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March 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011

Buyers quick to embrace
revamped Ford Explorer

Plant employees assemble a 2011 Ford Explorer in December at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant. Sales for the new model have surpassed expectations, and some dealers report selling vehicles right off the truck. (M. Spencer Green / Associated Press)

Waiting period for new SUV is 6-8
weeks as strong demand continues

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
June 30, 2011

Ford Motor Co. has already sold more Ford Explorers this year than all of 2010, as consumers continue to buy the revised utility vehicle as fast as the automaker can build them.

Ford gambled when it overhauled the trusty SUV as a car-based crossover that buyers would embrace the smoother ride and better fuel economy.

And embrace it they did. In fact, customers such as Steve Rosekrans of Fairfax, Iowa, have waited three months to get the Explorer they ordered.

The Explorer is one of the fastest-selling vehicles in Ford's lineup — averaging just 11 days on dealer lots before they are snapped up.

Some dealers have reported selling them right off the truck, said Amy Marentic, Ford group marketing manager for North America cars and utilities.

Last year, Ford sold 60,687 Explorers. By last week, sales had reached about 64,000, surpassing total 2010 Explorer sales. And they are profitable sales: Buyers are spending an average of $37,000 for a higher-end model, which is about $5,000 more than the average price paid for last year's model.

The Explorer, named Truck of the Year at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, became the top-seller in its segment last month, beating such competitors as the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Jeep Grand Cherokee — all of which outsold the Ford SUV in 2010.

"I'm surprised by how quickly it became No.1 in its segment," Marentic said. "Fuel economy used to be a rejection reason and is now showing up as a purchase reason."

With the V-6, the Explorer is EPA rated 17/25 mpg in city/highway driving; with the optional EcoBoost turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline direct-injection four-cylinder, the Explorer is expected to get 18 mpg city and 26 highway.

"In the new era of stronger fuel economy regulations, it was a necessary gamble" to replace the former, lower-mileage SUV with the new Taurus-based version, said Michael Robinet, vice president of global vehicle forecasts for IHS Automotive in Northville. "The prior vehicle had run its course."

About 10,000 Explorers were ordered even before it went on sale in December — double what Ford had expected, Marentic said, and about 45 percent are trading in vehicles from competitors.

The volume of orders has strained the patience of buyers like Rosekrans, who ordered an Explorer Dec. 18 and was told it would be four to six weeks before it went into production. He finally got the vehicle March 31.

"If I was told it would take up to 16 weeks, I probably wouldn't have bought it," he said, adding his wife loves the vehicle and was attracted by the styling. Or he might have waited for the 2012 model.

The waiting period is still six-eight weeks, and the automaker has been working with dealers to manage expectations to avoid frustration, Marentic said.

While there are still about 9,000 in stock — about a 20-day supply — anyone ordering an Explorer today will get a 2012 model.

The Chicago plant where the Explorer is built is down this week and next for its traditional summer shutdown in preparation to make the 2012 models, while completing 2011 model orders.

"Having too much demand for a vehicle is a good problem to have," Robinet said.


Ford Fusion a strong contender
in the hybrid battle

Globe and Mail
Jun. 29, 2011

The best gasoline-electric hybrid car is ...

Well, what is it?

If you asked me that question 12 months ago I would have made an argument for the Ford Fusion Hybrid: great engineering, best combination of fuel economy and performance, strong balance of ride and handling and some nifty features like the "growing vine" display in the instrument cluster that speaks to your "green" driving or lack thereof.

globe rating: 8/10

Sure, sure, the Fusion Hybrid ($34,199) has a trunk squeezed by the battery, which also prevents a fold-down rear seatback. The lack of an all-wheel-drive option is an issue, too.

But if not having AWD troubles potential Fusion Hybrid buyers, it should do the same for anyone considering Toyota's Camry Hybrid ($31,310), Hyundai's Sonata Hybrid ($29,999), Kia's upcoming Optima Hybrid (pricing TBA) and the soon-to-be-discontinued Nissan Altima Hybrid ($33,398).

Those clear-cut four-door sedan rivals are all sold only with front-wheel drive (FWD), just the same as the Fusion Hybrid and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid ($42,200), as well. Toyota's Prius hybrid ($27,800) – the world's best-selling hybrid by far – is strictly FWD, too.

Ford launched the Fusion Hybrid for the 2010 model year to great fanfare and much applause. Even Consumer Reports rated the Ford Fusion Hybrid its top domestic sedan, tying with the Toyota Camry Hybrid for overall ranking. For fuel economy junkies, the Fusion Hybrid delivers 4.6 litres/100 km in the city, 5.4 on the highway.

That's still the best among all hybrid sedans, though the Prius hatchback at 3.7 litres/100 km tops the Ford. Ah, but the Sonata Hybrid is best in class for highway fuel economy at 4.6 litres/100 km. Kia's Optima Hybrid will deliver similarly good news at the fuel pump.

Numbers aside, the Fusion Hybrid delivers some pretty sophisticated engineering – engineering reflected in quiet and smooth integration between electric and mechanical systems. Unlike with earlier hybrids, including Ford's Escape Hybrid, the Fusion does not suffer mysterious clunks and mushy brakes. Ford's brainiacs have managed some very tidy engineering here.

Of course, that discussion starts with the powertrain, which is a blend of not just the electric systems but the gas engine, too. The hybrid's 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine puts out 156 horsepower using what is called the "Atkinson" cycle – which holds open the intake valve longer during the piston's first stroke, but at the sacrifice of power. (Google this if you want more.)

The Fusion Hybrid's electric motor makes up for the lack of gas engine power, and more. It provides instant, on-demand thrust when you need it, working in tandem with the gas-fired engine. Total output: a combined 191 horsepower and respectable acceleration of less than nine seconds to 100 km/h.

Ford's engineers will also tell you that making a hybrid work well is all about paying attention to details, making many small tweaks, and mastering tricks ranging from sorting out variable timing on the intake cam to refining the continuously variable transmission and the upgraded braking system that recaptures energy fairly smoothly.

There's more, too. Ford's hybrid here has a reasonably small and light nickel-metal hydride battery pack (tucked between the trunk and rear seats), though Hyundai and Kia are using a lithium polymer battery.

The Korean auto makers' batteries are arguably more sophisticated than Ford's and Toyota's. That said, the Fusion Hybrid can go up to 75 km/h running solely on electricity and range on a full tank of gas can be more than 1,100 km.

From the outside, the Fusion Hybrid has only the odd badge to distinguish it from the regular Fusion. But inside, the green identity is obvious.

The key elements in the cockpit are detailed feedback systems dubbed "SmartGauge with EcoGuide" that delivers fuel economy and power usage data in clear and non-distracting ways.

For the driver, it's easy to toggle through four levels of feedback: "Inform" shows fuel level and battery charge status; "Enlighten" adds electric vehicle mode indicator and a tachometer; "Engage" adds more details on engine output power and battery output power; and "Empower" give the tech geek even more information about power going to the wheels and accessory power consumption.

The simplest way to get a handle on your "green" driving is a rendering of a vine that appears in the right of the dash. Drive efficiently and green leaves appear and multiply on the vine. Drive like a lead-foot, and the leaves disappear. True believers in eco-friendly driving will love this complex feedback system – it's user friendly and eye-grabbing.

Ford set the bar high with the Fusion Hybrid, delivering a mid-size sedan that demands few sacrifices in ride comfort and performance – if any at all – for dramatically increased fuel efficiency, especially in the city. I wouldn't call the Fusion Hybrid a zesty sedan, but it is hardly sluggish and pretty decent in the corners and when doing the parking lot shuffle.

But this is a moving target. Hyundai and Kia are the newest players and they've done a good job of making hybrids more affordable. This explains why you'll find several thousand dollars in incentives on the Fusion Hybrid. Toyota is about to launch a raft of upgraded hybrids, too.

The hybrid wars are not only continuing, but intensifying.

2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Type: mid-size gasoline-electric sedan

Price: $34,199 ($1,450 freight)

Gas engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder

Horsepower and torque: 156 hp/136 lb-ft

Transmission: continuously variable

Electric drive: electric motor with nickel metal hydride battery pack

Combined horsepower: 191 hp

Drive: front-wheel drive

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 4.6 city/5.4 highway using regular fuel.

Alternatives: Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Lincoln MKX Hybrid.

Globe rating for the

7.5 Ride
This mid-size hybrid sedan demands few sacrifices in ride comfort and performance – if any at all – for dramatically increased fuel efficiency, especially in the city. It's not exactly a zesty sedan, but is hardly sluggish and decent in the corners.

7.5 Looks
Aside the odd bit of badging, the Fusion Hybrid looks just like any other Fusion. That's not a bad thing. This is a nice looking sedan, but hybrid buyers probably want their neighbours to notice.

8.5 Interior
Driving habits matter and Ford has recognized this with a cockpit that has detailed feedback systems dubbed "SmartGauge with EcoGuide." They deliver fuel economy and power usage data in clear and non-distracting ways.

