008 when Ford and the others were in financial trouble. They were promised that concessions would be restored when the company recovered.

“We shouldn’t have to suffer, especially for the retirees,” he said. “they need to pay us what we deserve.”

The union has said retirees haven’t received a pension increase for at least a decade.

Hollis says workers should get everything they are asking for, and Ford has enough money to pay it.

The speech from Ford arrives with the entire auto industry making a historic and expensive shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.

UAW President Shawn Fain has said Ford and crosstown rivals General Motors and Jeep maker Stellantis are making billions in profits, and that workers should get a share. He says the workers should be repaid for sacrificing general pay raises, cost of living adjustments and agreeing to lower wage tiers to keep the companies afloat during the Great Recession.

The union began striking at targeted factories after its contracts with the companies expired. It started picketing one assembly plant from each company, but that has since spread to 38 parts warehouses at GM and Jeep maker Stellantis. The UAW later added another assembly plant at both GM and Ford and on Wednesday, Fain made the surprise announcement that the union would walk out at the Kentucky plant, which makes Super Duty pickups and large Ford and Lincoln SUVs.

About 34,000 of the union's 146,000 employees at all three automakers are now on strike.

The seemingly widening labor rift suggests Ford and the union may be in for a lengthy strike that could cost the company and its workers billions of dollars.

The union has said Ford’s general wage offer is up to 23% over four years and that it has reinstated cost of living raises. GM and Stellantis were at 20%. But Fain said none was high enough.

 

Unifor's pattern bargaining
threatened by Stellantis
members in Windsor, Ont.

'There’s no question they’re organizing to push to break the pattern,' labour professor Larry Savage says of Unifor Local 444 in Windsor, Ont.

GREG LAYSON 
October 10, 2023   

Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy, who represents about 4,800 hourly Stellantis workers at the Windsor Assembly Plant, said he “didn’t hear anybody supporting the deal” during a local meeting Oct. 1 that drew 600 members.

Unifor, the union that represents 23,500 auto workers in Canada, is staring down a potential revolt by its members when it comes the longstanding tradition of pattern bargaining with the Detroit Three automakers, warns one labour expert.

“For years, the union had to contend with the Detroit Three wanting to break the pattern, now it looks like the greatest threat to the pattern is from within the union,” Larry Savage, a labour studies professor at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., told Automotive News Canada.

Unifor members working at a Stellantis assembly plant in Windsor, Ont., could ultimately try to break the pattern, set by a record-setting contract with Ford Motor Co. of Canada. The agreement, ratified Sept. 24 by only 54 per cent of Ford hourly workers, will net longtime employees nearly 20-per-cent wage gains over three years, including cost-of living allowance fold-ins. As well, members on defined contribution pension plans will switch over to superior defined benefit plans in 2025. Employees also get a record-setting lump-sum signing bonus of $10,000.

Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy, who represents about 4,800 hourly Stellantis workers at the Windsor Assembly Plant, said he “didn’t hear anybody supporting the deal” during a local meeting Oct. 1 that drew 600 members.

“My membership will not accept what was delivered. And I heard my membership loud and clear,” Cassidy said. “I’m just being honest and laying the groundwork.”

MEMBERSHIP HAS ‘FINAL SAY’

Cassidy warned that “the membership ultimately has the final say.”

“I work for my membership.” 

Savage said there’s definitely a movement afoot.

“I don’t think you saw [Cassidy] mobilizing people to vote against the Ford deal. But, there’s no question they’re organizing to push to break the pattern,” he said.

Unifor Local 444 has the largest number of members eligible to vote on a new Stellantis deal and can easily sway the result, Savage said. By contrast, Brampton Assembly Plant employs about 2,200 hourly workers, according to the automaker’s website.

Cassidy and Savage attribute much of the anger on Canadian shop floors to United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain. The fiery labour leader began contract talks in the United States asking for a 46-per-cent wage increase, a four-day work week and more. Fain has since lowered his wage demand to 36 per cent, although the union has been staging strikes across select Detroit Three plants in the U.S.

Cassidy said his members in Windsor, a border town connected to Detroit by a tunnel and bridge, “are paying attention to Fain” and expecting similar demands be made by Unifor and met by the Detroit Three in Canada.

That, even though Cassidy called the Ford deal one of the best on record.

“I know that in my 30 years at Chrysler, the pattern that’s in place today is one of the highest bars that’s ever been set. However, I also know that we haven’t had the big wage increases, because of the situations we’ve been in for the past 15 years.”

He said the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 and COVID-19 have left the industry “in disarray for that long.”

Savage said workers view these contract talks as “a golden opportunity to catch up after years of concession bargaining.”

“Coming out of the pandemic, workers are more generally fed up and in a mood to fight back,” he said.

Savage said workers haven’t wielded this much bargaining power since the turn of the century.

THE ‘NEED TO BE CLEAR’

Cassidy is one of 60 Unifor members that will bargain with Stellantis. He’ll sit alongside Unifor President Lana Payne.

“I need to be clear with her,” Cassidy said. “I believe we still have a lot of work to do, even after General Motors has completed their round of bargaining.”

Payne wasn’t immediately available for comment, but on Oct. 4, she posted a pointed three-minute video message on YouTube, entitled “Why Pattern Bargaining Works.” It could be viewed as targeting Cassidy or General Motors, which Unifor said on Oct. 6 was putting up “some resistance” to the pattern.

Resistance to the pattern is nothing new. General Motors in 1996 threatened to break pattern, leading the union to occupy the GM Fabrication Plant in Oshawa, Ont., until the company agreed to the pattern.

The late Sergio Marchione, while head of Chrysler and then Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, made it abundantly clear he hated pattern bargaining, alleging smaller automakers couldn’t afford the bigger wage increases set early in negotiations.

Payne calls the process “essentially” and “one of the most powerful acts of solidarity we have.”

In the video, Payne said without a pattern deal, automakers would sew division, lower wages, lower work standards and pit workers against each other.

“We have to fight for this pattern agreement, for the the thousands of members, whose lives will be changed for the better,” Payne says.

 

2023 UAW strike update: GM
agrees to place electric vehicle
battery plants under
national contract

BY SARA POWERS
Oct 9, 2023

(CBS DETROIT) - UAW President Shawn Fain made an announcement on Friday, sharing the latest bargaining updates in the union's historic strike against the Big Three automakers. 

Fain announced significant progress in negotiations with General Motors and no additional strikes. 

Major breakthrough with GM

After threatening to strike a major General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas, Fain said the automaker has agreed to place electric vehicle battery plants under a national contract with the UAW. 

"This week, GM did something that was unthinkable until just today," said Fain. "They agreed to put the future of this industry under our national agreement. This victory is a direct result of the power of our membership. It's your willingness to stand up when called. It's your commitment to winning what you are owed. The companies see it. The world sees it. And today, I was ready to call on one of GM's biggest and most important plants to stand up. And it was that threat that brought GM to the table."  

Even though the strike at the Arlington plant was avoided, here's what's made at that facility:

  • Chevrolet: Tahoe and Suburban
  • GMC: Yukon and Yukon XL
  • Cadillac: Escalade and Escalade-V

GM issued the following statement after Fain's announcement: 

"Negotiations remain ongoing, and we will continue to work towards finding solutions to address outstanding issues. Our goal remains to reach an agreement that rewards our employees and allows GM to be successful into the future."

Negotiation updates

Two of the big three automakers committed to a cost of living adjustment. Ford and Stellantis have agreed, and Fain said General Motors is not far behind. 

In addition, Ford has given up a $1.50 tool allowance, Stellantis is at $1.00 and General Motors has not budged.

Fain also said they have made significant progress fighting for pension increases and getting subcommittees addressed. 

"We're still fighting hard to win retirement security for both our pre-2007 and post-2007 hires," Fain said.  

The UAW president ended his announcement, saying it's back to the bargaining table to win three record contracts. 

"We know their pain points, we know their moneymakers, and we know the plants they really don't want to see struck. And they know that we've got more cards left to play," Fain said. "We're not going to let one company fall behind and wait for movement at another table. We're not going to let them sit back and lowball us while others make progress. We expect results at every company. And we've been crystal clear on how you catch a strike and how you avoid one."  

Stellantis provides update on recent offer to UAW

"We continue to have good momentum at the bargaining table and have been working diligently with the UAW over the last week to build on that. We are making progress, but there are gaps that still need to be closed. Since the beginning of these negotiations, our focus hasn't wavered – that is, to reach a balanced agreement as soon as possible that establishes the framework that will allow the Company to be competitive and sustainable in a rapidly changing market and brings our workforce along on the journey. We recently made a serious proposal to the UAW that reinforces our previous commitments: 

• Provide significant wage increases of 21.4% when compounded through 2027 for all full-time hourly employees
• Implement immediate 10% wage increase for most employees upon contract ratification
• Accelerate time to reach top wage rate for In-Progression employees (4 years, instead of 8 years)
• Raise starting wage rate for Supplemental employees to $20/hour, a 26.7% increase
• Eliminate wage tiers for Mopar employees
• Increase paid holidays to 18 in some years with the addition of Juneteenth
• Provide cost-of-living adjustments calculated every quarter, added to every hour earned and included in weekly paychecks
• Invest billions in the U.S. to provide job security
• Contribute additional $1 billion in retirement funding
• Provide significant improvements to the Company's 401(k) contribution for In-Progression employees 

Additionally, the Company and union have discussed various solutions to address job security for all of our employees, including those in Belvidere. Beyond our significant economic offer, we also proposed a number of other enhanced benefits. If accepted, this record proposal would bring our represented employees immediate financial benefits, improve work-life balance and secure jobs through the term of the contract. In fact, by the end of this contract, all of our represented employees would see significant increases to their annual salary. Below is what they could expect:

While we still have some work to do, I remain optimistic that our discussions are providing a pathway to a tentative agreement. It would be one that fairly rewards our workforce while preserving our ability to compete with non-union manufacturers and protects the future of the Company for our employees, our families and our customers. With more than 8,000 of our colleagues on the picket line, some now in their third week, we are committed to continuing this momentum, so we can get everyone back to work building the vehicles that our customers want and that enable their freedom of movement."

 

UAW strike day 21: GM presents
new offer as union plans another
'stand-up announcement'

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Oct 6, 2023

General Motors Co. has put a new counter offer to the United Auto Workers on the table, the automaker said Thursday, as the union signaled plans to make a new strike announcement on Friday.

"We can confirm that we provided a counter offer to the UAW's most recent proposal — our sixth since the start of negotiations," GM spokesperson David Barnas said in a statement. "We believe we have a compelling offer that would reward our team members and allow GM to succeed and thrive into the future. We continue to stand ready and willing to negotiate in good faith 24/7 to reach an agreement."

The company did not detail its latest proposal. News of the offer being presented comes as the UAW on Thursday said it planned to have another "stand up announcement" at 2 p.m. Friday. For the past few weeks, UAW President Shawn Fain has been announcing expansions of the union's auto strike strike, in its 21st day Thursday, during Facebook Live events on Fridays.

The union's targeted strike of all three Detroit automakers began with walkouts at GM's Wentzville Assembly plant in Missouri, Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, and the Stellantis NV Jeep plant in Toledo on Sept. 15. It has since expanded to 38 GM and Stellantis parts distribution centers across the country, and most recently to Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant and GM's Lansing Delta Township plant.

The UAW has been using a strike strategy in which leaders call on more workers to join the strike if sufficient progress hasn't been made at the bargaining table, a tactic the union has said enables greater flexibility. GM is the only one of the three automakers that has not been spared in expansions of the strike.

Some 25,300 autoworkers out of the roughly 146,000 who are represented by the UAW now are on strike.

Negotiations continue

The union gave its latest counter offer to GM on Monday. At the time, the company said it was "assessing" the proposal but that "significant gaps" remained. The UAW has not publicly detailed its latest demands or offers.

GM also has not disclosed many specifics of its offers, but previously offered a 20% wage increase over the length of the contract, a reduction of half of the time it takes workers to reach the top of the pay scale, raises for temporary workers, and elimination of some wage tiers, among other items.

Meanwhile, Ford on Tuesday said it made its seventh and "strongest" offer to the union. The Dearborn automaker's latest offer includes product commitments for every UAW-represented plant in the United States, an increase in starting pay for temporary workers to $21 per hour, conversion upon ratification of all temporary workers with at least three months of continuous service and a wage increase of "more than 20%."

It also includes the restoration of cost-of-living allowances, elimination of wage tiers that currently have workers at components plants on different wage scales than assembly plant workers, and reducing by "more than half" the time it takes workers to reach the top of the wage scale.

But one key sticking point, according to Ford, is the issue of electric-vehicle battery plants. The company has said the union of taking a "hard line" on the issue and "holding the deal hostage" over it.

Stellantis last week was spared from more of its plants joining the strike after it moved on several issues right before new strike targets were announced.

The Jeep and Ram maker made progress in talks with the union on areas including cost-of-living adjustments that had been suspended in 2009, the right not to cross a picket line, the right to strike over product commitments and plant closures, and an outsourcing moratorium.

The UAW initially sought a non-compounded wage increase of 40% over the length of the contract. It's also seeking stronger job security language, elimination of a tiered wage system, restoration of pensions for all workers, the right to strike over plant closures, and other items.

The union has not publicly commented on the latest offers its gotten from the companies, but Fain is expected to update members on where negotiations stand during the live streamed event on Friday.

Strike impacts

The strike, which is the first time the UAW has conducted work stoppages at all three automakers at the same time, has had ripple effects on production across the companies as well as their suppliers.

Most recently, Ford said it was temporarily laying off about 400 workers at its Livonia Transmission and Sterling Axle plants because of production impacts tied to the strike at Chicago Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and police utility vehicles. In all, Ford has temporarily laid off about 1,330 workers due to the strike.

GM has laid of 2,175 workers at plants that supply plants that are on strike or that use parts from those plants.

The union is providing the equivalent of strike pay, $500, to its members who are laid off and not eligible for unemployment benefits.

 

Ford's Q3 sales rise on strong
sales of trucks, hybrids

Jordyn Grzelewski, Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
October 5, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s sales rose 7.7% year-over-year in the third quarter, buoyed by higher sales of hybrid vehicles and trucks.

The effects of a United Auto Workers strike of all three Detroit automakers that began Sept. 15 have yet to show up in sales results, but that could start to change this month. Some 25,300 autoworkers are on picket lines as the strike stretched into its 20th day Wednesday. Barclays analysts wrote in a note Wednesday that the strike had a "limited impact" on September sales, with the Detroit automakers reporting just a 1% sales decline vs. their average monthly sales year-to-date.

Analysts expect greater disruption in the months to come but noted that the companies have a "fair level" of buffer stock on hand: "While certain D3 models/segments have more or less inventory than others — with large pickups/SUVs seeing higher inventory levels — we believe these inventories overall will likely be supportive of near-term sales volumes, at least at the current intensity and pace of the strike."

Ford reported Wednesday that it sold 500,504 new vehicles in the United States in the July-September period, up from 464,674 in the same period last year. The gains were reported a day after much of the rest of the auto industry reported higher Q3 sales.

Crosstown rival General Motors Co. on Tuesday reported that its Q3 sales were up 21%. The Detroit automaker sold 674,336 vehicles, including more than 20,000 electric vehicles. GM's Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave SUV plant in Delta Township, Wentzville midsize pickup truck and commercial van plant outside St. Louis, and parts distribution centers across the country are on strike. The work stoppage also has brought down Cadillac XT4 and Chevrolet Malibu production at GM's Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. reported U.S. sales were up 12.2%, Honda Motor Co. Ltd.’s rose 52.7%, Hyundai Motor Co.’s grew by 9%, and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s increased by 40.8%. Sales at Stellantis NV — maker of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and other vehicles — fell 1% to 380,563 units. Stellantis' Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator plant in Toledo and all of its U.S. parts distribution centers are on strike.

Two Ford assembly facilities are on strike: Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, which builds the Bronco and Ranger, and Chicago Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator.

Analysts at Cox Automotive said in a note Wednesday that new-vehicles sales in Q3 in the United States were "solid, spurred on by vastly improved inventories, higher fleet sales and consumers still in market despite elevated prices and high auto loan rates." Initial estimates indicate that sales were "slightly above" Cox's forecast of a 15% increase. GM, Toyota, Hyundai and Nissan posted "particularly strong" results."

At the start of September, new-vehicle inventory was 68% higher than in 2022, according to Cox. Incentives have been up, too.

Meanwhile, Ford sold 20,962 electric vehicles in the quarter, up 14.8%. Hybrid sales of 34,861 vehicles were up 41.4%, led by F-150 and Maverick hybrid sales. Ford reported that sales of the F-150 hybrid were up 46.9%, and that the hybrid model now makes up 56.5% of all Mavericks sold.

Internal combustion engine vehicle sales of 444,681 were up 5.4%. Year to date, Ford's sales are up 9.2% from the first nine months of 2022.

Truck sales rose 15.3% in the quarter to 275,554 units while SUV sales were essentially flat at about 215,000 units.

“We saw strong balanced sales growth providing choice to our customers in the third quarter, with growthcoming from our gas engine, electric, hybrid and commercial van lineup,” Andrew Frick, Ford's vice president ofsales, distribution and trucks, said in a statement. “Ford’s truck lineup remains the industry’s top seller. The Maverick and Bronco Sport remain red hot after Ford boosted manufacturing capacity earlier this year. The all-new seventh generation Mustang is off to a jack-rabbit start in its first full month, up 90 percent in Septemberover last year.”

Rhett Ricart, owner of Ricart Automotive Group in Columbus, Ohio, which includes Chevrolet and Ford dealerships, said that in a recent meeting with other dealers, they’re wasn’t much concern about the strike affecting inventory levels and sales, but more the “parts availability to keep customers rolling down the road.”

Dealership shops and outside service centers have already been struggling to get parts during the pandemic. Automakers battled supply shortages on semiconductors chips and other supplies for months.

“This is just gonna exacerbate it,” Ricart said.

Ricart had one of the best September sales months on record at his dealerships because pent-up demand is still there, he said, even with high prices and interest rates. Ricart thinks the constant strike news has consumers heading to get new vehicles now before lower supply takes hold as a result of the strike and affects pricing.

“The intuition is that people hear about this strike and they were thinking about buying a car here in the next two, three, four months, they're figuring if this strike keeps going on, these cars are gonna get more expensive because the supply is going to be down,” he said. “I think they're thinking, ‘I buy one now before that strike depletes the inventories.’”

Sales of Ford brand SUVs were up across nearly every nameplate, including a 55.1% gain for Bronco Sport and 42.5% increase for the electric Mustang Mach-E. The outliers were the Expedition and the Explorer; the Explorer recently was under a stop-sale over an issue with the vehicle's rearview camera system and the facility where it's built now is on strike.

In the truck segment, sales of Ford's flagship F-Series rose 13.4% in the third quarter to 190,477 units, retaining its status as the best-selling truck in the country. Sales were up across Maverick, E-Series, Transit and heavy trucks. They were down across the electric F-150 Lightning, Ranger and Transit Connect nameplates.

Mustang sales fell 4.9%. The new 2024 model of the Mustang had its first full month of sales in September. Ford reported it's turning on dealer lots in just six days.

Ford's luxury Lincoln brand reported a 1.8% sales gain in the quarter.

 

Ford makes seventh contract
offer to UAW: ‘Strongest’ yet

Detroit Free Press
October 4, 2023

Ford Motor Co. made an offer to the UAW on Monday in an effort to reach a tentative agreement on a new master labor contract, the automaker announced Tuesday evening.

The agreement, which would run through April 30, 2028, is the seventh and strongest offer Ford has made on the key economic issues since Aug. 29, Ford said in a news release.

"Ford has received two comprehensive counteroffers from the UAW, the last on Sept. 25. Ford’s latest offer provides our 57,000 UAW-represented employees with a record contract and a strong future," Ford said.

Ford said its offer includes "unprecedented improvements in wages (putting employees among the top 25% of all U.S. jobs, hourly and salaried) and benefits, product commitments for every UAW factory and job security."

At the same time, it preserves Ford’s ability to invest and grow, the Dearborn automaker said.

“There’s no doubt our UAW workforce put us on their shoulders during the pandemic, and these same workers and their families were hit hard by inflation. We want to make sure our workers come out of these negotiations with two things — a record contract and a strong future,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a news release. “We’ve put an offer on the table that will be costly for the company, especially given our large American footprint and UAW workforce, but one that we believe still allows Ford to invest in the future.”  

Ford said the union has taken a hard line on unionizing future battery plants.

A future that will include battery plants

"While Ford remains open to the possibility of working with the UAW on future battery plants in the United States, these are multibillion-dollar investments and must operate at competitive and sustainable levels," the news release said. "Three of the four battery plants under construction are part of the BlueOval SK joint venture between Ford and SK On. The workforce for these operations has not been hired."

Future employees at the battery operations may choose to be represented by the UAW and enter into the collective bargaining process, Ford reiterated.

"As Ford has made clear, none of our employees, including powertrain employees, will lose their jobs due to our battery plants during this contract period," Ford said in its news release. "In fact, for the foreseeable future, we will have to hire more workers as some workers retire, in order to keep up with demand for our ICE (internal combustion engine) products."

Here are the details

Here are the highlights, according to a release by Ford at 5:32 p.m. Tuesday:

  • Product commitments for every UAW plant in America; no job loss due to EV battery plants
  • Profit-sharing to include temporary employees for the first time
  • Ratification bonus to include temporary employees for the first time
  • Pay raise to $21 an hour or a 26% increase for temporary workers
  • Conversion of all temporary employees with at least three month of continuous service to permanent status upon ratification
  • General wage increase of more than 20%, which would be an immediate double-digit increase upon ratification
  • Traditional cost-of-living allowances (COLA) to provide "inflation protection"
  • Elimination of tiers so that all employees may reach the top wage rate
  • Faster wage progression, reducing by more than half the time it takes to earn top wage so that an average new hire will "earn 6 figures by 4th year"
  • Income protection for all permanent employees
  • No change to health care, which currently offers $0 premiums and puts employees in the top 1% of American workers
  • Increased 401(k) contributions so that the "average employee hired today can accrue $1 million-plus retirement fund with reasonable market returns"
  • More time off, which means up to five weeks of vacation, an average of 17 paid holidays annually including Juneteenth, and two family days

UAW: No comment

The UAW declined to immediately comment on the Ford announcement.

Some 25,000 UAW workers have been strategically deployed to strike Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Stellantis since mid-September. Michigan Assembly, which builds the Ford Bronco SUV and Ranger truck, had strike lines set up on Sept. 15. Then parts distribution sites for GM and Stellantis (which owns Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge) joined the campaign on Sept. 22, disrupting the flow of parts to car dealers and repair shops.

On Friday, the UAW hit Ford with a strike on the Chicago Assembly Plant that builds the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator. Farley held a news media briefing to say the Dearborn automaker would have made a deal already but the UAW was holding the company hostage with battery plant demands.

Hours later, General Motors CEO Mary Barra lashed out at the UAW for its "theatrics." The company confirmed Monday it had received a counterproposal from the UAW.

 

UAW strike day 17: Negotiations
continue in third week of
targeted walkouts

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Oct 3, 2023

Negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Detroit Three automakers continued Sunday — day 17 of an unprecedented strike by the union against Ford Motor Co., Stellantis NV and General Motors Co.

The strike started Sept. 15 with the UAW unleashing a targeted walkout strategy starting with plant work stoppages at Ford's Michigan Assembly in Wayne, Stellantis' Toledo Assembly Complex and GM's Wentzville Assembly in Missouri.

The strike has been expanded twice to include all Stellantis and GM parts distribution centers and on Friday added two SUV plants: GM's Lansing Delta Township plant and Ford's Chicago Assembly — bringing the number of autoworkers on strike to 25,300 out of 146,000 UAW members at the companies. Stellantis' facilities were spared the latest expansion since the Jeep and Ram maker made progress in talks with the union on areas including cost-of-living adjustments that had been suspended in 2009, the right not to cross a picket line, the right to strike over product commitments and plant closures, and an outsourcing moratorium.

"I actually took it as a big sigh of relief that Stellantis made significant movement," said Art Wheaton,  an automotive industry specialist at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School.

"To me, that was great news. Primarily because I was most concerned about Stellantis going in. It seems to me that they are going along closer to the pattern and they may actually stick with pattern bargaining."

Ford had previously been spared in the union's first move to expand the strike targets. The Dearborn automaker had made progress the week leading up to Sept. 22 in talks with the Dearborn automaker on cost of living adjustments, wage disparities at feeder plants and job security protections.

Despite some progress on certain items, Ford slammed the union on Friday after the strike expansion that added the Chicago Assembly plant where the Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator are built. Ford CEO Jim Farley accused the union of "holding the deal hostage" over the automaker's four planned electric-vehicle battery plants in the United States.

Late Friday, GM CEO Mary Barra issued a scathing statement against the union claiming it has "no real intent to get to an agreement."

The automakers and union have remained far apart on the union's demands to provide pensions for all employees, retiree health care, a restored jobs bank and wage increases of 36% over four years. The companies have offered wage hikes of about 20% while expressing concern that granting all of the union priorities would further widen the gap between their employee costs and those of non-union competitors such as Tesla Inc., Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Detroit Three automaker costs are in the mid-$60 range while foreign automakers' labor costs are in the mid-$50 range and Tesla Inc.'s are in the high-$40 range.

With Stellantis and Ford making moves on cost-of-living increases, Wheaton thinks GM could be next.

"Maybe GM will follow suit ... especially with all of the firepower that's all on the UAW side at the moment," he said. "I don't hear a whole lot of criticism from the public."

How it feels on the picket line

Workers who build the Bronco and Ranger at Ford's Michigan Assembly are heading into their third week on strike.

"I would like to get back to work but only with the proper contract," said Patrick Smalley, who's been with Ford for 35 years.

Smalley, 56, of Westland is ready to stay out for "however long it takes."

Feelings about still being on strike are mixed on the picket line, Smalley said.

"Some people had prepared for it and others may not have and it's getting to the point where, 'OK, I would love to go back to work,' some people are saying, but if we just have to do it, we have to do it," he said. 

Fellow Michigan Assembly worker Kim McCartha, who's been at Ford since 2012, is ready for the two sides to come to an agreement.

"But I know that we do want a good deal, a fair deal," the 58-year-old from Redford said, noting she wants to see wage increases, restoration of cost-of-living allowances and the tiered-wage system addressed in the next contract.

Before the strike, McCartha started watching her spending.

Now, with strike pay at $500 a week, she's still "being real cautious and just waiting, not going on trips or not doing anything extra," she said.

Being on strike, "it's a little bit different for me than being on the line," she said. "But hey, I'm ready to grind it out as long as we have to."

Auto sales out this week

The Detroit Three report their third-quarter sales this week, but experts don't expect to see the strike affecting them just yet.

Analysts at Edmunds.com Inc., a vehicle information website, are forecasting sales of 3.9 million new cars and trucks in the United States for the third quarter of 2023, marking a 16% year-over-year increase.

Before the strike, Edmunds' data showed Detroit Three vehicles sat on dealer lots longer than the industry average.

In a statement sent last week, Edmunds Director of Insights Ivan Drury said: “Availability is currently strong for American-branded trucks and SUVs, but shoppers contemplating a new-vehicle purchase from any of the Detroit brands may consider expediting their search process given the strike’s unpredictable impact on supply."

 

US expands probe into Ford engine
failures to include two motors
and nearly 709,000 vehicles

Associated Press
October 2, 2023

Detroit – U.S. auto safety investigators have expanded a probe into Ford Motor Co. engine failures to include nearly 709,000 vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said in documents posted Monday on its website that it upgraded the investigation to an engineering analysis, a step closer to a recall.

The investigation now covers Ford's F-150 pickup truck, as well as Explorer, Bronco and Edge SUVs and Lincoln Nautilus and Aviator SUVs. All are from the 2021 and 2022 model years and are equipped with 2.7-liter or 3.0-liter V6 turbocharged engines.

The agency says that under normal driving conditions the engines can lose power due to catastrophic engine failure related to allegedly faulty valves.

The agency opened its initial investigation in May of last year after getting three letters from owners. Initially the probe was looking at failure of the 2.7-liter engine on Broncos.

Since then, Ford reported 861 customer complaints, warranty claims and engine replacements including the other models. No crashes or injuries were reported.

The company told the agency in documents that defective intake valves generally fail early in a vehicle's life, and most of the failures have already happened. The company told NHTSA said it made a valve design change in October of 2021.

Ford said in a statement Monday that it’s working with NHTSA to support the investigation.

The agency says it will evaluate how often the problem happens and review the effectiveness of Ford's manufacturing improvements designed to address the problem.

 

Ford CEO says UAW holding
labor deal 'hostage' over
fate of battery plants

By David Shepardson
Sept 30, 2023

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ford Motor Chief Executive Jim Farley on Friday accused the United Auto Workers union of holding up a new U.S. labor agreement in a bid to force the automaker to pay workers at new battery plants the same top wages as workers at assembly plants.

Farley also disclosed the automaker is awaiting "final language" from the U.S. Treasury on whether batteries made at a planned Michigan plant using Chinese technology will qualify for tax credits.

"The UAW is holding the deal hostage over battery plants," Farley said, and claimed a "bad deal" could threaten financial viability of some U.S. vehicle production. .

UAW President Shawn Fain said Farley was not telling the truth about the negotiations and said the sides were far apart on core economic proposals including "job security in this EV transition, which Farley himself says is going to cut 40% of our members’ jobs."

On Monday, Ford said it had paused work on its $3.5 billion Marshall, Michigan battery plant that will use technology licensed from Chinese battery company CATL, citing concerns about its ability to operate competitively.

In 2022, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) barring $7,500 in future consumer EV tax credits if any battery components are manufactured or assembled by a "foreign entity of concern."

Ford is awaiting guidance to determine if batteries produced by the Marshall plant would meet the requirements. "We can make Marshall a lot bigger or a lot smaller," Farley said.

On Sept. 8, Ford wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm warning that an unfavorable interpretation of the foreign entity provision would lead the automaker to make "fewer batteries in Michigan, shrinking that project and affecting the volume at EV assembly plants outside of Michigan. This will mean fewer U.S. jobs."

This week, the chairs of three U.S. House committees demanded Ford turn over documents tied to the CATL partnership.

Republican lawmakers have been probing Ford's battery plant plan for months over concerns it could send U.S. tax subsidies to China and leave Ford dependent on Chinese technology.

 

UAW makes new counter
proposal to Chrysler parent
Stellantis -union

By David Shepardson and Joseph White 
September 29, 2023

(Reuters) - The United Auto Workers made a new counter-proposal to Chrysler-parent Stellantis on Thursday, just one day before the union is set to strike additional Detroit Three automotive facilities without serious progress in ongoing labor negotiations.

A union official confirmed the new proposal as talks remain active with Stellantis, General Motors and Ford Motor in the strike's fourteenth day.

The UAW and the Detroit Three have been far apart on key issues. As of Thursday, the UAW's position is that workers should get 40% pay increases, cost of living adjustments pegged to inflation, job or pay guarantees, an end to lower wages for lower seniority workers and defined benefit pensions.

The automakers are offering 20% wage increases, but have proposed less generous cost of living and retirement benefits. The automakers also have not agreed to the UAW demand that new hires get top pay after 90 days on the job.

UAW President Shawn Fain plans to disclose the union's next steps Friday at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) in an online address. The flurry of activity on Thursday comes after a week in which there appeared to be little movement in the contract talks.

Fain hosted U.S. President Joe Biden's historic visit to a union picket line on Tuesday. Fain met Wednesday with GM negotiators.

Stellantis and GM did not immediately comment. Stellantis earlier on Thursday criticized the UAW's rhetoric.

"The deliberate use of inflammatory and violent rhetoric is dangerous and needs to stop. The companies are not 'the enemy' and we are not at 'war,'" Stellantis said, adding it has "put a record offer on the table and are working hard to reach an agreement as quickly as possible."

Last week, the UAW expanded strikes that initially began with three assembly plants - one at each Detroit automaker - to 38 GM and Stellantis parts distribution centers but did not add any Ford facilities citing progress.

Stellantis last week indefinitely laid off more than 350 workers in Ohio and Indiana because of the strike impact. Ford has furloughed 600 workers at a Michigan plant, and GM has furloughed 2,000 workers and halted production at a Kansas plant because of strike-related impacts.

 

Donald Trump: UAW negotiations
'don't mean as much as you think'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News
September 28, 2023

Clinton Township — Republican Donald Trump railed against electric vehicles during a campaign stop in suburban Detroit Wednesday night, saying they're too expensive, aren't capable of traveling far enough and would spur job losses for Americans.

Trump, a former president who's seeking to challenge current Democratic President Joe Biden next year, made the comments during a speech at Drake Enterprises, a parts supplier in Clinton Township. Amid a historic strike by the United Auto Workers against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, Trump said: "Your current negotiations don’t mean as much as you think."

Trump argued that regardless of the outcome of the strike, the bigger threat to employees was the shift to electric cars and trucks, which he described as a "hit job" on Michigan and Detroit.

"You can be loyal to American labor or you can be loyal to the environmental lunatics," Trump said at one point. "But you can’t really be loyal to both. It’s one or the other."

Biden and other Democrats, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have promoted the transition to electric vehicles and sought to compete with other countries to produce them. Whitmer has said switching to electric vehicles will save families money over the lifetime of the vehicles, support tens of thousands of well-paying auto jobs in Michigan and help "safeguard clean air and water for future generations."

Trump's speech Wednesday night was about an hour long. He described a future "fueled by American energy" and "built by highly skilled American hands and high-wage American labor.” But his address was short on specifics for how he would accomplish the goals.

Trump's visit came a day after Biden appeared on a picket line in Wayne County and told members of the United Auto Workers union they deserved a "significant raise." On Wednesday, Trump said he supported the push for fair wages but added that workers should be concerned about the promotion of electric vehicles.

Kevin Munoz, spokesman for Biden's reelection campaign, described the speech as "incoherent" and "a pathetic, recycled attempt to feign support for working Americans."

"Americans have seen him try this before, and they aren’t buying it," Munoz said. "They know who Donald Trump really is: a billionaire charlatan running on empty words, broken promises and lost jobs."

During his remarks, Trump heaped blame on Biden and encouraged the crowd to get the UAW to endorse him.

He told workers to reach out to Shawn Fain, president of the UAW, and tell him if the union backs Trump, Fain could take a vacation and they would better off than they ever were. Trump later characterized the transition from gas engines to electric vehicles as "a transition to hell," a phrase he has repeated on the campaign trail this year.

"The auto industry is being assassinated," Trump said. "If you want to buy an electric car, that's absolutely fine. I'm all for it. But we should not be forcing consumers to buy electric vehicles they don't want to buy."

Nathan Stemple, president of Drake Enterprises, said it was "unbelievable" Drake had a chance to host the former president on Wednesday.

Among the products of Drake Enterprises are gear shift levers and transmission components for heavy trucks with gas-powered engines, according to the company's website. While Trump criticized Biden's push to support electric vehicles, Stemple said the transition is not his top cause of worry currently. The toughest obstacle for his company is finding the right workers, Stemple said ahead of Trump's speech.

"It would definitely affect us if it changed like a light switch," Stemple said of moving to electric vehicles. "I don’t see that happening.”

About 400 to 500 Trump supporters were inside a Drake Enterprises facility for the speech. Drake Enterprises employs about 150 people, and the UAW doesn't represent its workforce. It wasn't clear how many auto workers were in the crowd for the speech, which was targeted at them.

One individual in the crowd who held a sign that said "union members for Trump," acknowledged that she wasn't a union member when approached by a Detroit News reporter after the event. Another person with a sign that read "auto workers for Trump" said he wasn't an auto worker when asked for an interview. Both people didn't provide their names.

One of the attendees for Trump's speech, Doug King, a 55-year-old auto worker from Clawson, said ultimately, consumers, not the government, should decide which vehicles to purchase.

King said he supported Trump's efforts to pressure auto manufacturers to keep jobs in the United States during his term in the White House.

“The four years under Trump were the best years that we had in the auto industry," contended King, who works for Stellantis.

But Democrats blasted Trump's record on manufacturing. U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Birmingham, said while Trump had claimed to support to support union workers, he didn't even go to a union facility.

Biden's reelection team announced Wednesday morning, about 14 hours before Trump's speech at 8 p.m. in Macomb County, that it was launching its first Michigan-focused TV ad of the 2024 race. Entitled "Delivers," the commercial accuses Trump of passing tax breaks for "rich friends" while automakers shuttered plants and Michigan lost manufacturing jobs.

"Manufacturing is coming back to Michigan because Joe Biden doesn't just talk, he delivers," says the new ad, which will air in the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing markets.

While Trump was president from 2017 to 2021, Ford's engine plant in Romeo shuttered and GM shuttered a transmission plant in Warren, a powertrain plant in Baltimore and closed its Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant. Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) opened a new Jeep plant on Detroit's east side, while idling its Mount Elliott Tool & Die plant.

While Biden has been president, Stellantis idled its one part of its Trenton engine plant last year and its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois in February.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is rolling out billboards in Metro Detroit that criticize Trump's approach to autos. One says "thousands" of auto workers were laid off while Trump was president and includes the words "promises broken."

Going electric

The early Democratic barrage, about 13 months before the November 2024 election, was likely meant to preempt Trump's address on Wednesday night.

The former president's stop happened 13 days into the United Auto Workers strike against GM, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV, a day after Biden visited the picket line in Michigan and on the night of the second Republican presidential primary debate, in which Trump didn't participate.

past report from the United Auto Workers acknowledged the shift to electric vehicles means replacing key powertrain components, such as engines, with mechanically simpler lithium-ion batteries and electric motors.

"Whereas traditional powertrains have often been made by automakers themselves and created quality union jobs, EV batteries are mostly made by suppliers in other countries, with China in the lead," the report said.

Biden's administration has attempted to promote the use of electric vehicles, but it's also invested in building the cars and trucks in the U.S. In August, Biden signed a $280 billion bipartisan bill to boost domestic high-tech manufacturing in a bid to help the country compete with China.

So far, the number of jobs in vehicle and parts manufacturing in Michigan has held essentially steady during Biden's term in the White House, increasing by 2% to about 169,000 jobs in August, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

During Trump's four-year term, the number of jobs in vehicle and parts manufacturing in Michigan fell by 5% to about 166,000, according to the bureau's tracking. But the industry was still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2021 when Trump left office.

Kristina Karamo, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, defended the former president Wednesday, saying now, both parents in a family have to work and people are still struggling to afford to get by.

There's been a shift within the GOP in favor of protecting workers and opposing "crony capitalism," Karamo said.

Asked if she would ever show up on a UAW picket line, Karamo replied, "I don’t know. … I don’t know. What I don’t like is that the UAW continues to back candidates who harm the economy.”

'The way it was'

Trump has often touted his administration's efforts to rework trade deals in ways that he said would benefit manufacturing in the U.S. For instance, during Trump's tenure, automakers and groups that lobby for the industry hailed the passage of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 that Trump railed against in his successful 2016 campaign for the White House.

Retired auto worker Brian Pannebecker of Harrison Township helped recruit people to attend Trump's event on Wednesday. Pannebecker said he expected about 300 auto workers to show up. And he touted Trump's efforts to renegotiate trade deals.

Pannebecker said it was rare for a candidate for president to get to hold an event focused on workers inside a company's facility in Michigan, like Trump did Wednesday.

"The auto plants typically don’t let a candidate campaign in their plants," Pannebecker said.

Rachel Case, who said she worked at a truck plant in Flint, drove to Macomb County to try to get into Trump's speech. Case said she wants to see prices for items, like milk, go back to where they were before Biden's term.

“I would hope that he could bring it back to the way it was,” Case said of Trump.

But, on Tuesday, Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, criticized Trump's past stances on auto jobs in the U.S.

"I find it odd he’s gonna go to a non-union business to talk to union workers," Fain added of Trump's visit. "I don’t think he gets it."

 

UAW strike day 12: Talks continue
amid presidential visit

Kalea Hall
Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Sept 27, 2023

Negotiations continued Tuesday between the United Auto Workers and the Detroit Three automakers while President Joe Biden visited a picket line Tuesday with UAW President Shawn Fain.

Biden spoke with union members at General Motors Co.'s Willow Run Redistribution Center in Van Buren Township on Tuesday — the 12th day of the union's strike against GM, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV.

Using a targeted plant strike strategy, the UAW called on workers to walk out Sept. 15 at GM's Wentzville, Missouri, midsize truck plant, Ford's Bronco and Ranger plant in Wayne and Stellantis' Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler plant in Toledo. On Friday, the UAW expanded the strike against GM and Stellantis, adding all of their parts distributions centers. Ford was spared since the Dearborn automaker and the union have made progress in talks. With the addition of the parts centers, about 18,300 union members are on strike.

Biden's visit Tuesday marked the first time in at least a century that a sitting president has visited a labor union's picket line, according to the White House. Former President Donald Trump is visiting Michigan Wednesday. The leading Republican candidate for the 2024 election is skipping the second GOP presidential debate on Wednesday evening and instead hosting a rally in Clinton Township with "current and former union members." He'll deliver remarks at automotive supplier Drake Enterprises, whose members are not represented by the UAW.

The union is striking the Detroit Three to fight for higher wages, an end to tiered-wage systems and temporary employee usage, and other demands.

The automakers have offered up double-digit wage increases and cutting the time it takes to get to the top wage rate in half, among other items. Ford's talks with the UAW have progressed since the Dearborn automaker offered to restore of the cost-of-living adjustment that was suspended in 2009; and, for the first time, the right to strike over plant closures.

Fain told reporters that the union is "moving with all three companies still. It’s slower, but it’s bargaining — some days you feel like you make two steps forward, the next day you take a step back. Things are moving, but we just have to see. We analyze every day.”

The automakers are concerned about the UAW's demands pushing their labor costs, which already are higher than their foreign and domestic non-union competitors, up even more.

On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted about the striking UAW-represented autoworkers on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, that he also owns: "They want a 40% pay raise *and* a 32 hour workweek. Sure way to drive GM, Ford and Chrysler bankrupt in the fast lane."

When asked if the union would expand the strike to other plants, Fain said: “We just have to reflect where we are every day. We basically take an assessment as we have talks and see where we are. We could take action tonight; we can wait until the end of the week. That’s the beauty of the situation we’re in right now; we have a lot of options and we’ll use those options when we feel like we need to.”

The strike at GM's Wentzville plant led the automaker to halt production at its Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas where the Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac XT4 are built. The Detroit automaker also had to lay off 140 employees at its Toledo Propulsion plant since the facility manufactures parts for the rear-wheel drive, eight-speed transmissions installed in trucks built at Wentzville. Toledo has about 1,382 represented employees and most will continue to work since they make parts for other products.

The strike has also hit some suppliers. Eagle Industries Inc., in a notice to the state, said it could temporarily lay off 171 employees in production and administration out of 230 workers at a plant in Wixom.

Even with a strike and unknowns of what's to come between the Detroit Three and the UAW, the U.S. auto industry’s sales through the end of September showed a continued "robust" recovery, according to a Cox Automotive forecast released Tuesday.

Despite rising interest rates on new vehicle loans and the strike, experts at Cox said sales in September should reach nearly 1.3 million — an increase of more than 13% from 2022. Overall, sales in the third quarter should come in at more than 3.9 million for an increase of more than 15% year-over-year.

After strong momentum in the third quarter, Cox Automotive is increasing its full-year new-vehicle sales forecast to between 15.3 million and 15.4 million units, up from the forecast of 15 million made at the end of the first half of the year.

The Detroit Three and other automakers will report sales for July through September next week. Stellantis and GM will both report on Oct. 3. Ford will report on Oct. 4.

Stellantis went into the strike with higher inventory levels on Dodge, Chrysler, Ram and Jeep models, according to Cox. Ford also had high levels for both of its brands: Ford and Lincoln. Meanwhile, GM's inventory levels on Chevrolet and Cadillac brands were tight. GMC and Buick had higher levels.

Automakers have been working to rebuild new-vehicle inventories but avoid a glut after pandemic-induced parts supply issues limited production for months at a time. The low supply, coupled with continued strong demand, caused prices to increase. Monthly payments on new vehicles were up 24% from August 2019 to August 2023, according to Cox. A strike could put more upward pressure on pricing for some products.

"My concern is that if the strike lasts beyond Thanksgiving, the industry at that point is very likely to see a setback ... and we're going to see it first (affect) the brands and the models with the tightest supply," Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke said on a call with reporters Tuesday. "So far, the impact has been negligible. However, we are likely to start seeing the first signs of that impact, we think, next month in October, and again, it's going to be in those vehicles that are in the tightest supply."

Dealers on Tuesday were positive about the inventory they have on the ground and in transit to their dealerships. In the pandemic, dealers had to learn how to function with very little inventory and preselling new vehicles before they arrived. They have been starting to see recovery this year.

"We have over 200 units on the ground and another 250 in transit, so there's no effect whatsoever," said Walt Tutak, general manager of Matthews-Hargreaves Chevrolet in Royal Oak.

"We've got the best inventory that we've had in a long, long time. The sad part is things are starting to get caught up, and even in service for parts ... and then this might throw a little bit of a wrench into it."

Across the country in Seattle, Ram, Chrysler and Dodge dealer Jim Walen has ample supply to get through the next month or two. There's more concern about the future availability of parts with Stellantis' parts distribution plants down in the strike.

"Nothing has happened yet," Walen said. "Our day supply is fine ... and I don't think there's negative repercussions with the buying public."

Consumers are more concerned about high interest rates and a potential government shutdown than if Stellantis, Ford and GM "can get along with the UAW," Walen said. "Outside the bubble, it's not as big a deal, but it will be if it continues."

 

Unifor chooses next company for
Canadian auto contract talks

Breana Noble Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Sept 26, 2023

The Canadian autoworkers union Unifor is pivoting to negotiate with General Motors Co. after its members ratified a historic contract with Ford Motor Co. on Sunday.

