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July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016

Union prepares for legal battle ahead of pension cuts

Christopher Curtis,
Montreal Gazette
December 30, 2016

A union leader representing 17,000 retired municipal workers said Wednesday he’s prepared to take the city of Montreal to court over pension cuts set to begin on Jan. 1.

As of next year, thousands of retirees will no longer see an annual one per cent cost-of-living increase in their pensions. Though the employees and city had previously signed a deal that guaranteed the increases, a controversial provincial law allows cities to back out of that obligation.

The mayors of Montreal and dozens of other major cities will use a clause in the Bill 15 pension reform law starting next week.

“We say to the mayors, don’t move forward with this because if you do we’ll come after you,” said Marc Ranger, the Quebec director of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “This is immoral, illegal and if this goes before the courts, we’ll defeat you.”

The city says it’s expected to save $39 million in its 2017 budget alone by enacting the clause. Montreal’s estimates place the overall pension deficit at about $1.85 billion, making it one of the city’s largest annual expenditures.

Longer life expectancies and smaller-than-needed pension contributions are major factors in the ballooning deficits, according to the city.

But Ranger says the city can’t simply “change the rules of the game” at the expense of retirees. He was part of the negotiating team that secured the cost-of-living increases and says seniors depend on those to keep up with their bills.

“The cost of living rises by about two per cent each year, so really that one per cent increase is just making sure a person won’t fall too far behind,” Ranger said. “People plan their retirement around this because it’s a pact, it’s a promise that was made to them by their employer. The signal the mayors are sending is that no one is safe anymore.”

The union represents retirees from a variety of fields — 5,391 blue-collar workers, 433 supervisors, 5,579 white-collar workers, 2,508 firefighters and 700 professionals. The majority of these workers will be affected by the cuts.

Ranger says CUPE’s legal team is ready to file suit in Superior Court and he’s confident that, if the case makes it to the Supreme Court of Canada, his side will prevail. He cited the court’s November decision in favour of a British Columbia teacher’s union as one of the many precedents that could spell victory for CUPE.

The decision — which took the Supreme Court just 20 minutes to render — abolished a provincial law that stripped the union’s right to negotiate class sizes. But the journey to the Supreme Court took 14 years and cost a small fortune in legal fees.

“If the mayors go forward with this plan, there’s no scenario where we win,” said Ranger. “Even if we win in court, we lose.”

The Montreal Gazette could not reach the city of Montreal for comment.



Ford to triple size of
autonomous test
fleet in 2017

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
December 29, 2016

Ford Motor Co. will triple the number of autonomous test vehicles in its fleet in 2017, the company announced Wednesday.

The expansion builds on the addition of 20 second-generation Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Development Vehicles to its original 10-car fleet in 2016. The company will expand the fleet to 90 total vehicles by the end of next year with the addition of 60 more cars.

Ford is testing the driverless cars in Michigan, California and Arizona; drivers are behind the steering wheel, ready to take over in an emergency. Some of the latest vehicles have been on the road for sensor calibration, according to company spokesman Alan Hall, but a “bulk of the testing” will start in the first quarter of 2017.

Ford has said it will have a fully driverless car without a steering wheel or pedals for braking and acceleration in 2021.

The first-generation Fusion Hybrid fleet started testing in 2013. The cars were used to test “current and future sensing systems and driver-assist technologies.”

The latest test vehicles up “processing power with new computer hardware,” according to Chris Brewer, chief program engineer for Ford’s Autonomous Vehicle Development. “Electrical controls are closer to production-ready, and adjustments to the sensor technology, including placement, allow the car to better see what’s around it.”

The second-generation vehicles will test new LiDar sensors that have a “more targeted field of vision.” It improves on Ford’s virtual driver system, which includes cameras, radar and LiDar sensors; algorithms for path planning; computer vision and machine learning; 3D maps; and advanced electronic systems.

“Building a car that will not be controlled by a human driver is completely different from designing a conventional vehicle,” Brewer wrote in a blog post on Ford’s website. “This raises a whole new set of questions for our autonomous vehicle engineering team.”

With the new additions, engineers are currently working on how the cars “see,” according to the Brewer. The new cars will also take data acquired from sensors and cameras and compare with 3D maps in the cars’ brains, which are located in the trunk.

The cars will still have steering wheels and pedals, Brewer said.

The new test vehicle will be displayed for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It will be on display during media days at the North American International Auto Show as well.

When the autonomous vehicles do hit the road, the cars would be available only for commercial applications like ride-sharing first.

Raj Nair, Ford’s head of global product development and chief technical officer, told The Detroit News in August that full autonomy extends driving opportunities to the disabled and elderly that semi-autonomous systems don’t offer. And it allows ride-sharing services to cut out a large expense: drivers.

“We abandoned the stepping-stone approach of driver-assist technologies and decided we’d take the full leap to deliver a fully autonomous level four-capable vehicle,” Nair said then. He says it’s safer to develop a system that can be in control 100 percent of the time. “We believe we’re taking a unique approach in the industry.”



Feds probe brakes
on Fusions, Milans

Ian Thibodeau,
The Detroit News

December 28, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating reports of braking issues in 2007-09 Ford Fusions and Mercury Milans believed to have caused three crashes.

NHTSA received 141 reports of “sudden, unexpected increases in stopping distance” believed to have been caused by problems in the anti-lock braking system hydraulic control unit. In some of the reports, the brake pedal would go “soft” after the ABS engaged while braking on slippery, rough or uneven surfaces.

Drivers reported the brake pedal “going to the floor” in some instances, and the brakes required increased pressure by the driver to stop the car.

“In some cases the driver is unable to stop within their desired stopping distance,” according to the NHTSA investigation, which was opened Dec. 20. “Complainants have also reported going past the expected stopping points for stop signs or red lights, some have reported being out into the flow of traffic before being able to bring the vehicle to a stop.”

Ford Motor Co. in a statement Tuesday said, “We’ll cooperate with the agency on its investigation, as we always do.”

NHTSA believes the anti-lock braking system experiences an internal malfunction causing “an inability to maintain required baking pressure.”

Reports say the brakes correct themselves after some time. Some reports indicate a recurring problem, while others indicate the replacement of the ABS hydraulic control unit fixes the problem.

The NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation has associated three crashes with the brake problem. The investigation was opened “to assess the scope, frequency, and safety-related consequence of the alleged defect.”

The Fusion and Milan were recalled in June for defective Takata air bag inflators that can explode and throw shrapnel. Nearly 70 million air bags with defective inflators have been recalled; they were installed in vehicles from 19 manufacturers.


10 best auto innovations of 2016

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
December 25, 2016

The digital revolution continues to transform automobiles, with software affecting every corner of the vehicle (literally the corners, like sonar). Some innovations prove indispensable (rear-view cameras), others annoy (lane-keep assist). But the oily bits aren’t standing still either. A look at the Top 10 auto innovations from 2016.

10-speed transmission: With digital tech, cars are piling on the gear ratios. Will we soon see bicycle-like 21 speeds? Ford and GM have teamed up to make processor-controlled 10-speed (for rear-wheel drive) and 9-speed (front). Manufacturers can maximize the ratios for fuel economy or performance. First applications of the 10-speed went to the Ford F-150 Raptor off-road monster and Chevy Camaro ZL1 on-track weapon. Cracking off shifts in 300 milliseconds, the Camaro’s box beats dual-clutch transmissions found in cars three times more expensive.

Push-to-pass: Digital trannies are about more than quick shifts. Computer processors also enable neat tricks like push-to-pass (inspired by Formula 1). Option Porsche’s Sports Chrono package with its automatic, dual-clutch box, and a button will appear on the lower right quadrant of your steering wheel. Push it while you’re luffing along a two-lane road, and ... look out. The tranny directly downshifts from 7-to-3, revs spike, you floor the throttle and get 20 seconds of instant power. By which time you’ll be halfway to the moon.

Chevy Bolt: And the automaker to make the first affordable 200-mile electric car is ... the Tesla Model 3? Nope. It’s a Chevy. Bolt. Bolt with a “B” (not the Volt plugin hybrid). Call it Bolt EV. Linguistics aside, Bolt EV is a revelation. Like big-battery, low-center-of-gravity Tesla Model S, this hot hatch can boogie. With 238 mile range, you can take it to work – and afford a side detour to Hell, Michigan, to play in the twisties.

Hands-free, kick-open trunk: Yeah, I know, Ford innovated this years ago, but now everyone is adopting a feature that allows Christmas shoppers with full arms to open the trunk with a wave of the foot. Audi, BMW, Caddy and other luxury makers have followed the Blue Oval’s lead. This year’s coolest upgrade comes from the Chrysler Pacific minivan which allows you to kick open, not just the trunk, but the two sliding doors a well.

Brake-by-wire: To e-steering and e-throttle, add e-brakes. The playful 2017 Alfa Romeo is the first to market. Just don’t tell the trial lawyers. Remember the fake news stories about “ghosts in the machine” causing instant acceleration? Yeesh.

Virtual Cockpit: Audi debuted its Virtual Cockpit in the low-volume TT in 2015 – this year it went mainstream in the Audi A4, A3 and Q5 crossover. Using top-of-the-line Nvidia graphics processors (ask your videogame-playing kids), VC offers extraordinary Google map displays. And they’re heads-up in a 12.3-inch instrument panel so you never have to take your eyes off the road. Sexy and safe.

Apple Car Play/Android Auto: The must-have nav-app for cars. No car navigation system (Audi Virtual Cockpit is close) holds a candle to Google maps. Chevrolet and Hyundai led the way on this technology and most every manufacturer has followed. In a bow to the tide Chevy now offers its Bolt EV with no nav option at all – assuming its customers own smart phones.

GKN AWD: What do the Ford Focus RS Hoon-mobile and Buick Envision SUV have in common? GKN-supplied, dual-clutch, torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive. Like the 10-speed tranny, this digitally controlled hardware brings enormous versatility. With the ability to transfer torque to any wheel, the system helps RS carve up race tracks. The same tech rotates bigger-mass vehicles like the Envision to better negotiate tight turns and grueling winter weather.

Alpha platform: The new skeleton of the Cadillac ATS has made it the best-handling sedan in lux. But wait, there’s more. Alpha architecture also made Camaro Alpha dog in the muscle car segment – and on par with BMW’s M3 and Mercedes AMG E-63. Stiff and light, the platform also transfers loads to the vehicle’s spine allowing genius designers like Tom Peters to scult those wicked sheet metal curves in the Camaro’s rocker panels.

30-way seat: For 2017 Lincoln’s Continental changed its grille and offered elegant, window sill handles. All to get you inside where the Conti really wows. Lincoln’s best-in-class, 30-way seats are stuffed with bladders that can be controlled to coddle everything from your head to each thigh. Your bottom half falling asleep on the long drive up north? Let the seat massage your back and extend a pad to cradle your leg. Ahhhh, now that’s luxury.


Feds Investigating 1 Million
Fiat Chrysler Vehicles for
Potential Rollaway Threat

Will Sabel Courtney
The Drive
December 24, 2016

It feels a little like deja vu all over again. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is investigating roughly one million late-model trucks and SUVs built by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over reports that the vehicles may be prone to rolling away after being parked, Automotive News is reporting.

The investigation reportedly covers 2014-2016 model year Dodge Durangos and 2013-2016 model year Ram 1500 pickup trucks. According to the report, the government says it has 25 reports from owners alleging the vehicles rolled away and crashed, which led to at least nine injuries.

FCA said it is cooperating with the federal authorities, according to AN.

The investigation does not appear to be tied to the previous recall earlier this year of more than 1.1 million FCA vehicles over rollaway risks. Those products—late-model Jeep Grand Cherokee were equipped with a T-shaped electronic shifter that looked like a boat throttle; the Ram and Dodge vehicles affected by this latest investigation use a rotary shift knob, somewhat similar to the one found on some recent Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Regardless, the inquiry is sure to conjure up unpleasant memories at FCA, given the public relations nightmare the carmaker went through as a result of the earlier rollaway issue. That problem, the government reports, has been connected to at least 68 injuries and more than 300 instances of property damage, including 266 crashes; it may have also been connected to the death of actor Anton Yelchin, who was killed last June by a Jeep with the recalled shifter when it rolled backwards and crushed him.

While the investigation is under way, the government is reportedly recommending all owners of the afflicted Durangos and Rams use their parking brakes.

Which, to be honest, is something we all ought to be doing.


Fire risks prompt Ford
to recall 9,300 vehicles

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
Dec 22, 2016

Washington — Ford Motor Co. is recalling 9,300 vehicles that are at risk of catching fire due to problems with the fuel tank straps and oil supply tubes.

The Dearborn company said Wednesday that it is recalling approximately 8,000 2017 Ford Super Duty vehicles and 1,300 2016 Ford Taurus, 2016-17 Flex, 2017 Explorer and Police Interceptor Utility and 2016-17 Lincoln MKT vehicles with 3.5-liter GTDI engines to inspect and replace fuel tank straps and turbocharger oil supply tubes that could spark fires.

The vehicles included in the Super Duty recall have problems with the fuel tank straps, and the cars that are involved in the second callback have issues with the oil supply tubes.

Ford said of the affected Super Duty vehicles that were recalled Wednesday: “Over time, a missing reinforcement could lead to a fuel tank strap separating from the frame, resulting in the fuel tank moving out of position and potentially contacting the ground, increasing the risk of a fuel leak. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may increase the risk of fire.”

The company added of vehicles that are included in the oil supply tube recall that was also issued Wednesday, “Improperly brazed turbocharger oil supply tubes may leak engine oil on the turbocharger and surrounding components. An oil leak in the presence of an ignition source may increase the risk of fire.”
Ford said it is not aware of any injuries that have been linked to either recalled item.

The company said its dealers will fix the issues with fuel straps and oil supply tubes for free.


Ford to Start Importing
Indian-Made SUV to U.S.

The auto maker will export the EcoSport—the smallest SUV in Ford’s global lineup—from its plant near the southern Indian city of Chennai. Photo: Associated Press

Auto maker will export its EcoSport SUV
from India to the U.S., starting in late 2017

Wall St Journal
Santanu Choudhury
Dec. 21, 2016

NEW DELHI— Ford Motor Co., already under scrutiny for moving small-car production to Mexico, will start exporting small sport-utility vehicles to the U.S. from India starting late next year.

The auto maker will export the EcoSport—the smallest SUV in Ford’s global lineup—from its plant near the southern Indian city of Chennai. It will start sending them from India in late 2017 and they will be available at dealerships in early 2018, said a Ford spokesman.

It will be the first time Ford sells vehicles in the U.S. from its Indian factories, which have been making cars for more than 20 years.

“Commencement of exports to the U.S. marks a significant milestone in Ford’s Make-in-India journey and boosts India’s credentials as a world-class manufacturing hub,” said Kapil Sharma, a spokesman for Ford in India.

Ford’s move comes as American auto makers struggle to justify making certain vehicles in the U.S. General Motors Co. is cutting thousands of jobs at car plants for instance. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV quit making small cars in the States altogether and is now relying on imports for part of their lineup.

Since its introduction in 2013, the India-made EcoSport has been a success story in India and elsewhere. The auto maker has exported more than 200,000 of them to more than 50 counties from its Chennai factory since 2013.

The EcoSport is also manufactured in five other countries including Brazil.

The Detroit auto maker’s export plans follow those of Suzuki Motor Corp. which in March began selling its Indian-made Baleno hatchback in its home market of Japan.



Ford faces class action
after man's death

IOL News 
December 20, 2016
Gadeeja Abbas

Cape Town - Ford is facing a class-action lawsuit from more than 20 owners of its Kuga model across South Africa, including the family of a man who died in one of the SUVs which is alleged to have “spontaneously combusted”.

In an email response to the Weekend Argus, Ford SA would not be drawn into revealing how many fire probes were under way, only stating that investigations into “alleged incidents” were being looked into.

“But I want to stress that we are not aware of any other injuries associated with alleged fires in Ford Kugas,” said spokeswoman Alisea Chetty.

In a leaked fire investigation report by Fire Wise Consultants, it was revealed that some 139 917 vehicles affected by a recall of 150 000 Ford Kugas (2014 models) in the US, were at risk of localised overheating of the cylinder head, which could lead to an oil leak resulting in a fire.

There is yet to be a recall in South Africa.

A recent case of such a fire alleged to have started from the bonnet of a Ford Kuga owned by Vivienne Jordaan from Cape Town is due in courts soon.

Her 2014 model with 83 000km on the odometer burst into flames on November 17.

Jordaan, a sales representative, said: “I was driving between our offices at round 11am. In Bellville, I noticed smoke coming from my dashboard. I tried to brake, but my brakes did not work and I was trying to bring myself to a halt on the busy R300. The front of my car burst into flames and I grabbed my bag and the work laptop and ran.”

She took videos and pictures to document the damage. “I had been negotiating with Ford for three weeks. My car I bought brand new. They are refusing to take responsibility and I will be suing for damages,” she said.

The family of Reshall Jimmy is also taking the vehicle giant to court.

He died while trapped in his 2014 model Ford Kuga SUV on December 4 last year.

Jimmy, 33, who had been working at a digital marketing and advertising agency, was travelling to George in his one year-old Kuga when it allegedly exploded in the seaside town of Wilderness.

Jimmy was trapped in the car - so hot that the safety glass had melted at 760°C, according to a fire investigation report.

The severity of the inferno was such that nobody could approach the vehicle to extinguish the fire.

By the time the fire services arrived, Jimmy had died.

Internationally respected forensic scientist, David Klatzow, who was hired by the family to inspect the circumstances surrounding Jimmy’s death, concluded the fire had started in the front of the passenger compartment under the dashboard.

Ford disputed this, saying the company’s examination pointed to the fire starting at the rear of the vehicle and not the engine compartment.

“That is clearly evidenced by the level of fire damage to the rear and the relative lack of damage to the front of the Kuga.

"We also evaluated prior demonstrations on other vehicles to determine fire behaviour and progression.

"We found no evidence of an electrical or other vehicle origin for the fire,” said Chetty.

A fire investigation report prepared by the Eastern Cape police also concluded an electrical fault was the cause of the fire that killed Jimmy and originated at the front passenger side.

“Ford have been anything but forthcoming. They promised to make available diagrams of the wiring - one year down the line we have received nothing. All we got was a demand by Ford that they examine the vehicle for the third time and an investigator’s report that contradicted other reports by stating that the fire started in the rear.

“It appears that from the information that is coming through, that this is not the only Ford Kuga that has had problems. They (Ford) have to come up and tell us what the problems are,” said Klatzow.

Jimmy’s brother, Kaveen, said Ford’s handling of the family was inhumane.

He accused the company of failing to release reports for the police investigation to be concluded and of resorting to bully tactics to silence those who spoke about their experiences.

Despite this, Kaveen and his sister Renisha’s efforts had yielded some successes with the uncovery of a video that will shed major light on where the fire actually started.

“With the evidence we have and the people coming forward to contact us, we are in the advanced stages of filling a class action lawsuit. Our current legal team will require the support of additional senior counsel to assist once the state has concluded its investigation into my brother’s death,” he said.

He said more than 20 Ford Kuga owners would be part of the lawsuit, police spokesman Captain Malcolm Pojie confirmed that investigations were still under way.

“Although several inspections has been conducted on the vehicle by independent as well as experts from Ford, no reports has come forth, yet. An application has been made by the investigating officer to have access to these reports. It will be premature to make any arrests or to announce the origin or cause of the fire. As soon as the investigation is concluded we shall submit the docket to the director of public prosecutions for a decision,” he said.


Not even Ford GT prototypes
can get away from the cops

Joel Patel
December 19, 2016

The new Ford GT is set to be a fast car, but not even fast cars can outrun the police. Three GT prototypes were caught going "well above the posted speed limit" in Colorado, reports Vail Daily. The vehicles, in typical supercar fashion, drew a lot of attention from the police with the Avon police department, Eagle County Sheriff's office, and the Colorado State Patrol all lending a hand to pull the trio over.

The three supercars were cited going 101 miles per hour in a 50 mph zone, according to Jalopnik. Because that's more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit, the three drivers will be summoned to court in Colorado.

The prototypes were probably conducting high-altitude testing in Colorado when the boys in blue pulled the vehicles over. Testing a vehicle, especially one like the GT, can be a tempting venture. According to Vail Daily, the prototypes had data-collecting equipment, which the automaker is most likely using to put the finishing touches on the supercars before delivery of the vehicle officially commences.

Thanks to the GT's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that puts out more than 600 horsepower, saying the supercar is fast doesn't do the vehicle justice. With an expected top speed of over 200 mph, we're sure the prototypes could've gone much faster. One thing's for sure, with 500 applicants guaranteed to get a GT, this won't be the last time someone behind the wheel of the supercar has a run in with the law.

In a Twitter exchange with Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky, Ford spokesperson Mike Levine confirmed that all the charges have been dropped against the drivers of the Ford GT prototypes pulled over for speeding. "Data downloaded from the cars supported the fact that the drivers were not driving at the stated speed," said Levine.


Ford celebrates GT supercar production, delivery

Production is capped at 250 cars per model-year for the Ford GT supercar. The first three model years are already sold out.

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
December 18, 2016

Ford Motor Co. on Friday celebrated the beginning of production and delivery of the highly anticipated Ford GT supercar in Ontario, Canada.

The $450,000-plus car has garnered lots of attention since its introduction at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, including celebrities like Jay Leno and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.

“This is really a celebration more than anything; it’s a celebration for all the people that design and develope and are now building the Ford GT as a showcase for us as a company,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer. His comments came during an employee and media event Friday at the GT production facility in Markham, Ontario.

The company is not releasing a list of GT buyers. However, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and CEO and Chairman Mark Fields will be the first two to take delivery later this month.

The Dearborn automaker received about 6,500 online applications for the first 500 GTs that will be produced as 2017 and 2018 model-year cars.

The high demand caused the automaker to extend production through the 2020 model year. The first three model years are already sold out, while ordering for the fourth will open in early 2018. Production is capped at 250 cars per model-year.

Ford implemented a rigorous vetting process that included previous GT ownership, activity on social media and a legal document stating they won’t sell the vehicle for a certain amount of time to help prevent buyers from flipping them quickly for a profit.

The GT is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. It’s the same engine that debuted in Ford’s Taurus SHO and is under the hood of the 2015 F-150 pickup. But the GT engine kicks it up several notches with custom pistons, rods, turbos and cams that help it get more than 600 horsepower. The supercar includes a number of lightweighting tricks, including a carbon-fiber tub and a gorilla-glass windshield that is 12 pounds lighter than a traditional windshield.


Ford Raptor, off-road king


Henry Payne
The Detroit News
December 15, 2016

Buy a Ford Focus RS, Corvette Grand Sport or Porsche 911 Turbo, and you’ll want to take it to the nearest track playground to explore its capabilities. Probably something like Grattan Raceway’s 2-mile roller coaster, where you can test the limits of the RS’s torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive, or rocket the 911 to more than 130 mph on the long, main straight.

Buy a 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor sport pickup and you’ll need a bigger sandbox.

A good one is California’s 50-mile Anza Borrego Desert State Park course, where you can unleash the full potential of this Brobdingnagian vehicle. Nail the 5,500-pound Raptor’s fat throttle pedal (I wear narrow race shoes for sports cars, but I suggest steel-toed work boots to mash this sucker) and the Ford gulps landscape like an aluminum rhino. Rocks are pulverized in its wake, bushes tossed aside, sand dunes obliterated by 35-inch BFGoodrich rubber mallets. Roaring along at 100 mph on sandy flatland, this truck is king of the beasts.

Yes, truck. The Raptor is already a legend in its own time — the first production pickup to offer Baja-like, race-tuned performance. Introduced in 2010, the Raptor follows in the (much smaller) footsteps of the VW Golf GTI (the first hot-hatch compact) and BMW M3 (the iconic, steroid-fed, luxury sedan). Those pioneers created a cult of production Frankensteins — the Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI, Audi RS4, Cadillac CTS-V and so one. Daily commuters by week, track weapons by weekend.

While SUVs have attempted the formula — the 567-horsepower BMW X5 M and Jeep’s nuclear Grand Cherokee SRT8 — none translated the idea to off-road macho. Then along came Raptor.

With a growling, 409-horse, 6.2-liter V-8, steep front approach angle and gym-toned shocks and chassis, the first-gen Raptor wowed. As odd as an empty box seems on the back of any sports vehicle, the testosterone-fueled truck — with its rugged, body-on-frame construction — is a natural tool for off-road runs.

Curiously, other automakers haven’t rushed to follow in Raptor’s wake — though Ram teased a Hellcat concept of its 1500 pickup. The Raptor sells a healthy 15,000-plus units a year while further cementing Ford’s reputation for licking any kid on the block (see Fiesta ST, Mustang GT350, Ford GT).

At first glance I thought Raptor 2.0 was a mild evolution of the original. Wrong.

Sure, signature details are there: Wicked, intake-rippled hood. Blacked-out fascia boldly stamped “FORD” — which translates to “GETOUTTAMYWAY” when read in a rear-view mirror. Swollen fenders over a wider, six-inch track. You’ll know it by the details — twin, three-inch tailpipes snugged under the rear bumper (for better rear attack angle) and menacing, LED headlights that glow red at a full moon.

These minor cosmetic changes mask a major overhaul.

Like the F-Series, Raptor body panels are all-aluminum (plus exclusive lightweight composite front fenders to resist shrub scratches), which is particularly advantageous to lowering Raptor’s center of gravity. Dig deeper and you’ll find an all-new power-train with a 450-horse, twin-turbo V-6 mated to an industry-first 10-speed tranny. Custom Fox shocks, surrounded by a fortress of suspension upgrades, anchor the four corners. All this is attached to 17-inch forged wheels rolled up in rubber the size of The Rock’s biceps.

Bleed the big gummies to 20 pounds and you can go rock-crawling, thanks to a new, rear e-locker that turns Raptor into a mountain goat. A three-ton, seven-foot-wide mountain goat. Admittedly, not the best application of this truck. Chase a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (or goat) into a narrow canyon and you might get stuck.

You’ll want the e-locker only to get over whatever mountain lies between you and a high-speed off-road course. Once there, Raptor’s terrain-chewing athleticism is breathtaking.

Like a sort of off-road Porsche Turbo supercar (at a third of the price), the Raptor comes weaponized with six drive modes ranging from NORMAL to MUD/SAND to BAJA/ROCK CRAWL. In BAJA mode with Ford drivetrain engineer Seth Goslowski playing right-seat rally spotter, I assaulted the landscape.

Pity the landscape.

Seth, an amateur racer, compares off-roading to speed-boat racing. Power is gold, brakes irrelevant, chassis stiffness paramount. On the flat stuff I rocketed along between 80-100 mph — the stiffened chassis enabling astonishing speeds for a projectile this size. Then the shocks — with 13-inches of travel — took over in a raging sea of moguls. Call them sand waves.

One moment I was hard in the turbos to power out of a wave trough, the next I was completely airborne over a crest. WHUMP! The beast would hit another trough, sand splashing its bow. Then — WAAUUUUGHH! — back in the throttle over the next mogul at 50 mph.

Try this in anything but a Raptor and your internal organs would turn to jelly. But the F-150’s cockpit is remarkably removed from the violence outside. Quiet. Superb SYNC 3 system — “Seth, tune to Wagner’s ‘Ride of Valkyries’ while I destroy Borrego” — leather-wrapped, orange-trimmed seats so comfortable I might have been racing in my living room Barcalounger.

Moguls turned to ess-curved, dry creek beds carved by seasonal monsoons. Light on the brakes to prevent plowing, I drifted the Raptor across a thorny apex — “Big dip here,” Seth warned — then hard on the throttle under opposite lock on exit. Four wheels churning like giant screws. A sand-cigarette boat.

The 10-speed’s agility also reminded of the Porsche and its effortless, dual-clutch 8-speed. Though not as lightning quick as the German’s box, the 10-speed never interfered in the truck’s high-stress maneuvering, always picking the right gear.

After my 11/2-hour drive, Seth and I simply rolled back on asphalt and headed back to Borrego Springs with the Ford as poised in domesticity as it is voracious in its natural habitat.

The only drawback to owning a Raptor in Michigan is finding a sandbox to play in. Silver Lake State Park below Traverse City is sandy fun, but hardly big enough to hold the beast. Logging trails in the UP are further afield. America’s West is Raptor habitat. California. Texas Raptor Run. Or my personal recommendation: Ford’s Raptor customer academy in Utah (coming in 2017).

Sure, Raptor looks awesome sitting in your company parking spot. But like keeping a 40-foot speedboat in your backyard, this truck won’t be happy unless you turn it loose in the open.


Feds want cars to
talk to each other

Keith Laing
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
December 14, 2016

Washington — The Obama administration is moving in its final days to require automakers to ensure that cars can “talk” to each other and eventually communicate with their surrounding infrastructure.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is proposing a new rule that would require automakers to include Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication technologies —or “V2V” — on all their new light-duty vehicles. The agency said the Federal Highway Administration also is planning to soon issue guidance for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications, which involves cars talking to their surroundings, including roads and traffic lights.

The new connected car rules would have to be completed under President-elect Donald Trump, who has been sharply critical of previous regulations imposed by the Obama administration.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said technology that allows cars to communicate with each other, “Has enormous safety potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes and save lives.

“If a driver is making an left-hand turn against oncoming traffic, or trying to pass a large truck on a two lane road, V2V communications will warn drivers of hazards that are out of their sight,” Foxx said. “In other words, what V2V does is give drivers 360-degree awareness to avoid collisions. This is going to make a big difference and spare thousands of families in the future the pain of losing a loved one to an automobile accident.”

The communication between autos would be enabled “by utilizing the radio transmission protocols and spectrum bandwidth collectively known as dedicated short range communications,” according to the transportation department.

Under the proposal, vehicles that have V2V devices would use dedicated short-range communications to transmit data, such as location, direction and speed, to nearby cars.

The DOT said the data “would be updated and broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles, and using that information, V2V-equipped vehicles can identify risks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which lobbies for automakers in Washington, said the federal government would have to make sure there is enough radio frequency band capacity, or spectrum, available for cars to talk to each if the mandate is adopted. Auto industry groups have been pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to reserve space on the radio spectrum for connected cars, which could come at the expense of additional WiFi internet capacity.

“V2V safety messages transmit 10 times per second and any interference could result in a crash, or even worse, an injury or fatality,” the auto alliance said in a statement. “We understand the desire for additional spectrum for Wi-Fi purposes, and the auto and supplier industry have been active participants in the Federal Communication Commission’s open proceeding and have been open to sharing the 5.9 GHz frequency spectrum, but only if it can be proven that no harmful interference occurs.”

The auto alliance group represents Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., BMW Group, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Car USA.

The spectrum issues will ultimately be decided by the Federal Communications Commission, but Foxx said Tuesday that the life-saving potential of the V2V technology makes it a worthwhile use of the contested bandwidth.

“The bottom line is this a technology that has been contemplated and expected for quite some time,” he said. “It’s proven and we know it works.”

Critics have questioned whether the privacy of drivers could be protected if their cars are transmitting information about the location to other nearby vehicles.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said Tuesday “V2V-enabled vehicles exchange only generic safety information.

“The system is designed to operate without using any personal information about specific vehicles, or drivers,” he said. “This is a safety tool, not a data gathering tool.”

Foxx, meanwhile, said he hoped the Trump administration would recognize the safety benefits of the V2V technologies.

“I can’t speak to the next administration, but I can say from a safety perspective, this is a no brainer,” Foxx said.


Dissecting the excuses used by
one-third of Ontario drivers
who don't use winter tires

The Globe and Mail
Monday, Dec. 13, 2016

It’s indisputable: Winter tires are better for your car and your driving at this time of year. So why are so many motorists driving without them? Plenty of people in Ontario clearly didn’t during winter’s first large regional snowfall on Sunday, and hundreds crashed because of it.

In fact, Ontario Provincial Police reported almost 500 collisions in the Greater Toronto Area in the first 24 hours since the start of the storm.

The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada says 65 per cent of Ontario drivers, and roughly half of all drivers west of Ontario, use winter tires, up about 10 per cent from two years ago. In Quebec, winter tires are mandatory in the cold season and in Atlantic Canada, more than 80 per cent of drivers use them.

But good tires aren’t the solution to everything, and probably all of this weekend’s drivers who crashed in the snow were just driving too fast for the conditions, whatever their rubber. Even so, one-third of Ontario drivers and half of all Westerners still believe they have good reasons to not use them: They’re too expensive, or you’ve nowhere to store the tires you’re not using, or they’re not really needed most of the time. These are nothing but lame excuses.

Canadian drivers have a responsibility to keep their vehicles as safe as possible, and as safe for other road users as possible. It’s indisputable that winter tires grip the road better through snow and ice, so it’s indisputable that you need them.

TOO EXPENSIVE: A full set of four winter tires will probably cost at least $500 for the least expensive choice, and can easily be twice that. A set of steel winter rims is another $100-$200, depending on size and whether you buy new or used. And a shop will charge $40 to swap and balance the tires, twice a year. These are not insignificant costs.

However, remember that when you’re using your winter tires, your regular tires are in storage, and vice versa. Your tires will last six years, instead of three. The only real cost is for additional rims and labour – the rest is just an initial investment.

It’s an investment that pays off with the first avoided accident. Your insurance probably has a deductible of $500 or even $1,000, not to mention the increased premiums if there’s a claim. As well, in Ontario, drivers with winter tires now get an automatic discount on their insurance – it’s the law.

NO STORAGE: Not everyone has a garage or shed with space for four tires, but there are plenty of places that do. Anywhere that sells or installs tires will offer you storage for your unused tires over the season.

Prices for this vary – it could be $100 a season, or it could be free. Your dealer would love to store your tires for you, because that way, you’ll come back in the spring, and he also knows if and when you’re selling your car. It’s the best customer retention tool a dealer has. If your dealer doesn’t have the space for tire storage, there are third-party companies like Tire Hotel that provide it.

RARELY NEED THEM: This is what those hundreds of drivers in southern Ontario thought this weekend, and hundreds in Alberta last month.

Whenever the temperature is below 7C, your car will stop better and hold the road better with winter tires. Just because the road is clear does not mean all-season tires are fine. Winter tires are softer and more flexible on a cold surface, and their rubber is scored with tiny “sipes” that work like suction cups on both tarmac and ice.

When the road is snow-covered, winter tires bite better through that snow to the road beneath because they’re narrower, with more weight on each contact patch. Their tread also throws off the snow that clogs the tread of a regular tire.

Still think you don’t need winter tires? You don’t have any reasons for it, just excuses.


Canadian Nov. sales rise
10% behind GM, Ford gains

December 12, 2016
Automotive News
Greg Layson

Canada light-vehicle sales rose 10 percent in November behind strong double-digit gains at General Motors and Ford Motor Co. -- two of the country's three biggest automakers ranked by volume. 

GM Canada deliveries increased 31 percent in November compared to November 2015, the company said. The automaker delivered 28,523 vehicles -- the best total November sales performance since 2006.

Buick sales rose 54 percent, led by a 93 percent increase in sales of Buick SUVs.

GMC sales year-over-year were up 41 percent in November, while Chevrolet was up 25 percent.

GM's sales are up 1.8 percent to 249,212 in Canada year to date.

Ford Motor Co. said it sold 24,450 vehicles in November, up 18 percent compared with the same month a year earlier. Ford reported a 10 percent rise in Canadian auto sales in the first 11 months of 2016.

Analysts expect Canadian auto sales to set a new record in 2016, rising to 1.96 million vehicles, up from a record-breaking 1.90 million units last year. But after a strong first half this year, sales have declined in August, September and October on an annual basis.

Deliveries have increased 3.2 percent to 1.827 million through November.

At FCA, November volume dipped 3.2 percent to 20,674 cars and light trucks, behind a drop of 9.4 percent at Dodge and 1.8 percent at Jeep.

Among other automakers in Canada, Mazda, Hyundai-Kia, Toyota and Honda were all up, but Nissan/Infiniti and Porsche showed the largest gains.


Sales increased 13 percent over the same month in 2015. The Rogue compact crossover set a new November sales record with 3,675 units sold, an increase of 45.7 percent. Nissan’s luxury Infiniti brand posted a sales increase of 16 percent, with a November-record 1,130 units sold.


The company reported its best November sales on record with 541 vehicles sold, a 20-percent increase. Having sold 6,511 units year to date, Porsche reached a new annual sales record one month ahead of year-end and topping last year’s 5,963 units sold. 


Sales increased by 9.2 percent due mainly to a jump in the number of CX-5 and CX-9 tall-wagon models sold. Canadians bought a combined 2,437 units, up from the 1,765 they bought a year ago. 


While Hyundai volume slipped 4.6 percent, its sister company, Kia, posted an increase of 21 percent. Combined, sales at Hyundai and Kia were up 3.1 percent. Hyundai also sold 45 of its new luxury Genesis models, which went on sale Nov. 21 and are available only through appointment test drives. Genesis, which doesn’t have showrooms in Canada, sold 31 G80 sedans and 14 G90s.


The company posted a 4.2-percent total sales increase over November 2015 on the strength of the Corolla and Tundra. Toyota sold 526 more Corollas and 298 more Tundras than it did last November.Overall, Toyota’s car sales were up 10 percent while total truck sales remained essentially flat, up 0.8 percent

The company’s Lexus brand posted a sales increase of 3.4 percent.


Honda Canada said November sales increased 1.7 percent compared with November 2015. The Honda automobile division set a record, gaining 1.2 percent on sales of 13,183 units. The automaker sold 914 units of the Honda Fit, up from the 525 it sold during the same month last year. Sales of the Civic dropped 9.4 percent. The Acura division reported sales of 1,832 units in the month, up 5.5 percent over last November.



Ford’s U.S. patent total
tops competitors

Ford’s prototype On-the-Go H2O system collects, filters and pumps water directly to a faucet hanging over the cupholders. (Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
December 11, 2016

Ford Motor Co. said Friday its employees have been granted 1,442 U.S. patents so far this year, more than any other major automaker.

Ford, citing U.S. Patent and Trademark Office utility patent data, said patent awards to Ford employees are up 25 percent from 2015 and represent the most patents submitted in the automaker’s 113-year history. Globally, Ford has been issued about 3,200 patents this year.

The company says one of its patented inventions this year would equip self-driving cars with drones. The self-driving vehicle sends a drone to map areas surrounding the vehicle beyond what sensors can detect. Passengers in the autonomous car would be able to control the drone using the vehicle’s infotainment or navigation system, Ford said.

“At Ford we are fully engaged in the current climate where inventions and out-side-the-box thinking are being produced rapidly,” Tony Lockwood, Ford manager of virtual driver system and autonomous vehicle development, who was granted the patent with a colleague, said in a statement. “Ultimately, customers benefit as we open ourselves to new ideas and advance mobility using emerging technologies.”

General Motors Co. through early December this year has been granted 1,131 utility patents, Toyota Motor Corp. 1,368 and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. 1,011, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark data. The U.S. also awards design, plant and other patents.

The Dearborn automaker said Ford employees worldwide have made 8,000 inventions so far this year, up 40 percent from 2015 and 90 percent from 2014. Many are first-time inventors, the company said.

“We are living the innovation mindset in all parts of our business across the globe,” Raj Nair, executive vice president of Ford’s product development and chief technical officer, said in a statement. “Our employees are delivering exciting new technologies for our customers at record levels. As an auto and mobility company, this is an exciting time, and our employees are aggressively advancing emerging technologies and increasing our mobility patents at record levels.”

Among other highlighted Ford inventions are the eChair, a lightweight electric wheelchair that can load by itself into a car that was developed by engineers at the automaker’s proving grounds in Belgium; the Carr-E, an electric personal transportation device, developed by a German Ford systems engineer, that also can move packages and heavy items and On-the-Go H2O, that gathers vehicle condensation, filters the fluid and pumps it into a faucet in the car for drinking water.



Trump meeting with former
Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Keith Laing
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
Dec 9, 2016

Washington — President-elect Donald Trump is meeting with former Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally on Thursday as he builds the cabinet for his incoming administration.

Fox News reported that Mulally is a candidate for secretary of state.

Danielle Hagen, a spokeswoman for Trump’s transition team, confirmed the meeting is on the president-elect’s schedule for Thursday. She declined to provide specifics about what Trump and Mulally would be discussing.

Mulally was CEO of Ford from September 2006 to June 2014. He is credited with leading the Dearborn automaker through a rocky period that saw Ford emerge as the only U.S.-based car company not to take a bailout from the federal government in 2008 and 2009.

Mulally was an executive at airplane manufacturer Boeing before he was recruited to take over Ford.
Trump had a rocky relationship with Ford during his successful presidential campaign, clashing with the company’s current Executive Chairman Bill Ford over whether the company is outsourcing jobs in a plan to move small-car production to Mexico.

Trump repeatedly assailed Ford during his campaign for the company’s investments in plants in Mexico, and for planning to move production of the Ford Focus and C-MAX from its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to Mexico. He slammed Ford’s decision to shift small car production to Mexico as a “disgrace,” and insinuated the company would “fire all of their employees in the United States” as it moves production of the unprofitable and small-profit-margin vehicles south of the border.

A week after the election, Trump in a late-night tweet indicated he had a hand in keeping Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky. That surprised many United Auto Workers officials and rank-and-file workers who did not know the compact crossover had been slated for Mexico.

Last week, ranking officials for Ford confirmed that Trump had “influenced” Ford’s decision to keep production of the Lincoln SUV in Louisville instead of moving it to Mexico.

The meeting with Mulally is not the first time Trump has turned to an auto executive for expertise. Last week he named General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra to a Strategic and Policy Forum that frequently will advise him on economic issues and jobs growth.

The pool of potential candidates for secretary of state includes 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker and former CIA Director David Petraeus.


Ford F-Series ’16 sales
on track for 800K

Henry Payne,
The Detroit News
December 8, 2016

San Diego — Ford Motor Company and industry analysts say the Ford F-Series pickup is on track to sell more than 800,000 in 2016 for the first time since 2005.

That staggering figure will mark a milestone 40th straight year that the F-Series has been the best-selling pickup in the U.S. market.

And it also affirms one of the biggest gambles any automaker has made in the U.S. marketplace: production of the first all-aluminum, full-size pickup.

Two years ago, Ford bet its franchise vehicle on the wholesale changeover to an aluminum skin. Facing a doubling of government fuel-economy standards by 2025, Ford wagered the lighter material would both improve EPA fuel numbers while also advancing performance.

“Question asked and answered,” said Truck Group Marketing Manager Doug Scott here at the media launch of the F-Series latest model, the terrain-chewing F-150 Raptor sport truck. “The answer was our light-weighting strategy has given the truck owner more of everything they wanted: more payload, more towing, better acceleration, better fuel economy, better vehicle dynamics.”

The F-Series success comes despite daunting manufacturing challenges and a fusillade of negative advertising from Ford competitors. Prior to Ford’s investment, Chevrolet’s steel Silverado pickup had been the class lightweight. With Ford’s aluminum diet making headlines, Chevy fired back in a series of high-profile TV ads suggesting that aluminum compromised the pickup’s core promise: strength.

Yet, despite months of Chevy ads showing bears stalking aluminum cages and concrete blocks puncturing F-150 beds, F-Series sales — which include the F-150 and F-250 trucks — are growing. With one month to go in 2016, F-Series sales are 733,287 to 213,000 more than nearest competitor Silverado, a 35 percent increase in the margin over 2015.

“There’s no doubt they’ll make 800,000 by the end of the year,” says Karl Brauer, a senior auto analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “The switch to aluminum hasn’t hurt them at all. Any concerns have been offset by a laundry list of advanced equipment on the F-Series.”

Indeed, the F-Series’ metal swap coincided with a wave of technical advancements including more fuel-efficient 2.7-liter and 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 engines, 360-degree camera, mirror-mounted floodlights, LED box lighting, versatile box cleats and trailer back-up assist.

“Light-weighting is an enabler like no other material,” says John Thomas, global auto marketing manager for Ford’s aluminum supplier, Arconic, an Alcoa spin-off. “It helps engineers seek better solutions for towing and hauling — and make powertrain selections that advance fuel economy and power.”

Arconic’s challenge was formidable — up its production of military-grade aluminum to feed the best-selling vehicle in the American market. And deliver it on time to pickup factories in Dearborn and Kentucky being retooled for the new material.

Truck marketing chief Scott says the switch to aluminum has not sacrificed F-series’ bottom line.

“Overall F-Series transaction price is highest in the industry and Super Duty is transacting $10,000 a unit higher than the 2016,” he says. “The F-150 transaction price is $1,500 to $3,000 higher than our competitors.”

Scott largely attributes the 2016 sales surge — up nearly 40,000 units over 2015 — to the introduction of the 2017 F-250 Super Duty which launched three months ago. It is, he says, “exceeding expectations.”

Ford hopes the second generation 2017 Raptor will continue to buff the Blue Oval’s shine. Shipping this week to dealers, the aluminum (with exclusive, plastic-composite front end) Raptor — the only full-size, off-road performance pickup in the market — loses 500 pounds over the previous generation while gaining 39 horsepower and an industry-first quick-shifting, 10-speed transmission (co-developed, ironically, with truck nemesis General Motors).

The Raptor will sell for between $50,000 and $68,000, part of an F-Series sales band that ranges from the $26,000 base model to $90,000-plus for upper trim Super Dutys — a price breadth rivaled only by high-end supercars like the Porsche 911.

To put the F-Series sales volumes in perspective, a TrueCar.com found study that — if you define luxury vehicles as $50,000-plus — the F-Series would be far and away the world’s biggest luxury automaker. Some 25 percent — more than 200,000 — of F-Series sales are over $50,000.

“This will be quite a year,” says Scott. “Our highest volume year since 2005 when we did 901,000. An amazing accomplishment 40 years as bestselling truck in America. It’s unmatched in the industry.”


Ford to issue $2.8B in auto
debt for tech investments

Keith Naughton,
Bloomberg News
December 7, 2016

Investors piled into Ford Motor Co.’s first automotive borrowing in almost four years, allowing the company to slash interest rates on a $2.8 billion debt sale as it boosts spending on self-driving cars, mobility services and electrified vehicles.

The automaker sold 10-year and 30-year notes Monday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Investors put in about $8.7 billion of orders for the bonds, said a person familiar with the matter, letting Ford sell more than the $2 billion it initially anticipated. Ford’s last automotive issue was for $2 billion in January 2013. The company said its auto business had $13.1 billion in debt at the end of September and net cash of $11.2 billion.

Ford has undertaken an expensive effort to transform itself into a mobility company that can take on upstarts such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Google. The cost of that conversion is causing profits to fall this year and next.

The second-largest U.S. carmaker has promised to put 100,000 robot taxis — without steering wheel, gas or brake pedals — on the road in five years. It’s also investing $4.5 billion to convert 40 percent of its lineup to electrified vehicles by 2020 and is offering bike sharing and a commuter van service in San Francisco.

“Ford is taking advantage of favorable market conditions to issue long-term debt to raise capital for general corporate purposes,” Brad Carroll, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “We continue to increase our investments in emerging opportunities, primarily in the areas of electrification, autonomy and mobility.”

Ford is working with cities around the world to come up with transportation solutions that go beyond selling cars to individual drivers and include vehicle sharing, ride hailing and other modes of mobility.


Trudeau government tables bill
that could reduce pension benefits

By Ken Hanly
December 6, 2016

Ottawa - The Liberal government's Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, tabled a bill that would allow Crown corporations and federal private-sector employers to back out of defined-benefit entitlements they agree to.

For those retired and working employees who could be impacted by the change, their retirement benefits could be drastically reduced even though they have paid into the plans for years and budgeted on the basis of what they expected to receive when they retire.

Defined Benefit plans require employees to give employees a monthly payment regardless of their investment returns. Accrued benefits are legally protected and cannot be clawed back. While such plans are not as cheap as alternatives such as Defined Contribution plans, they offer workers greater retirement security.

The president of the Canadian Labour Congress(CLC), Hassan Yussuf, said that the bill, C-27 was an "unconscionable betrayal" and an "attack on future and current retirees.' The text of the bill can be found here. The bill has the innocent title: " Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act 1985". It removes the legal oblgation of employers to protect already accrued benefits. As the CLC put it: "Bill C-27 removes employers’ legal requirements to fund plan benefits, which means that benefits could be reduced going forward or even retroactively. Even people already retired could find their existing benefits affected, after paying in their entire working lives."

In a letter to Morneau, Yussuff said: "C-27 was introduced without notice or consultation with Canadians, pensioners, or unions and proposes measures that directly contradict election promises to improve retirement security for Canadians. If enacted, it will have negative implications for private and public-sector DB plans in every jurisdiction in Canada." Yussuff noted that the Liberal platform spoke of guaranteeing retirement security whereas the bill does the exact opposite. The platform promises to boost the Canada Pension Plan.

Ironically, the former Harper Conservative government in April 2014 had tried to loosen rules around public sector pension plans and encourage the growth of Targeted Benefit plans. There was such strong opposition that the Conservatives dropped the plan. In 2015 they floated changing pension plans again. Now it seems it is the Liberals who are carrying on Harper policies. Opposition to such policies is what resulted in the Liberals being elected.


Ford willing to work with
Trump if policies are right

Keith Naughton,
John Lippert
& Jamie Butters,

Dec 5, 2016

Ford Motor Co. was a target of Donald Trump’s criticism on the campaign trail for building cars in Mexico, and now that Trump will be president, Ford said it’s willing to work with him to keep jobs in the U.S. — provided Trump puts the right policies in place, according to the automaker’s chief executive officer.

“We will be very clear in the things we’d like to see,”Mark Fields said in an exclusive interview Friday at Bloomberg offices in Southfield, Michigan.

Among them, according to Fields: currency-manipulation rules to promote free and fair trade, tax reform and safety guidelines for autonomous vehicles.

Fields said Ford plans to lobby the new president to soften U.S. and state fuel-economy rules. They hurt profits by forcing automakers to build more electric cars and hybrids than are warranted by customer demand, he said.

“In 2008, there were 12 electrified vehicles offered in the U.S. market and it represented 2.3 percent of the industry,” Fields said in the interview. “Fast forward to 2016, there’s 55 models, and year to date it’s 2.8 percent.”

No Market

This isn’t exactly a formula for success, he said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to have customers, so obviously there would be pressure on the business if there’s not a market,” he said.

The No. 2 U.S. carmaker was one of the companies that Trump singled out on the campaign trail for sending production to Mexico. The Republican threatened to slap a 35 percent tariff on cars that Ford builds south of the border and ships back to the U.S.

After the Nov. 8 election, Trump phoned Executive Chairman Bill Ford to discuss the carmaker’s plan to move manufacturing of the Lincoln MKC sport utility vehicle to Mexico from a plant in Louisville, Kentucky, Fields said. The discussion helped convince Ford to keep building the Lincoln in the U.S.

Trump influenced the decision “because of what he’s talking about in terms of his economic policies, whether it’s tax reform or otherwise,” Fields said.

No Incentives

Ford received no incentives for keeping Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky, though the automaker never planned to close that Louisville plant, which also builds the Escape SUV that outsells the Lincoln version by 12 to 1. Ford already makes the Lincoln MKZ sedan and the Fusion family car in Mexico. It’s building a new $1.6 billion small-car factory in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, which will create 2,800 jobs there by 2020.

Ford still plans to move its Focus compact and C-Max hybrid to Mexico from a Michigan factory.

Trump also criticized the Carrier unit of United Technologies Corp. after the company said it would move production to Mexico, cutting 1,400 jobs in Indiana. Trump and Carrier unveiled a deal Thursday in which the maker of furnaces and air-conditioners will get $7 million in state incentives to keep the work in Indiana. Despite the agreement, about 1,100 Carrier employees in the Indianapolis area will lose their jobs.

Fields said the automaker’s situation is different than Carrier’s. The small cars Ford is moving out of the Michigan factory are being replaced by two other models “and not one job is being displaced,” Fields said.

Different Than Carrier

“Our position is very different than the Carrier position,” Fields said. He added that he didn’t know whether Trump would carry through with his campaign pledge to impose the tariff on Ford’s Mexican-built cars, but he said he doubted it would be applied to just one company.

“It would be imposed on the entire industry, not just singling out a single company,” Fields said. “When you look at the production and supply chains and how they’re integrated between the three countries” — Mexico, Canada and the U.S. — “putting a tariff on that would have a negative impact on all the economies.”

Since 2010, nine global automakers, including General Motors Co., Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, have announced investments of more than $24 billion in Mexico, where wages are 80 percent lower than in the U.S. Annual auto output in Mexico may more than double this decade, from 2 million to 5 million vehicles, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

More U.S. Jobs

Ford has said it’s just the fifth-largest producer of vehicles in Mexico while it’s the top automotive manufacturer in the U.S. The company said it’s added nearly 28,000 jobs in the U.S. over the last five years. Ford employs 85,000 workers in the U.S. and 8,800 in Mexico.

The day after the election, General Motors announced it would end the third shift at assembly plants in Ohio and Michigan in January. The automaker is eliminating almost 2,100 jobs because consumers prefer trucks and sport utility vehicles over the small cars built at the two factories.

Fields said Ford would now continue its dialogue with Trump. The auto industry may seek clean-air credits for self-driving cars, which could reduce fuel consumption and emissions by helping traffic move more smoothly.

Despite the regulatory uncertainty, Fields said Ford has made no change in its plan to invest an additional $4.5 billion in electrified vehicles by 2020, and to install this technology in 40 percent of its nameplates.

Climate Change

Ford wants to continue to help boost fuel economy and lessen the industry’s environmental impact, because the company acknowledges climate change as a serious threat, Fields said.

By 2035, the growth in electric vehicles could erode as much as 10 percent of global gasoline demand,Alan Gelder, vice president of refining, chemicals and oils markets at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd., said in an interview.

The automaker has cut profit forecasts twice in the last three months. In September, Ford reduced its 2016 profit prediction by $600 million, to $10.2 billion from at least $10.8 billion, due to rising recall costs. Last month, it trimmed the 2017 profit outlook for its credit unit by $300 million, to $1.5 billion, because declining auction values for used cars would hurt results.

Ford shares have gained 6.6 percent since Trump’s election.


Trump ‘influenced’ decision
to keep Lincoln SUV in Ky

Melissa Burden,
and Michael Wayland
December 4, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump “influenced” Ford Motor Co.’s decision to keep production of a Lincoln SUV in Kentucky instead of shipping it to Mexico, ranking officials confirmed Friday.

The confirmation came a day after the billionaire businessman was in Indianapolis for a press conference with air-conditioner manufacturer Carrier Corp., where Trump said as many as 1,100 jobs would stay in Indiana instead of moving to Mexico.

Trump in a late-night tweet two weeks ago indicated he had a hand in keeping Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky. That surprised many United Auto Workers officials and rank-and-file members who did not know the compact crossover had been slated for Mexico.

Ford confirmed the plans then, but did not respond to questions on when it made its decision or if Trump and his criticism of Ford moving small-car production to Mexico had any influence on it. The Louisville plant builds the Ford Escape and MKC, and Ford planned to ship the MKC to Mexico by the end of 2019.

“Clearly, our thinking about policies and pro-growth policies influenced our decision,” Bruce Hettle, Ford’s group vice president of manufacturing and labor, told The Detroit News on Friday.

Hettle said the company had been reviewing the plant’s capacity use and had been in discussions with the Trump administration and the UAW.

“When we did the UAW contract, the environment and the business looked like we were oversubscribed and that we couldn’t make market demand. And frankly, it doesn’t look like that now,” Hettle said. “We were thinking about: ‘do we keep the vehicle in the plant or do we move the vehicle to Mexico?’”

Hettle said senior UAW leaders knew of its decision before Trump tweeted the news; Ford officially sent a notice to employees the following day.

On UAW Local 862’s Facebook page the day after Trump’s tweet, the unit representing hourly workers at the Louisville plant downplayed any Trump influence: “The decision to keep the Lincoln at LAP had nothing to do with President-elect Trump, whatsoever. He released the information before it could be communicated to the employees. #SOLIDARITY.”

Trump repeatedly assailed Ford during his campaign for investments in plants in Mexico, and for planning to move production of the Ford Focus and C-MAX from its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to Mexico.

Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks on Friday said Ford’s plans for the Focus — and its shift to Mexico — have not changed. Ford would not say what will happen to the C-MAX.