9 Safety
This one has the full suite of safety features and the Fusion sedan is a Top Safety Pick.

8 Green
The best city fuel economy in its class. The car has some nifty features like the "growing vine" display in the instrument cluster that speaks to your "green" driving or lack thereof.

8 Overall
(out of 10 / Not an average)


Peers name Ford's Mulally '2011 Chief Executive of the Year'

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
June 28, 2011

Washington — Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally has been named "2011 Chief Executive of the Year" by peers.

"The success he showed in the face of incredible difficulty was just extraordinary," said James Turley, chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young and member of the 2011 selection committee. "The foresight he showed throughout the process, the courage he showed in making some tough decisions on popular brands, the global mindset he showed, and above all, the statesmanship he showed when two major competitors were on the public dole shows he was thinking for the good of the country as well as his company and industry."

Nominations for CEO of the Year were garnered from among the 147,000 readers of Chief Executive magazine. The 10 most frequently cited nominations were evaluated and a winner voted upon at a meeting of a peer selection committee, which took place earlier this year in New York City.

Mulally said by email he was appreciative of the honor. "So neat for our extended Ford enterprise and our industry," he said. "An industry that is so important for so many people and our country."

Mulally succeeds Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, who was honored last year.

"The turnaround and triumph of Ford is an amazing success story, due largely to his talents, leadership and courage," Grant said. "It's a turnaround not only of an American icon but more importantly, a global icon, as well."

Prior CEO of the Year winners include Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Michael Dell, A.G. Lafley, John Chambers, Anne Mulcahy, Larry Bossidy, Andy Grove and Herb Kelleher.

Mulally's selection as 2011 CEO of the Year will be celebrated at an invitation-only event hosted by NYSE Euronext and the Chief Executive Group at the New York Stock Exchange in July


Ford's quality ranking
plummets in J.D. Power survey

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
June 27, 2011

Buyers of new or significantly redesigned cars and trucks are complaining of more quality problems — primarily in information and entertainment systems, engines and transmissions, according to a J.D. Power and Associates report issued Thursday.

After four consecutive years of improvement, the quality of newly launched or overhauled vehicles "declined considerably" this year, according to the annual study, which questioned 78,000 motorists about the first 90 days of ownership.

Overall, however, automotive quality is inching up — particularly in vehicles that weren't redesigned this year.

Ford Motor Co. stumbled from fifth last year — highest of any nonluxury brand — to 23rd this year, because of complaints about the onboard MyFord Touch infotainment system offered on its 2011 Edge and Explorer crossovers.

"If it wasn't for MyFord Touch, we wouldn't be talking about Ford," said Dave Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power.

"They made the decision to be a leader in this area" of onboard connectivity, he said. "If you're the leader, that's great, but you're also in a somewhat vulnerable position."

The top of the 2011 list was dominated by luxury automakers and foreign brands. Cadillac and GMC were the only two domestic brands to crack the top 10 and exceed the industry average in the annual quality study. Toyota, long vaunted for its quality, fell to 21st in 2010 as it suffered through a series of recalls, but recovered to seventh this year.

Overall, Toyota's Lexus had the fewest problems of the 32 brands within the first three months of ownership: 73 per 100 vehicles. Honda improved to second place, from sixth in 2010. Acura, Mercedes-Benz and Mazda rounded out the top five.

Powertrain troubles, too
Like Ford, many other automakers struggled to roll out new interactive technologies their customers are demanding. But complaints about audio, entertainment and navigation systems were 18 percent higher this year than in 2010, and up 28 percent from 2009. Consumers, attracted to new technologies such as hands-free and voice-activated controls, also reported malfunctions or had trouble figuring out the systems.

"Every time you add a new feature, you add the possibility of a new problem," Sargent said.

Dearborn-based Ford, responding to the study, said feedback on MyFord Touch is helpful in making improvements. It allows drivers to control climate, navigation, entertainment and other features by voice or through a touch screen.

Mark Fields, Ford's president for the Americas, said this week the automaker is fixing troubles with its onboard infotainment systems, and warned in April that quality results would be mixed.

Engine and transmission troubles also drove down quality ratings for all-new and redesigned vehicles this year. Motorists are demanding both performance and fuel economy, and automakers are running into challenges in meeting those criteria.

"Vehicles are getting bigger and heavier," Sargent said, and "the engine isn't reacting the way they'd like." Drivers, he said, are complaining of "hesitation" during shifting and acceleration.

Overall quality goes up
The J.D. Power study, now in its 25th year, is a major influence in the industry. It's often used in vehicle marketing, and consumers look to it as a quality marker when buying a new car or truck.

Overall, initial quality improved to 107 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 109 last year.

Among "launch" models — those that are all-new or have undergone major redesigns — complaints averaged 122 per 100 vehicles this year, compared with 111 last year.

About three-fourths of newly launched vehicles fell below their segment average in quality.

Conversely, carryover models without a significant redesign in the past year have better initial quality than ever before. Owners of these vehicles report an average of 103 problems per 100, compared with 108 in 2010.

Despite its tech troubles, Fords ranked best in two categories: the F-150 truck in the large pickup category and the Ford Taurus in the large car segment.

General Motors Co.'s vehicles were best in three segments: the Cadillac Escalade in the large premium crossover/SUV category; Chevrolet Tahoe in the large SUV class; and the Chevy HHR in the MPV segment.

The range-extending Chevrolet Volt came in at about the industry average, while the Cruze, another new vehicle, was slightly below average for the compact segment, Sargent said.

Chrysler Group LLC also cut its problems per 100 vehicles to 107 this year from 122 in 2010. But Chrysler's Dodge brand came in last among the 32: 137 problems per 100 vehicles.

"We're climbing the ladder," said Doug Betts, vice president of quality for Chrysler.

"We don't like where we are, but we're happy with the trend."

As an exception, J.D. Power called the all-new Dodge Durango a "notably strong performer," ranking second best in the midsize crossover class. The Dodge Challenger finished first in the "midsize sporty" segment, and the Chrysler Town & Country ranked first among minivans.

Toyota didn't win a single industry segment award — a first for the company in the study's 25-year history, Sargent said.


Ford to offer inflatable
seat belts in more cars

June 26, 2011

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. will offer inflatable rear seat belts in more of its vehicles starting next summer.

Ford was the first in the industry to offer the belts, which are now available on the 2011 Ford Explorer SUV. The company plans to offer them on the Ford Flex, a seven-passenger crossover wagon, and two unnamed Lincoln vehicles.

Inflatable seat belts look like regular seat belts but with slightly more padding, since the air bag is sewn into them. When the car is in a severe crash, a balloon-like cushion inflates along the belt from the shoulder to the buckle. The belts help prevent chest injuries by distributing the force of the crash over an area that's five times larger than a traditional seat belt. They also cushion the neck.

Ford spent a decade designing and testing the belts. While they fill quickly - in 40 milliseconds - they are less forceful than traditional, steering wheel-mounted air bags because they don't need to bridge the space between the wheel and the person they're protecting. They also fill with cold compressed gas instead of the heat-producing chemical reaction used in traditional air bags. The cold gas and slower speed make the bags safer for young children.

Srini Sundararajan, a safety technical leader at Ford who was primarily responsible for developing the belts, said the company hasn't yet heard of any cases where the belts prevented injuries, but expects to once the new Explorer has been on the road longer. Ford has sold more than 65,000 Explorers since the new SUV went on sale in December.

Ford said 40 percent of Explorer buyers have chosen the inflatable seat belt option. It costs $195 to add the belts to the Explorer XLT, which starts at $31,520.

Sundararajan said Ford is considering adding inflatable seat belts to the front seats, but is still studying how much benefit they would provide.

Ford and a Michigan-based supplier, Key Safety Systems Inc., hold a patent on the inflatable seats belts.

Toyota Motor Corp. has inflatable seat belts made by Takata Corp. in its Lexus LFA sports car, which went on sale after the Explorer.

Ford's Mulally delivers
truck to Aiken dealership

Associated Press
June 25, 2011

Aiken, S.C.— The president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. made a stop in South Carolina to make good on a promise to a friend.

Satcher Ford Lincoln Mercury owner Rick Heath says Ford chief Alan Mulally visited his dealership Friday.

Heath says Mulally had told his friend and Aiken businessman Rob Johnston that, if Johnson ever bought a new Ford F150 pickup truck, Mulally would deliver it personally.

Johnston said he had previously owned an F150 and regretted selling it.

Heath has worked at Satcher Ford since for more than 40 years and bought the dealership in the 1980s. He says he coordinated the visit with Mulally's office and enjoyed spending time with the CEO.




CAW Contact
June 24, 2011
Volume 41, No. 25

New Deal at Air Canada Gets Approval of Leadership

More than 120 CAW leaders and workplace representatives at Air Canada voiced their unanimous approval, after reviewing the contents of the new tentative agreement at a meeting on June 19.

CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross expressed her appreciation for the support of workplace representatives across the country, along with crucial support by CUPE, IAMAW, Air Canada Pilots Association members and members of CUPW, CEP and the broader labour movement.

"We have waited a long time for this day," said Ross. "This was a very difficult round of negotiations with Air Canada and I'm proud of the agreement we reached on behalf of our members."