Unifor chose GM over Stellantis NV, maker of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles, for its next set of contract talks, which are set to resume Tuesday. Unifor President Lana Payne in a video message said the union currently has more leverage over the Detroit automaker than it does its crosstown rival to bring the pattern set at Ford to its other autoworker members.

“We’ve got an incredibly strong pattern agreement at Ford that will serve us well over the coming years," she said. "Our job now is to negotiate that pattern in the form of a renewal collective agreement with General Motors and Stellantis."

In a statement sent by GM spokesperson Jennifer Wright, the automaker said it welcomes the resumption of negotiations to reach a tentative agreement: "We look forward to working with our Unifor partners to build a competitive future that also recognizes our employees’ contributions to our shared success.”

Unifor’s negotiations with GM cover approximately 4,300 workers at the St. Catharines Powertrain Plant building engines for the Chevrolet Equinox and Corvette, Oshawa Assembly Complex making light- and heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks and parts for other vehicles, and the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre in Ontario.

“Just as we had with Ford Motor Company, we hold a lot of negotiating leverage with GM," Payne said. "Their Oshawa facility is working around-the-clock producing very lucrative pick-up trucks. The St. Catharines engine and transmission facility, like Ford’s powertrain operations, is a lynchpin for GM’s North American operations. Our Woodstock distribution centre is also a key element of the company’s parts network. I don’t expect this to be an easy round of talks, and I want to make sure our union is best positioned to move this pattern forward for the benefit of all members, active and retired."

Larry Savage, a labor studies professor at Brock University in Ontario, said in an email that GM's operations are highly integrated: "Targeting GM makes sense insofar as shutting down plants in Oshawa and St. Catharines and the GM distribution centre in Woodstock would give Unifor maximum leverage in bargaining."

In contrast, Payne said Stellantis' Windsor Assembly Plant, where it builds the Chrysler Pacifica minivans, is slated for retooling as a part of a $2.8 billion investment in the plant and the Brampton Assembly Plant outside Toronto, which builds the Dodge muscle cars and Chrysler 300 sedan that are going out of production at the end of the year.

Downtime at Windsor limits Unifor's leverage, Payne said, and the union is seeking more specifics on the company's product and investment plan for Brampton.

"I believe we need more clarity on this before our talks commence," she said.

Unifor's three-year deal with Ford acknowledges workers' greatest priorities, the union said Saturday, and includes the single largest negotiated general wage increase in the history of Unifor, formerly the Canadian Auto Workers. Workers approved the agreement with a 54% majority.

"That's a sign of a successful negotiation," Art Wheaton, an automotive industry specialist at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School, said about the slim margin. "There was no fat left on the table. Both sides did their job."

That also is helpful for GM to know the Ford offer is the minimum they can expect Unifor's rank-and-file to support, he added, which likely will help it to reach a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers in the United States, as well. The UAW is on strike at GM's Wentzville midsize pickup truck and full-size commercial van plant outside St. Louis as well as its parts distribution centers.

"Now that Ford has a deal, GM can follow the pattern in Canada with Unifor," Wheaton said. "Once they find a solution in Canada, that can help GM find a solution in the U.S."

The approval of the deal at Ford means 5,600 employees, split between three plants in Ontario — Oakville Assembly, Essex Engine and Windsor Engine — once again have a contract. Unlike the UAW, Unifor opted to negotiate only with one company at a time. The UAW went on strike Sept. 15 at select facilities of Ford, GM and Stellantis.

Unifor's contract with Ford includes wage increases of 10% the first year, 2% the second year and 3% the year after, as well as cost-of-living adjustments. It also reduces the amount of time an in-progression employee needs to reach the top pay scale from eight years to four. For those workers who haven't reached top scale, it raises the percentage those workers get in the first three years.

Over the life of the agreement, senior employees will see their hourly rate rise from $37.33 Canadian to $44.52, an increase of 19.2%. Kathleen O'Keefe, a Unifor spokesperson, said the union projects inflation of 2.5% over the next three years, translating to an additional $1.61 in COLA added to top-scale members' wages, bringing their projected hourly rate to $46.13. The Canadian dollar is equivalent to 74 cents in U.S. currency.

Permanent workers will get a ratification bonus of $10,000 Canadian, while temporary ones will get a $4,000 Canadian bonus. The agreement also includes "significant increases" to retirement programs, Ford said.

Defined benefit contributions likely will be a sticking point at GM, Wheaton said, but with Ford being its main direct competitor, it likely won't want to be left behind either.

"Ford is the good. GM is the bad. Stellantis is the ugly," he said. "They chose Ford first, got an agreement, and it helped set the pattern. General Motors will be difficult. I don’t think it will be a quick negotiation, but I think it's possible. Stellantis is a nightmare, though I think they want a deal more so in Canada than they do the U.S. It's harder for GM to pull out of the U.S. than Stellantis.

 

PRESIDENT OF UNIFOR
LOCAL 200 'ELATED' BY
TENTATIVE AGREEMENT BY
FORD MOTOR COMPANY

HeartRadio.ca
MEAGAN DELAURIER
Sept 21, 2023

John D'Agnolo, president of Unifor Local 200 in Windsor and chair of Unifor's Ford Master Bargaining Committee. Unifor for has announced the Ford Motor Company will be the target company in pattern bargaining with the Detroit 3 automakers. Aug. 29, 2023 (Photo: Rusty Thomson)

The President of Unifor Local 200 in Windsor is 'elated' with the tentative agreement between Unifor and Ford Motor Company. 

On Tuesday evening it was announced by Unifor that a tentative agreement had been reached, covering more than 5,600 members at the Canadian Ford facilities. 

John D'Agnolo, who also is the Chair of the Ford Master Bargaining Committee, says that while it was an exhausting 48 hours of bargaining, but it was important to push forward to support the members. 

The contract between Unifor and Ford expired Monday at 11:59 p.m., however just minutes before the strike deadline Ford made a "significant offer" to the union. 

Unifor stated that the offer was significant enough to allow for a 24-hour extension. 

On August 29, Unifor selected Ford Motor Company as the target company, focusing on negotiations with Ford to set the pattern agreement for the union's 18,000 members.  

D'Agnolo says if the deal is ratified, it will move onto Stellantis and General Motors. 

"Then the members will obviously see it through the highlight packages, and then the Stellantis leadership or the GM [General Motors] leadership, whoever is next, will be coming to Toronto to start their bargaining."

He says his message to workers is to wait and see.

"You're going to hear a lot of rumours at times, you're going to hear things that aren't factual. So until you have that paper in front of you, until you hear it come out of our leadership's mouths, wait and see, because it's very important that you know all of the information when it comes to bargaining."

He says he's elated with the tentative agreement. 

"We want to make sure we covered absolutely everybody, from the new hires to the retirees, to the retired workers, to the people that have the opportunity to retire in the near future. So, we wanted to make sure that everybody in this agreement was affected and I believe we did so."

D'Agnolo says that a ratification vote at all Ford units will be taking place at their respective locations on Saturday, September 23. 

He says times will be shared in the coming days. 

The new tentative agreement covers members of Unifor Locals 707, 200, 584, 1087, 240 and 1324 at Ford's Oakville Assembly Plant, Annex and Essex Engine Plants in Windsor, Ontario in addition to Parts Distribution Centres in Bramalea, Paris and Casselman in Ontario and Leduc, Alberta. 

Unifor represents 978 workers at the Annex Engine Plant which produces the 6.8-litre and 7.3-litre engines for use in the F-Series of pick-up trucks. There are 756 workers at the Essex Engine Plant which produces the 5.0L V8 engine. 

 

Ford, Unifor reach tentative agreement, averting
strike in Canada

Breana NobleKalea
HallRiley Beggin

The Detroit News
Sept 20, 2023

Unifor, the autoworkers' union in Canada, and Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday night they had struck a tentative agreement, averting a strike for the Dearborn automaker in a second North American country.

Details on the deal won't be presented until after they are shared with Unifor members at ratification meetings being held "in the near future," according to a news release. The parties early Tuesday morning had agreed to extend the talks 24 hours after the original deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday, with Unifor instructing its members to remain at work unless they received alternate instructions from the union.

“We believe that this tentative agreement, endorsed by the entire master bargaining committee, addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a statement. “We believe that this agreement will solidify the foundations on which we will continue to bargain gains for generations of autoworkers in Canada.”

Ford of Canada said in a statement sent by spokesperson Said Deep: "Ford of Canada and Unifor have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year national labour contract covering more than 5,000 unionized employees in Canada."

"The agreement is subject to ratification by Ford-Unifor members," the statement said. "To respect the ratification process, Ford of Canada will not discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement."

Ford on Monday had presented a "substantive" offer "minutes before the deadline," according to a Unifor statement sent by spokesperson Kathleen O'Keefe at the time, which also noted "members should continue to maintain strike readiness."

Payne had said on Monday if the union did strike, all of its 5,600 members at Ford would have been on the picket line at Oakville Assembly Plant, two engine plants in Windsor, parts and distribution centers, offices and technical units. Downtime at those plants could have had implications for production at plants in the United States.

“In addition to reaching a master agreement, our members at each Ford location face their own unique set of issues that needed to be resolved by our committees at the bargaining table,” Unifor Ford Master Bargaining Chair John D’Agnolo said in a statement. “This agreement makes the kind of gains our members need today and adds greater financial security for the future.”

Obtaining an agreement without a strike action juxtaposes with the United Auto Workers' negotiations strategy. Unifor's approach was more traditional, selecting a lead company to start the pattern with the threat of a national strike if discussions stalled. Meanwhile, the UAW opted to continue talks with all three of the Detroit automakers and on Friday began executing its "stand-up strike" strategy. It has sent one plant on strike from each of the companies with the risk the union could add more as soon as noon on Friday if "substantial progress" isn't made by then.

"It looks like Ford was very motivated to secure a deal and Unifor proved a willing dance partner," said Larry Savage, a labor studies professor at Brock University in Ontario. "While we don't know the details of the tentative agreement, we should expect Canadian autoworkers to have made significant gains in this round of bargaining." 

The question remains if those gains, whatever they are, will be enough to have the agreement ratified by members since the UAW's "militant posture" has raised autoworker expectations, Savage said. "You can bet that the content of that deal is going to be judged relative to what UAW members are expected to secure south of the border."

The breakthrough in Canada may serve as a sort of morale booster at Ford and an incentive to get a deal done with the UAW, said Marick Masters, a management professor at Wayne State University.

“The more clarity you can bring to the situation, the better at this point in time,” he said. “A strike would have only complicated the situation in the U.S., having adverse implications for Ford and perhaps necessitating the layoff of additional workers, and at the same time, it removes that as a source of Ford’s attention. They can now focus exclusively on negotiations in the U.S.”

An agreement between Unifor and Ford without a strike doesn't necessarily mean the Canadian union had the superior strategy, Masters said, but the approaches do reflect the different circumstances in which the unions find themselves.

"The UAW is operating in uncharted waters," he said. "The test of the wisdom of this strategy will be time. It's a risky strategy, and you're in a high-risk game. The downside is great. The upside is great. (UAW President) Shawn Fain's leadership is obviously on the line. Everything revolves around whether he gets a successful contract. If he doesn’t, he will probably have just one term in office."

Fain was the first UAW president to be elected directly by the rank-and-file. Unifor's leadership is voted upon through locally elected delegates.

"The union (Unifor) isn’t encumbered with the internal challenges the UAW has had," Masters said. The UAW "has brand new leadership at a pivotal time, which is more militant. They’re asking for a whole lot. I think they have to know that some of these issues are nonstarters. If they’re insistent on all of that along with the wage increase, in-progression and tiers, they're a long way off from an agreement."

Brock University's Savage said the unions have "overlapping priorities," but there are some key differences and Unifor's leadership could see that "gap is significant enough to make a different set of strategic choices." For example, Unifor selected Ford as its focus initially, unlike the UAW, he said. Unifor also hasn’t publicly released what it wants to see from the automakers in terms of wages and other economic gains.

"They have made some very different strategic choices,” Savage said. “It sounds like they've been in contact with one another, but there doesn't seem to be any high level of coordination.”

There also are issues that affect Unifor's negotiations to a lesser extent, Masters said. For example, the UAW wants to see all of its Detroit Three members receive retirement health care coverage. Canada, meanwhile, has a publicly funded health care system.

Additionally, the automakers have announced billions of dollars in commitments to build electric vehicles at its Canadian assembly plants. Stellantis NV is building a battery plant with LG Energy Solution in Windsor as well. In the United States, though, sites like the idled Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, and Trenton Engine Complex could be at risk without product promises.

The Canadian government has played a more direct role securing an electric-vehicle future for Unifor members, Masters said. Although the White House says it's sending top aids to Detroit to help broker an agreement, the U.S. federal government is more disconnected from granting subsidies and incentives to specific manufacturers.

Still, both Unifor and the UAW are seeking increased wages and improved pensions following high rates of inflation, job security and support to transition workers from building internal combustion engine vehicles and their parts to EVs.

"The contract," Masters said about Unifor's agreement, "could offer insights into with what Ford might be forthcoming in the U.S."

To the UAW, the Blue Oval has offered at least 20% wage increases over four and a half years, a four-year progression to the top wage, a $20 per hour starting wage for temporary employees and the return of a cost-of-living allowance.

Unifor's tentative agreement came as the United Auto Workers' strike against all three Detroit automakers in the United States headed toward its sixth day.

Unifor in August announced that it had selected Ford to serve as the lead company with which it would bargain to model contracts with the other automakers. Unifor represents around 18,000 autoworkers at Ford, General Motors Co. and Stellantis.

 

UAW justifies wage demands
by pointing to CEO pay raises.
So how high were they?

Story by The Canadian
September 18, 2023

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s been a central argument for the United Auto Workers union: If Detroit's three automakers raised CEO pay by 40% over the past four years, workers should get similar raises.

UAW President Shawn Fain has repeatedly cited the figure, contrasting it with the 6% pay raises autoworkers have received since their last contract in 2019. He opened negotiations with a demand for a similar 40% wage increase over four years, along with the return of pensions and cost of living increases. The UAW has since lowered its demand to a 36% wage increase but the two sides remain far apart in contract talks, triggering a strike.

Fain's focus on CEO pay is part of a growing trend of emboldened labor unions citing the wealth gap between workers and the top bosses to bolster demand for better pay and working conditions. In June, Netflix shareholders rejected executive pay packages in a nonbinding vote, just days after the Writers Guild of America wrote letters urging investors to vote against the pay proposals, saying it would be inappropriate amid Hollywood's ongoing strike by writers. The WGA wrote similar letters targeting the executive pay at Comcast and NBCUniversal.

Fain has pushed back against arguments that a big pay bump for the union would jack up costs of vehicles and put the Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) — at a disadvantage against foreign competitors with lower-cost workforces in the race to transition to electric vehicles.

“The reason we ask for 40% pay increases is because in the last four years alone, the CEO pay went up 40%. They’re already millionaires," Fain told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “Our demands are just. We’re asking for our fair share in this economy and the fruits of our labor."

CEO pay has ballooned for decades, while wages for ordinary workers have lagged. But did the Big Three chief executives really get 40% pay increases? Not exactly.

“I don’t know where the 40% came from,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra at a new conference when asked if the UAW’s numbers were accurate.

Executive pay is notoriously complicated to calculate because so much of it comes in the form of stock grants or stock options. A detailed look at the compensation packages at all three companies shows how the UAW's claim both overstates and understates reality, depending on the view.

THE BIG THREE CEO PAY PACKAGES

Barra, the only one of the three who held the role since 2019, is the highest paid, with a compensation package of worth $28.98 million in 2022. The single biggest component was $14.62 million in stock grants, which vest over three years and whose ultimate value depends on stock performance and other metrics.

Her pay has increased 34% since 2019, according data from public filings analyzed for AP by Equilar.

Ford CEO James Farley received nearly $21 million in total compensation in 2022, a 21% increase over the $17.4 million then-CEO Jim Hackett received in 2019, according to the company's proxy statements. Farley's package last year included $15.14 million in stock awards, which also vest over three years with an ultimate value dependent on performance.

Where the the comparison gets complicated is at Stellantis, which was formed in 2021 with the merger of Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and French PSA Group. Because it is a European company, the way Stellantis discloses executive pay differs significantly from GM and Ford.

In its annual renumeration report, Stellantis reported CEO Carlos Tavares' 2022 pay was 23.46 million euros. That's a nearly 77% increase over then Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley's 2019 pay of 13.28 million euros.

Those are the numbers used by the UAW when it calculated that three automakers have, collectively, increased CEO pay by 40.1% since 2019, according to the methodology the union provided to The AP.

But there's a catch: Stellantis' figures reflect “realized pay,” which include the value of previously granted equity that vested during the reporting year. U.S. companies, in contrast, use grant date value of stock packages awarded to executives during the reporting year.

In its analysis, Equilar used the “grant date” method to make an equivalent comparison between all three CEOs. By that measure, Tavares' 2022 compensation was in 21.95 million euros in 2022, including 10.9 million in stock awards with a three-year vesting period.

That's actually 24% decline from Manley's compensation package in 2019, which was 29.04 million euros, according to Equilar.

THE VOLATILITY OF CEO PAY

So, is Tavares really making less than Manley was four years ago? Not really.

That's because in some years, talking about a CEO's “realized pay” can obscure exorbitant pay packages approved by company boards.

Take Tavares' 2021 compensation package, which included special incentive award of 25 million euros in cash as well as stock worth 19.56 million euros — all contingent on long-term performance goals — granted to Tavares in recognition of “his essential role” in leading the company through the merger.

That one-time award, which came on top of millions of more in regular compensation, alone pushed Tavares’ 2021 compensation package far above what Manley got in 2019.

Stellantis shareholders voted 52.1% to reject the pay proposal in their annual meeting, though the vote was only advisory and the board approved his package anyway.

The CEOs of GM and Ford also saw their compensation packages peak in 2021, before declining slightly in 2022.

HOW DOES ALL THIS COMPARE TO REGULAR WORKER PAY?

However you slice the numbers, the gap between CEO pay and rank-and-file workers at all three companies is gigantic.

At GM, the median worker pay was $80,034 in 2022. It would take that worker 362 years to make Barra's annual compensation.

At Ford, where the median pay was $74, 691, it would take 281 years.

At Stellantis, with a median pay of 64,328 euros, it would take 365 years, although the company noted its annual report that the disparity includes expenses related to Tavares' one-time grant. Excluding that, the pay ratio is 298-1.

How extreme that disparity? It depends on the comparison.

It's far above the typical pay gap at S&P 500 companies, which was 186-1 according to AP's annual CEO pay survey, which uses data analyzed by Equilar.

And it's astronomical by historical standards. According to a study of the 350 largest publicly traded U.S. firms by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, the CEO-to-Worker pay ratio was just 15-1 in 1965.

The automakers, for their part, emphasize that their foreign competitors pay their workers much less. Including benefits, workers at the Detroit 3 automakers receive around $60 an hour, according to Harry Katz, a labor professor at Cornell University. At foreign-based automakers with U.S. factories, the compensation is about $40 to $45.

Then there's Tesla.

CEO Elon Musk's 2022 compensation was reported as zero in the company's proxy statement, rendering its official pay ratio meaningless. Of course, that's because Tesla hasn't awarded Musk new packages since a 2018 long-term compensation plan that could potentially be worth more than $50 billion and is facing a legal challenge from shareholders.

But the proxy offers glimpse at the mind-boggling wealth disparity between its nonunion workers and one of the world's richest men.

The filing reported Musk's total “realized compensation” in 2021 at more than $737 million. A typical Tesla worker earned $40,723 that year.

According to the proxy, for that worker to make Musk's “realized compensation” that year, it would take more than 18,000 years.

______

This story has been corrected to reflect Ford’s CEO and his compensation in 2019. The CEO was Jim Hackett, not William Clay Ford, and his compensation was $17.4 million, not $16.76 million.

 

UAW strike continues Friday;
GM CEO says she hopes
for quick resolution

The Detroit News
Sept 15, 2023

Three facilities — one from each of the Detroit Three automakers, for the first time in history — remain struck Friday morning after the United Auto Workers contract expired at midnight.

The UAW walkouts involve more than 12,900 workers total, split between Ford Motor Co.'s Bronco plant in Wayne, Stellantis NV's Jeep Wrangler plant in Toledo and a General Motor Co. plant in Missouri. There is no bargaining scheduled for Friday.

Speaking on CNBC early Friday, GM CEO Mary Barra said that even a single plant going down could have a ripple effect. But she also said that she believed the strike could be resolved "very quickly," noting the "historic offer on the table."

"Our GM team members who are representing have told me time and time again that job security is very important to them," Barra said in one of the first hits of what was poised to be a morning-long media blitz. "How you get job security is making sure you have beautifully designed cars, trucks and crossovers that people want to buy. We have those right now for all. All of our vehicles are in strong demand, both our (internal combustion engine) portfolio and our EV portfolios, so we got to get back to work so we don't lose ground."

On the line seven hours in, pickets marched at the Michigan Avenue entrances of Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant. Motorists driving by honked their horns as a show of support as TV news trucks filled the median of the street.

Striking workers were also getting support from politicians. Democrats in Michigan's legislature signaled their support for the workers, encouraging a quick resolution to the strike.

"Michigan’s economy benefits when workers and industry negotiate together, in good faith, to reach consensus," Michigan House Speaker Joe Tate said in a statement released just moments after employees walked out, adding that he wants to see a fair contract for the UAW that "maintains a competitive edge" for the automakers.

"The auto industry is Michigan’s legacy and its future, and there is surely a path forward that ensures our workers and our economy can continue to thrive," he continued.

President Joe Biden is expected to speak on the strike later today.

 

UAW planning targeted strike of
specific plants, sources say

Kalea Hall
Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Sept 14, 2023

Local United Auto Workers leaders were told in a call with leadership Tuesday night that the union plans a targeted strike of specific plants operated by each of the three Detroit automakers if the sides don't reach tentative agreements by the contract deadline, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The UAW's strategy is slated to unfold if tentative agreements with each of the automakers aren’t reached by 11:59 p.m. Thursday when their current contracts expire.

UAW President Shawn Fain is set to have a 5 p.m. Facebook livestream on Wednesday, when he is expected to update members on negotiations and potential strike strategy. He’s already said the union will strike any company that doesn’t have a tentative agreement by the deadline.

Fain is slated to appear at a rally with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, in Detroit after the deadline on Friday, according to a flyer obtained by The Detroit News. 

“The ultimate goal,” said Marick Masters, a management professor at Wayne State University, “is going to be, if they have to use a strike, is to strike in such a way that is going to get them the best deal from one of the companies in the shortest amount of time to take to the other companies as a template.”

Choosing to strike a single plant at each automaker at least initially could, as a result, save funds, but it has drawbacks, too.

“That’s a weaker form of the strike,” Masters said. “It takes longer to be felt. It depends on what rolls out in terms of affecting other production sites. It risks dividing the membership.”

Solidarity and standing united have been frequent phrases echoed by Fain and other UAW leaders at practice pickets, rallies and other events leading up to the deadline.

For a strike to be effective against a single plant, “it has got to have product that’s really critical,” Masters said. “There’s no magic number of plants. They would want to strike the plants that are going to maximize the impact on the company so that if they threaten the company with enough losses that they concede.”

How much the automakers could weather strikes partly depends on inventories. In a post shared earlier this month, Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at auto information resource Cox Automotive Inc., said Stellantis' inventories were "bloated" and the highest in the industry. At the end of July, Jeep was at 95 days of supply, Ford was at 77, GMC was at 66 and Chevrolet was at 51, below the industry average of 58 days.

Oftentimes, the most impactful action is a national strike, Masters said. In 2019, all UAW-represented employees at GM went on strike for 40 days. It cost GM $3.6 billion, the company said.

That contract ultimately resulted in two 3% wage gains, a timeline for rolling over temporary workers to full-time positions, a record $11,000 ratification bonus and saving the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant from closure.

But after four more years of major profits, though, UAW leaders say the time is now to recover what was bargained away to save the companies during the Great Recession and bankruptcies. Its initial proposal from more than a month ago sought a 46% wage increase (40% not compounded), though that request since has dropped at least to 36% not compounded.

It also has been demanding pensions and retiree health care for all workers, 90 days for full-time workers to get to the top pay and cost-of-living wage adjustments. Fain on Monday on CNN characterized the progress as "slow."

GM President Mark Reuss called these labor negotiations "truly historic" at the Automotive News Congress event in Detroit on Tuesday: "We've made a lot of progress over the last few days.

"From a GM standpoint, we're here to win, and this is a very intense marketplace. The goal is to reward our team members, our employees, our stakeholders, and we also have to invest in the future, which we're doing in that intense marketplace to win."

If the union does strike all three, it’s on the hook to pay about 145,000 members a $500 stipend per week. Although its Strike and Defense Fund sits at more than $825 million, it would cover up to 11 weeks of strike pay — not factoring in additional expenses related to health care for striking workers or other ongoing strikes in which the union is involved.

There’s a significant impact on the greater economy, as well: Anderson Economic Group estimates a 10-day strike at all three companies could cost the U.S. economy $5.6 billion.

 

The United Auto Workers may
soon strike. Every American
should support them


Workers at the big three carmakers earn less now in real dollars than they did 15 years ago – as their CEOs make more and more. Their fight is everyone’s fight

September 13, 2023
In the United States today, at a time of unprecedented income and wealth inequality, weekly wages for the average American worker are actually lower than they were 50 years ago after adjusting for inflation. In other words, despite a massive increase in worker productivity, despite CEOs now making nearly 400 times more than what their employees earn, despite record-breaking corporate profits, dividends and stock buybacks, average American workers are worse off than they were 50 years ago.

That morally grotesque and growing inequality is exactly what has been occurring in the automobile industry for decades. This time, however, under new union leadership, the members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) are fighting back. If the big three automakers (General Motors, Ford and Stellantis) do not provide reasonable contracts to address longstanding inequities in the industry, there will be a strike – and all of us should support the strikers.

The UAW members will be fighting not only for themselves but against a corporate culture of arrogance, cruelty and selfishness causing massive and unnecessary pain for the majority of working families throughout the country. Their fight against corporate greed is our fight. Their victory will resonate all across the economy, impact millions of workers from coast to coast and help create a more just and equitable economy.

What are some of the issues that are pushing UAW members to strike? At the top of the list is the extraordinary level of corporate greed shown by industry leaders.

In the first half of 2023 the big three automakers made a combined $21bn in profits – up 80% from the same time period last year. Over the past decade, these same companies made some $250bn in profits in North America alone.

Yet last year, the big three spent $9bn – not to improve the lives of their workers, not to make their factories safer, but on stock buybacks and dividends to make their wealthy executives and stockholders even richer.

Further, while many of their workers are struggling to survive financially, last year the CEO of General Motors raked in about $29m in total compensation, the CEO of Ford approximately $21m and the CEO of Stellantis over $25m.

Incredibly, over the last four years, CEO pay at the big three has increased by more than 40%.

While auto industry CEOs and stockholders make out like bandits, the workers who build the vehicles earn totally inadequate wages and, over the last several decades, have fallen further and further behind. There was once a time when a union job in the automobile industry was the gold standard for the working class of this country. Those days are long gone.

The average starting wage at the big three today is around $17 an hour – less than a number of non-union auto plants around the country. The top wage is $32.32 an hour. Unbelievably, over the last 20 years, the average wage for American autoworkers has decreased by 30% after adjusting for inflation. The reality is that autoworkers at the big three are earning less today than they did 15 years ago.

What the UAW is fighting for is not radical. It is the totally reasonable demand that autoworkers, who have made enormous financial sacrifices over the past 40 years, finally receive a fair share of the record-breaking profits their labor has generated.

What does that mean? It means that if the big three can afford to give a pay raise of more than 40% to their CEOs, they should be able to provide the same type of pay raise for the autoworkers who make their products.

And let’s be clear. While decent wages are a key demand for the UAW, there are other important contract changes that the union has proposed.

The union, quite appropriately, wants to get rid of the two-tier system under which newer workers earn lower wages and receive less generous benefits than others doing the same exact work. They want to end the use of “temporary workers” who are ruthlessly exploited and treated like second-class citizens.

They want to make sure that all autoworkers receive a decent pension plan and retiree health benefits so that they can retire with the respect and the dignity they deserve.

They want to make sure that autoworkers have the right to strike when the big three announce that they will be shutting down a plant. Over the past 20 years, the big three have shut down 65 factories and shipped tens of thousands of jobs overseas where they can pay workers starvation wages with no benefits.

The union also wants to make sure, as the industry proposes to build 10 new electric vehicle battery plants, that the workers in these plants become part of the UAW and receive the same wages and benefits as union members.

As we transition away from fossil fuels and move toward electric vehicles in the fight to combat the climate crisis, the UAW wants to make sure that the green jobs of the future are well-paying, union jobs.

The CEOs of the big three and their masters on Wall Street must understand they cannot have it all. Decade after decade their greed has decimated the middle class, hollowed out communities throughout our country and caused massive economic suffering for the working class of America. These CEOs have created a destructive race to the bottom in a global quest for cheap labor and lax environmental standards.

Enough is enough! Let us stand together to put an end to corporate greed and start rebuilding our struggling middle class. Let us stand in solidarity with the UAW and create an economy that works for all, not just the privileged few.

 

 

UAW president Fain sees
movement from Detroit
Three despite 'inadequate'
Stellantis offer

Breana Noble
Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
Sept 12, 2023

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said Friday the Detroit Three automakers are showing signs of movement toward the union's demands less than a week from the current contracts' expiration date.

His comments came hours after Jeep maker Stellantis NV submitted its first economics counterproposal to the union's demands from last month that included a 14.5% wage increase. Fain also shared that Ford Motor Co. had made updates to its proposal, including offering a cost-of-living wage adjustment, a shorter progression to the top wage and a cap on the use of temporary employees.

"I want to be clear: This is movement," Fain said during a Facebook livestream. "We went from 9% to 14.5% at Stellantis. That's happening because we're putting on pressure.

"But I want to be clear about something else, too. A 14.5% increase over four years is deeply inadequate. It doesn't make up for inflation, it doesn't make up for decades of falling wages and it doesn't reflect the massive profits we've generated for this company."

During his address, Fain shook his head while donning a "Don't want to strike, but I will" button in front of a full office trashcan labeled "Big Three Proposals."

Stellantis' counterproposal is above the wage increases offered by its crosstown rivals. Ford Motor Co. last week offered a 9% wage hike that it has since raised to 10%, and General Motors Co. on Thursday proposed a 10% boost. It, however, remains a far cry from the UAW's requested 46% increase (40% without compounding).

Unlike the GM and Ford counters, Stellantis doesn't include additional lump-sum payments as part of its wage proposal. There are about 145,000 UAW members at the Detroit Three, including roughly 43,000 at Stellantis.

Stellantis' proposal would bring the maximum wage for production operators to about $36.37 per hour by the end of a new agreement, up from the present $31.77. Stellantis declined to provide a breakdown of when the increases would occur.

A flyer from the union also said that for UAW-represented salaried workers, the proposal offers only lump sum payments and no wage increases.

"This is a responsible and strong offer that positions us to continue providing good jobs for our employees today and in the next generation here in the U.S.," Mark Stewart, chief operating officer for Stellantis in North America, said in an email to employees on Friday. "It also protects the Company’s future ability to continue to compete globally in an industry that is rapidly transitioning to electric vehicles."

Meanwhile, "COLA is back," said Fain, announcing that Ford's latest offer included a cost-of-living wage adjustment. He, however, also characterized the formula as "deeply inadequate," saying it would provide no increases for 10 of the past 13 years and is projected to add no raises over the next four years.

Ford's original proposal featured lump-sum bonuses with an initial first-year payment of $6,000. Another $6,000 would've been spread throughout the contract life. By incorporating an adjustment for inflation in workers' wages instead, the benefit has the potential to compound.

Offers from Stellantis and GM looked similar to Ford's first proposal. Stellantis suggested a one-time $6,000 inflation protection payment in year one and $4,500 in inflation protection payments over the final three years of the contract. GM offered an initial $6,000 and another $5,000 over the contract life.

Ford also moved on the UAW's request for a shorter progression timeline to the top wage. Its latest proposal suggests five years instead of the current previous years. Its offer before that had stood at six years — the same offered by GM and Stellantis. The union wants workers to be at top wage after just 90 days like it was until the mid-1990s.

The companies, meanwhile, have rejected the union's demand for all workers to receive a pension and health care in retirement.

All three companies have proposed increasing the starting pay for temporary and supplemental employees to $20 per hour, up from as low as $15.78 per hour at Stellantis. Ford's latest offer includes an 8% cap on temps, but Fain was critical that none of the proposals create a pathway for temps to full-time positions.

The union also has requested more paid time off, the right to strike in the event of a plant closure, and for what it calls the Working Family Protection Program that would effectively bring back what was known as the jobs bank where laid-off workers got paid for doing community service.

Fain described a proposal from Ford that he says would allow the company "unilaterally" to outsource work at any time. The Dearborn automaker also included a two-week parental leave; the company currently offers only maternity leave to hourly employees. Stellantis and GM have offered to make Juneteenth a paid holiday.

Ford spokeswoman Jessica Enoch, in a statement earlier on Friday, said the Blue Oval remains "committed to creating opportunity for every UAW worker to build a great career and become a full-time permanent Ford employee with good middle-class wages and benefits."

In a statement, GM spokesperson David Barnas said: “Our offer has been developed considering everything in our environment, including competitor offers and what is important to our team members. It includes well-deserved wage improvements that far exceed the 2019 agreement. We still have work to do, but we will continue to bargain in good faith with the UAW and work towards an outcome that recognizes the vital role of our team members in GM’s success.”

The results continue to show the parties have a large gap they must close in the coming days to avoid a work stoppage, said Marick Masters, a management professor at Wayne State University.

"They’re still very far apart," he said. "They'll need an unexpected breakthrough to avoid a strike."

On the surface, a 14.5% pay increase to get over $37 per hour would be a positive outcome if it was paired with a cost-of-living wage adjustment, said Lynda Jackson, 36, of Detroit, a team leader at Stellantis' Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit and 13-year UAW member. But given that a late-July proposal from her employer suggested workers sharing a larger portion of health care costs, she would want to see a more complete picture.

"The 14.5% increase," she said, "doesn’t mean anything if we can't see what it is you're trying to take away."

She also wants to see workers like herself receive a pension like the workers before her did and for supplemental workers to have job security.

"I kind of feel like they threw something together because of the unfair practice charge the UAW put on them. Like, 'Hey, we offered them something.' There wasn’t a whole lot of substance."

With less than a week before the 11:59 p.m. expiration time on Thursday, Stellantis is the final of the Detroit Three automakers to submit its proposal after the UAW provided its demands last month. Last week, the UAW submitted unfair labor practice charges against Stellantis and GM with the National Labor Relations Board, because it still had not received an economic counterproposal from those two companies.

Fain this week said the union will strike any of the companies with which it doesn't have a tentative agreement by the time the current contract expires. He confirmed on the livestream that the union could strike all three, if needed.

The cost of that could be substantial. Estimates from the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group, a consulting firm that also does business with the automakers, suggest a 10-day strike at all three could represent a total loss of $5.6 billion to the economy.

CEO Patrick Anderson has called a potential UAW strike of all three Detroit automakers an "extremely risky" proposition for the union. But with less than a week to go before the deadline, he wrote in a note Friday that the group believes a strike against at least one of the companies is likely.

"The difference between the automakers and the unions on wages is a gap that could be closed," he wrote. "The differences involving non-wage demands are a gulf, not a gap." Non-wage demands such as restoration of a cost-of-living adjustment and defined benefit pension plans, he believes, "raise the risk of a contract that causes a bankruptcy-level risk for the automakers when a future downturn occurs."

 

WD-40 says it will not be banned,
will change formula to satisfy
Ottawa's new rules

September 11, 2023
National Post

American-made WD-40 already complies with Canada's new rules limiting volatile organic compounds in household goods

The WD-40 Company issued a statement Thursday saying its products would still be available in Canada under a new formulation after Ottawa imposes new restrictions on the compound used in the original formula of the hugely popular penetrating oil spray.

In January 2022, details of new regulations in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act were published in the Canada Gazette, aiming to set maximum concentrations for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — certain chemicals with boiling points low enough to allow them to exist as an atmospheric vapour at room temperature.

That led to concerns showing up on social media from fans of the lubricant and rust-prevention spray that the new regulations would effectively ban WD-40 when they come into force in January 2024.

“It has recently come to our attention that false information is circulating online that WD-40 brand products are being banned in Canada,” read the company’s statement.

“This is not a true statement. Although there are currently regulatory changes taking place in Canada, we have been aware of these regulatory changes and have been preparing for them for some time.”

The statement stated that all WD-40 products will comply with the new regulations and will still be available for sale in the new year.

While most VOCs found on earth are produced by living organisms, Canada’s new regulations limit manufactured sources, specifically solvents used by many industries.

Aside from spray lubricants, the new regulations will also impact health and beauty products such as aerosol deodorant, hair spray and perfumes, household products including air fresheners, dusters, disinfectants and floor and carpet cleaners, and industrial chemicals like brake cleaner, paint remover, cleaners, lubricants and spray paints.

VOCs are considered pollutants that contribute to the formation of smog.

Under Canada’s new regulations, any aerosol multi-purpose or penetrating non-solid lubricant will be limited to a maximum VOC concentration of 25 per cent.

Regulations limiting VOCs in certain U.S. states prompted many manufacturers to reformulate their products. WD-40 sold in the U.S. already complies with Canadian rules.

According to Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) obtained by the National Post, WD-40 formulations sold in Canada contain between 50 and 70 per cent aliphatic hydrocarbons.

Conversely, the MSDS for WD-40 sold in the U.S. specifically lists the product as using between 10 and 20 per cent low-vapour pressure aliphatic hydrocarbons in its formulations, which is well below Canada’s impending statutory limits.

National Post

 

GM offers UAW workers a
16% pay raise in attempt
to avoid strike

David Welch, Bloomberg News
Sept 10, 2023

An attendee holds a United Auto Workers (UAW) sign during a campaign rally for Randy Bryce, Democratic U.S. Representative candidate from Wisconsin, not pictured, in Racine, Wisconsin, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. Bryce, a union ironworker, is hoping to defeat Republican U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan to represent Wisconsin's 1st district. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg , Bloomberg

General Motors Co. made a counteroffer to the United Auto Workers union, proposing a total 16 per cent pay raise for the top wage earners in its plants and a 56 per cent hike for newer employees who make less, the company said in a statement. UAW President Shawn Fain reacted quickly saying the proposal is “insulting.”

The pay raise is slightly higher than what rival Ford Motor Co. offered the union, but is still well short of the 46 per cent raise that would result from the UAW’s opening bid. GM also included US$11,000 in inflation protection payments, a shortened period to the top wage and better pay for temporary staff.

GM made the offer with a week to go before the union’s contract with the automaker and rivals Ford and Stellantis NV expires and all companies far apart from Fain’s opening proposal. In addition to a much bigger raise, Fain wants to reinstate guaranteed pensions, cost-of-living allowances and retiree healthcare.

“After refusing to bargain in good faith for the past six weeks, only after having federal labour board charges filed against them, GM has come to the table with an insulting proposal that doesn’t come close to an equitable agreement for America’s autoworkers,” Fain said in a statement. “GM either doesn’t care or isn’t listening when we say we need economic justice. The clock is ticking. Stop wasting our members’ time. Tick tock.”

The GM offer is slightly better than Ford’s proposal, which Fain rejected and said, “insults our very worth.”

The GM and Ford offers do not include retiree benefits, which went away in 2007 for new hires. Workers hired after 2006 get 401K plans.

Fain’s initial proposal brought back retiree benefits, which are a big piece of the added expense for labour that automakers believe would drive up costs by $80 billion over four years. 

GM’s offered to give inflation protection with a $6,000 one-time payment and another $5,000 over the life of the agreement. That’s $1,000 less in total than Ford offered.

Both companies give entry-level workers the top wage of about $32 an hour after six years. GM’s offer would get them to a minimum of $28 after four years. GM also offered to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday. 

GM shares were down 1 per cent at 12:39 p.m. Thursday in New York. 

 

UAW president says union has
filed unfair labor practice
charges against GM, Stellantis
over contract talks

Story by Michael Wayland 
Sept 2, 2023

  • The United Auto Workers union has filed unfair labor practice charges against automakers General Motors and Stellantis to the National Labor Relations Board.
  • The Thursday filings followed the companies not responding to the union's demands in a timely matter.
  • The union did not file a complaint against Ford Motor, as UAW President Shawn Fain said the company responded to the UAW's demands with a counterproposal he heavily criticized.

DETROIT — United Auto Workers has filed unfair labor practice charges against automakers General Motors and Stellantis to the National Labor Relations Board for not bargaining with the union in good faith or a timely manner, UAW President Shawn Fain said Thursday night.

The Thursday filings followed the companies not responding to the union's demands in a timely matter, Fain said. The union did not file a complaint against Ford Motor, as Fain said the company responded to the UAW's demands with a counterproposal he heavily criticized.

"GM and Stellantis' willful refusal to bargain in good faith is not only insulting and counterproductive, it's also illegal," Fain said during a Facebook Live. "That's why today, our union filed unfair labor practice charges, or ULPs, against both GM and Stellantis with the National Labor Relations Board."

Stellantis said it has not yet received the NLRB complaint, "but is shocked by Mr. Fain's claims that we have not bargained in good faith."

"This is a claim with no basis in fact, and we are disappointed to learn that Mr. Fain is more focused on filing frivolous legal charges than on actual bargaining," the company said in an emailed statement. "We will vigorously defend this charge when the time comes, but right now we are more focused on continuing to bargain in good faith for a new agreement. We will not allow Mr. Fain's tactics to distract us from that important work to secure the future for our employees."

GM's statement echoed Stellantis' regarding the NLRB charges: "We are surprised by and strongly refute the NLRB charge filed by the International UAW. We believe it has no merit and is an insult to the bargaining committees. We have been hyper-focused on negotiating directly and in good faith with the UAW and are making progress," said Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president of global manufacturing.

The NLRB also did not immediately respond regarding additional details of the filings.

Regarding Ford's recent proposal, Fain called it "concessionary." He said it included a 9% wage increase over the four-year term of the deal, one-time lump sum bonuses and unlimited use of temporary workers who are paid less and don't have the same benefits. The company also rejected "all of" the union's job security proposals and "quality of life proposals" such as additional paid holidays and a shorter work week, Fain said.

"Ford's wage proposals not only failed to meet our needs, it insults our very worth," Fain said.

In response to the comments, Ford released a lengthy statement by CEO Jim Farley and additional details of its proposal compared with the prior negotiations four years ago, including 15% guaranteed combined wage increases and lump sum payments.

"This would be an important deal for our workers, and it would allow for the continuation of Ford's unique position as the most American automaker — and give us the flexibility we need within our manufacturing footprint to respond to customer demand as the industry transforms," Farley said in the publicly released statement. "This offer would also allow Ford to compete, invest in new products, grow and share that future success with our employees through profit sharing."

Ford noted that its proposal includes a six-year grow-in period to top wages compared to eight years; $12,000 "cost-of-living" bonuses over the span of the deal; $5,500 ratification bonuses; 25% increase in base wages for temporary workers; and other improvements over the last contract but not in line with the union's previous demands.

The union's demands have included a 46% wage increase, restoration of traditional pensions, cost-of-living increases, reducing the workweek to 32 hours from 40 and increasing retiree benefits.

 

Unifor picks Ford for pattern
negotiations in 2023 auto talks

Pensions, wage improvements, investments, supports for EV transition main priorities

Dale Molnar · 
CBC News
Aug 30 2023

Unifor president Lana Payne says Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd. has been chosen as the target for negotiations as the union looks to work out new contracts for autoworkers. (CBC News)

Unifor has chosen the Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd. as the target for negotiations as the union looks to work out new contracts for autoworkers.

"I was encouraged by Ford Motor Company's transparency with our union on product programs and business plans," Unifor president Lana Payne said during a news conference in Toronto on Tuesday afternoon.

Three automakers — Ford, Stellantis and General Motors — engage in pattern bargaining, where a deal with the target company will set the template for agreements with other two. 

Across the three companies, Unifor represents more than 19,600 autoworkers.

Payne suggested on Aug. 10 at the kickoff of talks that Ford would likely be the choice because of co-operation Ford had already shown. She said progress has already been made at the subcommittee levels since talks began in earnest on Aug. 22.

Payne repeated four main priorities for the union during these negotiations: pensions, wage improvements, investments and supports for the transition to producing electric vehicles.

Bargaining comes this time while the United Auto Workers (UAW) is also negotiating deals in the U.S. and analysts are predicting strikes at all Detroit Three automakers.

Tallying the costs of striking

Patrick Anderson, chief executive officer of Anderson Economic Group, a consulting firm that does work in the auto industry, predicts a 10-day strike at all three of the Detroit automakers would cost the companies and workers $5.6 billion US.

He said it would also affect Canada.

"It's a serious interest to people who are in Ontario and Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and it is something that won't stay on one side of the border," said Anderson.

Over the weekend, autoworkers in Ontario voted 99 per cent in favour of striking.

Unifor bargaining teams for GM and Stellantis will now go home, while the Ford bargaining team, chaired by Local 200 president John D'Agnolo, will continue talks in Toronto.

D'Agnolo was pleased with the announcement and said he will collaborate with Stellantis chair James Stewart and GM chair Jason Gale every day during the negotiations.

Both Gale and Stewart offered their support and congratulations to the Ford committee.

"I'm looking forward to it. We have a great team led by Lana and the national staff ... and I can't wait to get at it," said D'Agnolo.

The strike deadline is Sept.18.