The Focus and C-MAX have been slow sellers as consumer preferences shift to SUVs and trucks. Ford is cutting North America production during the fourth quarter, and Hettle confirmed Michigan Assembly would take an additional week of downtime around the Christmas holiday.

Trump has indicated he would end the trade pact with Canada and Mexico and slap a 10 percent to 35 percent tariff on vehicles and parts made in Mexico that are imported into the U.S. He also has threatened tariffs of up to 45 percent exported from China to the U.S.

The company, according to Shanks, is optimistic that the Trump administration will be “a very pro-growth administration in terms of policies.”

Shanks: EPA ‘misguided’

Shanks said Ford strongly objects to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moving quickly, and before Trump takes office, to finalize stringent gas mileage rules that require automakers to produce car and truck fleets averaging more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

“This is obviously in effort by an outgoing administration who’s concerned about what the new one will do and trying to change the rules of the game,” he said. “That’s unfortunate. We think it’s completely misguided and inappropriate.”

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions standards that were issued jointly by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation are subject to review by April 2018.

But EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is proposing that the agency issue a final decision to keep its portions of the regulations in place after taking comments until Dec. 30, 2016.

Many believe Trump’s stance on deregulation would include rolling back the fuel-economy standards, which Shanks argues were implemented for a future that envisioned higher gas prices and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

“The market realities are that that is not what people are willing to buy,” Shanks said. “It’s not because we don’t want to sell it. We have them, and we will have even more.”

Ford plans to invest $4.5 billion in electrified solutions — including 13 new electric vehicles — by 2020. The company does not have plans to diverge from its electric vehicle strategy regardless of regulations. However, Shanks said changing timing or adding ways automakers achieve credits would be beneficial.

“All that we’re doing is saying, ‘Guys, just recognize the reality of the world that we’re now living in is not what we expected, so let’s agree that we’ll keep moving in the direction we’re moving in,” Shanks said. “But do it in a way that doesn’t destroy us or make the vehicles unaffordable to customers’ because that’s the path that we’re presently on.”

‘Balkanized marketplace’

The new emission standards began to take effect with the 2017 model year. They call for ramping up from the current fleet-wide average of about 34 miles per gallon for cars and trucks that were required in 2016 to an eventual goal of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

If the regulations do get pulled back or even finalized, California and other so-called “PZEV states” that have adopted California’s stringent Partial Zero-Emissions Vehicle regulations remain the wild cards.

David Strickland, the former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, previously told The Detroit News that if the Trump administration does target fuel-economy regulations, it could cause a “balkanized marketplace” because of differing state regulations.


Ford to recall 650K vehicles
over seat belt issue

Melissa Burden,
The Detroit News
December 3, 2016

Ford Motor Co. said Friday it was issuing a recall of about 650,000 Ford and Lincoln sedans in North America, including more than 602,000 in the U.S., to insulate seat belt anchor pretensioners that could separate in a crash.

Ford says the pretensioner cables could separate because of the increased temperature generated as the seat belt pretensioners deploy. If the cable separates, it may not properly restrain occupants in a crash, increasing risk of injury.

The Dearborn automaker said it knows of two crashes and two injuries associated with the problem.

Dealers for free will inject a coating into the front driver and passenger seat belt anchor pretensioners to protect the cables.

The recall covers certain 2013-16 Ford Fusions, 2015-16 Ford Mondeos and 2013-15 Lincoln MKZs.

Ford says 35,614 vehicles are in Canada, with 8,665 in Mexico and 653 in federalized territories. In total, Ford is recalling about 680,000 vehicles including another 30,000 or so vehicles that are in Europe, Asia Pacific and South America.


Auto sales drive to record
high in November

Melissa Burden
and Michael Wayland
December 2, 2016

U.S. auto sales last month increased 3.7 percent from a year ago to 1.38 million — shattering a record for the month that was set in November 2001. The sales were aided by two extra selling days from a year ago and fueled by Black Friday promotions And while there was concern about shaken consumer confidence after Donald Trump was elected president earlier in the month, car buyers apparently did not hold back.

Bob Carter, senior vice president of operations for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. told journalists in Detroit that questions about a short-term impact on consumer confidence after the contentious election appeared to be answered by strong November results for Toyota and others in the industry. He expects December will also be a good month, though it may fall just a bit from a year ago.

“We’re very optimistic of what the economy is going to provide the auto industry over the next 24 or 36 months,” he said.

Analysts and auto executives say the month was strong: competition for buyers was aggressive, incentives were up and there was plenty of stock on new-car lots. SUVs and trucks remained hot sellers, as consumer interest in cars continues to wane.

Sales of light passenger trucks, including crossovers and SUVs, increased 8.5 percent last month, while passenger car sales decreased 3.1 percent. Trucks accounted for 58.8 percent of all vehicles sold.

“This was a solid month of retail gains across the industry,” Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in a call with reporters Thursday.

Toyota reported a 4.3-percent increase in November sales compared to a year ago; it sold 197,645 vehicles.

General Motors Co. and Ford Motors Co. reported healthy November sales increases, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV experienced a 14.3 percent decline.

All of Fiat Chrysler’s brands besides Ram Truck, which was up 12 percent, reported double-digit losses for last month compared to November 2015.

The Chrysler brand’s 46.8 percent decline was the largest drop for Fiat Chrysler, followed by Alfa Romeo, down 32.4 percent; Dodge declining 20.7 percent; Fiat down 14.5 percent; and Jeep off 12.3 percent.

Heading into the final month of the year, Fiat Chrysler has sold more than 2 million vehicles, up 1 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.

GM said its November sales jumped 10.2 percent to about 252,600 vehicles, as all four of its brands posted strong gains over November 2015.

The Detroit automaker said its Buick brand sales increased 16.1 percent, while Chevrolet sales were up 8.1 percent, Cadillac sales jumped 14.5 percent and GMC sales rose 14.1 percent.

Ford also posted an increase of 5.1 percent — beating analyst expectations that the Dearborn-based automaker’s sales would be flat with November 2015. Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S.

marketing, sales and service, told analysts and reporters in a call Thursday that the results came in slightly stronger than the company’s internal plan and were aided by the best F-Series sales in 15 years and the launch of the new Super Duty.

Sales for the Ford brand last month were up 4.5 percent compared to a year ago, while Lincoln experienced a 19.1 percent jump thanks to sales of the MKC, MKX and its all-new Continental that LaNeve said is only on dealer lots for an average of 13 days. “We’re delighted with the start Continental has had and what it’s doing for the brand,” he said.

Heading into December, Ford has sold more than 2.36 million vehicles this year, including 196,441 cars and trucks in November. LaNeve expects December will be a strong month for the automaker.

Analysts are mixed on whether 2016 sales will reach last year’s record of 17.47 million. Some believe sales will fall just short, while others are more optimistic that with December’s historically strong sales month, sales will slightly surpass last year’s record.

Kelley Blue Book’s Fleming gives it about a 40 percent chance. “Basically, if December comes in flat year-over-year, this will be a new record year,” he said. “But it’s going to be a challenge. There’s one fewer selling day and last December was incredibly strong.”

Kelley Blue Book and Ford are predicting slightly fewer sales next year than this year because carmakers may decide to pull back on buyer incentives and cut some production. GM remains fairly bullish on next year, though it has not given a prediction.

“All economic indicators show significantly improved optimism about the U.S. economy including consumer and business sentiment, which continue to drive a very healthy U.S. auto industry,” Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, said in a statement. “We believe the U.S. auto industry is well-positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels into 2017.”


Ford unveils new Fiesta lineup
amid $1B European profit

The next-generation Ford Fiesta unveiled Tuesday has four trim levels, from left: the Active crossover, ST Line, Vignale and Titanium.

 Michael Wayland ,
The Detroit News
Dec 1, 2016

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday unveiled its new lineup of Ford Fiestas that the automaker hopes will continue its European rebound, which has already led to a more than $1 billion profit in 2016.

The eighth-generation subcompact is roomier than the current generation. Each of the four trims unveiled on Tuesday (Titanium, ST Line, Vignale and Active crossover) has different styling cues — most notably different grille and lower fascia configurations.

“Five years ago in this very building, we agreed to build the world’s most-successful small car and we’ve done it,” Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president and president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said during the automaker’s “Go Further” event in Cologne, Germany, where the car is produced for Europe.

Ford did not announce U.S.-specific details for the new Fiesta or production plans for the car. U.S. models are currently imported from Ford’s Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico.

“At this time we are only talking about the new Fiesta for Europe and Middle East Africa — and we’ll have more to say about other markets at a later date,” said Ford global product spokesman Craig von Essen in an email to The Detroit News.

For the 2017-model year, Ford domestically offers the Fiesta in S, SE, Titanium and ST hatchback. All aside from the ST are offered as sedans and hatchbacks.

Ford of Europe Vice President of Product Development Joe Bakaj said the ST Line is inspired by its high-performance vehicles “in an affordable and practical package,” followed by the “core model” Titanium and premium Vignale. The Fiesta Active, according to Bakaj, is the first car in the automaker’s new Active series, which takes styling cues from crossovers.

“The standard refinement and craftsmanship sets a whole new benchmark in the segment,” Bakaj said.

Ford also announced the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, which is currently offered for the Fiesta in the U.S., will be the first three-cylinder engine to feature cylinder deactivation, which shuts down cylinders when they are not needed to save fuel.

Ford has sold nearly 18 million Fiestas globally since the first version was launched in 1976.

Ford Fiesta sales in the U.S. were down 26.6 percent through October, as consumer preference continues to shift toward larger, more-capable crossovers and SUVs. Autodata Corp. reports U.S. passenger car sales heading into the final months of the year were down 8.9 percent through October, including a 14.1 percent decline in Ford’s car sales.

Smart Mobility

Ford during the event discussed details of its “Smart Mobility strategy,” which aims to make Ford a leader in the so-called “mobility,” or transportation, market that Ford estimates to generate $5.4 trillion in revenue annually — more than $3 trillion more than the traditional automotive industry.

“Ford is no longer only an automaker,” Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said during the program, which was broadcast online. “We’re now expanding our entire business to be both an auto and a mobility company.”

Fields said Ford plans to begin testing self-driving vehicles — a key to future mobility many believe — in Europe starting in 2017. The Dearborn-based automaker already tests autonomous vehicles in the United States.

The automaker, Fields said, plans to continue growing in the mobility space through its own innovations as well as partnerships.

Ford early Tuesday said it had signed an agreement to create “the highest-powered charging network” in Europe with BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche.

The goal is the quick build-up of a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers.

“This will make the dream of owning an electric vehicle easier and also more practical. So we are serious about electrified vehicles,” Fields said, adding the company’s plans to invest $4.5 billion in electrified solutions – including 13 new electric vehicles – by 2020.

The build-up is planned to start in 2017. An initial target of about 400 sites in Europe is planned. By 2020, the companies plan to have thousands of high-powered charging points.

$1 billion profit

Farley said Ford has already made more than $1 billion in profit in Europe this year — nearly doubling the company’s original $600 million target.

“We beat that in six months,” Farley said. “We beat our expectations because of our people.”

Ford made $259 million in Europe in 2015, which helped drive the atomaker’s overall profit last year to $7.4 billion.


Job quality falling
as wage gap grows for
61% of Canadians,
CIBC finds

While higher minimum wage has
helped poorest workers, gap between
middle and high incomes isn't closing

By Susan Noakes,
CBC News
Nov 30, 2016

The quality of employment in Canada is falling, according to a report from CIBC, with more low-paid jobs and those earning less than the average wage falling further behind..

Both young people and Canadians over 55 are stuck in the low-wage job sector, primarily in service jobs.

But even among workers aged 25 to 54, 53 per cent had jobs that paid between 50 and 100 per cent of the average wage.

The report by CIBC economist Benjamin Tal found that jobs created since 2003 in Canada are more likely to be low-paying.

Using figures from Statistics Canada, Tal found that the share of workers who are paid below the average wage has risen over the years to just under 61 per cent in 2015.

Gap in wages growing

It's those workers in the middle-wage spectrum, earning less than the average wage but not minimum wage, who are falling behind.

And while rising rates of minimum wage have helped the poorest workers, the gap between middle and high-income people is not closing.

"The good news is that those at the lowest end of the wage spectrum are seeing relatively healthy wage gains — not due to bargaining power but mostly due to policy changes regarding minimum wages," Tal says in the report.

"But the group closer to the middle of the wage spectrum have seen sub-par growth throughout the entire cycle."

That makes Canadian households more fragile in the face of economic shocks, as they are less likely to have extra cash on hand, Tal said.

Steady deterioration

The deterioration in job quality has been steady over the past 10 years, the report said, with the number of part-time jobs rising to 20 per cent of all jobs during the 2008-2009 recession. It's barely fallen since then, with more than 19 per cent of jobs part-time.

Those most likely to do part-time work are over age 55, with more than 60 per cent of older workers in part-time jobs. That may reflect a preference, but it also may reflect the lack of opportunity for that age group.

While jobs with above average pay continue to have high pay, and pay continues high in sectors such as logging, mining, electronics and transportation, that's not where the new jobs are, Tal says.

Instead, they are in service and retail sectors, which pay less than the average wage.

At the same time, only 15 per cent of workers aged 15-24 are even in the workforce, a decline over the last 20 years. Younger workers do tend to have lower pay, but with fewer jobs opening up in higher paid sectors, they are not seeing an opportunity to earn more.

Automation to destroy more well-paid jobs

In a separate report, the Mowat Centre predicts millions of Canadians may lose their jobs to automation in the next decade, including truck and taxi drivers who could be replaced by self-driving vehicles.

Those who are working could see their full-time positions replaced with short-term, temporary gigs.
The University of Toronto-based think-tank says Canada must embrace new technologies to be competitive, but cautions there may be an increase in income inequality.

Those who work in highly skilled areas — including science, technology, engineering and mathematics — are likely to work longer hours and maintain high incomes, but many others will see work become more precarious.

Authors Sunil Johal and Jordann Thirgood say Canada will have to adapt its social safety net to these changes, including pensions, the employment insurance system, benefits not covered by health plans and training.


Intel’s $250M
investment latest auto-
tech convergence

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
Nov 28, 2016

Los Angeles — Intel Corp. plans to invest more than $250 million in the next two years for research and development of technologies for autonomous and connected cars.

The targeted investment by Intel’s capital investment arm was announced Tuesday by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich during a speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Mobility LA conference. It marks the most recent convergence of the automotive and tech industries in the race to connected and self-driving vehicles.

Krzanich said the California-based tech giant will invest in startups that are trying to provide security to the connected vehicle space as well as other initiatives to “drive innovation and collaboration across the industry.”

Intel, which has been growing its presence in the auto industry in recent years, sees opportunity in the massive amount of data that will be produced by self-driving cars.

“Data is the new form of oil,” Krzanich said. “Let’s say you have a car driving between here and San Diego. Well, if you want to do that in an autonomous world, without data that car will not move … you’re going to have to have data as much as you’re going to have to have any type of propulsion.”

According to Intel, one autonomous vehicle by 2020 will produce as much data in a day as about 3,000 people. If 1 million autonomous vehicles are on the road by then or later, that’s the amount of data produced by 3 billion people per day.

The announcement is part of Intel’s ongoing work with automakers and system suppliers to help integrate advanced technologies in cars. Intel has booked more than $1 billion worth of revenue in the past 12 months from automotive-related business. The company has worked with leading global car manufacturers including BMW, Daimler, Hyundai, Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Tesla and others.

“We really want to work collaboratively in this space,” Krzanich said, adding that no one company has all the answers or resources to proliferate connected, self-driving vehicles.

The collision of automotive and tech companies was a main discussion among industry insiders at the mobility conference, which comes a day before automakers unveil more than 50 vehicles for the LA Auto Show.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields on Tuesday said the industry is “on the cusp of a mobility revolution,” but collaborations and partnerships will continue to be needed.

Starting next year, Ford will accelerate its efforts of urban mobility by working with city officials more closely to design the “city of tomorrow.” Part of the automaker’s plans include beginning to work with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Compact of Mayors coalition, which focuses on helping cities and countries set and achieve more ambitious goals for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Fields said Ford plans to go to city officials and discuss their specific problems and needs in an attempt to determine what mobility efforts — ride-sharing, bikes, ride-hailing, etc. — may work best for that city’s residents.

Fields said the company sees mobility as a much larger, more-profitable business than just producing and selling cars and trucks.

“While we continue to make great vehicles, they are no longer our entire game,” he said. “Today we’re not only dreaming about the world of tomorrow, we’re also focused on creating the city of tomorrow, which means continuing to find ways to make peoples’ lives better whether they own a car or not.”

Ford is investing heavily in autonomous cars because it believes driverless vehicles could account for 20 percent of industry-wide U.S. yearly sales by 2030. Of that 20 percent, Fields said 80 percent will be in fleets, while 20 percent will be for personal use.

The company in August said it will have a fully driverless car without a steering wheel or pedals for braking and acceleration in 2021.


Ford to unveil new Fiesta
subcompact on Tuesday

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
Nov 27, 2016

Ford Motor Co. on Tuesday will unveil its new Ford Fiesta during one of the automakers special “Go Further” events in Cologne, Germany.

Taking the wraps off the subcompact car will be Ford President and CEO Mark Fields and Ford of Europe Executive Vice President and President Jim Farley.

“The new Fiesta will be our best expression of Ford — lovable fun, sporty to drive and with an unmatched personality true to the spirit of the iconic small car that has delighted generations of customers for the past 40 years,” Farley said in a statement.

During the event, Ford says it also will announce details on its “Smart Mobility strategy, fuel-saving technology news, and reveal new commercial vehicles.”

Ford in recent years has used “Go Further” events to outline new strategies for the company as well as unveil new vehicles. The event will be livestreamed starting at 2 p.m. Tuesday through Ford Europe’s YouTube channel.

About 2,500 dealers, employees and media are expected to attend the event, which is taking place at the company’s W-Halle inside the Niehl, Cologne manufacturing facility — one of several assembly plants for the current Fiesta.

Ford did not announce any details of the vehicle or its production plans for the car. For the U.S., the car is currently imported from Ford’s Cuautitlan Stamping and Assembly Plant in Mexico.

Ford Fiesta sales in the U.S. were down 26.6 percent through October, as consumer preference continues to shift toward larger, more-capable crossovers and SUVs.

Autodata Corp. reports U.S. passenger car sales heading into the final months of the year were down 8.9 percent through October, including a 14.1 percent decline in Ford’s car sales.


NDP accuses Liberal
government of lacking
auto strategy

Chris Thompson,
Windsor Star
November 25, 2016

Two Windsor New Democrat MPPs blasted the Ontario government over its auto strategy in Queen’s Park on Tuesday.

Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak both rose in the house to demand the Liberal government provide an auto strategy to defend the province’s auto industry in light of the fact that U.S. president-elect Donald Trump has said he will not support the current North American trade deals.

“We’ve lost far too many manufacturing jobs in this province,” Hatfield said in the legislature.

“Unifor has settled a new contract with the American-based auto industry. Ottawa isn’t doing anything to protect auto jobs.

President-elect Trump is threatening to tear up existing trade contracts. What is the Wynne government doing to protect and grow Ontario’s automotive industry? We need an automotive strategy and we need it now.”

Economic Development and Growth Minister Brad Duguid replied that the province does have an automotive strategy and “it’s working pretty darn well.”

“We’ve seen in the last three weeks alone $1.5 to $1.7 billion of commitments in investments in places all over the province including Windsor, Oshawa, St. Catharines, Woodstock, among others … Brampton,” Duguid said.

“We’re seeing a real renaissance of investments in Ontario and it’s coming because we do have a very effective automotive strategy.”

Natyshak accused the provincially and federally appointed auto czar Ray Tanguay, who took the job last year, of being ineffective.

“The premier’s appointed so-called auto czar has been absolutely silent,” Natyshak said.

“There is no automotive strategy in the province of Ontario. Let’s be frank. It’s been left up to the workers in those plants to fend for themselves against market conditions, to make themselves productive, despite no action on the part of this government.

Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is not an automotive strategy.”

Natyshak also said the cost of hydro is proving to be an impediment to expanding the province’s auto industry.

“We need a plan, we deserve a plan that addresses the skyrocketing prices of hydro, makes us the most productive place to manufacture automotive parts, aerospace parts,” Natyshak said.

Duguid said that the Wynne government has successfully worked to ensure the future of the automotive industry in Ontario.

“Mr. Speaker, when it comes to auto and manufacturing this province has put forward $1.7 billion of investment that’s leveraged $16 billion from private sector manufacturers in this province, 70,000 manufacturing jobs have been created by that policy,” Duguid said.

“So how can you stand there and say that we have no policy? The fact of the matter is the plants in Windsor, those engine plants were considered to be dead and gone. Because this government has an effective policy, because we worked closely with Unifor … the NDP should be complimenting this government on the great work we’ve done in partnership with Unifor, in partnership with our auto partners, to … ensure there is a bright future for tens of thousands of auto workers.”


What's at stake for
Canada, Mexico and
the U.S. in Trump's

Barrie McKenna
The Globe and Mail
November 24, 2016

Canada and Mexico say they are ready and willing to reopen NAFTA – if that’s what Donald Trump wants.

Are they happy about it? Most definitely not.

The North American free-trade agreement has been the glue that has bound the economies of the three countries since 1994. And before that, there was the 1989 Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement.

All three countries have gained in the arrangement by cutting tariffs and other barriers.

The combined GDP of the three erstwhile amigos has tripled.

And now, the U.S. president-elect, who won the White House by promising to bring millions of jobs back to the United States, wants a new and better deal. So what’s at stake for the three countries in a NAFTA 2.0?

The United States

Exactly what Mr. Trump wants is not clear, short of bringing “jobs and industry back on to American shores” – as he explained in a video manifesto released this week. The video, which outlines plans for his first 100 days in office, makes no mention of NAFTA.

And yet, dumping on the deal was a huge part of Mr. Trump’s campaign. And reversing the large U.S. trade deficit (a combined $76-billion U.S. last year with Canada and Mexico) remains a key target of his team as it prepares to move into the White House in January. A memo, obtained recently by CNN, says Mr. Trump intends to propose changes to the treaty on issues such as currency manipulation, lumber, country-of-origin labelling for meat as well as environmental and safety standards.

Mr. Trump talked during the election of a 35-per-cent tariff on Mexican imports and punishing U.S. companies that move there.

Mr. Trump’s team also wants to scrap a NAFTA provision that allows Mexican and Canadian companies to challenge U.S. regulations outside the court system, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is not clear whether this refers to the dispute mechanism system, which has been used successfully by Canada to fight off duties on lumber and steel products, or the more controversial Chapter 11 arbitration system that allows foreign investors to directly sue NAFTA governments for compensation. Doing away with the investor regime would be self-defeating: U.S. companies have launched – and won – more of these cases than Canada and Mexico combined.


Punishing Canada might not be a winner either. Yes, Canada enjoys a trade surplus, but it’s been shrinking. It was $15.5-billion (U.S.) in 2015, down nearly 60 per cent from the year before, mainly because of tumbling oil and gas prices.

U.S. exporters love Canada. It is the single largest market for U.S. goods and services, accounting for 15 per cent of everything the United States sells to the world. There is a high degree of integration within industries such as autos, aerospace and food products.

Nearly two-thirds of products and services that cross the Canada-U.S. border are inputs for final products. Car parts typically cross the border multiple times before a vehicle reaches the consumer. And roughly 13 per cent of imports from Canada go into U.S. products sold to third countries.

Mr. Trump apparently wants to target Canadian lumber and livestock exports. Open the deal and Canada’s heavily protected dairy market could also be on the table. But making Canada pay may not repatriate U.S. jobs.

The United States has already effectively removed lumber from NAFTA, forcing Canada into a managed trade deal. The last thing the U.S. lumber industry wants is for lumber to be put back in NAFTA. Perpetuating or increasing those restrictions will also make lumber – and U.S. homes – more expensive.

The same applies to livestock. Reinstating U.S. country-labelling rules, which Canada and Mexico successfully removed through previous trade action, would make meat at U.S. grocery stores pricier.


Perhaps no country has more to lose in all this than Mexico. It has been the focus of much of Mr. Trump’s fiery rhetoric on trade and immigration.

If Canada is the outer ring of Mr. Trump’s bull’s eye, Mexico is dead-centre. The U.S. trade deficit with Mexico rose nearly 10 per cent in 2015 to $60.7-billion (U.S.). Canada’s deficit was $15.5-billion (U.S.).

Mexico could fight any punitive tariff at the World Trade Organization. Mexico might respond with duties of its own, which could hit some of the top five U.S. exports to Mexico: machinery, electronic products, vehicles, oil and plastics.

And there is something else Mr. Trump might want to ponder. NAFTA has helped Mexico develop a middle class and a more diversified economy. Walling it off again would send it into a downward spiral of poverty and instability – precisely the conditions that triggered previous waves of illegal immigration.

Trump plans to withdraw U.S. from TPP in first days of presidency

Trump called the TPP ‘a potential disaster for our country.’

Toronto Star
Simone Pathe
November 22, 2016

WASHINGTON—U.S. president-elect Donald Trump plans to issue “a notification of intent to withdraw” from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Trump shared the plan among other details in his list of priorities for his first days in office in a two-and-a-half minute video message released Monday evening.

Calling the TPP — which would create free trade among 12 nations encompassing nearly 40 per cent of the world’s GDP, including Canada, Australia, Mexico, Japan and the United States — “a potential disaster for our country,” Trump elaborated, “We will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back on to American shores.”

“My agenda will be based on a simple core principle, putting America first,” he said. “I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here, on our great homeland America, creating wealth and jobs for American workers.”

Trump said he has asked his transition team to come up with a list of executive actions that the administration can take “on Day 1 to restore our laws and bring back our jobs.”

He laid out several of these actions, but did not provide any details about how they would work.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — in Lima, Peru, along with leaders from Asian and Pacific nations attending the annual APEC summit — said trade deals such as the TPP and the North American Free Trade Agreement are necessary more than ever to better move goods, people and services across borders.

“This is not based on ideology or opinion, this is based on the fact that Canada has benefited extraordinarily over the almost 150 years of our existence — and well before that — from strong trading relationships with the Americans and indeed with the world,” Trudeau said Sunday.

Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama urged TPP members not to give up on the deal, despite Trump’s persistent anti-trade rhetoric.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that the TPP deal would be “meaningless” without the United States.

He also said the pact couldn’t be renegotiated.

“This would disturb the fundamental balance of benefits.”

As Japan’s most powerful leader in a decade, Abe had invested political capital in overcoming strong domestic opposition to the TPP.

Abe and the other 20 APEC leaders closed the summit with a unified call to resist the protectionist sentiment highlighted by Trump’s victory and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Last week, Abe became the first world leader to meet with Trump since his election. Seeking reassurances over the future of U.S.-Japan security and trade relations, Abe described the meeting as “really, really cordial,” but he offered few details of their discussion.

On Monday, Trump said he also plans to “cancel” what he called “job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy.”

He wants the labour department to investigate visa violations that “undercut the American worker.”

Using his now ubiquitous tagline about draining the swamp, Trump repeated his promise to ban executive staff from becoming lobbyists for five years after they leave the administration. The ban also includes a lifetime prohibition on executive officials lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.

The president-elect promised new regulatory rules that would require two old regulations to be dismantled any time a new regulation is created. On national security and defence, he plans to ask the Department of Defense to come up with what he called “a comprehensive plan” to protect American infrastructure from “cyberattacks and all other forms of attack.”

He also packed another day full of meetings with potential administration picks and those offering counsel, but a top adviser said there is no rush to fill the top ranks of his White House and Cabinet.

“His appointments will come out when he’s ready and not a moment sooner because these are big decisions and they shouldn’t be rushed,” Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, said Monday in New York. She said the Trump team already is “weeks and weeks and weeks ahead” of previous presidential transitions.

On Trump’s schedule at his namesake Manhattan tower Monday were onetime primary rival Rick Perry, the former Texas governor; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump loyalist; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who’s been mentioned as a potential secretary of the Department of the Interior; former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao; and former Sen. Scott Brown, a possible candidate for Veterans Affairs. Also meeting with Trump was Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who broke with much of her party’s establishment to back Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton during the Democratic nomination race.

The transition team also announced more so-called landing teams that will begin meeting with top officials at federal agencies to begin the process of handing over the keys to a Trump administration. There are some 4,000 executive branch jobs that the new administration will be filling with political appointees.

Among those named to the landing teams were Charter Holdings Chief Executive Officer Ray Washburne, a Republican financier, to liaise with the Department of Commerce. Washburne also may be under consideration for interior secretary, CNBC reported, citing sources it didn’t identify.

Two more names have been floated for the Homeland Security Department. The Washington Post reported that Trump is considering retired Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, who was head of the U.S. Southern Command, and Francis Townsend, who was President George W. Bush’s adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism.

Of the three candidates Trump interviewed over the weekend for treasury secretary, according to a person familiar with the hiring process, Steven Mnuchin, a member of the transition team’s executive committee, is thought to be the front-runner.

Along with potential administration officials, Trump met Monday with anchors and executives from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, and CNN for an off-the-record discussion. During his campaign, Trump had lashed out at all of the networks at some point for how they covered his run.


Ford will be the first automaker to
import cars from India to the U.S.

EcoSport will be shipped from India in 2018

November 21, 2016

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Ford Motors, already under fire from President-elect Trump for importing cars from Mexico, will soon become the first U.S. automaker to import vehicles from India. The company said the EcoSport compact crossover, introduced for the U.S. market at the Los Angeles auto show Monday, will be shipped here from India starting in 2018.

The EcoSport, which is a small SUV, has been built at a Ford's assembly plant in Chennai, India for more than 100 markets around the world since 2013. About a 15% of the plant's production sold in India. Subcompact SUVs are a huge business in the U.S., accounting for the biggest segment of the auto market, according to data from Kelley Blue Book. The EcoSport will be Ford's smallest SUV.

GM started importing the Buick Envision, another compact crossover, from China to the U.S. market in May, and has sold about 8,500 of them so far. Volvo, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely, started importing the S60 Inscription from China in September 2015.

But Ford will be the first automaker to ever import cars from India into the U.S. market, despite the growing auto industry there, and its lower labor costs. U.S. trade data shows Canada exports the most vehicles to the United States, by dollar volume, followed by Japan, Europe and then Mexico. About 80% of cars sold in the United States are made at U.S. auto plants, according to sales tracker Autodata.

Ford's plan to shift all of its small car production to Mexico has became a hot-button topic during the recent presidential election. Ford is not laying off any U.S. workers as a result of the move. Instead Ford's U.S. workers will be build larger, more profitable SUVs.

Still, Trump has vowed to impose a 35% tax on cars that are built in Mexico for the U.S. market, which he says will force automakers to bring jobs back to U.S. plants. Experts question whether that tax will bring any cars back to U.S. auto plants, speculating that it's more likely that automakers will simply stop building small cars if they can't be built in low wage countries like Mexico.

Ford CEO Mark Fields told CNN on Tuesday that said a tariff would hurt the U.S. economy and workers.


Ford Canada names U.S. sales
veteran Mark Buzzell as new CEO

Financial Post
Kristine Owram
November 20, 2016

Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. has named Mark Buzzell, currently general manager for the western market in the United States, as its new president and chief executive.

Buzzell will replace Dianne Craig on Jan. 1.

Craig has been CEO of Ford Canada for five years and will become U.S. director of sales for Ford Motor Co. at the beginning of 2017.

Under Craig, Ford has been the best-selling automotive brand in Canada for five consecutive years.

“Dianne Craig’s outstanding contributions at Ford of Canada make her the right person to build future sales success in the U.S.,” Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of the Americas, said in a statement, adding that Buzzell will be a “perfect fit” to replace her.

Buzzell has been with Ford since 1989 and held a variety of marketing, sales and service positions across the U.S., the Caribbean and Central America.

“I look forward to joining Ford of Canada’s winning team to lead the company’s efforts to be the most trusted and admired brand in the country,” Buzzell said in a statement.

After wrapping up labour negotiations with Unifor earlier this month, Ford said it would invest $713 million in its Canadian operations.


UAW learns of Ford news
through Trump tweet

Melissa Burden ,
The Detroit News
November 19, 2016

United Auto Workers leaders learned Ford Motor Co. had changed course and would not move Lincoln MKC production from Kentucky to Mexico the same way the rest of the world did: through a tweet from President-elect Donald Trump late Thursday night.

Trump indicated in a tweet that he had a hand in keeping Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky. The automaker confirmed the plans for the compact SUV, but did not respond to calls and emails on when it made its decision, or if Trump and his frequent criticism about Ford moving small-car production to Mexico had any influence on it.

The UAW and Ford, in a joint statement to Louisville employees Friday, said the company re-evaluated its plans to phase out the MKC so it could build more Escape models at the plant due to “changing business conditions.” The UAW knew the compact crossover was going to leave Louisville, but did not know where.

“We are happy to announce today that we are keeping the Lincoln MKC in Louisville Assembly Plant,” the statement said. “As you may have seen, our president-elect tweeted about this on Thursday evening after Bill Ford spoke with him and let him know of the change in plans. We want to confirm this change with you directly today.”

The initial Trump tweet said a Lincoln plant was staying in Kentucky. However, the automaker never intended to shutter Louisville Assembly, though it had planned to send production of the MKC to Mexico by the end of 2019.

Ford last year indicated moving the MKC out of Louisville was not expected to lead to any job losses.

A sign of things to come?

The tweets led many in the media and auto industry to question the president-elect. The quick tweets — sent without elaboration or with some key leaders’ knowledge — could indicate what’s in store during Trump’s presidency. The UAW, for example, was not aware the MKC was going to remain in the U.S. until Trump’s tweets and Ford’s response Thursday night.

While Trump was relatively silent on Twitter in the final days of the election, he has taken to the social media platform several times since his win, to defend work of his transition team and to criticize the press and organized protests.

“Trump has been a candidate who’s lived by his own set of facts, and it looks like that isn’t going to change when he’s president,” Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said in an email. “It’s the media’s job to correct him — but of course, most media organizations have taken a big hit and aren’t as staffed up as they once were. In addition, most of Trump’s followers seem to care less what the actual facts are. They believe anything he tells them. We’ll see whether that changes after the passage of time, especially if Trump isn’t delivering on his promises.”

The Trump-Ford development started around 9 p.m. Thursday with Trump tweeting: “Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky — no Mexico.”

He then followed with a second tweet that read: “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”

Ford late Thursday confirmed that Bill Ford and Trump spoke earlier in the day: “We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S. competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States. We will have more details to share on our future plans at the appropriate time.”

Ford said the automaker would “continue to engage with President-elect Trump’s team — and the new Congress — as they shape the policy agenda for 2017. We have shared our commitment to continue investing in the U.S. and creating American jobs ...”

Ford builds the Escape and MKC compact crossovers at the Louisville plant, which employs 4,700. In the automaker’s 2015 contract with the UAW, it said it would phase out the MKC in Louisville by the end of the contract, which expires in September 2019. Ford said a year ago that was so it could build even more Escapes in Louisville and it did not expect any job losses.

All in the spin

“It is all about the spin, so everyone wins!” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting with LMC Automotive.

Schuster said Trump can claim he saved a vehicle with production of about 40,000 vehicles a year from going to Mexico and preserved jobs, while Ford likely will continue with its plan for a new plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, that will produce more than 300,000 vehicles a year.

While Ford previously had not said where MKC production would go, the company confirmed late Thursday it likely was headed for its Cuautitlan plant in Mexico.

Analysts had expected Ford would shift the compact crossover to Mexico. Some analysts say a redesign of the MKC is due in mid-2019.

Ford is planning to build a new $1.6 billion assembly plant in San Luis Potosi, which is a likely destination for the Ford Focus and C-Max that are leaving Michigan Assembly in Wayne in 2018.

Even with the Lincoln MKC staying, the majority of the Louisville plant is devoted to the Escape. The automaker has sold 20,702 MKC crossovers in the U.S. through October compared to more than 258,000 Escapes.

Sales of the Escape have slowed a bit in recent months; competition in the compact crossover segment is intense. Ford recently has idled the plant to cut back on inventory, and it’s possible that was a factor in Ford’s decision to keep the MKC at Louisville.

Trump criticized Ford during his presidential campaign for plans to build plants in Mexico and shift production of vehicles from the U.S. to Mexico. Ford has said since the election that it has been engaging the Trump transition team and that it has shared its commitment to investing in the U.S.

Citing the company’s April 2015 decision to invest billions in Mexico and move production of the Focus and C-Max from Michigan to Mexico, he called for severe penalties and tariffs for automakers who send production overseas.

No jobs lost

Ford CEO Mark Fields on Tuesday had said the company had no changes to its plans for small-car production in Mexico, saying it would add “two very exciting products that will be coming into the Michigan Assembly plant.” Those products, as reported by The Detroit News and other media outlets, are the Ford Ranger pickup and Ford Bronco SUV.

Ford has stressed no American jobs will be lost by its moving production of small cars to Mexico. Since 2011, Ford has added nearly 28,000 jobs in the U.S. and invested $12 billion in U.S. plants, according to Ford’s statement Thursday.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin in a tweet Thursday night praised Trump for his efforts: “2 days ago, @realDonaldTrump told me he was working w/@Ford to keep smaller vehicle production in KY & in USA. Tonight they delivered...TY!”

In contrast, on Friday the Democratic National Committee claimed Trump lied in his tweets, because the plant was never going to be moved. The committee said Trump was trying to fool Americans.

Louisville officials are pleased by the production news. A spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement that the mayor was “glad to see Ford continuing its commitment to Louisville.”

“We are glad that Ford remains committed to keeping great manufacturing jobs in Louisville,” Kent Oyler, president & CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., an economic development organization, said in a statement.

A Trump spokesman did not return messages.


Trump tweets: MKC to
stay in Ky; Ford confirms

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
November 18, 2016

Ford Motor Co. said late Thursday that it plans to keep Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky, confirming news that President-elect Donald Trump tweeted Thursday evening.

“Today, we confirmed with the President-elect that our small Lincoln utility vehicle made at the Louisville Assembly Plant will stay in Kentucky,” Ford said in an emailed statement. “We are encouraged that President-elect Trump and the new Congress will pursue policies that will improve U.S.

competitiveness and make it possible to keep production of this vehicle here in the United States. We will have more details to share on our future plans at the appropriate time.”

Ford said the automaker would “continue to engage with President-elect Trump’s team — and the new Congress — as they shape the policy agenda for 2017. We have shared our commitment to continue investing in the U.S. and creating American jobs ...”

Trump initially tweeted late Thursday: “Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky - no Mexico.” .

He then followed with a second tweet that read: “worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me!”

Just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky - no Mexico


The tweets sent Twitter abuzz with comments that ranged from acclaim — “god bless trump for saving the American jobs and ford plant” to disavowal, saying Trump had nothing to do with keeping production in Kentucky: “Trump just took credit for stopping Ford from moving a plant to Mexico. But it wasn’t planning to,” said one Twitter user.

Ford builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC compact crossovers at its Louisville Assembly Plant. In the automaker’s 2015 contract with the UAW, it agreed to phase out the MKC in Louisville by the end of the contract, which expires in September 2019. Ford and the UAW have not shared where that production was headed.

Trump criticized Ford during his presidential campaign for plans to build plants in Mexico and shift production of vehicles from the U.S. to Mexico.

Ford has said since the election that it has been engaging the Trump transition team and that it has shared its commitment to investing in the U.S.
Citing the company’s April 2015 decision to invest billions in Mexico and move production of the Ford Focus and C-MAX from its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to Mexico, he called for severe penalties for automakers who send production overseas.

Ford CEO Mark Fields on Tuesday said the company has no changes to its plans, saying they will add “two very exciting products that will be coming into the Michigan Assembly plant.” Those products, as reported by The Detroit News and other media outlets, are the Ford Ranger pickup and Ford Bronco SUV.

Since 2011, Ford has added nearly 28,000 jobs in the U.S. and invested $12 billion in U.S. plants, according to Ford’s statement Thursday.

“Ford continues to employ more American autoworkers and produce more American made vehicles than anyone,” the statement read.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately return messages Thursday night.

Ford already operates two assembly plants, two stamping plants and an engine plant in Mexico. It builds the Fiesta, Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, Lincoln MKZ, Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, four-cylinder and diesel engines in Mexico, and the quality of those products has long been on par with its American-made products.

The automaker has sold 20,702 MKC crossovers in the U.S. through October. In contrast, Ford has sold more than 258,000 Escapes in the U.S. through October.



Intel’s $250M investment
latest auto-tech convergence

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
November 17, 2016

Los Angeles — Intel Corp. plans to invest more than $250 million in the next two years for research and development of technologies for autonomous and connected cars.

The targeted investment by Intel’s capital investment arm was announced Tuesday by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich during a speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Mobility LA conference. It marks the most recent convergence of the automotive and tech industries in the race to connected and self-driving vehicles.

Krzanich said the California-based tech giant will invest in startups that are trying to provide security to the connected vehicle space as well as other initiatives to “drive innovation and collaboration across the industry.”

Intel, which has been growing its presence in the auto industry in recent years, sees opportunity in the massive amount of data that will be produced by self-driving cars.

“Data is the new form of oil,” Krzanich said. “Let’s say you have a car driving between here and San Diego. Well, if you want to do that in an autonomous world, without data that car will not move … you’re going to have to have data as much as you’re going to have to have any type of propulsion.”

According to Intel, one autonomous vehicle by 2020 will produce as much data in a day as about 3,000 people. If 1 million autonomous vehicles are on the road by then or later, that’s the amount of data produced by 3 billion people per day.

The announcement is part of Intel’s ongoing work with automakers and system suppliers to help integrate advanced technologies in cars. Intel has booked more than $1 billion worth of revenue in the past 12 months from automotive-related business. The company has worked with leading global car manufacturers including BMW, Daimler, Hyundai, Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Tesla and others.

“We really want to work collaboratively in this space,” Krzanich said, adding that no one company has all the answers or resources to proliferate connected, self-driving vehicles.

The collision of automotive and tech companies was a main discussion among industry insiders at the mobility conference, which comes a day before automakers unveil more than 50 vehicles for the LA Auto Show.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields on Tuesday said the industry is “on the cusp of a mobility revolution,” but collaborations and partnerships will continue to be needed.

Starting next year, Ford will accelerate its efforts of urban mobility by working with city officials more closely to design the “city of tomorrow.” Part of the automaker’s plans include beginning to work with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Compact of Mayors coalition, which focuses on helping cities and countries set and achieve more ambitious goals for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Fields said Ford plans to go to city officials and discuss their specific problems and needs in an attempt to determine what mobility efforts — ride-sharing, bikes, ride-hailing, etc. — may work best for that city’s residents.

Fields said the company sees mobility as a much larger, more-profitable business than just producing and selling cars and trucks.

“While we continue to make great vehicles, they are no longer our entire game,” he said. “Today we’re not only dreaming about the world of tomorrow, we’re also focused on creating the city of tomorrow, which means continuing to find ways to make peoples’ lives better whether they own a car or not.”

Ford is investing heavily in autonomous cars because it believes driverless vehicles could account for 20 percent of industry-wide U.S. yearly sales by 2030. Of that 20 percent, Fields said 80 percent will be in fleets, while 20 percent will be for personal use.

The company in August said it will have a fully driverless car without a steering wheel or pedals for braking and acceleration in 2021.


Ford in ‘constant
with Trump team

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
November 16, 2016

Los Angeles — Ford Motor Co. has been in “constant communication” with Donald Trump’s transition team since the election, with CEO Mark Fields sending a congratulatory letter to the president-elect. Fields declined to directly comment if Trump, who criticized Ford throughout his electioni campaign for the company’s investments in Mexico, responded to the letter.

Fields said that any protective tariffs pushed through by Trump would hurt the U.S. auto industry and the general economy.

“We have had conversations with the transition team,” he said Tuesday after a speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show’s AutoMobility LA conference. “I’ve sent a congratulatory letter to the president-elect and we look forward to working with the new administration and the entire newly-elected Congress.”

The automaker, including Fields, went on the defensive several times during the presidential election, attempting to defend the automaker’s Mexico investment and to correct statements Trump made about the automaker shuttering plants domestically to move production south of the border.

Trump repeatedly used as campaign talking points the announcements by Ford it would invest billions in Mexico and move production of the Ford Focus and C-MAX from its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to Mexico.

Fields on Tuesday said the company has no changes to its plans, citing, as he has in the past, that Ford will add “two very exciting products that will be coming into the Michigan Assembly plant.” Those products, as reported by The Detroit News and other media outlets, are the Ford Ranger pickup and Ford Bronco SUV.

Trump has indicated he would end the trade pact with Canada and Mexico and slap a 10 percent to 35 percent tariff on vehicles and parts made in Mexico that are imported into the U.S. He also has threatened tariffs of up to 45 percent exported from China to the U.S.

Fields on Tuesday said a tariff such as that on Mexico “could have a huge impact on the U.S. economy.” He said he continues to “be convinced that the right policies will prevail, because I think we all share the same objective, which is a healthy and vibrant U.S. economy.”

Fields said that Ford maintains its stance on fair trade and supports legislation on currency manipulation, fuel economy regulations being aligned with market realities, comprehensive tax reform and the safe adoption of autonomous vehicles.

“We have a proven track record of working with policymakers going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt, when we were first formed,” he said. “So we expect to work very efficiently and positively with the president-elect administration as well as the new Congress.”

Speaking on CNBC from Los Angeles, Fields reiterated that a 35 percent tariff would affect “the entire auto sector and that would impact not only the auto sector here in the U.S., it’ll impact the economy in general. So we have to take all those things into consideration.”

Trump also during the campaign blamed NAFTA for many manufacturing job losses and said he wanted to re-negotiate the pact or kill it.

Fields told CNBC that Ford laid out its corporate strategy, including its manufacturing footprint, based on the trade agreements.

“Obviously, a new Congress and the president could look at everything. But keep in mind, both the production and supply chains are deeply integrated between the three countries. And that integration also supports a lot of American jobs,” Fields said. “So we’ll see how this plays out, We just want to lay out those facts.”

Carmakers have banked on using low-cost Mexican labor for small-car production, which has lower profit margins. Automakers, including the Detroit Three, have announced more than $24 billion in Mexican investments since 2010, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

Fields also indicated to CNBC that he is open to changes to the fuel economy mandates that currently call for automakers to meet a 54.5 miles per gallon level by 2025. He said he hopes the mid-term review in 2018 will consider market realities.

“We want to make sure it’s fact-based, that it’s right for consumers, that it’s right for the industry,” he said.


Ford to unveil small EcoSport
SUV next week in LA


Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
November 15, 2016

Ford Motor Co. will unveil its all-new Ford EcoSport next week ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The reveal was announced late Wednesday by DJ Khaled via Snapchat, saying he would be unveiling the subcompact SUV on Monday.

“It’s going to be a world premier with this new EcoSport,” he said in the ad, which followed videos of him driving in a Rolls-Royce convertible.

Ford confirmed the debut Thursday morning, however did not provide any details on the vehicle.

The EcoSport is expected to be the smallest utility vehicle from the Dearborn-based automaker for the U.S. It is currently produced in Brazil, India, Thailand and Russia.

Ford introduced the first generation of the EcoSport in select markets in 2003. A second generation of the small utility vehicle launched in Brazil and other global markets in 2012.

Small crossovers/SUVs are expected to be a major part of the LA Auto Show, which officials say will feature more than 50 vehicle debuts for the show’s press days Nov. 14-17.

Toyota at the LA show also will reveal a compact crossover, the 2018 C-HR. Toyota says the new vehicle will bow Nov. 17.

Mazda plans to reveal its redesigned 2017 CX-5 compact SUV at the show on Wednesday.

The Jeep Compass compact SUV will make its North American debut for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV alongside an all-new SUV from Italian brand Alfa Romeo.

According to Fordpresents.com, which DJ Khaled referred to in his Snapchat video, the unveiling is part of a three-day event in Los Angeles called “Go Small. Live Big.” The event will feature performances by several special guests as well as tastings from restaurants in Los Angeles.


Don Farquharson Passes
November 10, 2016


1924 - 2016

Donald Farquharson
Retired December 1, 1988
24.4 Years

It is with deep regret that we inform you of the passing of Retiree
Don Farquharson on Thursday November 10, 2016.

Our deepest condolences go out to the Farquharson Family.

These are the Funeral arrangements:

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Monday, November 14, 2016
Thorne Funeral Home "Sunderland Chapel"
98 River Street
Sunderland, Ontario, Canada
L0C 1H0
 Map and Directions

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Egan Funeral Home
203 Queen Street South
Bolton, Ontario, Canada
Map & Directions

Obituary of Donald Farquharson

(Veteran WW II. Retired from Canadian National Rail and the Ford Motor Company)

Peacefully, on Thursday, November 10, 2016 at the Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay, at age 92. Donald Farquharson, beloved husband of the late Violet (nee Crocker). Loved father of Jim (Maureen), Debbie McClure (Barry) and Mary Gardner (Dave). Devoted grandfather of Jennifer (Greg), Jacquie, Bryan (Chisato), Trevor (Erin), Emily (Tyler), Kevin and Beverly and great grandfather of Shanna, Emma, Arianna, Hiyori and Ella.

The family of Donald Farquharson will receive friends at the Thorne Funeral Home, 98 River Street in Sunderland (705-357-3144) on Monday, November 14th from 1 - 3 p.m. and then at the Egan Funeral Home, 203 Queen Street South in Bolton (905-857-2213) on Tuesday, November 15th from 1 - 3 p.m. Followed by interment at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bolton. If desired, memorial donations may be made by cheque to the charity of your choice. Memories, photos and condolences may be shared at www.thornefuner




UAW wants to meet with
Trump on NAFTA, trade deals

Melissa Burden,
The Detroit News
Nov 14, 2016

UAW President Dennis Williams said Thursday the union wants to work with President-elect Donald Trump to renegotiate or kill the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The union head, speaking to reporters Thursday in Detroit, said surveys it conducted just before the election showed an estimated 28 percent or more of its 415,000 or so union members likely voted for Trump. Earlier surveys indicated about 25 percent planned to vote for Trump. The union plans to poll its membership again now that the election is over.

Williams said the union agrees with Trump that NAFTA needs to be renegotiated or overturned and that the Trans-Pacific Partnership also should be halted. He said he is willing to talk with Trump on his ideas for a 35 percent tariff on cars built in Mexico that are imported back to the United States and a tariff with China.

“We’re prepared to work with him on a jobs bill, an infrastructure bill,” Williams said. “We think that’s pertinent to the economy and to the future of the United States.”

Williams said he believes Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was blamed for NAFTA and voters may have been swayed by Trump, whose message resonated with frustrated working families.

“I think Donald Trump had a good message to people about how NAFTA has disrupted their lives and how in many cases destroyed lives and destroyed the middle class, corporations took advantage of taking their jobs way from them,” Williams said.

Trump railed against NAFTA during his campaign and said it was responsible for many manufacturing job losses and jobs moving south of the border to Mexico.

“I think his position on trade is right on,” Williams said.

Williams called NAFTA a “huge problem” for Americans.

“I’m prepared to sit down with President-elect Trump anytime he wants,” Williams said, adding he had not yet spoken to anyone on Trump’s transition team.

The UAW also represents workers at companies that do a lot of exporting, such as Catepillar, and would want to weigh any option of a tariff, Williams said.

The union endorsed Clinton in May, though many of its members had initially supported Bernie Sanders.

“We’re going to try to find some common ground with the newly elected president,” Williams said.

Williams also said he is concerned about the shift in consumer preference of trucks and SUVs from small cars. On Wednesday, GM announced it would permanently lay off more than 2,000 hourly workers, axing a third shift at two small-car plants in Michigan and Ohio.

He said the union was working with GM to place those laid off in other plants and that there may be enough spots for them, though he was not yet sure.

GM recently announced it plans to add a third shift at its Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee, where it also is expanding an engine plant.


Ford's $600M investment
may come too late for
some laid off workers

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
Nov 13, 2016

Bill Grady is entering his 10th year as a laid off Ford worker – a milestone that could dash any hope of returning to a job at one of the automaker’s two engine plants in Windsor.

“One day, I hope to get back in,” said Grady. “But, I don’t think there are any new jobs coming anytime soon.”

One of 280 laid off Ford workers, Grady worries that the automaker’s plan to invest $613 million in its Windsor operations will begin long after his recall rights are due to expire next fall. That means if there are any new job openings, Grady, who spent a decade at Ford before getting laid off in 2008, would have to apply as a new hire, starting at the bottom of a 10-year pay grid and seniority list.

The investment is part of a new four-year contract, covering about 6,700 Ford workers, including 1,400 at two engine plants in Windsor. Chris Taylor, president of Unifor Local 200, which represents hourly workers at the Essex Engine and Windsor Engine plants, estimated that the new contract will create or preserve 500 jobs. 

“I would expect anybody who is still on layoff with recall rights will be recalled, and for those who’ve lost recall rights, we have an agreement with Ford that they will hire these people as new hires,” he said.

Hiring opportunities are expected to stem from a $400 million engine program slated to be launched at Ford’s Annex site sometime in late 2018 or 2019 and technology upgrades expected to be fully implemented at Essex Engine for the 2018 model year. 

For Grady, 41, returning to Ford as a new hire creates a dilemma. On the one hand, he could look forward to earning higher wages and superior benefits as a Ford employee. But, he would be giving up his seniority at his current job, which pays about $15 an hour less than the maximum hourly rate at the automaker.

“I’d have to start from scratch, no seniority, no pension plan,” he said. “So, I’d be taking a chance.”

Under the new, four-year contract, new hires remain on a 10-pay grid, but receive annual pay hikes in each year. The new deal also moves new hires from a hybrid defined benefits/contribution pension plan to a straight defined contribution plan.

Maintaining the 10-year grow-in created a wedge between the Windsor local and Unifor’s Oakville union, which had been pressing the national leadership to secure a shorter pay grid for new hires, who make up about 2,200 of the 5,000 hourly workers at Ford’s vehicle assembly plant there.

But, securing investment was Unifor’s top priority in the recent round of bargaining with Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. While, the union extracted about $1.5 billion in new spending at Detroit Three plants deemed to be at risk of closure, it was only in Windsor that it scored a “home run,” in the form of a new product.

“It’s really a huge victory for the community of Windsor,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said following a ratification meeting Sunday for members of Local 200.   “It’s about giving people who’ve been laid off for so many years opportunities. We really hit a home run in 2016 bargaining.”

But Tony Faria, auto industry analyst at the University of Windsor, said the investment —while “impressive” — does little more than maintain the current level of Ford jobs and production.

“I don’t know if it was a home run,” said Faria. “It’s in the extra-base-hit category. They did fine. I’m impressed that Jerry Dias got pretty much everything he intended to get out of this contract. But, it seems like it’s more or less maintaining jobs.

There’s not going to be a significant change — more saved jobs than created.”

The new seven-litre engine will replace the 6.8 litre, V10 engine currently assembled by about 600 workers at the Windsor Engine plant. While the new engine will power such vehicles as Ford’s F-series super duty trucks, the annual production is expected to total about 75,000 units, said Joe McCabe, president of AutoForecast Solutions. “You would need to double production to see a significant increase in employment.”


Trump presidency drives
uncertainty into auto industry

Detroit News
Michael Wayland
Melissa Burden
Keith Laing
Nov 12, 2016

Donald Trump’s election to the president is expected to have a profound impact on the U.S. automotive industry — from potentially killing trade deals to shaking confidence of car buyers.

Experts say it’s too soon to understand the far-reaching effect of the billionaire businessman becoming commander-in-chief, but some are concerned that his brash campaign promises of building walls, axing trade deals and imposing high tariffs on automobiles imported to the U.S. could cause short-term sales declines and long-term implications on the global industry.

“We just don’t know how consumers — particularly Clinton supporters — are going to react,” said Charles Chesbrough, senior economist and executive director of strategy and research at the Original Equipment Suppliers Association. “I can’t imagine anybody going out and buying a car over this weekend.”

Automakers on Wednesday vowed to work with Trump on policies, manufacturing and jobs. Investors were cautious about a Trump presidency early Wednesday, but losses subsided later in the day. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and General Motors Co. shares both closed down 2.4 percent, while Ford Motor Co. closed up nearly 1 percent.