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said that he is pleased with what the CAW was able to achieve for Air Canada workers at the bargaining table. The new agreement includes wage increases, improvements to benefits and maintains the defined benefit pension plan for current Air Canada workers. The issue of the defined benefit pension plan for new hires will be sent to a mediation process and then, failing a resolve, will be sent to a jointly-chosen arbitrator.

"I'm inspired by the activism of Air Canada workers, not just in the time of the strike, but during the series of rallies and events that took place across the country during negotiations," said Lewenza. "They spoke up clearly in defense of good working conditions and pension security for all and against the cutbacks in customer service for Air Canada passengers."

Lewenza expressed his frustration at the interference of the federal government in the collective bargaining process, only 16 hours into a strike. "We were able to reach a negotiated settlement with Air Canada and it is with absolutely no thanks to the federal government who were only too happy to strip workers of their collective bargaining rights," said Lewenza.

"No worker or union member anywhere in the country should take this kind of extreme interference lightly. I would urge new Federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt to instead start acting in the best interest of both sides and allow parties to resolve conflicts through the collective bargaining process."

Ratification meetings are taking place right across the country, with results to be released on Monday, June 27. The new agreement would cover 3,800 CAW members who work in customer service and sales in major airports and call centres. The new agreement was reached on June 16.


CUPW members in Winnipeg, Manitoba join CAW Local 2002 members on the picket line at Air Canada on June 14.

Boeing Workers Ratify New Three-Year Deal

Production and skilled trades workers at the Boeing aerospace facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year collective agreement on June 18.

Workers voted 95 per cent in favour of the settlement that sees wage increases in each year as well as contract language improvements, benefit advances and keeps cost of living payments intact, among other achievements.

For the union, the most significant victory is the protection of the current defined benefit pension plan. Despite aggressive company demands to install a new defined contribution plan (a more insecure plan model) for new hires, the union bargaining committee refused to give in, said Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW National President.

"Maintaining our pension plan at Boeing signals an important win not just for our members but for workers across the country," Dias said.

"Employers have targeted pensions as the next
frontier for cost-savings. Not only does this jeopardize future generations, it will further destabilize Canada's middle class. By keeping the bar set high, we've made strides in this contract in the fight to preserve retirement security for everyone."

According to Dias, Boeing has instituted defined contribution plans for workers in all but two of its facilities in North America over the past years. Winnipeg is one of those two facilities.

The agreement was reached between the union and company on June 17, hours before a midnight strike deadline.

Plant chairperson Carmen LeDarney credited the bargaining committee for holding the line on issues vitally important to the membership.

"The important gains we made in this round of talks are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our bargaining team," LeDarney said.

CAW represents over 1000 workers at the Boeing facility who are members of Local 2169. The workers manufacture composite aircraft parts for the entire Boeing line of commercial airplanes.

CAW/MWF Concerned Over Future of Marystown Shipyard

The union representing workers at Kiewit Infrastructure Inc., which operates the Marystown Shipyard in Marystown, Newfoundland and Labrador, are expressing frustration and concern over future operations at the Kiewit facilities.

Wayne Butler, President of CAW/Marine Workers Federation (MWF) Local 20, said that all unionized workers at the facilities have been given lay-off notices, and there are no indications that the company is pursuing future work prospects.

"There was bitter disappointment and concern when Kiewit walked away from the federal government procurement contract, which potentially could have provided a $35 billion contract and more than three decades of work to the successful bidder," Butler said.

"It looks now like they may be preparing to walk away from a potential 10 year provincial ferry replacement program for Newfoundland and Labrador."

"The company has also requested that the union re-open the collective agreement two years into a three-year deal," Butler added. "With the lack of work in the facilities and on the order books, discussions of this kind are very difficult."

The CAW/MWF Local 20 has scheduled membership meetings June 23. The local represents more than 350 skilled trades workers at Kiewit

The union will also be requesting a meeting with community leaders on the Burin Peninsula, the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and as well MHAs from this region to discuss the seriousness of this situation and what it means to the economic base of not only the Burin Peninsula, but to the entire province as well, Butler said.

Two Fatalities of FFAW Members

Two FFAW/CAW members died on the job while lobster fishing in Newfoundland in mid-June.

Patrick 'Jamie' Layman, 50, from Ochre Pit Cove drowned June 19 while lobster fishing. He leaves his wife, daughter and three sons.

Eric F. Harris, 55, from Heatherton on the west coast of Newfoundland, drowned June 21 also while lobster fishing. His body was recovered at sea.

CAW Resumes Negotiations with Grand River Transit

The CAW was back at the negotiating table with Grand River Transit June 22-24 in the hope of reaching a new collective agreement with the Waterloo Region Ontario bus service.

CAW Local 4304 President Rick Lonergan said that so far, the process has been unnecessarily drawn out, but he is hopeful that talks will come to a positive resolution.

CAW Local 4304 represents 550 conventional and specialized transit drivers, mechanics and service personnel.

"We're optimistic that we can reach a fair and just collective agreement with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, well before the service expansion planned for September," said Lonergan.

The collective agreement with Grand River Transit expired on December 31, 2010. Grand River Transit provides bus service in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, ON.


GM retirees sue MetLife
over life insurance cuts

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
June 23, 2011

Washington — A group of 45 General Motors salaried retirees — including a former board chairman — filed suit today in Wayne Circuit Court, claiming Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. breached its contract when it slashed benefits.

In recent years GM reduced life insurance for most salaried retirees to $10,000 from higher guaranteed amounts.GM ended life insurance for its top former executives.

Some retirees lost $500,000 to $1 million in insurance policies when the value was reduced to $10,000, said Andrew Rogers, a lawyer for the retirees. The suit says the reduced benefits are insufficient to even cover funeral and burial expenses and are "extreme and outrageous."

Another 300 were also affected and could be affected as part of a class-action, Rogers said.

Among those suing: John Smale, GM's chairman from 1992 until 1995, who now lives in Texas. He was the first non-General Motors executive to hold this position since 1937.

In a June 1, 2009 letter to retirees on the day GM filed for bankruptcy, then GM CEO Fritz Henderson told retirees who joined GM before 1993 "the amount of Basic Life Insurance provided by GM is being reduced to $10,000" and was effective soon after GM exited bankruptcy the following month.

But GM said retirees could buy additional insurance by enrolling in a voluntary Life Insurance program through MetLife — and it did not require "proof of good health" — but they would have to pay for the extra coverage. But during the first two years of participation in the program, the death benefits are equal to the amount of the premiums paid. After that, retirees could get paid full coverage.

MetLife notified retirees named in the suit that their "continuing life insurance" coverage would "remain in effect for the rest of your life," but GM reduced the amount of coverage to $10,000, the retirees said in a statement.

Some of the letters from MetLife guaranteeing lifetime coverage date to 1986, Rogers said.

"These retirees have taken tremendous losses in their promised, deferred compensation and retirement plans.They are holding written promises from MetLife that they relied on and used for planning their retirement future," said Sheldon Miller, another attorney for the retirees. "Hitting them with this additional loss of life insurance coverage, when they hold lifetime guarantees comes at a time when they can no longer replace insurance on the open market due to their age and reduced income and is unconscionable."

The retirees are seeking to reinstate the full value of their reduced policies.

GM didn't immediately comment and MetLife didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

This is the second suit filed by some GM retirees in recent weeks.

Last month, more than 100 former GM executives sued the automaker in federal court to recoup pension benefits slashed during the company's bankruptcy.

The retirees, including former vice presidents and high-ranking managers, are trying to recoup benefits plus interest, and want a federal judge to order GM to accurately pay future benefits.

The executives suing include a number of former GM vice presidents, including John G. Middlebrook, who was vice president and general manager of vehicle brand marketing. He also was a general manager of the Chevrolet Division and helped launch GM's now-shuttered Saturn division.

Others suing include Richard C. Nerod, retired president of GM-Latin America, Africa and Middle East; and Donald W. Hudler, a GM vice president and former president of Saturn.

Overall, GM saved $4.6 billion in trimming pension and retiree health care benefits during its bankruptcy reorganization, the company said in a filing last year.


Ford continues expanding
safety, technology features

Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, said the automaker is fixing troubles in its onboard MyFordTouch and Sync infotainment systems, which have been criticized as difficult to operate.

Carmaker improving Sync, other features in quest for quality

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
June 22, 2011

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co.'s drive to improve vehicle quality is "back on track," a top executive said Tuesday, and the automaker continues to enhance and expand safety and technology features.

Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, said the Dearborn-based automaker is fixing troubles in its onboard MyFordTouch and Sync infotainment systems, which have been criticized as difficult to operate.

His comments came in advance of Thursday's scheduled release, in Detroit, of J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Vehicle Quality report, which assesses new car quality.

In last year's report, Ford had the fewest defects of the mainstream brands.

Fields said Ford's quality in North America this year, while headed in the right direction, remains "mixed" and below internal targets.

Ford is jumping on problems as soon as they are identified, he emphasized.

That includes improvements to the Sync software, bolder letters on controls, research into more intuitive voice commands and consumer training on the system.