 

Canada's Unifor joins UAW in
authorizing Detroit Three strikes

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
August 29, 2023

Members of Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in Canada, have voted to authorize strikes against Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV if agreements on new contracts aren't reached next month.

The union reported that Unifor members voted nearly 99% in favor at Ford, 99% at GM and more than 98% at Stellantis. Unifor's collective bargaining agreements with the automakers expire at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 18.

“Canadian autoworkers have sent a strong message to D3 automakers that they are united behind our bargaining committees in an effort to improve pensions, increase wages, and secure good, union jobs in the EV future,” Unifor President Lana Payne said in a statement. “Our bargaining teams are set to resume negotiations with the unwavering support of Unifor members across the auto sector. Make no mistake, our union is fully prepared to take any and all necessary action to achieve our collective bargaining objectives.”

The union, which started bargaining with the companies earlier this month, is resuming negotiations after pausing to hold the strike authorization votes over the weekend. Unifor represents about 18,000 autoworkers at the Detroit auto companies.

Unifor's strike authorization comes days after members of the United Auto Workers, which represents Detroit Three autoworkers in the United States, also voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing strikes against the companies. The UAW's contracts with the companies expire at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 14.

Strike authorization votes are formalities and don't necessarily mean a strike will occur, but they give unions leverage in negotiations and authorize leaders to call a walkout if deemed necessary.

The two unions are in negotiations with the Detroit automakers at the same time for the first time in a generation.

 

Unifor Detroit Three
members deliver
overwhelming
strike mandate

Unifor AutoTalks
August 28, 2023

TORONTO— Unifor members at Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Stellantis have delivered overwhelming strike mandates, authorizing their bargaining committees to take job action, if needed, to achieve fair collective agreements with the Detroit Three (D3). 

“Canadian autoworkers have sent a strong message to D3 automakers that they are united behind our bargaining committees in an effort to improve pensions, increase wages, and secure good, union jobs in the EV future,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “Our bargaining teams are set to resume negotiations with the unwavering support of Unifor members across the auto sector. Make no mistake, our union is fully prepared to take any and all necessary action to achieve our collective bargaining objectives.” 

Unifor paused negotiations to hold the strike votes over the course of the weekend. The results of the strike votes are tabulated and broken down by company below.

Strike vote results

Ford Motor Company: 98.9% in favour
General Motors 99% in favour 
Stellantis 98.1% in favour

The current Detroit 3 collective agreements expire at 11:59 p.m. on September 18, 2023. 

The union opened formal negotiations with the automakers on August 10 in Toronto, representing 18,000 autoworkers covered by collective agreements.  

Unifor will continue to provide regular updates on the status of negotiations at autotalks.ca  

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

 

UAW president threatens
strike if automakers don't
get it together

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
August 25, 2023

Detroit — Dozens of United Auto Workers and supportive community members marched outside a Jeep Grand Cherokee plant here in a practice picket that will become real Sept. 15 if the Detroit Three automakers don't cooperate, the union's president said on Wednesday.

"We've got 22 days until the deadline," UAW President Shawn Fain said at the gathering. "These companies better come to the table. The clock is ticking. I can tell you right now, every indication is that if they don't get their s--- together, we're going to be doing what we're going to do here in a little bit."

Holding "Record profits, record contracts" signs and chanting, "Tick tock" and other phrases, a sea of red-clad workers gathered in a strip-mall parking lot off Conner Street with a backdrop of Stellanits NV's Mack Assembly Plant on the east side. The group walked in front of a nearby gate entrance to the plant. The picket that was organized by members wasn't a work stoppage, but was meant to bring together autoworkers around a core purpose and raise awareness of the union's demands for a new contract, organizers said.

"Have you seen the price of a gallon of milk?" said Nathan Burks, 48, of Detroit, a UAW member of five years who works in skilled trades who says at $27.52 per hour, he's still a few years away from reaching the top of his pay scale. "It's more expensive to buy food that's healthy for you than the cheaper junk food. I can be making the same as an employee at Target. We used to be the powerhouses of the economy. Now we're not."

The UAW's demands entail a 46% wage increase over four years for 145,000 employees, a 32-hour work week for 40 hours' pay, rolling over all current temporary/supplemental employees to full-time, and restoring cost-of-living adjustments, pensions and retiree health care for all. The total demands could increase total labor costs, including wages and benefits, to more than $100 per hour per worker. The automakers' current all-in labor costs are around $65 per hour compared to $55 at foreign automakers and $45 at Tesla Inc.

"We're not asking to be millionaires," Fain said. "We're just asking for our fair share so we can survive."

Fain said he's headed to similar events in the coming days with stops planned at Ford Motor Co.'s Kentucky Truck Plant and Louisville Assembly Plant on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Although the union hasn't declared a lead company, Fain says not to read into the locations of the rallies as they are based on his schedule and invitations from locals.

The picket comes as the union is wrapping up strike authorization votes, the results of which are expected on Friday. Local unions that have posted their results show overwhelming support for the procedural vote.

"The workers are pissed off and they're fed up," Fain said. "They want their share — not just our workers, workers everywhere, workers that don't have a voice right now, because they don't have a union."

Shaheena Allen, 42, of Detroit, a UAW member of almost three years who works at the Mack plant, said she voted to support the strike authorization.

"We're doing the same, equal work, and not getting the same equal pay," she said. "It's not right. We actively need better things for a contract, so why not (strike)?"

Among the marchers was U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who emphasized the sacrifices the UAW has made in previous contracts to keep the companies afloat.

"Workers have saved our country over and over again," she said. "I can't understand in 2023, these CEOs are now being stingy. I looked. They're making record profits. Shareholders are getting their payouts. These folks are busting their butts every day, and they're not getting their fair share."

In 2022, General Motors Co., Stellantis and Ford reported adjusted operating income in North America, respectively, of $13 billion, $15.2 billion and $9.2 billion. Stellantis' profit-sharing checks were the highest at $14,760, followed by GM workers receiving $12,750 and Ford's, $9,176. Temporary and supplemental workers, however, don't receive profit-sharing checks.

Also on workers' minds is product allocation. Dan Steele, 30, of Toledo, Ohio, says he was laid off on Friday for a year from his job in materials delivery at Stellantis' Dundee Engine Plant. The automaker is investing $83 million there to produce a new 1.6-liter, I-4 turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection for two plug-in hybrid models it will sell in North America, but there's space for more after the automaker has ended production of the Tigershark 2.4-liter I-4 engine.

"It is nerve-racking," Steele said. "We need (product), because I don't think Stellantis even wants to build anything here."

Stellantis in previous statements has said it's committed to working with the UAW to negotiate a new agreement that balances workers' concerns and its vision to compete in the marketplace in the future.

Other UAW members say they came out to show their support to leave behind a strong contract for future generations.

"Workers fought to lay the foundation for me," said Charles Roberts, 54, of Detroit, who has been a UAW member for 30 years and is a continuous improvement lead at Mack. "I want to pay it forward, and give it back. It could be better for the younger workers."

 

Retiree Gary Ellwood Passes
Away August 24, 2023

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Retiree Gary Ellwood.

He passed away Thursday August 24, Gary retired October 1, 2004 with 38.2 years of service.

Celebration Of Life Gathering
Thursday, August 31, 2023
1:00PM - 5:00PM
McKersie & Early Funeral Home Ltd.
114 Main Street E.
MILTON, ON L9T 1N5

Get Directions

 Information for Garry Lorne Ellwood (mckersieearly.com)

Obituary
It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of our beloved Garry on Thursday August 24, 2023 in the comfort of his own home surrounded by his loving family. 

Loving husband to Mary Ann for 29 years, cherished Father of Terry (Lee Ann), Scott and Stepson Jerry (Lorna). 
Forever remembered by his grandchildren Taylor and Meagan and Sister Carol Habkirk and many nieces and nephews. 

Garry was an animal lover and a Nascar enthusiast. Garry was a proud worker for Ford Canada for 38 years. 

Family and friends are welcome to gather at the McKersie & Early Funeral Home to celebrate Garry’s life on 
Thursday August 31, 2023 from 1pm to 5pm. 

Donations in honour of Garry can be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Humane Society ( please see donation links below )
or the charity of your choice.

To plant a beautiful memorial tree in memory of Garry Lorne, please visit our Tree Store.

 

 

 

‘No trucks in, no trucks out.’
Striking Metro grocery workers
turn up the heat with picketing
at distribution warehouses

Some 3,700 workers at 27 Metro stores have been on strike since July 29 after overwhelmingly voting against a tentative deal with company.

By Josh Rubin Business Reporter
August 24, 2023

As a strike by 3,700 workers at GTA Metro grocery stores nears the one-month mark, union members are turning up the heat by picketing at two of the grocery chain’s distribution warehouses. The company responded just hours later by filing an unfair labour practice complaint against the union.

Picketing began at the two Etobicoke warehouses Wednesday morning, and a leading food industry expert said it could lead to shortages at some Metro stores which are still open.

“Logistics could become an issue and we could see some shortages on shelves,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “This is all about disrupting the business continuity. The backbone of any grocery company is its distribution centres and warehouses.”

Members of Unifor Local 414 have been on strike since July 29, a day after rejecting a tentative agreement.

At a rainy picket line Wednesday morning, Unifor national president Lana Payne said the goal was simple: Keep trucks from loading up at the warehouses.

“No trucks in, no trucks out. No produce, no meat. This is part of their supply chain,” said Payne to loud cheers from a lively crowd of a few hundred picketers in the driveway of the Metro warehouse in Etobicoke. “In case this employer was not getting the message before today, they’re getting it now.”

As Payne spoke, trucks could be seen idling at an underpass across the street from the warehouse.

A spokesperson for Metro blasted the picketing at the warehouses which supply 247 still-open Metro and Food Basic stores across Ontario.

“They are currently preventing all deliveries of fresh products to our stores which is unacceptable,” said Marie-Claude Bacon. “The distribution centres and the impacted stores are not on strike and their operations, which are critical, should not be interfered with.”

Bacon said the company has been asking the union to come back to the bargaining table since Aug. 12, but the union has rejected those requests.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the company said it had filed an unfair labour practice complaint against Unifor with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

“The union has refused to return to the bargaining table for the purpose of allowing Metro to present an offer in an effort to resolve the current labour conflict, despite repeated invitations on Metro’s part,” Bacon said in a written statement. “The Union has breached its duty to bargain in good faith and to make every reasonable effort to negotiate a collective agreement.”

In an emailed statement, Payne criticized Metro’s complaint to the OLRB, and said the union would be review it with its lawyers.

“What’s unfair is Metro’s refusal to provide decent work and pay to its 3,700 frontline grocery workers,” Payne said.

It’s clear the two sides have given up hope of reaching an agreement at the bargaining table, and are now resorting to other tools, said Rafael Gomez, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto.

For the union, it’s turning up the picketing heat. For the company, the legal heat.

“This is two parties trying to increase the cost for each other,” he said. “In the modern context, this is getting ugly.”

The OLRB, Gomez said, could issue an injunction barring the warehouse picketing, or order the two sides back to the negotiating table. They could even, he added, order binding arbitration, though that would be exceedingly rare.

The company also said it’s considering seeking a court injunction to end the warehouse picketing.

At one downtown Toronto Metro store Wednesday afternoon, customers were already starting to notice the impact of the warehouse picketing.

“No broccoli or escarole?,” one disappointed customers asked a store employee, who shook their head in response.

“Nah, we didn’t get the delivery today,” said the employee. “They’re protesting at our warehouse.”

There were other missing items: The area usually filled with fresh Ontario corn on the cob was completely empty, and there were a few empty spots in the store’s meat department shelves.

Unifor represents 3,700 full- and part-time employees at 27 Metro stores in the GTA. Those 27 stores are closed during the strike, but Metro also has several GTA non-Unifor stores that remain open. Union members had initially limited their picketing to the 27 closed stores, but stepped up their efforts last week and began picketing outside some of the open non-Unifor Metro locations.

Last week, the union declined the company’s offer to meet with a provincially-appointed mediator saying Metro had shown no signs it was willing to improve upon a tentative deal rejected by Local 414 members. That rejection, announced July 28, prompted the strike.

On the picket line, Payne said there’s no point in coming back to the table, arguing that the company has shown no sign of improving the already-rejected deal.

“They haven’t proposed a decent offer yet. We’re not going to waste our time at the bargaining table until they understand how serious we are right now,” said Payne.

One of the sticking points, said Local 414 president Gord Currie, is that members wanted an immediate reinstatement of the $2 an hour “hero pay” bonus that they got during the early part of the pandemic.

“I said ‘when you take that away, there’s going to be a problem.’ They took it away, and here’s the problem now. We have 27 stores and angry members looking for that money back,” said Currie. “They want that money up front, but Metro isn’t listening. They need to wake up.”

Metro has said the tentative agreement, which had been recommended by union leadership, would have given full-time and “senior” part-time workers raises totalling $3.75 an hour over the life of the four-year deal, while other part-timers would have seen raises totalling $2.65 an hour.

The rejected deal gave full-time employees a $1.05 an hour raise in the first year of the deal, along with 90 cent raises in the following three years.

Full-time employees at the 27 Metro stores in the GTA earn an average of $22.60 an hour, while part-timers get $16.62, according to Unifor.

 

Wild horse: 800-hp, $300k
Mustang GTD track beast
takes aim at Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
August 21, 2023

Mustang is saddling up to take on Europe’s elite sports cars.

Ford Motor Co. took the wraps off Thursday of a track-focused, 800-plus horsepower, estimated-$300,000 supercar version of the seventh-generation Mustang at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Badged the Mustang GTD, it will compete with European track weapons like the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Mercedes AMG GT Black and Aston Martin Vulcan.

The carbon-fiber-skinned pony was developed by Ford racing partner Multimatic and contains many of the elements of Ford’s GT3 race car that will debut at IMSA’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona next January — including a huge rear swan wing and rear-mounted transmission. The GTD badge is a reference to IMSA’s GTD race class that the race car will compete in.

Like the 2019 Multimatic-developed, mid-engine Ford GT Mk II, the 2025 GTD will be available as a limited-edition model late in 2024.

“This is something that’s been in my head for five decades,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley, who moonlights as an amateur race driver. “The GTD takes on the best sports cars in the world.”

Such track-focused weapons have typically come out of the stables of exotic makers. The winged McLaren Senna, for example, cost $1.1 million and the Aston Martin Vulcan — of which just 24 copies were made — cost $2.3 million. The Mustang sets its sights on the Porsche GT3 RS, a similarly-priced beast that set the Nürburgring track record earlier this year.

The Mustang’s sophisticated aerodynamics, suspension and engine are optimized to clock similar, eye-watering, sub-7 minute Nürburgring times.

The GTD sports a similar-displacement, supercharged, 5.2-liter engine as Ford’s last-generation, 760-horsepower Shelby Mustang GT500, but the engine is otherwise bespoke to GTD. To attain its 800-plus horsepower (the most by a production ‘Stang ever) the beast is fed with dual air inlets with a 7,500 RPM redline, houses a carbon-fiber driveshaft, and is outfitted with a dry-sump oil system to keep the engine lubricated during sustained high-g-load cornering. Available is a titanium active valve exhaust system for maximum ear-splitting terror.

That beastly powerplant is mated to a dual-clutch, 8-speed transmission mounted in the rear of the car for 50-50 weight balance. The rear transaxle transmission is a first for Mustang.

Ford draws on the racing experience of Canada’s Multimatic, which builds the Mustang GT3 and GT4 race cars for competition. Multimatic also built the $500,000 mid-engine Ford GT beginning in 2016 and provides the chassis for race teams like Porsche-Penske’s 963 IMSA porotype.

“We did some radical things with the GTD,” said Larry Holt, Multimatic executive vice president for special vehicle operations. “Inboard rear suspension, titanium exhaust, magnesium wheels and the gearbox in the rear of the car. The Mustang GTD sets a new benchmark for roadgoing racers.”  

The GTD will start life at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant and then be transported to Multimatic facilities in Markham, Canada, where the auto supplier's elves will work their magic.

Engineered for the street and track, the GTD is outfitted with two suspension settings. In track mode, the Mustang can be lowered by over 1.5 inches to maximize aerodynamic efficiency.

For maximum stick through corners, the Mustang boasts Michelin Cup 2 tires. They measure 12.8 inches in the front (the width of the Ford GT’s rear tires) and 13.6 inches in the rear. Unlike the GT3 racer’s wheels, which are limited to 18-inch rims, the GTD’s rubber will be wrapped around 20-inch forged aluminum wheels or available forged magnesium wheels. Special, spool-valve Multimatic shocks at all four corners will help the car read the road.

Such engineering sophistication is clearly aimed at the $240k Porsche’ GT3 RS, long considered the segment’s banchmark. The Porsche features similar dry-sump engine and aerodynamic tweaks — though mere 12-inch rear and 10.8-inch front Michelin Cup 2 tires and 518 horsepower.

The GT3 RS, in the hands of legendary racer Jorg Bergmeister, conquered the 14-mile Nürburgring course in 6 minutes, 49 seconds last spring — a record for normally-aspirated cars. With another 300 horses thanks to its supercharger, the GTD may well eclipse the Porsche.

Aerodynamic tricks include center-mounted front springs to aid front downforce, and active front splitter — the latter illegal in IMSA racing. Also illegal in IMSA racing are the car’s carbon ceramic brakes.

For all its racing design, the cockpit is finished in premium materials including Miko suede, leather and carbon fiber. Displays are all-digital and front passengers sit in form-fitting Recaro seats. Only plan on bringing one passenger to the track, though. The GTR will delete its rear seat to save weight.

“This is our company, we’re throwing down the gauntlet and saying, ‘Come and get it,’” said Farley. “We’re comfortable putting everybody else on notice. I’ll take track time in a Mustang GTD against any other auto boss in their best road car.”

 

Ford makes first Québec
investment with battery
partners for cathode
manufacturing plant

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
August 18, 2023

Ford Motor Co. and two South Korean battery manufacturers are investing $980 million (1.2 billion Canadian dollars) to build a cathode manufacturing plant in Québec that will supply batteries for Ford electric vehicles.

The investment by the Dearborn automaker, SK On Co Ltd and EcoPro BM Co. Ltd. is Ford's first in Québec and part of an effort to localize raw material processing.

“Ford has been serving customers in Canada for 119 years," Bev Goodman, president and CEO of Ford of Canada, said in a statement, "longer than any other automaker, and we’re excited to invest in this new facility to create a vertically integrated, closed-loop battery manufacturing supply chain in North America designed to help make electric vehicles more accessible for millions of people over time."

Production in Bécancour, a city on the St. Lawrence River that has attracted EV-sector investments, will begin in the first half of 2026 with a capacity to produce up to nearly 50,000 tons (45,000 metric tons) of cathode active materials, supporting production of up to 225,000 electric vehicles annually.

The Canadian federal government and the province of Québec are supporting the project with $475 million (644 million Canadian dollars) in incentives with $238 million (322 million Canadian dollars) in conditional loans each.

Construction has begun on the more than 3 million-square-foot (280,000 square-meter) site with a six-floor building. The plant will employ 345 jobs, including engineers, sales and service professionals, and co-op positions for students from local universities and colleges.

EcoPro CAM Canada LP, which will be a joint venture among the three companies once the deal closes, will manufacture nickel, cobalt and manganese. EcoPro BM expands into North America with the plant and will oversee its daily operations. Its core shell gradient technology, according to a news release, can help yield better performance levels and improved EV range. The company also will conduct research and development to increase battery safety, performance, productivity and sustainability.

In addition to this collaboration, General Motors Co. and POSCO Future M last year announced plans for a plant to produce cathode active material in Bécancour. Germany's BASF SE also is constructing a battery materials manufacturing site there.

"Today, we are helping to further position Québec as a key hub in the electric vehicle supply chain, as we continue to build our battery ecosystem," François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry, said in a statement. "This investment is good for the environment and for the economy, and it will ensure well-paying jobs for years to come.”

 

'The clock is ticking:' UAW
prepares to step up fight
for contract demands

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
August 17, 2023

With one month to go until the United Auto Workers' contracts with the Big Three expire, the union is preparing to escalate its fight to achieve its demands at the bargaining table.

UAW President Shawn Fain, citing what the union described as a "slow pace of negotiations" with Stellantis NV, General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., on Tuesday announced that the union will hold strike authorization votes next week ahead of the contracts' expiration at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 14.

Strike authorizations are routine actions during labor negotiations that give union leaders the power to call a strike, but don't necessarily mean one will occur. Nearly 150,000 UAW members at the three companies will vote next week; such votes typically receive strong support. Results are expected Aug. 24.

"Today marks 30 days until our contract expires, and yet we’re still bargaining over non-economics at all three companies. That’s unacceptable. The Big Three need to get serious, and they need to get down to business," Fain said during a Facebook livestream. “We are 30 days away and the clock is ticking."

The UAW president said the union would not agree to extend the current contracts past expiration: "Sept. 14 is a deadline," he said.

Meanwhile, Fain used the bargaining update to members to reiterate the union's argument that hefty profits generated by the Detroit automakers over the past decade mean they can afford to offer better wages and benefits to their workers. The UAW has pointed to $250 billion in North American profits the Detroit automakers generated from 2013 to 2022, as well as strong profits through the first half of this year.

The union has proposed a 46% wage increase over four years, a 32-hour work week paid at 40 hours, retiree health care coverage to all, restoration of cost-of-living adjustments, expanding pensions, and more.

Fain pushed back on responses from the automakers arguing that such increases would raise their labor costs to levels that would make them uncompetitive against foreign companies and electric-vehicle startups like Tesla.

“GM’s comment about how our demands threaten their ability to do what is right for the long-term benefit of the team is a thinly-veiled threat to kill jobs because employees have the courage to demand what we are owed," Fain said. "In fact, GM’s led the way over the last 20 years by closing more plants than any other domestic automaker.” 

In a statement, GM spokesperson David Barnas said: "We've been working hard with the UAW every day to ensure we get this agreement right for all our stakeholders. We know that our U.S. economic impact supports more than 6 jobs for every job created by GM. We take that responsibility very seriously, and we continue to bargain in good faith each day to support our team members, our customers, the community and the business.”

But as has been the case since negotiations started, Fain reserved his sharpest remarks for Stellantis executives.

Last week, Mark Stewart, chief operating officer in North America for Stellantis, called the UAW's demands a "losing proposition" that could risk jobs and said the company is looking to reach an agreement "based on realism." Stewart's letter came days after Fain threw a copy of a July 27 offer from Stellantis into a trashcan during a Facebook livestream.

Stellantis' counteroffer to the UAW emphasized what it described as high rates of absenteeism in plants.

“COO Mark Stewart wrote a patronizing letter to our members, saying we need to tone down our demands in the name of ‘economic realism.’ We later learned from media reports that Stewart wrote that letter from his second multimillion-dollar mansion in Acapulco, Mexico, where he spent the last two weeks vacationing rather than bargaining," Fain said. "That’s the economic realism the companies want us to accept. They make billions in profits and millions in executive salaries, while the rest of us live paycheck-to-paycheck.”

"The discussions between the Company and the UAW’s bargaining team continue to be constructive and collaborative with a focus on reaching a new agreement that balances the concerns of our 43,000 employees with our vision for the future – one that better positions the business to meet the challenges of the U.S. marketplace and secures the future for all of our employees, their families and our company," Stellantis spokesperson Jodi Tinson said in a statement.

In a statement Tuesday, Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker said: “Ford is proud to build more vehicles in America and employ more UAW-represented hourly workers in America than any other automaker. We look forward to working with the UAW on creative solutions during this time when our dramatically changing industry needs a skilled and competitive workforce more than ever.”

 

Ford Motor Co. reveals details
behind $1.8B plan to build electric
vehicles in Oakville

By Gene Pereira
August 16, 2023

Ford is investing $1.8 billion to transform the Oakville Assembly Complex into a Canadian hub of electric vehicle manufacturing. FORD MOTOR CO. IMAGE

Oakville’s Ford Motor Co. released some of the details Monday (Aug. 14) behind its $1.8 billion dollar plan to turn the Oakville Assembly Complex into a high-volume hub of electric vehicle manufacturing in Canada.

The newly renamed Oakville Electric Vehicle Complex will begin to retool in the second quarter of 2024 and start producing electric vehicles in 2025.

 Part of the transformation will also include a new 407,000 sq. on-site foot battery plant that will included parts from Ford’s operations in Kentucky.  These components will be assembled by Oakville workers into battery packs and then installed into vehicles at the local plant.

Ford is looking to reach a global production run of two million EVs annually by the end of 2026. The company says it will become the first full-line automaker to produce passenger EVs in Canada for the North American market.

“Canada and the Oakville complex will play a vital role in our Ford+ transformation,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO, in a statement. “It will be a modern, super efficient, vertically integrated site for battery and vehicle assembly.

“I’m most excited for the world to see the incredible next-generation electric and fully digitally connected vehicles produced in Oakville.”

To expand EV production, Ford is building new Greenfield sites and also transforming existing manufacturing sites like in Oakville and Cologne, Germany.

“Ford’s commitment to invest in OAC retooling and upskilling signals a bright future for Canadian EV production and for Canadian auto sector employment,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “The transformation of the Oakville plant is an important step towards a stronger industry and testament to the hard work, skills and dedication of our Unifor Oakville Assembly Complex members.”

The current 487-acre Oakville site produces the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus, but the automaker has yet to release what models it will build when the Oakville Electric Vehicle Complex opens.

“Ford of Canada has been a leader in the country’s auto industry since it was founded 119 years ago, driven by hard-working, dedicated employees,” said Bev Goodman, president and CEO, Ford of Canada. “As the top-selling auto brand in Canada for 14 straight years, the successful transition to EV production in Oakville will help deliver stable Canadian employment with the opportunity to build the new skills and expertise to drive Ford and the industry forward.”

 

Millions Of Canadians Could
Get Money From A LifeLabs
Class Action & Here's
Who Is Eligible

Story by Lisa Belmonte 
August 15, 2023

Millions Of Canadians Could Get Money From A LifeLabs Class Action & Here's Who Is Eligible© Provided by Narcity Canada

There is a LifeLabs class action happening in Canada right now and millions of Canadians could receive money from the settlement.

This lawsuit is in relation to a data breach that happened a few years back which compromised personal health information.

KPMG Canada shared that if you were a LifeLabs customer on or before December 17, 2019, you belong to a class of people who could get cash benefits from a class action settlement with LifeLabs if it is approved by the court.

The security breach was announced in 2019 after a cyberattack on a database of customer personal health information and then a proposed class action was started against LifeLabs Inc. and related LifeLabs companies.

It's alleged that LifeLabs was negligent in the protection of customers' and patients' data. LifeLabs has denied all of the allegations.

This class action includes about 8.6 million people whose personal information — like provincial health card numbers — was stolen.

Also, just over 130,000 class members had their confidential test requisitions or test results taken by hackers in the data breach.

A settlement has been negotiated, and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has certified the action but a hearing to consider approving the proposed settlement still needs to happen.

The settlement approval hearing is scheduled to take place on October 25, 2023, so you won't receive money if the settlement is given the green light until after that date.

KPMG Canada said you have the right to stay in the class action and participate in the settlement, stay in the class action but object to the settlement, or opt out of the class action and not receive any money from the settlement if approved.

With this class action lawsuit against LifeLabs, all Canadian residents who were customers or patients and had their personal Information stored on computer systems in the control of LifeLabs that were compromised or accessed in the security breach are eligible to receive payment.

That includes the subclass of all customers or patients of LifeLabs whose test requisitions or test results were accessed as a result of a security breach announced by LifeLabs on December 17, 2019.

If the settlement is approved by the court, LifeLabs has agreed to pay compensation to class members who submit a valid claim form within the timeframe set out by the court.

LifeLabs will pay a guaranteed amount of $4.9 million and up to an additional $4.9 million depending on the number of claims made if the settlement is approved.

As part of this class action lawsuit in Canada, each class member who completes a valid claim form during the claim period will be eligible to receive $50.

But it's possible to get up to a maximum of $150 from the settlement if it's approved.

Class members could receive more or less than $50 depending on the number of claims filed, the legal fees and the disbursements approved by the court.

 

Unifor says it will 'fight and
strike' for higher wages as
talks with Detroit Three
automakers begin

Bianca Bharti
Aug 13, 2023

Unifor national president Lana Payne says autoworkers are ready to “fight and strike” to have their demands met on higher wages and job security as the union kicked off labour negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers in Toronto.

Representatives of Canada’s largest private sector union and Ford Motor Co.General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV, met on Aug. 10 for the launch of the talks that come during a critical moment for the industry as it transitions away from gas-powered cars and with inflation concerns top of mind for employees.

Payne handed company delegates a thick binder full of workers’ demands to review for the first time on Thursday. The union is focused on wage increases and job security in this round of bargaining, she said, and won’t hesitate to do battle to secure them.

“The aftershock of the pandemic is still being felt, with parts shortages (and) supply bottlenecks resulting in significant downtime at some of our facilities (and) making life more precarious for many of our members,” Payne said at a press conference following individual meetings with each of the three automakers.

“This is the moment we are in and no one should underestimate it.”

The renegotiations come at a time of heightened organized labour activity in Canada, with unionized workers fighting for higher wages — and going on strike — after a run-up in inflation and higher interest rates over the past two years reduced purchasing power.

The auto sector is also undergoing a transition to electric vehicles, requiring companies to retool factories and putting job security at risk. Payne said that makes this year’s round of bargaining especially crucial in ensuring workers are protected during the shift.

Economics are one of the “tough” issues that will be discussed at the bargaining table, said Steven Majer, vice-president of human resources at Ford Canada, though he added all parties are going into negotiations with a “positive mindset.”

Majer said inflation will weigh more heavily than usual on talks this year.

“We typically include general wage increases, lump sum inflation protection bonuses, but what I think is really unique about this round of bargaining is the rate of inflation that nobody foresaw over the course of this past three-year window,” he said.

Inflation will also play a factor in negotiating pensions benefits as some employees look to retire in the years ahead.

“We have a workforce that’s looking forward to retirement at some point in the future and they want to make sure that the planned retirement benefits keep pace with what’s going on in the economy in years to come,” Majer said.

Unionized Canadian autoworkers and the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the United States are simultaneously renegotiating contracts with the Detroit Three this year for the first time since the Great Financial Crisis in 2008.

Unifor said it’s collaborating with UAW to ensure both organizations are aligned during the process. The Canadian union is seeking gains on wages and pensions for its 18,000 workers covered under collective agreements and wants commitments from the automakers around electric vehicle transition plans that will protect jobs.

This week, UAW president Shawn Fain made a spectacle of angrily tossing Stellantis’s contract proposals in the trash bin after they fell short of the union’s demands. UAW, which represents 150,000 auto employees, is asking for 40-per-cent wage increases, but Payne said she would not reveal what rate Unifor is seeking to protect the bargaining process.

Unifor typically opens up introductory talks with automakers for a few weeks before selecting one company, usually around Labour Day, on which to focus its bargaining efforts and then continuing one-by-one until all three deals are renegotiated.

Payne said Unifor hasn’t selected which company it will target first, but is considering tapping Ford to lead bargaining since the two have a “good historical working relationship” and the company has demonstrated a “willingness to dialogue.”

 

Autoworkers prepared to
strike, Unifor says,
as bargaining begins
with Detroit 3

Kathleen Saylors
 · CBC · 
August 12, 2023

Unifor National president Lana Payne had strong words for the Detroit Three automakers Thursday afternoon as talks officially opened to negotiate a new collective agreement for workers. 

"I made it very clear to the companies today that our members' expectations are very high," Payne told reporters at a press conference after delivering open offers to Ford, Stellantis and General Motors in Toronto. 

"Workers have shown time and time again they are prepared to fight and to strike if necessary to have their demands met.

"This is the moment we are in and no one, no one  should underestimate it."

The union kicked off bargaining with the three companies today with key priorities: pensions, wages, transition security and securing investments. 

Payne said it was the first time in years the union entered bargaining "without storm clouds hanging over our plants."

But, she added, the "once-in-a-century" transition to EVs was causing anxiety among members for their job security, noting as many as a third of Unifor workers could be vulnerable in the move to electric vehicles. 

Ford a likely target as Unifor seeks three-year agreement

Other key issues in bargaining include the recruitment challenges for skilled trades workers, mental health supports, health and safety and contract disparities that exist for workers before and after the 2012 negotiations. 

The company will be seeking a three year agreement, Payne said. 

And while the target won't formally be announced until further along in the bargaining process — traditionally around Labour Day — Payne said the union is likely to choose Ford Motor Company. 

Payne said that's because Ford has been "forthcoming" and willing to work with Unifor in the EV transition process. Ford was the union's target in 2020. 

Lana Payne, national president for Unifor and Steve Majer, vice president of Ford's human resources, take part in a photo opportunity as Unifor begins formal contract talks with Detroit automakers Ford, General Motors and Stellantis in Toronto on Thursday, August 10, 2023. (The Canadian Press)

"I'm stating this only to let you know and our members know where my head is at right now," Payne said. "Of course there is still plenty of time and our thought process might change."

In its statement, Ford said it had "important work to do together [with Unifor] as we create a blueprint for the Canadian automotive industry."

"We approach the process with a common goal – a vibrant and sustainable future for our employees, our customers, and our communities. Both parties bring an incredible amount of knowledge, creativity, and respect to the table, and we are ready and willing to work together to find innovative solutions."

The union will be holding its customary strike votes on Aug. 26 and 27, Payne said, "in the hopes members will give us the mandate we need to take strike action if necessary."

As for the question of what kind of wage increases the union will be seeking, Payne said they would be "substantial" but said details would be kept to the bargaining process. 

Retirees say pensions are top of mind during negotiations 

At a rally downtown Thursday morning, auto retirees were asking for pension improvements they say are long overdue as inflation climbs and companies make huge profits. 

Bob Nickerson is a retired labour leader, and former national secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).

"Retirees were, in the early days, fighting for pensions in the plant, the wages and the benefits," said Bob Nickerson, former national secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).

"You guys did all the work for the guys coming behind us … and we took care of the people coming up behind us. We're taking care of ourselves."

UAW and Unifor negotiations separate, Payne says

Payne drew a contrast to the tactics of the United Auto Workers and her counterpart in the United States, Shawn Fain, who this week literally threw an offer from Stellantis in the trash and has said openly the union will be seeking a whopping 46 per cent wage increase. 

"For us we have our own job to do, our different collective agreements. We have different things we want to achieve," Payne said, adding that some priorities are similar. 

"And we wish them well, we want them to do well by their members the same way I'm sure they wish us well here in Canada."

Union leadership from both sides of the border met in Windsor last week for a "summit" ahead of the start of bargaining. 

Employer cites investments at beginning of bargaining

The Detroit Three automakers released statements signalling the opening of negotiations. 

General Motors said their negotiations will cover about 4,200 workers in Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock. 

"We look forward to working with our Unifor partners to build a competitive future that also recognizes our employees' contributions to our shared success," the company said. 

In its statement, Stellantis said it had invested more than $8.6 billion in Canada in the last 18 months that would create more than 3,000 jobs. 

"Collectively, our focus will be on negotiating an agreement that will ensure our future competitiveness in today's rapidly changing global market, with good benefits and wage increases that reward the contributions of our represented workforce now and for generations to come," the statement said. 

"During negotiations, both parties must continue to work together and find creative solutions that meet the needs of today's workforce while maintaining efficient and productive workplaces."

What you need to know as bargaining begins

The are more than 19,600 Unifor members unionized at the Detroit Three across Canada. The largest share of those members work for Stellantis, both at the Windsor Assembly plant, which has 4,500 members and at the Brampton Assembly plant with 3,200 members, according to Unifor figures.

Bargaining between the Big 3 and the United Auto Workers is off to a testy start. With separate negotiations set to begin for Canadian employees set to kick off today, we talk with an industry analyst about whether there's likely to be an easier path to a new contract here.

Unifor's Auto Council, comprised of union leadership from different companies and workplaces, will spearhead negotiations from the union's side.

The companies engage in what's known as pattern bargaining: essentially, with a few small exceptions, the deal that one company reaches will be replicated by the other two. 

"Once we get the pattern set by that by that company then the others need to fall in line," said Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy. 

For the first time since 1999 (excluding the 2008-09 financial crisis), both Unifor and the United Auto Workers (UAW) will be negotiating with the Detroit Three at the same time. 

A worker walks towards the gate of the Windsor Assembly Plant on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. Bargaining with the Detroit Three automakers got underway on Thursday. (Dax Melmer/CBC)

These are separate negotiations — the UAW and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW, which later became Unifor) parted ways in the 1980s, and have bargained separately ever since.

However, Unifor and UAW representatives met as recently as last week in Windsor to advance "each other's' interests throughout the bargaining process", according to a press release.

One auto expert said a one example of a difference between UAW and Unifor bargaining is that the UAW seeks performance bonuses, which are not part of Unifor's strategy.

Contracts for Unifor members at the Detroit Three expire on September 18 at 11:59 p.m. 

 

Unifor seeking investments
in Windsor's Ford engine plant
during negotiations with Detroit 3

Taylor Campbell
Windsor Star
August 11, 2023

Investments in Windsor’s Ford engine plant were among the numerous demands Unifor national president Lana Payne had for the Detroit Three automakers as contract talks kicked off Thursday.

During a media conference in Toronto that afternoon, Payne listed investments in Canada as one of the union’s four “core priorities” going into negotiations with Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors. The other key issues were pensions, wages, and support for the transition to electric vehicles.

“Obviously there are more investments that can be made around the EV transition we’re looking at,” Payne said. “We have a wonderful engine plant here in Windsor and we’d love to see a map for what else we can add to that facility going forward.”

In three consecutive meetings with the companies to open contract talks earlier on Thursday, Payne said she “made it very clear” that the union member expectations are “very high” amid the rising cost of living and a “stunning and staggering” financial performance by the Detroit Three.

“Workers have shown time and time again that they are prepared to fight and to strike if necessary to have their demands met,” she said. “This is the moment we are in and no one should underestimate it.”

Payne called the last three years a “very challenging period,” and said her members are still feeling the aftershock of the COVID-19 pandemic. Parts shortages and supply bottlenecks have resulted in “significant” downtown at some facilities, “making life more precarious for many of our members.”

Unifor is seeking improvements to pensions and retirement security, and “significant” wage increases. Payne declined to share specifics about wage demands and said she was “leaving that for the bargaining table.” While meeting with the companies, she said, she made “special mention” of wages for skilled trades workers to resolve a “chronic recruitment and retention challenge.”

The “excitement” among workers around building electric vehicles comes with “uncertainty and anxiety,” she said, calling for job protections during retooling periods.

“We are insisting that every EV and EV-related job is a good union job with the same rights and employment terms as auto workers enjoy today,” Payne said.

In a Facebook post, the Unifor Local 444 bargaining team said it met with Unifor’s auto council on Wednesday, “going over battle plans” in anticipation of bargaining talks. Payne was present.

Sitting at the table during bargaining talks in Toronto on a new three-year contract covering close to 20,000 autoworkers is a heavy Windsor union leader presence. Local 200 president John D’Agnolo is the Ford master bargaining chair, and Local 444 secretary-treasurer James Stewart is the Stellantis master bargaining chair.

Payne said she expects “intensive negotiations” in the following weeks. On Aug. 26 and 27, the union will hold customary strike votes.

The collective agreements expire on Sept. 18 at 11:59 p.m.

Unifor has not yet decided which company it will select as its first “target” to secure a deal, Payne said. However, she said the union is “seriously considering setting the pattern” with Ford Motor Company. That’s because Ford has been “forthcoming” about its plans and the most “transparent” during quarterly review business meetings.

“They’ve also demonstrated, quite frankly, a willingness to dialogue, and in fact, they have publicly signalled a desire to draft a blueprint for the future transition through bargaining with Unifor,” Payne said of Ford.

In a written statement Thursday, Stellantis said its focus “will be on negotiating an agreement that will ensure our future competitiveness in today’s rapidly changing global market, with good benefits and wage increases that reward the contributions of our represented workforce now and for generations to come.

“This is a significant time in the industry as we make the transition to electrification,” the statement continued, “and we must approach negotiations with a vision for the future.”

Stellantis, the company said, has announced investments of more than $8.6 billion in Canada over the last 18 months, with more than 3,000 new jobs and an anticipated return of the third shift at its Windsor and Brampton assembly plants.

“During negotiations, both parties must continue to work together and find creative solutions that meet the needs of today’s workforce while maintaining efficient and productive workplaces,” Stellantis said.

 

Ford posts sales gain in July

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
August 10, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales rose 5.9% year-over-year in July, according to figures released Wednesday.

The Dearborn automaker sold 173,639 vehicles last month. More than 155,000 of those were internal combustion engine vehicles, sales of which were up 5.7%. Sales of hybrid vehicles were up 31.6% to just under 11,500, while sales of battery-electric vehicles were down 18.1% to 6,280.

The results underperformed the industry as a whole, which Cox Automotive estimated saw an increase of more than 15% over year-ago levels, to nearly 1.3 million vehicles.

"Vastly increased inventory levels and a general improvement in consumer sentiment are helping fuel stronger sales in the U.S.," Cox analysts wrote in a note Wednesday. "Recovering fleet business — notably with rental and government buyers — was also a key driver of volume this month, as it has been through the first half of 2023."

New-vehicle inventory levels were up approximately 75% year-over-year in early July, according to Cox. Analysts estimate the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales came in close to 15.7 million in July, up from 13.3 million a year ago. The large industry gains were primarily driven by performances from brands including Hyundai and Kia, according to Cox. America Honda's sales were up nearly 57% from a year ago.

Ford, meanwhile, has pointed to downtime at two of its EV plants in recent months to explain a dip in EV sales, as the automaker works to expand production capacity. On Tuesday, the company said it had restarted production at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the electric F-150 Lightning is assembled. The plant was down for six weeks to expand and retool to support a tripling of production capacity; executives said they expect Lightning sales to ramp up this fall and that the plant remains on track to hit an annual production rate of 150,000 Lightning trucks by the end of the third quarter.

Ford sold 1,552 Lightning trucks in July, down 28.6% from a year ago.

In July, Ford's SUV sales were down 2% while trucks were up 15.2%.

Sales were up for the Bronco Sport, Escape, Bronco, Edge, F-Series, Ranger, Maverick, E-Series and Transit. They were down for Mustang Mach-E, Explorer, Expedition, Transit Connect, heavy trucks and Mustang.

F-Series, the best-selling truck line in the United States and Ford's flagship product, notched 68,536 sales in July, up 8.2% from July 2022.

The Bronco family of vehicles, which includes the Bronco and Bronco Sport, saw sales rise 41% in July. And sales of the newly redesigned Ford Escape were up 26%.

Lincoln brand sales fell 4.4% year-over-year. Year-to-date, Ford's sales are up 9.4% from the first seven months of 2022.

 

UAW president Shawn
Fain trashes Stellantis
contract proposal

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
August 9, 2023

United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain threw a printed contract proposal from the maker of Jeep SUVs, Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles into the trash Tuesday, accusing the company of reneging on its commitment not to seek a "concessionary agreement" amid national contract talks.

Fain in a Facebook livestream discussed points of Stellantis NV's offer to the union that were outlined in a flier circulating on social media this week.

The proposal, obtained by The Detroit News, is dated July 27 and includes adding a new employee classification with an alternate, flexible schedule; tying wage increases, profit sharing and supplemental unemployment benefits to absenteeism; increasing employee contribution to health-care and prescription coverage; eliminating the cap on supplemental workers and allowing the company to make bargaining changes in response to the move to electrification without rank-and-file ratification.

"Stellantis' proposals are a slap in the face," Fain said. "They're an insult to our members' hard work over the last four years. As I said earlier, our members have worked their a---- off in the best of times and the worst of times, to produce incredible value for this company. During COVID, UAW members were deemed essential. They risked their lives, and some gave up their lives to keep the lines running. So rather than honoring the sacrifices made by the employees, management chooses to spit in our faces."

Fain during the livestream picked up his office trash can and threw the proposal into the garbage.

"I'll tell you what I want to do with their proposal," he said. "I'm going to file it in its proper place, because that's where it belongs: the trash, because that's what it is."

The automaker's proposal as explained by Fain stands distinct from the "members' demands" from the UAW outlined last week. The union's proposals include eliminating wage tiers for full-time employees, expanding profit sharing to supplemental employees, providing pensions and retirement health-care coverage for all workers, reducing the work week to 32 hours while paying workers for 40, and granting a 46% wage hike over four years.

Estimates in total say the proposal could increase labor costs to more than $100 per hour per worker at the Detroit Three automakers, roughly double labor costs at foreign automakers assembling vehicles in the United States.

In response to the UAW's demands last week, Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson had said in a statement that the automaker was reviewing the numbers to understand what they would mean for the company and its 43,000 represented employees.

"We have been clear from the start that we are not seeking a concessionary agreement," she said in the statement. "As we have done for more than 70 years, we will work constructively and collaboratively with the UAW to find solutions that will result in a contract that is competitive in the global market, responsibly addresses employee concerns and meets the needs of our customers."

A request for comment was sent to Stellantis on Tuesday concerning the UAW's fliers, Fain's livestream and the written proposal obtained by The News.

The written proposal doesn't detail potential wage increase amounts or how much pay the new tier of flexible-schedule employees would receive, but it emphasizes the need to address high rates of unplanned absenteeism in U.S. plants. Planned and unplanned absenteeism, including tardiness, was approximately 23% in 2022, according to the written proposal, which suggests in 2021 and 2022, more than 16,700 vehicles weren't built because of absenteeism. The estimate included in the write-up states that was $217 million in lost revenue.

Stellantis also suggests increasing the number of pay periods required for vacation entitlements. It seeks to eliminate the cap on use of lower-paid supplemental workers and to allow the use of temporarily laid-off workers at other plants. It includes a new quarterly "reward" for 100% shift attendance, as well.