Some analysts expect Trump to ease his stance on trade after taking office.

“Even with some potential tariff costs to automakers, we believe GM and Ford will have time to flex production and regional sales to mitigate the impact,” said Efraim Levy, an analyst with CFRA Research, said in a note to investors Wednesday.

New tariffs proposed by Trump while campaigning could add $5,000 to a $15,000 car, Chesbrough said. And it could come as new-car sales are showing signs of slowing in the U.S. from their record clip. Automakers also face concerns that sales in China also may slow.

“All bets are off in this election,” Chesbrough said. Uncertainty in the marketplace may cause consumers and automakers alike to take a wait-and-see approach to making any serious investments or purchases until Trump finalizes his priorities and cabinet.

Washington-based Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, a Detroit native, said it will not be as easy for Trump to undo trade pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump repeatedly blamed for manufacturing job losses during the contentious 2016 campaign.

“The president-elect has to balance a lot of competing interests,” he said. “The decisions he will make will not be based on what he wants or what his supporters do, but based on what the government can do or what our allies need. Right now, a lot of our allies need reassurance.”

If renegotiating NAFTA is not a success, Trump has indicated he would end the trade pact with Canada and Mexico and slap a 10 percent to 35 percent tariff on vehicles and parts made in Mexico that are imported into the U.S. He also has threatened tariffs of up to 45 percent exported from China to the U.S.

Trump could give six months notice to Canada and Mexico that he wants out of NAFTA. However, it would appear he would want congressional approval if he wanted to change trade taxes or tariffs involving Canadian or Mexican products.

Mexico investments

Carmakers have banked on using low-cost Mexican labor for small-car production, which has lower profit margins. Automakers, including the Detroit Three, have announced more than $24 billion in Mexican investments since 2010, according to the Center for Automotive Research.

Trump repeatedly used announcements by Ford to invest billions in Mexico and move production of the Ford Focus and C-MAX from its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne to Mexico as a talking point in his campaign.

The Dearborn-based automaker, including its President and CEO Mark Fields, several times during the election attempted to defend Ford’s Mexico investment and correct statements Trump made about the automaker shuttering plants domestically to move production south of the border.

“It’s really unfortunate when politics get in the way of the facts,” Fields said Sept. 14, a day after Trump mentioned the company’s plans to move all small-car production to Mexico during a debate.

“Ford’s investment in the U.S. and commitment to American jobs has never been stronger.”

Ford isn’t alone in its decision to invest in Mexico. However, Trump has been mostly silent on GM and Fiat Chrysler, which also are investing billions in Mexico.

GM said in late 2014 it plans to invest $5 billion in Mexico over six years, but has not revealed what vehicles and engines it will build there. Analysts believe GM plans to shift some next-generation small crossover production from Canada to Mexico.

Fiat Chrysler is moving production of its all-new Jeep Compass compact SUV from a plant in Illinois to Mexico. The company has said no job loss will occur under a plan to shift production of its U.S. plants to produce pickups and SUVs.

The Detroit automakers as well as trade groups representing the world’s largest foreign automakers vowed Wednesday to work with Trump on policies to help strengthen the automotive industry.

“We support President-elect Trump’s pledge to focus on economic growth,” said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of communications and public affairs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an advocacy group representing 12 of the world’s largest car manufacturers. “We look forward to engaging in a productive discussion with President-elect Trump’s administration and the Congress on pro-growth policies, including regulatory and fuel economy issues.”

Trade ramifications

Kristin Dziczek, director of the Industry & Labor Group at CAR, said even if Trump delivers on some of his campaign promises, the automakers aren’t just simply going to shutter operations in Mexico and move them to the United States.

“You can put up trade barriers, you can dismantle NAFTA, and it’s like whack-a-mole because these are global industries, global supply chains and global companies,” she said. “And you know, they’ll find another place for that part or supply or vehicle to come from. It’s not just Mexico.”

Carla A. Hills, chairwoman and CEO of Hills & Co. International Consultants in Washington, D.C., which advises companies on trade issues, said tariffs on products from Mexico would be particularly tough on U.S. automakers.

Hills, who was a U.S. trade representative under the first Bush administration, said the U.S. sells more goods to Mexico than many other countries combined. She believes many companies will turn to the Congress and others for assistance in persuading Trump not to do “something foolish that really hurts our industry.”

“To try to destroy that market that we’ve worked so hard to open up would be a disaster,” she added.

Washington-based Republican strategist John Feehery said Trump is likely to face more pushback from the business sector on NAFTA now he’s actually president-elect.

He doesn’t believe Trump will be able to fulfill his campaign pledge to repeal the trade agreement: “I don’t think it is that likely, given how important NAFTA is to so many companies in this country.”


Trump's opposition to trade
deals could help Canadian
workers, says union president

Jerry Dias of Unifor says TPP and NAFTA
are‘disasters’ for Canadian workers too

By Kate McGillivray,
CBC News
November 11, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump made his antipathy towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) clear during his campaign.

Jerry Dias is the president of Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union. He spoke with David Common on Metro Morning about how Trump's approach to free trade could impact the Canadian manufacturing sector.

Questions and answers have been condensed:

David Common: If you take Trump at his word, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead. What do you think?

Jerry Dias: The TPP is a flawed deal to say the least. It's a disaster for Canada, so if he blocks it in the U.S. and it's dead then frankly I would applaud it. The Japanese ship 159,000 vehicles a year into Canada and we ship about 100 back. Harper's government was completely incompetent when it came to protecting the auto industry here in Canada. So if it gets blocked in the U.S., I applaud it

DC: Then there's talk of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, easier said than done. What do you make of that?

JD: NAFTA has been a disaster for Canada. We've lost 50,000 direct auto jobs. The last eight assembly plants have opened in Mexico while we've closed two. We've lost a half a million manufacturing jobs, so the reality is NAFTA hasn't been kind to us either. But let's be candid, NAFTA and the TPP aren't trade deals. They're all about investor rights.

- Jerry Dias, President, Unifor
This is about international corporations having the right to do whatever they want, it has nothing to do with labour standards or workers.

DC: So you understand the disillusionment some people feel about these trade deals.

JD: I agree with the fact that working class people have gotten the short end of trade deals. I don't support Donald Trump — I think he's racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, and a foolish person in so many regards. But I completely understand the disillusionment.  If you go through the rust belt, there has been a major exodus of jobs. Those auto jobs are now in Mexico. In Canada, we used to build 3.4 million vehicles a year, today we build 2.3 million. Mexico builds about 10 million a year. It has been a straight exodus of the best manufacturing jobs in U.S. and Canada to Mexico, and does that have working people upset? Yes.

DC: Are you worried about the idea of renegotiating NAFTA without knowing what's on the other side?

JD: It can't get worse for us, to be perfectly honest. I'm nervous when he talks about slapping a 35% tariff on imported vehicles, because 85% of vehicles we build here in Canada go to the U.S. But there definitely has to be a renegotiation of NAFTA and our Canadian government has to fight for us. For us, historically, it's been about bargaining a philosophy, not protecting Canadian workers.


Automakers, dependent on Mexico, face a rougher road with Trump

By By Paul Lienert
and Meredith Davis
November 10, 2016

The election of Republican Donald Trump as U.S. president puts new pressure on automakers and other manufacturers that have come to depend on open trade with Mexico and now face the risk of higher costs.

At the same time, investors are betting that some big U.S. manufacturers, such as mining and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc , could get a lift if the new administration brings changes in energy, climate and tax policies.

Caterpillar stock soared more than 7 percent on hopes that a Trump administration would reinvigorate coal mining and investment in infrastructure. The slump in mining has depressed Caterpillar's profits and forced rounds of layoffs.

"There is bountiful evidence that free trade, tax reform, infrastructure investment and smart regulation are critically important to manufacturers??? success," Caterpillar said. However, shares of U.S. automakers, which rely heavily on parts and vehicles made in Mexico to feed their U.S. manufacturing and sales operations, fell on Wednesday.

General Motors Co shares dropped 4.3 percent. The automaker said on Wednesday that it was laying off 2,000 people and cutting a shift at a Lordstown, Ohio, factory that builds Chevrolet Cruze small cars and at a Lansing, Michigan, plant that builds slow-selling Cadillac sedans and Chevrolet Camaro sports cars.

Ford Motor Co shares were down 1.1 percent, and electric luxury car maker Tesla Motors Inc shed 4.8 percent.

Shares of big automotive parts makers that have shifted operations to Mexico were hit hard. Delphi Automotive Plc fell nearly 9 percent. Canada's Magna International Inc , whose Mexican operations account for about 14 percent of sales, was down 5 percent.

Trump made attacks on the outsourcing of American auto jobs to Mexico a recurrent theme in his campaign, a message that rallied blue-collar workers while threatening to upend the business assumptions behind billions of dollars in planned investment by the auto industry.


In announcing his campaign in June 2015, Trump vowed to block Ford from opening a new plant in Mexico and threatened to impose tariffs on cars it shipped back across the border.

But those moves would force U.S. consumers to pay higher prices for vehicles, said Charles Chesbrough, senior economist at the Detroit-based Original Equipment Suppliers Association trade group.

"(Trump's) trade policies could add $5,000 or more to the price of a small car from Mexico," Chesbrough said.

U.S. vehicle manufacturers and many of their suppliers have based billions of dollars of investment on relatively open trade with Mexico, China and other countries.

Ford in April announced plans to invest $1.6 billion to expand production of small cars in Mexico. Trump took aim at that move as well as GM's plans to invest $5 billion there.

GM said in a statement on Wednesday that it "looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and the new Congress on policies that support a strong and competitive U.S. manufacturing base."

Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said: "We agree with Mr. Trump that it is really important to unite the country ??? and we look forward to working together to support economic growth and jobs."

In September, Ford said it would shift small-car production from U.S. plants to lower-cost Mexico, drawing another rebuke from Trump.

"We shouldn't allow it to happen," Trump said.

The company said its decision to build new vehicles in Mexico would not cost U.S. jobs.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford last month said he met with Trump to discuss criticism from the candidate but called the discussion "infuriating" and "frustrating." Ford said his company employed more people at its U.S. plants than any other automaker.

Between 1994 and 2013, the number of auto factory jobs dropped by a third in the United States and rose almost fivefold in Mexico as lower-wage production boomed.

Mexico now accounts for 20 percent of all vehicle production in North America and has attracted more than $24 billion in investment from the industry since 2010, according to the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research.

Based on current investment plans, Mexico???s auto production capacity will grow by another 50 percent over the next five years, said the center, which draws funding from the industry.

"Dismantling NAFTA at this point would be pretty hard to do," said Kristin Dziczek, the center's director of industry, labor and economics.



Trudeau congratulates
Trump on U.S. election win

The prime minister says Canada looks forward to working
“very closely” with Trump, his administration and with the U.S.

Toronto Star
Bruce Campion
Tonda MacCharles
Wed., Nov. 9, 2016

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has congratulated Donald Trump on his stunning presidential upset victory.

In a statement Wednesday morning, Trudeau expressed a desire to work closely with the president-elect.

“Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States. We look forward to working very closely with President-elect Trump, his administration, and with the United States Congress in the years ahead, including on issues such as trade, investment, and international peace and security,” Trudeau said.

“The relationship between our two countries serves as a model for the world. Our shared values, deep cultural ties, and strong integrated economies will continue to provide the basis for advancing our strong and prosperous partnership,” the prime minister said.

On Twitter, Trudeau was more expansive, touting the strong “shared values” between the two countries.

“Our common purpose is to build countries where everyone has a fair chance to succeed . . . and where the government works first, foremost and always for the people it governs,” the prime minister said.

“The Canadian government will continue its hard work toward these ends . . . . and we offer our hand in partnership with our neighbours as friends and allies as they move forward,” Trudeau said on social media.

In his first year in office, Trudeau had forged a close relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama — joking at one point that it was a “bromance.”

But now Trudeau’s government finds itself with a new leader in Washington, one elected on an agenda that runs counter to Liberal priorities on issues such as trade, climate change and refugees.

As other world leaders condemned Trump’s caustic campaign, Trudeau had been careful to stay above the fray, careful to avoid any hint he was taking sides in the divisive election fight.


Wynne ‘worried’ about Trump
threat to Ontario economy

“My biggest fear … is the trade relationship,” the premier said, noting
the United States is far and away the province’s most important
trading partner accounting for 80.5 per cent of Ontario exports.

Toronto Star
Robert Benzie
Queen's Park
Wed Nov 9, 2016

A “shocked” Premier Kathleen Wynne is expressing hope that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s anti-trade rhetoric was just campaign bluster.

Speaking to the Star early Wednesday, Wynne said she is “worried” about Trump’s threat to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that is so vital to Ontario’s economy.

“My biggest fear … is the trade relationship,” the premier said, noting the United States is far and away the province’s most important trading partner accounting for 80.5 per cent of Ontario exports.

Wynne noted that Ontario’s thriving auto industry is so “entwined” with that of Michigan that they are interdependent.

“We have a responsibility to find ways to work together.”

The premier also said she was concerned about the impact of a Trump presidency and a Republican Congress on efforts to tackle climate change.

Trump has claimed global warming was a “Chinese hoax” perpetrated to hobble American manufacturing.

With Ontario putting a price on carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Wynne noted her government has entered into a cap-and-trade system with Quebec and California that other states and provinces could join.

“I am really very worried about that,” she said, adding that while subnational jurisdictions can do a lot to curb such pollution, national governments are also essential to the crusade.

That said, the premier emphasized there are lessons for political leaders around the globe from Trump’s surprise victory that few pollsters had foreseen.

“This election puts a lot of … perceived wisdom in context.”

Voters – especially in “rust belt” states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – feel there is an “unfairness” in the system, she said.

“We have to recognize that. We can’t take anything for granted on any side of the political spectrum,” the premier said, pointing to the aggrieved Americans who feel they are being left behind by globalization.

Still, Wynne said she had no regrets about being so publicly critical of Trump.

In a June interview with the Star at the Canadian embassy in Washington, she warned his divisive talk was “very dangerous for Canada” and “very dangerous for the world.

The premier stood by those comments in the cold light of Wednesday morning after Tuesday’s election.

Ontario’s first female premier —who has met with Hillary Clinton in the past — said she had hoped to see a woman elected president.

“If she had won, it would have sent such an important message to young women in the United States and around the world.”


Ford invests $195M into new
global tech center in India

Melissa Burden,
The Detroit News
Nov 8, 2016

Ford Motor Co., as it seeks to expand mobility offerings, said Tuesday it will invest $195 million into a new global technology and business center in Chennai, India.

The Dearborn-based automaker said the center will serve as a base for product development, mobility offerings and services for India and other global markets. The move comes as the India car market is expected to grow to become the third largest by 2020.

The carmaker will add 3,000 employees in Chennai over the next five years to staff the facility that ultimately will house 12,000 people, its second highest employment center behind Dearborn. Ford plans to move 9,000 employees from six facilities in Chennai onto the 28-acre campus, expected to open in early 2019.

“India is not only a vibrant market for cars and new mobility ideas, it also is rich with talent, technical expertise and ingenuity,” Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who was in India for the announcement, said in a statement. “This new center will help us attract the best and brightest, and make Chennai a true hub of innovation for Ford around the world.”

The environmentally friendly designed center will become Ford’s third global product development center in the Asia Pacific region. The campus also will house employees working in information technology, accounting, data and manufacturing. It will include labs to test future vehicles in India.

Ford said the India center will be the second-largest information technology group outside its headquarters and employees there will “drive innovative ideas for Ford’s emerging business models in mobility, analytics and connected vehicles.”

Ford has spent more than $2 billion since its entry into the Indian market in 1995 to expand manufacturing and sales and service. The company also has used India as a center to make small cars and engines and exports them to other global countries.


Canadian Ford workers
ratify new contract

Ford was the last of the big
three automakers to ratify
a contract with its employees

Thomson Reuters
Nov 07, 2016

Canadian workers at Ford Motor Co. voted to approve a new four-year contract with the automaker, the Unifor union said on Sunday, wrapping up months of contract talks.

The union said in a release that 58 per cent of the 6,700 unionized workers voted to approve the deal, but Oakville local president Dave Thomas said only 45 per cent of members at his unit supported the agreement.

"Bargaining is always tough, but reaching this contract was no small feat," said Chris Taylor, who chaired the union's Ford bargaining committee, in a release.

Talks kicked off in August between Unifor and General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford. Workers approved contracts at GM and Fiat Chrysler in September and October.

The labour agreements each promise hundreds of millions in new investment in the automakers' Canadian operations, in some cases contingent on government support.

The Ford contract closely resembles the GM and Fiat Chrysler agreements, and covers workers at Ford's Windsor, Ont., engine plants and some office and warehouse employees in Windsor and Edmonton as well as Oakville, Ont., assembly workers.

Workers will get $12,000 in bonus payments over four years, and two per cent raises in the first and fourth years of the agreement.

Investment in Canadian operations

Ford has promised to invest $713 million in its Canadian operations, including $613 million in Windsor, the union said in a pamphlet distributed ahead of the vote. The investment will update production of a V8 engine and add assembly of a new fuel-efficient motor for large pickup trucks, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

But the deal maintains a 10-year wage progression for new hires that is unpopular with some Ford workers, especially in Oakville. It also includes a significant concession on pensions, offering new hires a defined contribution pension plan, instead of a plan that guarantees some benefits no matter how pension investments perform.

In a public letter and interview in early October, Thomas said a deal similar to the one approved at GM would likely be rejected in Oakville, where 5,000 of the union's nearly 7,000 Ford employees work. But ahead of the vote, he and other local union leaders endorsed the tentative contract.

The union practices pattern bargaining, selecting one of the three automakers to negotiate with first, and then insisting rivals agree to broadly similar deals.

Ahead of bargaining, union leaders said securing new investment would be their top priority in talks.

Separately on Sunday, Unifor members at Magna International's Integram seating unit rejected a tentative agreement, triggering a strike

Unifor Ford Ratification Results 58% Ratified

Election Results by Location

Windsor 89% in Favour
Edmonton  76% in Favour
Bramalea 60% in Favour
Oakville 45%  in Favour Production
(Oakville Trades  120 in Favour 110 Against)

Unifor Ford 2016 Contract Brochure


Auto sales fall three
straight months for first
time since recession

Michael Wayland and
Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
Nov 6, 2016

Auto sales fell 5.8 percent in October, marking the first time since the beginning of the Great Recession that sales of new cars and trucks in the United States declined for three consecutive months.

Despite the slight drop, analysts don't seem alarmed and aren't expecting any repeat of the last time this negative trend occurred, when year-over-year monthly sales from November 2007 until August 2009 fell and sent two of Detroit's three automakers into government-backed bankruptcies.

"The auto sales rate is still very high. It's just not as high as we saw last year, which was during a record sales year," said Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell. "I think it comes to a point where all of the pent-up demand is exhausted; the sales rate has to naturally slow once you've been at a peak."

The yearly rate of sales for October was 18.02 million, according to Autodata Corp. That's in line with the 18.18 million in October 2015 and the highest rate of 2016, with a 0.8-percent increase in light truck sales last month offsetting a 14.8 decline in passenger cars.

The estimated drop in October was primarily blamed on two fewer selling days last month compared to a year ago, which should help bolster November sales.

Nearly every major automaker, including the Detroit Three, posted sales declines in October. Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV both posted double-digit declines of 11.9 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively. General Motors Co. beat analyst expectations, with sales down only 1.7 percent.

Caldwell and other industry analysts say the recent rise in incentives and slight sales declines since August, including less than 1 percent in September and 4.1 percent in August, aren't red flags for the industry. Overall economic factors, available financing and credit and other industry trends remain healthy, they say.

"Key fundamentals like job security, rising personal incomes, low fuel prices and low interest rates continue to provide the environment for a very healthy U.S. auto industry," GM Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem said in a statement. "The U.S. auto industry is well positioned for sales to continue at or near record levels for the foreseeable future."

How the industry reacts to a sales plateau is key for the industry staying strong, according to analysts. They must remain disciplined on incentive spending and keep production in line with demand.

"While we see some inventories rising as well as incentives, we're also seeing discipline exercised by the automakers. ... I think history has not been forgotten by auto executives," said Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs. "They do not want a repeat of the days of super-high inventories that require ludicrous incentives to move that metal."

Krebs cited Ford's decision last month to halt production of the Mustang to align production with demand. She said she expects other automakers to do the same with slow-selling cars, as consumers turn more toward crossovers, pickups and SUVs.

"The truck and SUV market remains strong in the U.S.," said elley Blue Book senior market analyst Alec Gutierrez, adding the vehicles are more typically more profitable for automakers and can offer more incentives while retaining healthy profits.

GM for years has cited its plan to put profits over sales. The Detroit-based automaker, which last week reported a North American profit margin of 11.2 percent for the third quarter, said it sold 258,626 vehicles in October, down 1.7 percent from a year ago.

"We gained profitable retail share in October while spending less than the industry average on incentives and commanding the industry's best average transaction prices for any full-line automaker," Kurt McNeil, GM's vice president of U.S. sales operations, said in a statement. "We will continue our disciplined approach and focus on retail in a strong industry."

GM said its average retail sales prices after incentives hit $36,155 in October, $4,650 higher than the industry average and more than $1,000 above its October 2015 results.

Fiat Chrysler on Tuesday said its 10.3 percent decline in October was a result of retail sales declining 6 percent as well as a 23 percent drop in fleet sales. The decline in fleet is a result of its strategy of reducing sales to daily rental companies, a company spokesman said.

All of the company's brands, except for Ram Truck posted year-over-year sales declines. Ram sales jumped 11.5 percent from October 2015, as Ram pickups and the ProMaster vans posted increases.

The hot-selling Jeep brand cooled a bit in October, as sales fell 6.6 percent from a year ago. Chrysler brand sales sank 44.7 percent, Dodge sales slipped 16.4 percent and Fiat brand sales fell 24.3 percent. The Alfa brand sold 23 cars, down from 58 in October 2015.

Ford, which reported its sales a day later than all other automakers due to a fire at its world headquarters in Dearborn on Monday, had sales drop 11.9 percent in October to 187,692 vehicles, as car, SUV and truck sales all fell year-over-year.

Ford brand sales were down 12.5 percent in October vs. the same month in 2015, while Lincoln brand sales rose 6.9 percent.

Hyundai Motor Co. and Subaru were the exceptions in October: Both reported roughly 4 percent increases for last month compared to October 2015.

Industry analysts continue to forecast U.S. auto sales to come close to the all-time record of 17.47 million vehicles sold in 2015, as sales through the first 10 months of the year remain almost even with the same time period a year ago.

"Regardless of whether or not 2016 vehicle sales surpass last year, 2016 will turn out to be another very strong year for the industry, particularly from the perspective of the depths of the recession in 2009-11," Tom Libby, IHS Markit manager of loyalty solutions and industry analysis, said in a statement. "It's easy to lose sight of how far we have come from six years ago."



Ford's Canadian union workers
to vote on new contract

Automotive News
November 5, 2016
John Irwin

Ford Motor Co. workers represented by the Canadian union Unifor were set to vote this weekend on whether to ratify a four-year contract that includes $530 million (C$710 million) in investments.

Most ratification votes -- including key votes at locals representing workers at the Oakville assembly plant and Windsor engine plants in Ontario -- were set for Sunday morning and afternoon. Ford office workers were scheduled to have a ratification meeting on Saturday morning.

About 6,700 Ford workers are eligible to vote on the tentative deal, which was reached early Tuesday morning.

About C$613 million of the $713 million in total investments, would go to Ford's Essex engine plant in Windsor, which will receive a new engine program for some of the automaker's top-selling vehicles, according to an advance copy of a contract highlights packet obtained by Automotive News.

The plant will be the "solo global manufacturing source" for a large engine displacement program "that will support multiple premium vehicle nameplates with enhanced fuel economy and emission reductions," the packet, set to be distributed to workers this weekend, reads.

"This engine will supply next generation, high volume products planned for 2020 model year production," the packet reads.

Ford is also expected to build an updated 4.8-liter V-8 engine for the F-150 pickup truck in Windsor, according to a report by Reuters, citing a two unnamed sources.

Should workers ratify the deal, Unifor will have wrapped up labor negotiations with the Detroit 3 while securing $1.2 billion (C$1.6 billion) in investments in most of the plants the union identified as being in danger of closing, while also securing wage gains for the first time in about a decade.

Strike position

A rejection would mean Ford workers would immediately be in a strike position, halting production of four crossovers at the Oakville plant and production of V-8 and V-10 engines at the Windsor plants, which supply the Ford F-150 and Ford Mustang, among other models.

While General Motors and Fiat Chrysler workers ratified similar agreements with at least 65 percent support, a similar result at Ford is not guaranteed after local union leadership last month said a deal patterned off the GM and FCA contracts might not pass at Oakville.

A resounding rejection by Oakville workers would likely be enough to prevent ratification, as the 5,000 workers there constitute the majority of Ford's total Canadian workforce.

Unifor leadership on Tuesday presented a picture of unity when discussing the tentative deal with reporters. Bob Scott, chairman of the Oakville plant, said that while the union was unsuccessful in breaking from the pattern by reducing the 10-year wage grow-in period for new hires to eight years, he nonetheless expects members to ratify the deal.

"I believe that our members are going to be quite happy with what we have done," Scott said.

Unifor President Jerry Dias also said he expects the deal to ratify.

"It is ultimately our members' decision, as it always is," Dias said.

Breaking from pattern

The attempt by Oakville leadership to break from the pattern appeared to cause a rift with Unifor Local 200, which represents workers at the Windsor engine plants. In a Sunday Facebook post, Local 200 warned its Oakville counterparts that striking Ford for additional gains on top of the pattern could have dire consequences.

"The implications of demanding more than the pattern agreement have been clearly laid out by Ford," the local said, adding that Ford would "reconsider their Canadian facilities and exit the operations" should a strike take place.

Tony Faria, director of automotive research at the University of Windsor, called the public spat between the locals unusual.

"Differences are usually kept on the inside," Faria said. "This was somewhat unique in how public it was."

Faria said new hires could prove to be the deciding factor in the Oakville vote. While Ford commits under the deal to have the Oakville plant be the global "primary sole supplier" of the models it builds there, new hires might not be pleased with the wage grow-in period remaining at 10 years, he said.

"There are enough new hires at the plant that if they, as a group, were to vote 'no,' that could be very tough to overcome," Faria said.

New hires make up about 2,200 of the plant's 5,000 workers.

A strike would shut down production of the Ford Edge, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKT and Lincoln MKX crossovers at Oakville. According to the Automotive News Data Center, Ford had 76 days of Edge inventory as of Oct. 1, compared with 78 days of the Flex, 98 days of the MKT and 106 days of the MKT.

According to the highlight packet, the Oakville plant will receive C$100 million in investments for mid-cycle refreshments of the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKT. The Flex will be discontinued, Scott said.

Dias said on Tuesday that the deal puts Ford's "Windsor facilities at the top of the food chain for powertrain operations." Most of the $700 million in investments will go toward the Essex plant in Windsor, which will supply as-of-yet undisclosed top-selling vehicles for Ford with advanced engines.

The tentative deal is modeled after the GM and FCA contracts, which include a $6,000 signing bonus for workers, two 2 percent raises for legacy workers over the life of the deal and pay raises each year under the new hire wage grow-in, eliminating a three-year freeze.

New hires will be placed on a defined-contribution retirement plan, seen as less risky to the employer than a traditional pension plan. Like the GM and FCA contracts, the Ford deal requires new hires to contribute 4 percent of their earnings to the plan, which companies will match.

The Ford deal would create or save 519 jobs over its course, according to the highlights brochure. Ford also agreed to hire "up to 75" skilled-trades apprentices between the Oakville and Windsor plants.


Pension Concessions
Sell Out Young
Employees Across Industries

Sid Ryan
Huffington Post

The tentative collective agreement reached between General Motors, Canada and Unifor on September 19 thrust the pension issue, defined benefit (DB) versus defined contribution (DC) plans, back into the public spotlight.

Under a DB plan, workers are guaranteed a specific amount of monthly pension income based on employee/employer contributions and the worker's years of service. The employer is obligated to ensure the plan is fully funded to meet this pension promise.

On the other hand, DC plans are basically savings plans that do not guarantee a fixed amount of monthly income; they depend on the vagaries of the stock market. The employer has no future obligations with respect to security of retirement income for former employees, which is why bosses fight so hard to convert DB into DC plans.

Recently, Canada Post Corp clashed with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) in a high-profile, year-long and futile attempt to force the union to sell out future employees by accepting a much inferior DC pension plan.

During tough negotiations, CUPW President Mike Palacek wrote an inspirational letter to future employees of Canada Post, dated 2036. In it he "reminded" them of the sacrifices made by past generations of postal workers who fought for the good wages, benefits and DB pension plan that they enjoy. His message was really addressed to his current membership, urging them to be strong and not to sell out the future generation of workers.

His members rose to the occasion. They preserved the DB pension plan for the workers of 2036 and beyond.

Palacek understood that if his union folded and accepted "two-tier bargaining," where future workers are denied the same wages and benefits as current employees, that the cancer would spread like wild fire into every workplace in the country, across public and private sectors alike.

The arguments advanced by employers and right-wing lobbyists about the ongoing viability of DB plans are bogus. RBC Investor & Treasury Services conducted a study of 120 DB pension plans in 2014. It found an average 14.2 per cent return on investments. DBRS, a Toronto-based rating agency, reviewed 64 major pension plans in 2014 and found they were funded at 94.7 per cent levels -- well above the 80 per cent range viewed as the danger zone for pension funding.

When asked in April 2015 about General Motors' push for new hires to accept the lesser DC pension plan, Unifor President Jerry Dias said, "This is a huge fundamental issue for us as an organization... defined benefit pension plans would come under pressure at all employers that have them." He added, "If you take a look at the profitability of the industry today, there is no need for them to make that kind of a request." GM announced it is on track to meet its 2016 financial target of 10 per cent returns on investment.

The "fundamental issue" Dias was wrestling with in his 2015 interview was this: if Unifor agreed to scrap DB plans for new hires in GM, it would result in the eventual end of DB plans for the entire auto industry and beyond.

Despite the known consequences of such a move, he inexplicably signed a tentative agreement with a profitable GM -- providing what is arguably the biggest concession ever given to a major employer in Canada -- which will have serious ramifications for every union collective agreement in the country.

The Ford Motor Co. and FCA (formerly Chrysler) have accepted the same concession from Unifor. This is very bad news for public-sector unions. Right-wing propagandists like the Fraser Institute will rush to cite this concession to push their agenda to end DB plans in the public sector.

Clearly, young workers will see this deal as the "boomer generation" pulling up the ladder behind them, selling out the next generation without a fight. Two-tier bargaining divides the membership and weakens the union from within. It makes it all the more difficult to organize young workers when they see the older generation giving concessions to employers that previous generations fought so hard to gain -- essentially screwing them out of a secure future.

Will GM workers retiring in 2036 on poverty-level DC pensions look back at the deal struck in 2016 by their union and say we should have fought harder and used that 96 per cent strike mandate to protect our pensions?


Tentative Ford deal good
for Windsor but will
Oakville approve it?

Craig Pearson,
Windsor Star
Nov 2, 2016

A tentative last-minute deal reached between Unifor and Ford of Canada early Tuesday morning provides engine plant investment in Windsor worth hundreds of millions of dollars, though the deal rankled some workers in Oakville.

"We will be transforming the Essex plant from what would be categorized as a 'C' plant in the Ford world to an 'A' plant, which puts our Windsor facilities at the top of the food chain for powertrain operations," said Jerry Dias, the union's national president.

"This new engine will be the highest technology, the most fuel efficient, will have incredible torque, horsepower and will be put into Ford's No. 1-selling vehicles throughout the North American chain."

Under the deal, Ford promised to invest $700 million in its Canadian plants, with "the overwhelming majority" going to the Windsor engine operations, said Dias.

The rest of the amount will pay for a "refresh" of vehicles assembled at the Oakville Assembly Plant, which builds the Ford Edge SUV along with Lincoln MKX and MKT. The plant also builds the Ford Flex, but that vehicle will be discontinued in 2020.

The new deal, patterned after four-year agreements recently reached with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, was announced about a half-hour after Monday's 11:59 p.m. strike deadline.

A Unifor press release Tuesday said the Ford deal followed the economic pattern set by the other Detroit Three automakers.

The pattern includes: two per cent wage increases in years one and four of the contract, a $6,000 signing bonus, plus $2,000 lump sums payments in years two, three and four. It also includes enhanced wage progression for new hires — though the two-tiered system remains.

The union fended off company demands for a new category of full-time temporary workers, but could not reduce the new-hire pay grid from 10 to eight years.

Opposition to the pattern deal bubbled over among members of the Oakville union, which represents 5,000 hourly workers.

The Facebook page Ford Oakville Assembly Plant Workers on Tuesday attracted many negative comments, such as: "To all the recently hired and to any future employees, my apologies. We are in the process of selling you out. I no longer feel proud to be a union member."

When asked whether Local 707 president Dave Thomas would support the tentative deal, Dias called Thomas a "team player" who understood the importance of pattern bargaining.

Mayor Drew Dilkens considers the tentative deal wonderful for the entire city.

"It's very good news," Dilkens said. "Ford is a major employer in our region and news of a significant investment in the Windsor operation speaks volumes about Ford's confidence in our local workforce and the City of Windsor.

"I don't know if it involves any additional jobs. But even if this simply stabilizes the employment that's here, it's still great news."

A number of Ford workers in Windsor agreed.

"The $700 million is great news," said Don Lanoue, an assembly worker at the Essex Engine Plant with 22 years experience. "I'm happy for us all."

Norm Russette, a team leader at the Essex plant with 33 years experience, said news of the tentative agreement boosted the mood at the facility.

"This took a lot of stress off workers," Russette said. "The last couple of weeks, there was a lot of stress at the plant.

"Hopefully, it's ratified and everything works out. I hope Oakville sees that, too. Everybody has different views but this is a good thing for Windsor. We did a lot for them when they needed backing four years ago for investment there. So hopefully they'll do what's right to keep people in their jobs."

Jim Douglas, an electrician with 28 years experience at the Windsor Engine Plant, worries the Windsor investment won't be enough to save his factory.

"I'm glad they got a deal," he said. "That's good news. But the $700 million probably just means a new line to supplement something else."

The Ford negotiations cap a round of bargaining that focused on solidifying the Canadian manufacturing footprint of the Detroit Three. Agreements with Ford and Fiat Chrysler included plant investments totalling almost $1 billion.

Chris Taylor, president of Local 200, which represents about 1,400 hourly workers at the Essex Engine and Windsor Engine plants, said the agreement means job security.

"It's been a long road," said Taylor. "This bargaining committee faced a lot of challenges. But one thing that never left us was that this is about our members, our communities, our jobs, our livelihoods. When this thing came together there was a sigh of relief that came from all of us."

Neither Dias nor Taylor would elaborate on the new engine program, nor would they say whether it would increase employment at the plants.

But Taylor said the investment would benefit all of Ford's Windsor operations and "go a long, long way in solidifying a lot of jobs in Windsor. It's about the whole site. When our members see this program, they will be extremely pleased."

Taylor also said he was "confident" that the Windsor Engine Plant will continue to build the 6.8-litre V-10 engine throughout the life of the deal.

Retooling at the Essex Engine Plant, which currently builds a 5.0-litre V-8 for the Ford Mustang and F-150 pickup, will start in mid-2018.

"We have lots of open space in our Windsor facilities," he said. "There's a lot of activity currently going on at Essex Engine Plant and we want to make sure we fill up as much of our sites as we possibly can."

Brendan Sweeney, project manager with the Automotive Policy Research Centre at McMaster University, figures the deal will boost the Windsor economy.

"An engine plant is good to have," Sweeney said, noting that a skilled workforce is required. "The $700 million is a lot of money. Not all of it will go to Windsor, but a lot of it will. And they're not putting that much money into a plant to run it for two or three years. They're putting that much money in to run it for the long term."


Significant' number of
problems with some
Ford models prompts
federal probe

Ford Focus owner wants recall after
transmission problem makes car jerk forward

By Yvonne Colbert,
CBC News
Nov 2, 2016

Transport Canada is investigating a "significant" number of concerns over Ford Focus and Fiesta models after owners reported their cars acted erratically, in some cases jerking forward or stopping suddenly.

The federal department opened what it calls a "defect investigation" in February 2016. As of Oct. 20, it had received complaints from 128 Canadians about the transmission in some 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta and 2012-2016 Ford Focus vehicles.

One of those complainants is Jordan Bonaparte, a Halifax man who bought a new Focus in early 2013 as he and his wife awaited the birth of their son.

"I don't think it's safe to be on the road," he said.

'The car would jerk forward'

Bonaparte wanted a vehicle that was safe, reliable and worry-free. The Focus was sold as an automatic, so the couple had no idea it was run by a manual transmission that shifted automatically with the help of a computer. That means the driver has a traditional automatic shifter with park, reverse, neutral and drive options, while the computer does the work of operating the clutch and shifting gears.

Bonaparte said, about a month after the purchase, the car started rumbling when he accelerated.

"It would go from bumping to, all of a sudden, the car would jerk forward five or seven feet," he said. "The biggest issue at first was my fear of hitting the car in front of me or slowing down and having the car behind me hit me."

When stopped on an incline, the car would also roll backward as Bonaparte tried to move forward.

3 replacements

The Ford dealership gave him differing reasons for the problem, he said.

"It had to do with multiple drivers of the car [or] it was normal operation of the transmission," Bonaparte said.

Jordan Bonaparte
Jordan Bonaparte was provided with this replacement vehicle while he awaited the third transmission replacement in his 2013 Ford Focus. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

With approximately 45,000 kilometres on the vehicle, Bonaparte was waiting for his third transmission or clutch replacement when he spoke to CBC News earlier this month.

He said the prior two replacements gave him about a month of fairly smooth driving until the problem started again.

The problems were so bad after the last replacement that he and his wife stopped driving their three-year-old son in it.

'They fear for their safety'

Bonaparte and his wife aren't alone. Toronto lawyer Ted Charney says he is preparing a national class action lawsuit against Ford over what he calls a "transmission defect."

Charney said his firm has been contacted by 1,000 Canadians, some of whom he says have had their transmission replaced as many as seven times.

"All of the calls are pretty much the same," Charney said. "They fear for their safety, they don't want their family in these cars."

Charney, who estimates there are 150,000 affected vehicles in Canada, said there are also class action lawsuits underway in the U.S. and Australia.

Lawyer not aware of injuries or fatalities

He's not aware of injuries or fatalities because of the problem, but has received "a number of complaints from people who have been in accidents which they attribute to the defects in this vehicle, because the vehicle lurches forward or it doesn't proceed forward when they step on the pedal to accelerate or it suddenly stops."

"Many of them have been in situations where they have almost had an accident," he said.

Like some of Charney's clients, Ford offered Bonaparte a discount on the purchase of a new vehicle. Charney said that's not enough.

"What people have to decide now is whether to park the car or get rid of it at a very low price or just keep driving it and taking their chances. I mean, it's a very difficult situation."

'It's only a matter of time'

Bonaparte said he's been asking for a rental for three years but only got one recently as he waited for his third transmission replacement.

"Only after speaking to you — and letting Ford know that I was speaking with you — did they agree to offer me a rental car, something that I'd been asking for since the first transmission was replaced," he told CBC News.

He thinks Ford should recall the vehicles.

"It's only a matter of time before someone's killed," Bonaparte said.

Company says it's discussing solutions

​Ford Canada said it takes customer concerns seriously and is "committed to investigating those concerns and responding to our customers." Spokeswoman Michelle Lee-Gracey said in an email that the company continues to discuss solutions with Bonaparte.

Transport Canada says anyone with a concern about vehicle safety should report it to them.

It's in the process of separating driveability and service-related issues on the Ford models from those that are safety-related, such as loss of propulsion, according to an email from a Transport Canada spokeswoman.


Unifor, Ford Reach
Tentative Agreement

CBC News
Nov 1, 2016

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, says his negotiating group is unanimously recommending a tentative labour agreement reached late Monday with Ford Motor Co.

The announcement was made just before 12:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, or about a half-hour after a strike deadline had been put in place.

The union representing about 6,700 Canadian workers at Ford had said there had been "movement" in negotiations at an earlier update.

Unifor had threatened job action at its Ford facilities in the Ontario cities of Bramalea, Oakville and Windsor if a deal wasn't reached.

Unifor was seeking a deal similar to those it reached with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler America in pattern bargaining that began in the summer. Those deals included wage hikes and new investment in local plants in exchange for some concessions on pensions for new hires.

Dias, in his early remarks, hailed a new program for the Essex Engine Plant.

There hasn't been a strike by Canadian workers at a Detroit Three automaker since 1996.

Added released details:

Ford deal gives Ford workers monetary gains over and above pattern.

Essex engine plant getting a $700M investment.

Windsor engine plants will be building engines for 'best-selling vehicles'.

Oakville is 'primary sole supplier' of vehicles built at assembly plant

Ford plans to discontinue Ford Flex in 2020, says Unifor's Bob Scott..

Pension and New hire grow- in stays the same as GM and Fiat contracts

Some "refresh" investments in the Oakville assembly plant to support the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers.

Ratification meetings will take place November 6th

Unifor Media Release



Oakville union "gambling"
with future of Ford plants,
says Windsor local

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
October 31, 2016

The bargaining committee representing Windsor Ford workers is accusing its Oakville counterparts of "gambling" with the future of Ford's Canadian operations by refusing to accept the pattern agreement reached with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.

"At a time when we should be focused on fighting the employer for a contract and securing the future of good union jobs, negotiations and our collective futures are being gambled on by the Local 707 bargaining committee," Local 200's bargaining committee said in a statement posted on the local's Facebook page on Sunday night.

Ford will consider pulling its plants out of Canada if there is a strike, the statement warned. "Ford has gone further to say that if there is a strike based on wanting more than the pattern economics, it will reconsider their Canadian facilities and will exit Canadian operations."

The statement comes just as Ford and Unifor try to hammer out a tentative agreement ahead of a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday.

Chris Taylor, president of Unifor Local 200 and chair of the union's Ford master bargaining committee, said the negotiations were "painfully slow."

Ford continued to resist a pattern contract recently reached with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler and was demanding more concessions to offset potential higher costs, said Taylor.

"Ford is still demanding we find offsets to counter what they call an extremely costly new hire grid," said Taylor.

Ford was demanding immediate introduction of new temporary, full-time employees who would receive lower-starting wages; expanded use of temporary, part-time workers and elimination of long-term care coverage, the union said.

"We've been very clear that we're not interested in going to a third tier of worker who will never reach top wage," said Taylor. "That's the old U.S. style two-tier system, and it's not something we've been in favour of."

He also said the union opposes eliminating long-term nursing care benefits. "We've been more than fair with Ford over several sets of negotiations in reducing the cost of that benefit."

In its talks with FCA and GM, Unifor bowed to company demands to maintain the length of the 10-year grid for new hires and move new employees from a hybrid pension plan to a defined-contribution plan.

Taylor would not confirm whether Ford had agreed to the union's top bargaining priority — new investment in the Windsor Engine and Essex Engine plants, which employ about 1,400 hourly workers.

"Ford is very clearly understanding that if investment is not on the table by 11:59 p.m., they understand what consequences will be," he said. "That is one part of the pattern that we are definitely not going to let go of."

But, Ford has apparently complained that changes to the 10-year pay grid for new hires puts it at a competitive disadvantage because it has a higher number of entry-level workers compared to GM or FCA. Under the previous GM and FCA contracts, new hires were frozen at the starting rate of about $20 an hour for the first three years before reaching wage parity with legacy workers. The new agreements offer pay hikes in each year of the 10-year grid.

The GM and FCA contracts also include company commitments to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in plants the union deemed to be at risk of closure.

The GM pattern has also proven to be a tough sell to Unifor's Oakville union, which represents 5,000 hourly workers at the automaker's vehicle assembly plant. Shortly after the GM deal was reached last month, Dave Thomas, president of Local 707, issued a statement, saying an agreement similar to the pattern would not be supported by his members because it did not "suit their needs."

But Ford "has made it clear that they will not accept any more cost disadvantages to what they call their competitiveness," said Taylor. "We believe whole heartedly they're not messing around … and they will start disinvesting."

Like the GM and FCA round of bargaining, the Ford talks will likely go down to the wire, he added.

"I would say we're making progress, but it has been very slow, very frustrating."

If the two sides fail to reach an agreement by 11:59 p.m. Monday, 6,400 hourly Ford workers in Windsor and Oakville along with 300 employees at parts depots in Brampton and Edmonton will be on strike, the union said.

Unifor Local 200 has scheduled a ratification vote or strike update meeting Sunday Nov. 6 at the Caboto Club.


Ford Oakville union pushes shorter
pay grid as strike deadline looms

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
October 30, 2016

With negotiators in the Unifor-Ford contract talks "miles apart," the union's Oakville unit continues to push for a shorter pay grid for new hires, a source familiar with the negotiations said Thursday.

"They want to see a reduction," the source said. "Nobody has said it's got to be six, eight, nine years, although eight has been thrown around a lot."

In UAW-Detroit Three bargaining last year, the two sides agreed to end the permanent two-tiered wage system and replace it with an eight-year grow-in to full wage parity for new hires.

Under the current contract, covering about 6,400 workers at Ford assembly plants in Oakville and Windsor, new hires start at 60 per cent of the maximum hourly rate about $34, and take 10 years to reach wage parity with traditional or legacy workers. The grid was increased from six to 10 years during the 2012 round of Detroit Three bargaining when the car makers were still struggling to recover from the 2008-09 Great Recession.

In the current round of Unifor-Detroit Three talks, Ford is the last of the carmakers to reach a new contract, that is expected to be patterned after agreements recently ratified with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.

Those contracts include company investment commitments, $12,000 in bonuses along with wage increases for both new hires and legacy workers, but maintains the 10-year pay grid. However, new hires receive pay hikes in each of the 10 years – an improvement from the previous contracts, which kept them at the starting rate for the first three years.

Unifor also agreed to move new hires from a hybrid defined/contribution benefits pension plan to a straight defined-contribution pension plan.

Union national president Jerry Dias has said the 10-year grid and the pension concession were key to securing investment at the Canadian plants.

In contract talks with Ford, Dias has made securing investment at the automaker's two Windsor engine plants its top priority.

Dias and other members of the national leadership have promoted the GM pattern as one of the richest contracts for autoworkers in at least a decade, and one that will help ensure the long-term future of Canada's auto industry.

But Local 707, which represents 5,000 workers at the Oakville vehicle assembly plant, is at odds with the national leadership over the GM pattern agreement. Dave Thomas, Local 707 president, has said while supports the need for new investment in Windsor, he warned that his members would vote down an agreement similar to the GM deal because it does not "suit their needs."

The Ford talks face a strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday, although Denise Hammond, Unifor spokeswoman, said Thursday the two sides remain "miles apart."

The union has scheduled a series of bargaining updates Monday starting at 4 p.m. If an agreement is not reached by the deadline, Unifor will be in a legal strike position.

Both the GM and FCA talks went down to the wire, with tentative agreements reached minutes before deadline. At GM, hourly workers voted 64.7 per cent in favour of the four-year contract, while 70.1 per cent of FCA workers supported the deal.


Ford recalls 408K vehicles
for oil, fuel leaks

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
October 29, 2016

Washington — Ford Motor Co. is recalling 408,000 cars that are at risk of catching fire due to oil and gas leaks.

The Dearborn-based company issued three separate recalls for cars that have problems with their oil and fuel systems. Among the problems reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are faulty engine oil cooler tube assemblies that Ford said may have insufficient crimps on the hose that could lead to a hose separation and an oil leak.

The company said the problem, which impacts approximately 8,000 2015-17 Ford Shelby GT350/R Mustang vehicles, "may result in engine failure, and — in the presence of an ignition source — could lead to a fire" if there is a sudden loss of oil in the engine.

Ford issued a separate recall for approximately 400,000 2010-12 Ford Escape and 2010-11 Mercury Mariner vehicles equipped with 3.0-liter engines that the company said have fuel delivery module fuel supply port could crack, causing a possible fuel leak.

"A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may increase the risk of fire," Ford said.

Ford also recalled 80 2017 Ford Super Duty 6.7-liter diesel Chassis Cab vehicles, saying the affected vehicles have "inadequate adhesion of the protective shield on the fuel conditioning module may allow it to be dislodged by road debris or water spray.

"If the protective shield is dislodged, road debris or water spray may force open the drain valve on the module," the company said. "This can lead to air entering the fuel system or a substantial fuel leak. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may increase the risk of fire. In addition, under certain conditions, significant liquid fuel on the road surface may cause a slip hazard, increasing the risk of a crash."

Ford said it is not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with the issues that led to the recalls that were announced on Wednesday.

The company said its dealers will fix the affected cars for free.


Ford third-quarter profit
falls on recall, truck launch

Automaker is also feeling the effects of falling North American sales.
This month, it announced temporary closures of four North
American plants to bring production in line with demand

Toronto Star
Dee-Ann Durbin
Oct 27, 2016

DEARBORN, Mich.—Troubles in Ford Motor Co.'s home market — including a massive recall and the difficult launch of new heavy-duty pickups — are hurting the company's bottom line.

Ford said Thursday its net income plunged 56 per cent to $957 million (U.S.) ($1.28 billion) in the third quarter, down from $2.2 billion in the July-September period a year ago.

The earnings, of 24 cents per share, compared to earnings of 55 cents per share in the July-September period a year ago. Adjusted earnings of 26 cents per share — which exclude one-time items — beat Wall Street's forecast of 20 cents, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

North America, with its record-setting U.S. sales and love affair with profitable SUVs and pickups, has been Ford's cash cow in recent years. But as U.S. sales peak, Ford is feeling the effects. Ford's North American sales were down 11 per cent in the quarter, and revenue dropped 8 per cent. The company has already announced temporary closures of four North American plants this month to bring production in line with demand.

"What's happening to the company is really about what's happening in North America," Ford chief financial officer Bob Shanks said.

And it's likely to keep happening. Ford has said it still expects a full-year pre-tax profit of $10.2 billion, but that's down from its initial forecast of $10.8 billion because of the recall. Ford has said its profits will likely fall next year before rebounding in 2018.

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford had some big one-time costs in the third quarter. The company spent $600 million — $40 million less than it initially projected — to replace faulty door latches on 2.4 million cars and trucks. It is also launching its first all-new Super Duty pickup in 18 years, with all-aluminum sides that required a complete revamp of its Kentucky truck plan.

Ford's overall revenue fell 6 per cent to $35.9 billion. Automotive revenue was $33.3 billion, which matched Wall Street's expectations.

Worldwide sales fell 4 per cent to 1.5 million vehicles worldwide. They were down in every market except Asia.

That's down from its previous forecast of $10.8 billion because of the recall. It's also down from Ford's record-setting profit of $10.8 billion in 2015.

Ford's North American pre-tax profit declined 55 per cent to $1.3 billion. The company also lost $295 million in South America and $152 million in the Middle East and Africa.

Europe eked out a $138 million profit, its best third quarter in 2007. But Shanks warned that Ford faces a $600 million charge in the region in 2017 because of the Brexit vote. The vote will cost Ford $200 million this year.

Ford also earned $131 million in its Asia Pacific region, where its sales and market share grew.

Ford's operating cash flow was negative $2 billion for the quarter; Shanks said it would be positive again in the fourth quarter.


Ford Reports Adjusted
Third Quarter Pre-Tax
Profit of $1.4 Billion
$10.2 Billion for 2016

October 27, 2016

Today, we are announcing that we delivered a 2016 third quarter pre-tax profit of $1.4 billion.

While our third-quarter profit was better than we expected and the guidance we provided during Investor Day last month, all key metrics were lower than a year ago, consistent with our expectations.

The decline from last year is due primarily to our results in North America, which reflect the impact of the Super Duty launch, F-150 stock changes and increased warranty costs associated with the door latch recall we announced in September.

On the very positive side, in Asia Pacific, we delivered our best-ever thirdMark Fields quarter profit and year-over-year improvements in all key metrics. In Europe, we earned our sixth consecutive profitable quarter and best third quarter profit since 2007. Ford Credit also delivered strong results and grew pre-tax profit.

Importantly, for the full year, we remain on track to deliver one of our best profit years ever, with pre-tax profit of about $10.2 billion for the company.

We are monitoring the business environment and taking actions to address the ongoing challenges of a plateauing U.S. retail industry, higher incentives in the U.S., and uncertainty in Europe due to Brexit.

To achieve our plan, we need the entire Ford team to remain focused on our strategy and roadmap to grow our business as we expand to be both an auto and a mobility company, which consist of:

  • Fortifying the strengths in our core business;
  • Transforming traditionally underperforming parts of our core business, and
  • Growing in emerging opportunities -- electrification, autonomy and mobility.

You can view our news release here with details on our third quarter performance.

On behalf of the entire leadership team, thank you for all you are doing to build a strong and profitable Ford.



Ford salaried workers
to get raises, bonuses

Associated Press
October 27, 2016

Ford Motor Co. is showing confidence in its turnaround and the U.S. economy by giving pay raises and bonuses to 20,000 white-collar workers mainly in the U.S. and Canada.

Workers got letters from President of the Americas Mark Fields last week saying they'll get 2.7 percent base pay increases on April 1. They'll also get bonuses this year based on their individual performances, spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.

Ford made $6.6 billion in the first three quarters of last year. It will report fourth-quarter earnings later this month. The company's U.S. sales rose 11 percent last year. It has made a huge turnaround since 2006, when it lost $12.6 billion and had to borrow more than $20 billion to stay in business.

Salaried workers didn't get pay raises last year, but many were granted performance bonuses. They got only merit pay in 2010 and no raises or bonuses were given in 2009, Evans said.

The raises are necessary to keep Ford's pay competitive with other Fortune 100 companies, Evans said. Each year, Ford studies pay at competitors and other companies, she said.

Ford also raised its matching contribution to the salaried employees' 401(k) retirement plan. The company now pays 60 cents for every dollar an employee contributes, up to 5 percent of their salary. This year the contribution will rise to 80 cents, Evans said.

She would not say how much the raises, bonuses and additional contributions will cost the company.

The raises rankled some United Auto Workers members because they did not get annual pay raises in a new four-year contract negotiated with the company last year. During the contract talks, the company told union negotiators that it didn't want to give raises to avoid recurring annual expenses.

But the workers got signing bonuses and lump-sum profit sharing payments that are worth at least $16,700 over the four-year contract. Workers at General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC agreed to similar contracts with payments smaller than those given to Ford workers.

"I'm disappointed to hear that," Mark Caruso, president of a UAW local at a factory in Saline, Mich., said of the white-collar raises. Caruso said morale already is bad among workers at his plant west of Detroit. A Ford holding company is trying to sell the factory to an auto parts supplier.

A UAW spokeswoman in Detroit said Thursday that she would check with her superiors to see if the union will comment on the white-collar raises.

The pay raise announcement was reported early Thursday by the Detroit Free Press.

Ford compensation records obtained by The Associated Press last year show that UAW-represented hourly workers have seen larger increases in pay and benefits over the last decade than many white-collar workers.

The UAW, according to the records, was able to protect longtime factory workers from changes to health care, overtime and other benefit cuts that salaried workers were forced to take. The average hourly worker at Ford received wages, benefits and overtime totaling $109,020 in 2010, up 17 percent from 1999. But the average salaried factory supervisor made $99,760 in wages and benefits, up just 2 percent in the same period, the records showed.


Ford still balking at monetary gains
investment for Windsor plants,
says Unifor chief

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
October 26, 2016

It's less than a week before an Oct. 31 strike deadline, yet contract talks between Unifor and Ford are moving "pretty slowly," Jerry Dias, the union's national president, said Tuesday.

"We've got more issues on the table than you can shake a stick at," said Dias. "We have yet to see an economic package, and there's still nothing on investment for Windsor."

Ford is the last of the Detroit Three automakers to bargain a new contract with Unifor, which represents about 1,400 workers at two Windsor engine plants and 5,000 at the Oakville vehicle assembly facility.

Unifor expects Ford to match agreements recently ratified with Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, which set the pattern deal.