Becoming a technology company is "a journey," Fields said.

"Customers said they have issues, and we've been fixing them," he said.

"Clearly, we needed more training and education."

The automaker continues to expand Sync's capabilities.

Last year, Ford introduced its Sync Applink software on the subcompact Fiesta, providing voice-activated and hands-free use of smartphone apps.

Applink will be offered on 10 vehicles, including the 2012 Ford Mustang, Fiesta, Fusion, F-150 and Expedition, said Doug VanDagens, director of Connected Services Solutions.

Ford plans to add more than 100 jobs during the next four years to quadruple its work force in this growing area.

Some 2,500 independent app developers want to create apps for use in Ford vehicles.

"One in four Americans who download apps admit to using them while driving," Fields said.

"It's a growing area for Ford and one where we are investing more going forward."

Analyst Ed Kim of AutoPacific in Tustin, Calif., said Ford isn't offering technology only to those who can afford luxury cars.

"Ford is the leader of the democratization of technology," Kim said.

Sync is now in 3 million vehicles and has a 73 percent satisfaction rate; 85 percent say it is easy to use, Fields said.

On the safety front, Ford said Tuesday the rear inflatable seatbelts in the Ford Explorer will be offered next summer on the Ford Flex and two Lincoln vehicles. While officials declined to identify the Lincolns, the MKT is the sister vehicle to the Flex.

Sue Cischke, vice president of environmental and safety engineering, said 40 percent of families who bought a new Explorer opted for the inflatable belts.

Ford also demonstrated its vehicle-to-vehicle accident avoidance research: Vehicles pick up data from other vehicles within 300 meters — short of 1,000 feet — to alert drivers to a dangerous situation such as an unsafe lane change or the sudden braking of a vehicle two cars ahead in traffic, said Mary Wroten, part of the auto safety team.


Ford to invest $1B to revive Lincoln

2011 Lincoln MKX. Some question the future of the Lincoln brand. In the first five months of the year, Lincoln’s sales were down 7.5 percent from a year ago. (Lincoln)

Automaker tells dealers it is committed
to resuscitating its luxury marque by 2014

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
June 21, 2011

Lincoln dealers say Ford Motor Co. intends to invest about $1 billion in new vehicles by 2014 in a bid to rejuvenate its struggling luxury brand.

Ford's leadership team, including CEO Alan Mulally, met in Dearborn two weeks ago with Lincoln dealers from major metropolitan areas to assure them of the company's commitment to the brand. Lincoln sold fewer than 35,000 vehicles in the United States through the first five months of the year, down 7.5 percent from a year ago. That represents less than 1 percent of the U.S. market.

Last year, Ford promised that Lincoln would get seven new or significantly upgraded vehicles over four years. But major auto shows have come and gone this year with no new Lincolns to excite dealers who are being asked to spend, on faith, $1 million or more each to upgrade their facilities in anticipation of a fresh showroom of vehicles.

"We're fully committed to making Lincoln a world-class luxury brand with compelling vehicles and an exceptional consumer experience to match," Lincoln spokesman Timothy Elliott said Monday.

But many are skeptical about its future.

"The bigger question is whether Lincoln will be viable," said Rebecca Lindland, a director with IHS Automotive Inc. in Lexington, Mass.

General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson recently dismissed Ford's efforts to revive Lincoln, its competitor to GM's Cadillac. "You might as well sprinkle holy water. It's over," he told The Detroit News.

IHS predicts Lincoln will next year add a compact sedan — a premium cousin to the Ford Focus — and a compact crossover in 2013 as a 2014 model. The automotive consultants at IHS expect most of the new and upgraded Lincolns to arrive as 2014 models, including a midsize crossover (a premium cousin to the Ford Explorer) as well as the next generation of its MKS full-size sedan. At that time, the MKT — sister to the Ford Flex — is expected to go away, and the Navigator full-size SUV could expire by 2016. But Lincoln will have new versions of the MKZ midsize sedan and MKX utility vehicle.

While the industry hasn't recovered fully — the seasonally adjusted sales rate for 2011 was 11.8 million units in May — the market is slowly coming back.

"Lincoln may miss some of the momentum," Lindland said.

Bob Tasca Jr. is president of Tasca Automotive Group, which includes Ford and Lincoln showrooms in Cranston, R.I. The chairman of the Lincoln Mercury Dealer Council traveled to Dearborn for the meeting that he described as "very positive."

Commitment assured
Ford management "assured dealers, without a question of a doubt, that Ford is fully committed to Lincoln," Tasca said.

"They have a ways to go, but you gotta believe it," he said, referring to promises made and kept to turn around the Ford brand. Tasca expects Mulally and his management team to ramp up Lincoln as well.

But he said he shares the sentiment of many of his fellow dealers in wishing the new vehicles would come sooner. His volume models — the MKX and MKZ — are selling well, but few buyers want the MKT or Navigator, Tasca said.

Ford executives told the dealers that Lincoln sales could fall below 80,000 this year, but predicted they will exceed 150,000 annually by 2015, when the lineup has been overhauled.

Lou Stanford of Varsity Lincoln in Novi also would like more up-to-date vehicles to sell, but recognizes "they're rewinding Lincoln" and resources are still stretched as Ford seeks to reduce its overall debt, which affects the resources available to develop new vehicles.

The automaker's executives have said Lincoln products will share underbellies with Ford products but distinguish themselves with their look, more technology and standard features, and powertrains that give them greater performance.

The sharing of the chassis and many major components makes it possible for Ford to come up with seven new or refreshed Lincoln products for $1 billion, Lindland said.

"They are working with economies of scale to develop these products less expensively and get more immediate return on the investment," she said.

At the meeting in Dearborn, the dealers were told they need showrooms, as well as sales and service employees, dedicated to Lincoln products.

"We were clear about their need to invest in their businesses to recognize the full potential of our investment in the brand," Elliott said. He would not comment on the investment figures.

Investment expected
Tasca said most dealers to whom he spoke will make the necessary investment.

"There is not one stencil you can put over everybody," said Tasca, who added that he will not need to spend much on the Lincoln facility he built in 2000. "I already built the Taj Mahal."

Varsity Lincoln was updated about four years ago, so Stanford doesn't think he needs to make a huge investment.

But some Lincoln dealers who also sold the Mercury brand, discontinued last year, will choose to stop selling Lincolns rather than invest, given their reduced volumes.

There were about 1,180 Lincoln dealers at the start of the year, including about 300 stand-alone Lincoln outlets.

In the top 130 metro markets, Ford wants to pare its dealership network to 325 from about 500 at the end of last year. It wants Lincoln to go head-to-head with premium brands including BMW, Mercedes and Audi — brands whose sales outlets are concentrated in large cities.

Time will tell how many close, Tasca said. But he is optimistic for the brand.


Lincoln facing identity crisis

Daniel Howes
June 21, 2011

Ford Motor Co.'s gambit to revive its beleaguered Lincoln brand inside the United States came down to this:

CEO Alan Mulally withheld his imprimatur for the $1 billion turnaround plan until working groups devoted to product development and sales and marketing crafted a "robust and credible" plan that the Dearborn automaker could deliver as well as its years-long plan to strengthen the Blue Oval.

Fair enough. But Lincoln's legacy is luxury born of plebian roots, a manufacturing- and purchasing-led compromise of tarted-up Fords that undercuts Lincoln's ability to compete with rivals from Germany, Japan and even General Motors Co.'s Cadillac, now a legitimate luxury-market player.

How enduring Lincoln's prospective resurrection could be — and if it can justify asking selected Lincoln dealers to invest as much as $1.9 million each in their stores — depends on a) the ability of Ford to replicate the discipline and execution of its Blue Oval turnaround and b) whether it can make a break from a sorry past of me-too vehicles.

It also depends on deciding whether new Lincolns should be cutting-edge technology platforms that appeal to the younger, tech-savvy set (with less money) or to an older, less techy crowd with higher incomes but simpler desires to play music, adjust the AC and maybe sync their mobile phone to the car over Bluetooth.

It can't be both, at least not easily. And that Ford is struggling to try is an indicator of just how tricky it will be to reinvigorate an American icon Ford allowed to languish for way too long in the shadow of the Blue Oval and its jettisoned euro-lux brands of Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.

Take the new MKX crossover, please, with its sleek, knobs-free MyTouch Lincoln, an infotainment-and-climate conglomeration whose time may have come a little too soon.

"The system is too complicated," a Ford-Lincoln dealer in Ohio told me Monday, asking that he not be identified for fear of repercussions from Dearborn. "They need to have an entry level and an advanced level, just like in a computer game. We're not frustrated with the customers. We're frustrated. It's a fabulous car if you're a geek."

And if you're not, the dealer says, Ford is providing $70 per customer to defray the cost of dealer-organized training sessions for befuddled owners of MyTouch Lincoln, acknowledgement of a legitimate problem that could aggravate the brand's ability to retain precious customers for repeat business.

Here I thought only the rarified German luxomakers could be that obtuse: Train paying customers to be good customers by giving them smart technology to make them feel dumb.