Stellantis seeks to expand its ability to use overtime on weekdays and weekends for emergencies, critical plant status, high rates of absenteeism and to make up volume. It also seeks to bank hours to balance the use of periods when overtime is used and during periods of decreased production levels.

Stellantis' health-care costs, according to the written proposal, are expected to increase by $613 million to $1.1 billion by 2027. To alleviate that, the automaker suggests employee cost sharing possibly through premiums, copays, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums. It would incentivize participation in its wellness program and add a surcharge for spouses of employees who don't use their own employer's health insurance. Coverage of certain drugs, such as for erectile dysfunction, would be limited. The company also would enroll in the Blue Elect Plus network.

The company suggests some changes to how it contributes to retirement plans, including trading its contribution to a matching plan.

Additionally, lump sum payments for employees would be conditioned on the ratification of their local contract agreement.

The proposal doesn't mention the idled Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois, but it requests that the moratorium on closing and selling a plant be deleted. It also would eliminate the relocation allowance plan.

Fain said Stellantis can handle the UAW's proposals, which he last week described as "audacious and ambitious." Stellantis posted a record $15.2 billion in adjusted operating income in North America in 2022 and $8.88 billion in the first half of 2023. For 2022, Stellantis workers received $14,760 in profit sharing, the most of the Detroit Three's UAW-represented employees, though supplemental workers aren't eligible to receive the checks.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares, however, has emphasized the need for the company to stay competitive since electric vehicles represent 40% more in cost to produce than their internal combustion engine counterparts.

Fain criticized Tavares' compensation. His total remuneration package in 2022 was $24.8 million, a 22% increase year-over-year, though that includes stock grants not yet vested and that will depend on the automaker's continued performance. The total was 365 times mores than the average Stellantis employee's compensation. Tavares' "actual compensation" consisting of his salary, bonus, vested stock awards and pension contribution was $15.8 million, a 13% decrease from 2021.

Stellantis is the company created in 2021 from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French rival Groupe PSA. In 2019, FCA employees represented by the UAW ratified a four-year agreement that provided 3% wage increases in two of the years and 4% lump-sum bonuses in the other two, an improved profit-sharing formula and ratification bonuses of $9,000 for full-time employees and $3,500 for supplemental workers.

Fain's livestream is reflective of the "more militant" tone the union has taken since the new administration took over in March, said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University.

"The negotiations are taking place increasingly in the public domain," he said. "The union is of the mindset that they will call out the company when it believes it has misrepresented the situation.

"It doesn’t necessarily signal anything more than that. I wouldn’t say it means they are going to target Stellantis because of this."

This year's demands from the UAW call for an immediate 20% wage raise upon ratification and a 5% raise every September from 2024 through 2027. The UAW also is seeking the reintroduction of a cost-of-living adjustment.

"My message," Fain said, "to Stellantis is very simple: Quit with the games, stop with the lies and start bargaining an agreement that actually shows value to the sacrifices made by our members."

All three contracts with the Detroit automakers are set to expire on Sept. 14, and Fain said the strike fund is in "healthy" shape.

"If things don't pick up, the Big Three companies don't start getting serious and getting down to business and resolving the membership's demands, then, come September 14th, we're gonna have to see what happens, but I don't think they're gonna be happy with it."

 

UAW demands 46% pay
hike in talks with Detroit
Three automakers

Breana Noble Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
August 9, 2023

The United Auto Workers is seeking a 46% wage increase over four years as a part of its negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers, according to a page of the union's written demands.

The proposal would be the largest pay increase in recent memory. The proposal from the Detroit-based union that represents approximately 150,000 workers making Chevrolets, Fords, Jeeps and more calls for a 20% general wage increase upon ratification of a new contract "to offset severe impact of inflation" over the past few years, according to the write-up obtained by The Detroit News.

After that, the union demands a 5% wage increase every September through the life of the agreement through 2027.

The UAW's top wage is $32.32 per hour after two 3% wage increases since 2019. The union's proposal would bring that to $47.14, nearing the $49 per hour average top rate recently achieved in a tentative agreement by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with United Parcel Service Inc.

Meanwhile, pay would be well above estimated averages of wages for workers at nonunion competitors manufacturing in the United States.

UAW President Shawn Fain on Tuesday shared an overview of the "members' demands" that called for "double-digit" wage increases, a cost-of-living allowance, pensions for all, a jobs bank-like Working Families Protection Program and more paid time off. Fain also suggested the union would fight for a 32-hour work week.

"Big Three CEOs saw their pay spike 40% on average over the last four years," Fain said on Tuesday during a Facebook livestream. "We know our members are worth the same and more."

He had picked out GM CEO Mary Barra specifically, who last year received nearly $29 million in total compensation that includes benefits, which is up roughly 34% from what she received in 2019, though her base salary remains the same at $2.1 million.

General Motors Co. posted a statement on its negotiations website on Thursday, saying it expects to increase wages of its workers, but that the UAW's full proposal risks long-term success.

"The breadth and scope of the Presidential Demands, at face value, would threaten our ability to do what’s right for the long-term benefit of the team. A fair agreement rewards our employees and also enables GM to maintain our momentum now and into the future," it reads. "We think it’s important to protect U.S. manufacturing and jobs in an industry that is dominated by non-unionized competition."

Kelli Felker, spokeswoman for Ford Motor Co., which employs the most UAW members of the Detroit Three, said in a statement that the company will work with the UAW "on creative solutions during this time when our dramatically changing industry needs a skilled and competitive workforce more than ever."

Stellantis NV earlier this week said it still was evaluating the demands and reiterated it wasn't looking for a "concessionary agreement."

Automakers typically prefer lump-sum bonuses that don't build on top of each other over the years. In the 2019 contract, they committed to 4% bonuses in the other two years when wage increases weren't provided.

Other proposals specified on the page seen by The Detroit News are wrapping in current employees without pensions into the existing pension program with credit from their hiring seniority date; expanding profit-sharing bonuses to all represented workers, including temporary employees; COLA for all represented workers; and expanding supplemental unemployment benefits on the same basis to all workers without limitation.

Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University, echoed Fain’s remarks earlier in the week, calling the wage proposal “audacious,” but “probably out of line with what the conventional expectations were.”

“The UAW has embarked on an ambitious campaign to reclaim what they believe is lost ground and to reinstate prior economic conditions that were considered during the Great Recession and bankruptcy era,” he said. “And this is a part of their new bargain, new philosophy toward a just and fair transition to electrification, and that requires higher wages, more job security and the reinstatement of certain benefits that were made in the past.

“This is a new reality, and the question is whether in this new reality they can find a path for a bold agenda of the UAW that enables the companies to remain competitive. That is an extremely difficult task.”

 

‘Revenge of the wage earner’:
Metro grocery strike part of
larger labour trend, experts say

As the strike continues, labour experts said workers are at a tipping point, with retailers reporting record profits while real wages remain stagnant and jobs are precarious.

By Megan Ogilvie Health Reporter, Santiago Arias Orozco Staff Reporter
August 7, 2023

As the strike by Metro grocery workers continued for a second day, experts said the job action is part of a larger trend of lower-wage earners pushing back against employers for better pay in industries that have in recent years seen massive gains in profits.

On Saturday, more than 3,700 front-line workers walked off the job, hitting the picket lines in front of 27 Metro stores across the GTA after voting against a tentative agreement brought forward by their union.

The tentative deal between Unifor Local 414 and Metro Inc. had included gains for employees, but workers voted against the agreement, saying they deserve more from the company.

“This is the revenge of the wage earner,” David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, told the Star on Sunday. “The first couple years of big increases in prices flowed into corporate profits, and workers were behind the 8-ball over that entire period.

“Now they are trying to claw back their lost real wages because prices are so much higher than they were in 2021.”

On Sunday, Lana Payne, Unifor’s national president, told the Star that workers have reached a tipping point with grocery retailers reporting record profits while staff see stagnating salaries and precarious benefits at a time of soaring inflation. Unifor, the country’s largest private-sector union, also represents workers at the Star.

“Grocery retailers are creating the conditions for workers to say enough is enough,” she said. “We deserve a share of this pie. We deserve to have decent work. We deserve to have decent pay.”

While not all industries that employ lower-wage workers have benefited from the “inflationary period of the pandemic,” the grocery industry has profited from higher prices, said Macdonald, noting the food and beverage industry has seen margins roughly double from what they were before COVID-19.

He said Canada’s tight labour market gives workers more confidence to fight for higher wages through collective action because they know they are harder to replace.

“Workers have more power than they would have had a couple years ago,” he said. “One of the ways you utilize that power is to try for higher wages. We’re seeing that as an example here.”

Grocery chains across the country saw their profits rise during the pandemic, and workers say they deserve a fair share after working on the front lines. In the second quarter of this year, Metro earned $218.8 million, a 10 per cent rise from the same period a year prior. Metro also saw its sales grow to $4.55 billion in the quarter, a 6.6 per cent rise year over year.

Payne said Metro staff are standing up for better work conditions at their 27 stores — not just for themselves, but for the grocery sector nationwide. She noted Metro is the first major grocery retailer to negotiate with Unifor during this bargaining cycle, setting a benchmark for other upcoming negotiations.

Metro workers are looking for “better wage standards,” she said, as well as improvements in a pension plan and securing a larger quota of full-time employment contracts.

“This strike gives us an opportunity to turn the trends in the sector to growth out of precarity in employment, to build better jobs across stores,” said Payne, calling it a “defining moment for grocery store workers in Canada.”

The strike by full- and part-time workers at 27 Metro stores in Toronto, Brampton, Brantford, Milton, Mississauga, Newmarket, Oakville and Orangeville is the largest Unifor strike to date. Workers walked off the job shortly after midnight on Friday after rejecting a tentative collective agreement in a series of regional votes.

On Saturday, Metro Ontario Inc. said the grocery retailer is “extremely disappointed” with the decision of its unionized employees, adding a “fair and equitable agreement” was struck over the past weeks, meeting the needs of front-line workers while securing the company’s competitiveness.

Metro said it “worked constructively with the union and the employees’ bargaining committee” and that the agreement provided “significant increases for our employees over the four years of the collective agreement in addition to improved pension and benefits.”

The company said the agreement built on “working conditions that are already among the highest in the industry which were negotiated with this union.”

Barry Eidlin, an associate professor of sociology at McGill University and an expert on labour and social movements, said it’s notable that Metro workers rejected a tentative collective agreement brought forward by its union leaders. He points to the rejection as a sign that the current job action is “bottom-up, worker-led organizing,” part of a wider trend in the labour movement.

Recent job actions in various professions across Canada and the United States show workers are “starting to fight back” on a range of issues, including higher wages, greater job security, protection from automation and health and safety risks, Eidlin said.

Along with Metro workers, Eidlin points to the strike action at B.C. ports and, in the U.S., Hollywood actors and writers on the picket lines, as well as the recent labour fight at United Parcel Service (UPS).

“There’s a more militant movement amongst workers that we’re starting to see,” said Eidlin.

In a number of industries, Canadian workers have seen seeing hourly wage gains below the rate of inflation, meaning “they were taking real pay cuts month after month for two years,” Macdonald said.

“For the last five months, they’ve been above the rate of inflation when it comes to hourly wage gains. They are clawing their way back from the impact that inflation has had on their wages.”

Macdonald said the trend of workers fighting for higher wages, better job conditions and greater security will continue.

“It’s not just that they’re treading water, right? They’ve been pushed under, and they’re trying to get back to the surface,” he said.

“Workers realize that employers are making more, that their wages aren’t keeping pace with costs, and so they are looking to increase those wages, trying to get back to even with respect to where they stood in 2019.”

 

Ford to Seek Flexible EV
Production in Contract
Talks With UAW

Keith Naughton, Bloomberg News
August 5, 2023

(Bloomberg) -- Ford Motor Co. will ask the United Auto Workers union for flexibility to reduce electric-vehicle production in case the US market for battery-powered cars lags behind expectations.

Negotiations open Friday for a new four-year contract for Ford’s more than 57,000 US hourly workers. And talks are expected to be contentious as the union seeks pay raises, a restoration of cost-of-living increases and job guarantees while the industry shifts to less labor intensive electric-vehicle production.

New UAW President Shawn Fain has said he is going to “war” against the Detroit automakers and accused them of engaging in a “race to the bottom” in the EV transition with factories that will employ fewer workers earning lower wages. This week, Fain eschewed the ceremonial handshake-across-the-bargaining-table with CEOs that has marked the opening of auto contract talks for decades, saying he’ll do so “when they come to the table with a deal.”

Ford will seek leeway in its $50 billion plan to boost EV production 15-fold to 2 million models a year by the end of 2026. 

The company wants the ability to move workers to factories building the most in-demand models, whether they’re powered by electricity or traditional internal combustion, according to Ford officials who requested anonymity discussing internal matters. The current union contract restricts Ford’s ability to flex production, they said.

Ford has reason for caution. The US has been the slowest major market to adopt EVs, lagging behind China and Europe. Electric-vehicle sales growth in the world’s biggest economy slowed to just under 50% in the first half of the year, down from 71% during the same period in 2022, as inventories of battery-powered models ballooned.

Ford’s US EV sales fell 2.8% during the second quarter as it overhauled a Mexican factory to boost output of the Mustang Mach-E, while sales of the F-150 Lightning plug-in pickup grew just 4%.

Ford is hoping to convince the union to give it more flexibility by noting that it employs as many as 14,000 more US hourly workers than either General Motors Co. or Stellantis NV, parent company of Chrysler and Jeep. Having the biggest US hourly workforce costs Ford an extra $1 billion a year compared to its domestic competitors, the officials said.

Ford’s labor costs, including wages and benefits, are $64 an hour, compared to $55 an hour at the non-union assembly plants of international automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. That creates a labor cost gap of $900 million with the international automakers, the people said. Labor costs at Tesla Inc. are even lower at $45-to-$50-an-hour. 

Ford also plans to pledge to bring more EV manufacturing in-house to help offset the lower labor requirements, the people said. Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley has said controlling more elements of EV and battery production will give Ford a competitive advantage.

Last month, Farley penned a Detroit Free Press opinion piece defending Ford’s hourly compensation, which he wrote comes to $112,000 in annual pay and benefits. That elicited a sharp response from UAW Vice President Chuck Browning, who accused Farley of misleading the public and “utilizing old, musty and ineffective tactics.”

Farley is under pressure to reverse $3 billion in projected EV losses this year and achieve an ambitious goal of generating an 8% return, before interest and taxes, on battery-powered models by the end of 2026. Wall Street is skeptical that can be accomplished while boosting EV production to a level one analyst called “crazy high.” 

Keeping costs in check is key to Farley’s ambitions. Since last summer when Farley said, “we absolutely have too many people,” Ford has cut thousands of salaried workers in the US and Europe.

New Factories

Meanwhile, the automaker also is adding thousands of production jobs at new battery factories in Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan. But it is not yet clear if those new workers will be represented by a union or how much they will earn.

Ford’s highest paid production worker now makes $32 an hour, which the company says exceeds the pay of 90% of factory workers in America. 

The UAW blasted Ford for taking a $9.2 billion US government loan to help finance three battery factories it’s building with South Korea’s SK On in Kentucky and Tennessee, calling it a “massive” handout to a venture creating “low-road jobs.”

The contract covering Ford’s hourly workers expires in mid-September.

 

Jerry Dias commentary: For
Detroit 3 contract talks, the
pedal is about to hit the metal

Promises made but not kept during collective bargaining will be analyzed and criticized by those who are currently your biggest cheerleaders

Jerry Dias
BLOOMBERG
August 4, 2023

The automotive industry has long been central to a strong North American middle class. That positioning is about to face a major test as the Detroit Three begin negotiations with the UAW in the U.S. and Unifor in Canada.

Negotiations will be led by a variety of personalities — some with little or no bargaining experience and others who will strive to fix decades of inequity in one shot.

These negotiations will show the true colours of union leaders.

Both the UAW and Unifor have new leadership, with the UAW electing Shawn Fain as president in March and Unifor electing Lana Payne as president in August 2022.

Fain was elected as a member of the UAW Members United reform group and has promised a more militant approach to negotiations, definitively declaring that he will end two-tier wages, reintroduce cost of living adjustments, win significant increases for current retirees and eliminate alternative work schedules.

Two-tier wages were first bargained by the UAW with Delphi in 2003. Wages and benefits were cut by US$10 an hour, amounting to concessions of 30 to 40 per cent. This trend flowed through the auto parts industry and quickly made its way into Detroit Three bargaining on both sides of the border. The cancer that was caused still exists today.

Are we entering an opportunity to correct this wrong or simply listening to populist sloganeering from a newly elected union president?

PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT?

Populist slogans are nothing new and know no political affiliation, but if you're going to talk that way, you better deliver.

Promises made but not kept during collective bargaining will be analyzed and criticized by those who are currently your biggest cheerleaders.

While we wait to see how the negotiations unfold and whether the likely strike materializes, here's what I can tell you from experience:

  • First, there are experienced negotiators on both sides of the border.

The most seasoned negotiator for the UAW is Chuck Browning, the current vice-president originally from the shop floor at Ford Motor Co. For Unifor, Shane Wark, the assistant to the president and originally from Ford, will be heavily relied on as the senior officer with the most collective bargaining experience and knowledge of the industry.

The UAW has staff department heads who will lead bargaining with the respective companies. Unifor has rank-and-file leaders to head up bargaining with their employers with energy and determination that can only be attained through shop floor and bargaining experience.

  • Second, the macro environment has shifted.

The Detroit Three have fewer tools in their arsenal than they did in 2003 or even when they last negotiated a deal following a 40-day strike in 2019. Previously, companies used contract negotiations to whipsaw U.S. workers against Canadian workers. There was also always the thinly veiled threat of moving auto jobs to Mexico, where labour standards were much looser.

The USMCA began to fix this mess. I was honoured to be a part of the Canadian labour negotiation team and was locked in Ottawa for the critical last 72 hours as the deal was finalized.

During those last three days, the sticking point, and the issue I would not back down on, was automotive. When I buried my feet in cement, I purposefully left myself no wiggle room.

I am proud that now, under the new free trade agreement, 40 to 45 per cent of auto parts must be made by workers earning at least US$16 an hour, and 75 per cent of the content must be North American, up from 62.5 per cent. These provisions will save Canadian and American jobs and rob the Detroit Three of one of the most powerful levers they had.

WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE

So, what does success look like heading into the upcoming negotiations?

To me, it looks like the elimination of the two-tiered wage system, the reintroduction of cost-of-living adjustments, significant pension increases for current retirees, and the elimination of alternative work schedules. While this might seem like a lot to ask for, I want to remind readers of two things.

First, auto workers deserve it. Second, the Detroit Three can afford it.

GM profited almost US$10 billion in 2022 and Stellantis' profits jumped 26 per cent to a staggering US$18 billion. Profits for all of the Detroit Three remained strong through the first six months of 2023 — GM, Ford and Stellantis generated a combined US$20.6 billion in net income over the period, as Automotive News reported here.

Shrewd negotiators will often manage expectations, but in this case wiggle room cannot be accepted. In 2020, bargaining in Canada included the reopening of the GM plant in Oshawa and new electric vehicle production for Ford in Oakville to avoid a complete closure. These were hills to die on.

The fact is that these companies can afford to properly compensate workers and treat them with respect; now all that's left to do is go out and fight for it. And that is a hill worth dying on.

Jerry Dias is the retired president of Unifor, the largest private-sector union in Canada.

 

Wave of strikes in Canada could
cause ‘knock-on effect’ in other
sectors, experts warn

By Uday Rana & Anne Gaviola  
Global News
August 3, 2023

While a new tentative deal may have been reached between the two sides involved in a labour dispute impacting thousands of B.C. port workers, experts say Canada may not have seen the last of strikes this year.

From the B.C. port strike to the recent Greater Toronto Area Metro workers’ strike to the writers’ strike in the U.S., rising costs of living, high corporate profits and dissatisfaction among workers may all be contributing to collective action across sectors.

Simon Black, associate professor of labour studies at Brock University, said that while these present-day examples may not be at the same level as the strike waves of the 1970s and the late 1940s, all signs point towards large-scale dissatisfaction.

“Workers have seen their real wages, their purchasing power, eroding a great deal under this inflationary period. And yet, large corporations have made record gains, while working class households have struggled. I think there’s good evidence that the corporate profits and not workers’ wages have contributed disproportionately to inflation,” Black said.

Moshe Lander, economics professor at Concordia University, said the latest strike waves are driven by a desire to recover some of the lost purchasing power.

“You’re having, essentially, a showdown that’s dealing with how we recover the lost money or the redistribution of that money during high inflation.”

For 13 days this month beginning July 1, some 7,400 port workers at 30 ports in B.C. walked off the job, stalling billions worth of cargo from moving in or out at some of Canada’s busiest terminals. A tentative deal was reached late Sunday night, which labour minister Seamus O’Regan said would mean “long-term stability”.

“We know sometimes labour negotiations can be extremely difficult, but every step of the way, Minister O’Regan has been there to encourage people at the table to make sure that we’re getting towards a solution,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said while speaking to reporters on Monday.

“And yes, there have been concerns and worries about how things are unfolding over the past days, but we now have a situation where there is another offer, there is another potential deal on the table, and we’re, as always, hopeful that that negotiation at the bargaining table continues to be at the centre of what everyone needs to continue to do.”

On Friday, Metro grocery stores across the Greater Toronto Area shut down as thousands of grocery store employees went on strike. Unifor, the largest private-sector union, says some 3,700 front-line store employees walked off the job just after midnight.

It says members of Local 414 rejected a tentative labour deal reached last week, but provided few other details. In a statement on Friday, Metro said it was “extremely disappointed that its unionized employees at 27 Metro locations across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) rejected the agreement reached last week and decided to go on strike effective July 29, even though the union bargaining committee unanimously recommended the agreement to its members.”

This recent wave of strikes come as Canadian workers are feeling the pinch of higher costs.

A PwC survey released on Monday found 42 per cent of Canadian workers say that while their household can pay its bills, they have nothing left over for savings.

Another 14 per cent say their household struggles to pay its bills.

“Work pressures are also acute, with only 22% saying their workload was often or usually manageable in the last 12 months. Many of these issues have been ongoing for some time, but an additional force of disruption emerged this year with the very rapid rise of generative artificial intelligence,” the report said.

In addition to cost of living concerns, Lander said the Screen Actors Guild strike in the United States is an illustration of how anxieties around the use of artificial intelligence could also be contributing to labour action.

Black said workers’ strike action will continue unless economic conditions change.

“I think if these conditions persist — tight labour markets and inflation — workers are going to continue to make demands of their employers, unionized workers, and likely exercise their right to strike. Because they are going to have to play catch–up now.”

He said purchasing power of the working class has eroded so much that easing inflation may not help, either.

“Even if we see a loosening of labour markets, even if we continue to see inflation decline, we’ll continue to see workers willing … to go on strike to push their demands.”

The latest reading in Canada showed overall inflation cooled to 2.8 per cent in June, marking a substantial drop from the peak of 8.1 per cent for the same month last year.

However, some measures, such as grocery prices, remained high.

Black said that while only employees in unionized workplaces are likely to strike, all workers across the Canadian economy are feeling the pinch of rising costs of living.

Employers, however, have asked striking unions to not be unreasonable in their demands. In April, during the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) strike, then-Treasury Board president Mona Fortier had said PSAC should be “prepared to compromise” to reach a deal with the federal government because it can’t “write a blank cheque” to them.

According to Black, workers may not respond well to such appeals.

“Workers aren’t dumb,” he said. “They know the record profits of the likes of Loblaws and Metro.”

Lander said the pandemic only exacerbated this feeling of inequality.

“Having come out of COVID, workers are angry because it’s now unacceptable that shareholders who were able to passively sit at home and not have to put themselves on the front line of the years of COVID and what that could do, they’re saying, well, now I want that share for me.”

Loblaw, which was accused of profiteering off of high food inflation, defended itself in February.

“Retail prices are not growing faster than costs, the company is not taking advantage of inflation to drive profit,” Loblaw CFO Richard Dufresne had said in an earnings call in February. Earlier this month, while reporting its latest quarterly earnings, the grocer blamed high supplier costs for rising food prices.

High food inflation had little impact on the profits of Metro Inc., which rose by 10.4 per cent last quarter.

Rising cost of living is not the only factor making public anger worse. Lander said that record temperatures this summer aren’t helping. “People tend to be angrier, tend to be more frustrated easily, tend to be more exhausted during periods of extreme heat,” he said.

Black and Lander agreed that strikes in one sector could have a domino effect on other sectors.

“If a public sector union can negotiate a 12-per cent wage increase over three years and another union goes to their employers and say, I want the 12 per cent over three or I want more than 12 per cent over three, how does the employer turn around and say, no, you can’t have that when another union’s already agreed to it?,” Lander said.

Black added: “This is what happens when we see a strike action. We see workers learning from other workers.”

“There’s a knock-on effect that other workers see that and learn from that. And so yes, we can see this kind of this kind of activity spread throughout the economy, to different sectors.”

 

UAW president reveals
'the members' demands'
for Detroit Three talks

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
August 2, 2023

A 32-hour work week, the ability to strike when a plant closes and paid volunteer work in the event of a closure were among the negotiating priorities emphasized by United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain on Tuesday during a Facebook livestream.

The requests are "the members' demands" to the Detroit Three, he says. Making public to UAW members those demands being brought this week to General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV is another example of the administration's break from tradition in pursuit of greater involvement by the rank-and-file and more transparency following a years-long corruption scandal. Previously, Fain said, priorities were brought forward privately with the companies and dubbed "the president's demands" or "the economic demands."

"More often than not, they would be presented to the company by the president behind closed doors," Fain said during the livestream. "Your elected national negotiators would be cut out of the conversation and cut out of the process. That was my experience as a national negotiator twice. I was incredibly frustrated to spend weeks bargaining with the company and subcommittees just to have the president's office come in later and cut a backroom deal without us.

"So, those days are gone, and gone with those days is the false belief that union contracts are solely won by the president. They're not. They're won by the members. They are won by all of us, organizing together around the issues that unite us and collectively demanding what we are owed."

The list of 10 demands reiterated much of what officials have been saying for months leading up to the talks that kicked off last month ahead of the contracts expiring Sept. 14: eliminate tiers on wages and benefits, restore the cost-of-living allowance and pensions and retiree medical benefits for all workers.

Fain emphasized negotiators would call for "double-digit" pay raises in light of the Detroit Three CEOs' total compensation growing 40% over the past four years. He said all temporary workers should be rolled over to full-time, and their use limited in the future.

Fain slammed the automakers for the increased and record profits posted in the first half of 2023 on top of the nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars they've made over the previous decade. The companies have emphasized their need for capital to invest the billions of dollars needed for their electrified future. They also do provide tens of thousands in profit-sharing bonuses to full-time employees, though not temporary or supplemental workers, on an annual basis. This spring alone, those bonuses were $14,760 at Stellantis, $12,750 at GM and $9,176 at Ford.

"The big question everyone's going to ask is: 'How much is this going to cost?" Fain said. "But if this awful pandemic told us anything it's that there's more to life than just work. It's not enough to just survive. We should all have a right to thrive."

To that end, Fain said the union would fight for more paid time off. While responding to questions from the online chat, he even said he would seek a shorter work week of 32 hours instead of 40.

"Our members are working 60, 70, even 80 hours a week just to make ends meet — that's not a living," he said. "That's barely surviving, and it needs to stop."

Additionally, the demands include the right to strike over plant closures. Fain also proposed a Working Family Protection Program, which would require the companies to pay UAW members for volunteer work if the automaker closes the plant in their community.

"The Big Three have closed 65 plants over the last 20 years," Faith said. "That's been as devastating for our own towns, as it has been for us. We have the right to defend our communities from the corporate greed that's killing so many cities and towns."

Stellantis in February indefinitely idled the Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Illinois. Fain said Vice President Rich Boyer and other leaders in the Stellantis Department are "standing strong in that fight."

The union introduced the demands on Tuesday to Stellantis, and they will be presented to GM and Ford later this week, Fain said. Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson in a statement described the meeting as "very productive" with the demands being consistent with priorities previously outlined.

"We will continue to review them to understand how they align with our Company proposals and where we can find common ground," Tinson said. "Stellantis and the UAW have a shared interest in these negotiations: securing the future of our 43,000 employees and their families. We have been clear from the start that we are not seeking a concessionary agreement. As we have done for more than 70 years, we will work constructively and collaboratively with the UAW to find solutions that will result in a contract that is competitive in the global market, responsibly addresses employee concerns and meets the needs of our customers."

 

Ford recalls 870K F-150 pickups
in US because parking brakes
can turn on unexpectedly

Associated Press
August 1, 2023

Dearborn — Ford is recalling more than 870,000 newer F-150 pickup trucks in the U.S. because the electric parking brakes can turn on unexpectedly.

The recall covers certain pickups from the 2021 through 2023 model years with single exhaust systems. Ford's F-Series pickups are the top-selling vehicles in the U.S.

The company says in documents posted by government safety regulators Friday that a rear wiring bundle can come in contact with the rear axle housing. That can chafe the wiring and cause a short circuit, which can turn on the parking brake without action from the driver, increasing the risk of a crash.

Drivers may see a parking brake warning light and a warning message on the dashboard.

Ford says in documents that it has 918 warranty claims and three field reports of wire chafing in North America. Of these, 299 indicated unexpected parking brake activation, and 19 of these happened while the trucks were being driven.

The company says it doesn't know of any crashes or injuries caused by the problem.

Dealers will inspect the rear wiring harness. If protective tape is worn through, the harness will be replaced. If the tape isn't worn, dealers will install a protective tie strap and tape wrap.

Owners will be notified by letter starting Sept. 11.

 

Ford increases guidance as
Q2 net income soars; EV
losses expected to grow

Anna Fifelski
The Detroit News
July 31, 2023

Ford Motor Co. increased its full-year guidance by $2 billion in adjusted operating income after the Dearborn automaker on Thursday reported $1.9 billion net income in the second quarter of 2023.

That profit is nearly triple what it was a year ago. Ford increased its full-year guidance for adjusted operating profits to between $11 billion and $12 billion from $9 billion and $11 billion from improvements in supply chain, higher volumes, new Super Duty trucks and lower commodity costs. Additionally, projections of adjusted free cash flow increased to between $6.5 billion and $7 billion from about $6 billion.

"I hope that we can be boringly predictable," CEO Jim Farley said during an earnings call, "when it comes to execution and delivering financials that are extremely ambitious, and dynamic, and creating the Ford of the future."

But Ford predicted a greater loss from its EV business than expected. The company says it now expects to lose $4.5 billion from its Ford Model e division in 2023 after previously saying it would lose $3 billion. In the second quarter, the segment posted a $1.08 billion operating loss on revenue of $1.8 billion for the quarter.

The automaker now says it expects to reach an EV run rate of 600,000 vehicles in 2024. It previously said it would reach production of 2 million vehicle in 2026, but John Lawler, Ford's chief financial officer, said it no longer is committed to that timeline.

"We know that (EV) intention is good, because intention is about 20 to 30% of customers, but the take rate's only about 7%," he said on a call. "And so that tells us that they're too expensive. There's a pricing issue."

That tracks with Ford's decision earlier this month to lower the price on its F-150 Lightning pickup truck. It finished plant upgrades at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn for increased capacity, and battery material has decreased.

The lowest-price Pro model's suggested retail price fell to $49,995 from $59,974, though its remains above the $39,974 price at which it launched in April 2022 following a few price hikes. The Lariat 510A model's price declined to $69,995 from $76,974.

Ford, though, still is targeting an 8% operating profit margin for its EV business by the end of 2026, and a 10% adjusted operating profit margin for the company as a whole. Adjusted EBIT margins fell to 8.4% from 9.3% in the second quarter.

The financial results were on quarterly revenue of $45 billion, up 12% year-over-year. Ford's adjusted earnings before interest and taxes increased to $3.8 billion, up 2.7% from a year ago.

Ford's $3.7 billion net income for the first half of the year, up from a loss of $2.4 billion in 2022, puts it below its crosstown rivals. GM on Tuesday reported net income for the first half of 2023 was up 7% year-over-year at $4.9 billion, while it achieved $2.5 billion in the second quarter. Stellantis NV, which only reports earnings semiannually, posted a net profit of $12.1 billion, up 37% year-over-year for the first six months of the year.

The financial results come after executives of the Detroit automakers started bargaining earlier this month with the United Auto Workers for a new contract. Their current contracts are set to expire Sept. 14, and UAW leaders are seeking to recoup benefits lost during the Great Recession and bankruptcies such as cost-of-living allowances, eliminate wage tiers and secure jobs in the electrification transition.

The automaker listed the negotiations as a potential headwind for its increased guidance. Lawler noted the potential for the cost of a ratification bonus once an agreement is approved.

"There will be costs that will be associated with a new contract, and that's about as far as we're going to go," he said. "But I think it would be inappropriate for us not to acknowledge that there will be costs associated with the contract. We know that we have to plan for that as part of our business."

Operating profits for Ford Pro, its commercial products and services unit, nearly tripled from a year ago to $2.39 billion on revenue of $15.6 billion. Ford expects its operating profits to be nearly $8 billion in 2023, up from the previously stated $6 billion.

The operating profits from Ford Blue, the automaker's hybrid and fossil fuel-powered business, was $2.31 billion on revenue of $25 billion after the segment lost money last year. The company says it will contribute about $8 billion in operating profits this year, up from $7 billion.

Ford shares were falling 1.2% to $13.56 after closing at $13.73 on Thursday after it posted its results.

 

Profits at Detroit Three
set up perfect storm
for UAW negotiations

Breana Noble Anna Fifelski
The Detroit News
July 30, 2023

The Detroit Three's nearly $21 billion combined profits in the first half of 2023, reported this week, are likely to intensify demands by the United Auto Workers in national contract talks this summer.

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it made $3.7 billion in net income in the first six months of the year, up from a loss of $2.4 billion in 2022. That included $1.9 billion in net income in the second quarter, nearly triple the results from the April-to-June quarter last year. As a result, the Dearborn automaker increased its full-year guidance by $2 billion in adjusted operating income, but it increased the timeline on its EV production goals and estimated losses on its EV business for 2023 would be $4.5 billion, up from $3 billion.

That came after General Motors Co. posted $4.9 billion in earnings, its best since 2010, prompting it to increase its earnings guidance by $1 billion for the year. Stellantis NV — the maker of Jeep SUVs, Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles — recorded its best first half since its creation in 2021 with a $12.1 billion net profit.

Mounting auto profits are quickly becoming a line of attack by UAW President Shawn Fain, who calls the quarter of a trillion dollars in profit made by the three companies between 2013 and 2022 "obscene." More of those dollars, he says, should have gone into the pockets of workers.

And now, it's time for the companies to give employees their due in the form of job security, the elimination of years-long grow-in period to the top wage, cost-of-living allowances, pensions for those without them and comparable compensation for workers at joint-venture electric vehicle battery plants.

In a statement, Fain said: "Like every Big Three automaker, Ford is thriving. These eye-popping numbers come on top of a decade of massive profits. The Big Three made a quarter-trillion dollars in North American profits over the last decade, but they denied UAW members our fair share."

After seeing the financial results, workers say they are willing to take action to get it.

"I kind of chuckled because they can’t cry poor with $12 billion for the first half of the year," said John Barbosa, 52, an 18-year UAW member and a millwright apprentice at Stellantis' Toledo Assembly Complex in Ohio. "It makes me a little angry, and definitely, definitely fuels my will to stand and fight for what we have earned.

"They've tried to insinuate that our demands may be a little too aggressive and that they need to make sure they’re competitive. Well, I don’t see anybody competing with Stellantis right now when it comes to first-half-of-the-year profits."

Automakers say their employees do share in the wealth through annual profit-sharing checks that were $14,760 at Stellantis, $12,750 at GM and $9,176 at Ford from 2022's results. Temporary and supplemental employees, however, aren't eligible for the payouts.

"There's a direct connection between their hard work and our success," GM CEO Mary Barra said on an earnings call this week, "and we have a great future ahead of us."

'Herculean' investments

Meanwhile, the companies are undergoing their largest transformation since the advent of the moving assembly line more than a century ago, with batteries, EVs and other zero-emission vehicles claiming growing shares of their model lineups.

"These numbers indicate that the companies are making a decent profit, but they need to be put in the context of No. 1, they're corporate-wide and the sheer cost of electrification," said Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University. In the United States, automakers "have agreed between now and 2026 to commit $120 billion to electrification. If anything, that number is likely to increase. The investments they still have to make are still Herculean in scope."

GM's operating income was $6.77 billion in North America for the first half of 2023, while Stellantis posted a $8.88 billion record adjusted operating income. Ford no longer breaks out earnings by geographic region.

Ford is spending $50 billion by 2026 on EVs. By 2025, Stellantis has committed to spend about $35.5 billion on electrification and software. GM has said it will spend between $11 billion and $12 billion in capital expenditures this year alone, which is mostly on EVs.

Those investments and having comparable costs are needed in order for workers to keep sharing in profits, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said this week during a roundtable with reporters. Executives have emphasized the need for improvements in efficiency, productivity, quality and absenteeism.

"We also want to make sure that two or three years down the road, we'll be able, on a midterm basis, to continue to pay those performance bonuses by protecting the competitiveness of our operations and making sure that our operations continue to be highly profitable," he said, "so that those returns to the employees can be a reality, not only on a short-term basis but also on a midterm basis for that to happen. We need to address a certain number of operational issues that we have right now."

In addition to transformation expenses, there are other claimants on the profits, Masters noted, from suppliers under pressure as their costs have increased and to dealers to keep pricing competitive for customers.

Plus, the companies will be negotiating with the Canadian autoworkers union simultaneously when talks with Unifor kick off on Aug. 10. The contracts with the UAW expire Sept. 14, and Unifor's expire four days later.

Ford noted contract negotiations could represent a headwind for achieving its upped guidance for the year, with John Lawler, its chief financial officer, specifically mentioning the traditional ratification bonuses provided when a new agreement is made.

"There will be costs that will be associated with a new contract, and that's about as far as we're going to go," he said. "But I think it would be inappropriate for us not to acknowledge that there will be costs associated with the contract. We know that we have to plan for that as part of our business."

Automakers, with their strong guidance, though, did share a positive picture on demand as the U.S. Commerce Department reported the country's economy grew to a 2.4% annual growth rate in the second quarter, despite the Federal Reserve increasing interest rates. Stellantis says it has more than four months of production on order.

The automakers also seek to make their investors happy. Stellantis says it expects to complete an already-underway $1.7 billion share buyback program before the end of the year, which Fain criticized as robbery from workers.

Non-union competition

But car makers with the highest valuations, like EV maker Tesla Inc., don't have unions with which it has to bargain. Neither do the Detroit Three's foreign competitors manufacturing in the United States. Estimates suggest a $9 per hour labor cost difference on average as is. Now, with Ford losing money on EVs — and them representing a 40% increased production cost over the traditional internal combustion engines produced, according to Stellantis — those differences can burden efforts to offer affordable EVs to would-be customers.

"It could throw a fly in the ointment," Dan Ives, an analyst at wealth advisory firm Wedbush Securities Inc., said about the negotiations. "It doesn't feel like the UAW is going into this drinking champagne and eating strawberries with whipped cream. They're in for a battle. There’s a massive path to success ahead, but the UAW needs to play ball with the likes of GM, Ford and Stellantis for this to all be a happy ending to the movie."

Still, raking in billions of dollars in record profit could buoy public support for the UAW, as unions already experience their highest favorability — 71% — since 1965 amid an increase in union action, according to a Gallup survey. Combine that with a president who says he is the most union-friendly in U.S. history, low unemployment and high inflation, and the UAW may have the ingredients to make its demands.

It's worked for others: On Tuesday, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced a tentative agreement offering existing full- and part-time employees at United Parcel Service Inc. $2.75 more per hour in 2023, and $7.50 more per hour over the length of the contract. That will make full-time workers' average top rate $49 per hour, and give part-timers a 48% average total wage increase over the next five years.

"It's not business as usual. If it's not overwhelmingly a great contract, it might not be ratified," said Art Wheaton, director of Labor Studies at Cornell University. The record profits "make it really difficult for the automakers to cry poverty. You can afford it. It can hurt your competitiveness, but you can't say you can't afford it. You may not want to pay it, but yes, you can."

For now, though, Ford says it's losing money on EVs. It's also elongated its timeline for increasing production of all-electric vehicles. F-150 Lightning had been down for five weeks this winter because of a battery issue. The automaker now expects to reach a 600,000 run rate in 2024, and Lawler, the CFO, said the company is no longer committed to 2026 to hit 2 million produced EVs.

"We know that (EV) intention is good because intention is about 20 to 30% of customers, but the take rate's only about 7%," he said on a call with reporters. "And so that tells us that they're too expensive. There's a pricing issue."

That tracks with Ford's decision earlier this month to lower the price on its F-150 Lightning pickup truck. It finished plant upgrades at its Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn for increased capacity to a run rate of 150,000, about double what it does now.

The lowest-priced Pro model's suggested retail price fell to $49,995 from $59,974, though its remains above the $39,974 price at which it launched in April 2022 following a few price hikes. The Lariat 510A model's price declined to $69,995 from $76,974.

CEO Jim Farley also noted that it will have reduced the cost of building materials for the Mustang Mach-E SUV by $5,000 by the end of the year since its launch in 2020.

"It may take a little longer, but we're in really good shape, because we have our first-generation customers out there, and the one thing that we do know is that EVs are loyal to the brands that they join," Lawler said.

Added CEO Jim Farley: "We're seeing that the second EV purchase is much more loyal to the brand in these developed EV markets, so we're glad that we have all these customers in our digital-physical ecosystem."

'Boringly predictable'

Still, Ford increased its full-year guidance for adjusted operating profits to between $11 billion and $12 billion from $9 billion and $11 billion from improvements in supply chain, higher volumes, new Super Duty trucks and lower commodity costs. Additionally, projections of adjusted free cash flow increased to between $6.5 billion and $7 billion from about $6 billion.

Outside of Ford's EV business, operating profits for Ford Pro, its commercial products and services unit, nearly tripled from a year ago to $2.39 billion on revenue of $15.6 billion. Ford expects its operating profits to be nearly $8 billion in 2023, up from the previously stated $6 billion.

The operating profits from Ford Blue, the automaker's hybrid and fossil fuel-powered business, was $2.31 billion on revenue of $25 billion after the segment lost money last year. The company says it will contribute about $8 billion in operating profits this year, up from $7 billion.

Both segments also were profitable in each region in which they operate, Farley added.

"I hope that we can be boringly predictable," CEO Jim Farley said during an earnings call, "when it comes to the execution and delivering financials that are extremely ambitious, and dynamic, and creating the Ford of the future."

 

Did the Bank of Canada just push
Canada over the tipping point?

July 21, 2023

Interest rates can’t fix housing costs and they won’t take one bite out of food inflation. So why is the Bank of Canada continuing down this path?

It was the news Canadians were dreading. As the Bank of Canada raised the interest rate to 5 per cent, hearts sank and anxiety rose for workers and their families.

The hike will prove to be a disaster. It will not solve the affordability crisis and it will not have an influence on inflation. Instead, it will continue to force housing costs even higher and will not address the causes of the rising price of food (ahem, profiteering) at all. But it will cause hardship.

Food and shelter alone drove two-thirds of the inflation consumers experienced in May. Food and housing. Essentials for Canadians.

Statistics Canada recently reported that mortgage interest costs were the largest single contributor to inflation in June. How does raising the interest rate a 10th time in a year and a half solve this? It doesn’t — it makes it worse.

A quarter of homeowners in Canada hold a variable rate mortgage. Thousands more have recently renewed or will renew their mortgage in the next few years, increasing mortgage payments dramatically. Many mortgage holders are landlords, leasing out their properties to renters. They will take the opportunity to raise rents to cover the additional cost. Again, driving up prices even further.

Interest rates can’t fix housing costs and they won’t take one bite out of food inflation. So why is the Bank of Canada continuing down this path?

The only answer is reliance on old orthodoxy that believes forcing pain on the working class through slow job and wage growth (eventually leading to job loss and a recession) and unemployment is the only way to deliver a healthy exit from this inflationary period.

Unfortunately, this orthodoxy is dead wrong. And without a course correction workers are going to pay the price.

The aim of interest rate hikes is to slow economic growth. What does that mean? Higher unemployment, slower job growth or, worst case scenario, a recession that causes extensive job loss and leaves permanent scars.

The Bank of Canada says the underlying causes of the remaining inflation are low-unemployment and “high” wage growth, households having too much savings (and using it) and population growth (which causes demand for housing to increase).

In the same media conference, they say the result of these underlying pressures is that corporations are still raising their prices too often. And yet, the Bank refuses to tackle the big elephant in the room: corporate profiteering.

Well, I have news for orthodox thinkers. Each and every time a business raises their prices they are making a decision. And many of those decisions have resulted in higher profit margins.

Profits as a share of GDP have averaged 21 per cent since the start of the pandemic and profit margins are higher too. At the same time, workers have lost purchasing power and after adjusting for inflation, wages have just not kept pace.

Crises result in opportunities and there were so many opportunities that could have been taken up coming out of lockdowns and getting back to more regular life. They included the opportunity to build a more equitable and resilient world. Instead, policymakers at all levels are allowing corporations to get away with their own opportunism, siphoning more of workers hard earned cash for their own bank accounts.

And now the Bank of Canada is diverting that hard earned cash and making life even more unaffordable.

If the Bank of Canada continues down this path and federal and provincial governments continue to avoid taking action in their own spheres of responsibility, the ultimate result will be higher income and wealth inequality. Higher profit margins will be normalized and many workers will think they are asking for too much when they demand an income that allows them to survive, much less thrive. What a joke.

In the beginning of this rate cycle, the public was led to believe that the Bank was attempting to achieve a soft landing. No one believes that now.