The agreements included wage gains for both traditional and entry-level workers, $12,000 in bonuses, and pledges by the carmakers to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in their Ontario plants.

Unifor has made new product investment at the Windsor sites the top priority in the Ford negotiations. But "we have yet to make any inroads with Ford," said Dias. "They understand investment needs to be part of the agreement, and we need to know fairly soon what that means."

When talks officially kicked off Oct. 17, Ford issued a statement, saying it would "work collaboratively with Unifor to negotiate a globally competitive collective agreement."

Ford, said Dias, has argued that improvements made to the 10-year grid for new hires would harm the competitiveness of the Oakville plant. Of the 5,000 hourly workers, about 2,200 are new hires. "They say they are the company most negatively impacted because they have the highest number of new hires," said Dias.

In 2013, Ford announced it would spend $700 million on a new global platform for the Oakville plant. It subsequently hired more than 1,000 hourly workers to help produce the new Ford Edge SUV.

Under the new contracts, new hires will receive pay hikes in each year of the 10-year pay scale. Previously, they remained on the starting hourly rate of about $20 an hour for the first three years.

Another complication in the Ford talks centres around the Oakville union's displeasure with the GM pattern.

Dave Thomas, president of Local 707, has said while his members support the effort to secure new investment for the Windsor operations, they would likely vote down an agreement similar to the GM deal.

Dias would not comment on "the union's internal discussions."

Negotiations, he said are moving more slowly than he would have expected, although he is not "overly concerned."

The two sides have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to reach a tentative deal. If they don't, the union will be in a position to authorize a strike.


Health benefits for retirees
are steadily disappearing

Rob Carrick
The Globe and Mail
Oct. 26, 2016

Cost-cutting employers are hurting your retirement in ways that go beyond the steady retreat of pension plans paying money for life.

Postretirement health plans that help retirees pay medical and dental costs are also disappearing. This year’s HR Trends survey by benefits consulting firm Morneau Shepell found that 41 per cent of employers are offering these plans today. A Conference Board of Canada survey in 2012 found that 51 per cent of employers offered post-retirement benefits.

The outlook is actually worse than these numbers suggest. In the Morneau survey, 24 per cent of respondents who offered these plans said they were looking for ways to stop. Also, some employers who claim to be offering postretirement benefits are doing little more than connecting retired workers to insurance products that replace company benefits.

Benefits paid to retirees are an overlooked example of how employers are backpedalling like mad from the commitment they once had to help their workers pay for retirement. This trend demands that we stop generalizing about how well-prepared people are for retirement. There are actually three different situations to consider – those with defined benefit (DB) pension plans and postretirement benefits, those who have second-rate pensions and postretirement benefits and those who have no help at all because they’re self-employed or working temporary jobs.

Slot yourself into the appropriate group and develop your retirement savings plan accordingly. If you’re in Group Three, no pension or post-retirement benefits, saving for the future has to be your top financial priority by far.

In the pension world, the big story today is the way companies are limiting access to their DB plans to current members and shunting new employees into defined-contribution plans. DB pensions are the gold standard – payments are pegged to your years of service and earnings, and last as long as you live. With DC plans, you and your employer contribute to an investing plan that leaves you with a lump-sum amount on retirement. It’s up to you to convert that money into a stream of retirement income and make it last.

To see the demise of DB pension coverage in action, check out the latest round of contracts involving the Big Three auto makers and their unionized employees. The pattern is for current workers to keep their DB plans or a hybrid of DB and DC, while new hires get a DC plan.

Recent trends in postretirement benefits mirror what’s happening with pensions. Employers that offer these benefits are either eliminating their plans altogether for future retirees, or capping the amount of money they kick in.

This can be in the form of a so-called health spending account, where employees get a set amount a year to use against their health or dental costs. Or it can be through a new type of plan that Morneau Shepell is developing where employers help employees buy their own health or life insurance.

The decline of both postretirement benefits and DB pensions is connected to business and demographic factors. Paul Sywulych, a partner at Morneau Shepell, said companies are increasingly averse to having liabilities on their books related to DB pensions and benefits that keep going after a worker retires.

These programs originated out of a view that companies should look after employees after they retire, Mr. Sywulych said. Today, longer lifespans are making it tough to continue these benefits. “Obligations which might have lasted an extra five or 10 years after retirement at one point are now lasting an extra 20 years after a person retires,” he said.

Replacing traditional postretirement benefits are options such as:

  • Conversion policies: Private coverage you buy through the insurers your company used for its group plan; Mr. Sywulych said these policies typically offer less coverage than the group plan.
  • Health spending accounts: Retired workers get a set amount, say $1,000 a year, to cover health-related costs.
  • Morneau Shepell’s myFuture: Employers provide retirees with access to health and life insurance coverage options, and possibly contributions toward the cost of premiums.

As with any insurance, you have to evaluate coverage offered by conversion policies and the likes of MyFuture by comparing premiums and the potential costs of paying health and dental bills out of pocket. I’ll try to look at these costs in a future column to help you better make this judgment.

In the meantime, be aware of trends in the workplace affecting pensions and postretirement benefits. The pressure on a lot of people to save harder for retirement saving is growing.


Fiat Chrysler reports
$659M profit in 3Q

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
October 25, 2016

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Tuesday reported a profit of about $659 million (606 million euros) during the third quarter, despite recall costs and lower sales in North America, its largest market.

FCA said its adjusted earnings before interest and taxes rose 29 percent to $1.63 billion (1.5 billion euros). Earnings before interest and taxes for the automaker increased from a year ago to $1.46 million (1.34 million euros).

Adjusted earnings for the second quarter in North America were about $1.39 billion (1.28 billion euros), a slight increase from $1.29 billion (nearly 1.186 billion euro) during the same time from 2015. FCA attributed the increase to positive net pricing.

Shipments of vehicles in North America fell 8 percent, from 685 million in the third quarter of 2015 to 627 million this quarter, thanks in large part to the planned reductions in the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart. Net revenue declined 5 percent to $18.30 billion (16.810 billion euros) because of those lower shipments and a higher fleet mix.

FCA also took a $162 million (149 million euro) hit from "a recall for which there is ongoing litigation with a component supplier." FCA feels the supplier has responsibility for the recall.

North America was followed by Europe, where adjusted earnings significantly increased from $21.7 million (20 million euros) to $113 million (104 million euros), as well as components which grew to $121.9 million (112 million euros) from $106.6 million (98 million euros). Maserati made $112.1 (103 million euros), up from $13.06 (12 million euros).

The company also made money in its Asia Pacific region, with an adjusted earnings of $22.86 million (21 million euros) after a $90.34 million (83 million euro) loss at the same time a year ago. It attributed that increase to a favorable mix on imported vehicles, lower net pricing and improved results in China.

The company maintained its 2016 guidance on net revenue to greater than $123.1 billion (112 billion euros). It raised its adjusted earnings before interest and taxes to greater than $6.3 billion (5.8 billion euros) from greater than $5.99 billion (5.5 billion euros). It also raised its adjusted net profit to greater than $2.5 billion (2.3 billion euros) from greater than $2.18 (2 billion euros).

It also confirmed guidance on net industrial debt to greater than $5.44 billion (5 billion euros).

FCA's crosstown rival, General Motors Co. on Tuesday reported record third-quarter earnings of $2.77 billion, up 104 percent from the same months a year ago. Ford Motor Co. will report earnings on Thursday.


GM earns record $2.77B in 3Q

Melissa Burden,
The Detroit News
October 25, 2016

General Motors Co. on Tuesday posted record third-quarter earnings of $2.77 billion that more than doubled from a year ago, , driven by its record North America performance and strongly beat analysts' estimates.

The strong performance puts the company on pace for a record year, but its break-even target for Europe this year is in jeopardy, GM's Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said. Last year, GM had net income of $9.7 billion.

The Detroit automaker earned $1.76 a share in the third quarter, or $1.72 a share after factoring in recoveries related to the ignition switch. Analysts had expected GM to earn $1.44 a share.

GM said its revenue soared 10.3 percent in the quarter to a record $42.8 billion, driven by strong sales to retail customers and average transaction prices after incentives in the U.S. of $35,700 in the quarter.

"Our record third quarter, led by strong performance in the U.S. and China, reflects our determination to deliver on our commitments," GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said in a statement. "We will continue executing our plan to deliver earnings that enhance shareholder returns."

GM stock was up in pre-market trading Tuesday, about 1 percent around 8:10 a.m.

GM has been working to break even or make a profit in its European region for the first time in more than 15 years, but Stevens said Tuesday that meeting that goal this year will be a challenge given the impact of Brexit.

"Breaking even this year is going to be very, very challenging," he said. "I would say the break-even for the year is clearly at risk."

Third-quarter earnings were supported by a robust showing in North America. The automaker posted record adjusted pre-tax earnings in the region of $3.49 billion and profit margins of 11.2 percent. Earnings in the region were aided by a 92,000 increase in wholesale volume and better pricing.

Some in the industry caution that the U.S. auto industry's record-setting new car sales pace is slowing down, which ultimately could affect earnings and profit margins.

Stevens told reporters in Detroit that while the market may have plateaued, it's still a strong market and GM expects continued profit strength in the region next year.

"Over the next 12 to 18 months, we're going to replace all of our compact crossovers and the balance of our midsize crossovers," Stevens said. "And those are significantly important products for us and very profitable products and we expect to help us to continue to generate 10-plus percent margins in North America."

The company said given the strong performance, it expects its full-year earnings per share guidance to hit on the high end of its estimate of $5.50-$6 a share.

"(We're) very, very much on track to deliver the performance that we promised at the beginning of the year, which was higher profit, higher margins, $6 billion of free cash flow, in essence another record year," Stevens said.

Adjusted pre-tax earnings totaled $3.5 billion in the quarter and the company's adjusted profit margin hit 8.3 percent.

GM earned $1.36 billion in the year ago quarter. GM made 84 cents a share in the third quarter last year, but when factoring in special items related to the ignition switch, earnings per share would have reached $1.50.

GM's 2.12 million sales in the U.S. through the first nine months of the year are down 3.8 percent from the same time in 2015, mainly due to the carmaker pulling back on less profitable fleet sales and instead focusing on growing sales with retail customers. With sales of highly profitable SUVs and trucks..

"GM's continued push to lower fleet sales over higher margin retail sales will add to the bottom line," said David Kudla, founder and CEO of Mainstay Capital Management LLC in Grand Blanc in a statement. "An almost 20 percent decrease in fleet sales for the first three quarters of 2016 compared to 2015 is not insignificant and is symbolic that management is following through on its emphasis for profits over volume."

GM sold 2.4 million vehicles globally in the quarter, up 3.8 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

In China, its largest sales market, GM net income with its joint ventures was $459 million, flat from a year ago. Sales in China through September are up 9 percent to a record nearly 2.72 million.

The company reported adjusted pre-tax losses of $142 million in Europe and $121 million in South America, though Stevens said losses in each region narrowed from a year ago. GM International Operations made $271 million. And GM Financial, responsible for cutting loans for the automaker, posted a profit of $229 million.

Stevens warned at second-quarter earnings that that the United Kingdom's surprise June vote to leave the European Union could cost the automaker $400 million in the second half of 2016 due to the pound sterling. The company said Tuesday that Brexit cost the automaker about $100 million in the third quarter.

Through the first nine months of 2016, GM posted an $11 million pre-tax loss in Europe. In August, GM said it would cut production hours at two German factories to mitigate the impact of the Brexit vote.

GM stock closed up nearly 3 percent Monday to close at $32.98 a share.

GM finished its original $5 billion stock buyback program a quarter earlier than planned, the company said. Through Sept. 30 this year, the company spent $1.5 billion to repurchase shares. The company plans to buy another $4 billion in stock by the end of 2017.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV also is expected to release its earnings Tuesday and Ford Motor Co. is slated to release earnings on Thursday.


Ford workers united, says
Unifor Oakville chief

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
October 24, 2016

The president of the union representing workers at Ford's Oakville Assembly Plant dismissed suggestions Saturday that contract negotiations have been marred by a battle between his members and their counterparts in Windsor.

"That's the furthest thing from the truth," said Dave Thomas, president of Local 707, which represents 5,000 members. "I think both locals have their own wants and needs, but nobody's shied away from the fact that Local 200 needs product.

"At the same time, Ford's been making record profits — obviously our membership deserves to be compensated for the things we've done for the last seven or eight years."

Ford is the last of the Detroit Three to bargain a new contract with Unifor, which has ratified settlements with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.

The four-year contracts — which included new plant investment and monetary gains — are patterned after a deal reached with GM last month. But, Thomas has issued two statements, saying that the agreement does not suit the needs of his members. He also warned that his members would likely vote down an agreement similar to the GM pattern.

When asked Saturday whether he remained opposed to the GM deal, Thomas refused to comment, saying only, "My position has been made loud and clear; we're just trying to bargain the best collective agreement for our members."

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said securing new investment in the two engine plants, which employ about 1,400 hourly workers, is the key priority in the Ford contract talks. He also defended the GM pattern, saying it was key to extracting investment commitments from the automakers.

Local 707's key complaint with the pattern deal centres around the 10-year pay grid for new hires, according to Dias. While the new contracts offer new hires wage hikes in each year, it still takes a decade to reach the maximum hourly wage. Under the previous contract, new hires remained on the starting wage of about $20 an hour — or 60 per cent of the top wage — for the first three years.

As well as a four per cent general wage hike for traditional workers, the GM pattern gives all workers $12,000 in signing and lump sum payments over four years.

A junior worker at the Oakville facility said "every new hire in this plant absolutely hates that we have to work 10 years to get to full wage when the guy we work next to worked 18 months before getting full rate."

The worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called the signing bonuses "chump change."

"Anyone willing to vote in this contract is doing it for the pathetic chump change they are calling a signing bonus, which after being taxed, is hardly worth being excited for," the worker said. "I'm sorry but I'd rather strike to see my wages increase, and everyone be taken care of than some signing bonus that wouldn't even pay my bills for a month."

Thomas would not discuss whether the two sides were making progress in the negotiations, which face an Oct. 31st strike deadline. "It's a very difficult set of negotiations that we're entering into," he said. "I'd like to focus on solidarity, not a battle between two locals."

He also expressed confidence that his local would abide by any recommendations made by the bargaining committee.

"If I recommend a collective agreement to my membership, they will ratify."


Canada labor deals may
only slow the bleeding

New investments don't necessarily signal a rebound, experts say

Automotive News
October 23, 2016
John Irwin

The roughly $900 million Canadian in investment commitments that Unifor has secured from the Detroit 3 thus far might not be enough to fully reverse the long-term trend of auto manufacturing jobs leaving Canada, labor experts say.

Tony Faria, co-director of automotive and vehicle research at the University of Windsor in Ontario, said that while the Canadian union has done "an exceptional job" in securing existing jobs at General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, the contracts they forged fall short of making the country as a whole more attractive to automakers.

"It's certainly good that we won't see the closing of yet another plant in Canada, but I don't think there's anything to suggest these contracts or investments point to a turnaround," Faria said. "I don't think the Detroit 3 in any way are going to build a new factory in Canada, and I don't think we're going to see new facilities out of Toyota or Honda in Canada."

Canada has lost about 53,000 auto jobs since 2001, according to a 2015 report by the Automotive Policy Research Centre in Ontario. Among the reasons: a post-bankruptcy consolidation of production, Canada's high energy costs and the rapid growth of Mexico as a North American production and export base.

Unifor President Jerry Dias has framed this round of negotiations with the Detroit 3 as a pivotal moment. "Things are starting to change in a significant way in this country," he said this month when announcing a then-tentative contract with FCA.

Unifor's leadership sees the investment commitments -- along with federal and provincial governments that appear more amenable to giving incentives -- as potentially sparking a turnaround in Canada.

"When you're competing in a world where jurisdictions at times are paying 100 percent of the capital costs of assembly plants, we also have to bring something to the table in terms of incentives," Brad Duguid, Ontario minister of economic development, told Automotive News Canada this month.

But Kristin Dziczek, director of the Industry, Labor and Economics Group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said it's too soon to tell whether the investments constitute the beginning of a reversal and whether they'll be enough to counteract global economic trends.

"There were three critical investments that Unifor had to pay attention to," Dziczek said, citing GM's Oshawa assembly plant, FCA's Brampton Assembly Plant and Ford's Windsor engine plants. "Securing investments in those plants is a good thing, but we don't know if it's a turnaround yet."

Unifor is negotiating with Ford Motor Co. on a tentative deal patterned off its finished contracts with GM and FCA, which also include two 2 percent pay raises for veteran workers, pay increases for new workers and a defined-contribution plan for new hires. Unifor has set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Oct. 31 to hammer out a deal.

"In each round of our negotiations, the union has set clear objectives, and so far we have reached these, including our top priority to secure investment and defend good jobs in local communities," Dias said in a statement last week. "With Ford, our union will expect nothing less."

Unifor is pressing Ford for commitments at its Windsor plants, which build engines for the Ford F-150 and Mustang, among other vehicles. But Faria said it's not clear whether Ford has a product it can move into Windsor.

"If Ford wants a contract, they're going to have to come up with something, but whether it's something that provides long-term life to both plants or something makeshift is the question," Faria said.

During negotiations with GM and FCA, Unifor secured a $554 million Canadian ($424 million) commitment to GM's Oshawa plant, which had no product slated for it beyond 2019, and $325 million Canadian ($245 million) to FCA's Brampton plant, which has an aging paint shop.

The Oshawa plant will continue to produce the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala, but its beleaguered consolidated line will shut down.

The GM contract also includes a commitment to do final assembly on some Chevrolet Silverado pickups from Fort Wayne, Ind. Faria said that will save jobs in Oshawa, but it might be a "makeshift" arrangement at best.

"I can't see that moving pickups to Oshawa from Indiana and then shipping most of them back to the U.S. for sale is a long-term solution to anything," Faria said.


Broad support in poll for
$15 federal minimum wage

Toronto Star
Hina Alam
October 20, 2016

A new public opinion survey shows a healthy majority of Canadians support an increase in minimum wage.

The Forum Research poll conducted last week showed that 63 per cent of Canadian voters approve increasing the national wage to $15 an hour. Thirty-one per cent disapproved; six per cent didn't know.

Include Morley Gunderson, economics professor emeritus and CIBC chair in youth employment at the University of Toronto, among the 31 per cent opposed. Such a large increase would very likely reduce the employment prospects of youths who are already having problems getting jobs, he said.

The most striking thing about the poll, to Forum president Lorne Bozinoff, is that "the wealthiest — who don't need (an increased minimum wage) — object the most."

"Youth are more likely to object, presumably, because they think their job prospects are those most threatened by a higher minimum wage," Bozinoff added.

Indeed, several recent Canadian studies have shown that a 10 per cent increase in minimum wage have resulted in a three to six per cent decrease in employment in young people, said Gunderson.

There is no easy solution to this, he said: It's a trade-off that politicians and the general public make, recognizing that some people will have a higher wage and others will not have a job.

While this effect in unemployment is not seen overnight, he said, it happens over a period of time, he pointed out, noting large retailers are moving away from cash registers to self-checkouts, restaurants are shifting from servers to buffets, etc.

However, Gunderson cautioned that the evidence in the U.S. is more divided, with many studies finding that an increase in the minimum wage has little or no effect on employment.

"The general public also tends to support (an increase) because they perceive only the increase in wages for low-wage persons and not any adverse employment effect which generally falls on youths," Gunderson said.

Forum found that 76 per cent of individuals who earned less than $20,000 a year were in favour of the minimum wage hike. Voters who support the federal New Democrats were firmly in favour, 84 per cent to 11; Tory supporters were against, but less strenuously so (36 per cent in favour, 59 per cent against).

The minimum wage increase had more supporters than detractors in every region of the country; the most enthusiastic was Atlantic Canada, where 73 per cent were in favour, and the least supportive was Alberta (49 per cent in favour, 45 per cent against).

Thirty-five per cent of the youngest voters (ages 18 to 34) disapproved of the increase — the highest disapproval rate of any age group. Also disapproving of the increase were 36 per cent of those who earned between $100,000 and $250,000 a year. In every age and income bracket, however, the idea has majority support.

Setting minimum wages is by and large a provincial responsibility; only federally regulated industries such as banks or broadcasting would be directly affected by a move from Ottawa. However, according to a Library of Parliament Research Publication, "even though only an extremely small population of federally regulated workers could directly benefit from such a proposal, its potential adverse impact on employment among minimum wage workers nationally could be far-reaching if provinces and territories are pressured into similar minimum-wage-setting action."

"I believe that (minimum wage) has more political value than economic value," Gunderson said. "It looks good for politicians to say they are raising the minimum wage to alleviate poverty even though the link between the minimum wage and poverty is at best very weak and at worst may be harmful."

The current minimum wages set by the provinces and territories range from $10.50 in Newfoundland to $13 in Nunavut.

Forum surveyed 1,437 randomly selected Canadians who are 18 years or older using an interactive voice response telephone survey on Oct. 11-12. The results are considered accurate to within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


Knights Table

Thank you and Unifor Local 584 Retirees and Unifor Local 584 for hosting your annual Thanksgiving Food Drive to assist families and individuals in need in our community. Many families are especially thankful at this season of Thanksgiving because of your efforts and care.

We thank you for raising an awesome 946 pounds of food to help those impacted by hunger, poverty & homelessness in our community.

• Unifor Local 584 Retirees (696lbs) Winners
• $250.00 Cash
• Unifor Local 584 Actives (250 lbs) 2nd place

From Knights Table family to yours, best wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Annie Bynoe,
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal Recipient
Executive Director


George Howard Honcharsky

July 16, 1934 -  October 11, 2016


At Trillium Health Partners - Mississauga Hospital on Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Beloved husband of Ida for many years. Loving father of Marion (Raymond Robbins), David, Richard (Elaine), and John. Dearest papa of Kevin (Jenna) Ketteringham, Katie, Julia, and Meghan. Dearest great-papa to Avaya. Retired employee of the Ford Motor Company for 35 years. The family would like to thank the doctors and nurses at the Trillium Health Partners - Mississauga for their care and kindness. For those who wish donations can be made to The Salvation Army or Trillium Health Partners - Mississauga would be greatly appreciated by the family. Visitation will be held at The Salvation Army Mississauga Temple on Friday, October, 21, 2016 from 7 - 9 p.m. The Honcharsky family will receive guests on Sunday, October 23, 2016 from 2 p.m. at The Salvation Army Temple, 3173 Cawthra Rd., Mississauga, until the time of the Celebration of Life Service at 3 p.m. Online condolences at www.turnerporter.ca



Ford idling four plants
over the next few weeks

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
October 19, 2016

Ford Motor Co. on Monday said it will temporarily shutter four plants — two in the U.S. and two in Mexico — as it matches production to demand and attempts to meet year-end inventory targets.

The Dearborn automaker said its Kansas City Assembly Plant, which builds the profitable F-150 pickup, will be closed for one week starting next Monday. Its assembly plant in Louisville, which builds the Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC, is down this week, and will also be down the week of Oct. 31.

Ford also said it's idling its Hermosillo and Cuautitlan plants in Mexico this week. Hermosillo makes the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans, while Cuautitlan makes the Fiesta subcompact.

The temporary shutdowns come the same week that Flat Rock Assembly restarts production in Michigan after a week-long downtime for Mustang production.

"We continue matching production with demand to ensure we are at our targeted inventories by year end," Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said in an emailed statement.

Ford likely has high inventory for some of its slow-selling cars. Fusion sales were down 9.1 percent through September, MKZ sales were down 0.4 percent and Fiesta sales have plummeted 28 percent, according to Autodata Corp.

Ford's seeing an overall slowdown in the market that's even affecting its venerable F-150, despite sales being up nearly 6 percent year-over-year.

"During our second-quarter financial call, we said we expected the overall retail industry to decline in the second half of the year from the same period last year," Felker said. "We also said to expect to see some production adjustments in the second half — this is one of them."

Ford says the first nine months of 2016 represents its best F-Series sales since 2006. It soon plans to start production of the 2017 model, which features a new EcoBoost engine paired with a new 10-speed transmission. Kansas City also makes the Transit van, but its production will not be affected during the down week, Felker said.

Ford's SUVs are selling well. Escape sales are up 1 percent and Lincoln MKC sales are up 3 percent, but Felker said Ford's adding the two weeks of downtime in Louisville "to ensure we are at our targeted inventories by year end."


FCA workers vote in favour
of new deal; Ford next

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
October 17, 2016

Unifor members employed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have voted 70.1 per cent overall in favour of a new agreement with the company.

The result came on Sunday night after ratification votes were held over the weekend for approximately 9,750 union members in Windsor, Brampton and Toronto.

Dino Chiodo, president of Unifor Local 444, whose members work at the Windsor Assembly Plant, said he was pleased by the result.

"There's a lot of relief that comes with getting a ratification behind you," Chiodo said. "I think our members … understand the dollars and cents that were put into their pocket over the course of this collective agreement, with the securities that were put into place.

"It's not perfect for everybody, but it does connect with a lot of the components that our members were hoping and asking for."

Asked if he expected a higher percentage in favour of the hard-fought deal, Chiodo replied: "Listen, this is a measuring stick. When you think about it, it's seven out of 10 people. That's a pretty good number in my books."

Patterned after the contract reached with General Motors last month, the deal includes monetary gains for both veteran workers and new hires. Veteran workers receive a four-per cent wage increase over the life of the agreement — the first general wage hike in nine years — and $12,000 in lump sum and signing bonuses.

New hires also receive the bonuses as well as wage hikes in each year of a 10-year pay grid toward the maximum hourly rate of $35.78. Under the previous contract, new hires remained at the starting hourly rate of about $20.42 for the first three years.

The deal also includes a company pledge to invest $325 million to rebuild the paint shop at FCA's Brampton assembly plant, which employs about 3,500 workers who build the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger and Charger sedans. Unifor national president Jerry Dias has said the paint shop upgrade, to begin next summer, is key to securing future product for the plant.

"It is possible an alternative product, which could include an existing platform or entirely new vehicle architecture, could occur during the term of the collective agreement," a summary of the deal said.

At FCA's Etobicoke casting facility, which employs about 400 hourly workers, the union secured $6.4 million in plant upgrades, although it failed to prevent the layoffs of up to 200 hourly workers as a result of the carmaker's decision to cease production of the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans.

Unifor now turns its attention toward reaching a contract with Ford Motor Co. Securing investment for the two Windsor engine plants will be the focus of those talks, which affect 1,400 hourly employees in Windsor and 5,000 at the Oakville vehicle assembly plant, said Chris Taylor, president of Unifor Local 200 and the chair of the union's Ford master bargaining committee.

"The key priority is product for Windsor; we are in desperate need of product," said Taylor, noting that in 2014, Ford chose Mexico over Windsor for a new engine program.

"We're not going to leave bargaining this year with anything less than a product committed to this site."

The deadline for the Ford negotiations is Oct. 31, and Taylor said he expects the talks to go down to the wire. "I've never seen a company that didn't want to take it down to the wire, and try to get as much out of us as they can," he said. "We're not willing to leave anything on the table because we want to take the opportunity to get the best possible agreement."

The negotiations, however, are already mired in controversy amid the Oakville union's opposition to the GM pattern agreement. Dave Thomas, president of Local 707, has informed both Ford and Unifor's national leadership that his members will vote down a tentative deal similar to the GM agreement.

When asked whether winning over the Oakville members would prove to be tougher than extracting a product commitment from Ford, Taylor said reaching a tentative deal would be the bigger challenge.

"We are still in need of product, and they haven't come out with that yet. So, bargaining with the company by far is going to be our biggest challenge," he said. "As for the membership and leadership in Oakville, I believe once we get together on this thing and actually start bargaining with Ford … I think things will change."

Back in Windsor, Chiodo said he wasn't really surprised by the fact that Unifor's negotiations with FCA came down to the wire. "I think bargaining is trying to do the best that you can — us for our membership, and management for the company."

"This (pattern deal) is something that really stabilizes our economy in each of the cities that we have these manufacturing plants. This allows our members to have job security — to start to buy houses, have mortgages, actually plan their lives. It puts the expendable cash in their pockets to do the things they need to do as a family."


GM invests millions in Mexico
while Trump bashes Ford

After more than a year of watching Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump bash Ford Motor Co. for moving jobs to Mexico, General Motors Co. has pushed ahead with its own expansion.

Andrea Navarro, Nacha Cattan
and David Welch, Bloomberg
Detroit News
October 16, 2016

After more than a year of watching Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump bash Ford Motor Co. for moving jobs to Mexico, General Motors Co. has pushed ahead with its own expansion. It just hasn't said as much as Ford.

GM is advancing on an $800 million investment for its global small-car lineup that includes a factory retooling in San Luis Potosi state. That plant and another facility in Mexico will also build the all-new Chevy Equinox sport-utility vehicle next year, people familiar with the matter said.

The automaker has only said that the new Equinox will be built in a factory in Canada and two other sites, keeping mum about Mexico and avoiding both attention from Trump and the chance that the news might have roiled labor talks in Canada last month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Taking a lower profile has kept GM out of Trump's cross-hairs and helped the Detroit-based company reach an agreement with its Canadian union, even as the Republican candidate singled out Ford's latest Mexican factory plan as "an absolute disgrace." For Mexico, GM's tight-lipped approach hints at how U.S. companies might operate if Trump wins the election after campaigning against the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Big American companies are being cautious, they don't want to have issues with the presidential candidates," Mario Chacon, head of global business promotion at Mexico's foreign investment agency, said in an interview. "They're feeling repressed because anything they say can be used against them."

GM has been clear about its investment in Mexico, starting with an announcement in late 2014 that it would spend $5 billion there. The automaker just hasn't said much about the details since then.

Ford Splash

Ford made a splash in April when, in the heart of primary season, the company said it would invest $1.6 billion in Mexico to make small cars. Chief Executive Mark Fields then said in September that the company would move all small-car production there.

Trump's attacks have forced a reaction from Ford Chairman Bill Ford, who is great-grandson of the company's founder. Ford said in late September that the company makes more cars in the U.S. than any other automaker and that, "we are everything that he should be celebrating about this country."

GM's investment in its factory in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi was initially announced in November 2015, without specific plans or details. The plan came in addition to the $5 billion the company said it would invest in December 2014 to expand and retool existing plants in the country.

GM says it isn't hiding its investment in Mexico. "For competitive reasons especially as it relates to future product - the specific details behind the investments get rolled out as we deem appropriate,"Pat Morrissey, a spokesman for the automaker, wrote in an e-mail.

Morrissey also said GM has invested $20 billion in its U.S. operations since 2009 and employs 97,000 people in the U.S. and 15,000 in Mexico.

In past years, GM has been vocal in promoting its new investments in Mexico. It held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new railway extension in San Luis Potosi in 2014, invited a governor to announce an expansion in Coahuila in 2010, and fired off press releases detailing even its smallest investments — including an $87 million contribution to a stamping plant in March 2015.

That same month it also announced a new model it would produce in Mexico: the new generation Chevrolet Cruze.

Investing Quietly'

By contrast,GM has no press statements on its website about investments in Mexico this year. There has been no information about the Equinox in Mexico, nor on where all of the $800 million pledged in November would be spent.

The automaker has confirmed it will build the Chevrolet Equinox at a plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. GM also said it would make the Equinox and its stablemate, the GMC Terrain, at two other unidentified factories.

"Companies don't halt their investment decisions for political reasons, they simply do it quietly," Chacon said. "No company wants to have big announcements now because they could see a negative reaction from unions in other countries. So decisions aren't made out in the open but they continue. They can't stop."

GM President Dan Ammann had little to say about the political controversy that has embroiled Ford during election season. "We're observing," Ammann said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Mexican Benefits

Labor costs that are about a fifth of U.S. levels have lured most carmakers to set up shop or expand in Mexico in recent years. Since the beginning of 2010, Mexico has snared $25.8 billion in announced investments, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Kia Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG's luxury Audi unit inaugurated billion-dollar plants last month. A joint venture of Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Co. is working on a factory that will assemble compact vehicles, while Toyota Motor Corp. plans to produce Corollas. BMW AG is also building a plant.

In addition to lower labor costs, Mexico also offers a network of international trade deals and proximity to the U.S. car market.

"Mexico's free trade agreements, geography and labor costs make it more attractive than Brazil," Horacio Chavez, Kia's Mexico country chief, said in an interview last month. "It allows us to reach many markets."


Tentative FCA, Unifor deal 'good' for Windsor, Ken Lewenza says

Former CAW and Unifor leader Ken Lewenza says a tentative deal reached between Unifor and FCA is a "good deal" for Windsor workers. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

'In Windsor there's a lot of money being put
in the pockets of active members'

CBC News
Oct 15, 2016

"It's a good deal," Ken Lewenza, a longtime leader at the CAW and Unifor told CBC. "In Windsor, there's a lot of money being put in the pockets of the active members."

A tentative agreement signed between Unifor and Fiat Chrysler is the best deal possible for autoworkers in Windsor, Unifor's former national president says.

Late Monday, Unifor announced it reached a deal with the automaker that closely follows the pattern set in negotiations with General Motors.

Among other things, It includes a wage increase each year for three years, a guarantee of investment in Canada and a lump sum payment of $6,000.

Unifor's national president Jerry Dias, and Dino Chiodo, the president of the Unifor local at FCA's Windsor Assembly Plant praised the deal shortly after it was signed. But reaction has been mixed for rank-and-file members.

Key issues in the contract

The contract keeps a clause that requires new hires to take 10 years before reaching the same pay as senior employees. The deal also makes changes to the pension plan. Those issues have some members up in arms.

"My vote is going to be a big, fat, 'No.' It's not about me anymore. It's about the next generation coming in." said Randy Desjardins, a fourth-generation Chrysler worker. "Same wages for the same work with the same benefits, same pension."

Desjardins wants to see new hires get to the top of the pay grid faster than the current 10-year period and retain the defined-benefit pension plan.

Lewenza said he appreciates those concerns, but says the union couldn't get everything it wanted in bargaining.

"I never left bargaining feeling 100 per cent satisfied. It's not that things are missed, it's that things are not attainable in this collective agreement," Lewenza said.

"We have thousands of demands, and the employer has the right to say,'No,'" he said. "A good bargainer leaves the table not feeling 100 per cent good about themselves because you have to close the book somewhere."

(*Editors Note: 2008-9, 2012 and 2016 have all been Concessionary
Agreements. Retiree concerns appear to have never even made it to
the bargaining table this year. Look out 2020 we will again be making
sacrifices to compete with Mexico. When will the bleeding stop?)
The Retirees will now be officially called
(T-shirts will be available soon)


Nortel creditors agree to split
$7.3B bankruptcy proceeds

Decision brings clarity for pensioners
who are still looking for their share

The Canadian Press
October 14, 2016

A nearly eight-year legal battle over how to divide what remains of Nortel Networks Corp. has ended in a deal that will put a stop to legal fees eating away at the remaining $7.3 billion US pot and bring former employees and pensioners one step closer to being paid out.

"It's about time," said Mark Zigler, a lawyer with Toronto-based Koskie Minsky LLP, which represents a group of nearly 20,000 Canadian claimants.

"It stops the bleeding in terms of continued costs worldwide."

Considered one of the largest bankruptcy cases in Canadian history, the legal and professional fees of Nortel's demise have climbed to $2 billion US over the past five years, according to an audit by independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart.

Zigler said the agreement announced late Wednesday will see Canadian debtors receive about 57 per cent of the proceeds, which amounts to about $4.1 billion US. Debtors in the U.S. will get 24 per cent, or about $1.8 billion US with the remainder expected to be paid to debtors in Europe.

The deal will see Canadian claimants collect a return of about 44 per cent on their claims, he said, which is lower than the original 71 per cent return anticipated when a deal was struck last May in U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware and Ontario Superior Court.

Zigler said it was a tough decision, but claimants in Canada and Europe had to make a "compromise" with U.S. creditors or a deal wouldn't have even been struck.

"No one is a winner in insolvency," he said. "I think the pensioners did as well as they could've given what they were being offered by the other parties. In that retrospect, they persevered. It took eight years, all power to them to have the patience to fight this out."

Nortel filed for bankruptcy in North America and Europe in January 2009.

Once considered a crown jewel in the Canadian tech scene, the Ottawa-based company was worth nearly $300 billion and employed more than 90,000 people around the world during its height from 1999 to 2000.

The latest settlement still needs approval from bankruptcy courts in Canada, France, the United States and the United Kingdom. If that occurs, then pensioners and other creditors can expect to receive some form of payment by early next year.

If approved, the deal also closes the doors to any future litigation over the Nortel's remaining assets, which mostly came from the sale of certain parts of the company when it folded.

But former Nortel worker and long-term disability claimant Greg McAvoy was disappointed by the way the proceeds were divided.

"We were held hostage by the bondholders," said McAvoy, who was a manager in Nortel's research and development department.

Instead of all the Canadian claimants receiving the same proportion, the Calgary resident said it should've been divided in relation to the amount of their claims.

"I think they could've done a better job of negotiating at what estate was going to get in the percentage of their claims and weighted with what group was originally going to get ," said McAvoy, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and is among a group of long-term disability claimants.

"But at least there's some money. It's a little something but it's not a relief that I won't be getting most of my claim back."


Faulty headlights prompt
Lincoln Continental recall

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau

October 13, 2016

Washington — Lincoln Motor Co. is recalling nearly 1,900 of its brand-new 2017 Lincoln Continentals that have headlights that might not meet federal turn-signal visibility requirements.

Lincoln's parent company, Ford Motor Co., said the HID headlamps of the affected cars might have been "misbuilt with LED lenses that are missing the lens optics necessary to meet turn-signal visibility requirements" that are laid out in section 108 of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which regulates automotive lighting.

Ford said is not aware of any accidents or injuries that are associated with the headlight issue.

The company said 1,826 of the recalled Lincolns are located in the United States, while 49 are in Canada and one is in federalized territories.

Ford said its dealers will inspect the recalled headlights and repair them, if necessary, for free.

The company also issued a recall on Tuesday for 59 of its 2015-16 Ford Edge vehicles to update antilock braking system (ABS) modules.

The company said "incorrect ABS module software may have been loaded into some vehicles when they were in for service.

"The incorrect software could disable electronic stability control (ESC), engine torque control, traction control (T/C), the warning lamp/indicator, the electronic parking brake (EPB) light and the EPB drive-away release function," the company said. "ABS and electronic brake distribution (EBD) remain fully functional and the EPB can be applied."

Ford said 53 of the recalled Edge cars are in the United States, three are in Canada and two are in Mexico.

The company said its dealers also will replace the ABS control module or reprogram the ABS module with updated software at no cost to the customer.


Ford China sales rise
24% in September

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
October 12, 2016

Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday that its sales in China rose 24 percent last month thanks to an expanded SUV lineup.

The Dearborn automaker said the sales of its EcoSport, Kuga, Edge, Everest and Explorer, and Lincoln MKC, MKX and Navigator have totaled nearly 230,000 vehicles this year, up 18 percent over 2015.

Through the first nine months of the year, Ford's sales in the world's largest car market are up 11 percent.

"Ford has been building momentum month after month, winning new customers with the most exciting and appealing lineup we have ever offered in China," Peter Fleet, vice president, marketing, sales and service, Ford Asia Pacific, said in a statement. "We will continue to listen to customers and meet their needs with great new cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles."

Sales at Changan Ford Automobile, Ford's passenger car joint venture, rose 25 percent in September and are up 14 percent year-to-date. Sales of Jiangling Motors Corp., Ford's commercial vehicle investment, rose 28 percent in September and are flat year-to-date.

Sales of its Lincoln luxury brand have exploded, up 191 percent through the first three quarters of 2016. Lincoln has sold 20,996 vehicles in China so far this year, already beating the full-year total for 2015.

September was Lincoln's best month ever in China.

The luxury brand is expanding there and now has opened 52 dealerships. It's on track to have 65 stores by the end of this year, and 80 by the end of 2017.


Unifor, Fiat Chrysler
reach tentative deal
moments before
strike deadline

CBC News
Toronto Star
Detroit News
October 11. 2016

With just five minutes to go before the midnight deadline, Unifor, the union representing about 9,750 workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' facilities in Ontario, announced the two sides had reached a tentative agreement.

The union had threatened job action if it could not secure a new deal with the automaker similar to one negotiated with General Motors.

Included in the details, Fiat-Chrysler will commit $325 million dollars in order to re-build the paint shop in its Brampton plant.

Dias said the agreement follows the pattern set by the union's contract with General Motors Co. That deal included a 10-year wage grow-in period with annual raises for new and recently hired members, a CA$6,000 signing bonus and CA$2,000 lump-sum payments in the final three years of the deal. It also includes 2 percent wage increases now and in 2019.

Total investment under the deal will be more than $400 million, Dias said. That's less than the $554 million in plant investments under the GM deal. However, Fiat Chrysler recently spent $2.6 billion for the development and production of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan in Windsor.

As in the GM deal, new workers will have a defined pension plan. Current new hires have a hybrid pension with defined benefit and defined contribution portions.

"2016 negotiations were truly about the future of the auto industry in Canada," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "We had some major obstacles we needed to deal with… I am absolutely pleased we have had a unanimous decision."

Denise Hammond, director for communications for Unifor said union members were prepared to strike at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

"Our message, however, is clear," she said. "Without the pattern agreement, there will be a strike."

Unifor and Fiat Chrysler have been at the negotiating table throughout the Thanksgiving weekend.

At a briefing earlier in the evening, Hammond said the union still had issues with the contract and was preparing to set up picket lines.

The union traditionally works out an agreement with one of the Detroit Three automakers and then uses that as a pattern in its negotiations with the remaining two companies. Unifor picked General Motors as its first negotiating target, and the two sides reached a deal that was ratified in late September.

In a tweet sent Monday, Unifor national president Jerry Dias reiterated the union's main demand throughout its contract talks with the Detroit Three — the need for investment in the companies' Canadian operations.

Fiat Chrysler builds the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans at its Windsor, Ont., assembly plant, which has received nearly $3 billion in recent investments. The Automotive News says the company has about 70 days' supply on hand of the Pacifica minivan, enough to get through a short work stoppage.

The union was looking for the company to invest in its Brampton, Ont., assembly plant, which makes the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger, and its Etobicoke, Ont., parts plant.

Unifor's deal with GM includes a two per cent wage increase this year and another two per cent increase in September, 2019. There is also a $6,000 signing bonus plus lump sum bonuses of $2,000 in each of the next three years to most employees.

However, the Automotive News has reported that Fiat Chrysler has balked at the economic terms of the deal Unifor reached with GM.


FCA-Unifor talks continue
as strike deadline looms

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
October 10, 2016

Talks between Canadian autoworkers union Unifor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV progressed through the weekend and are expected to continue as an 11:59 p.m. Monday strike deadline looms.

A strike would halt production of the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans as well as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and Challenger. It also would shutter a casting plant that provides parts for nearly all of Fiat Chrysler's vehicles in North America and potentially cause parts shortages for U.S. plants if prolonged.

Unifor Sunday afternoon said its Master Bargaining Committee was seeking "to secure the pattern agreement that was established with (General Motors Co.)" as several subcommittees continued to meet.

"Talks are scheduled to continue around the clock and will take place on the holiday Monday (Canadian Thanksgiving)," union spokeswoman Denise Hammond said in an email.

Unifor's top concerns with Fiat Chrysler are investments in the Brampton Assembly Plant and the Etobicoke Casting Plant. The plants, including a supporting stamping facility for Brampton, employ more than 4,000 people, including about 3,750 hourly workers.

Fiat Chrysler-Canada spokeswoman LouAnn Gosselin on Sunday confirmed negotiations were ongoing but did not provide details of the discussions.

Unifor President Jerry Dias last week told The Detroit News and other media that Fiat Chrysler was concerned with wage gains in a deal ratified by members Sept. 25 with GM.

Dias said Fiat Chrysler feels the pattern deal with Detroit's largest automaker, which includes wage increases and signing bonuses, will cost them too much. The company's main issue, he said, comes from a new 10-year wage grow-in period for new and recently hired members that includes annual raises that top wages out for assemblers at CA$35.78 an hour, up from CA$34.41.

The deal includes 2-percent wage increases now and in 2019, a CA$6,000 signing bonus and $554 million in plant investments.

Under pattern agreements, the first deal reached traditionally sets standards for the agreements with other automakers.

Dias has said Unifor's 23,000 members working for Detroit automakers won't be paid differently between the automakers, as United Auto Workers members are in the United States.

Unifor workers have been preparing for a potential strike for weeks, informing members of procedures and preparing for potential picketing at Canadian plants.

"We're still preparing,"said Sandra Dominato, Unifor Local 444 strike coordinator in Windsor, on Sunday. "We're just waiting for news from the bargaining committee in Toronto ... but there's still a lot of time before the deadline."

Brampton Assembly produces the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger large cars. The facility hasn't received a major investment since 2011. Fiat Chrysler did invest an undisclosed amount when the three vehicles were redesigned for the 2015 model year, but nothing close to the $2.6 billion the company spent for development and production of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan at the Windsor Assembly Plant.

"Four years ago, workers at (Brampton and Etobicoke) stood behind us in Windsor so we could get a $2 billion investment to build the next-generation of minivans and it's our turn to return that favor," Frank Mosey, Local 444 strike marshal and a shop floor representative, said on Friday in Windsor.

Etobicoke's roughly 500 workers produce aluminum die castings and pistons for virtually all of the company's vehicles in North America.


After 91 years, Ford's Australian
car production ends

Rod McGuirk,
Associated Press
Oct 9, 2016

Canberra, Australia — Ford Motor Co. ended 91 years of car manufacturing in Australia on Friday, with the remaining two Australian carmakers due to close their doors next year.

Ford Australia said it built the world's last six-cylinder, rear-wheel drive Falcon XR6 at its Broadmeadows plant in Melbourne and 600 employees lost their jobs.

About 3.5 million Falcons, once Australians' most popular car, have been built since 1960, although few have been exported.

Perhaps the most famous was a black 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe that became the Interceptor driven by Mel Gibson's character in the 1981 movie "The Road Warrior."

The last Falcon will be exhibited in the Ford Australia museum, the Australian subsidiary's chief executive officer, Graeme Whickman, told reporters outside the plant.

"Today is an emotional day for the entire team of Ford Australia,"Whickman said.

"We are saying goodbye to some wonderful manufacturing colleagues who have done a great deal for Ford in Australia," he said.

Ford, General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. announced in 2013 that they were quitting Australia and shedding 6,600 jobs because of high production costs, distance from potential export markets and increasing competition.

Ford will continue to sell and service imported cars in Australia and Australia-based engineers will help develop designs of vehicles that will be manufactured overseas, the company said.

Because of that continuing presence, Whickman said Ford will become the largest employer in the Australian automotive industry when Toyota and General Motors subsidiary GM Holden end production in 2017. The V8 Holden Commodore is sold in the United States as the Chevrolet SS.

Ford will employ 2,000 staff at Broadmeadows and the Victoria state towns of Lara and Geelong. Ford opened its first Australian production line at Geelong in 1925.


Union president representing
Ford workers says GM deal
not template for negotiations

Dave Thomas, president of Unifor Local 707, said they
"will not sacrifice the needs of the membership in
Oakville and settle on an agreement that doesn't address our issues."

Toronto Star
Tues., Oct. 5, 2016

OAKVILLE—The president of the union local representing Ford employees in Oakville, says it's not prepared to accept the template that secured a deal with General Motors.

"We as a local bargaining committee have sent a very clear message to Ford Motor Company and the national union that the framework agreement between GM and the membership will not suit the needs of the membership in Oakville," Dave Thomas, president of Unifor Local 707, wrote in a message posted on the union's website.

"Investment in Canada was the No. 1 priority when we opened up bargaining but we all agreed that it would not be at the expense of the rest of the membership," he said.

Thomas added that the local bargaining committee "will not sacrifice the needs of the membership in Oakville and settle on an agreement that doesn't address our issues."

Thomas said GM negotiators faced difficult decisions because there was no future investment planned for its operation in Oshawa.

That agreement includes a two per cent wage increase this year and another two per cent increase in September 2019.

There is also a $6,000 signing bonus, plus lump sum bonuses, benefit improvements and a commitment by GM to invest $554 million in its Canadian operations.

Thomas warned that the union faces a difficult fight as it enters into bargaining with Ford later this month.

The GM agreement was meant to serve as a basis for Unifor as it moves on to its next round of bargaining with the so-called Detroit Three. Talks are currently underway with Fiat Chrysler.


Oakville Ford Assembly
local says it won't ratify
agreement similar to GM

Oakville Beaver
By David Lea
October 5, 2016

Talks between Ford Canada and its workers' union Unifor are still weeks away, but may already be heading for trouble.

Oakville Assembly Unifor Local 707 President Dave Thomas has spoken out against an agreement made between Unifor and General Motors in late September, noting that if the national union attempts to make a similar agreement with Ford, the Oakville membership will not ratify it.

This action could potentially cause problems for the national union's traditional practice of "pattern bargaining," in which the union hammers out a deal with one automaker and then uses that deal as a precedent to demand similar or better conditions from the other two automakers.

The Oakville Ford workers are looking for a better deal that would shorten the amount of time it takes for new hires to reach the top of the pay grid.

"When bargaining began back in August, we, as a local bargaining committee, were given a very clear mandate as to what the members of local 707 were expecting," wrote Thomas in a post on the local's website.

"We have stayed the course and have not deviated from that mandate. We as a local bargaining committee have sent a very clear message to Ford Motor Company and the national union that the framework agreement between GM and the membership will not suit the needs of the membership in Oakville."

The national union has said its top priority in these negotiations is to secure product and new investment in Canada.

The Ford bargaining committee will be working specifically to get new investment at Ford's Windsor, Ontario engine plants.

"Investment in Canada was the number one priority when we opened up bargaining, but we all agreed that it would not be at the expense of the rest of the membership," said Thomas, in the online post.

"We, as a local bargaining committee, will not sacrifice the needs of the membership in Oakville and settle on an agreement that doesn't address our issues."

With more than 5,000 Ford employees represented the Oakville local's vote is large enough to determine whether an agreement is accepted or rejected.

In his online address to the Unifor Local 707 membership Thomas emphasized that if the union reaches an agreement and it is not ratified there will be a strike.

"I am not prepared to present an agreement to the membership that won't be ratified," said Thomas.

Unifor President Jerry Dias noted that while Unifor locals have the right to dissent the reason they are doing so in this case doesn't make a lot of sense.

He said the contentious issue, which involves how quickly new hires reach the maximum pay grid, was negotiated four years ago by the same group that is complaining about it now.

He pointed out that four years ago the national union reached a deal with Ford Canada, which left all Ford Canada workers with the current 10-year wage grid, in order to win a $700 million investment the Oakville Assembly Plant desperately needed.

This time around it is the Ford Windsor plants that are in need of investment.

"We've put together an agreement to win investment just like they did four years ago. The difference is the deal today is significantly enhanced compared to the one that was bargained back then," said Dias.

"I don't know how many workers are going to balk and say, 'We really screwed up' when they're getting a $5.50 to $7 per hour pay increase over the next three years, plus $12,000 of lump sum payments. I guess we'll agree to disagree."

At the end of the day Dias acknowledges the Oakville Assembly Plant local's leadership is elected and is bringing the demands of their constituents forward.

"If our members at Ford reject the collective agreement then the strike will start immediately and I will walk beside our members at Ford and I will continue to fight for more until they are satisfied and we can go back to work," said Dias.


Some Ford Ontario
workers unhappy with
GM Canada deal

Oct 4, 2016
By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Workers at a major Ford Motor Co plant in Ontario are unhappy with a contract their union reached with General Motors Co and would likely vote down a similar agreement, a senior local union official said on Monday.

Ford's Oakville, Ontario, workers want a more generous deal that would shorten the time it takes new hires to reach the top of the pay grid, said Dave Thomas, president of main Canadian autoworkers union Unifor's Local 707.

"That framework that GM has set forward won't ratify in Oakville," he said in an interview. "My members have huge concerns."

The local makes up the majority of Ford's unionized Canadian workforce, giving it a strong influence in a ratification vote.

Unifor has a longstanding practice of "pattern bargaining," selecting one automaker to negotiate with and then holding the other two to the terms of that deal. It reached an agreement with GM last month.

It is not clear how national union officials could address Thomas's concerns without deviating from the pattern.

"We'll deal with Ford when we get there," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "The 707 leadership is listening to their members, and so we'll see where that takes us."

Dias said there were always some differences among the automakers, noting that in the last contract, GM was allowed to hire some temporary employees. But he said he remained committed to pattern bargaining.

"Pattern bargaining benefits all of our members," he said. "Sometimes you're at the top of the hill, other times you're at the bottom."

Any Ford vote is weeks away, as Unifor officials have yet to reach a tentative agreement with the company. The union is currently bargaining mainly with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (:FCHA.MI) and has set a strike deadline for Oct. 10.

The GM deal maintained a 10-year earn-in for new hires, while spreading out raises so some workers get pay boosts earlier than before. But the core of the deal was a commitment to invest C$400 million ($305 million) in the GM Oshawa assembly, saving jobs at the plant.

Ford's bargaining committee is looking for new investment at the company's Windsor, Ontario, engine plants, but Oakville, which won the new Ford Edge crossover in 2014, does not need new commitments in the short term.

Oakville workers outnumber Windsor's 5,000 to 1,700 and could reject any deal on their own.


Ford Bronco officially coming
back, will be made in Michigan

Local UAW boss confirms in response to Trump attacks

2020 Bronco

Michael Austin
October 3, 2016

You can credit (or blame) Donald Trump for this one. The presidential candidate has been relentless in attacking Ford for moving jobs to Mexico throughout his campaign. Ford has fired back, both with CEO Mark Fields on CNN, and on Twitter during the first debate, citing massive investment and job growth here in the United States. And now, because of this fight, we just got confirmation that the Bronco is coming back. Whether or not it looks at all like the rendering above remains to be seen.

Ford announced earlier this year that it will add four SUVs to the lineup, and it was widely assumed the Bronco would be one of those four. The theory stems from the latest contract between the UAW and Ford, and what happens to the Michigan Assembly Plant when the Focus and C-Max production move south of the border.

Confirmation comes from Bill Johnson, chairman of UAW local 900, speaking to the Detroit Free Press last week. "We hate to see the products go to Mexico, but with the Ranger and the Bronco coming to Michigan Assembly that absolutely secures the future for our people a lot more than the Focus does."

Yes, he did just say that. The Bronco is coming to Michigan Assembly. Which means the Bronco is coming back. Whether you live in a Giant Douche or Turd Sandwich household, this is one thing America can come together on.


Ford recalls Focus
hatchbacks for latch
release problem

Associated Press
September 29, 2016

Detroit — Ford is recalling about 74,000 Focus hatchback cars with manual transmissions in the U.S. and Canada because the hatches can be unlatched too easily while the cars are moving.

The recall covers certain Focus hatchback and RS vehicles from the 2013 through 2017 model years. The company says the hatch can be unlocked and unlatched by pushing a single button when the cars are traveling under 4 miles per hour.

Federal safety standards require two actions to unlock doors and operate the latch release.

Ford says it doesn’t know of any accidents or injuries caused by the problem.

Dealers will reprogram a control module at no cost to the owners.


GM Canada vows
to wipe out pension
shortfall; workers
ratify deal

Greg Keenan
The Globe and Mail
Sept 27, 2016

General Motors of Canada Co. has pledged to eliminate the $2.6-billion deficit in the pension plans for its unionized workers and retirees as part of a new contract negotiated between the company and Unifor.

The auto maker’s 29,000 retirees in Canada were worried about the future of the plans as Unifor and GM went into contract negotiations earlier this month, fearing that the assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., would be closed, the company would wind up the plans and they would take a hit of about 25 per cent on their pensions.

But the union won commitments on production for the Oshawa plant that will keep it operating past 2019, including the extension of the current Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS cars built there. Oshawa workers will also perform final installation of interiors and other components on Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck bodies shipped to the plant from a GM factory in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Those measures will save about 2,500 jobs in Oshawa. Workers at three General Motors plants in Ontario approved the new agreement in voting on Sunday.

The new contract was approved by 64.7 per cent of workers who voted.

The Oshawa plant was on the endangered list because one assembly line is scheduled to be closed next year and no new products were allocated to the adjacent flexible assembly line to replace vehicles that are scheduled to go out of production later this decade.