How many buyers of a Lincoln MKX crossover are like my parents, a pair of seventysomethings who leased a next-generation MKX only to have it go haywire? After a stop in South Carolina, it wouldn't start. They called me in Michigan: I could hear the horn blowing, the windshield wipers going.

It happened again in Marietta, Ohio, and only removing both cables from the battery seemed to reboot the system. Finally home in the driveway, the car wouldn't start again — and, yes, the electronic key fob was in the car, sitting in the cupholder. Frustrated? Yeah, I'd say so. A testimonial for a new MKX? You make the call.

The point here is that Ford's liberal use of new technology to distinguish Lincoln from its abler rivals risks alienating loyal customers who struggle to use a touch screen to tweak the AC fan speed. Or who get irritated by the fact they've accidentally hit the nearby emergency flasher switch for the umpteenth time.

Is this where the new Lincoln is headed, an engineering ego trip whose regard for customers is to offer the dolts classes to learn the finer points of the stereo? The luxury car biz has seen this kind before, in the Comand system of Mercedes-Benz about a decade or so ago and a few years later in BMW's iDrive wheel that drove loyalists nuts — and sometimes still does.

That's the kind of hole it'd be wise for Lincoln not to dig, because it only gets deeper.


NDP will remain socialists for now

NDP Leader Jack Layton raises his cane as he takes to the stage to deliver his keynote speech at the party's 50th anniversary convention in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday June 19, 2011.

Joanna Smith
Toronto Star
Ottawa Bureau
June 20, 2011

VANCOUVER—New Democrats will remain socialists for now as delegates voted to send a controversial change to the language in the party constitution back to the drawing table to avoid a divisive debate.

About 1,500 members of the NDP gathered this weekend to celebrate their success and get ready to grow into an NDP that has a serious shot at forming government in four years, a process that involved heated debates that showed just how much the party is struggling to define itself.

As the Star reported last week, part of the evolution — and vote-seeking strategy — championed by party brass would involve removing the words "democratic socialism" from the NDP constitution in favour of softer language.

Another resolution that came from the grassroots — excited and defiant over the recent electoral success winning a record 103 seats in the House of Commons — would have had the NDP reject outright any future talks of merging with the Liberals.

Neither of those resolutions were adopted — the constitutional tinkering delayed and the anti-merger resolution rejected — but not before delegates engaged in heated debates when they finally came to the convention floor Sunday morning.

"I think they're having a bit of an identity crisis here," said Heritage Minister James Moore, who was at the NDP biennial policy convention as a Conservative observer.

New Democrat Leader Jack Layton said that was ridiculous.

"Some people perhaps feel that the selection of an adjective — one adjective versus another — is a monumental matter," Layton told reporters at the Vancouver Convention Centre on Sunday, where delegates gave his leadership an approval rate of 97.9 per cent.

"People wanted to try and find a refinement and modernization of the language to capture what our values are. There was no disagreement about the values. It was about the nature of the label, so (delegates) said: 'Well let's talk about that some more,' " said Layton. "Our opponents may try to paint that as some kind of identity crisis. I think that would be ridiculous."

The lineups at the microphones when the constitutional resolution came up for debate was long and NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre) led the charge in favour of the new wording, saying the socialist language in the constitution was an anchor holding the party back — and scaring voters away — at a time when it is closer to forming government than every before.

"Socialism is not an anchor, it's a rocket," Barry Weisleder, who chairs the unofficial socialist caucus that meets in its own room at NDP conventions, shot back.

"You can take socialism out of the preamble, but you can't take socialism out of the NDP."

Newly elected party president Brian Topp stepped in to suggest referring it to the party executive to retool and save it for another time, a motion that passed to the relief of many delegates.

"We can breathe," Topp told delegates, noting the next election is still four years away. "We can take the time to do our important work well . . . Let's leave this room together."

Brad Lavigne, national director of the party, said most delegates had more of a problem with the lack of any language critiquing the market system than whether the constitution contained the word socialism and said the executive is likely to throw in a few words on the topic to make the grassroots happy.

Peter Thurley, who ran for the NDP in the riding of Kitchener Centre, said the change needs consultation because it is a fundamental question of where the party is going as it strives to have a serious shot at forming government.

"There are a large number of delegates who don't want to become the next Liberal Party of Canada," Thurley said. "At the same time, we have to figure out how we'll be able to speak to and connect with average everyday Canadians in a language that they understand, in a language that they know and resonate with."

Delegates also decided to leave the door open to the possibility of merging with the Liberals instead of rejecting it outright.

"To close the door on any future discussion of a merger with the Liberals is a serious tactical mistake," NDP MP Peter Stoffer (Sackville — Eastern Shore) told the roomful of delegates ahead of the vote.


Elderly woman stages
"lie-in" at hospital

June 20, 2011
Toronto Star
Theresa Boyle

Ontario's long waiting list for nursing homes has led to an unusual standoff at the William Osler Health Centre.

For the last six months, a 75-year-old Brampton woman has refused to vacate a hospital bed even though she no longer requires hospital care. Ivy Chand is waiting for a bed to become available in the long-term care facility of her choice. It's her legal right.

She was admitted to William Osler seven months ago for a chronic lung condition and the hospital has been trying to get rid of her since December. The situation is so bizarre that Chand receives little medical care and actually goes outside the hospital for doctors' appointments.

Still, she is too sick to go home and waiting lists for nursing homes she wants to get into are at least a year long.

The hospital needs Chand's bed for new patients and has threatened to charge her $700 a day if she doesn't move to a home with a shorter wait.

Back in February, Health Minister Deb Matthews warned such threats were a no-no. It's "completely inappropriate and unacceptable" for hospitals to charge seniors waiting to get into long-term care any more than the basic daily nursing home rate of $53.23, she said.

In one sense, Chand's case isn't unusual in that one in six patients in hospital doesn't need to be there. Most, like Chand, are frail seniors with multiple chronic conditions stuck due to long waits for nursing homes, and insufficient home care and other community supports.

What sets Chand apart is that she is standing up to hospital officials who she says misinformed her of her rights in an attempt to make her leave.

The dispute highlights some of the biggest problems facing Ontario's health system today. Wait times for long-term care facilities are "far too high," the Ontario Health Quality Council warned in its annual report earlier this month. At 103 days, the median wait is nearly three times higher than it was in 2005. Some 21,500 seniors are on the waiting list annually for long-term care.

Meantime, hospitals are expected to find beds for acutely ill patients coming through emergency. On any given night, 700 are waiting for admission, according to the Ontario Hospital Association.

As Ontario's cash-strapped health system looks for solutions and savings, it is frail seniors that policy-makers are zeroing in on with the mantra of "delivering the right service in the right place."

Chand is clearly in the wrong place. And she's not budging. On the advice of family, she is staging a lie-in of sorts as she waits for a bed to open up in a nursing home of her choice.

"I don't want my grandmother to be unhappy and if it means challenging the system and doing what we know is legally right, we will do what it takes," says granddaughter Michelle Chand.

Right now, Chand is far from happy. She spends the bulk of her days staring at the walls in a fourth-floor room at Osler's Brampton Civic Hospital site.

"She's angry, agitated and frustrated," said her daughter Indera Chand.

Under Ontario laws, prospective residents can choose up to five nursing homes in order of preference. Not surprisingly most, like Chand, want to get into newer homes and those with better reputations, but waiting lists can be years long. Waits for the five homes Chand has chosen range from one to three years.

Earlier this year, some hospitals tried getting around the rules by threatening seniors with daily charges of up to $1,800 unless they moved into "first available beds," even in homes they didn't want. When Matthews got wind of it, she put a stop to it. At least she thought she did.

"I can't see good and I can't hear good. But they say, 'Sign this, sign that. Quick, quick.' I can't sign anything," Chand exclaims.

But Chand did sign something. In March she put her signature on a form, agreeing she understood she may have to pay $700 a day if she declined the first bed offer. The form asks patients to include two short-wait homes if the preferred ones have no available beds.

"We felt we had no choice. If we didn't sign we might get charged," Michelle says.

The hospital had given Chan a similar warning three months earlier, advising her she would be subject to the $700 daily charge if she didn't leave because she had refused to participate in their discharge plan.

The family checked out three short-wait homes and didn't like them. All were older, built between 1965 and 1977, and the Chands found them bleak and depressing. Like many nursing homes build in that era, some rooms have four beds.

When the family later learned of Matthew's comments, they informed the hospital that Chand would wait until a bed in a home of her choice opened up.

When asked about the situation on Thursday, hospital spokesperson Lorraine Lynch denied the facility tries to push patients to move to long-term care homes they don't want to go to. They can stay in hospital until a bed becomes available in a home of their choice, she said in an email. And patients waiting to get into a home are "absolutely never" required to pay $700 a day.

But when presented with Chand's hospital records showing otherwise, Lynch backtracked, saying the forms in question were "outdated" and should never have been used.

"We apologize that these were used and have taken immediate steps to ensure only correct forms are being used going forward," she wrote.

Meantime, Matthews isn't pleased to hear that hospitals are still threatening seniors with high fees if they don't move.