Inflation fell to 3.4 per cent in May. Unemployment ticked up to 5.4 per cent. The job vacancy rate is easing and wage growth is slowing. Canada doesn’t need more unemployment or slower wage growth to solve inflation. We need more housing and it needs to be affordable. We need living wages and secure full-time jobs for people to thrive.

We need policymakers at every level to address the real causes of excess/persistent inflation — profiteering, financialization, undersupply and supply chain bottlenecks. Without that we’re all left worse off regardless of the level of inflation.

Lana Payne is Unifor national president.

 

 

Ford cuts F-150 Lightning prices
by up to $10,000 just days
after Tesla's first Cybertruck
rolled off the line

Alexa St. John) 
July 19, 2023

Tesla's first Cybertruck finally rolled off production lines this month. 

  • Days later, Ford announced price cuts to its F-150 Lightning electric pickup by up to $10,000.
  • Both signal that the world of electric pickup trucks is heating up.

Ford said Monday morning it would slash the prices of its F-150 Lightning electric pickup trucks by up to nearly $10,000 just days after Tesla's rival Cybertruck finally rolled off the assembly line.

The cheapest electric F-150 dropped nearly $10,000, from $59,974 to $49,995, while the most expensive trim option fell about $6,000, from $98,074 to $91,995. Ford said that upon the Lightning launch, material costs, supply constraints, and more contributed to the vehicle's high prices.

Ford said that the cheaper prices are the result of "upgrades at the plant, combined with improving battery raw material costs and continued work on scaling production and cost." Ideally, the same will happen for other automakers as the industry looks to lower the prices of EVs overall.

The industry's scramble to make EVs more affordable created a dash for supply that cost customers. Ford raised Lightning prices several times over the past year.

But Ford could also be looking at an electric vehicle inventory problem. More and more of its Mustang Mach-E EVs are sitting on dealer lots, and it's taking longer for dealers to move both Mach-E and Lightning inventory than it did last year as the automaker ramps up production of both vehicles.

Some electric cars are flying off dealer lots, while others have been harder to sell.

That's according to data from Cloud Theory, a data analytics firm that tracks dealership inventory across the US.

As automakers ramp up production of electric vehicles, some are having a harder time getting them off dealership lots than they did a year ago, Cloud Theory found. 

For example, while Hyundai has more than doubled the number of Ioniq 5 EVs in dealership inventory from 2022 to 2023, the turn rate (or the number of these cars that leave dealer lots within a 30 day period) has declined. Last year, about 82% of Ioniq 5's left lots within 30 days, but this year, only 37% have, according to Cloud Theory.

Volkswagen, which has about four times as much inventory of the ID.4 on average in a given month this year than in 2022, was selling all of its ID.4 inventory within a month last year. This year, about 70% of ID.4's leave dealer lots in that time.

The sale pace for Ford's Mustang Mach-E fell from 95% sold within 30 days last year to 64% selling in that period this year.

Why this is the case

A year ago, car companies were churning out fewer EVs, creating a perception of scarcity and sparking a bit of a supply-and-demand rush. Customers interested in going electric snatched the only Mustang Mach-E or other EVs they saw on the lot. High gas prices had even EV-curious customers taking the plunge.

Fast forward to this year, and production is getting closer to full swing, meaning more of these cars are available. At the same time, more automakers are launching product — spreading the wealth in terms of customer purchases. And the broader economic environment, coupled with sky-high interest rates, has a lot of prospective buyers holding off on making a substantial purchase.

"Vehicle movement — the way that we capture sales — is growing," Rick Wainschel, industry analyst and Cloud Theory VP of data science and analytics, told Insider. "But it's not nearly keeping pace with the rate of inventory growth. You've got pressure on those manufacturers that are selling those vehicles and introducing new ones and adding production to the existing ones all at the same time, all by the way, while Tesla is the 800-pound gorilla in the space."

"A year ago, the overall inventory situation in the marketplace was very challenged," he added. Now, "There's this glut of new models to choose from for consumers, and it got diluted when you look at the turn rates across all of those manufacturers all doing that at the same time."

Cloud Theory's numbers indicate which EVs might be easiest to find right now, and which might still be in short supply. To gather the data, Cloud Theory indexes dealership inventory via their websites, as well as collects diagnostic information like how long a vehicle was on their site. Cloud Theory does not get data for Tesla as the company does not sell through a traditional dealership model.

"The train is going down the tracks" with electrification collectively, Wainschel said, but for individual automakers with an EV to sell, it's a lot harder.

To be sure, deliveries of the Lighting are up this year compared with 2022, but the sales pace appears to be slowing. Ford shares fell more than 4% Monday morning following news of the price cuts. 

In addition to the price cuts, Ford said it is offering a $1,000 bonus for customers who purchase an XLT, Lariat, or Platinum Lightning model through the month of July. 

Ford and Tesla have had an interesting dynamic in recent years as Ford looks to catch up to the EV market leader.

The news out of both companies signals that the electric pickup truck space is heating up and going to be even more competitive as others like Rivian, GM's Chevrolet, Stellantis' Ram, and more race to snatch market share.

 

 

'Everyone is going to have to
pay more:' What you need to
know about mortgage
renewals with interest
rates at a 22-year high

Chris Fox, 
CP24.com
 Managing Digital Producer
July 18, 2023

The Bank of Canada has now raised interest rates to their highest level in 22 years but many borrowers still haven’t been hit in the pocketbook.

Earlier this week the central bank pushed up its key overnight lending rate to five per cent, marking the 10th increase since March 2022.

For some variable rate mortgage holders with floating payments the pain from the latest hike will be immediately felt and will amount to about $14 more a month for every $100,000 owing on their mortgage.

But for other homeowners, who may have fixed rates or variable mortgages with fixed-payments, the impact is more likely to be felt at renewal.

Approximately half of all mortgages in Canada are set to renew in 2025 or 2026 due in part to the real estate frenzy that transpired over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the fixed rate people it's going to be much less catastrophic. Many of those people will be able to shop for new mortgage and they will qualify because their mortgages are smaller due to the good payments they've made and they can manage it (the higher payments),” mortgage broker Ron Butler told CP24.com. this week. “The variable situation is somewhat more concerning because there may be no principal being paid down or it (the balance of the loan) might have even grown (due to fixed payments that don’t even cover interest).”

If you have a mortgage coming up for renewal here is what you need to know about this higher rate environment.

SOME PAYMENTS COULD SKYROCKET

Many variable rate mortgage holders – those at four of the six big banks - have what is known as fixed payments. That has meant that as rates have increased more and more of their money has gone to interest rather than principal, even as their total payment has remained the same. The practice has, in turn, created a situation where some homeowners have amortizations that have risen well beyond the ones they agreed to when they first took out their mortgage and that is likely to be a problem come renewal.

“Because of these rate hikes some homeowners might have an amortization of 60 years and the current lender will likely not allow them to keep that,” RATESDOTCA mortgage expert Victor Tran told CP24.com. “They will need to bring it down to the contractual amortization and if that happens their payments are going to skyrocket. It is going to be a lot higher than what they are currently paying.”

Tran said that he expects lenders to show some flexibility when it comes to homeowners who haven’t been paying off much, if any, principal.

But he said that it is not likely that homeowners will be able to keep extended amortization periods forever, an opinion that Butler also holds.

Butler told CP24.com that banks “will almost always” offer a chance to go back to a 30 year amortization, which is the maximum allowed.

But he said that might not make an enormous amount of difference for a homeowner whose payment is set to double, say from $2,000 to $4,000 a month.

“They (the bank) may look at it closely and find out that yeah, you are right, you're just hopeless and you can never make the (new) payment. If that is the case they are allowed by the regulator in some cases to go to 35 years or even a 40-year amortization if there is proven financial inability to pay. But again, it doesn't reduce the payment back to $2,000,” he said.

RATES WILL LIKELY BE HIGHER REGARDLESS OF WHEN YOU RENEW

The Bank of Canada has said that it expects inflation to return to its two per cent target in the middle of 2025. That would allow for interest rate cuts. But few industry insiders expect rates to return to the levels that they were at in 2020 and 2021 anytime soon, if ever.

“We're never coming back to those days when people were getting rates of 1.59, 1.89, 1.99. It is gone forever,” Butler said. “So whatever rate you get is guaranteed to be higher than what you started with five years before. It will either be a little bit higher, instead of two per cent it will be three-and-a-half per cent, or it will be lot higher, like in the six per cent range. So that is the key thing to understand. It is that everyone is going to have to pay more.”

“Over the past month we've seen fixed rates increase by a full percentage point,” Tran added. “That’s huge”

YOU MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO SWITCH LENDERS

Many homebuyers who took out mortgages in 2020 or 2021 did so with historically low interest rates. The stress test meant that those homebuyers still had to qualify at a rate of 5.25 per cent or their contractually agreed upon rate plus two percentage points, whichever was higher. But those seeking to take out a new mortgage today or jump lenders could be stress tested at a rate in excess of eight per cent. That, says Tran, could leave many existing homebuyers with few options other than to renew with their current lender where they will be able to avoid the stress test.

“I've had many customers or former clients that are simply not able to take advantage of lower rates with other lenders because they can't qualify to switch out so they are at the mercy of the current lender,” he told CP24.com. “I think a lot of the lenders know that unfortunately that these customers will have difficulty qualifying elsewhere. But it's unfortunate because they're not going to offer these customers the best rate possible. They're kind of holding them hostage and just giving them a mediocre rate because they know that they have nowhere to go.”

REFINANCING COULD ALSO POSE CHALLENGES

One way that home owners could reduce the payment shock is by extending their amortization. But doing so isn’t necessarily easy, warns Tran. He says that some homebuyers won’t qualify for a new mortgage due to the stress test while others might conclude that the costs of doing so are just too onerous.

“Anytime you make a major change like that you have to go through the whole nine yards again. You have to requalify, you have to go through the stress test again, you have to potentially get an appraisal done at your cost and you have to get a lawyer involved to register a new mortgage title, also at an additional cost,” he told CP24.com.

PATIENCE IS KEY

Butler says that his best advice to homeowners staring down an impending renewal is “not to panic.” He says that in many cases a bank might offer an early renewal with a so-called blended rate but he said taking such an offer is almost always a mistake, when it replaces a lower rate obtained prior to this recent run up in the cost of borrowing.

“Don't give up 3.19 and take 5.1 as some kind of protection,” he said. “If you have a renewal coming up shop around, don't blend and only start looking at it 90 days before the date of your renewal because you don't want to give up that great rate. That just doesn't make sense.

 

 

Ford to seek flexible EV production
in contract talks with union

July 14, 2023

MICHIGAN: Ford Motor Co will ask the United Auto Workers (UAW) union for flexibility to reduce electric-vehicle (EV) production in case the US market for battery-powered cars lags behind expectations.

Negotiations open today for a new four-year contract for Ford’s more than 57,000 US hourly workers.

And talks are expected to be contentious as the union seeks pay raises, a restoration of cost-of-living increases and job guarantees while the industry shifts to less labor intensive electric-vehicle production.

New UAW president Shawn Fain has said he is going to “war” against the Detroit automakers and accused them of engaging in a “race to the bottom” in the EV transition with factories that will employ fewer workers earning lower wages.

This week, Fain eschewed the ceremonial handshake-across-the-bargaining-table with chief executive officers that has marked the opening of auto contract talks for decades, saying he’ll do so “when they come to the table with a deal.”

Ford will seek leeway in its US$50bil (RM231bil) plan to boost EV production 15-fold to two million models a year by the end of 2026.

The company wants the ability to move workers to factories building the most in-demand models, whether they’re powered by electricity or traditional internal combustion, according to Ford sources who requested anonymity discussing internal matters.

The current union contract restricts Ford’s ability to flex production, they said.

Ford has reason for caution. The United States has been the slowest major market to adopt EVs, lagging behind China and Europe.

EV sales growth in the world’s biggest economy slowed to just under 50% in the first half of the year, down from 71% during the same period in 2022, as inventories of battery-powered models ballooned.

Ford’s US EV sales fell 2.8% during the second quarter as it overhauled a Mexican factory to boost output of the Mustang Mach-E, while sales of the F-150 Lightning plug-in pick-up grew just 4%.

Ford is hoping to convince the union to give it more flexibility by noting that it employs as many as 14,000 more US hourly workers than either General Motors Co or Stellantis NV, parent company of Chrysler and Jeep.

Having the biggest US hourly workforce costs Ford an extra US$1bil (RM4.61bil) a year compared to its domestic competitors, the sources said.

Ford’s labour costs, including wages and benefits, are US$64 (RM295) an hour, compared to US$55 (RM254) an hour at the non-union assembly plants of international automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp.

That creates a labour cost gap of US$900mil (RM4.2bil) with the international automakers, the people said. Labour costs at Tesla Inc are even lower at US$45 to US$50 (RM208 to RM231) an hour.

Ford also plans to pledge to bring more EV manufacturing in-house to help offset the lower labour requirements, the people said.

Chief executive officer Jim Farley has said controlling more elements of EV and battery production will give Ford a competitive advantage.

Last month, Farley penned a Detroit Free Press opinion piece defending Ford’s hourly compensation, which he wrote comes to US$112,000 (RM516,712) in annual pay and benefits.

That elicited a sharp response from UAW vice-president Chuck Browning, who accused Farley of misleading the public and “utilising old, musty and ineffective tactics.”

Farley is under pressure to reverse US$3bil (RM13.8bil) in projected EV losses this year and achieve an ambitious goal of generating an 8% return, before interest and taxes, on battery-powered models by the end of 2026. — Bloomberg

 

Rising interest rates worry
7 in 10 Canadians —
and another hike
could be coming

By Craig Lord  
Global News
July 11, 2023

A financial expert breaks down what the Bank of Canada’s anticipated interest rate hike will mean for Canadians and how to best prepare.

A growing number of Canadians are worried that interest rates are rising faster than they keep up, new polling suggests, just as many economists expect the Bank of Canada will deliver another rate hike this week.

Polling from Ipsos Public Affairs conducted exclusively for Global News between June 19 and 20 shows a growing number of Canadians are concerned they won’t be able to pay off debts like credit card bills amid higher interest rates and inflation that continues to cause pain, particularly at the grocery store.

More than four in five Canadians (81 per cent) say they’re worried inflation will continue to make life unaffordable, according to the Ipsos survey.

Some 71 per cent of Canadians are worried that interest rates will rise faster than they can adjust, according to the polling. That’s slightly higher than results in April, when the Bank of Canada held rates steady for the second time this year as it waited to see whether its previous hikes would do enough to slow the economy and bring inflation down its two per cent target.

But the central bank ended that brief pause in June with a 25-basis-point rate increase that surprised most economists.

The bank’s next rate decision is set for Wednesday. Many economists — including all six big Canadian banks — are expecting policymakers will not be satisfied with a single hike in June and will bring the policy rate up to 5.0 per cent as core inflation remains sticky and the economy shows signs of resilience.

That will be the highest point for the Bank of Canada’s benchmark interest rate since 2001, says Rubina Ahmed-Haq, personal finance expert and host of For What It’s Worth on the Corus Entertainment radio network. Corus Entertainment is the parent company of Global News.

Ahmed-Haq told Global News’ Jaden Lee-Lincoln over the weekend that the higher rate environment is new territory for many homeowners who have never had to pay their mortgage at rates this high.

Indeed, some 79 per cent of millennials said in the Ipsos survey they were worried about the pace of rate increases, the highest proportion of any other demographic. Some 72 per cent of millennials said they were concerned about their plans to purchase a home, start a family or travel in the future amid rising interest rates.

“For most people who own a home today, they’ve never experienced this interest rate environment,” Ahmed-Haq said.

“There really is a paycheque-to-paycheque situation in many Canadian households.”

Debt piles up

The higher interest rates go, the more Canadians are paying to service household debt.

The higher cost of borrowing comes into play when homeowners renew their fixed-rate mortgages, or on mortgages and loans with variable rates of interest such as home-equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

Debt is a particular pain point for Canadians, who hold the highest level of household debt in the G7, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Ipsos’s survey shows 55 per cent of Canadians are worried they won’t be able to pay off their entire credit card bill, up a percentage point from similar polling in April. Roughly six in 10 (63 per cent) of respondents said they couldn’t handle a sudden expense of $1,000 or more.

A separate poll from insolvency firm MNP released Monday shows that more than half of Canadians (52 per cent) say they are $200 or less away from not being able to pay off all their bills. That figure is up six percentage points from a survey in April.

Ahmed-Haq said Canadians might feel like they’re forced to take on additional debt just to make payments on their existing loans, but this can start a “vicious cycle” that only sees debt obligations grow.

If consumers are forced into this position, she recommends only ever taking on a loan at a lower interest rate than the debt you’re paying off — consolidating high-interest debt like credit cards into a loan with a lower monthly payment to help keep the loans manageable.

Canadians forced into difficult decisions

While recent interest rate increases have been smaller in magnitude compared with the rapid hikes seen last year, the traditional wisdom is that it takes 12-18 months for the full impact of higher rates to be felt in the economy.

David Gowling, senior vice-president at MNP, says the signs of mounting stress around Canadians’ debt show this pressure is now starting to bear down on household budgets.

“As those interest costs keep increasing, that has to come from somewhere else in the budget,” he tells Global News. “And people are trying to cut. But you can only cut so far and that’s where you start to feel, ‘OK, if this goes much further, I’m going to be in some serious trouble.’”

Even as the overall rate of annual inflation shows signs of cooling, Canadians trying to keep up with the rising cost of living and higher interest rates have had to cut back more and more, Ipsos polling shows.

Fewer Canadians are travelling as they try to trim expenses, with 29 per cent saying they’re cutting back on both domestic and international travel — up four and five percentage points from April’s surveys, respectively. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of families with kids are concerned they won’t be able to afford a holiday this summer.

Some 56 per cent of Canadians are dining out less — up from 48 per cent in April — and nearly half (48 per cent) are cutting back on entertainment spending, compared with 42 per cent in April.

At the grocery store, more than half of Canadians are now using flyers (53 per cent, up five percentage points) and nearly a third are using coupons (32 per cent, up four percentage points. Some 30 per cent of shoppers said they were changing their grocery stores to find cheaper products, up from one in four in April.

— with files from Global News’ Anne Gaviola

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between June 19 and 20, 2023, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error

 

Ford sales jump 10% in Q2 on
pickup strength as EV sales slip

July 8, 2023

Ford (F) on Thursday reported second quarter sales rose from a year ago with strength coming from its F-150 pickup line while sales of electric vehicles fell during the quarter.

In the second quarter, Ford said sales grew 9.9% from a year ago to 531,662 vehicles. For the first half of the year, Ford sales were up 10% compared to 2022.

EV sales for Ford fell 2.8% during the quarter, with Mustang's Mach-E sales declining by 21.1% and its E-Transit electric van sales falling by 3.8%. Ford, however, said say Mach-E sales "quickened" at the end of Q2.

Ford stock was down 2.5% following this release.

The company's crown jewel F-Series pickup lineup, in contrast, notched a 34% sales jump in Q2, as well as a 24.7% gain sequentially from Q1. In terms of overall pickup sales, Ford said combined F-Series, mid-size Ranger, and compact Maverick sales of 246,155 pickups outsold all of rival GM’s Silverado, Sierra, Colorado, Canyon, and Hummer EV pickups in Q2. Ford's all-new line of Super Duty pickups saw "continued momentum" as well, with Q2 sales up over 28.5%.

Ford says total truck sales were up 26.2% for the quarter, which Ford said makes it the top-selling truck maker in the US. Ford SUVs — including the Bronco Sport and Escape — also saw double-digit gains.

“Ford achieved both best-selling brand and truck for six consecutive months this year on the strength of F-Series, vans, our new Escape, and F-150 Lightning,” said Andrew Frick, Ford VP of sales, distribution, and trucks in a statement. “Improved Mustang Mach-E inventory flow began to hit at the end of Q2 following the retooling of our plant earlier this year, which helped Mustang Mach-E sales climb 110% in June.”

Ford also experienced a recovery in F-150 Lightning EV sales following a production shutdown in Q1 due to a battery issue that led to a fire at its plant.

Ford said Lightning sales were up 119% in Q2 versus a year ago and up 4.1% sequentially from the first quarter. Overall Ford EV sales for the first half of the year were up 11.9%.

The Ford F-150 Lightning displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Ford's Q2 sales figures follow a strong quarter of gains for GM, which saw its sales surge nearly 19% in the quarter.

Ford and GM's results follow upbeat numbers reported by Tesla (TSLA), Rivian (RIVN), and Honda (HMC) in recent days. Honda’s sales in particular were noteworthy, with sales jumping an astounding 44.7% compared to a year ago.

Ford will report full second quarter financial results after the bell on July 27.

 

Stellantis deal reached to restart
EV battery factory construction

By Sean Previl  
Global News
July 6, 2023

A deal has been reached between Stellantis and the federal and Ontario governments to resume construction of the electric vehicle battery gigafactory in Windsor, Ont., the company confirmed on Wednesday.

It said in a news release that NextStar Energy, which had a joint venture with Stellantis and LG Energy Solution, signed a “binding agreement that secures the future of battery cell and module production in Windsor.”

“We are pleased that the federal government with the support of the provincial government came back and met their commitment of leveling the playing field with the (Inflation Reduction Act),” Stellantis North America chief operating officer Mark Stewart said in a joint statement with LG Energy.

The deal comes after just over a month of negotiations following a decision by Stellantis to stop building the plant, saying the federal government had not delivered what was promised and threatened to move the plant elsewhere.

The plant was announced last year and it was expected to create 2,500 jobs, with all levels of government to provide financial support.

Last month, Stellantis said it had received and was reviewing an offer to keep the factory as both Ottawa and Ontario said negotiations were ongoing.

Details of the deal have not been released, however, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in June that the amount the governments will offer shouldn’t surprise anyone as Canada aimed to “level the playing field” and match subsidies offered by the U.S. under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Ontario’s Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli told Global News in an interview that the deal amounts to $15 billion in tax incentives for battery production with the province taking on $5 billion.

In addition, the minister said the deal has resulted in a Canada-Ontario auto pact, that will see identical incentives offered to other battery manufacturers who set up shop in the province.

“I think this is a historic deal, it’s a great agreement and it protects the thousands of jobs quite frankly that were at stake,” Fedeli said.

Dong-Myung Kim, president and head of the Advanced Automotive Battery Division of LG Energy said the company was happy to finally move forward with building the plant.

“It’s a good day not only for our joint venture, but also for Canada,” he said in the statement.

Stewart also thanked the efforts of Unifor in working to get a deal done “in our shared commitment to protecting thousands of new jobs.”

The union said in a statement it welcomed the agreement and thanked the governments involved and the company “for reaching this important conclusion and taking the necessary action to secure the Stellantis production footprint in Canada.”

 

"Fighting for COLA" UAW
calls on Big 3 to Reinstate
Cost of Living Adjustments

 July 5, 2023

  In a new video, UAW President Shawn Fain lays out a key goal of 2023 contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis: winning back COLA, or Cost of Living Adjustments.

Without COLA, inflation has far outpaced the raises UAW members negotiated in 2019. By contrast, CEOs of the Big Three have seen their pay jump over 40 percent between 2019 and 2022.

“Inflation is hammering the American people. We see it in the cost of eggs, the price of milk. We feel the squeeze at the gas pump, and when we pay rent. Bills go up and our paychecks don’t. Working people can’t keep up.

“That’s why we’re fighting for Cost of Living Adjustments, also known as COLA.

“Back in 1946, the UAW went on strike against General Motors, and two years later was the first union to secure Cost of Living in a union contract. The clause meant that wages would be tied to inflation, so workers wouldn’t be left behind economically. When inflation took off in the 1970s, the UAW won Cost of Living across all of our employers to ensure that we could keep up.

“Like so many other important gains autoworkers made over the decades, we lost COLA in 2009 as a result of the auto bankruptcies during the Great Recession.  

“Now, the auto industry is back, and then some. In the past decade, the Big Three automakers have made a quarter of a trillion dollars in profits in North America.

Meanwhile, autoworkers real wages have stayed flat, or even worse, they’ve regressed. In 2019, we won 6.1 percent wage increases. In the three and a half years since, inflation is triple that, at 18.3 percent. Inflation has wiped out those gains, and then some. That’s unacceptable, and unsustainable. That’s money we’re leaving on the table, while our employers keep pocketing billions more.

“Autoworkers need Cost of Living now. Let’s get back in the fight for good auto jobs. For our families, for our communities, and for working people everywhere.” 

Big Three contracts are set to expire on September 14th.

View the video here.

 

Ford's product guru, veteran of
tech heavyweights, riffs on
Blue Oval's electrified future

Tom Krisher
Associated Press
July 4, 2023

Dearborn — Across the room from Ford Motor Co. Product Development chief Doug Field was a pile of two-dozen auto parts, each with its own small computer and software written by the parts manufacturer.

Field was hired away from running Apple Inc.'s secret auto project two years ago, and before that served as Tesla Inc.'s head of engineering. He explained at an investor event that the automaker is moving to get rid of the pile, consolidating most computing decisions into a central processor running software written by Ford.

The change will fundamentally change how people use their cars. Most automakers are counting on software services to boost future profit margins.

Field, 57, also Ford's chief technology officer, talked to The Associated Press about the change and the transformation to electric vehicles. The interview is edited for length and clarity.

Q: How far along is Ford on moving to this central computing system?

A: The transition has happened where we designed the hardware and the software for the immediate user interface, the center screen. That's gone into both the F-150 Lightning EV as well as the internal combustion F-Series. The next step is with our next generation of electric vehicles (coming in 2025). We're expanding to control the overall vehicle and control over the autonomy system. There will be software in parts that comes from suppliers that is appropriate. The reason for that is to make it as fast as possible. A great example is firing the air bag. We don’t want that coming back through the central passage.

Q: As a driver, why should I care about this?

A: The car’s a robot, which means the interaction with the software includes pieces of hardware. So something like an Amazon interface where you know a delivery is coming. A one-time code opens the trunk. Doesn’t open the rest of the car. They get to drop it off. That requires an interaction between centralized software and what today is a locking-unlocking module. There also are sensors that we don’t have access to the information. An easy example is an autonomy system that’s supposed to keep you in the lane. There’s a camera. We can't say to the customer that we're going to give you a dash cam for free or for a subscription where it’s always running.

And if we detect any kind of a bump or anything like that, you’ve got a 30-second recording. We will be able to do that. We talked a little bit about our ability to predict if the car is heading toward a failure or a wear-out situation. I want to count wiper strokes combined with how much water is coming down and where it’s being driven and how dirty it is. Maybe develop an algorithm that knows exactly when your wiper blades are wearing out.

Q: How do you come up with something that's compelling enough to get me to part with my hard-earned money and subscribe?

A: The model is already transitioning from ‘you check a box when you buy the car’ to ‘you can get a free trial.’ You only part with your hard-earned money after you are on the road trying it and say, ‘this is pretty great.’ A big part of how I try to guide the engineers is you must earn the right to collect money. You’re going to come up with things, you’re going to try them.

Q: You've shown the bear cam, where a Bronco parked at a campsite recognizes a bear nearby and may honk the horn to scare it away. How important is security?

A: We are going to build a whole set of services around this. The car is the most sophisticated sensor that you have in your life, and the number of accelerometers and microphones and cameras and things on it will allow it to be not only something that protects you when you’re in the car, but it’ll actually be useful when you’re not there. Even acting as a remote sentry if there’s stuff going on outside the house.

Q: Does having a centralized computer open you more to the possibility of hacking?

A: Anything where you are allowing the car to be software-updated opens you to that possibility. You need to have an architecture where that has been really carefully thought through. And the more you go toward things like firing the airbags or controlling the steering, the more that becomes a pretty involved process to actually update your access.

Q: How long will Ford still be selling internal combustion vehicles?

A: There are a number of applications where it is going to be near impossible for an EV to perform the same mission. There will be many, many places where EVs are a slam dunk. There will be ones where it’s going to take a lot of work to get battery technologies to the point where it could serve that mission. There are ones we see now that the ICE engine needs to be a part of it. Maybe we partially electrify it, but they’ll be out there. The incremental value to the world of getting those last ice engines out versus the value that they provide to an ambulance in Alaska. That will take a very, very long time.

Q: Affordability has become a big issue. Ford has gotten out of cheaper cars in the U.S. Is there a $20,000 EV coming?

A: I don’t want to talk a lot about what we’re doing here. It is possible, with the advent of EVs, to make step changes in the way vehicles are built and sourced. Yes, I believe very low cost EVs are possible. I also believe the way the business model is changing is going to require it. If you are in the software business, what you want is installed base. How many people can I sell software to? To do that, you need affordability.

 

A fight over the future of
electric vehicles is unfolding
in Washington. Canadians
are involved

Administration weighing goals of selling more EVs, building up manufacturing here

Alexander Panetta 
CBC News 
July 3, 2023

A struggle is unfolding in Washington over who will make the electric vehicles that the Biden administration sees as a key part of the transition to a carbon-neutral economy.

And some Canadians are taking sides in the debate with long-term implications. 

The specific flashpoint is the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, and the large tax credits it offers American consumers for buying an EV.

The U.S. government is now writing the rules to implement this law, arguably the biggest legislative achievement of the Biden era.

The clash, in a nutshell, revolves around a question: What is the main goal here?

Is it to sell more electric vehicles, more quickly, speeding the transition to a low-carbon economy?

Or is it to achieve the slower, steadier re-industrialization of North America — one that would reduce long-term reliance on China and draw manufacturing here as part of what the White House has taken to calling Bidenomics?

That debate is playing out as the U.S. Treasury Department studies public comments while designing its tax credits — which are worth up to $7,500 per car.

Canadians might remember this issue. It was a sore spot between Ottawa and Washington until an amicable resolution, with the law ultimately giving North American products preferential treatment.

Now the rest of the world wants in on that deal. Other countries and importing companies have been fighting to make their products eligible for those tax credits, and are arguing for an expansive interpretation of the law.

Their argument is both environmental and practical. They say meeting climate goals requires a rapid electrification of the vehicle fleet and there's no way of getting there if the rules are so protectionist that virtually no cars qualify for tax credits.

The counter-argument invokes national security. 

In short: Western countries are disturbingly dependent on China for industrial inputs that power our economy, like critical minerals, and this law is supposed to change that.

Amid a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S., this argument goes that the U.S. can't count on China for its inputs.

Public commenters include Quebec

The Treasury Department released an interim draft this spring and gave everyone until June 16 to weigh in on a series of highly technical judgment calls it needs to make.

Such judgment calls involve the definition of a trade agreement, whether leased cars count as commercial vehicles (which qualify easily for the credit), which minerals deserve protections and how to calculate the value of battery parts.

In aggregate, these seemingly eye-glazing dilemmas hold serious implications for everything from the environment, to U.S. alliances and to national security, according to public comments submitted to the Treasury.

Among those urging the regulators to get stricter are the Quebec government and a company based in B.C. and Quebec. Both have expressed concern in their submissions that the proposed rules are too permissive. 

It's a plot twist from a year ago, when Canadians were fuming the law was too strict — back when Canada feared being shut out of the credits entirely.

Canadian battery-technology manufacturer Nano One Materials Corp. argues that the draft regulations are too broad. One complaint, for instance, is that the law needs stricter rules for iron. 

Iron makes up one-third of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) car batteries. The company says it needs the same protections as critical minerals, otherwise these U.S. tax credits will wind up subsidizing batteries mostly produced in China.

'A big loophole'

"To me that's a big loophole. And it needs to get resolved," Nano One CEO Dan Blondal told CBC News.

"We will be funnelling tax dollars to our competitors overseas."

LFP technology reflects the history of electric vehicles.

Decades ago, it was actually developed partly in Quebec, including by publicly funded institutions — Hydro-Québec and the Université de Montréal.

But the technology never took off here. It eventually wound up being mass-produced in China  and patent fees were waived for Chinese companies producing domestically. Now those patents are expiring right as LFP is gaining in popularity.

Nano One starts production this year in Candiac, Que., after building partnerships with mining giant Rio Tinto, Volkswagen and energy-storage company Our Next Energy.

Blondal calls the Inflation Reduction Act a rare chance to ease dependency on a rival, China, that once famously cut off mineral exports to Japan during a dispute.

"We have … a generational opportunity," Blondal said. "Otherwise we'll lose on national security. We'll give away jobs and we'll perpetuate many of the environmental issues and GHG emissions … that are kind of the antithesis of our net-zero ambitions."

Quebec also argues in its submission that the rules, as currently written, risk further entrenching U.S. dependency on unreliable countries with state-funded companies — an unstated allusion to China.

Sales of electric vehicles are surging and they're expected to dominate the market within years. What's not clear: Where auto plants will source their parts. (IHS Global Insight, Goldman Sachs Research)

Their position has allies.

The U.S. domestic mining lobby warned in its submission that rivals have a stranglehold on industrial minerals and China will continue to control 70 per cent of the battery supply chain through 2030.

The National Mining Association argued the Biden administration's current draft regulations are inconsistent with the legislation's goal of reversing this trend.

"Implement [this law] to support the domestic sourcing goal of Congress rather than finding ways to undercut it," the association said.

That get-strict approach has a high-profile endorsement, from no less than the U.S. senator who provided the critical swing vote that passed the law.

Among those submitting comments was Sen. Joe Manchin, who negotiated many of the key provisions of the bill before he let it pass. 

In a signed letter, he listed several ways the Biden administration strayed, in his opinion, from the intention of the law.

Manchin: 'Follow the law' 

He argues leased cars shouldn't count as commercial vehicles. He says Biden stretched the definition of free-trade agreements to include a critical-minerals deal signed with Japan, and another he's working on signing with Europe.

And he fumed that, under a proposed phase-in period of at least two years, tax money can go to batteries where as little as 25 per cent meet Manchin's intended conditions.

"My comment is simple," Manchin wrote at the tail end of an 11-page letter filled with technical complaints. 

"Follow the law."

The counter-argument from the administration is that the law isn't always clear. There's a judgment call involved, like what counts as a commercial vehicle.

The climate counter-argument

Advocates of the more generous application of tax credits cite the urgent threat of climate change.

They say it's going to be a challenge hitting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's goal of EVs accounting for two thirds of light vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2032.

The U.S. will fall slightly short of that, according to private-sector forecasts by IHS and Goldman Sachs and others.

The policy design matters. EV projections vary, in part, on what sorts of incentives get adopted by government, including in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Some carmakers, like Stellantis, urged the administration to stay the course, and produce final rules as flexible as the draft version.

lobby group for big international auto companies that also manufacture inside the U.S. said it applauded the flexible attitude in the draft regulations.

"[This approach] will help more Americans better afford the transition to a clean vehicle of their choice," wrote Autos Drive America. 

An LFP battery pack for the Ford Mustang-Mack. Ford is partnering with a Chinese supplier to build in the U.S. It's not clear what tax rules will apply here. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

The final rule should be out soon. 

Then there's another, related, battle ahead. Starting next year, the Inflation Reduction Act forbids tax credits going to batteries produced by a so-called foreign entity of concern.

Those details still need to be defined.

So it's unclear what that incoming rule will mean for carmakers, inside the U.S., that buy batteries from the Chinese giant CATL.

For example, Ford is partnering with CATL to produce in Michigan; Tesla already buys CATL batteries and is reportedly considering a U.S.-based joint deal like Ford's.

That uncertainty looms over the industry. In the meantime, the smaller Canadian battery company,  Nano One, says it's watching closely.

 

Hundreds Of Ford’s White Collar Workers Are Reportedly About To Be Out Of A Job

Sources suggest that the cuts will come from Ford's Blue and Model e divisions and may be limited to the USA

by Stephen Rivers
June 28, 2023

Many white-collar Ford workers could be out of a job starting as soon as next week. That’s the report coming from sources with knowledge about the issue that aren’t authorized to speak about the job cuts publicly. For now, the company isn’t saying anything but the move could be a part of its Ford+ plan.

Rival automakers along with Ford have signaled the need to cut costs as they transition from internal combustion engines to EVs. Both Stellantis and General Motors have recently utilized buyout programs to do just that. According to multiple reports, Ford isn’t offering such a program with regard to these job cuts.

A source from one of those reports says that Ford will lay off “several hundred” salaried employees in the near future. That could happen as soon as next week. It’s believed that the cuts will be limited to workers in North America and could be completely within the USA.

Ford spokesman T.R. Reid said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press: “We have nothing to announce. As we’ve said, part of the ongoing management of our business includes aligning our global staffing to meet business plans, and staying cost competitive as our industry evolves. At the same time, we continue to hire in key areas so that we have the skills and expertise needed to deliver on the Ford+ plan.”

That plan is one that the brand has been working on for a long while. It includes putting itself in a position to scale EV production while also reducing costs.

Last August it said that it would end up cutting some 3,000 jobs between both the USA and India. At the time, it was believed that they would be limited to just Ford Blue, the automaker’s ICE branch. However, the cuts reported above are specifically across both Ford Blue and Ford Model e, the brand’s EV division. Evidently, the Ford Pro commercial arm will remain unaffected for now. We’ll keep an eye out for more news as it develops.

 

 

EV metals will come from dead
batteries at new U.S. plant

David R. Baker
Bloomberg
June 27, 2023

A new U.S. plant will soon offer a solution for tight supplies of critical metals: Pull them out of dead batteries in a process that produces fewer emissions than competitors.

Recycling start-up Nth Cycle is opening its first full-scale plant in Fairfield, Ohio, to produce a mix of nickel and cobalt — key ingredients of the lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones and electric vehicles. The company will hold a "sneak peek" of the plant for members of the community Monday, with full commissioning planned this fall, said Chief Executive Officer Megan O'Connor. The company hasn't disclosed a precise cost for the plant, but says it's investing $25 million to $30 million in the facility.

It's part of a wave of plants under construction across the U.S. to bolster the supply chain for batteries, a critical component of the global energy transition. The vital technology is now mostly made in China, but the Biden administration's sweeping climate legislation has driven federal dollars toward boosting U.S. output.

"We're trying to bring back an entire industry," O'Connor said in an interview.

Nth Cycle's process involves dissolving the shredded remains of spent batteries in a water-based solution, then using a series of electrified filters to extract specific metals. It also works with electronic waste, metal scrap and mine tailings. And it's designed to be modular, so individual customers can deploy Nth Cycle's processing unit — dubbed the Oyster — at their own factory or mine. The company boasts far lower greenhouse gas emissions than standard recycling methods.

Nth Cycle hasn't yet named any of its customers, but O'Connor said they include automakers, battery producers and consumer electronics makers. She added that there's currently no domestic producer of Nth Cycle's nickel-cobalt product, known as mixed hydroxide precipitate. So working with Nth Cycle will give customers a way to take advantage of "buy-American" incentives in the federal Inflation Reduction Act, she said.

 

Ford Explorer recall prompts
Transportation Department
investigation

David Hamilton
Associated Press
June 26, 2023

San Francisco — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating a Ford Motor Co. recall of more than a quarter-million Explorer SUVs in the U.S. after receiving complaints about repairs intended to prevent the vehicles from unexpectedly rolling away even while placed in park.

The problem, ascribed to fractures of a rear axle mounting bolt that could lead the drive shaft to disconnect, was addressed by a Ford software update designed to apply the electronic parking brake if the drive shaft failed, the agency said. But according to two complaints from vehicle owners, their SUVs behaved erratically following the repair.

In one of those cases, the Explorer would reportedly slam to a complete stop at speeds of up to 30 or 40 miles per hour. In the other, it would reportedly lurch into motion while the driver was attempting to disengage the electronic brake. No injuries were reported in these cases, although the first driver reported striking a utility pole when the Explorer started rolling downhill following an abrupt stop, seemingly because the drivetrain was disengaged.

The original recall covered certain 2020 through 2022 Explorers with 2.3-liter engines, as well as 3-liter and 3.3-liter hybrids, and the 3-liter ST. Also included were 2020 and 2021 Explorer Police hybrids and those with 3.3-liter gas engines. Both of the reported incidents involved 2021 Explorers.

A Ford representative said the company is working with the NHTSA on the matter.

 

Unifor kicks off grocery talks
with 100 per cent strike vote
by ‘fed up’ workers

By Rosa Saba  
The Canadian Press
June 23, 2023

Unifor says grocery workers have more resolve than ever to achieve higher wages and better working conditions as it heads into a two-year stretch of bargaining for more than a dozen collective agreements.

The work will begin with negotiations next week for a contract covering 3,700 Metro workers across the Greater Toronto Area, who — in an unusual move — have already voted 100 per cent in favour of a strike if a deal can’t be reached.

The strike vote ahead of bargaining and 100 per cent support for a strike are both rare, said Stephanie Ross, an associate professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University.

“I think that tells you something about the sense of urgency,” said Ross. “People are falling behind every day.”

The strike vote sends a strong signal not just to Metro, but to all three grocery giants that their workers are fed up, said Unifor national president Lana Payne.

“We need to send a signal and a very serious message to the supermarket barons that workers deserve a piece of these profits, and they deserve to have better pay, better working conditions and more full-time jobs,” she said.

“We want to make important gains in this round of bargaining. We feel we’re in a good place to do that.”

Unifor represents more than 11,000 grocery store workers at major grocers across Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec, the union said.

Payne said the next collective agreement up for bargaining will be for Loblaw workers in Newfoundland and Labrador this fall.

Workers have seen the quality of their jobs erode over time, with inflation eating into their wages even as the grocers post healthy profits, Payne said.

The pandemic underscored just how essential grocery store workers are, Payne said, noting that many of them received so-called ‘hero pay’ early on only to have it taken away — something that GTA Metro worker Courtney Cook said “felt like a slap in the face.”

“This is our first bargaining since the pandemic,” Cook said. “A lot of things changed during the pandemic, and we were deemed essential workers. So I think everyone’s just frustrated that our pay doesn’t reflect that kind of status.”

Unifor held a national strategy session in May to determine its priorities for grocery sector bargaining, said Payne, as the union is hoping to establish a pattern and gain momentum with the first round at Metro. Those priorities include significant pay improvements, greater access to better health benefits, eliminating pay disparities, more full-time work and job protections for workers affected by technological changes, she said.

The major grocers have come under public scrutiny as inflation surged across Canada last year, hitting more than eight per cent last June as the cost of basic necessities rose. Executives from the grocers spoke earlier this year in front of a parliamentary committee studying grocery prices, denying accusations that food price inflation was being driven by profit-mongering.

But accusations of profiteering aside, the grocers have been posting profits. On Thursday, Empire Company Ltd. reported it earned $182.9 million in its latest quarter compared with $178.5 million a year ago. Loblaw in its latest earnings report reported a profit of $418 million in its first quarter, down from $437 million last year when the company saw a one-time gain from a court ruling. And Metro in its second quarter reported earnings of $218.8 million, up from $198.1 million a year earlier.

Unifor is determined to get a bigger slice of that pie for workers, Payne said.

“It’s really just hard that we’re putting in everything we have for this company. And we’re not getting back what we feel we deserve,” said Cook.

Between the pandemic and the briefness of hero pay, ongoing inflation and grocers’ profits, the grocery sector is in the midst of a “perfect storm,” said Ross, leading to more labour militancy — and not just in the grocery sector.

“People are much more willing to hit the bricks than they perhaps have been … in a long time.”

Ross said this first round with GTA Metro workers is all-important to set a benchmark for the pattern bargaining approach that Unifor is taking, where it tries to set a standard for one collective agreement and then replicate it across the sector.

In addition to better pay, Cook said she wants to see jobs at Metro become more stable, giving workers more predictable hours so they can better prioritize their families and their lives outside of work.

She said the 100-per-cent strike vote shows workers are ready to do whatever it takes to get what they deserve, and she thinks grocery store workers across the country will be approaching the bargaining table with the same kind of resolve.

Payne thinks the pandemic has also made Canadians more aware of grocery workers and what they face, and that this will translate into public support and sympathy as the workers bargain with grocers.

“They risked their health and safety every single day, to go to work for a job that in many cases was not paying them a decent wage,” she said.

“Enough is enough here. We have to make good improvements in this collective agreement, and the resolve of our members is very strong. And I think this strike vote clearly shows they’re prepared to fight if they need to.”

Ross said recent major strikes have seen record levels of public support for workers in the wake of the pandemic and high inflation.

“There’s a much more positive climate of potential public support for the union than there maybe has been in decades,” she said.

“But … it all comes down to strategy, how the union and the employer frames their messages and how those messages land with the public.”

 

Prominent auto analyst on
UAW contract talks: 'I think
we're going to see a strike'

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News

June 22, 2023

Farmington Hills — Auto analysts at Bank of America feel confident in the likelihood of a United Auto Workers strike of at least one of the Detroit automakers later this year — and they expect the union to secure wage and benefit improvements that result in 25% to 30% higher labor costs for the companies over the four years of the contract.

That's according to comments made Wednesday by John Murphy, managing director and lead U.S. auto analyst in equity research at Bank of America, during the financial institution's annual "Car Wars" presentation. The event was hosted by the Automotive Press Association.

“I think we’re going to see a strike on Sept. 15," said Murphy. The UAW's current contracts with Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV expire Sept. 14. Talks on a new agreement are slated to start this summer. Murphy said he's highly confident in at least one strike happening, and that the chances of a subsequent strike at one of the other automakers is "much higher than normal."

Though he acknowledged there's a case to be made for each of the Detroit automakers to serve as the lead company and strike target in the union's negotiations, Bank of America analysts believe Stellantis will be targeted for a strike, based on rhetoric from UAW President Shawn Fain, who worked for the company and has criticized its idling of an assembly plant in Belvidere, Illinois. Stellantis declined to comment.

Murphy contrasted the expected rise in labor costs at the three companies with tailwinds analysts expect the industry to see from declining raw material costs, which he said typically make up about 11% of a vehicle's average transaction price. More recently, raw material costs have stood at about 8% of ATP.

"The opposite side of the spectrum is what's happening with labor costs," Murphy said.