Salaried GM Canada retirees shared similar concerns about the future of their pension fund, which amounted to about $400-million as of May’s actuarial valuation.

GM Canada used about $4.5-billion of a $10.8-billion bailout provided by federal and Ontario taxpayers to reduce a massive pension deficit after its parent company went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in 2009.

But the deficit jumped again amid poor stock returns and nearly a decade of rock-bottom low interest rates.
The deficit in the unionized plans fell last year from $3.1-billion, but if they were to be wound up, workers would have received only about 78 per cent of what they were due.

Unionized retirees and most current workers at GM Canada participate in a defined benefits pension plan that pays them a set amount every month.

The union agreed in negotiations four years ago to a pension scheme for newly hired employees that combined defined benefits and defined contributions by the company and employees.

The new agreement calls for a defined contribution pension plan only for newly hired employees with mandatory contributions of 4 per cent of earnings by the plan member and the company.

Senior human resources officials with General Motors Co. had been pushing Unifor for more than a year to agree to a switch to a defined contribution plan, sources have said.

Current GM Canada workers will receive bonus payments of $12,000 during the next four years and 2-per-cent wage increases this year and in 2019.

The contract calls for a ratification bonus of $6,000 and lump-sump payments of $2,000 in each of years two, three and four, according to highlights of the agreement released Sunday at a ratification meeting in Oshawa.

Wages will rise to $35.78 an hour by the end of the four-year agreement from the current level of $34.41, the first increase in hourly wages in nine years.

Workers who retired before 1987 or their surviving spouses, will receive a $1,500 lump-sum payment. That’s the first payment for any retirees in several sets of contract negotiations.

But the key issue for Unifor in talks with GM that led to a deal minutes before a strike deadline last Monday was winning investment to save the assembly plant in Oshawa and secure the future of an engine and transmission factory in St. Catharines.
The union has announced it will negotiate next with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and has set of a strike deadline of Oct. 10.


Unifor concession on pension plans 'worrisome' trend

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
Sept 27,. 2016

He may not have the gold standard when it comes to pension plans, but Dave Martin can’t complain about his job at the Windsor Assembly Plant.

“It’s not as luxurious as what the old-timers are getting, but we’re still making great money, especially for unskilled labour,” said Martin, who was among 1,200 people hired over that last year at Fiat Chrysler’s minivan plant.
“Times have changed, right?”

The “old-timers” are autoworkers hired before 2012 who get to keep their defined benefits pension plan, while entry level workers, such as Martin, who were hired under the current contract, are enrolled in a hybrid pension plan, which combines defined benefits and defined contributions.

The hybrid scheme was a concession extracted by the car companies from Unifor’s predecessor, the Canadian Auto Workers, during the 2012 set of negotiations.

But, more changes are in store for new hires at FCA, Ford and General Motors after the completion of the current round of Unifor-Detroit Three contract talks.

This time around, new hires will be enrolled in a straight defined contribution pension plan under a tentative deal struck this week between Unifor and General Motors, the car company setting the pattern for the union’s upcoming contract
negotiations with Ford and FCA. The GM agreement, reached earlier this week, will be presented to about 3,900 hourly workers at ratification votes Sunday.

Though the new provision applies only to workers hired after the new contract goes into effect, it represents a “worrisome” trend in one of Canada’s most important sectors, said Stephanie Ross, associate professor in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton.

“It’s a very troubling outcome of this agreement,” said Ross. “The companies are pitting current employees against future employees. GM does not want to offer the type of employment to future generations that will result in a secure pension for them.”
In a defined-benefits plan, a retired employee receives a set, or defined, payment while the company administers and invests pension contributions, taking 100 per cent of the risk and making up any shortfalls. In a defined-contribution plan, benefits are determined by how well the plan’s investments perform, shifting the risk to employees.

“Unifor,” Ross added, “is being forced to choose between jobs and the right of future employees to retire with secure pensions.”
Unifor national president Jerry Dias admitted as much when he said the union had to make that concession to GM Canada in return for new product and investment commitments to the automaker’s Oshawa and St. Catharines assembly plants. “It was not a difficult decision,” he said during a news conference to announce the tentative deal.

But Ross contrasted Unifor’s capitulation with the refusal of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers to bend on the issue in its recent contract dispute with Canada Post.

“CUPW made the preservation of the defined-benefits pension such a key part of their bargaining platform,” she said. “They are under the threat of losing their jobs as well. Yet, they were willing to go to the public and say, ‘what our employer is demanding is wrong.'”

The dilution of private sector pension plans has been an ongoing trend as more and more employers seek to cut costs, said Ross. But Unifor’s decision to join the movement against defined benefits plans pushes down industry standards even further, she said.
“It’s worrisome when such an important union signs a trend-setting agreement,” said Ross. “We should be concerned as Canadians when we see employers trying to extract themselves from what should be a basic workplace entitlement: The right to retire with secure pensions.”

As a recent hire, Martin is accustomed to a double standard in working conditions. New employees, for example, earn 60 per cent of the maximum hourly rate of about $34 an hour and take 10 years to reach the top pay level. “Even some of the old timers think that’s unfair and point out that they’re standing next to a guy who’s doing the same job, but getting paid 60 per cent of the wage.”

Still, Martin has no complaints. “Anybody I know is incredibly grateful for the opportunity that we have.”
Underfunding of Detroit Three’s global pension funds in 2015

General Motors: $21 billion US
Ford Motor: $8.2 billion

Glossary of pension plans

Defined-Benefit Pension Plan: In a defined benefit pension plan, the amount of the pension benefit is determined by a defined formula, usually based on years of service. There are several types of defined-benefit plans, including:

Final Average: the benefit is based on the member’s average earnings over the member’s last several years (typically three or five) of employment and years of service.

Career Average: the benefit is based on the member’s earnings over the member’s entire period of service.

Flat Benefit: the benefit is based on a fixed dollar amount for each year of service.

Defined-Contribution Pension Plan: In a defined-contribution plan, the pension benefit is based solely on the amount of pension that can be provided by the amount contributed to the member’s individual account together with any expenses and investment returns allocated to that account.

Hybrid Pension Plan: A hybrid pension plan contains both defined-benefit and defined-contribution provisions. A member’s pension benefit may be a combination of the defined benefit plus the defined-contribution entitlement or a pension benefit which is the greater of the defined-benefit entitlement or the defined-contribution entitlement.


GM Canada workers
to receive $12,000
in bonus payments

Greg Keenan
The Globe and Mail
September 26, 2016

GM Canada workers to receive $12,000 in bonus payments as part of new labour deal Unionized General Motors of Canada Co. workers will receive bonus payments of $12,000 during the next four years and 2 per cent wage increases this year and in 2019 in a new contract with the auto maker.

The contract calls for a ratification bonus of $6,000 and lump sump payments of $2,000 in each of years two, three and four, according to highlights of the agreement released Sunday at a ratification meeting in Oshawa, Ont., by Unifor, the union that represents about 4,000 workers at GM plants in Oshawa, as well as St. Catharines, Ont. and Woodstock, Ont.

Wages will rise to $35.78 an hour by the end of the four-year agreement from the current level of $34.41.
Workers who retired before 1987 or their surviving spouses, will receive a $1,500 lump-sum payment.
But the key issue for Unifor in talks with GM that led to a deal minutes before a strike deadline last Monday was winning investment to save the assembly plant in Oshawa and secure the future of an the engine and transmission factory in St. Catharines.

The vehicles made in Oshawa were scheduled to go out of production by the end of the decade and no new or replacement vehicles were allocated to the facility.

General Motors Co. has agreed to spend $400-million to upgrade the flexible assembly line in the Oshawa plant and $150-million to introduce a new model of an existing engine in St. Catharines and prepare the plant to make the next generation of a transmission it already assembles.

The investment in Oshawa will allow “the ability to meet unmet demand in a critical market segment,” the Unifor document said.

The document did not reveal what vehicles will be made in Oshawa that aren’t assembled there now, but sources briefed on the agreement have said GM will ship unfinished truck bodies to Oshawa from Fort Wayne, Ind. Unifor workers in Oshawa will perform final assembly.

That is expected to lead to additional production of about 70,000 vehicles a year in Oshawa, the sources said.

GM’s three pickup truck plants in North America are running flat out amid high sales of those vehicles with gas prices in the U.S. market averaging a little more than $2 (U.S.) a gallon and a recovery in the housing market driving increased demand from contractors.

Industry analysts have cautioned, however, that the Oshawa plant is immediately vulnerable when demand falls in the usual boom-and-bust auto industry cycle.

The Cadillac XTS passenger car, which was previously scheduled to go out of production in 2018, will receive an upgrade and its life will be extended.
Production of the Chevrolet Impala full-sized sedan will also be continued beyond its scheduled end date in 2019.

While the Oshawa plant’s short-term future is assured, GM stood firm against a Unifor demand that a 10-year progression of newly hired workers to full pay be shortened in length.

The starting rate for newly hired employees will rise to $20.92 in the new deal from $20.49 under the old contract and there will be wage increases in each of the first three years for new employees. Under the old contract they did not receive their first wage increases until they had completed three years of employment.


Unifor-GM tentative deal keeps
10 year pay grid for new hires

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
September 24, 2016

New hires at Detroit Three plants will still take 10 years to reach the maximum hourly rate under a tentative contract reached between Unifor and General Motors, a source familiar with the negotiations said Friday.

The difference: the new, four-year contract guarantees pay increases in each year and higher pay, the source said. Under the current four-year deal, new hires are frozen for three years at the starting rate of about $20 an hour. "With the new grid, you have a percentage increase every year. You're never stuck at the same rate," the source said.

While the union faced pressure from its membership to shorten the grow-in period, the source said the company made it clear that maintaining the 10-year grid was key to winning new investment at its Ontario plants. "All of them made it clear: 'do you want investment?'"

Across the border, the UAW's tentative four-year agreement with General Motors eliminated a permanent two-tier wage structure, and put new hires on an eight-year grow-in to the maximum hourly rate of $29.

Another key Unifor concession has new hires moving onto a defined contributions pension plan instead of the current hybrid plan, which combines defined benefit and contributions.

About 3,900 General Motors employees will be voting on the new four-year agreement at ratification meetings Sunday. If the deal is ratified, Unifor will begin contract talks the following day with Fiat Chrysler, which is expected to follow the pattern set by the GM deal.

That agreement secured $554 million in investment at General Motors' vehicle assembly plant in Oshawa, which will begin to produce both cars and trucks, and at its powertrain plant in St. Catharines, which will receive additional engine production from Mexico. There will also be investment for a parts distribution centre in Woodstock.

The deal also promises: annual wage hikes for all workers, as well as bonus and lump sum payments.

Unifor also won permanent, full-time status for 700 supplemental workforce employees, who will gain regular wage increases and benefits.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias would not confirm specific details of the GM deal, except to say that it met all of the union's major goals. He said the union's decision to move to FCA next, instead of Ford, was based on his concerns about the future of the automaker's Brampton vehicle assembly plant.

"I definitely have concerns about the Brampton facility and Ford's engine plants in Windsor," he said. "But I think there's more uncertainty about Brampton than Windsor. We need product for Windsor, there's no question about that, but if there's a storm cloud hovering, it's more so than Windsor, and I need to figure that out."

Dias said he made his decision after meeting with both Ford and FCA — both of whom expressed concerns about the monetary gains in the GM deal. "There' no question neither Ford nor Chrysler are thrilled with the GM agreement because they both made major investments in Windsor and Oakville based on the existing wage grid, and we made changes to it," he said.

Pending approval of the GM deal, Unifor will begin the FCA talks, and has set a strike deadline of Oct. 10, said Dias.

If the GM workers vote down the contract, "the strike will commence," he added.


Pending ratification of GM deal,
Unifor eyes talks with Fiat-Chrysler

The Canadian Press
Published Thursday
Sept 22, 2016

TORONTO -- Unifor says the next company in its contract negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers will be Fiat--Chrysler Automobile, pending ratification of its tentative deal with General Motors.

The union, which represents about 23,000 auto workers in Canada, reached a four-year agreement earlier this week with GM, averting a possible strike.

That deal is expected to set the pattern for negotiations with the other two big U.S. automakers.

The GM agreement, which includes wage increases, signing bonuses and lump sum payments, also secured investments from the company in its Canadian operations.

But the union also agreed that new hires will start with a defined contribution pension plan, rather than the hybrid plan for current employees.

Union president Jerry Dias says there will be no deal without a commitment to new investments in Canada.

Fiat-Chrysler employs 9,750 Unifor members at its assembly plants in Brampton, Ont., and Windsor, Ont., as well as a casting plant in Toronto.


GM-Unifor deal includes
$520M-plus investment in plants

Michael Martinez and
Melissa Burden,
The Detroit News
September 22, 2016

Oshawa, Ontario — Canadian auto workers union Unifor has a tentative contract agreement with General Motors Co. that not only breathes new life into the at-risk Oshawa Assembly Plant east of Toronto, but signifies a testament to the importance of the automotive industry across Canada.

The proposed deal would pump more than $520 million into two plants in Canada, according to two sources familiar with the company's plans, and includes promises for new products, wage increases and the conversion of temporary employees to full-time status.

Industry experts at the start of negotiations generally agreed the union faced a steep uphill battle, as automakers have increasingly turned their attention from Canada to invest in the U.S. and Mexico. They agreed that plant closures in the midst of record profits for the Detroit automakers would be a staggering blow.

"If you lose GM in Oshawa, you've really struck at the heart of the Canadian auto industry," said Dimitry Anastakis, professor of Canadian history at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. "It certainly seems like a big win for the union … and some stability for the industry."

Canada lost more than 53,000 automotive jobs from 2001 to 2014, according to a study by Ontario's Automotive Policy Research Centre. Tony Faria, professor emeritus in the office of automotive and vehicle research at the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business, said assembly production in the country peaked in 1999. Despite some year-over-year gains, it has declined steadily since. This new contract could help reverse that trend, he said.

"This was an ongoing decline that had to be stemmed if we were going to have an auto industry in Canada," Faria said. "One contract doesn't mean we've turned the tide necessarily, but this is a step in the right direction."

The Detroit automaker plans to spend about CA$400 million on the flex line at its Oshawa Assembly Plant and more than CA$120 million at the St. Catharines Propulsion Plant as part of investments in the four-year agreement reached late Monday with the Unifor union, according to the sources who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been made public.

Unifor President Jerry Dias did not name the new vehicles slated for the Oshawa flex line, but said the plant will be capable of building cars and trucks and that more workers will be needed at the facility; a consolidated line that produces the Chevrolet Equinox is slated to close in 2017.

"I expect we'll be able to build pretty well anything within the General Motors portfolio," Dias told The Detroit News on Tuesday.

Oshawa Assembly employs about 2,400 hourly workers. About 750 build the Equinox and 1,650 build the Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS sedans on a two-shift line.

The investment at St. Catharines is slated to include moving some powertrain work from Mexico, Dias told reporters early Tuesday in Toronto. It also will include new transmission work and extended production of the V-6 engine built in the facility, according to one source familiar with the plans.

Workers in Oshawa on Tuesday did not have details about the proposed agreement, but were still relieved that their plant is no longer at risk of closing.

"Morale is higher," 36-year-old Darryl Donnithorne said leaving the plant Tuesday afternoon. "It's been really stressful the last couple months."

Donnithorne said, despite working a 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift, he stayed up Monday night to watch updates.

Clay Thompson, 45, also stayed close to the TV and computer. "It was all that was on anybody's mind," he said. "I'm happy with the deal we got; product was the main thing."

GM in a statement issued early Tuesday said the agreement includes new product, technology and process investments at Oshawa, St. Catharines and its parts distribution facility in Woodstock. The company said it will work with government for possible support for the projects.

It's not clear if the investment for St. Catharines includes any additional jobs. The facility employs about 1,400 hourly workers who build V-6 and V-8 engines, six-speed transmissions and other components.

GM's nearly 3,900 Unifor members who work at Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock will vote Sunday on whether to ratify the four-year agreement. The deal, which averted a strike that could have disrupted production in Canada and the U.S., will include wage increases for current and new employees who top out at $34 an hour, and a signing bonus. About 700 temporary workers would be boosted to full-time.

"It's a total win for Jerry Dias and Unifor," said Faria. "They got everything they were looking to get going into the talks; every box right now is checked."

A decision on which automaker Unifor bargains with next — Ford Motor Co. or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — is expected soon.

Restructured incentives by the Canadian government likely played a hand in securing investment for the GM plants, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group for the Center for Automotive Research.

The company has said for two years that it would not make any investment or product announcements for Oshawa until negotiations were completed. The company faces overcapacity issues in North America, and issues such as higher energy costs in Ontario than the U.S. The lower U.S. dollar is a factor.

The federal government in Canada may be looking to change its Automotive Innovation Fund from a loan-based incentive for automaker projects to a grant-based system.

Philip Proulx, who is Canada's press secretary for innovation, science and economic development, said the government is reviewing the fund and "has been engaging with" the automakers to determine the best way to alter the fund, which was extended through 2021.

Proulx said "the federal government was not involved" in the discussions between Unifor and GM.

Ontario has been "working closely with General Motors and Unifor, and will provide further information regarding potential government support at the appropriate time," according to the office of the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, which is headed by Brad Duguid.

One negative part of the tentative deal, Dias said, is that new hires will move to a defined contribution pension plan. Legacy members of the union have a defined benefit pension plan, which guarantees them a certain amount of money. In 2012, the union put a deal in place where new hires would have a hybrid plan with some guaranteed money, but the new deal would reverse that.

"I think there's a sense of relief for a lot of people," said Joel Smith, an organizer for Unifor Local 222 which represents Oshawa workers. "This is something that needed to come to a head; it needed to be decided one way or another. The indication is we have a future, which is something we didn't have a week ago."


Unifor-GM agreement a stake
in heart of company pensions

It's bad news for all workers when the autoworkers cannot
protect their defined-benefit company pension plan

Thomas Walkom
National Affairs Columnist
Toronto Star
Sept. 21, 2016

Many of the details of the tentative contract signed between General Motors and its union, Unifor, are unknown.

We don't know much about the new product line scheduled for GM's Oshawa plant.

We don't yet know how much work GM has agreed to shift from Mexico to its St. Catharines engine plant.

Nor do we know how much Canada's federal and provincial governments will be expected to chip in to win this new investment for Ontario.

So far, the only hint has been a cryptic press release from GM noting that it will "be working with government on potential support."

What we do know, however, is that this deal, if ratified, will drive one more stake into the heart of company pension plans across Canada.

Canada's largest private-sector union has acknowledged that it can no longer even pretend to support defined-benefit pension plans.

Its tentative deal with GM would fully eliminate such plans for new hires, replacing them with defined-contribution schemes.

The difference is crucial. A defined-benefit pension allows for some certainty. Those who pay in over their working lives know what they will receive at retirement. They can plan.

By contrast, a defined-contribution plan is a crap shoot. Contributors know what they have to pay in. But what they get out at retirement depends on the behaviour of the stock and money markets. Such plans are, in effect, souped-up RRSPs.

The Big Three automakers have been trying to get rid of defined-benefit plans for years. Companies can profit during good times when such pension funds are in surplus. But in bad times, they are required by law to make up any deficit.

The big North American automakers are doing well these days financially. But they would prefer to avoid even the possibility of having to cover pension deficits in the future.

In 2012, they persuaded the union to let them roll pensions into a two-tiered wage structure. New hires are not only paid less than regular autoworkers, they also receive worse pensions.

Until now, Unifor had managed to hold out for so-called hybrid plans that gave new hires at least some certainty about their retirement pensions. Under the new tentative contract, even this will be gone.

Unifor President Jerry Dias said the pension sacrifice was worth it. "It's a great deal," he told CBC Radio on Tuesday.

Dias said his main aim had been to ensure that GM allocates new production to Ontario and that was achieved.

If auto contract talks follow their usual pattern, the GM deal — new production in exchange for pension concessions — will be replicated at Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Not every unionist agreed with Dias' single-minded focus on winning new investment.

"The problem with getting new investment through collective bargaining is not that it's a bad demand — the union can hardly ignore this concern," wrote former auto union staffers Sam Gindin and Herman Rosenfeld in the online publication The Bullet earlier this month.

"But it may become the only demand, while the company is virtually invited to make concessionary demands."

Gindin, Rosenfeld and others argued that Unifor should focus instead on ending the two-tier wage and pension structure.

The demise of the company pension plan predates this set of contract talks.

Most workers never had company pension plans in the first place. Those who did usually worked either in large, unionized factory settings or government.

Financially, defined-benefit pension plans didn't prove burdensome to employers until the economic collapse of 2008 sent interest rates plummeting.

Not all plans suffered. The government-run Canada Pension Plan, which offers defined-benefits to all retirees, has prospered — largely because it is big, comprehensive and adequately funded.

But private pension plans fell by the wayside as union after union agreed under duress to trade them away.

Throughout, the Canadian Autoworkers — or Unifor as the union is now known — was a kind of beacon. It made strategic retreats. But it never entirely gave up.

Now, on the pension front at least, it has.

Not on everything. The new contract would provide jobs, raises and a higher start rate for new hires.

But if even the autoworkers can't protect their defined-benefit company pension plans, who can?


GM deal good news for Ford's
Windsor engine plants, says union

Unifor Local 200 president Chris Taylor says the new GM deal is a positive sign as the unions sets it sights on negotiations with Ford. Dan Janisse / Windsor Star

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
September 21, 2016

The tentative contract agreement struck between Unifor and General Motors bodes well for the future of Ford's Windsor operations, Chris Taylor, president of Local 200, said Tuesday.

The fact that we were able to meet our main goal of investment, job security and product allocation for the Canadian operations of GM is a very, very positive sign for us at Ford because they know we won't settle for anything differently," said Taylor. "We expect production allocation for the Windsor site."

Under the agreement, GM will invest "hundreds of millions of dollars" in a new platform capable of building both cars and light trucks at the automaker's Oshawa assembly plant. The carmaker also will move some production from Mexico to its St. Catharines' powertrain plant.

Unifor has made new investment at Ford's Windsor engine operations the top priority in the current round of bargaining that affects about 1,400 hourly workers in Windsor and Essex County as well as 5,000 at the Oakville assembly plant.

The Essex Engine Plant employs 800 hourly workers who build the 5.0-litre, V-8 engine for the F-150 pickup and Ford Mustang, while the Windsor engine plant employs 600 hourly workers who build the 6.8-litre, V-10 engine for such vehicles as Ford Expedition and F-series super duty trucks.

While the Essex Engine Plant is expected to "hum along," producing about 260,000 units annually until 2023, production at Windsor engine will dramatically drop off from about 100,000 units this year to 40,000 by mid-2019, with nothing in the pipeline to replace the lost volume, said Joe McCabe, president of AutoForecast Solutions.

Two years ago, Ford chose Mexico over Windsor for a global program to build the next generation of small engines that would have led to a $1 billion-plus investment and the creation of up to 1,000 new jobs.

Taylor said he couldn't speculate on what new product could be awarded to the Windsor plants. But McCabe said one possibility could be Ford's expanding lineup of EcoBoost engines.

"We have to look at Ford's general strategy of downsizing engines using EcoBoost technology," said McCabe. "Our forecast has EcoBoost engine production in North America increasing from 750 million units this year by 50 per cent by 2021. That might be a good opportunity for Windsor to step up and say 'make that investment in us for retooling and bring EcoBoost product here.'"

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, said Ford has a solid track record of investing in its Canadian plants.

"Ford has a good history of commitment to Canada, specifically to Windsor," said Volpe, referring to the 2009 retooling of the Essex Engine Plant and recent investment in its Oakville vehicle assembly plant. "It's a very healthy company that is very adept at the kinds of changes in powertrain products that Windsor needs to see, and are critical for Ford's long-term sustainability."

Volpe also said that federal and Ontario government assistance is key to increasing the Detroit Three's manufacturing footprint in Canada. Ottawa has signalled that it was willing to bow to industry demands to change its Automotive Innovation Fund from a loan-based to grant-based program. But, Volpe said that Ottawa and Queen's Park also must increase their level of support from the traditional 20 per cent of an investment proposed by an automaker.

"There's a reasonable expectation that for the right product and footprint, the governments can be convinced to go beyond the usual support formula."

Unifor has yet to announce whether Ford of Fiat Chrysler will be its next target. But Taylor said he was hopeful that Ford will follow the pattern set by the GM negotiations.

"The pattern is set," he said. "There will still be some intense negotiations that will be required to get this done."

Future production

Ontario could become the centre of Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain production under a tentative contract agreement between General Motors and Unifor, an industry analyst said.

The Equinox is currently assembled on three full shifts at GM's CAMI plant in Ingersoll, with overflow production occurring at the Oshawa facility.

Joe McCabe, president of AutoForecast Solutions, said his firm has been forecasting that the Terrain and additional production of the Equinox would be shifting to Mexico. However, a new global platform promised for the Oshawa assembly plant means the two vehicles could be assembled there, he said.

"We had the global Delta platform, capable of building the Equinox, Terrain, Buick Envision and Chevy Cruze, slated to move to Mexico. If Oshawa is going to get a platform that can build both cars and light trucks, the global Delta makes the most sense."

The Envision mid-size luxury crossover, he noted, is currently produced in China.

Canada then becomes the home of the Equinox and Terrain, he said. "Canada can share the supply chain, and you have a lot of Canadian content."

Unifor president Jerry Dias said more details of the new contract would be unveiled during ratification votes by 3,900 GM members on Sunday. Dias would not confirm the vehicles moving to Oshawa, except to say that the new platform would give GM "capabilities to build anything. The options are unlimited."


GM, Canada auto union reach
tentative deal, averting strike

Jerry Dias

September 20, 2016

TORONTO (Reuters) - General Motors Co and the Canadian autoworkers union announced a tentative contract deal early Tuesday morning, averting a strike that would have shut some of the automaker's Canadian manufacturing facilities.

Unifor said the tentative deal will prevent the closure of GM's Oshawa assembly plant, bring some engine assembly from Mexico to GM's St. Catharines, Ontario facility, and increase wages for existing employees. Union members will vote on the deal on Sunday.

"The commitment to Oshawa is hundreds of millions of dollars, therefore our fear of a closure in 2019 is now over," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

The union made a concession on pensions for new workers, agreeing to a pure defined contribution plan, the first such plan under the master agreement that covers most assembly workers at GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler. Veteran employees have defined benefit pensions, and those hired since 2012 have a hybrid plan with defined benefit and defined contribution portions.

In a statement, GM Canada confirmed it had reached an agreement that would allow "significant new product, technology and process investments" in Oshawa and at the company's St Catharines powertrain plant.

"We will be working with government on potential support, and will provide further details on the investment at the appropriate time," the company said.

Dias did not say what vehicle model or models would be built in Oshawa, but said the plant would become capable of producing both cars and trucks. The plant currently builds cars.

Dias also said the agreement would ensure Oshawa hires workers in the short and long term, even as the scheduled closure of one of the plant's two assembly lines, the consolidated line, goes ahead as planned in 2017.

He said some volume of engine production would shift from Mexico to St. Catharines, the first time he can remember product moving from Mexico to Canada: "We've seen enough of it going the other way around," he said.

Under the union's practice of pattern bargaining, the deal with GM sets a pattern that Ford and Fiat Chrysler will be expected to follow closely in their contracts.

The deal is subject to a ratification vote, scheduled for Sunday. Dias said he expected to select a second target company within 24 hours.

A four-year contract covering some 20,000 Canadian autoworkers at the three automakers expired on Sept. 19, but only GM workers were in a legal strike position on Tuesday.


GM, workers make progress in talks as strike deadline looms: Unifor

Greg Keenan
Globe & Mail
Sept 19, 2016

Negotiators for unionized General Motors Co. workers in Canada and company officials appeared to make some progress in weekend talks aimed at averting a strike and securing new investment for plants in Oshawa, Ont., and St. Catharines, Ont.

"I'm feeling much better today than I did yesterday but I'm still not feeling great," Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, which represents the workers, said Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Dias spoke about 30 hours before a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday and after several days of union officials saying there had been no movement by the company on the key issue of allocating new vehicles to the Oshawa plant and new transmission or engine programs to St. Catharines.

We are having some constructive conversations, finally," Mr. Dias said.

At stake is the future of the Oshawa plant, with about 2,500 direct jobs and thousands more it supplies throughout Ontario's manufacturing heartland.

A high-ranking union source said Sunday evening that GM has so far not offered new vehicles ‎for the Oshawa plant.

Workers put together vehicles on two assembly lines, one of which is scheduled to be closed next year, which will end production of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover, which is also made at GM plant in Ingersoll, Ont., where workers are covered by a separate collective agreement.

The Buick Regal, Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala passenger cars made on the other assembly line are scheduled to go out of production by 2019 and no replacement vehicles have been allocated.

General Motors of Canada Co. president Stephen Carlisle has said no new vehicles will be earmarked for Oshawa until after a new contract is signed. Unifor has said no deal will be reached until vehicles are allocated to Oshawa.

Mr. Dias would not reveal the substance of the negotiations that went on through the weekend and, he said, were scheduled to continue all night Sunday.

"There seems to be a sense of urgency on both sides," he said. He cautioned, however, that the company and the union have "a hell of a lot of work to do."

GM officials are not commenting during negotiations.

A halt in production of vehicles made in Oshawa would not be a serious blow to GM because the cars are not among the company's best-selling vehicles.

But halting engine and transmission production in St. Catharines would have a domino effect at Cami and stop production of Equinox and GMC Terrain. Equinox is the second-best selling vehicle in the GM lineup in the United States, which is the biggest market for the vehicles made in Ingersoll.

Workers at Cami have vowed – if there is a strike – not to install parts from other GM or supplier plants that would replace those supplied by St. Catharines.

One problem facing Unifor in trying to convince GM to allocate new vehicles to Oshawa is that the auto maker's assembly plants in North America are running at about 80 per cent of capacity, even though Canadian sales are at record high levels and the U.S. market is also close to a peak.

GM and other auto makers have tried to run their plants at 100 per cent capacity or higher – through the use of overtime and extra shifts – to meet the high demand.

Industry analysts and sources have said there is nothing in the GM product portfolio for the next several years that could be allocated to Oshawa.

"The unfortunate conclusion, and something we have been saying for years, is that there is no easily identified product for GM to offer to Oshawa without punishing recent plant investments in the U.S. and Mexico," Joe McCabe, president of industry consulting firm AutoForecast Solutions LLC, said in an analysis earlier this month.

One possibility, Mr. McCabe noted, however, is the Buick Envision crossover, which is not made in North America, but is imported by GM from China.

"But if a) out-of-the-box thinking is needed, b) a non-NAFTA produced, high-value vehicle needs to be targeted, and c) the higher cost of producing in Canada offsets the lost profits and logistics cost of importing from China, then the Buick Envision starts to make sense," he wrote, although he described the suggestion as a "what-if" scenario.


Canada prepares a lifeline for
Unifor in auto talks with GM

Brent Snavely,
Detroit Free Press
September 18, 2016

A change from low interest loans to grants could fundamentally change the financial calculation for any automaker considering an investment in Canada verses the United States or Mexico

Unifor and General Motors remain far apart in contract negotiations but the union that represents Canadian autoworkers appears to be on the cusp of getting a lifeline from Canada.

The Canadian government is quietly planning to change the key terms of its Automotive Innovation Fund, which has previously offered automakers low-interest loans to support investments in Canada, according to a report earlier this week in the Toronto Globe & Mail. The government is likely to change the fund from a loan program to a grant program.

"Yes, the federal government has clearly signaled that they are going to shift direction and that is very positive," Unifor President Jerry Dias told the Free Press on Friday. "Do I believe that that will play a role and provide an assistance to us in our negotiations? The answer is yes."

The fund, introduced in 2008 by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, offers repayable loans to automakers and parts companies. That structure was viewed as helpful at the time when automakers were struggling to get loans in the midst of the Great Recession. But they are of little use today when automakers can obtain low-interest loans from banks.

Meanwhile, current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party has been far more open to broader support for the automotive industry than Harper of the Conservative Party.

The help is arriving as Unifor enters the final days of negotiations with the Detroit Three. Its current contract with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is set expire at midnight on Monday.

Philip Proulx, a spokesman for Canada's department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, would say only what the government has been saying for some time — that Canada is studying the issue.

"We have made clear we are looking at changes … to see how we can help the sector," Prouix said. "We are not ready to make any announcements."

A change from low-interest loans to grants could fundamentally change the financial calculations, or "business case," for any automaker considering an investment in Canada versus the U.S. or Mexico, said Flavio Volpe, president of Canada's Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association.

"If, in fact, the government has made this change, it's a significantly different offering for any automaker who is considering reinvestment," Volpe said.

Industry groups, including Volpe's parts association and the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, argue that the federal government needs to step up in a more significant way for the Canada auto industry to be competitive.

Unifor and government officials have watched as Mexico surpassed Canada in automotive production in 2010 and are hoping to stem the tide of plant closures and job losses in this year's contract talks.

At least three plants operated by the Detroit Three in Ontario could close in the coming years if Unifor cannot secure product commitments from the automakers. Together, those plants employ 7,200 workers or about one-third of union members employed by the Detroit Three in Canada.

A change in incentives will only help Unifor if GM has a car or truck available for the Oshawa, Ontario, plant and most analysts say the Detroit automaker doesn't appear to have anything in the works that could keep the plant running.

"It's looking very slim when it comes to options for Oshawa," said AutoPacific auto analyst Dave Sullivan.

In Oshawa, the union is trying to save 2,600 jobs and keep a plant running that has been in jeopardy for several years. GM builds the Chevrolet Impala, the Buick Regal and the Cadillac XTS at the plant but all three are to be discontinued or moved to other plants. The plant also handles overflow production for the Chevrolet Equinox but that production is scheduled to end in 2017.

So far, GM has refused to discuss product commitments as a part of its negotiations with Unifor.

"We haven't talked product yet at all," Dias said. "There seems to be an agreement that Oshawa is one of their most competitive plants in the world. I think the fact that we are having those types of discussions is a good start."

A GM spokesman declined to comment.

Dias said Unifor has been making progress with GM in discussions on wages and benefits. But Dias has repeatedly pledged to call a strike without clear product commitments.

In America, strikes are used less frequently than in the past. Unions that use them run the risk of alienating the general public rather than winning support.

"I think that's less of an issue in Canada," said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center of Automotive Research. "I don't think they would be vilified as much as if the UAW called a strike."

Dias has specifically threatened to call a strike at an engine and transmission plant in St. Catharines, Ontario, because a strike there could impact several GM plants. GM makes V6 and V8 engines as well as six-speed transmissions at that plant that are used in a wide range of vehicles including the Chevrolet Silverado and Tahoe and the GMC Sierra and Yukon, as well as the Chevrolet Camaro, Impala, Traverse and Equinox.

On Sept. 8, leaders of Unifor Local 88 at GM's Cami assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, sent a letter to GM saying their workers would refuse to accept parts from other plants that they normally get from the St. Catharines plant.

"Any supplemental/alternates parts/components being used we will be treated as 'hot cargo,' " union leaders from the local said in the letter. "The membership of Unifor Local 88 will not handle or work with these parts."


Leave it to pols to get it
wrong on Ford, Mexico

Daniel Howes,
The Detroit News
September 17. 106

Ford Motor Co.'s overdue confirmation that it is moving small-car production to Mexico is grist for another gross oversimplification in this year's presidential race.

Why let the facts detailing how the global auto industry operates today — and how it allocates capital — muck up the lowest-common-denominator campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, or impede their flailing efforts to score cheap political points in the industrial Midwest?

Yet here we have the Republican nominee predicting Thursday that the Dearborn automaker will "fire all of their employees in the United States" — and a CNN anchor asking Ford CEO Mark Fields whether Trump's allegation is true.


"It's really unfortunate when politics gets in the way of the facts," Fields replied, reciting a litany that is not news to followers of Ford or the Detroit-based industry. Reality simply doesn't support Trump's cockamamie narrative flogging Ford's year-long perpetuation of its small-cars-to-Mexico story

Among the facts: Ford has created 28,000 jobs in the United States over the past five years. It has invested $12 billion in U.S. facilities. It produces more vehicles in U.S. plants, and employs more hourly workers here, than any other automaker. That includes cross-town rival General Motors Co.

Since its deep restructuring during and after the global financial meltdown, Ford concentrated manufacturing and product development in the Midwest; reinvested in heartland plants, even as it bolstered operations in Mexico, too; announced plans for a decade-long renovation of its headquarters campus.

And it's still controlled by a Ford family that takes the family part seriously. Led by Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., they're all for allocating capital wisely and globally — but not at the expense of the country that birthed the industrial icon and produces most of its profits. Just ask them.

Ford could have dispatched this story a year ago when The Detroit News first reported during national contract talks that the automaker would be shipping production of its Michigan-built Focus, C-Max and hybrids outside the country, likely to Mexico.

For a whole lot of complex reasons politicians and their staffers don't have the patience to understand, Ford didn't confirm what all sides knew to be true. Instead executives deferred the announcement until this week's meeting with investors, which just so happened to fall within the final two months of a presidential cage-match battling over the industrial heartland.

Brilliant, Dearborn. Nothing like handing a rhetorical club to a guy eager to wield it with impunity. Doesn't matter to him — or Clinton — whether the stubborn facts ruling today's auto industry support a caricatured and uninformed version of the real world.

It should. Here are some:

The United States is not "losing" more than 4,000 jobs at Michigan Assembly in Wayne because Ford will build small cars in Mexico. United Auto Workers members here will build what Fields called two "very exciting new" products: the compact Ranger pickup (a sop to meet federal fuel economy rules) and what is expected to be a revived iteration of a Bronco SUV.

The number of union jobs lost in the States to this move is zero. Why do you think this compacts-to-Mexico gambit, dropped in the middle of last year's national contract talks, didn't emerge as a strike-worthy issue with the UAW? Because union leaders and the rank-and-file know how the industry works, and what they would get, far better than the smart people running for president.

Second, Ford wouldn't be moving its Focus, C-Max and related hybrids south of the border if more customers wanted those vehicles. But in a world of $2.25-a-gallon gas, surging American energy production and the increasing fuel-efficiency of new crossovers and SUVs, customers don't need small cars to get the economy they seek.

Third, automakers competing in the U.S. market can't actually assess market demand and then decide whether to build compacts like the Focus and subcompacts like the Fiesta. The government essentially says they must build them, and their hybrid cousins, to meet corporate average fuel economy targets of 54.5 mpg by 2025 — irrespective of profits or what the market wants.

Fourth, sales volume matters. Because the take rate for those small cars is comparatively low, and so is production, automakers struggle to book profits selling vehicles that, by definition, command lower prices in the market place.

Fifth, labor costs were due to rise after eight years of concessions amid rising U.S. profits, and the automakers knew it. That necessitated a reappraisal of portfolios and production allocations that culminated in Ford's small-car move and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV ending car production in the States.

Finally, both Trump and Clinton are voicing opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a willingness to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement. The prospect of greater trade restrictions means the automakers could consider producing vehicles in countries with more liberal trade policies, i.e., Mexico.

Wouldn't that be interesting? Ford and its global competitors are in the business to make money. They understand the politics of production and jobs better than the two people running for president understand autos — and that's a problem around here.


Ford dismisses Trump claim
it will fire U.S. employees

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
September 16, 2016

Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Mark Fields took to national television Thursday to denounce Donald Trump's latest reaction to the automaker moving small-car production to Mexico.

The Republican presidential candidate early Thursday slammed Ford's decision as a "disgrace," and insinuated the company would "fire all of their employees in the United States" as it shifts production of the unprofitable and small-margin vehicles south of the border.

Fields later told CNN in an interview, "It's really unfortunate when politics get in the way of the facts. Ford's investment in the U.S. and commitment to American jobs has never been stronger."

When asked if the move of the Focus and C-Max from Michigan Assembly to Mexico would result in any U.S. job losses, Fields responded, "Absolutely not. Zero."

Trump's comments came the day after the Dearborn automaker confirmed that all remaining small-car production will move to Mexico in the next two to three years. The last small cars it produces in the U.S. are made at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, but will end production there in 2018.

Ford announced last year it would stop building those vehicles in the U.S. in 2018, but until now had not confirmed where they would go. Earlier this year it announced plans to build a new $1.6 billion assembly plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which would be a likely destination for the Focus and C-Max. It has said it will employ 2,800 at the new Mexican plant by 2020.

"Basically when they make their car, and they think they're going to get away with this, and they fire all of their employees in the United States; they move to Mexico," Trump said on Fox News' "Fox & Friends." "When that car comes back across the border into our country that now comes in free, we're going to charge them a 35 percent tax. And you know what's going to happen? They're never going to leave."

Fields said Thursday the Focus and C-Max would be replaced by "two very exciting new products."

The Detroit News first reported last year that Ford wants to replace one of the two cars in Wayne with the Ranger midsize pickup, and Bloomberg has said the Bronco SUV also could be built in Wayne.

Trump has on multiple occasions vowed to impose up to a 35 percent tariff on any Mexican-built Ford cars the automaker tries to sell in the U.S. Fields declined to say if that action would stop Ford's plan if Trump is elected and manages to push the tariff through Congress.

"There's lots of hypotheticals," he said. "We have to run our business on what we know today."

Since 2011, Ford has invested $12 billion in U.S. plants and created 28,000 U.S. jobs. It also promised the United Auto Workers to create or retain about 8,500 new jobs over the next four years as part of its new contract with the union signed last fall.

But Ford, along with most other major automakers, has ramped up investment south of the border in recent years. In addition to the new car plant, Ford is spending $1.1 billion to expand an engine plant in Chihuahua and another $1.2 billion to build a transmission plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato that is projected to employ 2,000 by 2018.

The company says Mexico ranks fourth among countries where it makes its vehicles for global customers — behind the U.S., China and Germany.

"Ford has been in the United States for more than 100 years," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "Our home is here. We will be here forever."


Ford to move all small car
production to Mexico

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
September 15, 2016

American-made small cars are becoming an endangered species for Detroit's Big Three automakers.

Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Mark Fields on Wednesday confirmed Ford will end small-car production in the United States by shifting it all to Mexico in the next two to three years. That follows announcements from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that it's ending all American car production, and plans from General Motors Co. to phase out the Buick Verano in the U.S. The only small cars Ford still builds in the U.S. are the Focus and C-Max, made at Michigan Assembly in Wayne.

After 2018, the only American-built small cars from a domestic automaker will come from GM, which builds the Chevrolet Cruze, Sonic, Volt, Bolt EV and Cadillac ATS in America. Small cars from foreign automakers including the Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic are built here, too.

The exodus of small cars south of the border is a result of automakers managing costs for low-profit vehicles that consumers have turned their backs on in an era of $2-per-gallon gas. And if demand ever shifts back to small cars, analysts say U.S. workers who mostly build trucks and SUVs are safe because large vehicles today are more fuel-efficient than in years past.

"Every global manufacturer has to determine how it can best create revenue and limit expenses," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Small vehicles are the most price-sensitive, so any cost-savings that can be gained offer competitive advantages. Thus moving production to a lower-labor-cost country makes particular economic sense for small cars."

Ford and other automakers save a significant amount of money in labor costs by building in Mexico. Autoworkers there make the U.S. equivalent of $8 to $10 an hour, according to the Center for Automotive Research. Top-tier workers in the U.S. make about $29 an hour. Plants in Mexico also don't have to pay as much for the lucrative health care and pension plans U.S. workers receive.

In addition to labor-cost savings, Mexico has a number of favorable trade deals that make exporting to other countries more appealing.

"I don't think it's all doom and gloom," said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for research firm AutoPacific. "It's a reflection of the shrinking market share for compact cars."

The Mexico issue is in the spotlight in part because presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to impose a 35 percent tariff on any Ford cars built there. Trump on Wednesday decried Ford's announcement.

"We shouldn't allow it to happen," he said at his appearance in Flint. "They'll make their cars, they'll employ thousands and thousands of people not from this country and they'll sell the cars right through our border. No tax, no nothing and we'll have nothing but more unemployment in Flint and in Michigan. It's horrible."

Ford does not build cars in Flint, and has been adamant that the move of the Focus and C-Max from Michigan Assembly will not result in job losses. The Detroit News first reported last year it wants to replace those products in Wayne with the Ranger midsize pickup, and Bloomberg has said it could also include the Bronco SUV.

Ford announced last year it would end production of those vehicles in the U.S. in 2018, but until now had not confirmed where they would go.

Ford Mexico

The Dearborn-based automaker plans to build a new $1.6 billion assembly plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which would be a likely destination for the Focus and C-Max. It has said it will employ 2,800 at the new Mexican plant by 2020, but Ford has never said truck production would be moved to Mexico as Trump suggested at a Detroit visit in September. In fact, the automaker has recently moved some truck production from Mexico to the United States. Ford does not assemble its trucks in Mexican plants, but Big Three rivals GM and Fiat Chrysler do have truck assembly plants in Mexico.

Ford also is spending $1.1 billion to expand an engine plant in Chihuahua and another $1.2 billion to build a transmission plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato that is projected to employ 2,000 by 2018.

The company says Mexico ranks fourth among countries where it makes its vehicles for global customers — behind the U.S., China and Germany. It already builds the Ford Fiesta, Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ in Mexico. It will continue to build larger cars in the U.S., including the Ford Taurus, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Continental.

GM builds the Chevrolet Cruze compact at its Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio (it also builds the Cruze in Mexico for other markets). The small Buick Verano, for now, is built at GM's Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township, as is the only subcompact built in the U.S., the Chevrolet Sonic. Orion also is home to the Chevy Bolt EV, an all-new small crossover it will begin building this year for sale. The compact Cadillac ATS is built at its Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant and the compact Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid is built at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

In a scenario in which gas hit $4 per gallon, experts believe there wouldn't be a dramatic swing toward small cars because buyers have more options with more fuel-efficient SUVs and trucks than in the past. U.S. workers would be fine in such a scenario, believes Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group for the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research.

And AutoPacific's Sullivan said automakers would "no doubt" be able to scale-up production in Mexico to easily meet small-car demand in the U.S.

Then there's the wild card: Let's say Trump is elected and imposes his 35 percent tariff.

"The ripple effects would be terrible and affect the bottom line of all three (Detroit) automakers," Sullivan said. "But I think Ford is placing bets on something like that not happening."



Retirees push for return
of COLA in auto talks

Grace Macaluso
Windsor Star
September 14, 2016

Reinstating the cost of living allowance for retired autoworkers in the current round of auto talks "would be difficult" at a time when most retirees are making more than newly hired workers, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said Tuesday.

"Everything is on the table, and we haven't even gotten into a meaningful discussion over economics," Dias said of ongoing negotiations with General Motors.

Bringing back a pension cost of living allowance "would be difficult … if in fact we don't have COLA for the active workers," Dias added. "We have thousands (of new hires) — if you look at Windsor and Oakville — that are making $20 an hour. We have current retirees that are making more money than they are. So we've got some major challenges in this set of negotiations."

Gene Locknick, who is among 30,000 unionized production retirees at General Motors Canada, said he fears his voice won't be heard during the current round of Detroit Three contract talks.

"We don't have a vote," said Locknick. "So, we're like non-entities."

A GM employee for "28.2 years," the 61-year-old Windsor resident retired after accepting the first round of buyouts offered to workers at the GM transmission plant before it shut down for good in 2010.

Locknick hasn't seen an increase in his pension benefits, and he feels entitled to monetary gains at a time when the carmakers are generating record profits.

"General Motors is hugely profitable," he said. "They have all kinds of new cars coming out, which is good. If we don't get something now, I'll probably be dead before we get anything."

While active workers haven't had an annual pay hike in almost a decade, retirees have not had a pension cost of living allowance since it was eliminated in concessionary contract talks with General Motors during the 2008-09 economic crisis.

"Retirees have taken a haircut since 2008," said Tony Sisti, chairman of Unifor Local 1973, Retired Workers Chapter, which represents more than 4,000 GM retirees and survivors in Windsor and Essex County. "They've taken a major hit with reduced benefits and giving up COLA."

He also took issue with the view that retired autoworker all earn lucrative pensions.

"We've got retirees who've been out for 20 or 30 years, and making only $1,200 a month and don't get anywhere near the pensions of those who retired after 2010. They need financial assistance."

If the national union could negotiate "something for retirees, and didn't forget us, that would be appreciated," said Sisti.

But the reinstatement of COLA is unlikely, he admitted.

"The fact of the matter is there are more retirees than there are workers. Putting COLA back could increase GM's costs and make them less competitive."

Unifor has made new product investment in Detroit Three plants in Oshawa, Windsor and Brampton the top priority in the negotiations. It is currently meeting with General Motors — the lead company in bargaining that is expected to set pattern agreements with Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Sisti said he agrees with Unifor's strategy.

"We definitely want security through job allocation," he said. "We want Oshawa and St. Catharines to get new product."

Gerry Graham, chairman of the retirees chapter at Unifor Local 444, said the return of the pension cost of living allowance would help his members cope with the rising cost of living.

"Everything is going up," said Graham, who represents more than 6,000 Fiat Chrysler retirees and survivors. "Food costs, hydro is astronomical. Any savings retirees have put away at some point will have to be taken out."

While he expects the issue to be discussed during negotiations, Graham said a signing bonus could be another option.

"Anything would help right now, even a bonus, with putting groceries on the table and health-care co-payments."

Sisti suggested that General Motors kick in $1 million toward the retirees' health care trust fund as a way of keeping a lid on co-payments.

"That would help so that our costs don't increase," he said. "We don't get it in our pockets but we don't have to worry about drug costs."

There is no empathy for autoworkers, said Locknick, who earns a monthly net pension of $2,700. "My own son says, 'Dad, you make more money than I do, and I'm working.'

"Why does anybody need a pay raise? It's to have a better income and better lifestyle. I don't want to go on a Mediterranean cruise or anything."

By the numbers

Number of Detroit Three production retirees vs active workers in Canada:

General Motors: 29,538; active workers: 6,400
Ford Motor: 12,336, including 3,400 in Windsor and Essex County; active workers: 6,300
Fiat Chrysler: 10,239; active workers: 9,402


Unifor and GM still 'miles apart';
Monday deadline looms for
GM Oshawa plant

Grace Macaluso
Windsor Star
September 14, 2016

More than a week after launching bargaining, General Motors and Unifor remain "miles apart" on the contentious issues of monetary gains and product allocation, Unifor president Jerry Dias said Tuesday.

"We haven't had any meaningful discussion on it at all," said Dias. "So, we're miles apart on that issue, which is a contentious issue. The reality is there will not be a settlement unless we've resolved the product allocation issue. So are those conversations going slower than I would like? The answer is yes."

The union has set a Sept. 19 deadline to reach a tentative agreement with the automaker. But Dias said he remained optimistic the two sides will reach a resolution.

"There's no question; we will get it done. The question is when. I'm just hoping it's before Sept. 19. If not, then we've got a problem."

On the local level, discussions have been more productive, he said.

"Most of that is resolved. That is moving along really well and we're encouraged."

Meanwhile, Dias said he has secured the support of the UAW president Dennis Williams in the event of a strike.

"There's no question in my mind that Dennis and his members will be very supportive of any dispute that we have just as we would be in any dispute they had in the United States," said Dias, who met with Williams Sunday at a fundraising event in Flat Rock, Mich.

Dias said he made a similar pledge of solidarity during a speech in 2014 at the UAW's annual convention. "I said if there is a dispute in the United States we would not do one thing to undermine their strike. There's no way we would allow GM to beef up production at St. Catharines to assist General Motors or anyone else if there was a dispute in the United States.

"There's no way if they had a fight with Ford that we would beef up production in Windsor."

The bottom line, said Dias, is "I know Dennis Williams well, and there is no chance that he will do anything that undermines our dispute if in fact we have one."


Ford to sell driverless cars
to public by 2025, CEO Says

Bloomberg News
September 13, 2016

Ford intends to start selling driverless cars to the public by about 2025, its chief executive officer said.

The goal is to lower costs enough to make autonomous vehicles affordable to millions of people, CEO Mark Fields said in a speech Monday at company headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. After starting with sales of robot taxis to ride-hailing services by 2021, "around mid-decade we'll make vehicles available for people to purchase for themselves," he said.

We're dedicated to putting autonomous vehicles on the road for millions of people, not just those who can afford luxury cars," Fields said.

The CEO is attempting to chart a new path for the 113-year-old auto maker as the industry is roiled by changes from the emergence of the sharing economy and advent of the age of the autonomous car. Over the last month, Fields has revealed plans to roll out the robot taxis – with no steering wheel, gas or brake pedals – and to expand into the mobility business by providing bikes and shuttle services in big cities. He has said he is transforming Ford into an automotive and a mobility company to succeed in this new era.

We believe this next decade is really going to be defined by the automation of the automobile," Fields told reporters after his speech, adding that he'll offer a more detailed forecast of the autonomous future at Ford's investor meeting Wednesday.

The robot cars eventually offered to consumers will be completely reworked in ways that will let their occupants enjoy entertainment or conduct business, he said.


Ford recalls 1.5 million
cars for faulty door latches

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Sept 12, 2016

Washington — Ford is recalling an additional 1.5 million cars in the U.S. and Mexico that have doors that can swing open while the vehicles are in motion. The automaker said one accident and three injuries have been reported.

The Dearborn-based company is expanding a prior recall that affected nearly 830,000 cars that have a spring tab in the side-door latches that officials said could break, creating the possibility of the doors swinging open during motion. The company said the recall now affects nearly 2.4 million cars in its North American markets.

"In the affected vehicles, the pawl spring tab in the side door latch could break," the company said Thursday. "A door latch with a fractured pawl spring tab typically results in a 'door-will-not-close' condition. A door that opens while driving increases the risk of injury."

Ford said the recall expansion affects certain 2013-15 Ford C-Max and Ford Escape, 2012-15 Ford Focus, 2015 Ford Mustang and Lincoln MKC and 2014-16 Ford Transit Connect models. A previous recall covered those same vehicles.

The company said about 2 million of the recalled cars are in the United States, while 233,034 of the autos in Canada and 61,363 are in Mexico.

The expanded recall will cost Ford $640 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ford said the charge would appear in its third-quarter financial results, and would result in the company's full-year pre-tax profit margin being lowered $10.2 billion.

Previous estimates called for the Dearborn company to match or exceed its 2015 profit margin of $10.8 billion.

Ford said its dealers will replace the side-door latches at no cost to customers.

Customers who want to know if their vehicle is included in this recall can visit www.ford.com, click on safety recalls at the bottom of the page and enter their vehicle identification number.


Why We Are Prepared
To Stage Strike At GM
If Detroit 3 Deal Fails

Jerry Dias
National President, Unifor
Huffington Post
September 11, 2016

Nothing focuses the mind like a looming deadline.

That is the guiding principle behind the system we at Unifor, a union representing 23,050 Canadian workers at the Detroit Three, use for negotiating a new contract with the automakers.

The deadline forces both sides to put aside their wish lists and concentrate on getting a deal that works for both sides. It's an efficient, disciplined, accountable system that our union has used many times before -- and we remain fully committed to in this round of bargaining with the Detroit Three automakers.

Picking a company is never easy. I can tell you I have weighed the decision to focus the 2016 negotiations on General Motors (GM) very carefully, and only after a great deal of input from the excellent negotiators and bargaining committees that we have working with us on behalf of Unifor members employed at Fiat Chrysler, Ford and GM in Canada.

Many factors were weighed to make this decision. There were, in fact, very good reasons to pick any one of the Detroit Three, but the decision had to come down to picking just one.

The one factor that did not come into play was whether one company or another could offer the richest deal. The biggest factor was which company we felt offered the best chance to reach an agreement addressing the needs of all of our members across the Detroit Three. That's because the agreement reached with General Motors will set the pattern for workers at Fiat Chrysler and Ford when negotiations turn to those companies.

For this round of negotiations, the top priority is to secure investment in Canada. This priority is about the future and it takes on added significance at General Motors, where the future of its operations in Oshawa have been the focus of much discussion in recent weeks.

We need to remember that GM is doing incredibly well financially. The company recorded $10 billion in net profits last year. Canada has played a major part in that success, with North America responsible for 86 per cent of GM's global profits.