"We have been very clear," she said, noting letters have been sent to health officials across the province, explaining the rules.

"This was a mistake. It was a very unfortunate mistake," she said.

Judith Wahl, executive director of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, which has been helping the Chand family, says she continues to hear of similar cases of seniors being threatened with charges and misinformed of their rights when in comes to choosing long-term care homes.

"I'm concerned it's still happening," she says.

A huge part of the problem is the aging stock of long-term care housing. There are about 70,000 long-term care beds in 627 homes and the province plans to redevelop half of them — the oldest ones — over the next decade.

It's these homes seniors resist going to. Despite the long waits, there are at least 350 vacant beds, mostly in older homes, in the province right now, according to the Ontario Long Term Care Association. Homes get less provincial funding if they are less than 97 per cent occupied. That compounds the problem because they then have to cut back services like laundry, housekeeping and maintenance, making them even less desirable.

The province has opened up 9,000 new long-term care beds since 2003 and has plans to open another 1,000 in the near future.

Meantime, it is also trying to beef up home-care services. Studies have shown that a third of those waiting for long-term care could continue living at home with enhanced home care.

But with a growing elderly population, the system is under great stress. Because hospitals must accommodate seniors waiting for transfer to long-term care, they don't have enough beds for patients coming in through their emergency departments, causing backups there.

"I believe that the real problem is that we have never developed a capacity plan in the province for the frail elderly," says Tom Closson, president of the Ontario Hospital Association. The organization is calling on provincial political parties to do just that in the run-up to October's election.

Wahl's advice to seniors waiting for long-term care is to keep an open mind. Don't pick a home just because it's "prettier or newer," she says. Some of the older homes have great staff and programming, she notes.

But do your homework, she says, noting the health ministry posts inspection results on its website, identifying, for example, if homes have had verified reports of abuse or fallen below standard in provision of care and services.

"I think it's fair to refuse a home if you are doing your research and you look at the place and you think I couldn't stand living there, I would be so depressed living there," Wahl says. "I think we really have to look hard at what these home are like. There may be good reasons that people don't want to live there."

It's fine for hospitals and staff from Community Care Access Centres, which help organize long-term-care placements, to discuss moving into a home that's not on the top of your list, even just temporarily, until a bed in the home you really want becomes available, Wahl says. But no one should be forced to move, she adds.

Chand, meantime, continues to wait at Osler. But staff is a lot nicer to her these days.

"Grandma told me that two ladies came into her room yesterday during the day to apologize," Michelle said Friday.


Ford nears agreement
in 7-year-old lawsuit

David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
June 19, 2011

Detroit— Ford Motor Co. is close to resolving a 7-year-old lawsuit over whether taxpayers should pay part of the cleanup costs at its historic Rouge complex dating to military production from World War I.

The Dearborn automaker filed suit in May 2004 against the federal government in U.S. District Court in Detroit, and argued the government should pay a share of the costs of cleaning up the automaker's Rouge manufacturing complex that opened in 1917.

During World War I and World War II, Ford assembled boats, tanks, engines and other war materials at the massive site. Ford first built Eagle boats used by the U.S. Navy.

In a June 1 court filing, Justice Department attorney Heather Gange and Ford attorney Mary Rose Alexander told the court that Ford and a partial owner of the site - Severstal Dearborn, LLC - have "conditionally agreed" to two settlements.

Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said Friday the company is "working to resolve the matter and we are hopeful that we will soon reach a resolution."

The two proposed consent decrees are being reviewed by Justice Department, but first must be "approved by high-level officials within the Department of Justice with final settlement authority" before they can be made public.

A settlement has been years in the making.

Ford and the Justice Department held settlement talks with a mediator in May 2008 and reached a settlement in principal, but further talks were held in 2009 with Severstal and Michigan Consolidated Gas - a previous owner of part of the site. Another round of talks was held in June 2010.

MichCon sold 22 acres of its property in Dearborn to Ford in 1968 near the Rouge complex to expand a wastewater treatment plant. Ford claims the property was heavily contaminated before MichCon sold it.

Ford and Severstal filed suit in 2008 against MichCon. MichCon - a unit of DTE Energy - countersued over alleged environmental damage to its remaining property in Dearborn from the Rouge complex.

MichCon also sued the federal government over the decision of the Army Corps of Engineers to rechannel the Rouge River in the 1960s, and said it "caused continuing releases of hazardous substances."

The suits are pending. A DTE spokesman declined to comment.

If approved by the Justice Department, the settlements will be filed with U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman, who will consider whether to approve the deal.

Reached by phone Friday, Gange declined to comment.

From January 1918 until August 1919, Ford built Eagle Boats, known as submarine chasers, at the Dearborn assembly plant.

During World War II, Ford built aircraft engines, a magnesium smelter, a B-2 supercharger facility, aircraft engine gear facilities and a tank and armor plating facility, along with parts for military trucks and jeeps at the Rouge.

Washington ordered Ford to stop building cars in February 1942. Ford argued the federal Reconstruction Finance Corp. and Defense Plant Corp. owned portions of the facility. In 1945, Ford resumed making cars at the Rouge.

Ford noted in 2004 that General Motors Corp. and chemical giant DuPont previously sued to get the government to pay cleanup costs stemming from wartime production.

The government "had extraordinary powers to control the economy and individual plants and facilities in the interests of national defense," Ford's suit said.

The Rouge complex is one of the most heavily industrialized sites in Michigan - and for much of the 20th century was the largest industrial complex in the United States.

The 1,200-acre complex, which has been home to blast furnaces, steel mills, foundries, metal stamping facilities, an engine plant, a glass manufacturing plant, a tire plant and its own powerhouse, has generated enormous amounts of waste, including hundreds of millions of gallons of coal tar.

Until 1953, Ford discharged untreated wastewater into the Rouge River. The company built a wastewater treatment plant in 1953 and minimally treated wastewater until 1972, court records said.

The Rouge complex has as much as 65 million gallons of wastewater in ponds and lagoons at its wastewater treatment plant, according to a May court filing.

The ponds leak into the groundwater and river, MichCon alleged, citing a 2009 study that the ponds leak at an estimated rate of 0.1 percent per day. But Ford denied the ponds are leaking into the groundwater.

MichCon said at that estimate, the plant is leaking 70,000 gallons a day. Severstal currently has a permit to discharge wastewater into the River that expires on Oct. 1.



Who wins with back-to-work legislation?

A locked out Canada Post employee waves a flag and blows a whistle outside the main post office in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday June 17, 2011. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jered Stuffco, CTV.ca News
Saturday Jun. 18, 2011

When Labour Minister Lisa Raitt said the federal government could force striking Canada Post staff back to work, labour types bristled.

They charged that the feds were siding with the Crown corporation's management, while NDP Leader Jack Layton accused the government of potentially taking away the union's right to strike.

Through a larger lens, union leaders denounced the potential back-to-work legislation as an overall trend to erode worker's hard-earned rights.

Suddenly, what had been a relatively small nuisance with a series of smaller labour disruptions had turned into a national showdown. Complicating matters, Air Canada has also been dealing with a potential strike.

Though the Canadian Union of Postal Workers had mounted rotating strikes in different cities during the 12-day labour disruption, it didn't really hit home until union leaders announced that the strikes were to hit Montreal and Toronto.

With that announcement, Canada Post locked out all of its 48,000 workers. Given that Canada's two largest cities account for more than half of all mail traffic, the system would have been effectively shut down anyway, postal management said. Plus, they also said the rotating 24-hour strikes had already cost $100 million.

Critics accused Canada Post of creating a crisis that would allow the government to impose an anti-labour resolution.

Raitt, however, said it was still in the best interests of both sides to reach a deal before the legislation dropped.

"Nobody knows what's in that legislation," she said Wednesday.

Still, many businesses that rely on the postal system to make money welcomed the news, as did free-market types who feel that unions are archaic and unnecessary in today's labour market.

But does back-to-work legislation really work against the unions?

According to Howard Levitt, a labour lawyer based in Toronto, back-to-work legislation isn't always beneficial to management. In fact, he said that the government's involvement could actually work in favour of the unions.

"The real problem is that management is not acting in its own interest," Levitt said in an email to CTV.ca.

"Here is a perfect opportunity for these employers to beat their unions, who have no public support and essentially impose terms."

Levitt said that the public has little sympathy for both the Air Canada and Canada Post unions, and Canadians would likely allow the strikes to go on indefinitely. In such long-term disruptions, management gains the upper hand, said Levitt.

"This provides both employers an unprecedented opportunity to permanently weaken the union and impose contracts on their terms," he said.

"Instead, they are seeking return-to-work legislation, which will result in the normally union-friendly terms imposed by most arbitrators."

Two years ago, municipal workers in Toronto and Windsor were not legislated back to work, despite rotting garbage that pilled up in both cities. Bucking that trend, the Ontario government this year passed new legislation making Toronto's transit system an essential service.

In short, Levitt said that governments in Canada appear "incapable of playing hardball, however opportune the circumstances."

As the news of the potential legislation spread earlier this month, the postal union said that back-to-work bills are "unnecessary, unjust, and counterproductive."