Murphy noted that labor costs typically make up about 16% of auto companies' operating costs. The increase that his team is expecting would represent about half of the Detroit automakers' current margins, which could be partially offset by the downward movement on raw material costs: “This is going to be a significant structural headwind the industry is going to have to deal with for the next four years," Murphy said.

For their part, UAW leaders have pointed to the hefty profits that the automakers have generated in recent years.

"They can afford our demands, and we expect them to pony up," Fain said during a recent town hall for UAW members.

UAW leaders have repeatedly said the decision on whether to strike will depend on what the Detroit automakers do at the bargaining table. They've said that their top priorities are ending tiered wage and benefit structures, reinstating cost-of-live adjustments, and securing strong job protection language. The union, which is preparing to launch a national contract campaign, heads to the bargaining table with $825 million in its strike fund.

Meanwhile, Murphy noted that Bank of America analysts see signs of a more robust recovery in the auto industry than they'd previously expected. They had forecast 14.3 million new-vehicle sales in the United States this year, but the current sales pace is closer to 15.4 million, driven by "significant" recovery in fleet sales to buyers like rental car companies.

“This is really important, because when you look at the auto industry, in the U.S. it’s about 4% of GDP. It’s larger in Europe and China," he said. "So if the industry is actually really recovering, it should drag the rest of the economy with it."

Inventory is still tight, with about 1.8 million vehicles on dealer lots, but that's up from a pandemic low of 1 million — and Murphy noted that all three Detroit automakers are running at or slightly above normal inventory levels.

The annual "Car Wars" report forecasts every product that will launch in the U.S. market over the next four years. Analyst calculate the auto companies' replacement rates, which represents how much of their product portfolio will be replaced with brand-new product over the next four years.

That rate trickles down to impact the age of products in showrooms, companies' market share, and their profitability, Murphy explained: “The lower your replacement rate, meaning you have less fresh product, the more market share you lose, and higher your replacement rate is, the more market share you gain.”

To that end, automakers are slated to launch an average of 61 new nameplates per year over the next four years, higher than the traditional 41 launches, according to Car Wars. But Murphy noted that much of that is lower-volume products, such as new electric vehicles: “It’s going to be a few tough years here on a lot of product launches and not a lot of payback on volume."

Overall, replacement rates will be near the historical average of 15% for model years 2024-25, according to the report, but strengthen in model years 2026-27.

Hyundai, Kia and Ford are all well-positioned to gain market share in the next four years because of their higher forecasted replacement rates, according to the report, while Stellantis, Nissan and Honda stand to lose market share to new industry entrants — which could prompt them to cut prices, Murphy said.

GM's replacement rate is forecasted to land close to the industry average of 22.8%. Ford's forecasted replacement rate is the highest in the industry, at 24.8%, while Stellantis is at the bottom of the list with a forecasted replacement rate of 15.9%.

Analysts also concluded that there are likely to be more last-minute product cancellations in the years ahead amid increased volatility, writing: "The next four+ years could be some of the most uncertain and volatile for product strategy ever."

Meanwhile, EVs are taking over as the majority of new nameplates launching over the next four years. As legacy automakers ramp up production of EVs, longtime EV market leader Tesla Inc. is slated to see its market share slip from the 60% range to 18% by 2026, according to Car Wars, while GM and Ford are slated to reach 14% market share by then.

Bank of America analysts also noted the dramatic impact of subsidies and consumer incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act; thanks to the legislation, they expect EVs to reach price parity with internal combustion engine vehicles around 2025. Without the IRA, consumers wouldn't see that until the early 2030s.

 

Bill Ford balks at UAW ‘enemy’
rhetoric: ‘That’s just wrong’

Evelyn Blackwell

June 21, 2023

 Ford employs more UAW members and builds more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker — facts executives are quick to tout.

“The day that our employees are considered my enemy is the day I’ll retire,” Ford said. “The head of the UAW may consider us his enemy, but I’ll never consider our employees our enemy.”

Contracts at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis expire Sept. 14. The union is expected to aggressively push for higher wages, better benefits and more job protections.

Ford said he has not yet met with Fain, although he speaks “frequently” with Vice President Chuck Browning, who leads the UAW’s Ford department. He said he’s optimistic both sides will be able to reach an agreement.

“I’ve been part of every negotiations since 1982, and the rhetoric around this time of year always heats up,” Ford said. “You just have to fight through all that and say, what are the real issues, where is the common ground, and how can we move forward? And I believe we’ll do that.”

 

 

The Detroit Three could do more
for workers with their profits

The Detroit News
June 17, 2023

General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis have spent the last decade swimming in an ocean of cash. Collectively, the Detroit Three have made nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars in profits in North America in the past decade.

A quarter of a trillion dollars is a mind-boggling amount of money. Like most working-class people, I have a hard time imagining what it means to have even a billion dollars, much less $250 billion. So here are some ways to help you visualize just how much money the Detroit Three have amassed in profits over the last 10 years.

With their quarter of a trillion dollars, the Detroit Three could:

Buy every NBA team, every Major League Baseball team and every National Hockey League team and still have enough money left over — about $50 billion — to let fans attend every game for free.

Buy the country of Greece (GDP $215 billion) and still have about $35 billion left over.

Hire 3.8 million public school teachers — a 100% increase across the country.

Fund the entire Apollo program that put a man on the moon.

But Detroit Three autoworkers aren’t asking for the moon. We’re asking for a fair deal. With a quarter of a trillion dollars, the Detroit Three can do right by their employees and our communities. In just three months, our contracts covering 150,000 autoworkers at Ford, GM and Stellantis will expire.

As we enter negotiations with the Detroit Three, the message from UAW members is clear: After years of cutbacks on wages and benefits, it’s time for autoworkers to get their fair share of these profits.

That means we must fight to end tiers, to reinstate a cost-of-living adjustment and to win stronger job protections. We’re done taking cutbacks while the companies rake in the profits.

Tiers — where some workers make less in wages and benefits than others working the same job — are the ultimate divide-and-conquer strategy. Tiers violate one of the core principles of unionism — equal pay for equal work — and will no longer be acceptable at the Big Three.

We need to lift up the second class of workers who are being denied retiree healthcare and pensions. We can’t have workers waiting nearly a decade to get up to top pay. We need to end the abuse of so-called “temporary” workers and legal schemes like LLCs or joint ventures that undermine the standards that generations of auto workers struggled to win.

In 1946 the UAW went on strike against GM, and two years later was the first union to secure a COLA in a union contract. The clause meant that wages would be tied to inflation, so workers wouldn’t be left behind. When inflation took off in the 1970s, the UAW won COLA across all of our employers to ensure that our standard of living didn’t fall behind.

Like so many other important gains autoworkers have made over the decades, we lost COLA in 2009 as a result of the auto bankruptcies during the Great Recession. In 2019, we won 6.1% wage increases after 40 days on strike. Inflation has wiped that out, and then some. In three and a half years, inflation is up 18.3%. That’s unacceptable and unsustainable.

It’s past time for America’s autoworkers to be made whole.

Shawn Fain is president of the United Auto Workers.

 

 

Can police demand to have
your doorbell video? Here's
what you need to know


CTV News
June 16, 2023

If police knock on your door and ask you to surrender your video doorbell footage, do you have to give it to them?

Consumer Reports Dan Wroclawski said legally, the answer is, “No, they can’t.”

“If police ask for your footage, you can choose to share it with them or you can simply ignore the request.”

A spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service told CTV News Toronto if a home or business has a video doorbell or security camera, police may request for its footage for their investigation, but the property owner does not have to provide it.

“The majority of homeowners are cooperative with police and are happy to provide doorbell video, but it’s not mandatory that they have to,” the TPS spokesperson said.

However, according to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), if the police really want your video, they can find ways to access it.

"You can say no for sure, but police can still produce a warrant to essentially compel the companies to provide the footage from your doorbell without your consent," David Konikoff, Interim Director of the Privacy, Technology and Surveillance program with CCLA told CTV News Toronto.

Konikoff said it also depends on what kind of video doorbell you have.

"There are lots of different companies that make these doorbells. There is Ring, Eufy, Arlo (and) Google Nest. They all have their own terms and conditions," Konikoff said.

Even if you own the doorbell, the CCLA said you may not necessarily own the video, as it could be stored on the cloud or on company servers.

If your footage is stored in the cloud or on manufacturers’ servers, police can request it through your video doorbell company. If the footage is stored locally on your system, they may have to come directly to you with a warrant if you refuse to hand it over.

 

Electric vehicles' range falls
when carrying heavy loads

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
June 15, 2023

Electric vehicles lose a significant amount of range when loaded with heavy cargo, according to a new AAA study released Tuesday.

An electric pickup truck can lose nearly 25% of its range when hauling loads about 100 pounds less than its maximum capacity, the study said.

"Range anxiety remains a top reason consumers are hesitant to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs," Adrienne Woodland, a AAA spokeswoman, said in a statement. "While this study may heighten concerns, it’s worth remembering that excess weight reduces fuel economy in gas-powered vehicles too."

In the study, the auto club's researchers drove a 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck with a 1,400-pound load of sandbags. The load was 110 pounds less than the truck's maximum capacity.

Ford Motor Co.'s F-150 Lightning is one of its most popular vehicles. Last week, the company said it's on track to reach its 150,000-unit production goal and its entry-level Pro model is sold out for model year 2023. A Ford spokeswoman wasn't available to immediately comment on the study's findings.

AAA's test truck saw its range drop by 24.5% from 278 miles to 210 miles, it said. The test was conducted on a 7.5-mile oval test track and a dynamometer at The Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles.

Simply put, extra weight in a vehicle requires more energy for it to move, researchers said.

"Our testing revealed a significant range reduction, but it's important to note that the Lightning was loaded to near its maximum capacity," Greg Brannon, director of AAA Automotive Engineering, the auto club's division that conducted the study, said in a statement. "Most buyers will likely use their Lightning with a lighter load, resulting in a much smaller range reduction."

In addition to carrying heavy loads, highway driving or permanent loads can also reduce an electric vehicle's range, AAA said. Drivers on highways move at higher speeds and aren't able to take advantage of EVs' technology that captures energy from braking and feeds it into the battery, according to experts. Furthermore, electric vehicles with permanent loads such as equipment racks, built-in equipment trays and toolboxes, will also decrease their range, even without additional cargo.

Despite the study's findings, AAA said that electric vehicles remain a viable option for many motorists.

"For buyers concerned about range, it's essential to consider the driving they will be doing and choose the right EV for their needs," Woodland said.

 

World first: How a 200 mph wind
tunnel helped develop the Ford
Mustang Dark Horse

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
June 14, 2023

Allen Park — In a long white and blue building behind I-94’s 80-foot-tall Uniroyal tire landmark, cars are traveling at speeds up to 200 mph.

While stationary.

Ford Motor Co.'s Vehicle Performance and Electrification Center houses the world’s first 200 mph aerodynamic wind tunnel. The state-of-the-art Rolling Road Wind Tunnel — fed by a 26-foot tall, 7,000-horsepower wind turbine — is part of the development of a new generation of Ford vehicles, including the 2024 Mustang.

"We spent approximately 250 hours in the wind tunnel developing the new Mustang,” said Mustang and Bronco aerodynamicist Jonathan Gesek. “The aerodynamics of the Mustang Dark Horse have created the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang to date.”

The industrial facility is long way from the simple aerodynamic tricks featured in the hit "Ford v. Ferrari" movie in which engineers attached flags to cars on test tracks to examine air flow. RRWT brings the track to the car by constructing an enormous donut with a wind turbine on one side and test vehicles strapped down in a test bay on the other.

Secured by four, sturdy floor struts that double as data collectors, cars then run on four separate belts under each wheel — or an interchangeable fifth center belt — capable of 200 mph speeds. Aerodynamicists like Gesek then monitor the data on multiple computer screens in a glass-encased control room — hopping back and forth to the wind tunnel to test different aerodynamic features.

The Mustang team, for example, developed a handling package for Dark Horse that includes multiple aero mods including a rear wing, rear-wing Gurney flap (named after driver/engineer Dan Gurney, who co-drove the legendary Ford Mk IV to victory at the 1967 Le Mans) and underbody strakes that help suck the pony to the ground. Combined with a remade front air spoiler and splitter, the features create downforce so the pony car can corner faster.

Wind tunnels came into common use in the mid-1960s on race cars like Porsches as engineers applied Bernoulli's principle of fluid dynamics used to lift airplanes off the ground — except in reverse. The RRWT is an advance on the last wind tunnel Ford built in 1999 and improves on the 2008-vintage Windshear facility — a 180 mph-capable tunnel in Concord, North Carolina — that has been used to develop NASCAR and IndyCar racers.

Gesek said the Mustang uses a wind tunnel perhaps three times more often than a typical sedan. But as Ford develops more electric vehicles, aerodynamics are also key to low wind resistance to deliver better energy efficiency.

“We’re using the wind tunnel quite a bit on our commercial vehicles as well as performance cars,” said John Toth, Ford’s North America wind tunnels engineering supervisor. “The amount of air moved by our wind tunnel is enough to fill a K-Class blimp in just over 5 seconds.”

Toth said the expense of constructing higher speed tunnels is always a deterrent, but that computer simulators can only go so far. “Computer simulators will get you 90% of the way there,” he said, standing between the blades of the enormous turbine during a rare media tour of the facility.

A key benefit of RRWT is its ability to give more accurate data compared to earlier wind tunnel designs — key factors when optimizing for range and efficiency. The turbine was constructed by TLT Turbo in Germany and is driven by a 5.4 megawatt motor.

“The closer we can get to reality in the lab, the better and faster we can create more energy-efficient vehicles with great on-road and track stability,” said Toth.

Tailored aerodynamics are applied across Ford’s 60-vehicle lineup. For passenger vehicles, the goal is low drag. Performance weapons like Dark Horse, however, balance low drag with increased downforce for high speeds in sweeping corners.

The physical forces in the wind tunnel demand high precision and the facility is constructed with that in mind. The nickel-coated turntable, for example, is separated by just 1.5 millimeters from the surrounding floor. The estimated $200 million facility broke ground in 2017, and has been in operation since January 2022.

 

Unveiled: Mustang GT3 will
race for 2024 Le Mans glory

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
June 13, 2023

Corvette, Cadillac, Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Toyota GR. The world’s top performance brands have converged on France this weekend to compete for auto racing’s premier endurance title, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Next year a pony will join them.

Ford unveiled the Mustang GT3 race car Friday for the 2024 race season ahead of the 100th running of Le Mans. Following in the footsteps of Ford’s legendary 1966 GT40 and 2016 GT racers, the GT3 will compete against the world’s top production-based sports-cars at Le Mans next year as well as in other global series.

The GT3 represents a triumph of Ford’s product strategy as the Mustang — a key pillar of the Blue Oval’s icon brand strategy along with the F-150 truck and Bronco SUV — has weathered government emissions regulations that have contributed to the demise of muscle car competitors Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger. The seventh-generation, 2024 Mustang is due to hit showrooms this fall.

“Ford and Le Mans are bound together by history. And now we’re coming back to the most important race in the world,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley, a skilled race driver himself. “It is not Ford versus Ferrari anymore. It is Ford versus everyone. Going back to Le Mans is the beginning of building a global motorsports business with Mustang, just like we are doing with Bronco and Raptor off-road.”

Ford is partnering with race chassis manufacturer Multimatic to produce its race car. Multimatic built the Ford GT that won the Le Mans GT class in 2016 on its first try. The Toronto-based race shop also builds the Porsche 963 prototype race car that Bloomfield Hills-based Team Penske has entered this weekend as Chairman Roger Penske tries to add Le Mans to his trophy case filled with 19 Indy 500 wins.

Renowned motorsports designer Troy Lee is also a Ford partner, designing the livery for the GT3 debut. Inspired by the new Dark Horse performance model that will debut on the seventh-generation muscle car alongside the traditional Ecoboost and GT models, the Mustang GT3 will carry a ferocious V-8 under the hood.

V-8s have been under attack by global emissions regulators, but eight-holers are dominant at Le Mans, powering everything from the Mustang to Penske’s Porsche to the Corvette that took GT-class pole for Saturday’s race start. M-Sport will assemble the race car’s 5.4-liter, so-called Coyote V-8.

“For a project like the Mustang GT3, we turned to our most trusted partners in the motorsports world to help bring this vehicle together,” said Ford Performance Motorsports Global Director Mark Rushbrook.

The race car bears the signature long hood and fastback of the production car, but is otherwise radically upgraded for the demands of high-speed, high-downforce endurance racing. The carbon-fiber-skinned race car has grown a big wing and diffuser out back, while the front fenders ripple with air vents for aerodynamic downforce. The menacing front end looks like something out of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

The Mustang GT3 represents Ford’s ambitious goal to sell race cars to customers across the world as Porsche has done for years — promising income to a Ford Performance unit that traditionally has been essential to engineering and marketing, not a profit center. The same goes for Chevrolet, which introduced its own, remade Corvette GT3 car at the 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year with global sales in mind.

The Mustang GT3’s first customer is Germany-based Proton Competition, which will campaign a pair of ponies in the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship. Stateside, Ford Performance will field a two-car factory team in IMSA’s 2024 GTD Pro class.

 

Ford on track to produce 150,000
F-150 Lightnings, lowering
customer wait times

The Detroit News
June 12, 2023

Ford Motor Co. is on track to reach its 150,000-unit production goal on the electric F-150 Lightning this year and giving the largest production increase to the XLT trim customers have been waiting for, the Dearborn automaker said Thursday.

Customers wanting the $64,474 Lightning XLT can order one today from a local Ford dealer online or in-store and expect delivery as early as September, the company said. Ford is continuing to accept retail customer orders for the Lariat and Platinum higher-trim models. The entry-level Pro model remains sold out for model year 2023.

"Customer interest for XLT has considerably outstripped supply since the F-150 Lightning launch and we’ve worked with our suppliers to help address that,” said Marin Gjaja, Ford Model e chief customer officer, in a statement. “We heard loud and clear from our customers that they want their truck deliveries as close as possible to their orders. As we scale production, we are making this possible.”  

Thursday's news comes after Ford earlier this year had to halt production and shipments for the electric pickup for more than a month after a battery caught fire on a truck and spread to two others in a holding lot near the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the trucks are built.

The production stoppage may have put Ford behind on filling orders for the pickup, but the automaker is still ahead of crosstown rival General Motors Co.'s electric Chevrolet Silverado. Production of the Work Truck version of the Silverado EV is supposed to start soon at GM's Factory Zero Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center. A $105,000 RST retail version of the truck will launch in the second half of the year.

"It's going to be some time in 2024 before GM introduces lower trim levels of the Silverado," said Sam Abuelsamid, principal e-mobility analyst for market research firm Guidehouse Insights. "So now's a good time for Ford to take advantage of that capacity ... build those trucks, get those into customer hands."

Ford's electric vehicle sales were down 13% year-over-year in May as the automaker works to increase production of its battery-powered vehicles: the Mustang Mach-E, Lightning and E-Transit. The company expects the results of those efforts will show up in the second half of 2023.

Sales were affected by disruptions at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center and at the Mustang Mach-E plant in Mexico, which was also down for several weeks earlier this year.

Ford wants to increase production at the Mach-E plant to 130,000 units this year and has steadily done so in the last few months with more than 13,600 units assembled in May. Year to date, the plant has produced more than 33,000 Mach-Es.

 

Automakers tell Congress:
Don't make us keep AM radio

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News
June 8, 2023

Washington — In an era when companies are building driverless cars and 30-inch infotainment screens, the auto industry found itself in Congress on Tuesday fighting over technology that's a little more old school: AM radio.

Bipartisan lawmakers are considering requiring automakers to keep AM radio in all new vehicles as some companies — including Tesla Inc., Volkswagen AG, Volvo Cars and BMW AG — are eliminating the frequency from electric vehicles because battery motors interfere with signals.

During a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing, the lobbying arm of the U.S. auto industry asked lawmakers not to do that, saying that plenty of technology is available to transmit safety messages, and that mandates could hamper future innovation.

That argument was met with united skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans: Lawmakers argued that AM radio is a crucial source for local news and public safety messages in remote areas.

"When hurricanes, tornadoes or other natural disasters strike, AM radio remains steadfast, providing vital information to those in affected areas when other communication channels fail," said subcommittee chair Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio.

Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Doris Matsui, D-California, said "we know AM radio is more than just a lifeline during an emergency. For many, it represents an irreplaceable connection with their community."

The electrical components in electric vehicle batteries generate static that makes it harder to receive clear AM radio signals. Some automakers have aimed to minimize that interference, the committee said, while several automakers have opted to eliminate AM radio from new EVs.

AM radio frequencies generally have poorer sound quality and are more susceptible to interference than FM radio, but AM can be heard further away from a transmitter than FM.

On Tuesday, a representative for automakers said the industry takes "the safety of consumers and the public seriously" but that there is a federal system (the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS) that provides multiple alert options that will ensure people can get emergency information.

"The federal government and industry must work together to modernize IPAWS and continue to incorporate new technologies," said Scott Schmidt, vice president for safety policy at the Alliance for Automotive Innovation. "Doing so will ensure we collectively provide the best, most capable and resilient technologies to the public, also strengthening public safety."

He added that there is declining listenership for AM radio: "We are technology agnostic in the sense that we are looking to deliver alerts to our customers as efficiently as possible, as broadly as possible, in the most efficient manner and in a manner that's not going to decline in the future."

Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, said she's spoken with federal officials about IPAWS' abilities and believes "we are not adequately prepared to reach all Americans in the event of a disaster."

The president of a network of radio stations in Indiana and Ohio and an officer from the New Jersey State Police spoke in favor of keeping AM radio. They said AM is the most consistent, dependable platform in case of emergencies.

Multiple members raised concerns that automakers may start charging customers for access to AM and FM radio.

"The fact that AM is free is something that should cause all of us to sit up and take notice," said Michigan Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton. "This is how people in rural areas like my district get their news. They connect with their religion, they raise money for local causes, they take part in diverse conversations that they might not otherwise have access to."

Schmidt said he can only speak to the industry's safety commitment, that automakers will ensure drivers have access to free public alerts and safety warnings.

The congressional uproar over AM radio began last month when Latta and 103 other members of Congress sent a letter to automakers that planned to eliminate AM radio, raising concerns about public access to emergency information, particularly in rural areas where internet and cell service is more sparse.

Two days later, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-New Jersey, introduced the "AM for Every Vehicle Act," which would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate that new vehicles come with AM radio at no additional cost. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

Then Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley announced that the company would reverse its April decision to eliminate AM radio in new models beginning next year "after speaking with policy leaders about the importance of AM broadcast radio as a part of the emergency alert system." Latta thanked Ford for that reversal during the hearing Tuesday.

Energy and Commerce Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, asked why Ford was able to keep AM radio "with the flip of a switch" while other car companies can't. Schmidt said Ford just disabled the software that receives AM radio as it worked to remove the hardware, so it was able to quickly reverse its plan.

 

GM invests in next-gen
truck production at
Oshawa, Ontario, plant

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
June 7, 2023

General Motors Co. will invest $280 million Canadian at its Oshawa Assembly Plant in Ontario to produce its next-generation internal combustion engine full-size trucks, the Detroit automaker said Tuesday.

The announcement comes a day after GM said it would invest more than $1 billion at its Flint facilities, Flint Assembly and Flint Metal Center, for next-generation heavy-duty trucks.

Oshawa, a plant where GM halted production in 2019, had its lines restarted in 2021 to support high demand for the company's trucks. The plant makes both light-duty and heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras.

Product details and launch timing haven't been released.

GM hasn't yet announced an investment for next-generation trucks at its Silao plant in Mexico or the Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant where full-size light-duty trucks also are built.

The automaker has sought tax incentives in Fort Wayne. Allen County Council in Fort Wayne recently approved a tax abatement request tied to a $468 million investment in manufacturing equipment at the plant, The Detroit News previously reported.

GM on Thursday is planning to have a "positive plant manufacturing announcement" at its Arlington, Texas, plant where full-size SUVs are made.

 

Ford tells some Lincoln SUV
owners to park outdoors
because of fire risk

Associated Press
June 6, 2023

Detroit — Ford is telling owners of more than 140,000 SUVs in the U.S. to park them outside because they can catch fire even when the engine is turned off.

The company is recalling certain Lincoln MKC SUVs from the 2015 to 2019 model years. Ford says a short-circuit can develop in the 12-volt battery monitor sensor. It can overheat and cause an engine compartment fire while parked or in motion.

Owners are urged to park away from structures until the recall repair is made. The sensors can be damaged when the battery or related electrical parts are serviced.

Ford says in documents posted Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it has 19 reports of fires that may be related to the problem in the United States, China and Canada. The company said it's not aware of any injuries.

Dealers will add a fuse to the battery monitor sensor power circuit. Owners will be notified by letter starting June 26.

 

 

Strong truck sales lift
Ford's May results

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
June 5, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s sales rose 10.7% year-over-year in May, boosted by strong sales of the automaker's flagship F-Series truck line and amid big gains industrywide.

The Dearborn automaker sold 170,933 vehicles in the United States across its Ford and Lincoln brands in May, up from 154,461 in May 2022, according to figures released Friday. Year to date, the company's sales are up 8.8%.

Sales were up significantly across the industry in May. American Honda sales were up 58.2% year-over-year; the company that includes the Honda and Acura brands attributed the increase to healthy inventory levels and new products. Hyundai sales were up 18%. Toyota Motor North America reported an increase of more than 6%.

Industry data provider Cox Automotive said Friday that initial estimates of May sales indicate results were even stronger than Cox's forecast of 20.3% year-over-year volume growth.

"New-vehicle inventory was at a two-year high heading into the month, and some automakers were beginning to turn up the volume on incentives," analysts wrote in a note. "As expected, pent-up demand and improved inventory levels helped drive higher sales volumes. May is often a good month for new-vehicle sales, and May 2023 did not disappoint."

Ford's internal combustion engine vehicles, which make up the vast majority of its sales, were up 11.1% in May, while hybrid vehicle sales rose 20.5%. Ford's electric vehicle sales were down 13% year-over-year as the automaker works to ramp up production at the plants that make the Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Lightning. The company said it expects to see the results of those efforts show up in results in the second half of the year.

Mach-E production was down at Ford's Cuautitlan plant in Mexico for several weeks earlier this year while the company prepared to increase production there to 130,000 units this year. Mach-E output has risen steadily the last few months, according to production data released Friday, with more than 13,600 units assembled in May. Year to date, the plant has produced more than 33,000 Mach-Es.

Trucks were a point of strength for the Blue Oval in May, with sales up 31.6% to more than 98,000 units. Driving that strong performance was the F-Series, which posted a 42.7% year-over-year gain. Sales of the F-150 soared nearly 50%, while the redesigned Super Duty that recently launched saw sales grow 33.9% in May.

Sales of the electric F-150 Lightning totaled 1,707 for the month.

Meanwhile, in the SUV segment, sales were down nearly 10% in May. Results for Ford brand SUVs were down for the EcoSport, Bronco, Mach-E, Edge and Explorer. Sales of the Bronco Sport, redesigned Escape and Expedition were up.

Ford's luxury Lincoln brand posted a 14.4% sales decline for the month.

 

Ford EVs to get access to Tesla
charging network, CEOs say

Jordyn Grzelewski
Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
June 2, 2023

Two auto industry heavyweights and competitors are teaming up to expand access to electric-vehicle charging in North America.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley and Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk on Thursday announced that, starting next year, Ford's EVs will gain access to Tesla's proprietary Supercharger network. They shared the news during a live event on Twitter Spaces; Musk also owns Twitter.

With Ford customers gaining access to more than 12,000 Superchargers, the agreement will more than double the number of EV fast chargers to which they currently have access.

"We're ramping production and we think this a huge move for our industry and for our all-electric customers," Farley said. "Widespread access to fast-charging is absolutely vital to our growth as an EV brand."

"We don't want the Tesla Supercharger network to be like a walled garden," Musk said. "We want it to be something that is supportive of electrification and sustainable transport in general. ... It is our intent to do everything possible to support Ford and have Ford be on an equal footing at Tesla Superchargers."

Here's how the arrangement will work for customers: Starting next year, a Tesla-developed adapter will provide drivers of Ford EVs fitted with a Combined Charging System (CCS) port access to Tesla's V3 Superchargers, according to a news release. Starting in 2025, when it's set to launch its second generation of electric vehicles, Ford will equip its EVs with the NACS charge port that Tesla vehicles have, eliminating the need for an adapter.

Currently, Ford's charging network has some 84,000 chargers, including more than 10,000 public fast chargers, according to the company. Ford also is in the midst of an initiative under which its dealers are adding about 1,800 public fast chargers at their stores.

In a statement, Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer for Ford's EV business unit, said that Tesla's charging network "has excellent reliability and the NACS plug is smaller and lighter. Overall, this provides a superior experience for customers.”

Farley hinted at the move during an event earlier Thursday with Morgan Stanley, where he talked about there being "room for some collaboration between the auto companies — which is totally unnatural for us."

"Right now we have two different plugs," he said, referring to the "North American Charging Standard (NACS) connector that Tesla uses versus another standard, CCS, used by other manufacturers.

"They're completely different," Farley said. "It seems totally ridiculous that we have an infrastructure problem and we can't even agree on what plug to use."

During the Twitter Spaces event, Musk said he believes that "consumers will be all the better for it" if NACS becomes the standard.

"This was a no brainer move for Farley and (Ford) needed to partner with Tesla to expand its charging ecosystem," Dan Ives, an equity analyst at Wedbush Securities who follows both companies, said via email. "A strategic step forward for Ford to go after its EV vision as Tesla holds most of the cards with its supercharger network. Many thought this day would never happen."

Ford's stock was trading up about 1% after hours to $11.49 per share. Tesla's stock was trading up less than 1% to $184.83 per share

 

'Pony up:' UAW leadership
details priorities for Detroit
Three contract talks

Jordyn Grzelewski
Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
June 1, 2023

The United Auto Workers' bargaining strategy for upcoming contract talks with the Detroit automakers came into sharper focus Wednesday as union leaders spelled out their top priorities.

They are: ending tiered wage and benefit structures; reinstating cost-of-living adjustments; and securing stronger job protections. The UAW's top five leaders detailed those goals during a union-wide town hall Wednesday on Facebook Live.

“These companies have been extraordinarily profitable, and our members have created incredible value for these companies during some really hard and dangerous years," said UAW President Shawn Fain. "They can afford our demands, and we expect them to pony up.”

Contract negotiations between the UAW and Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV are slated to kick off in the coming months ahead of the Sept. 14 expiration of the previous four-year agreements. The stakes are high for all parties, as the negotiations will play a crucial role in the industry's shift to electric vehicles.

The goals mentioned by UAW leaders were spot on for Ryan Ashley, an engine assembly technician at Ford's Cleveland Engine Plant.

“I'm looking forward to eliminating tiers, getting back COLA and then making some sort of progress towards retiree health care and then pensions,” he said.

Ashley, a member of Local 1250 with four years in at the Ford plant, is prepared to go on strike: “If we want to get all those concessions back, we will have to go on strike."

Union leaders on Wednesday reiterated a longstanding point of contention for the UAW and its members: tiered wage and benefit systems that often include years-long progression periods before members reach the top of wage scales. They argued that the cost-of-living adjustments the UAW first won in the 1940s, but which autoworkers lost during the Great Recession, are a must amid high inflation. Inflation in the United States peaked in June 2022 at 9.1% — the highest it has been since 1981. They also pointed to plant closures by all three automakers in recent years, even as the companies have generated record profits.

In 2022, GM, Stellantis and Ford reported adjusted operating income in North America, respectively, of $13 billion, $15.2 billion and $9.2 billion.

“We know what the companies are going to say when we go into bargaining. ... They’re going to say that our demands are unrealistic. They’re going to say that they’re worried about the rising interest rates and a looming recession. They’re going to say they can’t afford our demands because the transformation towards an electric future requires massive investments," said Fain. "To that we say: 'We took concessions in hard times. ... Business has been booming for the last decade, and these companies have made record profits. And this is our time to get our fair share of the pie.'”

As for the prospects of a strike, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Margaret Mock said that will depend on what happens at the bargaining table. She pointed to the financial impact on GM of the UAW's 40-day strike of the Detroit automaker in 2019 — $3 billion — and to the UAW's $825 million strike fund.

"We will go the distance to win what we deserve," she said, "even if it means staying out."

Union leaders also promised greater transparency during bargaining than in previous cycles, vowing to send out regular updates to the membership and have more town halls. They also urged members to prepare at the local level and said the UAW would be organizing national days of action at plants across the United States as part of a national contract campaign.

Rob Pacheco, a member of Local 31 out of GM’s Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, said what was highlighted at the town hall was “a reflection of what's coming off the floor.”

“I don't know a single autoworker that doesn't say those things every time we sit at the break table,” he said.

Pacheco, who’s been an autoworker for 26 years, expects the UAW to be able to make some gains during negotiations this year.

And the automakers giving back COLA “wouldn't even scratch a dent in corporate profits,” he said.

“They can cry poor and say they don't know what the economy is going to be but we didn't know what the economy was going to be 10 years ago, and then five years after that," he said. "But I do know that it takes me longer hours and more days to put milk and bread on my table.”

 

Time to end violations of
Canada Health Act with
illegal fees for service

If you’re covered by OHIP, all medically necessary hospital and physician services must be provided without extra user charges.

By Natalie Mehra
May 30, 2023

Last month, a friend was told by his doctor it would take a year to have a colonoscopy performed in his local hospital. (A highly dubious claim.) Then, he was told he could have it done in the same physician’s private clinic faster … if he pays $75.

That is an outright violation of the Canada Health Act.

A Toronto woman wrote on May 7:

“I just had cataract surgery at a private clinic. I was not warned until I got to the doctor’s office that it would cost me just under $2,000. I asked the referring ophthalmologist why I was charged so much. She said I could have asked to waive the fees. But I was not offered that by the doctor who performed the cataract surgery.”

Last week, a man in Southwestern Ontario told me he has to pay for laser cataract surgery because it isn’t covered by OHIP. (It is.)

When Premier Doug Ford announced plans to expand private clinics, he promised patients would never have to pay with their credit card. Yet, existing private clinics in Ontario, already force — or manipulate — patients into paying outrageous extra costs. And the clinics are extra-billing with impunity.

The Ford government used its majority to pass Bill 60 earlier this month. This new law expressly enables the transfer of surgeries and diagnostics from public hospitals to for-profit clinics. It puts foundational principles of our public health system — that people get care based on need, not wealth — in real and urgent danger.

Patients need to know two things:

First, patients have a “Bill of Rights” under the Canada Health Act. If you’re covered by OHIP, all medically necessary hospital and physician services — including cataract surgeries, colonoscopies and MRIs — must be provided without extra user charges, whether in a public hospital or private clinic.

To be clear: No amount can be charged to a patient for medically necessary lenses and eye tests, nor for the premises, equipment or personnel.

Second, private clinics generate profit from “upselling” to patients — pushing a dizzying array of add-ons that are medically unnecessary.

Bill 60 does not ban this practice. Shockingly, it actually invites the new private clinics to lay out their plans for upselling to the government. If they are not stopped, can anyone doubt it’s only a matter of time until we’re being manipulated into paying thousands of dollars for “extra-special” joint replacements and more?

What is most appalling is that this privatization puts our public health care at risk for no reason. We categorically do not need private clinics to cut surgical wait times. Virtually every public hospital has operating rooms that are closed evenings, overnight and on weekends. They should be funded and staffed to open to full capacity to clear backlogs.

Lest anyone believe we can’t afford it, Ontario funds its hospitals at the lowest rate in Canada.

Our public hospitals have been developed over a hundred years. Communities built hospitals to care for victims of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-20. Veteran’s memorial hospitals were built after the world wars. Over generations, Ontarians volunteered, fundraised and built our hospitals. They are ours: our public assets, our inheritance, our legacy.

With no democratic mandate whatsoever, sixty-eight MPPs voted to pass Bill 60, privatizing the core of our public hospitals.

In response, the Ontario Health Coalition is organizing a massive volunteer-run referendum. More than 150,000 people have already voted online and in advance polls. Community votes across Ontario will be held outside local businesses and public spaces on Friday and Saturday.

When governments take away our democracy and threaten what is ours, we have to find ways to empower people to have their voices heard. And, if we speak in large enough numbers, the Ford government will ultimately have to listen.

 

 

 

Talks stall as Trudeau and Ford’s
multibillion offer to save Stellantis
EV battery plant falls short: sources

One highly placed source told the Star the latest proposal is more than the initial $1-billion contribution that the federal and provincial governments had promised Stellantis to construct a facility that would make 400,000 batteries a year.

By Tonda MacCharlesOttawa Bureau Chief
Robert BenzieQueen's Park Bureau Chief
May 29, 2023

Weeks of crisis talks to keep Stellantis from moving a massive EV battery plant out of Canada are at an impasse as Ottawa’s latest offer falls short of what the company wants, the Star has learned.

The Trudeau government has proposed to spend billions more as part of a package for Stellantis — parent company of Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat — to convince the company to restart construction on a $5-billion electric vehicle battery factory in Windsor, halted nearly two weeks ago.

One highly placed source told the Star the latest proposal is more than the initial $1-billion contribution the federal and provincial governments had promised Stellantis to construct a facility that would make 400,000 batteries a year.

But the insider, who spoke on a background basis to protect ongoing sensitive negotiations, warned the money would not be enough for the joint venture formed by Stellantis and its Korea-based partner LG Energy Solution to retain all of the planned battery factory in Canada.

That’s because of the richer subsidies available in the U.S. thanks to President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which gives companies massive payouts for green manufacturing.

The current Canadian offer could help bankroll production of battery cells here, but it wouldn’t cover the modules that contain the battery cells, the source said.

It remains uncertain whether some or all of the manufacturing proposed for the Windsor plant, which is slated to employ 2,500, could be relocated to the U.S.

Neither the company nor government officials at Queen’s Park would comment Friday.

Have talks broken down?

In Ottawa, Adrienne Vaupshas, a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, said only that “conversations are ongoing and we remain confident we will reach a deal that is in the best interests of Canadians. We are working closely with both the Ontario provincial government and with Stellantis.”

“The Canadian auto sector is very important to the Canadian economy and the thousands of Canadians whose livelihoods depend on it,” Vaupshas said.

Stellantis Canada spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin said only: “We are not commenting at this time.”

Talks directed by the federal government and Stellantis, which has taken the lead on negotiations for the joint venture, continued “actively” all week as Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne was in B.C. and flying back to Ottawa Friday, his office said.

Premier Doug Ford said his government had increased its initial contribution of a $500-million subsidy to the auto giant, but has declined to discuss specific subsidies on offer.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday at an auto parts factory in London, the premier emphasized the importance of the sector to Ontario’s economy.

“The future is electric and we’re leading the charge. Over the past two-and-a-half years, we’ve attracted over $25 billion in auto and EV battery investment, including, most recently, Volkswagen’s $7-billion investment to build its first overseas EV battery manufacturing facility here in St. Thomas,” said Ford.

“These are game-changing investments that are creating new jobs, better jobs, better paycheques across the auto supply chain and driving economic growth,” he said.

Brampton plant could be next

But Ford sounded a note of frustration at the pace of talks in the Stellantis situation, suggesting the ball is in Ottawa’s court.

“We’re waiting for the federal government to finish off the deal. As you know, we put in our fair share and now we’re stepping up again — to put in more money,” the premier said.

There are also concerns at Queen’s Park that the huge Stellantis plant in Brampton could be collateral damage if the automaker moves more production stateside.

A source close to Stellantis noted the company has not yet revealed a future EV product for Brampton, where the gasoline-powered Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Challenger have been made for years.

The federal government never publicly confirmed its original $500-million contribution to Stellantis-LG Energy Solution in March 2022, citing commercial sensitivities around other negotiations that were on at the time.

However, after the introduction last August of the Biden administration’s $369-billion (US) package subsidies to attract “green” technology investments to America, Stellantis quickly sought more financial incentives from Canada.

Stellantis shut down construction on the plant three days after the Star revealed on May 12 that the project was in jeopardy if the pot wasn’t sweetened.

Champagne and Freeland have said Canada would not match dollar-for-dollar American production subsidies, but would support strategically important projects via investment tax credits to spur capital outlays by companies to start projects here.

U.S. money has changed things

Last week, Champagne stressed Ottawa wants to keep the Stellantis investment in Windsor, but at the same time Freeland said the company must be “reasonable” in its demands because federal resources are not “infinite.” Both have publicly lobbied the province to spend more, citing regional “fairness” given Ontario will get the most benefit from the project.

As Champagne and Freeland pursued additional cash from the Ford government, they have tried to keep talks under wraps, insisting they will not negotiate in public.

Those talks heated up this spring after German auto giant Volkswagen said it struck a deal with the federal government to locate a new EV battery-making plant in St. Thomas. It is another massive “gigafactory” that will ultimately produce up to one million electric car batteries a year, more than twice what the Stellantis plant is aiming to produce.

When the details were revealed in April, Ottawa admitted it had offered VW matching U.S.-style production credits of up to $13.2 billion — far higher than the $1 billion in aid originally announced for the Stellantis EV battery plant in March 2022.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, first reported by the Star, Stellantis demanded Ottawa respect what the company said was a written promise to match production subsidies for the Windsor plant, too.

 

Ford's Farley: 'We see the
Chinese as the main competitor,
not GM or Toyota'

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
May 28, 2023

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley is looking further afield than the Dearborn automaker's traditional rivals as the company charts a future defined by electric, digitally-connected vehicles: namely, to China.

“We see the Chinese as the main competitor, not GM or Toyota," said Farley, speaking at a Morgan Stanley conference Thursday. The comment came in response to a question about how Ford can preserve its current strategy of focusing on the segments where it's most successful, in the context of an increasingly competitive landscape and as Chinese automakers make significant gains.

“As far as the Chinese (are) concerned, it’s going to be really humbling. They produce 70% of the electric vehicles in the world in China," Farley said. "The Chinese are going to be the powerhouse, we think. To beat them, you either have to have a very distinct brand — which we think we do, by leaning into our icons — or you have to beat them on cost. But how do you beat them on cost if their scale is five times yours?"

Farley pointed to Chinese competitors like SAIC Motor, Great Wall Motor and Geely — but the one he's watching the closest is BYD Auto, the company that this year ascended to China's top-selling auto brand and which is vying with Tesla Inc. for the title of the world's biggest electric-vehicle maker. Farley noted BYD's massive scale, investments in lithium iron phosphate battery chemistry and its high levels of vertical integration.

“I like BYD. Totally vertically-integrated, aggressive, unapologetic," he said. "Very, very impressive company."

With China now holding the title of the world's largest auto exporter and as the country maintains dominance over EV battery technology, Farley said the United States has a decision to make, even amid high geopolitical tensions: “If localizing their (battery) technology in the U.S. gets caught up in politics, the customer’s really going to get screwed. So we have to work through that in this country.”

Detroit's automakers have been reassessing their strategies in China amid rapidly increasing competition from domestic manufacturers there that are leading the way on electrification and offering high-quality, affordably-priced EVs. The stakes are high, as China is not only the world's largest auto market, but the top EV market in the world.

Ford, which has a market share of about 2% in China, recently said it was moving to a "leaner" model there, including a focus on exports and on areas of strength such as commercial vehicles. And while rival General Motors Co. has a larger business there, executives there have also acknowledged challenges amid years-long sales declines. Stellantis NV is opting for an "asset-light" approach in China.

"We're not going to try to serve everyone," Farley said earlier this month. "It'll be a lower investment, leaner, much more focused business in China, and we're going to have a team on the ground that will be global resources for the company, because of how important the market is in EV." That reassessment also includes reported job cuts.

The market fluctuations in a country once dominated by foreign auto brands can be explained in large part by Chinese consumers' rapid adoption of electric vehicles. More than a quarter of passenger vehicles sales in China were electric last year, and the vast majority of those EVs were produced by domestic manufacturers.

Farley's comments Thursday about the competitive cost structure Chinese automakers are establishing echoed similar remarks Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares made recently.

“Now we have the problem of affordability, and we have our Chinese competitors that are going to challenge us with a very different cost structure," Tavares said. "We are challenged by our Chinese competitors. They have done the job. So, the question for Europe is very important: Is the only way to compete with our Chinese competitors to use the same cost structure, or can we find another way to compete with them? That is the 1 million euro question.”

Meanwhile, Ford recently has been embroiled in political backlash over its planned use of Chinese technology at a forthcoming $3.5 billion battery plant in Marshall.

The Dearborn automaker is establishing the first automaker-backed LFP battery plant in the United States. The operation is slated to open in 2026 and to create about 2,500 jobs.

Ford will own the property, employ the workforce and operate the plant. It will license battery technology from China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., or CATL, an arrangement that does not involve a joint venture or cross shareholdings but which nonetheless has drawn intense criticism from Republican lawmakers. Ford officials have pointed out that many EV batteries are imported from China, and that CATL will not receive U.S. tax dollars for the Marshall plant.

Ford's stock closed up 0.4% to $11.38 per share Thursday afternoon.

 

Ford’s new three-row crossover
to be built at Oakville plant

By Gene Pereira

May 27, 2023

A three-row EV crossover is coming to Ford’s Oakville plant in the near future.

Ford CEO Jim Farley made the announcement earlier this month at the auto company’s investor day stating that with the two-row crossover field packed with competitors, the company will need to compete elsewhere as well.

Aimed to help boost up their EV division, three-row EV crossover from Ford will be built in Oakville and is expected to reach dealerships in 2025.

“In contrast to two-row crossovers that we believe will be a very saturated market, we believe Model E can be highly differentiated in markets where we know the customer well, like the three-row utility space,” said Farley, in a quarterly financial call earlier this month.

“A lot of new customers bought a Lightning that never owned a pickup truck before. And we intend to do that with a three-row crossover and with a bunch of EV Pro vehicles.”