GM has done well in Canada, both in manufacturing and in sales. We know it will want to continue with that.

GM committed to $8.3 billion in specific investments and product allocations at 24 assembly, powertrain and parts plants during negotiations with the United Auto Workers in the U.S. last fall. Canadian workers should expect nothing less.

There are many good reasons for GM to want to invest in Canada.

Its operations here win disproportionately more awards for quality and productivity than others in its worldwide operations. That's no mistake. Unifor members are and continue to be dedicated to building the best vehicles in the world, and that is reflected in the quality of the vehicles GM and the other Detroit Three automakers sell.

It is also the reflection of more than a century that GM has spent establishing its presence in this country, building state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities -- including its flex and consolidated lines in Oshawa -- and training workers to build its products. Over that century, with the good jobs it created and the spin-offs from those jobs, GM helped to create the middle class in Canada, one that could afford to buy its products.

GM will no doubt want to build on that century of investment by committing to new product during this round of bargaining.

These negotiations are about the future of the auto industry, and securing an investment to ensure we can continue to have strong local communities, a thriving Canadian economy and good jobs for workers, now and for the next generation.

Unifor understands the needs of GM and we are ready to achieve a fair settlement for the workers and for our future. A settlement reached will set the stage for continued success in Canada.

Now, let's roll up our sleeves and get the job done.


Union chief warns GM
must make production
pledge on new contract

Greg Keenan
Globe & Mail
Sept 9, 2016

General Motors Co. must change its negotiating posture in talks with the union representing Canadian workers if it wants to reach agreement on a new contract, the president of the union warns.

Company officials have insisted that no new products will be allocated to its Oshawa, Ont., assembly plant until there is a new contract while Unifor, the union, says no contract will be signed unless there is a firm commitment to new vehicles that will replace those now made in Oshawa.

“They are going to have to make a strategic shift in order for us to move forward,” Unifor president Jerry Dias said Tuesday in announcing that GM has been chosen as the company the union will bargain with to try to reach a deal. That agreement would then serve as a template for the Canadian units of the other two members of the Detroit Three auto makers.

“[GM’s] public comments that there will not be an investment announcement until after we’ve ratified our collective agreement – that’s just not going to happen,” Mr. Dias told reporters at a news conference. “We are not going to ratify a contract with General Motors under any circumstances unless there is a firm commitment to our facilities.”

The deadline for an agreement to replace the existing four-year deal is Sept. 19. If there is no deal, Unifor will go on strike, shutting off output of cars in Oshawa and production of transmissions and engines in St. Catharines, Ont.

The critical issue is the future of vehicle production at the Oshawa plant. One assembly line is scheduled to cease production next year, while the remaining cars assembled in Oshawa will go out of production by 2019.

Oshawa output and employment have fallen dramatically since the middle of the 2000s, when it was the largest assembly complex in North America, turning out more than 900,000 vehicles annually and employing more than 11,000 people.

Production slid to about 220,000 vehicles last year, while employment has dwindled to about 2,400 people. A new contract would cover about 4,000 workers, including about 1,500 in St. Catharines, Ont., and others at a parts depot in Woodstock, Ont.

General Motors of Canada Ltd. issued a short statement in response to being chosen as the target company saying it seeks “a mutually beneficial and competitive new agreement.”

Mr. Dias said he believes GM will work with the union to resolve the situation.

But he noted that GM represents the most challenging company to be a target.

“Who do we perceive as the biggest challenge? General Motors, so if we’re going to have a dust-up we might as well have it immediately,” he said.

The Chevrolet Impala and Equinox vehicles assembled in Oshawa are also made at other assembly plants, while the Cadillac XTS and Buick Regal are not mainstays in the GM lineup.

Nonetheless, a shutdown of St. Catharines would choke off the only source of transmissions for Cami Automotive Inc., the GM plant in Ingersoll, Ont., that is the main assembly plant for the Equinox crossover, the second-best selling vehicle GM offers in the U.S. market. The St. Catharines plant is also the only source for some of the higher-end versions of GM’s pickup full-sized sport utility vehicles that come off the assembly line in Arlington, Tex.

Mr. Dias invoked the participation by Canadian taxpayers in the bailout of GM in 2009 as a reason for the auto maker to continue investing in Canada. The federal and Ontario governments contributed $10.8-billion to the government financing that saved the auto maker.

“When General Motors needed Canada, Canada was there for General Motors,” Mr. Dias said. “The Mexican government never gave General Motors one nickel. We are going to remind General Motors of that straight fact.”


Unifor picks GM as target in Canadian contract talks

Brent Snavely,
Detroit Free Press
September 7, 2016

Unifor has made product commitments and jobs its top priority in its negotiations with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Unifor said Tuesday it has picked General Motors as its target in contract negotiations with the Detroit Three this year, a choice that makes it clear the union wants to tackle its toughest challenge first.

Unifor has made product commitments and jobs its top priority in its negotiations with all three automakers, but GM has said it will refuse to discuss product commitments for its Oshawa Assembly Plant and St. Catharines engine and transmission plant until after a new contract is reached.

“We are not under any circumstances going to sign a contract with GM unless there is a firm commitment at St. Catharines and Oshawa,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said at a news conference in Toronto.

GM declined to say whether it will change its negotiating strategy.

"At GM Canada we remain focused on working with Unifor to reach a mutually beneficial and competitive new agreement," the automaker said in a news release.

GM's Oshawa plant — where 2,600 hourly workers are employed — has two assembly lines. The Flex Line builds the Chevrolet Impala, the Buick Regal and the Cadillac XTS. But all three are to be discontinued or moved to other plants.

Dias said Unifor followed the same strategy in 2012 when it picked Ford as the lead company. Since then, Ford has added 2,200 workers.

"If the argument four years ago was we should concentrate on the greatest need, then the same argument must hold true in 2016," Dias said.

Unifor, like the UAW in the U.S., traditionally picks a lead company in contract negotiations and then uses that agreement as a pattern to complete discussion with the other two automakers.

Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union, represents more than 23,000 autoworkers at the Detroit Three and more than 300,000 workers across several industries in Canada.

The union's contract with all three automakers expires Sept. 19. If there is no agreement by then, Unifor could call a strike.

Dias said Tuesday that a strike at St. Catharines would quickly force GM to stop producing vehicles at its plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, and several other profitable plants in the U.S.

GM makes V6 and V8 engines as well as six-speed transmissions at the plant that are used in a wide range of vehicles including the Chevrolet Silverado and Tahoe and the GMC Sierra and Yukon. The V6 engine powers the Chevrolet Camaro, Impala, Traverse and Equinox; the GMC Terrain and Acadia, and the Buick Enclave and the Cadillac CTS.

"I don’t think there is going to be a strike. I think GM is going to work with us toward a solution," Dias said.

Dias has repeatedly said that he thinks the future of Canada's automotive industry is at stake in this year's contract talks because three plants could close over the next four years if the union is unable to secure new product commitments from the automakers.

Unifor also is worried about the future Ford's engine plants in Windsor and FCA's plant in Brampton, Ontario. Each makes products scheduled to be phased out or that could be moved elsewhere unless the automakers decide to overhaul the plants with new equipment and make new or redesigned engines and vehicles there.

Dias said Tuesday he has confidence that Unifor will be able to secure new products for those two plants as part of the union's contract discussions with those automakers.

In Brampton, FCA builds the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. Those cars are distinctive members of FCA's lineup, but they're made on an aging platform that hasn't been fully redesigned in years.

"We are comfortable that the existing platform that is in place and the products that are in Brampton today are secure," Dias said. "But we are going to make sure in this set of negotiations we are going to solidify the footprint and have major discussions with Chrysler about investment within Brampton."

Brampton also has an aging paint plant and an overhaul of that portion of the plant would help to secure its future.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne acknowledged the needs of the aging plant last month after he spoke at a plant in Sterling Heights.

“All plants require investments,” Marchionne said. “There are some structural issues that impact on Brampton about its long-term viability without additional investment, which are not product-related. They relate to the longevity of the paint shop.”

In Canada, this round of contract negotiations with GM, Ford and FCA is almost universally viewed as a turning point for the country's automotive industry. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne have both talked frequently this year about the importance of the automotive industry.

The outcome of negotiations also is import for thousands of Michigan workers at parts suppliers that make goods bound for auto plants in Canada. In 2013, more than $13.5 billion in transportation equipment, which includes automotive parts, was exported to Canada from Michigan.

"So what is this (round of negotiations) about? It’s about jobs, it’s about investing in Canada. It’s about stopping, I will argue, the exodus from Canada to Mexico and to a smaller extent the southern United States," Dias said.



Ford, FCA, or GM:
Which automaker
will be the
strike target?

Windsor Star
Grace Macaluso,
September 5, 2016

When Unifor national president Jerry Dias wrapped up two days of preliminary bargaining with Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors last month, he drew a line between GM and the other two carmakers.

Ford and FCA appeared to be receptive to the union’s key demand that new product investments be part of negotiations designed to replace the current four-year contract covering more than 20,000 Canadian autoworkers. GM, on the other hand, refused to budge from its “hardline” stance that any decisions on new investment for its Oshawa plant would be made after the conclusion of contract negotiations.

“We are miles apart,” said Dias, of his meeting with GM negotiators.

On Tuesday, Dias will announce the strike target — the company that will set the pattern agreement for all three carmakers. If he follows through with suggestions that the lead company will be the carmaker willing to play ball, Ford or Fiat Chrysler will likely be first up at bat.

“There are two ways of looking at how a union is going to pick the lead company,” said Art Schwartz, president of Labor and Economic Associates in Ann Arbor, Mich. “You pick the company that is giving you the hardest time; if you’re going to have a strike, you want get it out of the way in a hurry.”

But in the case of the Unifor-Detroit Three negotiations, Schwartz said Dias would be wise to choose the company that offers the best bet for the best deal.

“I would pick the company I know I can get a settlement with. Therefore, I have it in hand, and while this company is still producing, I have the threat of a strike over its competitors,” said Schwartz, who spent 24 years in labour relations at GM, and negotiated seven contracts each with the UAW and CAW — predecessor of Unifor.

During 2012 bargaining, CAW president Ken Lewenza employed a similar strategy when he opted to lead with Ford, in part because the carmaker softened its stance on the two-tier wage system.

The two sides agreed to a four-year deal that saw new hires earn 60 per cent of the top wage level and reaching the peak pay of $34 an hour over the course of 10 years. Under the previous contract, new hires started at 70 per cent of the top hourly wage and reached the maximum rate in six years.

Each automaker wants to lead the negotiations, said Schwartz. “You want to lead because you call the shots, you make the deal and your issues get addressed first. You set the agenda, and let’s face it, we’re all control freaks.”

Last year, the UAW decided to lead with Fiat Chrysler — a surprising choice since it was the smallest of the three companies, with the lowest profit margins and the highest percentage of lower-paid entry-level workers seeking higher wages.

But the strategy paid off as the two sides negotiated a four-year deal that ended the two-tier wage structure, included new investment commitments and offered all workers pay hikes. Across the Detroit Three, the UAW secured billions of dollars in investment: US$9 billion in Ford’s U.S. plants; $5.3 billion investment in FCA’s plants; and $1.9 billion over the next four years at GM’s plants, in addition to the $6.4 billion already announced earlier that year.

Unifor has identified four plants in need of investment: GM’s Oshawa Assembly; Ford’s Windsor and Essex engine plants; and FCA’s aging Brampton Assembly facility. It is also seeking wage and benefit gains for its members, who’ve been without an annual wage hike in almost a decade. Entry-level employees, who have to wait a decade before reaching wage parity with legacy workers, want a shorter route to the top hourly rate.

The companies, meanwhile, have maintained that a “competitive agreement” was key to making the business case for new investment in their Canadian plants. Ford, for example, has suggested it will push for a defined contribution pension plan for new hires, who are currently enrolled in a hybrid plan consisting of half defined contribution and half defined benefit.

Dias has repeatedly stressed that if the automakers refuse to guarantee new product mandates, especially for the Oshawa and Windsor operations, they face a possible strike.

Unifor has leverage over Fiat Chrysler and Ford, said Schwartz. FCA recently spent more than $3 billion retooling the Windsor Assembly Plant and redesigning the next generation minivan, he noted. “That’s a big plant with a solid future, and they don’t want any interruptions.”

Ford, which invested more than $700 million in its Oakville plant to produce the new Edge SUV, wants to protect production of the hot-selling vehicle, he added.

However, with the exception of overflow production of the Chevrolet Equinox, GM’s Oshawa plant does not build high-demand vehicles, he said. Only the CAMI plant in Ingersoll is going full throttle with three-shift assembly of the Equinox, but that plant is not included in the current set of contract talks.

“If they call a strike, CAMI is not going out. Any overflow production of the Equinox can be moved to Spring Hills, Tenn., or Mexico,” said Schwartz. “GM has an alternative.”

Dias and his bargaining teams have a tough task ahead, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labour and economics group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I don’t envy Unifor,” she said. “The companies have had a good run of profitability, and the last two contracts have been lean. It’s entirely reasonable that workers expect some financial gains this time.”

Securing product for GM Oshawa looms large, she said, but “there isn’t any segment or platform that is an immediately obvious candidate to go into that plant.”

Dziczek said any of the three car companies could be chosen to lead the negotiations. “The union appears to have focused largely on GM in terms of getting product commitments. But the issues aren’t that different across the three companies. It could go to any of the three to start.”

General Motors

Earned net income of US$9.7 billion in 2015

Oshawa Assembly Plant produces the Buick Regal, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Equinox (on a Consolidated plant line which is slated to end production sometime in 2017). It has 2,400 hourly employees — two shifts at Flex plant and one shift at Consolidated plant.

Ingersoll CAMI Plant produces the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain. It has 2,600 hourly employees on three shifts. (The contract for CAMI employees will be renegotiated in 2017.)

St. Catharines Propulsion Plant produces V6 and V8 engines, and front wheel drive transmissions. It has 1,400 hourly workers.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Earned net income of US$410 million in 2015.

Brampton Assembly Plant produces the Dodge Charger,Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300. (FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has said the successor to the 300 could be built in Windsor.) It has 3,337 hourly employees on two shifts.

Windsor Assembly Plant produces the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica. (It recently saw a $3 billion investment for production and design of 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.) It has 5,647 hourly employees on three shifts.

Etobicoke Casting Plant produces aluminum die castings and pistons for a variety of FCA vehicles, including the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart, which carmaker will not longer be assembling. It has 418 hourly employees on three shifts.

Ford Motor Co.

Earned net income of US$7.4 billion in 2015.

Oakville Assembly Plant produces the Ford Edge, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKT and Lincoln MKX. It has 5,000 hourly employees on three shifts.

Windsor Engine Plant produces the 6.8 litre V10. It has 600 hourly employees on one shift

Essex Engine Plant produces the 5.0 litre V8. It has 800 hourly employees on three shifts and 172 workers on layoff.


Labour board orders VW
to bargain with UAW

Erik Schelzig,
Associated Press
September 4, 2016

Nashville, Tenn. — The National Labor Relations Board is ordering Volkswagen to engage in bargaining with a group of skilled-trades workers who voted to be represented by the United Auto Workers union at the German automaker's lone U.S. plant in Tennessee.

According to unanimous order released Wednesday, Volkswagen's rejection of an earlier ruling in favor of the UAW at the plant "constitutes an unlawful failure and refusal to recognize and bargain."

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said the order shows that Volkswagen has been "operating in violation of federal law by refusing to come to the bargaining table."

"As Volkswagen slowly emerges from the global emissions scandal, the company also has an opportunity to improve employee relations in the U.S.," Casteel said. "We urge Volkswagen to accept the NLRB order and bargain with the local union at the earliest possible date."

About 160 skilled-trades workers who specialize in repair and maintenance of machinery and robots at the plant voted last year to be represented by the union. But Volkswagen has argued that labor decisions should only be made by the plant's entire hourly workforce of about 1,400 employees.

The NRLB in a 2-1 ruling in April agreed with the union that the skilled-trades workers "share a community of interest" in terms of qualifications, training, supervision and hours that are distinct from production workers in the assembly, body weld and paint shops.

Volkswagen has said it plans to take legal action to appeal the NLRB ruling. A spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

Republican politicians in Tennessee and across the South have long spoken out against the UAW gaining a foothold among foreign owned plants.

A 2014 vote among all hourly workers at the Volkswagen plant resulted in a 712-626 defeat for the union that leaders blamed on unfounded fears sown by labor opponents before the election.


FordPass app lets you find,
reserve, and pay for parking spots

160 cities are currently supported, but more could be added in the future.

Auto Blog
Joel Stocksdale
September 1, 2016

One of the worst things when traveling to and around big cities is the eternal quest for parking. Ford's latest phone app aims to lessen that burden. It's free, and you don't even have to own a Ford to use it.

The app is called FordPass, and after a quick registration of your email and address, you'll be presented with a map screen not unlike what you find in Apple or Google map programs. Provided that you've allowed it to use your location, it will automatically show the area where you are and look for parking garages. Those garages will be displayed on the map, and perhaps most helpfully, each garage shows its price as well. Considering how expensive garages can be, being able to compare prices at a glance without driving in circles is wonderful. Plus, once you've found a place to park, the app will give you an option to get directions and it will automatically load the address into your preferred map app to guide you there.

FordPass offers additional features for people dealing with a short supply of parking and want to claim a space ahead of time. Provided there are garages nearby that support the feature, it is possible to reserve a parking space using the app. We weren't able to try this out as there don't seem to be any garages that allow reserved spaces near our office. If you do find one, though, the app allows you to pay for the space, and it will store your billing info for future reservations.

In general, the app works quite well, though it isn't completely perfect. It seems that you can only pay for reserved parking through the app, meaning you'll still have to pay at the parking gate for normal garages. The app only shows parking in 160 cities so far, but more areas could be added in time. The app also only shows garage parking, and, though this may be a nitpick, doesn't seem to show available street parking. Google developed a program that would show open street parking, but it was dependent on people submitting that information to the app for others to use. It would be fantastic to see a similar feature in a later iteration of FordPass.

Even with these very minor quibbles, the app is still very helpful for either the big city dweller or visitor for finding parking and avoiding high prices. So for that ability alone, it's definitely worth the low, low price of nothing.


Death, bankruptcy and longer
wait times: Ottawa warned
about more private health care

Private facility at centre of B.C. case disputes
new report's claims and feds' intervention

Catherine Cullen,
CBC News
Aug 31, 2016

Justin Trudeau's government is gearing up for its first big battle against for-profit health care and it's armed with some dire warnings.

They come from an expert report commissioned by the federal government for a court case in British Columbia in which the government sought and received intervener status.

The report, which was obtained by CBC News, lists many potential negative consequences if there were to be more access to private health care in Canada, including greater income inequality, more people in dire financial straits, and even doctors encouraging longer wait times in the public system in order to nudge patients into the private system.

At the centre of the case is Vancouver's Cambie Surgery Centre, which describes itself as the only free-standing private hospital in Canada. The centre's operators are fighting provincial regulations that ban private insurance for medically necessary services.

Cambie's legal challenge is scheduled to begin Sept. 6 in B.C. Supreme Court. It pits the facility and several patient plaintiffs against the Medical Services Commission of B.C., the provincial Ministry of Health and the B.C. attorney general.

Cambie and its supporters, including the Canadian Constitution Foundation, also argue doctors should be permitted to work in both private and public health-care systems.

They have some legal precedent on their side. In 2005, Canada's Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that Quebec's ban on private care was unconstitutional under the Quebec Charter of Rights because the public system had failed to guarantee patients access to services in a timely way.

Some other provinces also allow private insurance for publicly covered services and let doctors work in both the public and private system.

'Society as a whole would be worse off'

But John Frank, a Canadian physician who is now chairman of public health research and policy at the University of Edinburgh, argues in his report that more private health care "would be expected to adversely affect Canadian society as a whole."

He cites research that suggests public resources, including highly trained nurses and doctors, would be siphoned off by the private system.

More Canadians would face financial hardship or even — in extreme cases — "medical bankruptcy" from paying for private care, he writes.

Frank even suggests there could be deadly consequences. He says complications from privately funded surgeries often need to be dealt with in the public system because private facilities are generally less equipped to handle complex cases.

"If such complications, arising from privately funded care, are not promptly referred to an appropriately equipped and staffed care facility, the patient is likely to experience death or long-term disability, potentially leading to reduced earnings and financial hardship."

Overall, "in my expert opinion," Frank writes, the change would reduce fairness and efficiency and "society as a whole would be worse off."

Cambie Clinic disagrees

"It's the exact opposite," said Dr. Brian Day, medical director at the Cambie Surgery Centre, when asked about the report's claims.

Day, who is past president of the Canadian Medical Association, points to international criteria that rank Canada's health-care system poorly compared to those of other industrialized nations.

The Commonwealth Fund, for example, put out a report in 2014 that ranked Canada 10th out of 11 countries, ahead of only the United States. It looked at measures including efficiency, access to care and equity.

"All of the countries ranked ahead of us have a private hybrid system operating along a public system," said Day, citing France and Germany as examples.

He argues more private care would decrease wait lists in the public system.

As for the claim the private system will siphon off the best-trained doctors, Day compares it to public and private schools in Canada, which he says co-exist well.

He expects the Cambie case will eventually end up before the Supreme Court of Canada and argues it's a waste of tax dollars for the federal government to intervene now, particularly given that some provinces already allow private insurance for medically necessary procedures.

"To me it's a very simple question and that is, if the government promises health care, fails to deliver it, do they have the right under the Constitution to stop you or your loved ones from extricating yourself from the pain and suffering that then ensues? That's how simple this is."

'This is a concern'

Health Minister Jane Philpott says the government got involved in the case because "it's fundamentally important to the health-care system in the entire country, not just in British Columbia, that we make sure that medically necessary services are universally insured and there are no barriers to access to those services."

When asked whether there's a role for some private care, Philpott pointed out that some services, like physiotherapy, are already offered privately. The crucial difference, she said, is that those services aren't defined as "medically necessary" by the Canada Health Act.

"Anything like a user fee is a barrier to people being able to receive medically necessary care and there is excellent evidence that is not the appropriate health policy," Philpott said Friday at the Liberal caucus retreat in Saguenay, Que.

"It goes completely against the principles of the Canada Health Act, which included accessibility and universality and we're committed to upholding those."

As for comparisons to other countries, Philpott has cited that very same Commonwealth Fund study as Day, but argues it shows care in Canada could be co-ordinated more effectively.

Health Canada also released a statement explaining the government's interest in the Cambie case.

"The Government of Canada has involved itself in this case because many provisions of the B.C. legislation mirror those of the Canada Health Act, making this case of significant importance not only to British Columbians, but to all Canadians."


Union votes for strike mandate in
contract talks with auto makers

Greg Keenan
Globe & Mail
Aug 29, 2016

Workers at Canadian plants operated by the Detroit Three auto makers have given their union an overwhelming mandate to call a strike against the companies if an agreement on a new contract is not reached by Sept. 19.

Members of Unifor who work at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. approved strike action if necessary during votes held on Sunday.

The results in favour of a strike were 99 per cent among workers at Fiat Chrysler, 98.9 per cent at Ford and 97.1 per cent at GM, Unifor said Sunday.

With this clear mandate our members have demonstrated they are in full support of their bargaining committees, and our direction in this set of negotiations," Unifor president Jerry Dias said in a statement.

"The bargaining committee will not accept a deal without a commitment to investment in Canada's auto sector," Mr. Dias said. "The push for new investments in Canada got a lot stronger today."

Strike votes are steps in the process of negotiation between the companies and the union. Negotiations began earlier this month and the company and union representatives have been negotiating on local issues before beginning formal discussions on a new national contract.

Unifor will choose one of the three companies as a so-called target company after Labour Day and attempt to negotiate a new contract with that company that will then serve as a template for an agreement with the other two auto makers.

There has not been a strike against any of the Detroit Three auto makers since 1996, when the predecessor union to Unifor, the Canadian Auto Workers, went on strike against GM for three weeks.

Unifor represents about 23,000 workers at the three companies.


Ford, FCA workers to
hold strike vote Sunday

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
August 28,2016

Members of Unifor Locals 200 and 444 will hold strike authorization votes Sunday as their union seeks a strong mandate in contract talks with the Detroit Three automakers.

Locally, about 7,400 hourly workers at Ford's Essex and Windsor engine plants and Fiat Chrysler's minivan assembly plant will cast ballots.

Strike votes also will be held at union locals in Oakville, St. Catharines, Etobicoke and Oshawa.

The contract talks cover more than 20,000 autoworkers and do not include Unifor members at GM's Cami plant in Ingersoll. Those negotiations will get underway next year.

On Sept. 6, national leader Jerry Dias will unveil the strike target — the car company that will set the pattern agreement for all hourly workers at Ford, General Motors and FCA. The current four-year deal expires Sept. 19.

After the two sides kicked off bargaining earlier this month at a Toronto hotel, Dias said Ford and FCA seemed to be more amenable to the union's demand that the companies commit to new investment at their Canadian plants. General Motors, however, maintained a tougher stance, saying no decision on new investment would be made until after the negotiations have concluded.

Dias has said the union would strike General Motors if the automaker refused to commit to new investment at its Oshawa assembly plant. The union also is demanding new product commitments at Ford's two engine plants in Windsor.

Though Unifor is less concerned about FCA's Brampton assembly plant, it is seeking assurances that the carmaker is committed to the facility's long-term future. The plant, which builds the Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars as well as the Chrysler 300 sedan, is in dire need of a new paint shop.

Dino Chiodo, Unifor Local 444 president, said he was confident his members at Windsor Assembly, which received a more than $1 billion retooling for production of the new Chrysler Pacifica, will support their brothers and sisters at the Brampton facility. "Going into bargaining in 2012, we knew we needed investment for the new minivan because the old minivan was running its life cycle out," said Chiodo. "Now, it's the paint shop that's important to Brampton; the need is somewhat shifting, but Brampton supported us in 2012 to make sure we got new product for Windsor Assembly. Now it's an opportunity for us to give some of that payback to make sure there is investment in a facility that requires it."

As well as new investment, Unifor is seeking monetary and benefits gains for it members who've been without an annual wage hike in almost a decade.

The companies have said hammering out a "competitive" contract is key to building the business case for new investment at Detroit Three plants in Canada. They have indicated that they will ask for concessions on pensions for new hires. Currently, new hires at the three carmakers are either enrolled in a defined benefits plan or a hybrid scheme that is a combination of defined benefits/contribution plan. The carmakers are expected to demand that all new hires be enrolled in a defined contribution pension plan.


Ontario raising vehicle
sticker renewal fee, has
almost doubled since 2011

Jordan Chittley
The Globe and Mail
August 26, 2016

For the sixth year in a row, the Ontario government is raising the fee for renewing vehicle validation stickers.

As of Sept. 1, renewal stickers in southern Ontario will cost $120 for the year, up from $108 currently. In northern Ontario, the fee rises to $60 from $54.

While a $12 increase may not seem hefty, the renewal price has almost doubled since 2011.
•Sept. 1, 2011 - $74
•Sept. 1, 2012 - $82
•Sept. 1, 2013 - $90
•Sept. 1, 2014 - $98
•Sept. 1, 2015 - $108
•Sept. 1, 2016 - $120

Defending the increase, the government says roads and bridges require more funds for maintenance.

"Gradual fee increases for driver and vehicle services are critical to help maintain the safe highway infrastructure that people and businesses rely on," says Bob Nichols, Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) spokesperson, while noting that Ontario's roads are among the safest in North America. "These investments keep Ontario highways and bridges in good repair, reduce congestion, improve safety and promote the economy."

The money from sticker renewal fees goes into general revenues, which support all government investment, including transportation infrastructure.

"Many fees, including those for driver and vehicle licences, do not allow the government to fully recover the cost of delivering services or products," says Nichols. "These increases will help the government recover more of these costs."

Ontario has been increasing highway infrastructure spending since 2003. The province spent $1.03-billion in 2003/2004, $1.46-billion in 2006/2007, and $2.7-billion for 2016/2017.

From 1997 until 2012 the sticker renewal fees were constant at $74 for southern Ontario, $37 for northern Ontario.

Nichols says the cost to provide driver and vehicle services in 2015/2016 was about $2-billion, and the fee increases over the years will help recover these costs.

Ontario has about 11.7 million vehicles registered, of which 7.9 million weigh less than 4,500 kilograms. This means the increase will generate more than $140-million.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have public insurance and the annual fee is included in an insurance fee.

Nova Scotia rates are the same as last year at $143.30 for a two-year renewal on a vehicle that weighs less than 1,000 kilograms. The price for a vehicle weighing between 1,000 and 1,500 kilograms is $176.90. For reference a Honda Civic weighs about 1,200 kilograms. In P.E.I., rates also didn't jump staying at $100 for the annual registration fee. In New Brunswick, the fee went up $4 to $61 for a vehicle weighing less than 1,000 kilograms. The price goes up every 200 kilograms. The price jumped in Alberta to $84.85 from $75.

The Ontario government says the fees will remain fixed until September of 2018. Premier Kathleen Wynne has confirmed that the next election will be held in the spring of 2018.


Ford recalls 113K cars for
fuel pumps, power windows

Keith Laing,
Detroit News Washington Bureau
August 25, 2016

Washington – — Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 113,000 vehicles in the U.S., Mexico and Canada that have fuel pump control modules and injection pumps that could fail and cause cars to stall or not start — or power window software that needs to be updated.

The Dearborn-based company said Wednesday it is recalling 88,151 vehicles of Ford Taurus, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT and the Police Interceptor for their 2013-15 versions. The cars have 3.5-liter gasoline turbocharged direct injection engines.

The company is also recalling 2,472 Ford Transit 3.2-liter diesel-equipped vehicles for the 2015-16 model.

The company said the vehicles have been found to have the possibility of stalling "without warning while driving and without the ability to restart, increasing the risk of a crash."

Ford also is recalling 23,150 Ford Escapes (2017 model) that have power window software that may close windows more strongly than allowed by federal requirements.

Ford said it is not aware of any accidents or injuries associated with the power window software issue.

Ford said its dealers will fix the fuel pump control module and power window software for free.

The company said it will inspect the fuel system of the Ford Transit vehicles for metallic contamination before fixing the car's injection pumps for free.

"If no metallic contamination is present, dealers will replace the fuel injection pump and associated parts," Ford said. "If metallic contamination is present, dealers will replace the fuel injection pump, fuel injectors and fuel filter, and will clean and flush the fuel system at no cost to the customer."


Democrats, unions rally
against Obama trade deal

Jonathan Oosting,
Detroit News Lansing Bureau
August 24, 2016

Ann Arbor – — Michigan Democrats and union leaders on Tuesday rallied against the Trans Pacific Partnership, arguing the 12-country trade deal backed by President Barack Obama could cost the state jobs.

The TPP, which would require congressional approval, has emerged as a lightning rod on the campaign trail. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is railing against the deal and questioning Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's pledged opposition, something he repeated at Friday's rally in Dimondale.

Obama is expected to make a final push for ratification following November elections.

"I love President Obama, I have nothing but the utmost respect for him, but I am going to fight for you," U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, told a crowd of around 50 at a union hall in Ann Arbor. "We have to make sure that bill never sees the light of day after this election."

The TPP would eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers between participating western and Asia-Pacific countries. Critics say it does not go far enough to crack down on currency manipulation by Japan, which is a participant of the deal, giving its automakers an unfair advantage over Michigan companies.

"Toyota made more money on currently manipulation last year than Ford did in their worldwide operations," Dingell said. "That's not fair trade."

Dingell was joined at the rally by Democratic congressional candidates Gretchen Driskell of Saline and Suzanna Shkreli of Clarkston. AFL-CIO officials, including Michigan president Ron Bieber, also spoke.

Driskell, a state legislator running against Republican Rep. Tim Walberg of Tipton in the 7th congressional district, opposes TPP and said she has seen on the campaign trail "the impact of the bad trade deals that have been hitting our working families."

Shkreli, recently drafted to challenge GOP Rep. Mike Bishop of Rochester in the 8th district after actress Melissa Gilbert withdrew citing medical reasons, vowed to oppose "job-killing trade deals" like the TPP if she is elected.

Bishop and Walberg each voted to give Obama "fast-track authority" to negotiate the TPP and present it to Congress for an up-or-down vote, but they both now oppose the final version of the deal.

GOP opposition

"Tim would not vote for TPP," Walberg spokesman Dan Kotman said in a Tuesday email. "While he does support free and fair trade, TPP was poorly negotiated and fails to address currency manipulation and level the playing field for Michigan workers and manufacturers."

Michigan Republicans could help determine the fate of TPP in the GOP-controlled U.S. House, said Dingell, who suggested their support of fast-track authority "was critical to its passage" last year.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles both oppose the TPP, as negotiated, and General Motors Co. has not offered public support.

The U.S. International Trade Commission, in a May report, projected U.S. passenger vehicle output could eventually increase when TPP is fully implemented in 30 years. But the deal could hurt production in the short term and slow auto parts exports, according to the analysis.

The Obama administration helped negotiate TPP, and the president reaffirmed his commitment to the deal earlier this month in a White House press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The global economy is here to stay, Obama said, arguing that fair trade rules between the U.S. and participating Asia-Pacific countries would ultimately benefit America. The deal includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

"I'm a strong supporter of TPP because it will reduce tariffs — taxes, basically — on American goods, from cars to crops, and make it easier for Americans to export into the fastest-growing markets of the world," Obama said. "TPP levels the playing field for our workers and helps to ensure countries abide by strong labor and environmental rules."

The deal would eliminate more than 18,000 taxes on American-made exports and includes strong worker and environmental protections, according to the administration.

Trump, Clinton agree

Obama faces a narrowing window for congressional approval. Both Trump and Clinton have said they would not sign the deal if elected president.

Speaking Friday in suburban Lansing, Trump called TPP a "disaster" that could cost Michigan automotive jobs.

"The destruction that NAFTA started will be finished off if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is approved," Trump argued, referencing the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed into law by Clinton's husband in 1993.

The New York businessman also attacked Clinton for comments she made about TPP as secretary of state under Obama, including 2012, when she touted the potential deal as a "gold standard" for international trade agreements.

Clinton opposes the final version of the TPP, as negotiated by the Obama administration and partner countries. She first spoke out against the deal in October 2015, saying it did not meet the "high bar" she had hoped for.

"I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans Pacific Partnership," Clinton said this month during a campaign stop in Warren. "I oppose it now, I'll oppose it after the election, and I'll oppose it as president."

Dingell said she was pleased when Trump first started criticizing the TPP, but she called him a "demagogue" who would not be good for American workers.

"He doesn't walk the talk," she said, pointing to Trump's past comments about auto jobs moving to lower-wage states and reports that some of his own branded products are made in China and other countries.

As for Clinton's past comments on the TPP, "the deal had not been negotiated," Dingell said.

"Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler all supported previous trade agreements, but everybody now is looking at the facts and seeing what bad trade deals do," she said.

Unions have long opposed TPP, but some labor leaders such as former United Auto Workers President Bob King have worried that Clinton might not oppose the deal and make good on her commitment to support renegotiation of NAFTA.

"Donald Trump is trying to own the issue, and this is our damn issue," said Al Cholger of the United Steelworkers


Lincoln owners most
satisfied with their cars

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
August 23, 2016

Washington — Consumer satisfaction with cars is on the rise, and customers are most satisfied with Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln brand, according to a survey by the Ann Arbor-based American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Lincoln led the pack with a score of 87 out of 100, which was 5 percent higher than its 2015 approval rating. Honda ranked second with an 8 percent gain to 86, while Toyota and BMW each rose 4 percent, putting them in a tie for third place at 85.

Among the three Michigan-based auto companies, Ford Motor Co. outpaced its domestic competition by receiving a satisfaction score of 84. General Motors Co. received a satisfaction score of 81 and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles received a 78.

Volkswagen, which has been mired in a scandal over its emissions cheating, declined in its satisfaction rating from 80 to 78.

David VanAmburg, ACSI director, said the numbers show Volkswagen may be facing a long road to recovery in the eyes of consumers from its admission that it rigged hundreds of thousands of cars to cheat U.S. emission standards.

"The combination of fines and fallen stock price are a big hit to Volkswagen's finances, but it may prove even harder to recover from the reputational hit the company will take for deceiving customers and the general public," VanAmburg said. "Many customers or would-be customers could be turned-off of VW for life and it's hard to put a value on that."

Seventy-thousand customers were interviewed about 24 auto brands for the consumer satisfaction survey. Sixteen of the brands showed increases in consumer approval, while five declined — including luxury brands Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and Acura.

Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder, said the figures show the gap in consumer perception may be closing between mass-market and luxury brands.

"The rise of mass-market vehicles may well be at the expense of luxury brands in the sense that buyers now see little differentiation between luxury cars and regular ones," Fornell said. "If there is little difference, why pay more? Exclusivity may not be enough."

VanAmburg said the satisfaction figures show Detroit automakers are catching up to competitors from other countries. Detroit carmakers had an average approval score of 81 percent, compared to cars that were made by Japanese and Korean manufacturers, which received satisfaction scores of 82.

"Year-to-date sales are looking pretty flat, and demand for cars may slacken some," VanAmburg said. "But the good news for Detroit is that higher levels of customer satisfaction will make it more competitive."


2016 Ford Mustang convertible
ticks all the right boxes

The Globe and Mail

August 22, 2016

"So, how is it?"

This question was posed often, usually accompanied by a scoff, by European and Japanese car enthusiast pals, each with a superiority complex. However, their reactions included plenty of wincing, visible discomfort, and quick changes of the subject when lectured about the Mustang's evolution into an authentic driver's car.

Ford has skipped little in transforming the latest Mustang. The styling and cabin have leapt a light-year ahead because engineers launched an all-out attack on slop, softness and slack, leaving the car feeling taut, mischievous and responsive.

Steering has zero slack. None. Tighten the muscles in one hand, or the other, and it heads in that direction, enabling precise control of a finely-tuned chassis. This Mustang is lower, wider, stiffer, stronger, and fitted with bigger brakes, themselves as quick and precise as the laser-sharp steering. There's extensive use of lightweight materials, and the all-new fully-independent suspension is apparent, whether you're on a leisurely highway cruise, or blasting down a favorite winding backroad. The calibration between ride comfort and handling is a strong asset, and where feel, responsiveness and reflexes are concerned, the latest Mustang hits the mark harder than ever.

Further, with a convertible cloth-top that can be dismissed at the touch of a button, access to all of the above, with the sun gleaming overhead, is on perpetual standby.

The tested Mustang EcoBoost convertible puts a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder to work, producing 310 horsepower. The engine gushes torque, and any prod of the throttle sees it surge ahead with effortless urgency. The clutch feels meaty and offers a hearty bite, and the six-speed shifter is tight, solid and precise – with a just-right level of heaviness. Measured mileage over an 1,800-kilometre test landed at 9.2 litres/100 km. Cars with 310 horsepower don't get much thriftier.

On board, the cabin is smaller than expected. Complaints included small and uncomfortable rear seats, and the engine, which is both the best and worst part of the car. Though potent and remarkably easy on fuel, the EcoBoost mill fails to generate any aural excitement at full throttle. Even opened up, it emits little more than a dull hum.

For anyone who ever thought a Subaru BR-Z would be nifty with 100 more horsepower, or anyone who ever lusted after a BMW 235i but found it too pricey, the Mustang EcoBoost Convertible might be the answer – especially when efficient performance, athleticism, and top-optional cruising are on the wish list.

You'll like this car if ... efficiency, performance, stand-out styling, and an effortless transition between sporty and leisurely driving are priorities.

•Base price: $35,145; as tested: $37,054
•Engine: 2.3-litre turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder
•Transmission/Drive: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive/Six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
•Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 11.8 city, 8.3 highway, premium fuel
•Alternatives: Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

•Looks: An evolved version of one of the industry's most distinctive designs, the latest Mustang looks aggressive, sleek and menacing.
•Interior: Effective use of colour, contrast and materials is let down by smaller-than-expected interior room, and cramped rear seats.
•Performance: Get past the boring exhaust note, and the Mustang EcoBoost Convertible rewards with deep reserves of torque, urgent forward thrust, and pleasing mileage.
•Technology: Standard equipment includes nothing short of the market's latest must-haves, including Bluetooth, a back-up camera, a full driver computer, automatic climate control, and more.
•Cargo: The Mustang Convertible's trunk space is reduced by the presence of a dedicated storage area for the convertible top. Pack lightly – or use the rear seats for added storage space.


Mustang EcoBoost Convertible ticks all the right boxes: great fuel economy, striking looks, a refined new cabin, a potent engine, a beautifully-balanced ride and sweet handling.


2017 Ford Focus EV's range
should grow by 45%

No price has been disclosed for '17 Focus
EV, which will start sales later this year.

Danny King
August 21, 2016

The good news is that the 2017 Ford Focus Electric vehicle will likely have a longer single-charge range than the automaker previously indicated. The bad news is that the projected range is still substantially short of what a new EV like the Chevrolet Bolt will manage. The Focus will likely be a fair bit cheaper, though, so anyone who wants to trade dollars for miles will continue to have that option.

According to a spec sheet secured by Inside EVs, the Focus EV will feature a 33.5 kilowatt-hour battery, compared to the 23-kWh version for the 2016 model year. With capacity jumping by about 45 percent, the Focus EV's single-charge range should grow from its current 76 miles to 110 or more. That would put the Focus EV on par with the single-charge range of the new Hyundai Ioniq Electric as well as the Nissan Leaf. Note that the Leaf is due – some would say overdue – for an upgrade, though, and so its range should jump as well.

"We don't have any other news to share today until after EPA certification," company representatives told AutoblogGreen. The company reiterated that the car would offer DC fast-charge capability, though.

Ford executive Kevin Layden, speaking at the SAE World Congress in Detroit in April, estimated that the 2017 Focus EV would have at least a 100-mile range, though the Blue Oval has bigger plans for future EVs. It pledged last December to invest $4.5 billion in electrification technology and CEO Mark Fields said this spring that the automaker would eventually develop an EV that can go 200 miles on a charge, kind of like the Bolt.

The Focus EV remains a fairly low-volume vehicle, though. Through July, Ford has sold only 504 units this year, down 47 percent from a year earlier. As for the 2017 Focus EV, no price tag was disclosed, though it's likely to stay tethered to the $30,000 mark before federal and state rebates kick in. The Bolt will have an MSRP of $37,500.


Ford extends GT supercar
production by two years

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
Aug 19, 2016

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it will extend production of its wildly popular GT supercar for another two years.

The Dearborn automaker received more than 6,000 applications for the first 500 GTs that will be produced as 2017 and 2018 model-year cars. Thursday's announcement would theoretically extend the supercar's run through the 2020 model year, although Ford did not specify an exact date. It also did not specify how many vehicles would be produced, but it's likely to be about 250 per year.

"While we can't build enough Ford GTs for everyone who has applied, we are going to produce additional vehicles in an effort to satisfy more of our most loyal Ford ambassadors," Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance, said in a statement. "We want to keep Ford GT exclusive, but at the same time we know how vital this customer is to our brand."

Ford said the third year of production will be set aside for applicants who were placed on the wait list for the first batch of cars. The application process for the fourth-year production cars will open in early 2018.

The automaker said those who have already applied for the GT will need to update their requests.

Two additional years of production corresponds to news last month that the automaker was extending the GT racing program through the 2019 season.

"Ford GT has racing in its blood," Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, product development, and chief technical officer, said. "The road car and race car will live on, side-by-side, for the next four years — providing ample opportunity to test and prove innovative new technologies both on and off the track."

Ford will begin building the new supercar in Ontario this fall. It will arrive in garages by the end of the year.


The business case for investing
in Canada's auto industry

It may seem like a man-bites-dog story, but when you add
it all up, the business proposition is simple and sound.

Toronto Star
Thu., Aug. 18, 2016

Contract talks currently underway between Unifor and the Big Three U.S. auto manufacturers are being called the most significant in a generation, maybe a half-century. The union has put future investments at the top of its wish list, not pay rates even though they have been stagnant for a decade. Underlying it all is that old existential question: does Canada really need an auto industry, especially now that Mexico is such a magnet for new investment?

It's true demand is expanding in Mexico, but it only represents around 10 per cent of all Big Three sales in North America now. Population growth is faster there, and the Panama Canal has just been deepened to accommodate bigger ships, making Mexico a possible launching pad to other emerging markets. But there is a strong business case for why Canada is critical to the Big Three's business plan. It's not a case of Mexico versus Canada, but of Mexico and Canada.

Indeed, GM has sunk $1.6 billion between Oshawa, St. Catharines and Ingersoll in the past few years and this June announced it would hire 700 more engineers, bringing the total to 1,000 in Ontario.

In February, Fiat Chrysler spent an unprecedented $3.7 billion on the minivan line in Windsor and added 1,200 new jobs. Ford broke hearts in 2014 by choosing Mexico over Windsor for production of a new engine, but last year the company's Oakville plant saw $700 million in investments and 400 new jobs.

Unifor is right to focus on future investment, particularly in a year that every one of the Big Three manufacturers are seeing record profits and outpacing expectations this year.

What we are witnessing is hardball negotiations: these companies will see even more profit if they can wring concessions from the Canadian union before they announce next steps.

High costs of labour aren't the dealbreaker for future investments that we often hear about. Japan and Germany have the highest labour costs in the world and thriving auto industries. Mexican wages are obviously lower than Canadian wages, but Canada is cheaper than the U.S., where these companies are also investing billions of dollars in production.

Labour gets 99 per cent of the attention during contract talks but represents a stunningly tiny 4 per cent of the price of an average Big Three car in Canada, the same amount these companies spend on advertising.

Canada has a competitive edge even when our dollar is at par with the greenback, partly because of our public health care system that saves automakers $5 an hour per worker compared to U.S. labour costs. But today we've also got a 76-cent dollar, which makes Canadian workers significantly less costly. The exceptional productivity of Canadian auto workers is another factor for reducing costs: 13 per cent of the cars for the North American market are made here, but Canadian plants win 33 per cent of quality and productivity awards.

That is partly because 60 per cent of auto workers in Canada have college or university degrees compared to 40 per cent in the U.S. and 15 per cent in Mexico. Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of auto-parts giant Linamar, dismissed the high cost of labour argument, which she noted actually paid off for her company, leading to a 21 per cent increase in sales over the last year. As cars get more complicated, more connected, she said, a smart workforce can improve quality control and innovate processes and products. That spurs savings and creates new markets.

And when it comes to markets, consider this: southern Ontario's auto plants are a day's drive from half of all North American sales, and those sales account for 90 per cent of the profits for the Big Three.

Auto is not only Canada's number one export industry, bringing in $77 billion last year; Canadian buyers are the fifth largest market for Big Three vehicles in the world. The reason: the Auto Pact of 1965. Increased production of cars in Canada led to more good-paying jobs here, which meant increased consumption.

But shut down production and watch consumption fall. The Centre for Spatial Economics estimates closing the Oshawa GM plant would see a direct job loss of 4,100 workers spiral out to affect 30,000 jobs. That would trigger $1 billion in lost provincial and federal tax revenues, creating further pressures to cut jobs or services.

If these companies don't invest in Canada, they will lose the buyers who can afford to purchase their most profitable products. It's hard to grow the bottom line when you're killing the top line.

It may seem like a man-bites-dog story, but when you add it all up, the business proposition is simple: If the Big Three want to make more money making cars, they should invest in Canada.

Armine Yalnizyan is Senior Economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and Vice President of the Canadian Association for Business Economics. You can follow her on twitter @ArmineYalnizyan.


Ford to offer fully
driverless car in 2021

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
August 17, 2016

Ford Motor Co.'s declaration it will have a fully driverless car without a steering wheel or pedals for braking and acceleration in 2021 represents a bold jump — and a different strategy than General Motors and Tesla.

Company executives said Tuesday they plan to leapfrog semi-autonomous drive-assist systems like GM's Super Cruise and Tesla's Autopilot that require drivers to take control at a moment's notice. Going straight to a car that doesn't need a driver, steering wheel or pedals offers bigger benefits to passengers and is more profitable, the automaker said.

The cars would be available only for commercial applications like ride-sharing in major cities at first.

Raj Nair, Ford's head of global product development and chief technical officer, said full autonomy extends driving opportunities to the disabled and elderly that semi-autonomous systems don't offer. And it allows ride-sharing services to cut out a large expense: drivers.

"We abandoned the stepping-stone approach of driver-assist technologies and decided we'd take the full leap to deliver a fully autonomous level four-capable vehicle," Nair said. He says it's safer to develop a system that can be in control 100 percent of the time. "We believe we're taking a unique approach in the industry."

Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said the industry is facing "a philosophical fork in the road."

A gradual transition lets automakers learn from their mistakes, he said. But, Brauer added, "Some could argue it's not worth the resource investment versus targeting [fully autonomous] from the start."

Ford isn't necessarily alone in taking this route, but is offering more concrete details, he said. Google Inc. has said from the start it eventually will offer autonomous pods without steering wheels, but has not given a specific date. Automotive supplier Delphi is working on a fully driverless taxi service in Singapore by the end of the decade.

GM on faster track

Ford's timetable would still put it behind GM, which announced similar intentions to offer autonomous cars through commercial services within "the next couple years."

GM and its recently acquired Cruise Automation subsidiary already are testing self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EVs with drivers behind the wheel in San Francisco and Scottsdale. GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, however, has said GM believes the steering wheel, brake and accelerator should remain until safety is proven.

Big challenges remain before Ford could offer driverless ride-sharing or ride-hailing. Nair noted that current laws assume there's a driver in control; they'd have to be rewritten. And Ford has not announced if it will partner with a third-party company like Uber or Lyft, or will develop a service of its own.

Executives on Tuesday announced a number of investments and acquisitions to help Ford achieve its 2021 goal.

President and CEO Mark Fields said the company will expand its Silicon Valley offices from one 30,000-square-foot building to three buildings totaling 180,000 square feet by the end of next year. It will double its staff to 260 by the end of 2017.

Ford also announced a $75 million investment in LiDAR-maker Velodyne.

Light Detection and Ranging sensors are one way autonomous cars "see" the road, by sending out beams of laser light to the road that correspond to a highly detailed map. Velodyne says its sensors are capable of producing 300,000 to 2.2 million data points per second with a range up to 200 meters at centimeter-level accuracy.

"From the very beginning of our autonomous vehicle program, we saw LiDAR as a key enabler due to its sensing capabilities and how it complements radar and cameras," Nair said. "Ford has a long-standing relationship with Velodyne and our investment is a clear sign of our commitment to making autonomous vehicles available for consumers around the world."

Acquisitions, investments

The investment in Velodyne is part of the supplier's latest $150 million round of funding, which includes $75 million from Chinese search-engine company Baidu Inc.

Ford also said Tuesday it has acquired Israel-based software company SAIPS, which creates algorithms for computer vision and machine learning. It also now has an exclusive licensing agreement with machine-learning company Nirenberg Neuroscience. Those are only the latest partnerships by Ford: Last month, the automaker said it was investing in 3-D mapping company Civil Maps. Earlier this year, it invested $182 million in software company Pivotal.

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Autotrader.com, said Ford's announcements are "intended to let the world — especially Wall Street — know that it is moving forward in future mobility."

"General Motors has been grabbing all of the headlines of late, and Ford can't be happy about that, especially as some Wall Street analysts have wondered if Ford is falling behind in future mobility," she said.

Wall Street shrugged at Tuesday's news: Ford stock closed down 9 cents to $12.34 a share, a drop of 0.7 percent.

Ford has been developing autonomous car systems for about a decade, and is testing driverless Fusions in Michigan, California and Arizona. It claims its fleet of 30 test vehicles is the largest in the industry.

As part of those tests, Ford earlier this year became the first automaker to test autonomous vehicle sensors in the snow and ice at MCity, a test center in Ann Arbor.


Ford Focus RS500 teases us with
400 hp, but it might not happen

Ford Focus RS500

Brandon Turkus
August 16, 2016

See that car up top? That's the upcoming Focus RS500, a monstrous version of Ford's already insane hot hatchback. Despite a very real prototype circling the equally real Nürburgring, there's a chance Ford won't put the car on sale.

That's according to Autocar, which has a source claiming the RS500 is "not genuinely green-lighted." While the car shown above seems to contradict that statement, the likely explanation is that Ford is doing double-duty – engineers and product planners are developing a car – while the bean counters and factory bosses figure out if there's a strong enough financial case to build it. They would also need to squeeze another 500 units onto the production lines in Cologne, Germany. Autocar reports those "practicalities" are the primary roadblock to the RS500's production, even though a "desire exists to have a star in the RS and ST range."

Meanwhile, AC suggests Ford will give the new RS500 a similar performance bump to the last one. The previous Focus RS500 had 345 horsepower, five less than today's base RS but 15-percent more than the second-gen RS. If Ford applies the same 15-percent bump to the new car, output would hit 396 horsepower. Somehow, with the 400-hp barrier so close – and with the constant rumors about the Mercedes-AMG A45 hitting that magical figure – we suspect Ford will find a way to squeeze an extra four ponies out of the 2.3-liter turbo.

Here in America, Ford gave the expected response to our inquiries about the RS500 – "We don't speculate on future products," spokesman Mike Levine told Autoblog.

If the RS500 arrives, it'd likely be next spring. That gives Ford time for development, but more importantly, it lines up with the Focus' "run-out phase" for that summer, Autocar reports, and would help keep interest in the aging hatchback ahead of its next-generation. With a spring on-sale date, the RS500 is a virtual lock for a debut in Detroit or Geneva. If Ford gives the green light, that is.


Trump's popularity shows need
for union movement to adapt

Bruce Anderson
The Globe and Mail
Aug. 15, 2016

One of many disconcerting things about the careening U.S. presidential campaign is the constant evidence in polls that many white and less-educated Americans think Donald Trump is their Great White Hope.

His sales pitch is perfect for people who worry they're falling behind, see globalization as a threat and fear "the system" won't look out for them.

For years, this pitch was the bread and butter of the union movement.

But of late, unions, like many political parties, are facing growing pressures to prove their relevance and effectiveness. A little bit of "what have you done for me lately" but even more "what could you do for me tomorrow?"

Today, more young people finish high school and go on to study at a college or university. Most graduates, research shows, are actually pretty optimistic about their chances of finding meaningful work and making a happy life. There's some anxiety, but even more confidence and plenty of self-reliance.

It's not hard to imagine that well-educated young people might wonder if they need a union to achieve their goals. Are their co-workers truly their brothers and sisters? Do they all share a common world view?

If you didn't grow up during a time when the formation of unions was proving its value by ensuring safer work places, decent wages and some protection from hard-nosed employers, you might wonder why, if you work in an organized workplace, being part of a union is not a matter of individual choice.

Depending on where you are on the political spectrum, you might love the policy postures of your union or you might hate them. Or you might simply wonder why your job comes with a requirement to fund political advocacy of any sort.

That Americans with less education believe Trump is their saviour is sad. It reveals the all-too-common human instinct to blame others when things aren't working out. It suggests that neither the Democratic Party nor the labour movement have much traction with these voters anymore.

Trump is preying on the weak and despairing. Which is not surprising. He is a (failed) casino operator. (As an aside, how do you go bankrupt running games that are rigged in your favour?)

For his supporters, Trump is kind of like a human lottery ticket. You know it has almost zero chance of working out for you, but you can't resist buying it.

The Trump problem will work itself out (ideally with a crushing defeat in November).

But the future role of labour unions in our political life is a question that will linger, and grow more complex.

Workers can't always count on enlightened employers and supportive governments, even though there are many of both. But the nature of work is changing quickly, as is the makeup of our labour force. To thrive, the labour movement will likely want to adapt, too, and perhaps consider new models for advocacy of worker needs.

Former Davenport MP Andrew Cash's Urban Worker Project is one such example that is aimed at providing some advocacy for the millions of people who are employed in what is often referred to the Gig Economy – freelance and contract workers, including artists, musicians, hospitality workers and others.

A recent Abacus Data study revealed that half of this group is making as much money and doing as much work as they hope to, while the other half isn't yet. And a great many are interested in finding a way to band together and develop some form of collective leverage.

Today's forward-looking union leaders (people such asHassan Yussuff of the Canadian Labour Congress and Jerry Dias of Unifor) have to walk a fine line: expressing the traditional values of the collective, while at the same recognizing that the economy, the nature of work, the shape of the labour force, and individual needs and priorities are all shifting.