"We never got a chance in this round of bargaining," said Denis Lemelin, CUPW national president.

"Now, as we call for a meeting with Canada Post's President, the Harper government is going to rescue him from any responsibility to negotiate realistically with the workers."

However, Levitt and Lemelin share some common ground on the next point. According to Lemelin, when workers are forced back onto the job, nobody wins.

"If this bill passed, we would have the very outcome that nobody wants," he said. "An imposed settlement brings down terms that neither party has agreed to."

So if postal workers are ordered back onto their routes before an agreement is reached, who wins?

Business wins, said manager Jack McLaughlin, from Winnipeg's Pal Distributors.

"I hope the government legislates them back to work," he told CTV Winnipeg this week, adding that the strike has crippled his cash-flow because he uses the system to send and receive cheques.

"If they don't, there will be layoffs in manufacturing because we'll run out of cash."


CAW Contact
Volume 41, No. 24
June 17, 2011

Tentative Agreement at Air Canada, Strike Over

The CAW reached a tentative agreement with Air Canada June 16 after more than 12 weeks of grueling negotiations with Air Canada.

After the tentative agreement was announced, picket lines were taken down ending a strike which started June 14 by CAW members who are customer service and sales agents at Air Canada. Plans have been made for a series of ratification votes on the new four-year agreement.

Striking workers were elated with news of a negotiated settlement, many waving flags and dancing. This three-day strike was the first for Air Canada workers in 25 years.


The CAW-Master bargaining committee announces a tentative agreement with Air Canada on June 16 at the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the new agreement is an important achievement for the 3,800 CAW members at Air Canada, who resisted company demands for major pension concessions.

Lewenza said the new agreement covers wages, pensions, benefits and all other key issues in bargaining. But he said the contentious issue of pension benefits for new hires will be sent to arbitration where the union will present the case for continuing a defined benefit pension plan.

The existing defined benefit pension plan remains unchanged until January 1, 2013, when there will be some modifications to the plan. Lewenza said the contract will provide wage increases of nine percent over four years. More contract details will be made public after the ratification meetings.


Striking Air Canada workers parade through Terminal 1 at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, on June 15.

Lewenza blasted the Harper government for indicating less than 24 hours after the strike started that it would intervene with legislation to end it and arbitrate an outcome. "This is an unprecedented intrusion into free collective bargaining," Lewenza said.

He said the government's intervention was heavy-handed and made bargaining more difficult. The federal government's push for back to work legislation is evidence of how it's going to behave now that it has a majority.

"Don't think for a moment that government intervention settled this strike, far from it. It is always better for us to negotiate a contract than to have it imposed and we have a very good record of negotiating collective agreements," Lewenza said.

For more information, as well as event photos, videos and more check out www.caw.ca/fairdealnow

CAW Proposes Consolidation of Nortel's Global Debts and Assets

During argument before Ontario's Commercial Court, the CAW, along with other parties representing Canadian employees and their benefit and pension plans, took the position that the only way to appropriately distribute proceeds from the sale of Nortel's world-wide assets is to share them pro-rata among the claims of its creditors.

This method of distribution, a form of global substantive consolidation, reflects the integrated and interdependent nature of Nortel's world-wide
operations before January of 2009, when it filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada, the United States and other jurisdictions around the world.

If accepted by the court when a trial is conducted, likely later this year, pro-rata distribution will result in a fair distribution of the sale proceeds among all of the creditors and a just resolution for the employees who have lost their jobs, retirees facing reductions in their pensions and disabled employees who have lost the incomes and benefits on which they depended.

Although Nortel's headquarters was situated in Canada, before its insolvency it distributed sales proceeds among its global entities to reduce its overall tax burden, with the effect that most of its assets were located outside Canada. However, most of Nortel's debts were either situated in or guaranteed by the Canadian headquarters. As a result, creditors of Nortel's entities around the world are not only making claims in their own jurisdiction, but also against any assets flowing into Canada from the sale of its global business interests. This, essentially, gives them two ways of recouping losses; something which the Canadian only creditors, including those represented by the CAW, do not have.

The proposed pro-rata distribution of Nortel's assets has a reasonable chance of success, giving not only fairness, but also justice to those who have suffered most from Nortel's meltdown.

During the height of Nortel's success in the 1980s, the CAW represented 5,000 Nortel workers.

Buzz Hargrove to Receive Honourary Degree from McMaster University

Former CAW President Buzz Hargrove received an honorary degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario during the spring 2011 convocation ceremonies on Thursday, June 16.

Hargrove is among a group of prominent Canadians that spoke to graduating McMaster students.

Hargrove was CAW president from 1992 to 2008 and is now external director of the Centre for Labour-Management Relations in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University.

Hargrove also has honourary degrees from Brock University, the University of Windsor, Wilfred Laurier University, Ryerson University, the University of New Brunswick and Queen's University. He was also named a Fellow of Centennial College.

In 2008, Hargrove was named an officer of the Order of Canada.

"Outrageous" Employer Proposals Stall Talks at Nursing Homes

Contract talks between the CAW and 20 privately-owned nursing homes in southern Ontario broke off as of May 26. The CAW master bargaining committee rejected the employers' demand for "net zero" compensation, implying that any wage gains for 2000 workers must be met by equivalent cost cuts in other areas of the agreement.

CAW Local 302 President Nancy McMurphy called the proposal outrageous.

"To suggest that front-line care providers have to pay for their own wage increases is totally unacceptable," McMurphy said. "Families spend their hard-earned money to ensure their loved ones are properly cared for. These are profitable businesses that have simply grown accustomed to having wage increases covered by public funding from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. In our opinion, they have a moral obligation to treat their employees with respect and dignity."

To justify their position the employers' continue to cite Ontario's Bill 16, which proposes public sector wage restraints for workers. Incredibly they cite Bill 16, despite the fact it doesn't apply to private, for-profit, long term care services, said CAW National Representative Robert Buchanan.

"Essentially these employers are telling our members that if Ontario taxpayers don't pay for your wage increase then you get nothing. They won't compromise their profits. This is blatantly unfair."

CAW represents 2000 long term care workers in these 20 private homes (located from Windsor to Kitchener) through locals' 302, 1106 and 2458. The union is planning bargaining update meetings with members across the province in the coming weeks.

CAW Locals Celebrate Anniversaries

Local 199 75th Anniversary


Over 400 active and retired members packed the CAW Local 199 hall in St. Catharines, Ontario on June 2 for the 75th anniversary celebration. Inset: CAW President Ken Lewenza presents CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates with a certificate of recognition.

Local 1285 50th Anniversary


On June 4, hundreds packed the Local 1285 union hall in Brampton, Ontario for a community open house and gala marking the local's 50th anniversary. Inset: (L-R) 1st Local VP Dave Ireland; 2nd Local VP Gerry Harvey; Local President Leon Rideout and National President Ken Lewenza

CAW-Canada Applies for Union Representation Vote at Algoma Central Marine


CAW Local 4401 has applied to the Canada Industrial Relations Board to conduct a union representation vote for unlicensed seafarers at Algoma Central Marine following the purchase of 13 vessels from Upper Lakes Shipping (ULS).

A representation vote will offer more than 800 Algoma workers sailing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system a choice to be represented by one union, either Local 4401 or the Seafarers International Union (SIU).

Algoma, which operates the largest Canadian flagged fleet of vessels on the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway system now employs 350 CAW Local 4401 members, operating the 13 former ULS vessels. Algoma also employs 450 workers who are members of the SIU, operating their original Laker fleet of 17 vessels.

In April 2011, Algoma purchased 13 ULS vessels where workers are represented by CAW-Canada and its Local 4401. CAW-Canada and the SIU will continue to represent their respective members working for Algoma subject to any rulings by the CIRB.

Detailed information about CAW Local 4401 and the current collective agreement covering former employees of ULS can be found at their website www.caw4401.ca/

FFAW Calls for Independent Review of Northern Shrimp Allocation

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy has called on Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Keith Ashfield to establish an independent review of northern shrimp allocation principles in light of the recent 2011 quota announcement.

McCurdy said the announcement of allocations for Shrimp Fishing, for the area off the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, "is not a fair or reasonable sharing of this resource. It makes a mockery of the principle of adjacency."

He said the announcement "perpetuates the special status DFO has given to the offshore shrimp fleet, and poses serious implications for the inshore shrimp fishery in future years."

The inshore fleet, which currently feeds 11 shrimp plants throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, has averaged 41% of the total northern shrimp quota over the past 11 years, but yesterday's announcement drops the share to 37%.

McCurdy said the offshore share of the total northern shrimp quota has increased from 41.3% in 2009 to 50.8% this year. The loss in quota for the inshore sector is equivalent to the loss of an additional shrimp plant.

"This latest announcement means the inshore sector has lost 68 million pounds of quota in just two years. This jeopardizes the survival of more than 300 inshore fishing enterprises and the plants they supply. It's another serious blow to rural Newfoundland and Labrador."