Some of the details of the new vehicle were shared at the investor event by Doug Field, Ford’s chief advanced product development and technical officer.

The three-row crossover, which will have enough space for at least seven passengers and be similar in size to the Ford Explorer, will have over 563 km/h of range, with the ability to add over 241 km/h of range in just a 10-minute charging stop.

While exact pricing on the new vehicle has yet to be released, Ford said it will be affordable.

 

Ford reverses course, will keep
AM radio on future models

Tom Krisher and Wyatte Grantham-Philips
Associated Press
May 24, 2023

Detroit — Owners of new Ford vehicles will be able to tune in to AM radio in their cars, trucks and SUVs after all.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley wrote in social media postings Tuesday that the company is reversing a decision to scrub the band after speaking with government policy leaders who are concerned about keeping emergency alerts that often are sounded on AM stations.

“We've decided to include it on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles," Farley wrote on LinkedIn and Twitter. "For any owners of Ford's EVs without AM broadcast capability, we'll offer a software update” to restore it.

The move comes after a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require AM in new vehicles at no additional cost.

Sponsors of the “AM for Every Vehicle Act” cited public safety concerns, noting AM's historic role in transmitting vital information during emergencies, such as natural disasters, especially to rural areas.

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., one of the bill’s sponsors, said eight of 20 major automakers including Ford, BMW AG and Tesla Inc. have pulled the band from new vehicles.

Ford removed AM from the 2023 Mustang Mach-e and F-150 Lightning electric pickups after data collected from vehicles showed that less than 5% of customers listened to it, spokesman Alan Hall said. Electrical interference and reducing cost and manufacturing complexity also played a role.

The company also took it out of the 2024 gasoline-powered Mustang, but will add it back in before any of the muscle cars are delivered, Hall said.

The EVs will get an online software update to put AM back into the vehicles, and Ford will keep including it in future vehicles as it looks at innovative ways to deliver emergency alerts, Hall said.

Ford and others also suggested that internet radio or other communication tools could replace AM radio. But Markey and others pointed to situations where drivers might not have internet access.

The Federal Communications Commission and National Association of Broadcasters praised the legislation, which is also backed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.; Rep. Tom Kean, Jr., R-N.J., and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Wash., among others.

But the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a U.S. trade group that represents major automakers including Ford and BMW, criticized the bill, calling the AM radio mandate unnecessary.

The trade group pointed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System, which can distribute safety warnings across AM, FM, internet-based and satellite radios — as well as over cellular networks.

The alliance said the bill gives preference to a technology that's competing with other communications options.

Messages were left Tuesday seeking comment from BMW and Tesla.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters and Nielsen data, more than 80 million people in the United States listen to AM radio every month.

 

Ford strikes lithium deals to
support increase in EV output

Keith Naughton, David Stringer and Matthew Miller
Bloomberg
May 23, 2023

Ford Motor Co. reached a series of deals to buy lithium from projects in Canada to Chile, as automakers rush to secure the materials needed to build electric vehicles.

Ford has struck deals with Albemarle, the world's top producer, Chile's SQM and Canada's Nemaska Lithium, according to separate announcements Monday. The deals come ahead of the second day of an investor event focused on Ford's $50 billion plan for electric models. The agreements will look to take advantage of President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, which contains incentives for battery manufacturing and sourcing of materials from the United States and its allies.

The availability and cost of crucial battery materials, including nickel and cobalt, have been key concerns for years among EV makers trying to build out their electric lineups. The issue has gained more urgency in recent months due to rising competition to strike supply pacts with miners and project developers and by wild swings in raw material costs. Processing is the "limiting factor," said Ford Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley.

"The mining part is not the constraint. It's really the processing," Farley said Monday in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "So turning those raw materials, especially lithium and nickel, into processed materials we can put into a slurry to make the cells themselves."

This is the second time in less than a year that Ford has announced direct deals with battery metals producers, following a series of agreements announced in July. The latest pacts include:

-Albemarle supplying more than 100,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide for about 3 million Ford EV batteries starting in 2026, and continuing through 2030

-SQM ensuring supply of battery-grade lithium carbonate and hydroxide that will help Ford vehicles qualify for consumer tax credits included in the Inflation Reduction Act

-Canada's Nemaska Lithium delivering as much as 13,000 tons of lithium hydroxide per year, with Ford becoming the first customer of the company backed by Quebec's government and Livent, the world's third-largest lithium producer

-EnergySource Minerals and Compass Minerals supplying lithium products they expect to produce in California and Utah, respectively, starting in 2025

Ford appeared to be lagging competitors in terms of lithium supply, despite signing an off-take agreement last year with Liontown Resources, David Deckelbaum, a TD Cowen analyst, said in a note. The flurry of deals announced Monday put it "well ahead" of most auto manufacturers, he wrote, and highlights what will be the most likely path that companies take to secure supply, as opposed to mergers and acquisitions.

Ford is staging a two-day event in Dearborn this week to persuade investors on the merits of its plans for a 16-fold increase in EV production in the span of just a few years. The company is "pretty much done" locking up the mining capacity needed to reach its 2026 production goal, Farley said.

The CEO noted the processing constraints Ford is facing are partly political. The Biden administration is coaxing companies to depend less on China by making EV incentives subject to requirements that components and materials are sourced from North America and U.S. free-trade partners.

"On-shoring the processing is going to be the most important controller of cost and also politics," Farley said. "Eighty percent of the processing for nickel and lithium are being done in China, and we need to localize that."

 

Canadian autoworkers union
Unifor lays out priorities for
Detroit Three contract talks

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
May 22, 2023

The labor union representing Canadian autoworkers last Thursday that pensions, higher wages and job security in the shift to producing electric vehicles are the priorities at the bargaining table this year with Detroit's three automakers.

Delegates from Unifor's locals met for the union's Special Auto Council on Wednesday and Thursday in London, Ontario, to discuss proposed resolutions and priorities for the "most closely watched and highly anticipated rounds of Detroit Three bargaining that we've seen in a long time," Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a statement. Those will kick off in August. It'll be the first time in years the Canadian union representing 20,000 autoworkers will be negotiating with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV at the same time as the United Auto Workers, which have signaled similar expectations.

Delegates raised concerns over inflation, temporary layoffs as automakers retool plants for EVs, hiring and retention challenges and the unionization of new EV facilities.

“We are in an extraordinary time in the sector, with thousands of members bracing for a transition to electric vehicles,” James Stewart, Unifor's master bargaining chair for Stellantis, said in a statement. “One of our primary priorities in addition to pensions and wages will be to secure details of these investment commitments including specific product allocation, transition timeline and income security protections during the transition.”

Stellantis' decision on Monday to pause construction of an EV battery module assembly facility it owns with LG Energy Solution in Windsor, Ontario, over a disagreement on what the Canadian government has committed to provide in tax credits, shows what is at stake in the EV transformation as automakers seek cost reductions to produce more-expensive EVs. Payne told The Detroit News on Wednesday that she fears losing the battery plant could risk other investments from Stellantis in the country that is seeking to win back auto investments lost in recent decades.

"There is quite frankly too much at stake," Payne said about the situation with the Windsor module plant, where 300 jobs are at stake. "This company is hard bargaining. We understand hard bargaining with this company. That is the situation we're in."

If Stellantis does stick to building the $3.7 billion battery plant, Unifor would look to organize the plant, putting it in a similar situation as the UAW that has called for workers at these joint-venture battery plants to be included in the union's master agreements, the contracts that promise top wages, health care and other benefits for seniority assembly and traditional powertrain workers.

Currently, a contract for the only organized JV battery plant, in Warren, Ohio, is being negotiated separately with Ultium LLC, the partnership between GM and LGES. Workers there start at $16.50 per hour, about half of what traditional seniority autoworkers make.

“It is important that auto manufacturing jobs continue to be family and community supporting jobs, with solid, stable pensions and strong wages,” Jason Gale, Unifor's master bargaining chair for GM, said in a statement. “Our members have been very clear with us that pensions and wage improvements form the core of our bargaining proposals.”

 

Unifor Auto Council determines
bargaining priorities for D3
negotiations

May 21, 2023

LONDON—Pensions, wages, transition plans as autoworkers shift to producing electric vehicles, and confirmation of new investment and product lines emerged as the bargaining priorities at the Unifor Special Auto Council, as the union prepares for upcoming negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers (Ford, General Motors and Stellantis).

“This is going to be a big year. One of the most closely watched and highly anticipated rounds of Detroit Three bargaining that we’ve seen in a long time,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “The Auto Council has worked to identify our key, overarching priorities amid hundreds of specific proposals put forward by our members to set our strategic course. Our members expect us to deliver and they deserve it.” 

During Special Auto Council, delegates raised concerns including rising inflation, income security during retooling for EV production, hiring and retention challenges including for Skilled Trades and the unionization of new EV facilities, among others.

Contract negotiations for the union’s 20,000 auto sector members at the D3 will get underway in August 2023. The Unifor collective agreement covers members working at auto assembly plants, powertrain facilities, casting and stamping operations, parts distribution centres, office and clerical workers, as well as fire and security units.  

Unifor’s Special Auto Council, held May 17-18 in London, Ont., brought together active and retired members from Ford, GM and Stellantis to prioritize the demands that will be brought to the table. Analysis of the sector’s economic forecast, current Canadian manufacturing footprint, and member pension plans informed the conversation. 

“Inclusion is very important when it comes to bargaining,” said John D’Agnolo, Unifor Auto Council Chair and Ford Master Bargaining Chair. “Our bargaining process includes members from the beginning and at the end they get to vote on it, so throughout the whole process they get to see it. It’s the democratic way.”

Unifor has not yet announced which company it will select to set the contract pattern for the remaining rounds of bargaining with the other companies.

“We are in an extraordinary time in the sector, with thousands of members bracing for a transition to electric vehicles,” said James Stewart, Stellantis Master Bargaining Chair. “One of our primary priorities in addition to pensions and wages will be to secure details of these investment commitments including specific product allocation, transition timeline and income security protections during the transition.”

As workers face rising interest rates and record inflation, pensions and wages are top of mind for members.

“It is important that auto manufacturing jobs continue to be family and community supporting jobs, with solid, stable pensions and strong wages,” said Jason Gale, GM Master Bargaining Chair. “Our members have been very clear with us that pensions and wage improvements form the core of our bargaining proposals.”

Unifor previously unveiled its set of 29 recommendations for governments and automakers in its auto policy document, Navigating the Road Ahead: Rebuilding Canada’s powerhouse auto sector.

“We are the ones most vested in this industry’s success. We are its most vocal advocate and its strongest champion,” said Payne. “One thing is for certain with our union: once we decide on a goal, we don’t waver. We are relentless and determined.”

 

Automaker set to 'pull the plug'
on electric-vehicle battery plant

Dave Waddell  
Windsor Star
May 18, 2023

WINDSOR – Auto giant Stellantis and its LG Energy partner are preparing to shut down entirely construction of its planned electric-vehicle battery plant here amid a funding impasse with the federal government, sources say.

The automaker, whose brands include Chrysler, is also believed to be reviewing its entire Canadian footprint, perhaps imperiling the Stellantis production facility in Brampton over an apparent delay by the federal government in signing a final pact to help fund the multi-billion-dollar project in Windsor.

The company’s entire electric-vehicle program in Canada could be at risk, one source said. “They’re not bluffing. They’re prepared to pull the plug on the battery plant.”

Contacted Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Stellantis would not specifically address whether the Windsor construction site was facing an imminent shutdown.

“Stellantis and LG Energy Solution simply ask that the Canadian government keep its commitments in relation to what was agreed last February and which led us to continue construction work of the gigafactory in Windsor,” LouAnn Gosselin said. “This uncertainty is unfair to our Canadian employees, as well as towards Stellantis and LGES investments.”

Stellantis had previously announced it would bring electric vehicle production to Brampton.

But the company hasn’t announced anything to replace the current vehicles produced there, the Dodge Challenger and Charger, which were originally believed headed to Windsor in a new electric version.

The Chrysler 300 is also produced in Brampton, but it is being phased out after this year’s model run.

Stellantis has its Canadian headquarters in Windsor and the local assembly plant is its sole source of minivan production. It’s scheduled for a retooling to accommodate electric vehicle production, but the start date has been pushed back from the original early June start to later in the summer. The existing Windsor plant isn’t in danger, sources said.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares and LG Energy Solution CEO Young Soo Kwon warned of the possible implications of not finalizing a new financial agreement in an April 19 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The letter, excerpts of which were published in the Toronto Star, urged the government to act on numerous funding promises.

“Continued delay in executing this agreement is bringing significant risk to the project,” the CEOs wrote.

Talks between the two sides have been ongoing since last August after the American Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) bill was passed, but a senior official for one of the companies confirmed Tuesday night the federal government still hasn’t signed off on any of the subsidies.

LG and Stellantis are seeking a package competitive with the $45/Kwh subsidy offered in the U.S. bill – which was the basis for the $13 billion in incentives Volkswagen may get for locating an electric-vehicle battery plant in St. Thomas.

Currently, Stellantis/LG have halted construction on just the module portion of the Windsor battery plant while discussions continue. Production has been scheduled to start early in 2024 with a plan to produce 400,000 electric-vehicle batteries annually.

With other battery companies also looking at locating in Canada – Quebec being a likely location – industry observers are sensing the federal government is looking to set a precedent now to involve provincial governments in the subsidies.

This week, the federal government began publicly prodding its Ontario counterpart to pony up more provincial financial support.

“The feds are saying we’re heavily committed to the province (of Ontario),” said Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association president Flavio Volpe. “There are other provinces saying there’s more than automotive in Ontario.”

To date, the province has claimed it doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to compete against the U.S. government’s subsidy package.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has said she’s “absolutely confident” the Windsor deal will be completed, though she added: “But I also want to point out that the resources of the federal government are not infinite. We are counting on Ontario to do its fair share and we’re counting on Stellantis to be reasonable

 

Ford posts April sales gain
as F-Series comes roaring back

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
May 5, 2023

Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. sales rose 4% year-over-year in April, bolstered by strong results in the truck segment.

The Dearborn automaker sold 184,002 vehicles in the United States last month. Sales of internal combustion engine vehicles were up 5.6%, while hybrid vehicle sales slipped 6.9% and electric-vehicle sales fell 25% as the automaker continued to feel the impact of production downtime at two of its key EV plants.

Ford reported the results Wednesday after its quarterly earnings report Tuesday. The automaker posted $1.8 billion in profits on $41.5 billion in the first quarter. Executives said the solid financial results were bolstered by higher sales and volumes in the first three months of the year.

The Blue Oval's April sales results were consistent with industrywide gains recorded in April. Industry data provider Cox Automotive reported Wednesday that new-vehicle sales likely finished higher than its analysts' forecast of an annual sales pace of 15.1 million sales, "fed by higher inventory levels and a healthy dose of fleet deliveries." Initial estimates, according to Cox, indicate the pace was close to 15.9 million sales. Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru all reported gains.

The estimated pace far outstrips the seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14.3 million sales recorded last April, and March's 14.8 million-unit pace.

"Pent-up fleet demand is being strategically delivered by some automakers looking to offset any decline in retail demand," Cox analysts wrote. "But the initial April estimates suggest there is little evidence of waning demand in the overall market. In fact, with inventory at the highest level in nearly two years and transaction prices trending downward through the first quarter, new-vehicle sales in the U.S. continue to surprise on the upside."

In Ford's SUV segment, sales were down 11.3% from April 2022. For the Ford brand, sales of the EcoSport, Bronco Sport, Bronco, Mustang Mach-E, Edge and Explorer all were down compared to a year ago. The Escape, a compact SUV that just got a redesign, saw sales rise 10.5%, while the full-size Expedition was up more than 200%.

Mach-E sales have been down as the plant in Mexico where it's assembled has gone through upgrades to support a boost in production. Ford aims to increase production to 130,000 units this year from 78,000 last year. It announced an across-the-board price cut on the Mach-E lineup Tuesday as it reopened orders for the EV.

Truck and van sales, meanwhile, were up 21%, boosted by a 35.1% year-over-year gain for the F-Series franchise, Ford's profit pillar. The automaker sold 69,595 F-Series trucks last month compared to 51,517 a year ago, representing the franchise's best sales performance since before the coronavirus pandemic and related supply-chain issues. Those results were underpinned by the recent launch of the 2023 Super Duty, which Ford says is turning on dealer lots in about nine days.

Ford reported 1,335 sales of the electric F-150 Lightning, which launched last April. The plant in Dearborn where the Lightning is assembled went through a five-week production shutdown earlier this year to resolve a battery issue; deliveries have since resumed.

Sales of the Ford Ranger, Maverick, E-Transit and Transit Connect were down, while E-Series, Transit and heavy truck sales were up.

Mustang sales were up 17.5%. Ford's luxury Lincoln brand saw sales drop off 27.8% from last April.

Year-to-date, the automaker's U.S. results are up 8.3% from the first four months of 2022. Ford ended the month with nearly 377,000 vehicles in gross stock.

 

Ford cuts Mustang Mach-E
prices across lineup,
reopens order banks

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
May 4, 2023

Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday will reopen order banks for the Mustang Mach-E — again lowering prices on the battery-electric crossover amid signals that an EV price war is brewing.

The Dearborn automaker is reducing pricing across the Mach-E lineup by as much as $4,000, bringing the lowest-priced model, the select rear-wheel-drive standard range, down to $42,995 from $45,995. The highest-priced model, the GT all-wheel-drive extended range, will drop to $59,995 from $63,995.

The move follows aggressive price cuts by EV market leader Tesla, which has sought to spur demand and increase its sales volumes while sacrificing some of its healthy profit margins. After Tesla slashed its pricing by as much as 20% in January, Ford followed shortly thereafter with reduced prices on the Mach-E, the inaugural offering in its first lineup of battery-electric vehicles, which competes directly with Tesla's Model Y.

“Our competitors are also adjusting their prices,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer for Model e, Ford’s EV unit, said at the time, according to Bloomberg. “As we look and want to stay competitive in the marketplace, we’re having to respond.”

Tesla this week raised prices on some of its models, CNBC reported, but its prices remain lower than they were at the start of the year.

The previous reduction in Mach-E's pricing was described by some capital markets analysts as necessary to remain competitive, while others have been skeptical given that Ford currently is losing money on its EV business. But Ford executives have said that boosting production volumes on the Mach-E is driving cost reductions, enabling the price cuts.

The plant in Mexico where the Mach-E is assembled recently went through a series of upgrades to support a production ramp-up in the second half of this year.

The boost in Mach-E production to 130,000 units this year from 78,000 last year comes as Ford aims to hit a global run rate of 600,000 EVs annually by the end of this year and 2 million by the end of 2026 as part of its $50 billion electrification strategy. The automaker currently offers two other battery-electric products: the E-Transit cargo van and the F-150 Lightning pickup truck, for which Ford has raised the price numerous times since launching last spring. The Dearborn automaker is developing its next generation of EVs.

Ford on Tuesday detailed some improvements to the Mach-E, including increased battery range for the standard-range models to a targeted EPA-estimated range of 250 miles for rear wheel drive and 226 miles for all wheel drive.

Standard-range models now will be powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries, a change Ford previously announced and which it said would result in a gain in horsepower for the eAWD configuration. And standard-range models now will be able to charge to 100% more frequently via AC home charging, while DC fast charging on the road will see a slight reduction in the time needed to reach 80% battery capacity.

The Mach-E now will come standard with the hardware necessary to activate BlueCruise, Ford's hands-free highway driving system. Ford is offering a complimentary 90-day trial in addition to the existing option of paying for a three-year subscription as part of the vehicle purchase.

"We continue to find ways to improve the value of the Mustang Mach-E," Gjaja said in a statement. "Upgraded BlueCruise rolling out for new and existing Mustang Mach-E owners, increased range and faster DC charging times on standard range models show how we are relentlessly improving our products for our customers."

Ford has said that the Mach-E qualifies for potential Inflation Reduction Act tax credits this year of $3,750.

The new Mach-E prices, excluding destination/delivery fees, are:

• Select RWD standard range: $42,995 (down $3,000)

• Select AWD standard range: $45,995 (down $3,000)

• California Route 1 AWD extended range: $56,995 (down $1,000)

• Premium RWD standard range: $46,995 (down $4,000)

• Premium AWD standard range: $49,995 (down $4,000)

• GT AWD extended range: $59,995 (down $4,000)

 

Ford posts strong revenue
and higher profit
margins, exceeding Wall
Street expectations

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
May 3, 2023

Ford Motor Co. posted profits of $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2023, up from the $3.1 billion loss it reported a year ago.

Revenue rose 20% year-over-year to $41.5 billion on a 9% increase in vehicle shipments over the same period last year. And adjusted operating profits were up 45% to $3.4 billion. The results beat analysts' expectations.

Executives said that the quarter's profitability was bolstered by a "favorable mix of products, higher net pricing and increased volume."

In a reflection of a restructuring of the company, Ford for the first time Tuesday reported financial results for three separate business units: Ford Blue, dedicated to gas and hybrid vehicles; Ford Model e, which is focused on electric vehicles, and Ford Pro, which handles commercial products and services.

The EV business posted a $722 million operating loss on revenue of $700 million for the quarter — which should come as no surprise to investors after Ford previously disclosed that it plans to lose $3 billion on EVs this year. It expects EV losses to reverse in the coming years as volumes grow.

Results also were held back by production interruptions for the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning — electric derivatives of iconic favorites — in Q1 that constrained shipments and revenue.

Operating profits for Ford Pro nearly tripled from a year ago to $1.4 billion on revenue of $13.2 billion, while Ford Blue's operating profits nearly doubled to $2.6 billion on revenue of $25.1 billion. Both segments were profitable in every geographic region where they operate, and had earnings margins of more than 10%.

"We're bringing Ford+ to life by zeroing in on what distinct customers need and value the most," CEO Jim Farley said in a statement, referring to the company's growth plan. "Ford Pro is leading the way on profitable growth, our big investments in iconic Ford Blue vehicles and derivatives are winning with customers, and Ford Model e's different approach to EVs is significantly reducing costs on our first high-volume products while rapidly developing breakthrough next-generation vehicles from the ground up."

The company ended the quarter with nearly $29 billion in cash and more than $46 billion in liquidity.

The Dearborn automaker reaffirmed its full-year guidance of adjusted operating profits of between $9 billion and $11 billion, and adjusted free cash flow of about $6 billion. It also reaffirmed its segment-level expectations of about $7 billion in operating profits for Ford Blue; a full-year loss of $3 billion for Ford Model e; and operating profits of nearly $6 billion for Ford Pro.

Crosstown rival General Motors Co. last week beat Wall Street expectations with first-quarter profits of $2.4 billion on revenue of $40 billion. The Detroit automaker raised its guidance for the year to adjusted operating profits of between $11 billion and $13 billion.

 

Grocery giants are
screwing Canadians—
and farmers have proof

The main cause of rising food prices is the small bloc of powerful companies who control Canada’s food processing and retail industries

by Emma Paling
May 2, 2023

The real cause of skyrocketing food prices is corporate greed and market concentration—and one group of farmers has the receipts.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has submitted data to the House of Commons agriculture committee which details how much retail food prices have risen compared to the prices that farmers receive for their goods. In fact, the union says retail prices have been completely “decoupled” from corresponding food inputs.

This means that while grocery store prices reach record highs, the farmers who stock their shelves are not seeing any of those profits—and a small group of processing and retail corporations are lining their own pockets instead.

“We need to be real about where the money is going,” NFU president Jenn Pfenning, who farms organic vegetables near Kitchener, Ont., told The Breach.

Retailers and processors are taking larger portions of the money spent on food, while farmers are stuck with rising costs and stalled prices. 

“At the end of the day, retailers are posting record profits,” Pfenning said. “Farmers are, in many cases…posting either record or close-to-record losses and low margins.”

The price of bread has risen far more sharply than the price farmers get paid for their wheat, data submitted by the NFU to Parliament show. Graph: The Breach Data: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food Crops — Statfact and Statistics Canada via NFU

“From 2003-2016, bread prices rose steadily, far outpacing the minor increases in farmgate wheat prices,” NFU’s submission from last week explained. Farmgate prices are the prices of goods bought directly from farmers without markup added by retailers.

The union says the costs borne by consumers have been completely detached from the prices paid to farmers since the 2000s. 

“Farmgate prices for wheat did increase in 2021 and 2022, potentially driven by the war in Ukraine and other factors. However, they did not come close to narrowing the gap that has steadily widened since the beginning of this data series.”

Caption: The rising price of cereal has become completely detached from the amount farmers get paid. Graph: The Breach Data: Canada Grains Council and Statistics Canada via NFU

Another example about the costs of corn and corn flakes shows an even more dramatic example of the “decoupling” of retail prices from the prices of farmers’ goods. 

The trend extends to other markets: the price of bacon has risen at a completely different rate than the price of hogs. At one point, the price of hogs actually fell while the price of bacon increased.

This massive disparity has been growing for decades. The trend suggests that it’s not the prices farmers are charging, the COVID-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine driving the biggest rises in food prices. It’s the processors, packers and retailers who—in heavily concentrated markets—have the power to raise prices and take larger profit margins.

Grocery chains double their profits

Supermarkets have doubled their profits since 2019, economist Jim Stanford of the Centre for Future Work reported in a separate submission to the agriculture committee. 

Grocery executives have done this while blaming the pandemic, the war and their suppliers, as Sobeys CEO Michael Medline and Metro CEO Eric La Flèche did in their appearances before the committee.

But these companies have actually hiked their prices “above and beyond” what would be necessary to cover their increased costs, Stanford said. And big corporate processors like Cargill and PepsiCo have done the same thing.

“Like the supermarkets, food processors have also increased prices more than justified by their own increased costs,” Stanford’s report said. “Food manufacturing profits have grown notably since the pandemic: up 42% in the latest 12-month period, compared to 2019.”

Meanwhile, food banks say they’re at their “breaking point” as they try to feed more Canadians than ever before.

Small bloc of companies exerts control

These corporations get away with it because they have high levels of control. Canada’s food retail and processing markets are heavily concentrated, which means a small number of companies control both the prices they pay to suppliers and the prices they charge consumers. 

Five retailers—Loblaw, Sobeys, Metro, Costco and Walmart—control 75 per cent of Canada’s food retail market. In processing, the Canadian market is even more consolidated in some cases. Just two corporations—one of which was owned by Loblaw parent company George Weston Ltd. until recently—control 80 per cent of the bread-making market, for example. 

The result is that farmers are facing dire financial circumstances, Pfenning said. They’re struggling with increased costs for virtually everything they need to grow food: land, equipment, soil amendments and more. Yet the prices they’re paid are virtually stagnant.

“Farmers and consumers are clearly in the same boat,” NFU vice president Stewart Wells said in a press release about the new data, “dealing with a highly consolidated processing and retail sector that can set prices to suit themselves and award enormous salaries to corporate CEOs.”

 

Workers gain protection as
pension super-priority Bill
receives royal assent

APRIL 29, 2023

Ottawa – Bill C-228, a private members’ bill that gives pension plan members super-priority during plan windups and bankruptcy proceedings received royal assent.

“This change has been many years in the making. I’m glad to see lawmakers in both chambers say ‘enough is enough’ and put workers first by adopting this legislation,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “Pensions are deferred wages and they cannot be allowed to be stripped away and put to the back of the line if the company closes up shop.”

Despite being adopted, the Bill’s changes will not come into effect for four more years. C-228, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 was a private members’ bill tabled by the MP for Sarnia-Lambton Marylin Gladu.

“For too long, corporate bosses have been allowed to doll out dividends and executive bonuses during bankruptcy while retirees had their fixed and often already low incomes slashed. Canadians remember the Sears closure, and the devastating effects of the old system of prioritization. This law finally corrects that order of priorities to protect pensioners,” said Les MacDonald, Unifor National Executive Board Retirees Representative.

MacDonald presented to the Senate Committee considering the Bill in February 2023 and reported on the positive impact the legislation will have on retirement security for workers in Canada.

Currently, if an employer has a defined-benefit pension plan and declares bankruptcy or insolvency, the plan needs to be wound up so that all pension assets are paid out. Pension plans may suffer from wind up deficits, a term that calculates the amount of additional money needed to fund the benefits to 100% for retirees on the date of wind up. Bill C-228 will put any outstanding amounts due to the pension fund wind up ahead of secured creditors, regardless of whether the corporate entity declares bankruptcy or restructuring.

The union supported the adoption of this legislation and will continue to negotiate strong pension benefits for members in every region of the country

“Bill C-228 means that workers can have even more faith that their negotiated pensions are guaranteed. They put in the work, they deserve the benefits. Why shouldn’t workers come first?” continued Payne.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

 

 

Stellantis offers buyouts to 33,500
hourly, salaried workers;
UAW's Fain fires back

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
April 27, 2023

Stellantis NV is asking the more than 33,500 hourly and salaried employees to consider over the coming weeks taking voluntary buyouts announced Wednesday by the maker of Jeep SUVs and Ram pickup trucks, a response to an increasingly competitive autos market and the expensive shift to electrification.

The automaker declined to provide reduction targets for both the bargaining and non-bargaining workforces, but spokesperson Jodi Tinson said the company will make the packages available to 31,000 hourly workers in the United States and Canada and 2,500 U.S. salaried employees. In a statement, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain blasted the proposed cuts as "disgusting."

A letter from a local United Auto Workers president circulating earlier this week on Facebook suggested the company is looking to reduce its hourly workforce by as many as 3,500 employees in response to stiff market competition and the costly shift to electrification.

Realizing a cleaner energy future is turning out to be a somewhat messy business: Stellantis follows General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. in offering buyouts to reduce costs and gain greater financial flexibility. The moves come amid an especially tense contract negotiation year with the UAW and amid looming fears of a recession.

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares has said EVs are 40% more expensive to produce than their gas- and diesel-powered counterparts. The company must absorb those costs, he says, to avoid increased prices on customers that would shrink the marketplace further and risk more jobs.

Workers eligible for the buyouts to which the UAW agreed should receive an offer letter starting next week. If open positions result from departures, they could present opportunities for indefinitely laid-off workers to step into those jobs and for part-time supplemental workers to transition into full-time roles. Stellantis employs about 43,000 hourly and 13,000 salaried workers in the United States and 8,000 hourly employees in Canada.

Stellantis has made "solid progress" on its Dare Forward 2030 strategy, which includes doubling global revenues and launching 25 all-electric vehicles for the U.S. market, said Mark Stewart, Stellantis NV's chief operating officer in North America, in an email to employees obtained by The Detroit News. Reviews of the automaker's operations have found more room to improve overall efficiency.

"We know that investment decisions at Stellantis are based on many key factors, starting with market conditions, quality and transformation costs," he said. "As a team, we must continue to identify efficiencies to make our operations more competitive both inside and outside the company. The competition is fierce, and the cost of electrification cannot be passed on to the customer. Make no mistake, we intend to win in the marketplace."

A lot is at stake in this transition, according to experts, and newly elected UAW leaders say they are determined to ensure it doesn't become a race to the bottom as their employers rake in billions of dollars. Stellantis posted $18 billion in profit globally in 2022 with $14.9 billion in adjusted operating income from North America. Its U.S. sales in the first quarter of 2023, though, fell 9%. The automaker will share first-quarter shipments and revenue on May 3.

“Stellantis’ push to cut thousands of jobs while raking in billions in profits is disgusting," the UAW's Fain said in his statement, echoing remarks shared last week about his "fractured" relationship with Stellantis and during the special bargaining convention last month. “This is a slap in the face to our members, their families, their communities, and the American people who saved this company 15 years ago. Even now, politicians and taxpayers are bankrolling the electric vehicle transition, and this is the thanks the working class gets. Shame on Stellantis.”

Details of the salaried separation packages weren't immediately available. The buyouts are being offered to designated non-represented U.S. employees with 15 or more years of service.

Hourly workers will have until June 16 to accept, Tinson confirmed. Separation will be effective as soon as the end of June and continue through the end of the year. Retirement-eligible seniority workers will receive $50,000. Others with at least one year with the company will be offered a lump sum based on years of experience with the company.

Calling the decision "unilateral," Lana Payne, president of the Canadian autoworker union Unifor, said in a statement the buyout decision doesn't negate the company's commitment to invest in vehicle and battery production and that it will "hold Stellantis firmly to these commitments." The automaker is investing $2.8 billion to retool assembly plants in Brampton and Windsor, Ontario, and for a battery lab in Windsor. It's also building a $4.1 billion battery plant with LG Energy Solution in Windsor, which is expected to create 2,500 jobs.

"These voluntary programs," spokesperson Shawn Morgan said in a statement, "are being offered to provide a favorable option to employees looking to pursue new opportunities, while preserving critical roles the company needs in order to maintain its competitive advantage."

The buyouts offered by GM and Ford had been limited to white-collar workers. GM earlier this month said about 5,000 employees accepted its offer, taking a $1 billion charge in the first quarter. Ford offered buyouts last year to eliminate 2,000 salaried jobs and 1,000 contract jobs. Stellantis last year also offered U.S. salaried workers buyouts, though it hasn't disclosed how many accepted that offer. In 2021, more than 330 retirement-eligible salaried workers took a buyout from the automaker.

These moves provide "dry powder and flexibility for a pivotal 18-24 months ahead," said Dan Ives, an analyst for investment firm Wedbush Securities Inc.

"As these companies transform, they look to rid themselves of legacy cost and become more nimble and efficient," he said. "GM ripped the Band-Aid off. Others saw it was a successful and a cleaner way to go through a process like that instead of layoffs and negative headlines."

Supply-chain snags, high transaction prices and increased interest rates have had automakers looking at 14 million-unit annual U.S. sales instead of 17 million units pre-pandemic — and EVs represent just 6% of that total right now, noted Patrick Anderson, CEO of East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group LLC. That has significant implications for the economy, especially in Michigan.

"We have a very risky bet on one specific technology," he said. "Economically, this is a signal that the auto industry that produced so many decades of great jobs and great income is becoming a hard place to stay for your whole career. The industry is going to lose some really talented people."

All of the automakers do have many retirement-eligible workers, especially in its blue-collar workforce, said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecast at AutoForecast Solutions LLC. Stellantis, however, in February idled its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois indefinitely, affecting 1,350 workers. It also in October eliminated the third shift at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant, though it said expects to resume the shift as it ramps up the extended wheelbase version of the full-size Wagoneer SUVs.

"All the manufacturers anticipate fewer jobs needed to make electric vehicles," Fiorani said. "The company is either going to find product to fill a plant or reduce headcount. The best way to do that is find people who will retire."

Taking steps to reduce their workforce isn't uncommon in a contract negotiation year, noted Art Wheaton, an automotive industry specialist at Cornell University's Industrial and Labor Relations School.

"It reduces their longer-term cost so they can have some flexibility on job announcements," he said. "It's not necessarily a bad thing to say, ‘We're letting you have the opportunity to retire early so we don’t have to lay off.'"

The proposed cuts come as the automaker is posting record profitability, not losses. In March, Stellantis paid 40,500 eligible workers profit-sharing checks, which were pegged at a record $14,760, though the payments could have been more or less depending on the number of hours each employee worked.

 

UAW: Stellantis will offer
buyouts to cut hourly
workforce by 3,500

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
April 26, 2023

The maker of Jeep SUVs, Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles is looking to reduce its U.S. hourly workforce by as many as 3,500 employees through buyouts, according to a letter posted by a United Auto Workers local on Facebook.

Stellantis NV spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said she wouldn't respond Tuesday to the details in the letter dated Monday from Doug McIntosh, president of Local 1264, which represents workers at the automaker's stamping plant in Sterling Heights.

Indefinitely laid-off workers would have the opportunity to fill in the created openings, McIntosh noted. The potential offer of incentive packages comes ahead of critical contract negotiations later this year with the UAW that will influence labor costs, product allocation and how workers at plants producing electric vehicles and their components are treated. This all comes as the outlook for the second half of the year remains uncertain, thanks to inflation, higher interest rates and other economic uncertainties.

The UAW's newly elected president, Shawn Fain, last week discussed a "fractured" relationship with Stellantis regarding its approach to electrification and following the indefinite idling in February of the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois, which affected 1,350 workers. His remarks reflected the ongoing tension expressed by Fain and other UAW leaders with the Detroit Three automakers, including calling them the "enemies" and that the UAW must "punch them in the mouth."

Stellantis plans to launch 25 all-electric models for the U.S. market by 2030. CEO Carlos Tavares has emphasized the need to find savings because electric vehicles are 40% more expensive than their internal combustion engine counterparts.

In his letter, McIntosh wrote that the local's leadership had a conference call with UAW Vice President Rich Boyer, head of the union's Stellantis Department, about the incentive packages that will be offered corporate-wide for production and skilled trades workers. The UAW and automaker are in talks to accept everyone who signs up for the offer, McIntosh wrote.

He said two packages will be offered. The incentive package for retirement, called "IPR," would provide $50,000 for seniority workers hired prior to the 2007 agreement. The voluntary termination of employment program, or "VTEP," provides a "guaranteed lumpsum benefit payment" for employees with at least one year of seniority.

The sign-up dates tentatively are scheduled for May 6 to June 19, McIntosh said. Separation dates would begin June 30 and run through the end of the year. Packages are expected to be mailed to eligible workers in the next week or so.

A UAW spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The potential offers by Stellantis appear to indicate that the automaker is seeking to avoid hourly layoffs and stay on good terms with the union as it frees up capital for electrification, said Marick Masters, a management professor at Wayne State University.

“The industry is in a such a position it doesn’t have time to wait,” he said. “It’s going to take its chances on aligning its cost structure to permit its capital investment plans to go ahead as needed. And they’re going to work with the union to the greatest extent possible to keep it on board in what is making a difficult, but necessary decision, given what is going on in the state of the industry.”

The report from McIntosh comes as Local UAW 1700 leaders blasted plans at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant to cut jobs that they said would lead to layoffs following an assessment of efficiencies at the facility.

Stellantis in October also cut the third shift at its Warren Truck Assembly Plant, home of the Wagoneer SUV and Ram Classic pickup truck, in response to the global chip shortage. It, however, plans to bring back the shift after it has addressed quality issues and as it ramps up production of the longer-wheelbase version of the Wagoneers.

Stellantis last fall made available early retirements to certain U.S. salaried employees, though it hasn't said how many employees accepted the offer. GM recently offered white-collar workers buyouts, with about 5,000 accepting. Ford Motor Co. has made similar packages available to employees, too.

 

UAW president on auto contract
talks: 'We're going to do what
we have to do'

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 24, 2023

Newly-elected United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain's message to Detroit auto executives is clear: Workers cannot be left behind in the industry's accelerating transition to electric vehicles.

Fain, who took office last month following the union's first-ever direct elections of top leaders, reiterated that message Friday during a virtual Automotive Press Association event during which he answered questions from journalists.

During the hour-long Q&A, Fain argued that battery plant workers should actually make higher wages than the industry standard for traditional production jobs; castigated Stellantis NV for its move to idle its Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois; and said it would be up to the Detroit automakers whether they will face a UAW strike during a crucial set of contract negotiations that start later this year. He also criticized the industry's move toward joint-venture battery plant operations, and argued that legacy manufacturing workers should be able to move into the EV and battery jobs of the future.

“I want to work with the companies. I want to have a good relationship," Fain said. "But if they’re not going to treat our members with respect and give them their due, then we’re going to have issues.”

Battery manufacturing jobs

Auto companies have announced more than $128 billion in investments in EV plants, battery factories and battery recycling, NPR reported in December. This spending blitz is being fueled by billions of dollars in federal subsidies included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which looks to incentivize domestic production of EVs and their parts, and to spur higher consumer adoption of plug-in vehicles.

Fain on Friday argued that autoworkers should share in the benefits of this manufacturing boom, especially because of the scale of taxpayer-funded support the industry is receiving.

“The taxpayers are investing a lot of money into this transition," he said. "A lot of that investment is not going into the workers; the money is going into the corporate coffers. So there’s got to be a balance there.”

Fain expressed disappointment with the move by the Detroit automakers to form joint ventures with battery makers, a structure he acknowledged is partly based on the companies' technology needs — but one he believes is also partly designed to cut out union workers.

He directed ire at his former employer, Stellantis NV, for their decision to establish a JV battery plant with Samsung SDI in his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana, a move he claimed UAW leaders did not become aware of until the day before the announcement. He also called the wage scale at the first General Motors Co. and LG Energy Solution JV Ultium Cells LLC plant in northeast Ohio "unacceptable." Battery cell production is underway there, and workers voted in December for UAW representation.

Production associates make $16.50 per hour, which is about half of what GM employees covered by the national UAW contract make (GM workers will make $32.32 per hour by next September). Employees at the Warren, Ohio, plant told The Detroit News they were hoping to achieve wage increases and better safety standards with UAW representation. Negotiations between the UAW and Ultium kicked off earlier this year. On Friday, Fain said the talks were still in their early stages.

"Ultium Cells is committed to the collective bargaining process, and will work in good faith with the UAW to reach a competitive agreement that positions our employees and our Ohio battery cell manufacturing facility for success," Ultium spokesperson Brooke Waid said in a statement.

Fain argued that battery manufacturing workers actually should make higher wages than the current standard for production employees because of the specialized skills and training that type of work requires.

"These people have to go through almost two years of training to be good at this. So these should be higher wages than our production standards, not lower," he said. "That kind of scale is setting our members back 10 or 15 years.”

Talking to Detroit 3 execs

Fain revealed that he has met with leaders at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis NV. He described the conversations as "respectful" but said he clearly expressed his stance that the status quo is unacceptable, and characterized a discussion with Stellantis executives last week as "stern."

“The bottom line in all of this, is to make a very clear message, especially to Stellantis with a plant closing going on right now and also all three companies with the shift to EV, that we expect our members to not get lost in the shuffle throughout this," said Fain. "And we expect these jobs in this transition to be good-paying jobs that raise people up, not take us back."

He described the UAW's current relationship with Stellantis as "fractured," pointing to the Belvidere situation and comments CEO Carlos Tavares has made about absenteeism in plants.

"When the CEO of the company can fly over here and go to our plants and threaten our members about future product and absenteeism, but can’t take the time to reach out to us and have a discussion with us, that’s a problem," he said. "And meanwhile we have language, plant closing moratoriums, plant idling moratoriums, in our contracts. And this is a flat-out, black-and-white violation, what they’re doing right now. When they take action like that that hurts our members, things aren’t going to be good. That’s as blunt as I can be about it, and I have been with all three."

Stellantis declined to comment on Fain's remarks.

Fain's tenure as president kicked off just months before contract negotiations with the Detroit automakers are slated to begin ahead of September, when the current four-year agreements expire. He declined to get into specific strategies the UAW may have in the works, such as identifying a lead company to bargain with, and indicated leaders still are formulating plans ahead of a national contract campaign. But priorities include job security provisions, doing away with tiered wage systems, and securing members' role in the auto industry's transition to EVs.

Asked about the likelihood of a strike, he said: “I’ll leave it up to the companies. I’ve been very clear to them: Our members expect their fair share, and if they don’t get it, then we’re going to do what we have to do.”

 

Ford to export F-150
Lightning to Norway

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 22, 2023

The F-150 Lightning is going global.

Ford Motor Co. announced Thursday that, spurred by customer demand, the plug-in pickup is headed — on a limited basis — to the most advanced EV market in the world: Norway.

"This is a really important step in our electrification journey," said Darren Palmer, vice president of electric vehicle programs for Ford Model e.

The Scandinavian country of more than 5 million people will be the first market outside of the United States and Canada to import the F-150 Lightning, a battery-electric version of Ford's signature product, the gas-powered version being the best-selling vehicle in the United States.

Norwegian customers can apply to purchase a Lightning from an unspecified "limited number" of special Lariat Launch Edition trucks. The F-150 Lightning Lariat Launch Edition for customers in Norway will be offered exclusively with Super Crew Cab body style in Antimatter Blue metallic body color, according to a news release. Deliveries will start next year.

“In my 25 years at Ford, I’ve never seen anything like the passion and demand I’m seeing from drivers right now to get behind the wheel of our F-150 Lightning. I’ve had customers literally banging on my door and pleading for us to bring the electric pickup to Norway,” Per Gunnar Berg, managing director, Ford Norway, said in a statement. “F-150 Lightning is the perfect match for many customers in Norway — uniquely capable of quenching our thirst for adventure while embracing our passion for protecting the environment.”

The move to bring the Lightning to markets outside of North America follows Ford's market expansion for another one of its popular EVs, the Mustang Mach-E, which now sells in 39 markets — including the most recent additions of Australia and Taiwan.

Ford officials declined to say the volume they expect to sell in Norway or other export markets, but Palmer noted the automaker already has been working to expand production capacity at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn. The expansion into Norway, he said, would not affect F-150 Lightning availability elsewhere.

Ford is investing $50 billion into electrification through 2026, by which time it's targeting an annual production rate of 2 million EVs. The automaker has said it is on track to meet its goal of boosting F-150 Lightning production capacity to an annualized rate of 150,000 units by year's end. This fall, Ford is shifting an 800-person crew to the Rouge facility and hiring several hundred more to help with the effort.

Ford in March restarted production of the Lightning following a five-week production shutdown due to a battery issue. The automaker recalled 18 of the trucks due to a battery cell manufacturing defect.

Ford's EV sales in the United States rose 41% year-over-year in the first quarter, but the automaker ceded its No. 2 EV market position to crosstown rival General Motors Co.

The automaker has been moving to boost production of some of its most popular products, including the Mach-E and the Lightning. Ford reported 4,291 sales of the Lightning, which went on sale last spring, in the first quarter.

Although full-size pickup trucks are almost exclusively popular among customers in North America, Ford officials said while the vehicles are not viable for many parts of Europe, Norway is a unique market where there are signs of demand for full-size trucks. This would mark the first full-size pickup to enter the market in Norway, they said.