It's tricky, but let's hope they succeed. Because our political life is enriched when there are strong voices for working Canadians, both politicians and organizations outside politics. To be convinced this matters, we have only to turn our gaze to the hourly spectacle of Donald Trump as the nominal leader of the weak, south of the border.


Union chief: Donald Trump
'a fool,' but right on NAFTA

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
August 13, 2016

Toronto — Canadian auto workers union president Jerry Dias on Thursday said Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump is "a fool," but admitted he's right to criticize the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"I think Donald Trump, your Republican candidate, is a fool in so many of the things that he says, but I have to acknowledge that his argument on NAFTA is correct," Dias, the head of the Unifor labor union, told The Detroit News in an interview. "American workers and Canadian workers sure got the short end of the stick."

NAFTA took effect in 1994, creating a free-trade bloc between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Dias' American counterparts at the United Auto Workers union have called the trade deal a job killer that allowed companies to invest billions of dollars in Mexico and send hundreds of thousands of jobs south of the border because of lower labor costs there — an issue Trump has made a staple of his campaign.

Trump in a Monday speech in Detroit repeatedly tied Hillary Clinton to NAFTA, which her husband signed into law as president in 1993. Clinton spoke positively of NAFTA as first lady but has since said the deal did not live up to its original promise. She now supports renegotiation.

When he accepted the Republican nomination for president last month, Trump blasted the 22-year-old pact.

"Our horrible trade agreements with China, and many others, will be totally renegotiated," the New York real estate tycoon vowed. "That includes renegotiating NAFTA to get a much better deal for America – and we'll walk away if we don't get the deal that we want."

Dias on Thursday said NAFTA never achieved its intended consequences.

"One of the benefits, it was supposed to raise the standard of living of Mexican workers," he said. "We know that was a great lie given to American and Canadian workers. The facts are the minimum wage in Mexico is 90 cents an hour. One can argue the worker in Mexico today gets paid less than when NAFTA was signed."

The union chief is also critical of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the proposed trade agreement involving 12 member nations, noting none of the Detroit Three support it.

"Cutting tariffs doesn't make an industrial strategy," Dias told a government committee in July. "In fact, it'll likely make a bad trade situation worse."

Dias made his comments about Trump and NAFTA the same day as negotiations formally began between the union and Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. After the Wednesday handshake with General Motors Co. showed the two sides were sharply divided, Dias said there was a different feel to the Thursday talks.

"Today's kickoff with Ford and with Chrysler were very productive, constructive, respectful," he told reporters. "There's a clear difference between today's discussions and the discussions yesterday. We're clearly in a different position than GM as it relates to expectations. Though we have similar challenges with Ford and FCA, they understand that investment decisions are going to be a part of 2016 negotiations."

Unifor is apprehensive not only about the future of GM's Oshawa Assembly Plant, but has similar concerns for Ford's Windsor Engine Plant and Fiat Chrysler's Brampton Assembly Plant.

"We are at a crossroads in the industry here in Canada," Dias said. "It's clear to us that if we do not solidify the footprint in this set of negotiations, then the auto industry ... will be much smaller."

Ford, FCA more committed to
Canada than GM, union says

Future investment in Ontario plants is the key issue
as contract negotiations begin for 23,000 autoworkers

Toronto Star
Vanessa Lu
August 12, 2016

Unifor national president Jerry Dias says both Ford of Canada and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles seem more willing to commit to future investment in Canada than rival General Motors of Canada.

"Though we have similar challenges with both Ford and Fiat Chrysler, they understand investment decisions are going to be part of 2016 negotiations," Dias said at a news conference Thursday, after union officials met with both Ford and Fiat Chrysler, just one day after initial meetings with GM on Wednesday.

Dias repeatedly noted that the Big Three automakers were willing to commit billions in investment at U.S. plants during contract talks with the United Auto Workers last year. "We are expecting nothing less in Canada," he said.

The union has made promises of future investment in Canada the hallmark of this year's bargaining campaign, which it says will ensure job security — vowing they will not leave the negotiating table if they don't get such a commitment.

Priorities include getting a new product line at GM's Oshawa assembly plant, at Ford's engine plant in Windsor and upgrades at Fiat Chrysler's assembly plant in Brampton.

Without more investment, Dias has said it would mean the death of the Canadian auto industry — although GM has said it will not talk about future investments until after a labour contract is signed.

"GM will change their position during this set of negotiations, the only question is when," Dias said. "We are determined we are going to find long-term solutions for our Oshawa operations."

Unifor represents about 23,000 workers at the three car companies in Canada.

Ford's chief negotiator, Steve Majer, told reporters that investment in the Windsor engine plant is the key issue in this year's talks, saying the company wants to find "a made-in-Canada" solution that strikes a balance between "a competitive agreement and meeting the needs of our employees."

He noted that the company has made a $1-billion investment at the Oakville assembly plant, where four cross-over vehicles, including the Ford Flex and Ford Edge, are built. More than 2,000 employees have been added at that plant.

The challenge is that Canada is a high-cost country to produce cars, compared to other jurisdictions like Mexico, so "we need to find ways to make sure that we are the best in terms of manufacturing metrics," including productivity, Majer said.

Fiat Chrysler's lead negotiator, James Dyckman, spoke only briefly to reporters, emphasizing that the company has always had a good relationship with Unifor and the start of discussions were good.

He acknowledged that winning commitments for the Brampton assembly plant, where the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300 are built, was a top union priority.

"It was a ceremonial opening day. We haven't gotten into the details," Dyckman said, adding that the company has made a significant investment in Windsor, where the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Pacifica are assembled.

Union officials will continue to meet with negotiators at all three companies in the coming weeks. It will name a target company on the Tuesday after Labour Day. That is the company where it believes it can reach the best deal, which will then become the pattern in separate talks with the other two automakers.

"There is no question the decision on the target will be the company that has the longest-term strategic vision for Canada," Dias said.

The current four-year contract with all three companies expires at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 19.


GM, Canadian auto union
'miles apart' as talks begin

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
August 11, 2016

Toronto — The head of the Canadian auto workers union said it is "miles apart" from General Motors Co. on the first official day of contract negotiations.

The two sides are drawing hard lines in the sand over the fate of the beleaguered Oshawa Assembly Plant. GM says it won't make any product commitments until negotiations are over. Unifor President Jerry Dias demands commitment before any potential contract is signed, and vowed to "do whatever's necessary" to secure it — including a strike.

"There will not be an agreement with GM until we have solidified the output in Oshawa and we've secured engines for our St. Catharines' facility," Dias told reporters. "I'm not concerned. It's not a question of if GM is going to make the investment, the question is when."

The Detroit automaker, though, said it's waiting until after a deal is signed to decide the fate of Oshawa's 2,400 hourly workers.

"We're focused on putting together a good, competitive case for Canada," said Dave Paterson, vice president of corporate affairs for GM Canada. "There are no predetermined outcomes. Let's stay on the ice and work together."

The union president isn't buying it.

"We believe GM was not transparent with us seven years ago or four years ago," Dias said. "For GM to insist they'll make the decision after we complete bargaining and we're to cross our fingers and hope they invest, it's not going to happen. It's not a threat, it's a straightforward comment on where these negotiations are going."

Dias cited a $5.4 billion investment GM announced before contract talks with the UAW last fall. "If GM in 2015 could commit ... then we are absolutely expecting they are going to do that in Canada," he said.

Both sides described Wednesday's negotiation kickoff as positive, and Paterson said the two groups discussed economics, technology and anxiety over Oshawa. In a brief portion of the kickoff event open to media, a number of Unifor union officials wearing "#GMOshawaMatters" T-shirts sat at a long conference table around Dias and across the table from GM officials. Unifor was created in 2013 by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions

Dias described Wednesday's talks as ceremonial, saying the union gave GM its proposals and the two sides are "miles apart."

"There's no doubt we will have our disagreements within the next few weeks," he said, calling the talks the most important in a generation. "I'm very optimistic a fair contract can be reached with all three of the Detroit Three."

Contracts expire at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 19. Dias said the sides will talk for about a week, then take a week-long break as the union gathers for a convention in Ottawa.

Beyond Oshawa, Unifor is hoping to secure investments at Ford Motor Co.'s Windsor Engine Plant and Fiat Chrysler Automobile's Brampton Assembly Plant. Unifor covers about 23,050 workers between the three automakers, although about 2,700 are on a separate contract that doesn't expire until next year.

"If we walk out of 2016 without commitments for Oshawa, Brampton and Windsor, we are looking at the death of the auto industry in Canada," Dias said. "The auto industry is not going to die in Canada. It's first going to be stabilized and then built as a result of 2016 negotiations."

Beyond plant investments, Dias said the union intends to secure wage increases for its workers, convert temporary workers to permanent positions and secure benefits for retirees.

He said the union has an excellent relationship with the automakers, but "we're well beyond the point where handshakes and a good relationship is good enough."

Dias said the union is working well with the new liberal government, as opposed to the "total disaster" of the previous conservative administration. The government is crucial, he said, to securing new investments based on the incentives it offers the automakers.

GM on Wednesday echoed that sentiment, saying they're working with partners including the government on potential future investment.

"We are proud of the experience, quality and productivity of our Canadian workforce," GM said in a statement. "These negotiations are an important first hurdle in building a business case for future investments in Canada."

Donald Trump discusses pulling out of NAFTA, tariff for Ford

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Plant's future at stake
in Canada auto talks

Melissa Burden,
The Detroit News
August 10, 2016

Oshawa, Ontario — As contract negotiations between Canada's autoworkers union and Detroit automakers officially begin this week, employees at General Motors Co.'s Oshawa Assembly Plant will be looking for assurances that the vast and underused manufacturing facility will continue turning out cars.

The 2,400 hourly workers at this sprawling 5.1-million-square-foot facility just east of Toronto are uncertain if they have a future here. Analysts say the plant is at risk of closure, and GM has said for two years it needs to know labor costs before making decisions about new vehicles or investments at Oshawa Assembly.

Because the stakes are so high at Oshawa, union contract negotiations are likely to be contentious. Uncertainty about plans for Ford Motor Co.'s engine plant in Windsor and for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's assembly plant in Brampton bring additional levels of tension to the labor talks.

Last year, Oshawa Assembly lost its third shift and about 1,000 jobs when GM moved production of its sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro to Lansing. Production of the Chevrolet Impala Limited, a fleet vehicle, ended about a month ago. That left only the Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS cars on the plant's Flex Line in two shifts.

GM has said it will end production of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover next year on the plant's one-shift Consolidated Line — a line that employs 750 and has been on life support and has gotten reprieves several times since 2008.

The union believes the XTS will be the last vehicle produced at the plant through the 2019 model year. It believes GM will move production of at least one of the vehicles to Mexico or China.

"The company in the past have had feasibility studies or launch teams if we are going to get product. This year, there's no feasibility studies going on, no launch teams," said Colin James, president of Unifor Local 222 which represents hourly workers at the Oshawa plant and many of the plant's suppliers. Unifor is the labor union created in 2013 by the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions.

"Of course, it's led to a lot of our members in the plant asking questions," James said. "There's uncertainty: 'Why is there no launch team?' 'Are they planning on closing the facility?' General Motors is basically not answering that question."

Unifor officials have their opening handshakes with GM negotiators Wednesday in Toronto. Bargaining with Ford and Fiat Chrysler officially begins Thursday. Four-year contracts with the automakers expire at 11:59 p.m. Sept. 19.

About 3,860 GM hourly employees in Canada would be covered under that contract, including those who work at St. Catharines Propulsion and Woodstock Parts Distribution Center. There are 6,400 hourly workers at Ford plants in Canada, and about 9,400 at Fiat Chrysler plants.

'GM Oshawa Matters'

The union and community along the Lake Ontario shoreline east of Toronto have ramped up support for the plant with the "GM Oshawa Matters" campaign. The plant built more than 262,000 vehicles last year and could stimulate more than 30,000 other jobs in the economy, the union says.

Workers wear buttons declaring "Built in Oshawa Matters." A thousand workers have purchased T-shirts warning "No Product? No Contract!" and "If Provoked, We Will Strike." Some have held signs over bridges to let the community know what's a stake during the next month as the union works to secure new vehicles for the plant. About 7,000 have emailed messages of support to key government officials.

Don Scott, 47, of Vaughan, Ontario, has worked at the plant for more than 11 years. He said everyone feels the uncertainty as worker ranks dwindle. As recently as 2005, there were 11,000 hourly employees.

"We work our butts off here, award after award after award," he said. "We just want some sort of a car that's going to take us into the next level."

Before heading into her early morning shift in the paint shop last month, 14-year plant employee Julie Gale, 43, of Cobourg, Ontario, said, "I'm holding out hope simply because both my husband and I work here.

"It would devastate us (if GM closes the plant). I am an optimistic person and I'm really hoping that something does come and that they're just sort of playing their cards close to them. But it's really not looking good."

The union is concerned not only about the future of the Oshawa plant, but also Ford's Windsor Engine Plant and Fiat Chrysler's Brampton Assembly Plant where the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger and Chrysler 300 are made.

Ford's aging Windsor Engine Plant builds 6.8-liter V-10 engines for Ford F-Series and E-Series and employs about 600. Ford's Windsor plant was considered for a new engine investment, but the automaker last year announced that program would go to Mexico.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has opted to end production of cars in the U.S. and has said the Chrysler 300 could be built at the Windsor Assembly Plant, though no plans for that have been announced.

Joe McCabe, president and CEO of AutoForecast Solutions LLC in Pennsylvania, thinks the Brampton, Ontario, plant which employs about 3,300 hourly workers will stay open. But he predicts the Chrysler 300 will be phased out in late 2018. He said the plant will need new investment and may have to bring in a crossover.

Union may target UAW gains

Unifor President Jerry Dias said securing new investment and new products are the most critical issues for the union as it enters bargaining. The union will likely use as a road map the gains made by the United Auto Workers last fall in the United States: wage gains and narrowing the pay gap between veteran workers and second-tier workers.

"Getting commitments from the companies is a big, big deal for Unifor because they're really concerned with job losses with any shutdowns," said Tony Faria, co-director of the Office of Automotive and Vehicle Research at the University of Windsor.

GM declined to comment on the Oshawa plant ahead of negotiations. GM faces overcapacity in North America — and the Oshawa plant is a car production site during a time when consumer tastes have shifted toward SUVs and trucks. But in Oshawa's favor is the $10.8 billion Canadian dollars that the Canadian and Ontario governments provided to help bail out GM during the economic downturn.

Automakers face unique economic issues in Ontario, Faria said. Electricity costs are much higher in Ontario than many parts of the U.S.; pension plan changes in Canada will add costs for companies; and a new cap-and-trade program aimed to lower greenhouse gas emissions will cost auto businesses more. Canadian plants have the advantage of a weak Canadian loonie relative to the U.S. dollar, but are paying more parts from companies located outside Canada, Faria said.

Local 222's James had his own opinion: "When you look at the Canadian dollar today, for them not to put product in GM Oshawa, it boggles my mind, other than corporate greed, going to Mexico (and) China when they're making record profits."



Ontario unions behind 94
per cent of third-party
ad spending in past
three elections

Adrian Morrow
The Globe and Mail
August 9, 2016

Ontario unions have spent more than $15-million to campaign in the past three general elections, 94 per cent of all third-party advertising.

The advertising has been aimed mainly at the Progressive Conservative Party by two labour umbrella groups, Working Families and Project Ontario, which both have strong ties to other political parties.

Working Families employs a communications firm that has also held major contracts with the Ontario Liberal Party, while veteran NDP strategist Brian Topp was a leader of Project Ontario during the most recent election.

This is all completely legal in Ontario. While spending is capped for political parties at election time, third-party advertisers face no such restriction. And current rules do not prevent groups such as Working Families or Project Ontario from hiring strategists connected to political parties to work on their campaigns. It all raises the spectre of a system similar to U.S.-style SuperPACs: Groups that operate at arm's length from politicians, but function as their proxies to attack opponents and circumvent the spending limits.

While third-party advertising has long been controversial in Ontario – the PCs tried to get Elections Ontario to rule that Working Families was a Liberal front in 2009 – a Globe and Mail tally of Elections Ontario data reveals the scale of the practice.

In the three election campaigns since 2007, when third-party advertisers first had to disclose their spending, Ontarians have seen $16.4-million worth of such advertising – $15.4-million of it financed by unions. Corporate spending accounted for $641,000, and other advocacy groups accounted for $409,000.

Greg Essensa, the province's independent chief electoral officer, is speaking out on the system. He says current rules are so lax they could allow politicians to "circumvent contribution and spending limits" by co-ordinating their campaigns with those of third-party advertisers.

Premier Kathleen Wynne's proposed campaign finance reform, Bill 201, contains the first measures in the province's history to cap third-party advertising: Corporations, unions or individuals could spend no more than $100,000 during an election campaign period and $600,000 in the six months before.

Mr. Essensa told a legislative committee studying the bill last month that the legislation must get tougher.

"The public can plainly see that candidates and organizations that claim to be non-partisan are able to actively co-ordinate their advertising," he said. "This sort of co-ordination is especially troubling when an organization relies on former political staff or partisan strategists to shape a third party's advertising. The public sees this as an apparent conflict of interest, and I do, too."

Under the current rules, he said, it would have to be proven that a political party had controlled a third-party's campaign for it to be deemed collusion – a difficult task. Mr. Essensa said the legislation should ban people who have been political staffers, party officials or consultants to a political party from working on third-party advertising campaigns.

Working Families is, by far, the province's biggest spender on third-party ads. Since 2007, the group poured more than $4.6-million into three general elections: a little over $1-million in each of the 2007 and 2011 campaigns, and $2.5-million in 2014.

The group is primarily financed by unions representing skilled trades and teachers' associations. Its chair is Patrick Dillon, head of the Provincial Building Trades Council.

Working Families' campaigns are run by Arrow Communications Group, a firm headed by veteran political strategist Marcel Wieder. Arrow made more than $4.3-million from Working Families over the past three elections.

Arrow was also paid $1.4-million to do work for the Ontario Liberals between 2006 and 2013. The money came from the taxpayer-funded caucus services budget.

Up to the 2007 campaign, Working Families also employed Pollara Strategic Insights, a company then headed by Don Guy, who was the Liberals' campaign director at the time.

Working Families' ads have been some of the province's most memorable. One 2014 spot depicted the Tories then-leader Tim Hudak as a cartoon Pinocchio, his nose growing with every campaign promise. Another described the PC Party as "the old boys' club" and showed an actor playing Mr. Hudak cutting backroom deals with shadowy Bay Street suits.

Mr. Wieder insists he keeps a firewall between his work for the Liberals and his campaigns for Working Families.

"I can assure you and your readers there is no direct connection between the two," he said. "Do I have friends who worked on the [Liberal] campaign? Absolutely, I have friends. Did we talk about how the campaign was going? I'm sure it came up in conversation, as friends talk about how things are going and how family and things are. But was there any material transfer of knowledge, of tactics, of strategy? None."

Mr. Dillon says his group chose Arrow and Pollara not for their Liberal ties but because they were the best firms for the job. He said Working Families also interviewed strategists affiliated with the PCs and the New Democrats when the group formed before the 2003 election.

"There's not a whole lot of people in this business, tied into the political business, that are out there to choose from," he said.

Project Ontario was started before the 2014 campaign and spent a little under $450,000 in the election. It was funded by the United Steelworkers, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents Toronto Transit Commission employees.

The group's filings with Elections Ontario list Mr. Topp, a long-time NDP staffer and one-time federal leadership candidate, as a contact person. Mr. Topp worked for Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath for a few months after the election.

Project Ontario's campaign was primarily a series of anti-Conservative ads shown in Southwestern Ontario ridings where the NDP was battling the PCs. The NDP's strategy in the last election focused on making gains in the southwest.

Mark Rowlinson, a United Steelworkers' staffer, said Project Ontario's anti-Tory ads were mainly aimed at voters wavering between the PCs and the NDP. But he insisted the group did not co-ordinate with the NDP.

"The people involved in that project had no contact with the party – with the NDP, or with any other," he said.

In an e-mail, Mr. Topp confirmed he was an officer of Project Ontario, but said he "played no role" in the NDP's campaign.

The individual unions that spend the most on election ads over the years in the province have been the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, which paid out more than $4.5-million in the course of the past three elections, and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), which spent $4.3-million. Some of this money was for the unions' own campaigns, and some was contributed to Working Families.

The unions and the Tories say the attack ads had the intended effect.

ETFO president Sam Hammond contends his association's involvement in elections encouraged the Liberals to adopt such measures as caps on class sizes and full-day kindergarten.

"If you look back at the relationship we had with the government for two or three election cycles, there were a lot of positive things that came out of us being politically active," he said. "It does have a benefit to our members."

Mr. Hudak estimates he faced about $20-million worth of attack ads during his two elections as PC leader, between third-party campaigns and the two rival parties.

"Almost $20-million in negative ads will give people a certain impression that may not be accurate. You do that to Mother Teresa and they'll start suspecting her as well," he said in an interview.

But the people behind the third-party advertising contend that imposing limits would stifle freedom of expression.

Mr. Dillon said politicians are able to ensure there are no improper ties between themselves and the third-party groups.

"People operate – whether they're lawyers or doctors or politicians – with a certain amount of integrity," he said. "A little self-control, in my view, is all that's needed."

And he said Bill 201's provision to restrict third-party advertising for six months before an election campaign would be unconstitutional and could be challenged in court.

He is not alone on that point. Campaign finance expert Robert MacDermid points to the Supreme Court's 2004 decision on federal third-party advertising restrictions during election campaigns: Although the court upheld the restrictions, Mr. MacDermid says it was not an easy decision and the bench might rule differently if spending limits were stretched outside the campaign period.

"A close reading of the Supreme Court … decision indicates that the justices agonized over restrictions as long as a federal election campaign. It is hard to imagine their reading of the Charter would permit a six-month-long restriction," he told the committee that is reviewing the campaign finance bill last month.

Mr. Essensa said concerns about freedom of expression could be addressed by differentiating in the law between advocacy groups campaigning for general causes – better environmental protections, for instance – and attack ads targeting candidates or parties.

"If there is an issue-advocacy group that is advocating for an issue...there shouldn't be restrictions on that," he said. "But where there needs to be restrictions is on advertising that depicts a party leader, depicts a candidate, depicts a party and is trying to influence the electorate the next time they appear at the ballot box."

GM, Ford set July sales
records in China

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
Aug 8, 2016

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. both set July sales records in China last month due to strong demand for both passenger and commercial vehicles.

Ford reportedly sold 88,189 new cars and trucks last month, while GM said it sold a record 270,529 new vehicles in the world's largest auto market. Ford's year-to-date total is at 652,836, while GM topped the 2 million mark.

"GM and our joint ventures managed to top 2 million deliveries in record time, as sales remained strong across many segments," GM Executive Vice President and GM China President Matt Tsien said in a statement.

GM said its Buick, Cadillac and Baojun brands set sales records last month.

Cadillac deliveries rose 90 percent thanks to strong demand for the ATS-L luxury sedan and XT5 luxury crossover. Buick sales rose 30 percent and Baojun sales rose 61 percent. Sales for Wuling, GM's commercial vehicle joint venture, rose 6 percent.

Chevrolet sales fell 15 percent.

Changan Ford, the automaker's passenger car joint venture, sold 69,074 vehicles, up 20 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Sales were driven by the Ford Escort, up 82 percent and the Focus, up 13 percent.

Jiangling Motor Corporation, Ford's commercial vehicle investment, sold 17,748 vehicles, up 6 percent.


What makes a crossover
vehicle a crossover

Casey Williams,
Chicago Tribune
Aug 7, 2016

Not too long ago, after minivans had grown out of cars and SUVs emerged from pickup trucks, a new vehicle type was born: the crossover. It shared the best traits of its parents, the smooth handling and better fuel economy of cars with the tall ride height and more versatile interior space of trucks.

Now the crossover segment dwarfs every other segment.

Virtually nonexistent 20 years ago, crossover utility vehicles comprise 27 percent of the U.S. auto market through June, according to The Wall Street Journal. Midsize cars rank a distant second at 19 percent; pickups garner 15 percent. But how do crossovers compare to the cars on which they're based and the truck-based SUVs they replaced? Better yet, what sparked them?

"A need — people liked the idea of an SUV in terms of size, cargo capacity and flexibility," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. "Crossovers had the handling of a car and lower weight for fuel economy, lower center of gravity for handling, and were easy to get into. Women especially have gravitated to crossovers because they have a nice ride height. They are a good compromise and why they've really taken off."

How it's built

"Think of architecture as the underpinnings — chassis and powertrain — as the templates, with the top hats — SUV, wagon or sedan bodies — riding on top," said Jim Nichols, spokesman for Volvo Car USA.

There are different types of architecture or "platforms." Pickup trucks and full-sized SUVs have bodies riding on separate steel frames, also known as body-on-frame construction. Cars are engineered as "unibody," with their frames integrated to the body, making them lighter and more fuel-efficient. Crossovers combine the space of an SUV with unibody architecture.

Sharing platforms used to be easy. Remove the bed of a compact pickup like the Chevy S-10, graft on a wagon body, and voila, the garage-sized Blazer of the '80s. Ford followed the same formula with the Ranger and Explorer. Until the late '90s, almost all utility vehicles rode on full frames, bouncing and guzzling fuel like the trucks they were.

But Jeep dispensed with the full frame in engineering the unibody 1984 Cherokee/Wagoneer. It proved SUVs could have the attributes of a car and the capability of a truck. Today, we call them crossovers.

How they compare

Crossovers share much with their sedan and wagon siblings, but differences marginally affect performance and passengers. They are heavier because of their bigger bodies and all-wheel-drive systems. They're also taller for the ride height and interior space owners love, but suffer diminished fuel economy. A higher center of gravity causes shakier handling. Overall, compromises are minimal.

Let's compare the Volvo XC60 crossover and S60 sedan. Wheelbase length and track width are essentially the same, as is the 240 horsepower four-cylinder engine. The XC60 posts 31 mpg highway while the S60 achieves 37 mpg. That's partly because the XC60 weighs 4,041 pounds while the S60 weighs 3,433 pounds. A crossover's advantage appears in three additional inches of rear legroom and in cargo space, where the XC60 boasts 67.4 cubic feet compared with the S60's 12 cubic feet.

The Jeep Cherokee and Chrysler 200, which share Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' "compact wide" architecture, pose another comparison. Both come standard with 184 horsepower four-cylinder engines, but the 200 sedan achieves 23/36 mpg city/highway while the front-drive Cherokee delivers 22/31 mpg. The Cherokee is 7 inches taller than the 200 and weighs about 300 pounds more. Add four-wheel-drive and off-road components to Cherokee and the gap widens.

Crossovers offer comparable performance to sedans, but there are disadvantages.

"Crossovers are not true trucks," Caldwell said. "They are not the best car to really take off road and are not the best for towing. They are for somebody going for size, not capability. Compared to the cars on which they're based, performance should be similar, but crossovers are heavier and bigger in size and stature that will affect fuel economy."

How they help automakers

Crossovers benefit automakers, too. By basing SUVs on car architecture, as Nissan did with the Pathfinder, they can eliminate truck-based models and gain economies of scale.

"From a company standpoint, the advantage of shared architecture is that we can reuse design and components across a larger volume of vehicles," said Joe Grace, FCA's director of advanced vehicle development. "We can build multiple configurations in one assembly plant. Eventually, this rolls to the customer as it gives us the opportunity to bring more vehicles to market and maintain cost."

FCA engineers vehicles as diverse as the Dodge Dart, Chrysler 200, and Jeep Cherokee with shared platforms. The Ford Focus, Ford Escape, Ford C-Max, and Lincoln MKC crossover also share platforms — as do the Chevy Sonic, Chevy Trax, and Buick Encore. Gaining economies of scale is critical when developing platforms that cost billions of dollars. It's especially important for smaller automakers to optimize resources.

"We will have two basic architectures — SPA for large/midsize and CMA for compact vehicles," Volvo's Nichols said. "It allows us to start from the ground up with electrification in mind and provides flexibility in designs. As the marketplace changes, we can quickly respond with different vehicle types."

How crossovers influence cars

Just as cars influenced crossovers with unibody architecture, crossovers are now influencing cars.

"Automakers have explored every type," Caldwell said. "But you see more crossover attributes going back to cars — going back in the other direction."

Mercedes-Benz and BMW seem enamored with "crossover coupes" that sport faster rear rooflines. Models like the Volvo S60 Cross Country and Subaru Crosstrek are high-riding passenger cars with all-wheel drive. Volkswagen's Beetle Dune looks ready for trails. Crossovers even serve to advance cars.

"We can get features on sedans we wouldn't have had otherwise," Grace said. "An example is all-wheel drive on the Chrysler 200 that was made possible by the Cherokee sharing its architecture."

As vehicles electrify, it becomes more critical to spread development and component costs over a large variety of vehicles while speeding technology to market.

"We made a commitment that each new platform we introduce will have a plug-in variant." Nichols said. The Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid delivers 400 horsepower and 53/54 mpg city/highway.

Crossovers thrive because they marry car and truck. Essentially tall station wagons with passenger car handling and efficiency, crossovers offer the comfort and utility that once boosted SUVs, but with a softer ride. Sharing architecture makes better crossovers possible — now and in the future.


How a Trump presidency would
affect Canada's economy

The Globe and Mail
August 6, 2016

"President Donald Trump" is now a distinct possibility.

Once considered a long-shot to emerge from the Republican field, Mr. Trump has stormed his way to the party's nomination, garnering support for his tough-on-trade agenda.

"I am going to bring our jobs back to Ohio and Pennsylvania and New York and Michigan and all of America and I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences," he said in last week's acceptance speech.

If Mr. Trump is elected and carries through with his promises, shock waves could be sent through the global economy and financial markets.

With that in mind, here's how a Trump presidency might affect Canada's economy:

Trump and trade

Mr. Trump is pledging to overhaul U.S. trade relations.

"This wave of globalization has wiped out totally, totally our middle class," he said in June. "It doesn't have to be this way. We can turn it around and we can turn it around fast."

Mr. Trump plans to axe the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an ambitious trade agreement between 12 countries (including the U.S. and Canada) that account for 40 per cent of global economic output. The deal, which has yet to be ratified, "would be the death blow for American manufacturing," he says.

Likewise, in a 2015 interview on 60 Minutes, Mr. Trump described the North American free-trade agreement as a "disaster" he would renegotiate or even "break." He recently reiterated those comments.

If elected, Mr. Trump would have some leeway to further his protectionist platform.

For instance, he could terminate any free-trade deal, though such a decision would likely get dragged through the courts, a trade expert tells Reuters. (Under the NAFTA agreement, any party to the deal can withdraw with six months' notice.) However, Mr. Trump's plans for tariffs – he's proposed steeper taxation on goods imported from China and Mexico – would need congressional approval.

The implications for Canada could be significant.

The TPP would lower trade barriers, allowing Canada to import goods at lower prices. Broadly speaking, the deal would facilitate "higher productivity, higher GDP and higher incomes," economics professor Trevor Tombe wrote in Maclean's, though not every industry would benefit.

Moreover, Canada is highly dependent on a healthy trade relationship with its southern neighbour. The vast majority of Canadian exports end up on U.S. soil.

"We would view a Trump win as very bad for Canada's economy," Capital Economics said in a recent report. "If he doesn't push the U.S. economy into recession by slashing public spending, Canada's exports might end up as collateral damage in his push to increase protectionism."

For its part, TD Economics is not wildly concerned by the campaign rhetoric.

Protectionist talk is common in U.S. presidential campaigns, TD economists Beata Caranci and Leslie Preston note in a report. "But, when it comes time to govern, [presidents] frequently implement much more pragmatic policies that attempt to level the playing field rather than rewrite history."

It's worth noting that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton does not support TPP, a change in position, and has also levelled criticism at NAFTA.


7 Secrets Car Dealers Hope
You Don't Know

Nancy Dunham
August 5, 2016

When my husband and I sat in a dealer showroom, I had no doubt we would drive away in a brand new Nissan Xterra with all the extras — after paying a ridiculously low price.

"You're killing me on this," the sales manager told us as we negotiated to bring the price lower and lower. "I'm not making any money on this deal."

That was a fib.

I knew from my years as a journalist covering the auto industry that this dealer was banking on a huge bonus from Nissan for selling me this car. See, some automakers offer dealers "stair step" incentives. Basically that's a payment for each car — might be $500 a car, might be $800 a car, might be a different figure — paid when a dealer sells a specific number of designated models during a definitive time period, often a month.

As we drove off the lot in our tricked out, low-cost SUV, I was certain our purchase pushed the dealer into the magic zone. I knew we had found a bargain.

Many — though not all — automakers have discontinued stair-step incentives at the insistence of dealers. But there are plenty of other ways to make sure you snare the best possible deal on a car.

Forget the adage that small dealerships will give you better deals. Large dealers move hundreds of cars every month so they can afford to sell at least a few cars for less than invoice (called "Back of Book"). Remember, some automakers still offer "stair-step" awards to dealers. And even if they don't, they often offer other incentives to those who meet sales targets or move specific models.

There's no need to drive all over town and haggle. Once you narrow down the models you most want, simply go to the automakers' websites. Most of us shy away from that button marked "shopping tools" on those sites. Don't. Use the "Find a Dealer" tool and allow dealers to contact you. I did that in December when we bought a Mini and had dealers vying for my business. Don't shy away from letting dealers know you are talking to others. That puts you in a position of power. One tip: Make sure you get an "Out the Door" price that includes all taxes, fees and extras. You don't want to bank on an ultra-low price only to discover you also have to pay for multiple extras.

If you need a car loan, don't forget to shop for the best deal on that as well. You can start by comparing car loans in our Solutions Center.

Do you want to work with someone who is unpleasant or hostile? Neither do car salespeople. Yes, they want to sell cars for as much as possible. They know you want to pay as little as possible. But if your salesperson likes you, they may well point you to models that better suit your needs and save you money. They may also sway their sales managers to give you some extras or even a price break.

If you or a friend has worked with a specific salesperson in the past, email him or her directly when you are in the market to buy a new car. Salespeople who have established client bases are valuable to their dealerships. They will work hard to win you a good deal because that increases their professional value.

When dealers know you want to trade in your car, they have more leverage in the negotiation. Dealers know you want top value for your trade in and will often give it, but then not budge on the sales price of the new car, CNN reminds us. If a salesperson asks about a trade-in, tell them you have yet to decide if you'll trade your old vehicle in.

I wanted a two-seater sports car, but I didn't want to pay a premium price. So when I went shopping in December, I considered models that I knew dealers were anxious to move. I ended up with a Mini Cooper Roadster. I knew the model would be discontinued in 2015, so I focused in on that when I was shopping. The one I chose was a dealer test car, so it had about 1,000 miles on it — since it was "used" that yielded another major price cut for me.

Car pricing is more complicated than most buyers realize. Auto manufacturers build in "dealer holdbacks" that give the dealer somewhere around what Edmunds reports is about $500 leeway per car (again, this varies depending on many factors). That means there is generally about a $500 difference between what the dealer pays for a car and the invoice price. Those "holdbacks" are something akin to sacred ground for car dealers. It gives dealers the option to price "below invoice" on some cars and know they will make a certain minimum profit on each car. Don't even try to negotiate into the "holdback."




Ford recalls 830,000
2012-2016 Ford and Lincoln
vehicles to fix latches

August 4, 2016

Ford recalls 830,000 2012-2016 Ford and Lincoln vehicles to fix latches

Ford Motor on Thursday announced a recall of 830,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles to replace faulty side door latches.

Ford Motor (F) on Thursday announced a recall of about 830,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles to replace faulty side door latches that could unlatch when driving.

The vehicles involved in the recall include 2013-15 Ford C-MAX, 2013-15 Ford Escape, 2012-15 Ford Focus, 2015 Ford Mustang and Lincoln MKC, and 2014-16 Ford Transit Connect.

The automaker said it has identified one reported accident and one reported injury that may be related to the latches.

The approximately 828,053 vehicles affected include 766,682 in the United States and 61,371 in Mexico.

Dealers will replace side door latches at no cost. If a vehicle's door latch is broken, Ford will provide a one-time replacement at no charge for the life of the vehicle.

Because the rate of reports is higher for vehicles in states with higher temperatures, Ford said its recall is focused primarily in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Oregon and Washington.


Popular SUVs
and crossovers
with big savings

The Globe and Mail
August 2, 2016

The SUV and crossover segment continues to be the engine of growth for new vehicle sales in Canada, with volumes up by nearly 16 per cent year to date. While continued record sales volumes have been a positive for all industry players, competition remains fierce among auto makers battling for market share. The result is great deals for consumers on even the most popular models, with auto makers delivering ever more creative offers to attract consumers.

Mazda recently launched a 2016.5 version of its top selling CX-5 with more standard features than the original 2016 version, such as added navigation with voice recognition and rear cross-traffic alert system on its most popular GS trim, while maintaining the same vehicle price as before. As well, Mazda's "Summer Escape Event" offers buyers of any new Mazda a complimentary two-night hotel stay within Canada.

Ford is in the midst of its Ford Employee Pricing promotion, which will be available until the end of September and eligible Costco members can qualify for an additional $1,000 rebate on many Ford vehicles during that period. In an effort to retain existing owners and convert new buyers, Jeep is offering customers loyalty or conquest rebates of $500 to $2,000, depending on the model purchased or leased, which is in addition to already attractive incentives.

The deals featured this week are some of Canada's most popular SUVs, and all feature noteworthy savings. Be sure to check out the other featured deals this month including our favourite sedans, coupes and pickups which are available through to Aug. 2:

Rare new car deals with both cash rebates and zero per cent financing

The biggest discounts on sedans that think they are sports cars

The best deals on the top-rated cars for initial quality

2016 Ford Edge

Ford Edge

The Ford Edge is the ninth best-selling SUV in Canada year to date, with a 28 per cent increase in sales over last year. Cash purchase, finance and lease clients can take advantage of a $2,139 manufacturer incentive on the 2016 Edge SE AWD during Ford's Employee Pricing event. Financing for 60 months and leasing for 48 months are both available at 0.99 per cent. Eligible Costco members can also qualify for an additional $1,000 rebate in addition to the savings noted below.

2016 Ford Edge SE AWD

Vehicle Price: $35,099

Ford Employee Pricing discount: $2,139

Freight, PDI, government fees: $1,830

Cash purchase price before tax: $34,790

Finance for 60 months at 0.99 per cent interest for $672 per month including tax (includes a $2,139 Ford Employee Pricing discount and assumes zero down payment)

Lease for 48 months at 0.99 per cent interest for $495 per month including tax (includes a $2,139 Ford Employee Pricing discount, assumes a 20,000 annual kilometre allowance and zero down payment)


Pensions: For CEOs Only

Leo W. Gerard
Huffington Post
Aug 1, 2016

Grandma skips meals. Her house is always cold. She barely skimps by, subsisting on just Social Security because of a bunch of pension-killing CEOs and self-dealing financial "advisers."

The U.S. Labor Department offered some rules last week to help grandma with half the reason she's got no pension or 401(k) retirement account to help pay those heating bills. The regulations will require financial advisers to put their clients' interests first, instead of their own.

That's good, but working people wouldn't be messing with flimflam financial advisers if corporations hadn't squirmed out of providing traditional pensions and stuffed all of the money instead into the pockets of CEOs. Over the past three decades, corporations virtually eliminated secure pensions, forced workers into risky, self-pay plans and handed hundreds of millions in tax-free retirement benefits to the top dogs. Pensions aren't dead; they're just exclusive now.

The McKesson Corporation provides a perfect example of this. McKesson froze its employee pension in 1996, and barred workers who were hired after that from participating. By contrast, several years later, McKesson established an executive retirement account for CEO John Hammergren. It put $114 million in there for him, which when added to Hammergren's other McKesson pension benefits, gives him a total of $145,513,853.

Since Hammergren became McKesson president and CEO in 2001, the company has quadrupled revenues and provided shareholders with more than a 17 percent compounded annual return. Nice work, Hammergren – and 76,000 other dedicated McKesson employees!

Still, apparently, that highly productive work wasn't good enough for McKesson to unfreeze the retirement account for its loyal employees, just good enough to line Hammergren's pockets with gold.

McKesson does provide its workers with the opportunity to put their own money in a 401(k) plan. Until the new Labor Department rules take effect next year, they can hope a financial adviser won't cheat them on investment of that money.

The average McKesson employee has $83,778 in a 401(k), which is nearly 7 times what the typical American worker has saved at retirement. That will get the McKesson employee a monthly check of $472 to help pay the heating bill, somewhat less than the $819,000 monthly check Hammergren will get from his pure gold nest egg.

The secure pension that grandma and grandpa once received was called a defined benefit pension. Each hour a worker labored, he or she earned a contribution by the employer into a fund that would pay this benefit on retirement. It was deferred compensation.

Defined benefit pensions, safer conditions, and, of course, better pay, were among the many workplace improvements hard won by 5,000 strikes involving 4.6 million American union workers in the years after World War II. Before the war, in 1940, only 15 percent of private sector workers had defined benefit pensions. By 1960, 41 percent did.

That number rose to 46 percent in 1980. But then progress stopped. In 1981, Republican President Ronald Reagan broke the air traffic controllers union by replacing striking workers. That sent a signal for the first time since Democrat FDR paved the way for unionization in 1935 that the government would support corporations that destroyed unions, corporations that crushed the ability of working people to collectively bargain to improve their lives.

Corporations responded by doing everything they felt they could get away with to obliterate unions of working people. In 1980, about 23 percent of private sector workers were union members. Today, it's 6.7 percent.

No wonder only about 13 percent of private sector workers have defined benefit pensions now, back down to where it was in 1940, before all those workers got organized, before all those strikes.

Instead of secure defined benefit pensions, corporations stuck workers with those 401(k) plans instead. "You'll love 'em," the corporate bosses said, "You can take 'em with you when we push you out the door."

Those plans, and Individual Retirement Accounts, IRAs, are the ones where workers get cheated, where they think the financial adviser is helping them because all the signs in the office windows proclaim baloney like, "Clients First!" The "adviser" never mentions to the worker that the mutual fund he's recommending not only is low yield but also pays the adviser huge commissions for every sucker he signs up.

The Obama administration estimated that cheating, self-dealing and conflicts-of-interest cost workers $17 billion a year. That should be $17 billion more in workers' retirement accounts. Every year.

The amount a worker can put in his 401(k) is limited. It's $24,000 a year for workers older than 50. And to their credit, some corporations match worker contributions.

By contrast, there's no limit on what CEOs can sock away tax free in their super special retirement accounts.

That limitlessness is clear in this figure: The 100 biggest CEO retirement funds add up to $4.9 billion.

That $4.9 billion is equal to the entire retirement savings of 41 percent of American families, 50 million families, 116 million people.

And if that's not bad enough, there is also fact that the massive pile of CEO pension money is tax-free. That means workers make up the difference – workers must pay more taxes because CEOs pay less.

Here is just one example of the cost to taxpayers for a CEO. Glenn Renwick, CEO of Progressive Insurance, put $26.2 million in his tax-deferred account in 2014. That saved him $10 million in federal taxes. That $10 million came instead from workers who reliably paid up every week with IRS deductions directly from their paychecks. Of course, that left them with less to invest in 401(k) accounts.

Progressive's Flo can change the price with her Name Your Price Tool, just like Obama's Labor Department changed the pension adviser rules. And the U.S. government can change the grotesquely unfair rules under which CEOs like Progressive's Renwick get special pension tax treatment.

The government could also strengthen the ability of workers to organize and, as they did in the 1950s, stand together and collectively bargain for better pay and pensions. Then, grandma could retire with dignity and heat her house.


Congratulations to
our newest Retiree

Ted Froll

Ted Froll
Aug. 1, 2016
21.1 Yrs

Ted Joined us from Montreal


Ontario Medical Association
urges doctors to support deal

Agreement includes new opportunities for family medicine
graduates and an increase to physician services budget.

July 31, 2016
Theresa Boyle
Toronto Star

Doctors Virginia Walley and Scott Wooder have spent the last three weeks criss-crossing the province, trying to sell physicians on a tentative agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the provincial government.

The results of their efforts will be revealed Aug. 14 at a general membership meeting of the OMA, which represents the province's 42,000 doctors — including residents and students, as well as those who are practicing or retired.

Both Walley, president of the OMA, and Wooder, a former president and co-chair of its negotiating committee, say they are confident a majority of doctors will see the reasonableness of the deal and accept it.

But they are being forced to work hard for every vote as some of the highest paid specialists and a dissident group known as Concerned Ontario Doctors lobby to defeat the deal.

If ratified, the agreement will put an end to two years of acrimony with the province, marked by two rounds of unilateral fee cuts, a reduction in the number of spots in family practices for new grads and limited physician input on much-needed system reform.

"I feel the majority of our members will understand that the (deal) will bring some stability to the system," Walley says.

"The various promises in it are substantial and will serve as a bridge for us as we go forward with our charter challenge," she adds, referring to the OMA's legal quest for the right to binding arbitration to resolve future bargaining disputes.

The four-year deal would increase the physician services budget by 2.5 per cent annually, raising it to $12.8 billion in 2019-20 from $11.9 billion in 2016-17.

That's double the 1.25 per cent annual increase unilaterally imposed by the province and twice what conciliator Warren Winkler two years ago suggested doctors should accept.

There are also one-time annual payments ranging from $50 million to $120 million, which would be cut proportionately if physicians go over budget.

Doctors would co-manage the physician services budget with the province, have a strong voice in system reform and an assurance from government of no further unilateral action.

Family medicine graduates would have more opportunities to join group practices.

In a big win for doctors, the bill would strike sections of Bill 210, the Patients First Act, which would have given significant oversight of the profession to LHINs, or Local Health Integration Networks. These are the 14 arm's length government agencies charged with distributing provincial health funding, and planning and integrating health services in distinct geographical areas of the province.

Important to the province and taxpayers, the deal would provide certainty in physician spending. With the fee-for-service method of payment, doctors have much discretion in payments they claim from OHIP. In past years, they have been known to overspend their budget by hundreds of millions of dollars, monies that the government is forced to take from other ministries, even education and social services.

The deal calls for modernizing the schedule of benefits, which includes more than 7,000 fee codes that doctors use when charging OHIP for procedures they perform.

Many fees are considered overvalued, particularly those involving technologies which allow specialists to do more procedures faster. It's this part of the proposed deal that has some of the highest paid specialists concerned.

Not surprisingly, specialists such as radiologists, ophthalmologists and cardiologists are opposed to it.

The contract would aim to level the playing field between them and some of the lower paid specialties, including pediatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists, geriatricians and physiatrists, Wooder explains.

To recalibrate the fee schedule, consideration will be given to best evidence, value for money and appropriateness, he says.

The deal might cut fees for doctors who bill more than $1 million annually.

So opposed is the Ontario Association of Radiologists to the tentative contract that it recently succeeded in using legal action to get the OMA's membership list — complete with email and postal addresses of all doctors — presumably to lobby them directly.

There are rumblings that some specialty groups might try to sue the OMA for failing to represent their interests. Radiologists tried this back in 1998.

But legislation passed by the province last December gives legal immunity to OMA staff and members from civil action arising out of contract negotiations with the province.

Concerned Ontario Doctors, whose membership includes some specialty groups, charges that the deal was made in secret and does not include enough money to cover the costs of serving an aging population and paying a growing physician workforce. They have condemned the OMA leadership for failing to get binding arbitration.

The group recently held a news conference at Queen's Park where radiologist Dr. David Jacobs slammed the deal as a "complete surrender."

Aggressive and caustic on social media, Concerned Ontario Doctors have called for the resignations of Walley, Wooder, Hoskins, Premier Kathleen Wynne and others.

The group last week managed to scuttle a referendum vote on the deal that was supposed to take place from July 27 to Aug. 3, by getting more than 3,000 signatures on a petition to hold a general membership meeting instead.

But also last week, the 3,500-member strong Ontario Medical Students Association endorsed the proposed offer.

Said third-year University of Ottawa medical student Jonathan Gravel: "There is no way that we can/should get a better deal from the government right now. Physician payments don't exist in isolation from the rest of the government finances."

Walley and Wooder say this is the best deal doctors can extract from the province and it's far better than the alternative — more unilateral action.

Government sources say treasury board refuses to cough up another cent.

It's "imperfect," Walley says, but at the same time it's a "reasonable offer to members in tough economic times."


45M vehicles recalled from
2013-15 haven't been fixed

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
July 30, 2016

About 40 percent of all vehicles recalled between 2013 and 2015 still haven't been fixed, and that's creating problems for drivers, dealers and automakers.

The defects have not been remedied in more than 45 million vehicles that were the subject of safety recalls during those three years, J.D. Power said Monday. Nearly 109 million cars and trucks were recalled during that time period, the global marketing information services firm said.

"The steady surge in recalls, combined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's stated goal of 100 percent recall completion rates, have made the number of unremedied recalls still on the road a critical statistic for automakers and dealers," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power.

Stricter regulations, standardization of parts and new technologies have led automakers to four consecutive years of increased recalls in the United States, including records in 2014 and 2015.

Consumer complaints, according to Stephens, are "rising as fast as the recall" rate itself. Those complaints can help automakers and regulators identify concerns more quickly.

"We've been looking at safety more closely really because it's become an industry issue with not only the number of recalls but the number of complaints," she said.

By analyzing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and proprietary J.D. Power benchmarking data, the firm identified that primary factors affecting completion rates are vehicle age and type, number of cars involved in a recall and type of recall.

■Age: Consumers are less likely to take in older cars and trucks for recall fixes.

"On vehicles that are newer, they had a higher competition rate … those consumers are maybe more connected to the dealer a lot faster than consumers that have an older model-year vehicles," Stephens said.

The completion rate for vehicles with model years between 2013 and 2017 is 73 percent, compared to 44 percent for vehicles manufactured between 2003 and 2007.

Stephens added that many times it's hard for automakers to contact second- or third-generations of owners — a problem General Motors Co. ran into with its ignition switch recall involving 1.93 million vehicles in the United States.

■Vehicle type: Among vehicle segments, big vans have the highest overall recall completion rate at 86 percent, followed closely by compact premium SUVs at 85 percent. Those compare with the mid-premium sports car segment, which has a completion rate of just 31 percent, and with large SUV's which have a completion rate of 33 percent.

■Larger recalls, bigger problems: The completion rate for individual recalls affecting more than 1 million vehicles is 49 percent. This compares with a 67 percent completion rate for individual recalls affecting less than 10,000.

Some of the problem, Stephens said, may involve parts shortages or dealers not receiving the parts in a timely fashion. "Making sure that the parts are available, that their at the dealer when the consumer goes, is very important," she said. Several automakers recently ran into problems with parts shortages involving defective air bag inflators made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp. in more than 12 million vehicles.

NHTSA previously criticized Fiat Chrysler for parts availability and the slow pace of fixes on millions of Jeeps recalled for possible gas tank fires; the company didn't start fixing them until August 2014, more than a year after agreeing to the callback.

■Type of recall: The highest recall completion rates for components are for powertrains (71 percent), electrical (62 percent) and brakes (66 percent). Air bags and suspension issues have the lowest completion rates at 47 percent and 48 percent, respectively.

Automakers, pushed by NHTSA, have launched new initiatives to get vehicle owners to get vehicles repaired. GM, Volkswagen AG and Fiat Chrysler offered gift cards or prepaid debit cards in some recent recalls.

Stephens argues if an automaker and dealer handle recalls well, they can turn a negative into a positive — whether it be reconnecting with a former customer or showing them new products they have to offer.

"It can be a very positive experience if it's done correctly," she said.


Ford's 2Q earnings
fall 9% to $2 billion

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
July 29, 2016

Ford Motor Co.'s second-quarter earnings fell 9 percent to $2 billion as the company faced slower sales and rising incentives in the U.S., higher costs in China and weakened currency in the U.K. following the Brexit vote.

The Dearborn automaker on Thursday said its second-quarter numbers — including a pre-tax profit of $3 billion and margins of 7.7 percent — contributed to a record first half, but warnings of a weak second half sent its stock tumbling.

"We now see a number of risks the entire Ford team is working to mitigate," President and CEO Mark Fields said on a conference call with analysts.

Chief among those concerns is a plateauing U.S. sales market, whose negative effects will be amplified in the third quarter by downtime for its highly profitable Super Duty pickup as it transitions to a new aluminum-bodied model.

As a result, Ford said its full year 2016 guidance is "at risk," but it still expects to match or exceed 2015's financial figures through "profit improvement actions" that could include production slowdowns.

"They definitely have some challenges, but it's not disastrous," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Autotrader.com. "Sales have peaked, but the sky's not falling; it's still going to be a very good profit-sharing year."

Ford's stock, which closed Wednesday at $13.48 a share, tumbled 8.2 percent to close at $12.70.

Ford's second-quarter earnings per share of 52 cents a share was off 8 cents from a collection of Wall Street analysts, who expected Ford to make 60 cents per share. The automaker posted revenue of $39.5 million, up 6 percent.

"While we're still having a strong quarter ... it is not what (analysts) had expected," Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said.

Ford's earnings were again dominated by North America, where it made $2.7 billion — down 5 percent from a year ago — and profit margins of 11.3 percent, down from 12.2 percent. Ford took a $100 million loss in the second quarter because of the Takata air bag recall.

The company's North America numbers were down $135 million from the same time a year ago. New-vehicle launches like the refreshed Fusion, Lincoln MKZ, Focus RS and others helped sales, but the automaker will take a hit when it changes over to the aluminum version of its Super Duty pickup.

The automaker said the industry is suffering from rising incentives as competing car companies put more discounts on cars to maintain market share in a slowing market. "The bottom line is we've seen a tougher pricing environment this quarter and we will face one going forward," Fields said.

Ford has changed its 2016 sales forecast, which includes medium- and heavy-duty trucks, from 17.5 million to 18.5 million vehicles, down to 17.4 million to 17.9 million vehicles.

"I think we're starting to see a maturation of the economic cycle," Shanks said of the U.S.

Ford also posted a best-ever second quarter in Europe, where it made $467 million, which included a $60 million hit from the Brexit vote. Ford expects to lose $145 million in the second half because of the the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union. It expects to lose $400 million to $500 million each year in 2017 and 2018.

Shanks said there are no specific plans for job cuts or manufacturing changes in Europe. The team understands we have to respond to the new reality we're facing." .

Ford lost money everywhere else. It lost $265 million in South America, where a difficult Brazil economy again gave it trouble. It lost $65 million in the Middle East and Africa, and $8 million in Asia Pacific — the first time it's posted a loss there in 13 quarters.

The worse-than-expected figures and weak outlook worried some analysts.

"We cannot be optimistic for a positive catalyst to move the stock up this year," Morningstar Equity wrote in an investor note. "A slowing U.S. and China market for Ford plus Brexit has negative cash-flow implications for our model and also hurts sentiment on what was already a stock with poor sentiment due to fears of peak auto sales in the U.S."

Despite the second-quarter miss, Ford's first-half financials were strong. Its pretax profit was up 35 percent to a record $6.8 billion.

Ford recently began selling new vehicles like the Focus RS, and refreshed Fusion and Lincoln MKZ. Later this year, it will roll out the Lincoln Continental, aluminum Super Duty and Raptor performance truck.

Ford is the final Detroit automaker to report earnings. General Motors Co. last week reported a record $2.7 billion second-quarter earnings, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Wednesday reported a profit of $352.8 million.

Despite concerns across the globe, Fields said a weak second half to 2016 isn't an indication of things to come and that 2017 will be "another solid year."

When asked about how the automaker tries to focus on running the business in spite of sluggish stock prices, Fields said "it's kind of like when you're having a bad golf game; you just play through it."


Trump softens stand on tax
for Ford's Mexico cars

Chad Livengood,
Detroit News
July 28, 2016

Toledo — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump indicated Wednesday that he might soften his stance on penalizing Ford Motor Co. for making vehicles in Mexico.

The New York businessman has criticized Ford for taking advantage of the North American Free Trade Agreement to invest more than $4 billion in Mexican auto assembly and parts facilities and build mostly cars that would be sold in the United States. Under the 22-year-old U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, Ford doesn't pay a tariff or import tax on vehicles it makes in Mexico and ships to America.

"It would be 35 percent, it may be 10 percent, it may be five percent, it may be 20 percent," Trump said in an interview with The Detroit News before a campaign rally here.

"We determine what the tariff will be. But when companies leave Michigan or they leave Ohio and they go to Mexico and they think they're going to sell product into our country with no tax, they're wrong about that."

A Ford spokeswoman sidestepped Trump's comments, but found a trade issue where the company agrees with the real estate mogul.

"As a top U.S. exporter, we believe U.S. policy needs to address foreign currency manipulation," Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said late Wednesday. "There is bipartisan agreement by the two presidential candidates on this important trade issue."

Trump made the comments on a day when he held a press conference in Florida and made separate campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Ohio. In Toledo, the bombastic billionaire hit his usual message about American economic decline.

In the interview with The News, Trump reiterated he would "pull out" of NAFTA if he can't get a better deal for American workers.

"NAFTA has been a disaster for manufacturing," he said. "It's gone on too long, signed a long time ago and somebody should have renegotiated this a long time ago."

Todd Filip, who works at an auto supply plant in Wauseon, Ohio, said Trump's criticism of NAFTA as being a "disaster" for American workers conforms to the view he's held for years.

"I've always believed that ever since (Bill) Clinton signed NAFTA," Filip said after attending the Toledo rally. "I'm 47, and I've seen jobs leaving ever since."

Trump packed the 8,000-seat Huntington Center and continued to decry NAFTA and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement among 12 Pacific rim countries. The rally came on the heels last week of Trump's nomination convention in Cleveland.

"Trans Pacific Partnership, it is a total disaster. "It will drain jobs out of this area … out of Toledo, Ohio like we've never seen before," Trump told supporters at an event staged five miles away from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's Jeep assembly plants.

Two weeks ago, Fiat Chrysler said it will invest about $700 million and add 700 workers at the Toledo Assembly Complex North plant for production of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. An announcement about the future of the South plant at the complex will be made later, the company said.

Trump's focus on trade deals comes as Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has continued to distance herself from trade agreements she once supported — a movement she made in the Democratic primaries against Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Top Clinton supporters sought to portray Clinton as being in line with Trump's hard-line position on trade issues. United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams said this week that Clinton is now open to renegotiating NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of the Clintons, set off a firestorm for the Clinton campaign when he said the former secretary of state would likely sign the TPP agreement after getting elected and making changes to the proposal, Politico.com reported.

"I worry that if we don't do TPP, at some point China's going to break the rules — but Hillary understands this," McAuliffe told Politico.

The Virginia governor was forced to backtrack on the comment.

"Hillary is against TPP and she is always gonna stay against TPP. Let me be crystal clear about that," McAuliffe said in a closed-door meeting at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, NBC News reported. The network obtained video of McAuliffe's comments sitting along side AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

Trump jumped on McAuliffe's comments Wednesday morning during a televised press conference in Doral, Fla., before holding campaign rallies in Scranton, Pa., and Toledo.

"She lied about TPP. She was for TPP, she saw me on television knocking the hell out of it because it's a horror show, it's going to kill all our jobs, it's going to be almost as bad as NAFTA," Trump told reporters.

He said McAuliffe's original comments were believable. "There is nobody, including her own husband, closer to Hillary Clinton than Terry McAuliffe."

In The News' interview in Toledo, Trump predicted Ford and other companies would reverse course on moving production to Mexico for lower-wage labor once his proposed tariff is enacted.

"And by the way, if we charge them a tax, they're never going to leave," Trump told The News.

Trump said the tariff would sail through Congress.

"We'll get it through very easily, believe me," he said. "Everyone agrees. … Our companies are leaving our country and we're tired of it. When this all takes, it's going to happen and it's going to be great for America."

In May, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. defended NAFTA, arguing it has allowed Ford to "build our business on both sides of the border." About 80 percent of Ford's vehicles are assembled inside the U.S., but the automaker has used Mexico plants to increase the profitability of its small cars in a country with cheaper production costs than in the United States.

"Our U.S. manufacturing business has grown, and our Mexican manufacturing business has grown," Ford said. "We think it has been a good deal."

Trump said he's got a "whole list" of demands for America's trading partners, but he did not disclose them in the brief interview.

"What we're going to do is very strongly say we're going to renegotiate or we're going to pull out," Trump told The News.

Trump supporters attending the Toledo rally said they like the real estate mogul's frank approach to getting tough with America's trading partners.

"In order to get this country back in shape, we need a businessman, we don't need a politician," said Craig Sennett, a 48-year-old information technology worker from Toledo.


UAW leader: Clinton open
to renegotiating NAFTA

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
July 27, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is open to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement that her husband and former President Bill Clinton crafted, United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams said Tuesday.

He said Clinton during one-on-one meeting prior to the UAW endorsing the Democratic candidate in May said "she would dig into NAFTA" and "made every indication that she would sit down and try to redo NAFTA."

"She recognizes that NAFTA is not the success that it was supposed to be; she recognizes the fact it must be renegotiated," Williams said during a conference call with media from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

This is not the first time Clinton has indicated she might rework the trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In her 2008 campaign for president, Clinton called for a "trade timeout" and said NAFTA was "a mistake to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would." The concession came after years of defending her husband's landmark trade pact, according to Politifact.com.

American unions have called the trade deal that took effect in 1994 a job killer that allowed companies to invest billions of dollars in Mexico and send hundreds of thousands of jobs south of the border.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump last week during the Republican National Convention vowed to use his business acumen to renegotiate the 22-year-old continental trade pact with Canada and Mexico, saying he would "walk away" from the pact if he couldn't get a better deal for U.S. workers.

In the past two years, Trump has criticized Ford Motor Co. for taking advantage of NAFTA to invest more than $4 billion in Mexican auto assembly and parts facilities to build mostly cars that would be sold in the United States.

Williams, who has regularly criticized Trump for comments on labor, questioned the New York businessman's ability and exact plans to renegotiate or kill the deal if elected president.

"What bothers us more than anything about what Trump says is he throws out these things and never gets into how he's going to do something: 'I'm going to make America great again.' Does that mean we're going to go back to slave wages and everything else?

"With Hillary Clinton we know what she's capable of doing."

Williams added she "has a visible track record" as a former secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York and first lady that the union supports.

Trump has the backing of many blue-collar workers that labor unions have prided themselves on representing. In May, Williams said an internal survey of union members found about 28 percent of members supported the billionaire businessman.

Williams said Tuesday said he believes the number has declined to less than 20 percent, but cited non-scientific reasoning. "We are already seeing indications of our members shifting," he said.

Although not as influential as it once was at its peak of 1.5 million in 1979, the UAW has membership and retirees of more than 1 million, including about 412,000 active workers.

The UAW continues to fight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries signed by political leaders, including President Barack Obama, earlier this year after seven years of negotiations.

"The issue of TPP, the issue of working men and women in this country, is still at our forefront," Williams said. "We are pushing the agenda as much as possible."


Auto makers and governments
must invest in the long game

Globe & Mail
Jerry Dias
July 26, 2016

In three weeks, Unifor launches negotiations involving 23,000 members at General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Securing the future of the industry is our top priority.

Automotive investment is a long game. Key decisions are made years before new products roll off the line. While these are good times for the auto makers, and output in Canada remains brisk, the long planning cycle means we urgently need investments for the survival of several major operations.

Our success in these negotiations will determine the livelihoods of thousands of workers and the future of our industry, and set an important precedent about the kind of economy we want.

It's been seven long years since the worst of the global financial crisis and recession, and we're into our second year of the most recent commodities bust. Hopefully, we've learned the painful lessons about Canada's need for a balanced economy – one built not only on financial speculation or commodity booms, but including a core focus on advanced manufacturing as an engine of innovation, skills development and wealth creation.

Despite a rough ride, Canada's automotive sector remains vibrant, with five global auto makers and more than 600 auto-parts operations. Auto remains Canada's most valuable export, at $77-billion last year. The industry directly employs 125,000 people and the spinoffs generate a total of more than 300,000 jobs. The industry is crucial at a time when good jobs remain scarce.

Auto is also essential for the health of our public services. A 2015 independent analysis demonstrated that the GM Oshawa operations alone were responsible for more than 30,000 jobs and $1-billion a year in tax revenues. And that's from just one of Canada's nine major auto maker production locations.

Canada remains an incredible place to build vehicles. Our highly skilled work force means that our plants have the best quality record in the world. In the past 25 years, Canadian assembly plants have earned one-third of the top quality awards among all plants selling into the U.S. market. Within the Detroit Three, we regularly earn more than double our share of quality awards. Since we last negotiated, vehicles built by our members earned one-third of the quality awards, although we produce just 15 per cent of the models.

Canada is also an important market. The $30-billion Canadians spent buying 835,000 Detroit Three vehicles last year makes us their fifth-largest global market, and contributed in the range of $2.5-billion in combined operating profits.

Auto workers' wages always get a lot of attention. Work in an auto plant is demanding, with regular night and weekend shifts. Workers start at $20 an hour and progress to $34 after a decade of service. It's decent pay for tough work. However, labour is just a small fraction of the overall price of the vehicle. The lion's share of costs are purchased parts, materials, overhead and selling. In fact, our labour represents just 4 per cent of the price of the vehicles we produce. That's certainly not the deciding factor for investment.

Increasingly, we see governments playing a pivotal role in supporting automotive investment. Whether it's in the U.S. Midwest, the Southern states or Mexico, governments understand that auto is the top prize for economic development. Ontario and the federal government have been saying the right things, but in the weeks ahead they will need to be ready to act.

As we reach our deadline in mid-September, we'll be pushing hard to secure needed investments. Our members put their hearts and souls into their work. They've made sacrifices and done more than their share to contribute to the success of the companies. We remain confident that the auto makers and governments will want to share in the continued success of the industry in Canada. We remain firm in our resolve to make that happen.


Investment in Canadian
auto sector key, union says

The Canadian Press
July 25, 2016

TORONTO - As talks between the Detroit Three automakers and the workers' union get underway, Unifor president Jerry Dias says he won't back down from demands for new investment in Canadian assembly facilities.

"The climate today is much different than it was four years ago," said Dias, referring to the last round of bargaining.

"Four years ago they had come out of the 2008-2009 recession, but there was still a lot of uncertainty. This round of bargaining is really about solidifying the footprint in Canada. There's no question in my mind that it's about the future of the industry."

With the current agreements set to expire on Sept. 19, both sides have entered into early explanatory discussions -- what Dias refers to as "kicking the tires."

Once the deadline draws near, the union will choose a target company to try to hammer out a deal with that will set the tone for negotiations with the others, a process referred to as pattern bargaining.

Unifor has some bargaining chips in its pocket. For one thing, the weak Canadian dollar relative to the greenback makes for lower labour costs.

Furthermore, auto sales have been on fire, with recent data suggesting Canada is on track for another record year.

And the automakers have been "making money hand-over-first," said Dias.

General Motors, for example, reported Thursday that its second-quarter profit more than doubled to $2.87 billion -- the highest it's been since the company emerged from bankruptcy seven years ago.

"If we can't negotiate a settlement that gives our members' security while times are good, we would be naive to believe that we can negotiate stability when times are bad," said Dias.

"So the stars are aligned for us, candidly."

While raises and other employee benefits would be welcome, Dias noted that securing investment in Canada from the Detroit Three is key during this round of negotiations.

"I'm completely convinced that GM will close our assembly plant if we don't nail down future product," he said, referring to the company's Oshawa, Ont., plant, which some fear may be shut down given the lack of new production announcements.

Also in the spotlight is Ford's engine plant in Windsor, Ont., and, to a lesser extent, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles factory in Brampton,Ont., he added.

"Negotiating wage increases and other things for our members is moot if we don't have an assembly plant," Dias said.

Ford Canada also says labour costs and productivity are important issues in the upcoming talks. Canadian auto manufacturing is at an "inflection point," the organization said, with much of the new investment heading south.

"We've reached competitive agreements in the past and must do it again to win future production for Canada," spokeswoman Lauren More said in an email.

Industry analyst Mark Petro says there's a risk that the auto companies could try to appease the union by promising work, but in lower volumes.

"They really need to focus on getting some larger-volume products that will be stable in the long term," said Petro.

"A five-year fix or a 10-year fix on vehicles that can move around any time or to any place is not a good thing.... It's got to be the right vehicle for the right length of time."


GM Canada faces pension gap;
future of Oshawa plant in focus

The Globe and Mail
22 July 2016
Greg Keenan

The financial health of General Motors of Canada Ltd. pension plans improved in 2015, but the auto maker still faces a deficit of $3-billion and retirees are worried about how their pensions will be financed if the company closes its Oshawa, Ont., assembly plants.

The combined deficit in GM Canada's salaried and hourly pension plans improved to $3-billion as of Sept. 30, 2015, from $3.6-billion a year earlier, the annual valuations of the plans show. The plans cover retirees from existing plants in Oshawa, St. Catharines, Ont., and a parts warehouse in Woodstock, Ont., as well as former employees of factories in Oshawa, Windsor, Ont., Sainte-Thérèse, Que., London, Ont., and Toronto. The state of the pensions will be an issue in negotiations on a new contract between the company and Unifor, which represents hourly workers in Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock, union president Jerry Dias said.

But the key issue will be ensuring that GM allocates new autos to Oshawa so that it continues to operate once production of the cars made there now ceases later this decade, Mr. Dias said.

At stake in the talks are 2,500 direct jobs at the Oshawa complex, which is a key source of revenue for GM Canada that helps finance the pensions of more than 36,000 retirees. The negotiations begin next month.

GM Canada's public position on the future of Oshawa is that no decisions will be made until after an agreement on a new labour contract is reached with Unifor, and the auto maker has assessed how the government's Automotive Innovation Fund and other federal policies might affect the company's competitive position.

"We're quite comfortable with how our pension is funded and how we're progressing on that," GM Canada president Stephen Carlisle said in Oshawa last month as the auto maker announced the hiring of 700 new engineers. "We're fully committed to fully funding it according to the [regulations]."

Ontario regulations require an annual solvency deficiency in the pension plans to be eliminated within five years.

But retiree Chris White noted that the combined solvency deficiency still stands at $3-billion, despite an increase of 11 per cent in the assets of the plan for hourly workers in 2015. The solvency deficiency in the hourly plan, if it were to be wound up, stood at $2.6-billion.

The good news, Mr. White said, is that if the plan were wound up, pensioners would receive 78 per cent of what they were promised, up from 72 per cent a year earlier. But that still means they would be subject to losing almost one-quarter of their pensions.

"A real concern for me is, without the Oshawa plant, would GM Canada have enough revenue to support the ongoing payments to the plan?" he asked. "Would this be a deciding factor to wind down their Canadian operations?"

One possibility is that its Detroit-based parent would take over responsibility for the pension payments.

The auto maker's assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., is operating on three shifts and overtime to crank out hot-selling crossover utilities that are among its most popular vehicles in Canada and the United States.

One salaried retiree said he's holding off on purchasing a new vehicle until the future of the Oshawa plants is decided.

"No Oshawa production, no GM vehicle," the retiree said.

The two Oshawa plants produced 203,183 vehicles last year, but output will decline this year at what is called the flex plant because production of the Chevrolet Camaro was shifted to Lansing, Mich., last November.

The other plant, known as the consolidated plant, is scheduled to cease production in 2017, although that closing date has been extended five times. GM Canada (GMM.U) Close: $31.47, up 42¢ General Motors (GM) Close: $31.49 (U.S.), up 24¢


Alan Mulally: 'I'm in awe'
of Ford's turnaround

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
July 21, 2016

On the eve of his induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame, former Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally credits his "wonderful" relationship with Executive Chairman Bill Ford for his ability to save the Dearborn automaker from financial collapse.

Mulally, in an interview with The Detroit News, said he wouldn't have left control of Boeing Co. in 2006 to travel across the country to join a near-bankrupt automaker without Ford, whom he described as a "phenomenal leader."

"One of the biggest reasons I did accept was Bill; he was committed to partnering with me to not only save this fantastic company but to create an exciting, profitable and viable Ford," he said. "Every element of the plan, we did it together. It was just so fun."

Mulally will be inducted Thursday night in a ceremony at Cobo Center alongside Roy Lunn, engineer of the Ford GT40 that swept the podium at the 1966 Le Mans race; automotive safety advocate Ralph Nader; and Bertha Benz, wife and business partner to Karl Benz, founder of the German automaker Mercedes-Benz.

"It's a very special honor," Mulally said.

Mulally made sweeping changes at Ford that included shedding brands like Jaguar and Land Rover; re-introducing famous nameplates like the Taurus; and overhauling the company's divisive and inclusive corporate culture. He famously mortgaged everything — including the Blue Oval logo — to pay for a renovation of the company's product portfolio and avoid a government bailout as bankruptcy loomed.

"While Alan's list of accomplishments is extensive, I think his greatest achievement was the culture shift he brought to Ford," Ford said in a statement. "Alan's genuine interest in people really transcended everything we did and largely was the reason everyone rallied behind him because they could see he was an authentic leader that cared about people and the business. The level of working together that Alan instilled in our company is what propelled us forward and what continues to enable us to act quickly with greater transparency than ever before."

Mulally said he understood the weight of the job before he accepted because of the transparency Bill Ford showed in their early meetings. He said the two talked so often that they almost wore out the carpet between their offices atop Ford's Glass House headquarters.

"About six months into the job, I knew we had him emotionally when he stopped doodling airplanes and he started doodling cars," Ford said.

Much of what Mulally instilled is still in place today. The company has ridden its One Ford strategy — standardizing its product portfolio across the globe — to record profits in recent years, including earnings of $2.5 billion in the first quarter of 2016.

"I certainly don't have any regrets," he said. "I'm in awe of what we all accomplished."

Today, Mulally said he enjoys his retired life by spending time with family, golfing and playing tennis. He consults, teaches and serves on the board of directors for Google Inc. and 3-D printing company Carbon 3D.

The pace of the introduction of autonomous vehicle technology has quickened exponentially since his retirement two years ago. He said he views the technology as a great opportunity to provide new modes of transportation to the masses.

"The trends going on right now in the world, there's tremendous opportunity for us to continue to serve in new and more efficient ways," he said. "It's the opportunity and the excitement of the further evolution of safe and efficient transportation. That's what we've always been about."


Growing older has an
array of hidden costs

Rob Carrick
Globe and Mail
July 19, 2016

The recent news about improving the Canada Pension Plan for tomorrow's retirees has Harris Gulko feeling a little put out.

"There's a lot of material being written about what is going to happen to people in the future, and there's no regard for people who have been retired for 20 or 30 years," the 88-year-old Winnipeg resident said in an interview.

Mr. Gulko, a writer, painter and former professional fundraiser, is not an angry complainer. He just wants a little understanding for retirees like him who feel they're being marginalized or forgotten. For reasons related to both demographics and basic personal finance, let's hear him out.

Baby boomers are just starting to retire – they should know what they're up against in the decades ahead. Also, we too seldom hear from retirees about the financial implications of aging. Mr. Gulko agreed to help fill us in by listing some of the costs he faces that younger people do not.

First, some background. Mr. Gulko owns a condo in Winnipeg, where he lives alone. Back problems restrict his mobility, but he's active enough to be planning a trip to Mexico this winter. Travel medical insurance is one of the heavy costs he must bear, as we'll see shortly.

Manitoba has a pharmacare program, but Mr. Gulko says he's paying a significant amount to cover the cost of the seven prescriptions he takes regularly. He also spends roughly $160 a month on painkillers for his back and another $40 on vitamins suggested by his doctor.

His back issues make it impossible to take public transportation to doctor's appointments, so he racks up taxi bills of about $170 a month for those trips. The cost of wheelchairs, an electric scooter and special canes over the past three years came to about $4,600.

Higher heating costs are another issue for retirees like Mr. Gulko, who has auxiliary heaters in every room. "If I'm going to be in a room to write or to paint, I want to be warm."

Mr. Gulko says his monthly grocery bills are inflated by about $60 a month by the need to purchase prepared foods like salads. He can't do much meal preparation on his own, and neither can he clean his condo. That means a cost of about $180 a month for a cleaning service. His most dramatic cost has to be travel medical insurance for his planned trip to Mexico. With his health issues, he expects to pay the astronomical sum of $8,000.

"To be fair, living into my ninth decade has some saving financial benefits," he quipped in an e-mail he sent me about his living costs. "For example, at my age I no longer have to buy prophylactics."

The CPP enhancements announced last month will take full effect for people retiring decades from now. Current retirees will not see higher benefits, but they do get cost-of-living increases that are calculated once a year using Statistics Canada's consumer price index.

Mr. Gulko's issue is that cost-of-living increases don't offset his rising costs as a retiree in his late 80s. This offers a lesson to people looking ahead to retirement – your personal inflation rate may exceed the national rate, which most recently clocked in at 1.5 per cent. Exposure to the stock market, notably dividend growth stocks, may be needed to provide some inflation protection.

In a way, retirees like Mr. Gulko are fortunate. A recent Fraser Institute study showed people who retired in past decades got a higher return on their CPP contributions than those retiring these days. But money is really just a symptom of Mr. Gulko's sense of frustration. He feels people like him are marginalized by society, a complaint we would do well to take seriously as demographics drive a marked aging of our population.

It's not that Mr. Gulko finds people unkind. "If I drop a cane, people will rush to pick it up," he said. "They'll give me their place in line at the bank when they see me with a cane. When they see me reaching for a high shelf at the grocery store, they'll come and help me."

What bugs him is a sense of being pushed to the margins – overlooked in discussions about improving the CPP and patronized with labels like aged and senior. His message to everyone: Age is just a number.

"I'm an older person," he said. "That's a mathematical fact. I'm older – that's it."


Ford invests in 3-D mapping
company Civil Maps

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
July 18, 2016

Ford Motor Co. is among five investors who contributed $6.6 million to Civil Maps, a California startup that makes 3-D maps that let autonomous cars "see" the road ahead.

The company aggregates data from cameras, radar and LiDAR sensors and combines them into readable maps. Civil Maps uses less data than other companies, which lets them easily upload the maps to the cloud to share and update with vehicles over cellular networks.

"Autonomous vehicles require a totally new kind of map," said Sravan Puttagunta, the Civil Maps CEO. "Civil Maps' scalable map generation process enables fully autonomous vehicles to drive like humans do — identifying on-road and off-road features even when they might be missing, deteriorated or hidden from view and letting a car know what it can expect along its route.

"We are honored to work with Ford and the rest of our investor team to pave the way for fully autonomous vehicles at continental scale."

The latest funding round was led by Motus Ventures, along with Ford, Wicklow Capital, StartX Stanford and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang's AME Cloud Ventures. Civil Maps said it will use the seed investment to "accelerate product development and deployment with a number of leading automotive companies and technology partners."

Ford or Civil Maps did not say how much of the $6.6 million Ford invested.

"Ford already is leading in autonomous vehicles with the largest test fleet of any automaker on the road this year, building on our decade of autonomous vehicle development work," Ford said in a statement. "Investing in and working with Civil Maps gives us an additional way to develop 3-D high-resolution maps, which will bring fully autonomous Ford vehicles a step closer to reality for consumers."

The investment in Civil Maps comes about two months after the Dearborn automaker announced a $182.2 million investment in Palo Alto-based software company Pivotal.


FCA investing $1B, adding
1,000 jobs at U.S. Jeep plants

Michael Wayland,
The Detroit News
July 16, 2016

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will invest more than $1 billion and create 1,000 new jobs at two Midwest assembly plants for future production of Jeep SUVs.

The automaker on Thursday announced it will invest about $700 million and add 700 workers at the Toledo Assembly Complex North plant for production of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. An announcement regarding the future of the South plant at the complex will be made at a later date, the company said.

Fiat Chrysler also will invest $350 million and add about 300 new workers at its Belvidere Assembly in Illinois to produce the Jeep Cherokee, which will move from its current production location in Toledo in 2017.

Production of the Dodge Dart compact sedan and Jeep Compass/Jeep Patriot will end in September 2016 and December 2016, respectively at Belvidere Assembly. A replacement for the Jeep models will be unveiled this year.

Jeep CEO Mike Manley last month told reporters the next-generation Wrangler will be unveiled in the first half of next year, with the development of the iconic SUV on schedule for 2017.

The Belvidere and Toledo plants employ nearly 10,000. More than 5,100 are in Toledo.

The "production actions are subject to the formal approval of incentives by state and local entities," said the company, which has announced investments of more than $6.8 billion and added more than 23,500 employees — including nearly 18,000 hourly workers — at its U.S. operations since 2009.

The plans are part of a previously announced strategy for the automaker to focus its North American production operations on pickups and SUVS.

The company's overall production plan for its domestic plants was loosely outlined as part of the automaker's collective bargaining agreement with the United Auto Workers in 2015. It involved investing $5.3 billion in production in the United States, including $3.4 billion in assembly operations.

A Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman declined to comment on investments the local plants, saying the company has "nothing to add about future plans for the Michigan plants at this time."

Plans for Michigan include shifting production of the Ram 1500 from Warren Assembly to Sterling Heights Assembly, as the company intends to stop producing the Chrysler 200 sedan — its sole product — later this year or early 2017. That would leave Warren free to produce future Jeep products such as the Grand Wagoneer luxury SUV.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne earlier this year said Sterling Heights Assembly would "be down for less than two years" to retool for the new pickup. He did not provide a timetable for Warren's expected retooling.

The company employs more than 9,500 at the assembly plants in Sterling Heights and Warren as well as supporting stamping plants.

The move will be a welcomed change for the more than 3,000 workers who produce the Chrysler 200 in Sterling Heights. Due to poor sales, employees have been on temporary layoffs for much of this year, with a shift of about 1,300 starting indefinite layoffs on July 5.


Retiree Charles MacLeod's Wife Passes away July 13, 2016

Our sincerest condolences go out to the Macleod family.

Margaret "Betty" MacLeod
1936 - 2016

Visitation :
Friday July 15th
3:00pm - 6:00 pm
Graham Giddy Funeral Home
280 St. Davis Street South
Fergus, Ontario

Saturday July 16, 2016
St Joseph's Catholic Church
760 St Davis Street North

More Information Here

Passed away peacefully at the Guelph General Hospital on Wednesday July 13th with her loving husband of more than 60 years, Charles MacLeod by her side at age 79. Betty leaves behind her 4 sons Bob (Bonnie), John (Irene), Rick and Tim. Grandchildren Jessica, Charlie, John (Michelle), Marie, Donnie, Dylan and Kaitlyn as well as Great grandchildren Emma, Megan, Mackenna, Gabrielle, William, Harris and George. Visitation for Betty will be held at The Graham Giddy Funeral Home, 280 St. David Street South, Fergus on Friday July 15th from 3-6pm. The Funeral Service will be held at St. Joseph’s Church, 760 St. David Street North, Fergus, on Saturday July 16th at 11am followed by the burial of cremated remains immediately after the service. www.grahamgiddyfh.com (519)843-3100




We drive one of the wildest
Mustangs in search of the
true mustangs

The Globe and Mail
July 14, 2016

Into the mouth of Hell rode the six hundred. To the left, the mighty Fraser River rages against its granite oppressor; on the right, the bare rock wall stretches up to the sky. There are seven tunnels here, seven looping boreholes through living rock. It's a bit like being in a nitroglycerine-fuelled version of the hungry, hungry caterpillar.

Behind is the traffic-plagued flood-plain highway leading to Vancouver, home to high-rises and busy streets. Ahead is the high country of the Chilcotin, one of the last refuges of the wild Canadian horse. In between, rally-striped and moving fast, we have our thunderous steed: a Shelby Mustang GT350.

The mustang – the horse, not the car – is perhaps best-known as a symbol of the American West. A herd running across a broad basin is all buckskin, six-shooters and Louis L'Amour. But horses run free in Canada, too. Ours are hardy little beasts, with strong genetic ties to the Siberian horse. The historical record indicates that these horses can trace their lineage to 1740, when members of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation brought them into the high grasslands. Where we're headed, deep into the remote Brittany triangle, a herd of around 200 animals still ranges freely, far away from ranchlands and people.

Just as a wild horse is happiest in a remote area, so, too, is the Shelby. The numbers are ridiculous: 526 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 429 lb-ft at 4,750 rpm from a 5.2-litre V-8 that revs to 8,250 rpm. What do you do with a beast like that? You sure don't hang around Dodge City waiting for the sheriff to take notice.

Like its 1965 ancestor, the GT350 is built for the racetrack more than the drag strip. Either of Dodge's Hellcats will eat it alive in a straight line, but they're over-muscled Clydesdales next to a fast-running quarter horse.

Essentially, the GT350 is Ford's version of a 911 GT3. The comparison might be sacrilegious to the average Porsche fan, but hear me out. Both cars offer a half-century of heritage. Both cars can point to a racing pedigree that includes past and recent wins at Le Mans. Both cars come with searing redlines, and yet have 2+2 seating configuration to suit everyday use. Only one comes with a manual transmission – and the Ford is less than half the money.

Granted, a base price of $62,599 is a lot to pay for a Mustang. It gets worse: After this particular car's technology package is factored in, the price tag swells to more than $70,000. That kind of money gets you a fully-loaded BMW 4-series with all-wheel drive to fight off Canadian weather, a turbocharged straight-six with more than enough grunt to suit a sane person and cash left over in your pocket. It'd also get you a nicer interior than the Shelby, which has the same plastic feel as the V-6 convertible Mustang you'll rent on your next holiday.

You might spend your money on a better stereo, but you won't get a better sound than that from the Shelby's insane hand-built V-8. Drop the windows and drop the hammer, and you warp forward on a roll of thunder.

Part of the unique sound is thanks to the Shelby's flat-plane crank V-8, which is only slightly louder than the amount of noise Ford's marketing department makes about it. They've even written "FPC" on the doorsills, in case you forget. As if.

A normal V-8 crankshaft, viewed in cross-section, looks like a "+" symbol. Power from the pistons come in easy-to-balance quarter-strokes. Flatten out the crank into a "-" profile, and the power comes in hammer blows. The result sounds like two bored-out Cosworth four-cylinders scrapping it out in an MMA octagon.

Ears still ringing from the tunnels, we push north into desert country. A pace that felt slow in the city suits the Mustang out here; the road starts winding through the foothills, but the speed limit stays the same.

Incredibly, a more hardcore version of this car exists, with the rear seat torn out to save weight and further track-focused aerodynamics. Think of the GT350R as analogous to the 911 GT3 RS: even more crazy for even more money.

The so-called normal Shelby GT350 is well-behaved on the tarmac, and suited to this sort of 1,000-kilometre-plus road trip. The wide Michelin Super Sports have a tendency to tram-line along the ruts in the road, but over all, it's a comfortable car. The Recaros grip, but they don't pinch.

I lent this car to the 6-foot-8-inch tall Daniel Cudmore – he played Colossus in the X-Men movie franchise – and he fit just fine. I also managed to put a child's seat in the back, and my kid thought the noise was hilarious. The trunk is easily big enough for all our camera gear, and the seats fold down. Yes, it's a fast, expensive version of a Mustang, but all the livability of a regular Mustang is still here.

Cool Pacific coast rainforest turns to desert turns to shattered lakes turns to high plain and lush grasslands. We head West at Williams Lake, stretching the GT350's legs through a couple of hairpin corners on the highway to Bella Coola. It grips in the turns, hard enough to compress your eyeballs, then surges forward towards that incredible redline.

Most of us don't ride horses any more, except for pleasure. Likewise, the Shelby feels like old technology, its thundering V-8 an echo of the past. Its anachronisms are legion: thirsty internal combustion engine, manual transmission, rear-wheel-drive.

We are told the way forward is electric and autonomously controlled. A car such as this rages against the dying of the light, but it will be supplanted by friendly little eco-pods that will whisk us to our destinations while we text and Facebook and Twitter and never lift our eyes to the horizon. So we are told.

I stop the Shelby on gravel. The wild horses are out there, just ahead, perhaps hiding in the treeline. They're as elusive as they are rare, and they've survived by keeping away from people. We won't see them this trip.

But their existence proves a point. This is a vast country, with the bulk of the population settled along the border like crumbs in a chip bag. A car such as this is rare and only going to get rarer, but there is still room for it, here in the untamed places of the world.

Blessed are the wild horses. Long may they roam.


Supplier bankruptcy threatens
shutdown of GM plants

Melissa Burden,
The Detroit News
July 13, 2016

General Motors Co. says a contract dispute and bankruptcy filing by a key supplier could force it to close all North American assembly plants, causing millions of dollars in losses per day.

The Detroit automaker relies solely on a small private business, Clark-Cutler-McDermott Co., for 175 acoustic insulation and interior trim parts. The carmaker said parts from the supplier are used in nearly every vehicle it produces in North America.

The supplier stopped producing parts for GM after shifts on Friday and laid off its workforce, according to a source familiar with the company's production plans. Clark-Cutler-McDermott previously had shut down business operations June 17 and laid off workers until GM was granted a temporary restraining order last month by a U.S. District judge in Detroit, forcing the supplier to temporarily resume production. That order expired Monday.

GM, in court documents, said even a one-day disruption to its supply of parts could force it to close North American plants and cease vehicle production.

"A continued disruption in the supply of component parts will also cause a catastrophic disruption in the supply chain and the operations of countless GM suppliers, dealers, customers, and other stakeholders, including the potential layoff of tens of thousands of workers in the event GM's North American operations are completely shut down," the automaker said in court filings.

Carmakers typically don't keep many parts on hand in assembly plants and instead rely on an industry standard just-in-time delivery. The strategy helps free up space in factories but can cause headaches when there is a hiccup in the supply chain. Relying on a sole supplier can be risky, industry experts say. Other companies make acoustic insulation and interior trim, but none are set up to produce the exact parts GM needs.

Franklin, Massachusetts-based Clark-Cutler-McDermott filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, and is seeking to sell its business assets because of what it calls unprofitable contracts with GM that have led it to lose $12 million since 2013; it says the rate of loss has accelerated this year to more than $30,000 a day. The company, which also filed bankruptcy for its subsidiary CCM Automotive Lafayette LLC, says in court records that more than 80 percent of its revenue comes from GM.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing in Worchester, Massachusetts, is scheduled Wednesday to discuss several requests from the supplier and GM. The judge may rule on motions from the supplier to reject GM contracts, give it the authority to pay wages and benefits and obligations, use of collateral cash and GM's motion that would require the company to deliver inventory to GM and turn over GM tools and equipment or honor its contracts with GM.

In a statement GM said, "There is a court hearing on Wednesday to address this issue and we anticipate no impact to GM's supply between now and then."

GM said it has not had any production disruption to date. Some GM plants have been on scheduled shutdown this week and last week around the Fourth of July holiday.

A lawyer representing the supplier declined to comment Tuesday.

Clark-Cutler-McDermott was founded in 1911. The company operates three plants in Franklin, Massachusetts, and one in Lafayette, Georgia. The company said in its bankruptcy filing that it had 229 employees, including 213 hourly workers. It listed 200 to 999 creditors, and assets and liabilities of between $10 million and $50 million.

The supplier in court documents says it believes a "turn-key" sale of assets including its equipment but without GM contracts through an auction will "provide significantly greater recoveries to all stakeholders." It also said it could possibly lease facilities to another entity.

Clark-Cutler-McDermott had been named a GM Supplier of the Year recipient four times in the past seven years, including in 2015.

GM loaned the company millions of dollars to continue operating and also increased prices paid for parts. GM, in court filings, said it told the supplier it would completely fund the sale of the business to another entity.

In April and May, GM halted production for two weeks at four North American plants due to a supply shortage from earthquakes in Japan. A union local said the downtime it was due to an electrical parts shortage. GM has said that temporary closure would not materially impact full-year North America production plans or second-quarter or full-year earnings.


Vertically expandable four-storey
RV that can fit in a parking spot


The Globe and Mail
July 12, 2016

The concept

The Extane is a recreational vehicle (RV) designed to be used in RV parks—and in cities—around the world. It could expand vertically to generate space while living inside it and provide an alternative to exploring the country by using existing infrastructure. Each Extane would be self sustaining during its overnight stays.

The background

Imagine if you could rent a new kind of self-sustaining urban RV designed to travel across the continent, but including overnight stays in large cities where space is really scarce? How could you leverage your position? The idea behind the Extane is to use the overhead space by extending the vehicle upward.


How it works

The Extane would be designed so it could easily use an existing parking space of townhouse owners. Each urban camper would agree to only use the footprint of the vehicle.

The Extane would be electric and autonomous. Its roof would be capable of extending up to reveal two rooftop terraces. The vehicle would feature a master bedroom and all the amenities of existing RVs. During inter-urban travels, the upper floors would fold on themselves with specially built furniture. The terrace's ramps could also be folded away.

The shower located on the first floor would double as an elevator to save space. A large video display integrated in the windshield could be used to watch movies at night from within the Extane or show a map of the itinerary during trips. I imagine this giant screen could also display the city's highlights in augmented reality to the family.

Special fabrics or power windows would be used to cover the third floor's walls. BBQ cooking could be done on the fourth floor. It would be interesting to push the concept further by thinking about other variations. Four-wheel steering would definitely make it more manoeuvrable, and various sizes could be designed.

What it's used for

The Extane could be used to travel in developed urban regions where traditional camping is normally impossible (with slide-out sections, use of an adjacent garden, etc.). If you can rent a parking space, why not make the most of it? The Extane could thus be used in traditional RV parks, but also in cities where it would be less prone to flip over when there is a lot of side wind gust.


Lincoln China sales already
exceed full-year 2015 mark

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
July 10, 2016

Halfway through the year, Lincoln Motor Co. said its sales in China already exceed the 11,630 new cars and SUVs it sold there in all of 2015.

The Ford Motor Co. luxury brand has been growing quickly in the world's largest car market since its launch in November 2014. Through the first six months of 2016, Lincoln said it has has sold 12,450 vehicles in China — a 190 percent increase year-over-year. Ford executives say Lincoln is regarded among the top luxury makes in the country.

Its second quarter sales more than doubled from the same period in 2015, to 6,966.

"Lincoln will continue to attract China's new generation of luxury customers as we consistently deliver the customized services of the Lincoln Way even as we expand our dealership network," said Amy Marentic, president of Lincoln China. "In addition, with two new sedans launching this year, we are confident that we have the elegant, dynamic and progressive Lincoln vehicle to fit the desires of our customers."

Ford President and CEO Mark Fields and Lincoln President Kumar Galhotra have said the brand will open 60 dealerships in 50 Chinese cities by the end of the year.

Lincoln sells the MKZ, MKX, MKC and Navigator SUV in China. It will introduce a flagship Continental sedan there later this year.

Fields has said China could overtake North America as Lincoln's biggest market. The company is considering building vehicles there, according to a June Bloomberg report.

In North America, Lincoln sales are up 13 percent through the first half of the year even as the overall luxury segment is down about 2 percent. The brand says its 2016 growth in the U.S. is coming from areas that include Boston, New Jersey, New York, California and Florida.


Ford says meeting union demand
for Windsor investment a challenge

Greg Keenan
The Globe and Mail
July 8, 2016

Meeting the demand by Unifor that Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. invest in its engine plant in Windsor, Ont., will be a "challenge," company officials say on the eve of negotiations on a new contract with the union that represents 6,400 workers.

At the moment, the auto maker does not have a new engine to allocate to the Windsor Engine Plant, the officials said. The Windsor Engine Plant is one of two Ford Motor Co. engine plants in the city and is on the endangered list with no new investment slated to be made there and new fuel economy and emissions regulations posing a threat to the 6.8-litre engines assembled at the plant. However, the Essex Engine Plant, also in Windsor, was reopened with new investment.

"The price of entry for consideration [for new investment] is having a competitive agreement and making sure that we have the enablers in place to attract that level of investment on a global stage," a Ford Canada official said in a background briefing Tuesday.

Unifor president Jerry Dias has made new investment in the Canadian operations of the Detroit Three the key demand in talks on a new contract that are scheduled to begin next month. The contracts expire in mid-September.

"I'm sure it's going to be a challenge [in Windsor], but I'm sure they're going to find a way to get it done," Mr. Dias said Tuesday.

"Do I believe it's going to be easy? The answer is no, but ultimately you're dealing with a global corporation that thinks a long way ahead," he said. "So I would expect they've got a solution. If they don't have one today, they're certainly going to have one by the middle of September."

Unifor represents about 1,400 people at the two plants in Windsor. About 250 are on layoff.

The negotiations on a new contract with the Ford, General Motors Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV are the first set of talks in which Mr. Dias has participated as president of Unifor. The union was formed in 2013 with the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

The demand by Mr. Dias for new investment comes amid red-hot sales in the North American auto market, but also as auto makers spend tens of billions of dollars at new and existing factories in the United States and Mexico and considerably less than that in Canada.

Auto makers invested $18-billion in 2014 in North America, with just $1-billion of that spent in Canada, the Ford official said.

But the official noted that the 2012 labour agreement between what was then CAW and the auto makers opened the door to $1-billion of investment by Ford in Canada and the hiring of 2,000 people at the company's assembly plant in Oakville, Ont., where the Ford Edge and Flex and Lincoln MKX and MKT crossovers are produced.

The key clause in that agreement, the Ford official said, was a so-called grow-in plan that allowed the company to hire new workers at about $20 an hour instead of the rate of more than $30 an hour paid to senior workers. Newly hired employees progress to full wages over a 10-year period.

"That's an example of collaborative problem solving that we came up with where people still have a path to good automotive jobs and we're able to hire at the same time," the Ford official said.


GM Canada president calls
for union 'partnership'
to save auto plants

Grace Macaluso,
Windsor Star
July 7, 2016

As crucial contract talks loom, General Motors Canada president Stephen Carlisle issued a plea Tuesday for a "partnership" with Unifor to ensure the long-term survival of the country's Detroit Three assembly plants.

"The manufacturing headwinds that we have all been navigating in North America are well understood – including assembly overcapacity, shifting market demand, trade patterns and economic competitiveness," Carlisle said in a statement. "The partnering approach that helped us win our new innovation mandate is, in my view, the key ingredient that we are taking into industry negotiations between Unifor, FCA, Ford and GM Canada this summer."

Carlisle was referring to partnerships forged with various stakeholders, including universities, auto suppliers, high-tech firms and government, that were key to his company's recent announcement to hire up to 1,000 engineers and step up efforts to develop autonomous driving and connected vehicle technology at its research centres in Ontario.

His statement comes on the heels of threats by Unifor president Jerry Dias to call a strike if new products aren't allocated to GM's Oshawa vehicle assembly plant and Ford's two engine plants in Windsor. Unifor also has made securing new investment in FCA's plant in Brampton a top priority in the negotiations, but it has singled out Oshawa as the most vulnerable of the Detroit Three factories.

Dias said Tuesday, while he welcomed Carlisle's comments, they did not soften his stand on the union's demand for new investment.

"I have a lot of confidence in him; I believe he's sincere in trying to find a solution," said Dias. "There's no question, if we don't have new product for Windsor and Oshawa, we are going to have a fight."

The senior levels of government also have a role to play in preserving the Detroit Three's manufacturing footprint in Canada, added Dias. "I'm hoping that the federal and provincial governments will join us to find a solution."

Last Wednesday, Wynne held a closed-door meeting with Joe Hinrichs, president of the Americas, at Ford's global headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The meeting followed Wynne's announcement that it would be giving FCA Canada grants totalling $85.8 million for its Windsor assembly plant as well as its automotive research and development centre.

While Dias did not know the specific details of the Wynne-Hinrichs meeting, he "assumed" that it dealt with securing new investment and product in Windsor and solidifying the automaker's manufacturing footprint in Ontario. "So, we are spending a lot of time on this specific issue," he said. "Ford has been very forthright about their confidence in the Windsor facilities, and has a very clear understanding of what has to be done."

The automakers, union and governments share "an incredible sense of urgency," said Dias.

"These issues have to be resolved in the negotiations," he added. "I'm under no illusions a new engine (for Windsor) is going to fall from the sky prior to the deadline."

The federal government is currently reviewing the structure of its Automotive Innovation Fund amid industry demands that it follow Ontario's lead and offer grants as incentives for new investment instead of repayable loans that are taxed as income to automakers.

Despite mounting pressure to act sooner than later, the federal Liberals have yet to unveil any changes that have long been sought by carmakers. Dias suggested that Ottawa was trying to secure product allocation commitments from the Detroit Three.

"What I believe is happening federally is they are waiting for one of the Detroit Three to come forward with a plan," he said. "I would expect they are going to look at individual projects to see how they can help."

But time is running out for both Windsor and Oshawa, said Dias. "Three-and-a-half years ago, we thought we had a commitment with Ford that would lead us to a new engine for the Windsor plants. It didn't happen, and we don't have another three years. By then it will be too late."

Carlisle said winning auto assembly investments hinge on "a number of factors.

"As much as some would like to simplify that task, there is no one factor. Each investment is founded upon a complex business case that considers people, plants, policy, partners and competitive economics."

The negotiations affecting 23,500 hourly workers are expected to gear up in August. The current four-year contract expires Sept. 19.


NHTSA investigating Ford Explorers for exhaust leak

Michael Martinez,
The Detroit News
July 6, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into 2011-15 model year Ford Explorers that are reportedly leaking carbon monoxide.

NHTSA officials say they've received 154 complaints of occupants smelling exhaust odors inside the vehicle. There was one low-speed crash involved in the investigation, but no one was injured.

The complaints say exhaust gas can be smelled when the Explorers are at full throttle and/or when the air conditioning system is in recirculation mode.

The investigation did not say how many Explorers are affected.

Ford has previously issued two "technical service bulletins" in 2012 and 2014 with solutions to the problem, but NHTSA said some vehicle owners reported "little or no improvement" after the fixes.


Carmakers wait to see
if mpg rules will stick

Keith Laing,
Detroit News
Washington Bureau
July 4, 2016

Washington — The auto industry is waiting for a new report from federal regulators that will be used to determine whether stringent gas mileage rules requiring them to produce car and truck fleets that average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025 will stay in place.

The new rules, known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, are beginning to take effect with the 2017 model year. They call for ramping up from the current fleet-wide average of about 34 miles per gallon for cars and trucks that were required in 2016 to an eventual goal of about 50 miles per gallon by 2025.

The increase, which some automakers have said might be too ambitious, starts with a rise to an average of over 35 miles per gallon for the 2017 models that already are being rolled out.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Air Resources Board are preparing to release a draft of a technical report this month that will be used to determine the feasibility of the final four years of the fuel economy rule.

Alan Baum, principal of the Baum and Associates automotive research consultancy firm in West Bloomfield Township, said automakers are on the hook for the mileage requirements until the end of 2021 no matter what.

He said they will have an opportunity to push for lower mandates when regulators conduct a mid-term review in 2018 of the rules for the model years that will occur between 2022 and 2025.

"The regulations are in place without any questions until 2021," he said.

The mileage rules, which were put in place by the Obama administration in 2012, call for automakers to achieve a fleetwide average mileage rate of more than 36 miles per gallon for cars and trucks in 2018.

The standard then increases to more than 37 miles per gallon in 2019 and nearly 39 miles per gallon in 2020, which is before automakers will have a chance to weigh in on the need for any course corrections. By 2021, automakers will be required to hit a combined average of 41 miles per gallon for their cars and trucks.

If the rules for model years after 2021 are left in place when they come up for review in 2018, the emission standard will increase to about 43 miles per gallon combined for cars and trucks in 2022, before jumping to about 45 miles per gallon in 2023. The final years of the mandate will see a required average of about 47 miles per gallon in 2024, and finally more than 55 miles per gallon for cars and about 40 miles per gallon for trucks in 2025.

Auto companies that do not meet the higher emission standards will be fined $5.50 for each tenth of a mile-per-gallon their average fuel economy falls short of the standard for a model year, multiplied by the total volume of vehicles that are in the fleet that fails to meet the new requirements.

Work starting now

Baum's firm conducted a study that found the major U.S. automakers can be profitable under the average of 55 miles per gallon required in 2025 at gas prices from $1.80 per gallon to $4.56 per gallon. Automakers have argued that lower gas prices could make fuel-efficient cars less desirable to customers who are looking to buy larger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks.

Baum said the auto companies will have to be working now to develop technologies to achieve the more than 41 miles per gallon fleetwide average required in four years.

"If you're going to meet 2020, you're making those decisions in the next year," he said. "Automakers can get there, but obviously it's going to cost money."

The EPA said in its report on emissions for 2014 model-year vehicles that "most large manufacturers achieved fleet ... compliance values equal to or lower than required by their unique 2014 standard."

The agency said only two manufacturers — Mercedes and Kia — fell short of their required mileage rates for the 2014 model year.

Those deficits can be addressed with credits from future years or purchased from other auto companies. NHTSA also says credits can be "banked and carried forward for up to five years, or carried back up to three years to cover a deficit in a previous year" under emission rules.

Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel for energy and environment for the Consumers Union, said most automakers have already been beating the emissions mandates during the first phase of the fuel economy standards that covered 2012 to 2016.

The Consumers Union said its polling shows 75 percent of Americans support the idea of increasing the fuel economy standards for cars.

Baker-Branstetter said she does not expect a lot of changes to be made to estimates for the cost or feasibility of the gas mileage rules when they come up for review in 2018.

"There are lot of footprints to compliance," she said. "Even if there is a shift (toward trucks and SUVs) ... the standards are flexible, they so already take that in account."

Thrifty may not sell

The Washington, D.C.-based Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers says future CAFE requirements may be overly optimistic based on historical data.

The auto alliance group, which represents Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., BMW Group, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Car USA, has said the upcoming mid-term evaluation of the mileage rates should take into account how well fuel-thrifty cars are selling.

"This is a chance to see if the government program — and its original assumptions — align with the marketplace realities of today," said Wade Newton, director of communications at the Auto Alliance, in an email Friday. "After all, compliance isn't based on what we put in showrooms, it's based on what consumers put on their driveways."

Obama administration officials have said they are bullish on the fuel economy standards despite the complaints about the impact of low gas prices on the economic viability of more-efficient vehicles.

"We're extremely committed to the CAFE standards and doing a thorough job of laying out the progress that's been made," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx told reporters Thursday.

The Washington-based Consumer Federation of America said its research shows 81 percent of car buyers say gas mileage is an important consideration in their car-purchasing decisions. The group said the same percentage of potential buyers indicated support for the increasing federal fuel economy standards.

"It's no surprise that fuel efficiency is still a top priority, as consumers have had a long history with volatile gas prices," said Jack Gillis, director of public affairs for the Consumer Federation.

However, Jumpstart Automotive Group, a San Francisco-based automotive marketing and advertising company, said its research shows just 29 percent of potential auto buyers identified gas mileage as a top priority.

"Throughout the research, quality/reliability was of higher importance than fuel economy," the group said. "Perhaps this stems from a recall-heavy environment today combined with low gas prices over the last few years."

Carol Lee Rawn, who directs the transportation program for the Boston-based sustainability nonprofit Ceres, said the fuel economy standards will protect automakers from future fluctuations in gas prices.

"U.S. automakers have been caught flat-footed before, when prices at the pump rose and they weren't ready with the kind of fuel-efficient vehicles buyers wanted," she said. "Strong fuel economy standards offer insurance against future gas price spikes."

Baum also said automakers will benefit in the long run from the fuel economy standards, even if they seem too onerous to meet now.

"If there were no standards, would they be doing all that they're doing?" the auto analyst said. "Probably not. But here's the problem: It's a global industry and the rest of the world is moving in that direction. The Big Three need to have a global fleet."



How labour regained
its clout in Ottawa

The Globe and Mail
Jul 3, 2016
Rachelle Younglai

Canadian unions are flexing their muscle in Ottawa. When the Liberal government reached a deal to reform the Canada Pension Plan, the country's labour movement scored a huge victory. It wasn't just because unions had spent nearly a decade lobbying Ottawa for bigger retirement cheques, the government's decision showed that organized labour had the power to sway policy in its favour.

After hostile relations with the previous Conservative government, unions are now being consulted on legislation.

It is a significant shift that could influence future policy, including the fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Pacific Rim countries.

"The climate has drastically changed," said Mark Hancock, the national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the largest public sector union in Canada. "There used to be a real vacuum and we weren't part of any of the discussions," he said.

In the months leading up to the recent CPP deal, Finance Minister Bill Morneau met and spoke with labour leaders.

He told them that expanding CPP was a priority and asked for their input. "We have been working very closely and trying to listen to one another and trying to find compromise and balance," said Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, the union federation representing 3.3 million Canadian workers.

Unions across the country are now enjoying a fruitful relationship with the Liberals. Mr. Yussuff said that whenever he picks up the phone to call a minister, deputy minister or their staff, his calls are returned – unlike during the previous Conservative administration. Mr. Yussuff can easily get meetings with top officials and has not only had extensive discussions with Mr. Morneau, he has spoken with the ministers responsible for trade, labour, industry and transport.

It is the same for other union chiefs.

"I have spoken with more ministers in the last six months than the previous 10 years," said Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union representing workers in manufacturing and gambling among other industries. "I speak to ministers pretty much every week. I speak to [Trade Minister] Chrystia Freeland almost weekly. The access that our organization has is unprecedented," Mr. Dias said.

Just days after taking office in November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a Canadian Labour Congress meeting and told attendees his government wanted to work with unions. "The Prime Minister made a point of saying he asked his cabinet to 'always consult labour,' " recalled one attendee.

In contrast, Ottawa did not consult the top business lobbyist on the CPP. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce sent Mr. Morneau two letters, saying that the higher CPP contributions should be voluntary and that they were equivalent to another payroll tax on employers. Perrin Beatty, the chamber's president, said "we were able to make sure the government was aware of our views by taking the initiative to write to them, although there was no formal consultation process. It is always better when governments actively reach out to stakeholders."

However, the chamber said they were invited to consult on other topics, such as the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) – a trade agreement businesses largely favour. As part of the Liberals' effort to be transparent, the government is seeking advice from stakeholders on a range of issues. On the TPP alone, Ottawa has held more than 250 consultations. Ms. Freeland has held more than 80 consultations and there are many more meetings to come.

The unions are vehemently opposed to the TPP, saying it would undermine Canada's jobs market and lead to the loss of good jobs.

"At some point we will see if they are truly listening," Mr. Yussuff said. "Do they listen and change direction or do they listen and say thank you very much?" he said.

Canada does not have to reach a resolution on the TPP until February, 2018, the deadline for Canada and the 11 other countries to ratify the agreement. The Liberals won't even have to show their hand if the U.S. rejects the proposal. The current Obama administration may not have the political capital to approve the TPP before the U.S. presidential election in November. And both presumptive presidential nominees, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, have said they oppose it.

It remains to be seen whether organized labour will succeed in quashing the TPP, but its budding relationship with Ottawa has given unions some hope. Unions mobilized their members to vote against former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, an effort that helped the Liberals win a majority government. "When we get our act together, we can make things happen. Governments are taking notice of that," said Sharleen Stewart, the president of Service Employees International Union in Canada.

The prize for their support? "The Liberals are more aligned with labour then we have seen in the past," said Paul Meinema, the national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada union, which represents workers in meat plants and grocers.

In addition to the CPP proposal, Ottawa has rolled back policies enacted under the Conservatives that organized labour deemed "anti-union" and "anti-worker." That includes reversing a law that made it harder for workers to organize, and another that required unions to disclose detailed financial information. The Liberals also reversed the eligibility for Old Age Security pension to 65 years old from 67, which labour lobbied for.

The breakthrough with the federal government comes as unions grapple with the power they lost over three decades. The proportion of unionized workers in the private sector has dropped to 17 per cent last year from 21 per cent in 1997, according to Statistics Canada data.

The biggest losses have been in the manufacturing sector, where the unionization rates have dropped to 26 per cent last year, down 10 percentage points from its peak in the 1990s, according to Statscan. More than 400,000 factory positions vanished during the financial crisis, eliminating scores of union positions and weakening the labour movement.

Organized labour is now trying to expand into new areas – for example, covering Uber drivers. But the country's labour laws were enacted before the rise of the so-called "gig economy." What to do with those outdated laws?

"If you're strong enough, you change the law," said Buzz Hargrove, former president of the now defunct Canadian Auto Workers union. "That is what we are doing right now with Justin Trudeau and the new government. They are changing the law," he said.











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