Some 80% of new car sales in Norway are electric; the country is moving to all new car sales being zero emission vehicles by 2025.

Ford is targeting zero emissions for all vehicle sales in Europe by 2035. Globally, the company expects EVs to make up half of its vehicle sales volume by 2030.

 

Retiree Joe Blum passes Away
April 14, 2023


Joe Retired Jan 1, 1989 with 22.3 yrs of service.

Our sincerest condolences go out to his Family.

No Funeral Arrangements are presently available

 

 

Sources say Volkswagen’s new
Ontario plant will dwarf previous
automaker investments

Ottawa and Queen’s Park hope the auto giant’s new manufacturing complex will be the lynchpin of a new “green” supply chain in Canada.

By Tonda MacCharles
April 21, 2023

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford hit the road Friday to finally unveil plans for the new multi-billion dollar Volkswagen electric vehicle “gigafactory” in St. Thomas.

Ottawa and Queen’s Park hope the German auto giant’s massive new manufacturing complex will be the lynchpin of a new “green” supply chain in Canada.

Volkswagen announced last month it chose southwestern Ontario over U.S states like Oklahoma that were vying for the global automakers’ first battery plant outside Europe.

The “gigafactory” will sprawl over hundreds of acres near London, Ont., and produce hundreds of thousands of electric car batteries a year to generate “gigawatts” of battery power for the burgeoning EV market in North America.

Sources close to the negotiations between Ottawa, Queen’s Park and the German auto giant say the Volkswagen deal will be larger than the Stellantis expansions in Brampton and Windsor that Trudeau and Ford announced together last year.

But they are equally tightlipped about details of just how much — in tax credits, capital expenditure support or other incentive measures — each level of government had to put on the table to lure Volkswagen here.

Thirteen months ago — in what was then called the biggest single auto investment in Canada history — Stellantis, parent company of Jeep, Chrysler and Fiat, pledged a $5-billion EV battery complex for Windsor, which will employ 2,500 workers when it opens in 2025. Last May, in Brampton, the international automaker said another $1 billion would go to revamping the Chrysler plant there to make next generation hybrid and electric vehicles.

But sources say the Volkswagen deal, expected to include perhaps $2 billion in federal and provincial subsidies for capital expenditures and more in tax credit supports, will dwarf those announcements.

“Volkswagen will release (its) investment, how many employees (it) expects to hire and there will be more information about what (it is) going to make at the new facility,” said a source, speaking confidentially in order to discuss internal deliberations.

“This will mean thousands of jobs. Each of these plants requires supporting plants so other companies will be supplying Volkwagen as well,” said a source, referring to the massive manufacturing eco-system that a gigafactory requires.

“These are all other companies — and each of those plants will be in the billion-dollar range,” the source said.

Flavio Volpe, head of the Canadian Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, is not privy to the deal’s details. But he expects a mix of elements to make up the government package for what he guessed could be initially a $6 billion plant. But Volpe noted Volkswagen’s subsidiary PowerCo SE has acquired 1,500 acres of land, about five times the size of the Windsor Stellantis plant, signalling that the company intends to scale up down the road.

Volpe said the potential economic return on any government investment in a plant of this size is huge, even before expansion, with up to 2,500 factory floor jobs, plus another 5,000 in spinoff jobs in the plant’s supply chain, and hundreds of millions in future corporate and personal income tax revenues for government coffers. “It’s more than a market return” on investment, he said.

A senior source said government support for projects usually comes as help for capital expenditures, but in the face of the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act — a $369-billion package of incentives to anchor green investment in that country — Canada must compete against what the U.S. is offering, which is billions of dollars to offset operating expenditures over time through production tax credits. The value of those credits to any company depends on future production levels.

Canada’s strategy, however, has been to offer companies tax credits on the initial investments at the front end, which can also serve to incentivize future expansion of operations. In its budget, the federal Liberal government said it expects to spend about $80 billion over 11 years on a massive package of “green” investment tax credits.

RBC assistant chief economist Cynthia Leach wrote this week that Ottawa has calculated that upfront payment in capital intensive sectors “is seen as providing significant value, and the best way for federal dollars to influence clean technology improvement.”

In an interview she said it is also important for governments to provide “more transparency around this, given that industrial policies are making a big comeback in Canada and globally; we need to understand what value we’re getting for it.”

The federal budget document did not specifically identify the cost of the VW deal, she said, but it’s clear that the federal government, in its effort to draw investment and tackle climate change, is making a “bet on the supply side, saying we need the supply side to line up to facilitate and enable decarbonisation.”

“And I think within that context, you need to be strategic about supporting technologies where they are represent important (emission) abatement pathways for the Canadian and global economy. So it’s not just what the U.S. is doing with IRA that I think does require us to rethink what we’re doing and be more strategic, but it’s also the demands of climate and the need to find a way to accelerate investments.”

The federal Conservatives, who oppose any price on carbon and traditionally oppose government subsidies to big corporations on the grounds that the government should not be “picking winners and losers,” have not publicly supported the Volkswagen deal.

After Volkswagen announced its choice of St. Thomas on Mar. 13 Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre tweeted outrage at Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne’s suggestion federal supports will pay off in good Canadian jobs and economic growth.

“This money belongs to Canadians. Not to a foreign corporation. Not to Justin Trudeau. How much of Canadians’ money is he giving to this foreign corporation? How many jobs? How much is the cost per job?” Poilievre demanded.

 

U.S. House Ways and Means
chair questions Ford
agreement with CATL
in Marshall project

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News
April 19, 2023

Washington — The chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee wrote a letter Monday to Ford Motor Co. arguing the company's planned battery plan in Marshall, Michigan, may go against the intent of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Ford is building a $3.5 billion battery plant in the small town east of Battle Creek to power its new electric vehicles. It is licensing technology for the project from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., or CATL, which is based in China and is the world's leading EV battery maker.

That arrangement has come under fire from Republicans in Congress, who have argued the project may pose a national security risk and would unjustly benefit from taxpayer subsidies through the IRA. Ford, whose global headquarters are in Dearborn, has said the company will wholly own and control the battery facility.

"I am alarmed about how Ford has structured this project in the context of the IRA's clean vehicle credits and am concerned that other automakers may seek to use loopholes in the IRA to avoid guardrails meant to protect American enterprise and workers," Rep. Jason Smith, R-Missouri, wrote in a letter to Ford CEO Jim Farley.

The letter also included a series of questions about Ford's relationship with CATL and its intention to claim tax credits related to electric vehicle production or sales.

The $7,500 consumer discounts on electric vehicles included in the IRA bar any company that uses battery components made or assembled by a "foreign entity of concern" from benefitting — one of multiple provisions aimed at pushing automakers away from supply chains that are heavily dominated by China.

The U.S. Treasury has not yet released rules indicating how this part of the law will be applied, but Smith questioned whether batteries produced at the planned Marshall plant would qualify.

He sent similar letters to 10 other automakers, including Audi AG, BMW AG, General Motors Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Rivian Automotive Inc., Stellantis NV, Tesla Inc., Volkswagen AG and Volvo Cars Ltd.

Ford did not immediately comment on Smith's request, but has pushed back on Republicans' characterizations of the Marshall project as a workaround to the IRA's requirements.

T.R. Reid, director of corporate and public policy for Ford, told The Detroit News in February that the company is paying CATL for the right to use the latter company's proprietary technology and its counsel in applying that technology. He also noted that companies such as Tesla Inc. and Honda Motor Corp. import batteries directly from CATL, which Ford has also done.

"We think the better solution for customers, for the country, including for workers and their families, and for Ford is to build them here," he said.

CATL's lithium iron phosphate battery is the best of its type out there, he added, "and we want to use it as we continue to lead the EV transition. And the agreement is for us to be able to do that through the plant that we're building, will own, with our employees and — this is not unimportant — our additional layer of Ford innovation."

State officials in Michigan, which has approved up to $210 million in state grants and $772 million in property tax exemptions for the project, have similarly defended the project.

"The real national security risk is not having domestic supply chains — the impacts of which we saw firsthand during the pandemic, when production lines screeched to a halt and auto prices went through the roof because these products were solely manufactured overseas," Kathleen Achtenberg, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, said in February.

"To insulate our economy, we must reverse decades of jobs and technology going overseas — and we are leading that effort right here in Michigan."

 

U.S. Supreme Court won't
hear GM's 2019 racketeering
lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
April 18, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request from General Motors Co. to hear its racketeering lawsuit against crosstown competitor Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, now known as Stellantis NV.

GM in January asked the justices to review its claims against FCA after the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in August affirmed a federal judge's decision to toss the lawsuit filed in 2019. The Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case lets the lower court ruling stand.

"We are continuing to press our case against Stellantis and the other defendants in Michigan state court, where GM’s claims are different and much broader than those brought under the federal racketeering statute," GM spokesperson Maria Raynal said in a statement. "Today’s decision has no impact on that case and our efforts to hold defendants accountable for the harm they inflicted on GM as a result of their admitted corruption."

In a statement, Stellantis spokesperson Shawn Morgan said the company is "pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied GM’s latest attempt to resuscitate the baseless claims that GM has sought to bring in various forms in multiple jurisdictions. Today’s decision upholding the district court’s dismissal of GM’s lawsuit is another reaffirmation that its claims are meritless. We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously against these allegations and we will not be distracted from our focus on competing and winning in the marketplace."

GM sued its competitor, alleging FCA's late CEO Sergio Marchionne orchestrated a multimillion-dollar racketeering conspiracy that used bribes to corrupt three rounds of bargaining with the United Auto Workers in order to harm GM. The Detroit automaker has said it lost "billions" as a result of the alleged bribery conspiracy to boost GM's labor costs during negotiations with the UAW.

Stellantis in March urged the Supreme Court not to take up GM's racketeering lawsuit, arguing it was not warranted and that the legal question at issue wouldn't change the outcome in the case.

 

Shareholders support Stellantis
CEO compensation

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
April 14, 2023

Shareholders of the maker of Jeep SUVs, Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles overwhelmingly approved the remuneration for Stellantis NV CEO Carlos Tavares during its annual general meeting on Thursday.

Shareholders expressed their support for Tavares' compensation with 80.44% voting in favor of it, spokesman Fernão Silveira confirmed to The Detroit News. The approval was a reverse of last year's advisory vote when a majority of shareholders expressed disapproval of the CEO's compensation.

Tavares' total compensation package for 2022, which includes long-term compensation, rose 22% year-over-year to $24.8 million (23.5 million euro). Stellantis said his cash and vested equity awards totaled $15.8 million (14.9 million euro), a 13% decrease.

At last year's meeting, 52% of Stellantis shareholders withheld their support for the remuneration of the automaker's executives, after some, including the French government amid an election, questioned the amount being paid to Tavares. The advisory vote was meant to provide guidance for the company's board of directors and didn't directly affect the compensation of executives, though in response, the board held two engagement rounds with institutional investors.

Based on that feedback, the 2022 remuneration report included more disclosures on performance targets and compensation such as specifically stating Tavares' direct compensation. Shareholders on Thursday also approved an amendment to the remuneration policy that provides for equity awards under the company's long-term incentive plan to consist only of performance shares.

Stellantis chairman John Elkann emphasized during the meeting the "meritocratic" culture of the company that encourages financial and environmental, social and corporate governance goals.

"The objective of the remuneration policy," he said, "is to provide a compensation structure that allows Stellantis to attract and retain the most highly qualified executives and colleagues and motivate them to achieve business and financial goals that create value for all of you, our shareholders, and all of our stakeholders in a manner consistent with what we believe is our purpose and our values."

Two proxy advisory firms were split on whether to support the advisory remuneration vote, Reuters reported earlier this month.

European automotive CEOs traditionally receive smaller compensation packages than their American counterparts. Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley's 2022 compensation package, however, was $21 million, down 8% from what he pocketed the year prior as the Dearborn automaker reported a $2 billion loss.

General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra typically is the highest paid of Detroit's automakers. Her 2022 package is expected to be shared this month. In 2021, she received $29.1 million.

Stellantis' 13% adjusted operating income margin met its double-digit expectations for 2022. In February, it reported a 26% year-over-year increase in net income to $17.9 billion, the most of the Detroit Three. It benefited from cost-cutting efforts and strong pricing because of low dealership inventories resulting from a global semiconductor shortage. It estimated cost savings from the 2021 merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and the PSA Group that created Stellantis achieved a net cash benefit of $7.6 billion for the year.

The remuneration of Tavares, 64, is about 365 times as much as the company's average employee compensation of about $67,900. Eligible employees represented by the United Auto Workers received $14,760 in profit-sharing checks for 2022's results, a piece of the $2.13 billion in performance-based benefits distributed globally.

A separate advisory vote concerned $54 million in compensation to former FCA CEO Mike Manley, who left his role overseeing Stellantis' operations in North and South America to become the CEO of auto retailer AutoNation Inc. in 2021. The payout was based on an agreement between him and FCA prior to the merger that allowed accelerated vesting of stock awards and a severance because he no longer would be CEO. That vote received 51.85% support, Silveira said.

The annual general meeting was the first held in-person in Amsterdam, where Stellantis is domiciled, since its merger because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It featured a somewhat tense exchange around the automaker's sustainability goals with one shareholder emphasizing its commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 50% from 2021 levels should include "scope three," which covers emissions from assets over which the automaker doesn't have direct control like its suppliers. Stellantis has made a net-zero carbon goal for 2038, which includes all three scopes.

"It is very clear that we need to encourage the supply chain to follow us at the same speed at the same time," Tavares said in response to the question. "We cannot commit on things we cannot control."

Tavares' presentation overviewing the company's results from 2022 and progress toward its Dare Forward 2030 goals continued to assert its push to have half of its U.S. sales be all-electric by 2030. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday proposed new standards for model years 2027 to 2032 that could accelerate EV penetration to as high as 60% by 2030.

Shareholders also approved a new non-executive director appointment to the board for a two-year term. Benoît Ribadeau-Dumas is a partner at Exor NV, the holding company of Fiat's founding Agnelli family, and former chief of staff to France's prime minister.

Shareholders also confirmed a $4.5 billion ordinary dividend to those of record on April 24 that will be paid on May 4.

 

EPA unveiling 'strongest
ever' auto emissions
standards in EV push

Breana Noble Riley Beggin
The Detroit News
April 13, 2023

The Biden administration on Wednesday is unveiling the "strongest ever" tailpipe emissions standards that are expected to push automakers to accelerate the proportion of electric vehicles in their U.S. sales to 67% by 2032.

The proposed rules by the Environmental Protection Agency, which govern greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants from light-duty vehicles such as cars, trucks and SUVs, call for a 56% reduction for the applicable model years 2027 to 2032. The EPA projects that by 2055, the rules would remove nearly 10 billion tons of carbon emissions — equal to twice the total U.S. carbon emissions in 2022 — reducing fine particulate matter in the air that can have negative health effects and potentially saving up to $1.6 trillion.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan, in a virtual briefing ahead of a news conference on Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C., called the targets, which will undergo a public comment period before being finalized, "ambitious." In August 2021, President Joe Biden had set a goal for half of new U.S. vehicle sales to be all-electric by 2030. Now, the new standard suggests EV penetration would be at 60% by 2030 to meet the proposed standards.

"The stakes could not be higher," Regan said. "We must continue to act with haste and ambition to confront the climate crisis and to leave all our children, like my 9-year-old son, Matthew, a healthier and safer world. By doing so, we will secure America's global competitiveness and deliver economic benefits for all."

EVs represented 5.8% of U.S. sales in 2022, according to AutoForecast Solutions LLC, which expects that to jump to 8.8% this year. But even by 2032, the market forecast firm is unsure adoption will reach 45%. Other analysts' predictions also fall below the EPA's proposed 67%.

"The growth in EVs will slow down," said Sam Fiorani, the firm's vice president of global vehicle forecasting. "EVs are not ready to replace ICEs 100%."

Although the EPA emphasized EVs, the rules themselves are "technology-neutral," said Ali Zaidi, the White House's national climate adviser. That would allow for the inclusion of alternative propulsion technology such as hydrogen fuel cells.

Building off rules released in December 2021 for model years 2023 to 2026, the fleetwide light-duty standard would be at 82 grams per mile for model year 2032, down from a fleetwide 161 grams per mile by 2026, an equivalent of 40 mpg industry-wide. Other proposed alternatives put the standard at 72 grams and 92 grams per mile. A third has a more aggressive adoption early on during the period to get to the 82 grams per mile goal.

Zaidi, during the briefing, emphasized that legislation has "reshaped the trend lines." Those measures include the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030 and the Inflation Reduction Act that incentivizes EV purchases and investment for their assembly, parts manufacturing and material sourcing in North America. The Biden administration expects capacity for the assembly of 13 million EVs by 2030.

"Time and time again, I think folks have bet against the ingenuity of American workers and American industry to continue to deliver products that will help us lead the world in the clean energy economy," Zaidi said. "I think they, frankly, lag the physical reality that we're seeing be built up based on private investment that's going into the system."

He noted the role of economic development in the move to zero-emission vehicles and said it should "lift up our communities and strengthen our workers, be shoulder to shoulder with them, as they organize for rights and benefits."

At least one automaker applauded the proposal. Chris Nevers, senior director of environmental policy at Rivian Automotive Inc., said in a statement that the EV startup will urge for the strongest possible standards.

"The vehicle emissions standards proposed today," he said, "are a critical addition to the administration’s climate portfolio, and we applaud the realistic goals set forward in the headline targets."

Biden's 2021 rules reversed a standard put in place by former President Donald Trump's administration by boosting requirements by 25%. The rules were also 5% higher than a proposal Biden's EPA had made that summer.

The new proposal likely won't be without its hurdles. Texas, joined by 15 other states, last month challenged the EPA's regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration rules.

The proposal released Wednesday won't ban gas car sales — the administration has supported California's authority to set its own emissions standards but has not said it would support a federal policy similar to that of California's state policy that will ban new gas-powered car sales by 2035. It, however, has set a goal to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 in accordance with the Paris Agreement that is seeking to limit the rise in average global temperature to under 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius).

Because the transportation industry represents the largest amount of carbon emissions in the country, Margo Oge, former head of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, who now advises nonprofits and manufacturers on zero-emission transportation, said during a webinar, "these regulations will reflect, in my view, the single most important regulatory initiative by the Biden administration to combat climate change and to really reduce the worst outcomes of climate change."

Automakers typically start developing vehicles three to six years in advance and have shared targets to end the sale of gas-powered vehicles. General Motors Co.'s aspiration date is by 2035. The goal for the U.S. is included in Jeep maker Stellantis NV's 2038 carbon net-zero ambition. Ford Motor Co. has pledged to end the sale globally of ICE vehicles by 2040.

Chester France, the EPA's former Assessment and Standards Division director responsible for the development of national vehicle emission standards who now is a consultant to the Environmental Defense Fund, said he is optimistic that the industry will meet and even exceed expectations. The question for the regulators is what the trajectory of adoption will look like, which will be a part of the conversation with stakeholders during public comments, Regan said.

"The regulatory policy," France said during a webinar, "has a role in providing that certainty, providing that market signal to make sure that all these things fit together."

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which represents most major automakers selling vehicles in the United States, released a memo last week noting that car companies are invested in the EV transition.

Automakers will have spent $1.2 trillion on vehicle electrification by 2030, the group said, and multiple manufacturers have set goals to be EV-only by 2040. But the group argued that requiring automakers to spend more on reducing emissions from gas-powered cars may slow progress toward that goal.

"Every dollar invested in internal combustion technology is a dollar not spent on zero carbon technology," the Alliance wrote. "Requiring large investments for incremental gains from gas-powered engines come at the expense of where our collective focus ought to be: electrification."

Environmental groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity have argued the administration should adopt the most stringent regulations possible: Ones that would reduce carbon dioxide pollution by at least 75% by 2030, including by requiring pollution reductions from gas-powered cars.

"Biden needs to set standards that force the industry to do what they won’t do otherwise," the group wrote in an opinion piece published Friday. "Rapidly ratchet up sales of EVs, hold the line on polluting crossover SUVs and clean up the millions of new gas-powered vehicles they’ll sell in the meantime."

The EPA rules also offer standards for medium-duty vehicles as well as heavy-duty trucks like commercial delivery vans and semis. It forecast that medium-duty EV penetration could reach 46% by 2032.

The proposal originally had been expected to be announced in Detroit. The EPA cited a scheduling conflict for the move in location to the nation's capital, according to The New York Times.

EPA's rulemaking is expected to be followed by a separate rule from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration later this year governing vehicles' miles-per-gallon efficiency. Those rules are known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards.

 

Ford to invest $1.3B in Oakville,
Ontario, plant to build EVs

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
April 12, 2023

Ford Motor Co. is investing $1.3 billion (1.8 billion Canadian dollars) to transform its Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario to assemble multiple electric vehicles and battery packs.

The announcement makes due on a commitment reached in the Dearborn automaker's 2020 labor agreement with Unifor, the Canadian autoworkers' trade union. That included a $1.44 billion (1.95 billion Canadian dollars) investment into three plants in Ontario, including Oakville, which will be renamed the Oakville Electric Vehicle Complex.

The plant will be the company's first high-volume transformation of an existing plant in North America to make EVs after Cuautitlán Assembly Plant in Mexico transitioned to build the Mustang Mach-E SUV. The Canadian investment is part of Ford's $50 million commitment to electrification by 2026, when it expects to have capacity to produce 2 million EVs globally.

"The transition to EV production in Oakville will not only strengthen our business," Bev Goodman, Ford Canada CEO and president, said during a briefing conference call, "it will help deliver stable Canadian jobs."

Oakville employs 3,000 people, and though salaried, skilled-trade and "some" production workers will continue work through the six-month transformation that begins in the second quarter of 2024, temporarily laid-off employees will be back before the end of next year, said Tony Savoni, plant manager.

Production for delivery will begin in 2025. The plant is expected to return to roughly the same employment, though Savoni hedged the statement, noting it will depend on "market circumstances." Using the existing plant will allow production to start sooner and with an experienced manufacturing workforce, though employees will undergo on-the-job training in preparation for EV assembly.

Details on which vehicles will replace the gas-powered Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus midsize SUVs and what their production would be were not available yet. The SUVs originally were planned to go out of production in 2023.

The new vehicles will be built on Ford's next-generation electric vehicle platform. As a part of the Unifor agreement, Ford was expected to launch a fifth EV at the plant in 2028, though Goodman was unable to confirm if that still was the case.

In addition to EVs, the plant will assemble their battery packs. The cells and arrays for those packs will come from Kentucky's $5.8 billion BlueOvalSK Battery Park that will begin operation in 2025. The 407,000-square-foot Oakville assembly site is made possible by improving the flow of parts and other equipment to be able to consolidate three body shops into one, said Dave Nowicki, director of manufacturing operations for Ford's battery and electric vehicles' Model e division.

"Most EV companies aren't able to simultaneously create new manufacturing complexes while they transform existing ones," he said. "This kind of vertical integration drives incredible freight savings in timing efficiencies, even as we're delivering EVs at a very high scale."

Ford's investment in Oakville as well as in Windsor Engine is being supported by $438 million (590 million Canadian dollars) in incentives from the Canadian federal and Ontario's provincial governments. It's only the latest project in the auto industry to get their support.

Stellantis NV is constructing a $4.1 billion battery plant with LG Energy Solution in Windsor and has announced a total of $2.8 billion for updates to Brampton and Windsor assembly plants in addition to a new battery lab in Windsor. General Motors Co. is shipping electric delivery vans from CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll.

"Ford’s investment in retooling its Oakville plant will support thousands of good paying jobs and is an important milestone in our plan to become a leader in the electric vehicle revolution,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement. “Together, with our industry and union partners, we’re building up a world class, home grown electric vehicle supply chain, from mining to manufacturing, so that the vehicles of the future are built right here in Ontario, by Ontario workers."

 

Here's how much Ford CEO
Jim Farley made last year

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 11, 2023

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley received nearly $21 million in total compensation in 2022 — down 8% from what he pocketed the year prior.

The total compensation package that Farley, 60, earned last year included a base salary of $1.7 million, $15.1 million in stock awards, and nearly $2.8 million in bonuses. He received nearly $1.4 million worth of other compensation in the form of perks like the use of private aircraft and company vehicles. That's according to an annual proxy statement Ford filed Friday.

Farley's total compensation amounted to 281 times the median annual total compensation of all Ford employees last year: $74,691.

Farley's compensation package is down from 2021, his first full year as CEO, when he brought in $22.8 million in total compensation. That marked a 93% increase from 2020, when he became CEO in October after previously serving as chief operating officer.

The company is required to report compensation packages for all of its top five named executives, which include Farley, Executive Chair Bill Ford Jr., Chief Financial Officer John Lawler, Ford Blue President Kumar Galhotra, and Doug Field, chief advanced product development and technology officer. Everyone except Field saw their total compensation decline from 2021, a reflection in part of bonus cuts aimed at fostering accountability after 2022 earnings came in below expectations.

In a letter to shareholders, Bill Ford Jr. acknowledged that 2022 financial results, which included a $2 billion net loss, "did not meet our high expectations."

"Although issues relating to cost and supply chain persist, we are addressing these challenges head on and moving with urgency to accelerate Ford’s transformation. I am confident in our Ford+ plan, our leadership, and our people," he wrote. "The road ahead is incredibly exciting. Our vehicles, technologies, and services continue to earn the enthusiasm of the public and trust of our customers across each of our three automotive businesses: Ford Blue, Ford Model e, and Ford Pro."

Ford+ is the company's growth plan, centered on three separate business units dedicated, respectively, to combustion engine and hybrid vehicles; electric vehicles and software; and products and services for commercial customers. The company is investing $50 billion in electrification as it aims to reach an annual EV production rate of 2 million units by the end of 2026.

Bill Ford Jr.'s total compensation was $17.3 million in 2022, down from $18.7 million in 2021.

In 2021, Farley received a base salary of $1.7 million, stock awards worth just over $16 million and an incentive of $3.7 million for a total of $21.5 million in direct compensation. In addition, he received nearly $1.4 million in retirement and fringe benefits. His total remuneration was 356 times what the median employee earned, which was $64,003 that year.

Lawler's total compensation was about $9 million in 2022. In 2021, his first full year as CFO, he received $9.4 million in total compensation in 2021 after Ford booked profits of $17.9 billion. In 2022, Lawler got a 12.4% raise, bringing his base salary to nearly $1.2 million from about $1 million the year before.

Galhotra, who last year was tapped to head up Ford's internal combustion engine business unit, got a 2.7% raise in 2022, bringing his base salary to $1,062,950. His total compensation for the year was $8.2 million, down from nearly $9.3 million in 2021.

For 2022, executives' annual bonuses were based on the company's performance on quality, adjusted pretax earnings, revenue and adjusted free cash flow. Their payout is based on a formula that includes their base salary, and multipliers including target opportunity, a business performance factor, and an individual performance factor.

In the wake of the disappointing 2022 earnings report, the company cut annual bonuses for top executives as an accountability measure by reducing to 90% the business performance factor that goes into determining payouts. For 2022, the company exceeded its targets and the business performance factor was set at 148%; most salaried employees' bonus payouts were calculated using that multiplier.

Farley, Bill Ford Jr. and Galhotra's individual performance factors were set at 90% last year. Field was rewarded for his individual performance with that multiplier being set at 110%, to reflect the progress he's led on Ford's EV and software business. In terms of total compensation for the year, Field brought in $15 million, up from $10.9 million last year, his first full year with the company.

Rival General Motors Co. has not yet released its executive compensation numbers for 2022; its proxy statement will be filed at the end of April. In 2021, GM CEO Mary Barra was the highest-paid Detroit auto executive.

Stellantis NV CEO Carlos Tavares' package that included direct compensation, incentives and other benefits last year, his second year leading the maker of Jeep SUVs, Ram pickup trucks and other vehicles, was $24.8 million.

 

Unifor Local 444 to celebrate
addition of 600 new members

By Adelle Loiselle
April 10, 2023

Unifor Local 444 will welcome new members at TRQSS in a ceremony next week.

Workers at the plant in Tecumseh reached out last year about membership in the city’s largest union local. Back in January, 600 new members at the seatbelt manufacturer joined Unifor Local 444.

The union local said it was one of the largest organizing drives since the formation of Unifor.

On Tuesday, the union and TRQSS officials will attend a one-day bargaining handover event at the Holiday Inn Select on Huron Church Road in Windsor.

The union local said since TRQSS workers joined its ranks, other workplaces have contacted it about organizing.

TRQSS opened in 1986 on Patillo Road and is one of the largest companies making seatbelts for the automotive industry.

 

Ford sales up 10.1% in first
quarter, cedes No. 2 EV
position to rival GM

Jordyn Grzelewski
The Detroit News
April 6, 2023

Ford Motor Co. posted a strong first-quarter sales performance, making the Blue Oval the best-selling brand in the United States — but the automaker ceded its ranking in the increasingly competitive electric-vehicle segment amid gains by its crosstown rival.

The Dearborn automaker's total U.S. sales, including both its Ford and Lincoln brands, rose 10.1% year-over-year to 475,906 vehicles. Ford brand sales grew 10.7%.

But the company — at least for now — lost its No. 2 spot in the EV segment behind market leader Tesla Inc. due in part to production downtime for two of its key electric products. General Motors Co., meanwhile, reported selling about 20,000 EVs in the first quarter — nearly twice as many as Ford — amid strong demand for the Chevrolet Bolt after sales resumed following a recall for battery fire risk early last year.

Ford's sales of 10,866 electric vehicles were up 41% from a year ago. The automaker currently has three EVs on the market: the F-150 Lightning pickup truck, the Mustang Mach-E crossover SUV, and the E-Transit cargo van. All three models have proven popular with customers, but Q1 sales were held back by production.

Ford's Cuautitlan plant in Mexico that assembles the Mach-E was down for most of the first quarter as the automaker prepared the facility to boost production to hit a run rate of 210,000 vehicles by year's end. And production of the Lightning at the plant in Dearborn where it's built was down for five weeks in the first quarter as Ford worked through a battery issue. Ford reaffirmed Tuesday that it's on track to reach a run rate of 150,000 units for the Lightning this year. It's aiming to hit a global run rate of 600,000 EVs by the end of this year.

"We are expanding our capacity to build more EVs this year and look to increase our sales as these capacity actions take place," Erich Merkle, Ford's U.S. sales analyst, said via email.

Ford reported 4,291 sales in the first quarter of the Lightning, which went on sale last spring. Mach-E sales were down nearly 20% in Q1, which Ford attributed to the plant downtime. E-Transit sales were up 62.7% from a year ago.

GM is on track to build about 50,000 EVs in the first half of the ear, and to double that in the second half, spokesperson David Caldwell said via email. He also noted the ramp-up of Cadillac Lyriq production, three straight record quarters for the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV, plus the launches later this year of the Chevy Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV.

"Our EV growth is happening and will continue to accelerate," Caldwell wrote. "Production is accelerating at our EV plants in Michigan and Tennessee, and that’s backed by production of battery cells by our Ultium Cells joint venture in Ohio. As that production continues to ramp-up, so will our growth."

"Ford is off to a fast start to the year," Andrew Frick, Ford's vice president of sales, distribution and trucks, said in a statement. "Ford’s sales growth and investments are a direct result of strong customer demand across our truck, SUV, and electric vehicle segments. And this year’s highly anticipated new product launches with Super Duty, Escape, Mustang and Ranger, will only add to this momentum."

Garrett Nelson, an equity analyst at CFRA Research, on Tuesday reiterated his "buy" opinion on Ford's stock.

"Ford's U.S. sales are off to a strong start in '23, which we think reflects the momentum of its vehicle portfolio from models such as the Bronco (Q1 sales +38%), which continue to take market share from Jeep, and the ongoing ramp-up of the F-150 Lightning electric pickup," Nelson wrote in a research note.

"Ford was one of the first to bring an electric pickup truck to market and we think will reap the benefits as evidenced by its strong reservation count," he added. "We also view Ford's EV growth strategy as the most prudent of the traditional automakers. While Ford's Q1 EV sales rose 41%, F-150 Lightning deliveries fell 37% from the Q4 total due to a production halt, underscoring risks automakers face as they attempt to execute aggressive EV production plans."

The automaker — which is moving to boost production for a number of its popular vehicles — attributed the Blue Oval brand's growth to the popularity of the F-Series, Bronco and Mustang, as well as to strength in the commercial and electric vehicle segments. F-Series, sales of which were up 21.1%, helped drive growth of 19.6% in the lucrative truck segment.

Meanwhile, Ford reopened order banks for the off-road-oriented Bronco SUV on March 27. The automaker pointed to the vehicle's 60% conquest rate to explain the strong sales performance in the first quarter, when Bronco was up 37.6%.

Other Ford brand models that posted sales increases included: Bronco Sport (2.7%), Explorer (35.9%), Expedition (99.2%), and Maverick (11.6%). Sales of the EcoSport, Escape, Edge, and Ranger were down for the quarter.

Lincoln sales dipped 1.1% from the first quarter of 2022. Sales of the Navigator were a bright spot, with 94.1% growth. Across the automaker's brands, sales of hybrid vehicles dipped 4.1% year-over-year while internal combustion engine vehicle sales were up 10.5%.

Industrywide, first-quarter sales performances were mixed. GM on Monday reported that U.S. deliveries rose 17.6% to 603,208 in the first three months of 2023, with all of the Detroit automaker's brands posting year-over-year growth.

U.S. sales, meanwhile, of Stellantis NV's Jeep SUVs, Ram pickup trucks and its other vehicles were down 9%. Chrysler and Dodge, both promoting the final model year of gas-powered models, were the only brands to see sales rise.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. sales dropped 8.8% year-over-year. Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp. had record quarters with sales up 27% and 15%, respectively. Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. saw 17.3% growth. Subaru Corp.'s sales were up 8.3%.

 

Can the UAW Rise Again?

ALEX N. PRESS
April 5, 2023

Despite the ravages of deindustrialization, the United Auto Workers remain the US’s most important industrial union. Members recently elected a new leadership promising democracy, militancy, and an end to corruption. But change isn’t coming easy to the UAW.

DETROIT — John Weyer remembers the day that he threw out his United Auto Workers (UAW) shirts.

He started as a member of Local 1264 in 1995, taking a production job at the Sterling Stamping Plant in Sterling, Michigan. For the following two decades, he was a proud union member. Weyer saw the labor movement as a key part of building a better world. But by 2014, he realized that some of the UAW leaders to whom he had long looked up were deeply corrupt, spending members’ dues on extended lavish California vacations and luxury goods.

“Think about how hard one of our nurses in Toledo on the midnight shift has to work for two and a half hours of her time a month to pay union dues,” said Weyer when I asked him why the corruption scandal that has roiled the union in recent years hit him so hard. “She’s cleaning somebody’s diaper, wiping somebody’s ass, and staying on her feet for twelve hours to pay those dues. Or think about the single mother who is working the second shift and can’t see her kids because they’re in school. How hard does she work for her dues? [The union’s leaders] were stealing that money from our members.”

The loss of union pride was so devastating that he briefly saw a therapist to help him grieve. For years, he turned his focus elsewhere, to coaching youth sports. It was only in the lead-up to the most recent international leadership election that he became active in the union again.

The election was the first in the UAW’s eighty-seven-year history in which international leadership would be directly elected by members rather than by delegates. The former system had been rife with favoritism, controlled by the Administration Caucus that had ruled the union and crushed internal dissent since it was created by the UAW’s most famous president, Walter Reuther. A federal monitor was appointed in the wake of a corruption scandal that landed twelve UAW officials, including two former presidents, in prison; the union agreed to hold a referendum on direct elections. In 2021, that referendum passed with 63 percent of ballots in favor.

Shawn Fain, a local UAW official from Kokomo, Indiana, ran for president on a slate called UAW Members United. The slate was backed by Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD), an internal caucus that had formed in 2019 to push for direct elections. When the membership voted in favor of direct elections, the caucus decided to back challengers for seven seats on the international’s executive board under the slogan “No Corruption. No Concessions. No Tiers.”

Weyer joined UAWD. He had known Fain since 2011. That year, Fain was on the negotiating team for the Stellantis (formerly Chrysler) contract, and Weyer was helping with social media, keeping members informed about the negotiations through Facebook.

“When people would leave comments saying, ‘Oh, they’re trying to screw us. They don’t care,’ Shawn would respond,” said Weyer. “He’d say, ‘I’m a negotiator and I care, and here’s what we’re doing.’”

The two stayed in touch. When Fain was sworn in as the new UAW international president on March 26, 2023, after a runoff election against incumbent Ray Curry that he won by fewer than five hundred votes, Weyer was at the ceremony.

“When I found out that Shawn won, this weight that I didn’t even know I was carrying fell off my shoulders,” said Weyer. “I was just so proud. I was proud of my union.”

After years of corruption and decades of decline, members like Weyer see immense possibilities for a fighting, democratic unionism free of corruption under Fain’s leadership. The UAWD-backed candidates won all seven executive board races, giving them the edge over the Administration Caucus’s six seats on the board (there is also one independent). But it’s easier to change a union president than it is to change a union culture — particularly one in which corruption has been the norm and internal democracy has been all but nonexistent. And if the UAW bargaining convention this week is any indication, the union reformers have a long road ahead of them.

The Union Has Spoken

When Fain took the stage at the start of the UAW’s Special Bargaining Convention on March 27, just twenty-four hours after swearing in as president, he opened by saying, “We’ve just witnessed the four most powerful words in a democracy: the people have spoken.”

Fain was presiding over the gathering of roughly nine hundred delegates who had come to Detroit from around the country to determine the union’s priorities for negotiations with the Big Three automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. Their four-year master contract, covering some 150,000 members, expires on September 14.

The Big Three agreement once set the bar for auto manufacturing, and manufacturing work of all kinds, across the United States. The standards around pay, benefits, working conditions, and much more helped workers beyond the auto industry demand similar standards from their own employers. As deindustrialization has ravaged factory work and industrial union membership, that pace-setting role has diminished.

The current UAW consists of four hundred thousand workers and six hundred thousand retirees — still the largest industrial union in the United States but down from its peak of around 1.5 million in 1979. Less than half of autoworkers in the United States are UAW, which significantly undermines the union’s bargaining power. The union is on track to lose even more market share as the electric vehicle (EV) industry grows: the Big Three have thus far managed to keep their EV operations out of the UAW’s master agreement, and where such shops are UAW, the workers are differently categorized, paid less and with fewer benefits.

‘We’re here to come together to prepare ourselves for the war against our only one and true enemy: multibillion-dollar corporations.’

As in other unions, concessionary bargaining and a shrinking membership went hand in hand with corruption, as UAW leaders, closer with management than with their rank-and-file members, managed the decline of their industry. The agreements left workers in an ever-worse position even as the leadership enriched themselves, securing resources for their personal fiefdoms and select allies in the union. The details of such corruption are almost cartoonish: a federal investigation found that senior officials had embezzled millions, spending it on, among other luxuries, golf outings and extended stays at a Palm Springs villa. According to the New York Times, union officials acquired enough “golf bags, sunglasses, shirts and ‘fashion shorts’” on these trips that they used a semitruck to ship the items home to Michigan.

The bankruptcies at GM and Chrysler during the Great Recession accelerated the trend: autoworkers accepted once-unthinkable concessions, giving up cost-of-living-allowances (COLA) and accepting lower-paid tiers with worse benefits for new workers in their shops. With tiers came greater division: unity cannot be built in a shop where workers receive different pay and benefits for equal work.

Now automakers are flush with profits, yet UAW members have not clawed back what they previously handed over. Fain’s election suggests that they may not be willing to accept such a raw deal any longer.

“We’re here to come together to prepare ourselves for the war against our only one and only true enemy: multibillion-dollar corporations and employers who refuse to give our members their fair share,” said Fain from the stage.

Dan Vicente, a UAWD member elected as Region 9 director straight from the shop floor of a manufacturing plant in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, said, “It’s time to get back what we gave up, and we’re not willing to negotiate from a place of no power. We make the products, we provide the services, we are the labor, so the ball is in management’s court. Membership wants us to go and get back what was taken, and that’s our intention.”

Rhetorically, it’s a far cry from the friendly attitude toward employers that characterized Fain’s predecessors. The UAW under his leadership may be shifting away from a posture of accepting defeat and managing decline to that of a fighting union.

But on the convention floor, it was easy to forget that UAW Members United won all leadership elections they contested. The attending delegates were elected in the spring of 2022, when Curry and the Administration Caucus still seemed untouchable. They’re the middle layer of the union, local leaders, many of whom have spent decades supporting the Administration Caucus. Often such loyalty was a strategy to ensure favorable treatment or career advancement; when one toils in the brutal conditions of an auto plant, decamping for the comparatively cushy environs of union staff can be a welcome prospect.

When Fain first took the stage in Detroit, many delegates did not clap. By contrast, when Vice President Chuck Browning, now the union’s highest-ranking official from the Administration Caucus, was introduced, cheers rang out from the delegates of the room representing regions that voted for Curry. Browning comes out of the UAW’s Ford department, and very few of the union’s Ford locals went for Fain.

Throughout the proceedings, mentions of Browning served as a proxy for the division between the old and new guard, a way for those who do not support the reformers to express their displeasure with the changes underway. As one delegate put it in response to a procedural change proposed by a UAWD delegate, “The rules have worked for us in the past, and we need to keep them the way they are.” Such resistance helped defeat a resolution to include COLA in initial bargaining proposals: opponents said it would “handcuff” bargaining committees.

“Understand one thing when you look at that body of delegates: we have a seventy-year entrenched caucus that did a phenomenal job in the past of getting delegates elected who support their cause or support their issues,” said Fain when pressed on the palpable division on the convention floor. “Those delegates were elected prior to the last convention, so it’s still a very pro–Administration Caucus delegation. But if you look at the election, and you look at where the membership is, I think it’s two different stories.”

He and his fellow reformers won’t be able to rely on such delegates when building support for their more aggressive agenda: not only clawing back COLA and job security, eliminating tiers, rolling EV plants into the master agreement, and ending the prolonged temporary status for new workers, but pushing for thirty-hour workweeks, building cross-border solidarity with workers abroad, expanding health care coverage to include reproductive care, and gaining the right to strike an employer nationally over plant closures.

While some staff and local leaders who supported Curry will get on board with Fain, others will refuse to cooperate, either doing the bare minimum or actively sabotaging reformers’ efforts, hoping to weather the four years of his term until the next leadership elections. (Reporters who diligently tried to speak with Curry supporters, including me, did not have much luck, though Jane Slaughter and Keith Brower Brown at Labor Notes had some success.) Changing course will require Fain and his allies to go directly to the members, speaking to them at the worksite and the plant gates, building their confidence and the unity that prior leadership systematically undermined.

A telling change was apparent from the moment the convention opened: at previous gatherings, staff liaisons choreographed the proceedings by handing certain delegates scripted statements and coordinating with the leadership on stage to determine who to call on and in what order. Delegates were often handed a colored envelope, which they would then hold up; those on the stage would look out and see the envelope, knowing to call on that person next. At this year’s gathering, there were no liaisons on the floor.

Not everyone was happy about the unprecedentedly democratic nature of the convention. Late one evening, I was speaking with a well-known reformer. We had been interrupted repeatedly by fellow delegates who wanted to shake his hand, some of whom were supporters of the old guard but wanted to show their respect. But one man approached us and quickly became belligerent. When the reformer calmly responded, saying, “OK, thank you, brother,” the man shouted, “I’m not your brother. Don’t ever call me your brother.” He made his opinions about the reform caucus clear: “Fuck you and fuck that UAWD shit and go to hell.”

A Union That Still Strikes

Despite such resistance, there are factors in reformers’ favor. The UAW was built through strikes. The 1936 Flint sit-down strike is the union’s origin story, and while much in the auto industry has changed in the intervening years, assembly lines still can’t function without workers.

UAW members still strike — strike-authorization votes generally pass by an overwhelming margin. But under previous leadership, strikes were top-down affairs. Leadership might inform workers that they would be striking, without offering much information beyond how to access strike pay. In this model, workers are passive recipients of leadership’s diktats and kept in the dark about the bargaining process rather than included in a contract campaign to pressure the employers. Yet when the day came to walk out, members still downed their tools — even in 2019, when a major corruption probe was announced just weeks before an auto strike.

Indeed, one of the few resolutions to be pulled out of committee and adopted at the convention concerns honoring picket lines; supporters cited a 2019 incident in which GM workers were told to cross the picket line of striking Aramark workers who were members of their locals. The Teamsters have the right to respect picket lines in their contracts, and the UAW members want that too. The task ahead for reformers is to make use of that militant tradition, shaking off the decades of stultifying Administration Caucus rule that have carefully managed it and placing it once again in the hands of the rank and file.

The resolution about honoring picket lines was a UAWD priority. Another concerning inclusive bargaining units in higher education passed as well. The UAWD delegation only numbered around fifty or so, a small minority, but their mood was celebratory, even jubilant. That they managed to get a handful of resolutions pulled out of committee, and pass several, means that the caucus is winning over additional members, building toward a majority in favor of a union that goes on the offensive.

Upon stopping by the conference room that operated as UAWD headquarters at the end of the convention’s first day, Fain teared up: “I’m so proud to be a member of this caucus.” When he came to the caucus’s happy hour at a nearby bar later that evening, he stayed so long chatting with members that his staff began arguing about how to get him to leave in time to be well-rested for the following day.

It’s a dynamic without comparison in recent US union history. While the Teamsters just elected Sean O’Brien, a challenger to former president James P. Hoffa’s preferred candidate, as international president, O’Brien is not a member of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU, a union reform caucus). O’Brien and TDU worked together to oust the Hoffa regime, and the alliance remains intact as the union prepares for a possible strike at UPS this summer. But for a reform caucus to win the presidency as well as several seats on the international executive board in the first direct election in UAW history is a different story.