Victory at UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS

A joint call by ITUC-Africa, CLC, CUPE and CAW to ensure work-based approaches to HIV/AIDS become part of the Political Declaration at the 2011 United Nations meeting on AIDS was successful. Canadian and African trade union activists built on the 2011 G8/G20 campaign on universal access to send a strong message to Canada and other governments. This is a big victory because the HIV and AIDS pandemic is one of the most significant challenges facing the world today.

Canadian labour delegates attended the United Nations High Level Meeting to ensure that the International Labour Organization (ILO) Recommendation 200 was part of the UN's declaration. Recommendation 200 calls for the world of work to play a significant role in preventing HIV transmission and providing treatment, care, and support for HIV-affected workers and their families, as well as in protecting their human rights.

The Canadian labour delegation was led by CLC representative David Onyalo and included Rhonda Spence, international officer for CUPE, Ken Stuart, CAW national representative and Miranda Mason, CLC intern. The delegation worked with representatives of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Canadian civil society activists to lobby government representatives and to put forward a workers agenda for prevention and universal access to treatment and support.


Air Canada avoids major disruption in service
with tentative deal

Globe and Mail
June 17, 2011

Air Canada has reached a tentative labour pact that ends a three-day strike and sends a contentious pension dispute to arbitration, putting a spotlight on the struggles of Canadian companies to rein in escalating retirement costs.

The airline and the Canadian Auto Workers union reached the deal Thursday as Ottawa debated back-to-work legislation that would have ended the walkout by 3,800 airport check-in agents and call-centre staff by next week. Employees will begin returning to work Friday.

A quick and easy way to keep an eye on your investments Traditional defined-benefit pension plans are increasingly coming under fire as companies face funding shortfalls during a long era of low interest rates, and this is expected to be an issue in other labour talks.

Canada's biggest carrier wants to put new hires on defined-contribution pension plans, which don't provide a guaranteed level of payout on retirement. With that proposal now heading to an arbitrator approved by both sides, union president Ken Lewenza said, "I don't feel good about that, and I'd be lying to suggest that I do."

But union members within a few years of retiring should be pleased, he said, because rules for defined-benefit pensions will be protected in the new contract, which will replace a deal that expired Feb. 28.

Under the new deal, CAW members will receive wage increases of 2 per cent in each of the first three years, and 3 per cent in the final year of the four-year pact. As well, payouts for new retirees in defined-benefit pensions will be unchanged until Jan. 1, 2013, when certain "modifications" kick in, Mr. Lewenza said.

Air Canada argues that its defined-benefit plans are in jeopardy because of the heavy burden of its $2.1-billion pension solvency deficit.

"The agreement will help ensure the long-term sustainability of Air Canada while maintaining industry-leading compensation and benefits for our employees," Air Canada executive vice-president Duncan Dee said in a statement.

Lawyer Mitch Frazer, who advises large companies on pension issues at Torys LLP in Toronto, said the wave of companies seeking pension concessions has escalated since workers at Vale SA's former Inco operations in Sudbury agreed to let the company close their defined-benefit pension plan to new hires last July following a bitter year-long strike.

For mature companies with large numbers of retirees compared to active workers, Inco was seen as a turning point where a previously unassailable plan was modified despite a strong union environment. "Sudbury emboldened a lot of companies," Mr. Frazer said.

Pension plans are also under attack because the costs for many companies have not levelled off despite a broader recovery in the economy since 2009. Companies are still grappling with significant obligations to put more cash into their pension plans because low interest rates have reduced plan returns while simultaneously boosting the value of pension obligations on the other side of the balance sheet.

Pension consulting firm Mercer said the funded status of a typical Canadian pension fund fell by one percentage point in 2010 compared to 2009 because investment gains were offset by growing liabilities.

Mr. Frazer said firms are as upset about the volatility as the cost, because it makes long-term planning difficult and requires large cash payments "at the worst possible times" when businesses are at their weakest.

In Ottawa, Labour Minister Lisa Raitt applauded Air Canada and the CAW for negotiating a deal.

"Our government remains focused on Canada's economic recovery and the financial security of Canadians. We are pleased that there will be a resumption of service for Air Canada passengers," she said in a statement, adding that federal mediators assisted.

Robert Kokonis, president of airline consulting firm AirTrav Inc., said plans to move new hires to less-attractive pensions proved to be the sticking point.

"Air Canada will not get everything it needs from an arbitrated binding settlement," he said. "But whatever is achieved will still send a clear message to organized labour that the company can no longer afford in perpetuity a defined-benefit structure."

The quick end to the strike means Air Canada will limit damage it suffered as some travellers shifted bookings to rivals such as WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Porter Airlines Inc.

"The fact that Air Canada was able to continue to operate without major disruptions to service is positive from a customer-perception point of view," National Bank Financial analyst Cameron Doerksen said in a research note. "This agreement sets a benchmark for negotiations with Air Canada's other unions."


Strikes highlight Canada's
pension problems

CTV.ca News Staff
Jun. 16 2011

One of the key sticking points in both the Air Canada and Canada Post strikes is pensions, an issue that experts say is going to take on more prominence for Canadians in the near future.

With more Canadians facing retirement age, many corporate pension plans are strained, and some have massive shortfalls because of the recession.

Air Canada says it has a $2.1-billion pension shortfall, and the company is now supporting more retired employees than it has current ones. Canada Post has a pension deficit of $3.22 billion.

Peter Merrick, author of "The Essential Individual Pension Plan Handbook," says that with Canadians living much longer after retiring, pension plans are increasingly strained.

"These plans were never put into place to actually support people for 30 to 40 years. It's not maintainable or sustainable," he told CTV's Power Play.

"This is something many individuals as they approach retirement are going to be looking at: ‘Are my pensions properly funded?' And right now they are not."

The average life expectancy of a Canadian is now about 81 years old.

Jim Stanford, an economist with the Canadian Auto Workers' union, says pension plans can recover from the hit they took from the recession.

"When the stock market is doing well, many pensions are in great shape . . . . There's a bit of a boom and a bust factor," he said. "These things can be solved over time, what you don't want to do is throw the whole system out, which is what employers right now are trying to do."

Air Canada wants new employees to accept a defined contribution pension plan, rather than the defined benefit pension plan that is in place for current workers.

With a defined benefit plan, employees have a predictable income, but the airline is on the hook for additional costs if the pension fund's assets can't pay for the benefits.

But less than half of working Canadians have any sort of workplace pension plan. For those that do, the majority work for the government.

Merrick says Canadians need to put greater emphasis on personally planning for their retirement, either through RRSPs or other investments.

"No longer can we rely on big government or big corporations to provide us for the rest of our lives," he said.

Stanford is calling on Ottawa to expand the Canadian Pension Plan.

"Unfortunately, the Harper government, instead of expanding the CPP, is putting more emphasis on individual saving methods," he said.


Ford plans 20 new models,
hundreds of jobs in Europe

Andreas Cremer/ Bloomberg News
June 15, 2010

Ford Motor Co. plans to roll out at least 20 new or upgraded models in Europe during the next three years as part of the U.S. carmaker's effort to boost sales in the region.

Ford will add "several hundred" jobs at a plant in Valencia, Spain, and 200 positions at two factories in Germany to underpin production plans, according to a statement Tuesday from the Dearborn-based company. Romania and Turkey also will benefit from the expansion.

"We have a full pipeline of exciting vehicles coming to market," Stephen Odell, chief executive officer of Ford's European division, said. "Now, we are taking the right actions to grow profitably in Europe."

Growth in Asia and increasing demand for small cars will boost Ford's global sales 50 percent to 8 million vehicles annually by 2015, the company said on June 7. The second-largest U.S. carmaker will cut debt by $2.6 billion in the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said.

The European expansion includes plans to build the next versions of the Transit Connect and Kuga vehicles at Valencia, Ford said. Production of the revamped Focus model and an electric-powered version at the Saarlouis, Germany, factory will require 150 new hires.

Ford shares closed at $13.43, up 29 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday.


Air Canada workers
walk off the job

Air Canada employees walked off the job at Pearson Airport just after midnight on Tuesday June 14, 2011.

Vanessa Lu Business Reporter
June 14, 2011

If you've got a flight booked on Air Canada, better get to the airport early.

The airline's 3,800 customer service workers walked off the job early Tuesday morning, after marathon talks failed to break an impasse over two major issues, wages and pensions.

Just after midnight, a grim-faced CAW president Ken Lewenza told reporters that they couldn't reach a deal.

“We will keep pushing the employer to get back to the bargaining table,” he said.

Lewenza said it was a unanimous decision to walk off the job and that the airline has already cancelled 69 flights, something Air Canada has denied.

Airline spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said he was disappointed by the union's job action.

“It is unfortunate that the CAW chose to put ideology ahead of their members' interest.”

Lines are expected to be long for travellers, as the unionized workers strike in nine major Canadian airports including Toronto's Pearson.

Air Canada says it will have management staff on duty to help passengers check-in and board airplanes. However, it has already warned travellers that it will have a limited number of officials on duty.

It has urged passengers to check-in online up to 24 hours ahead of a flight, arrive at the airport much earlier than usual, and if possible, it is recommending that people not check any luggage.

The two biggest stumbling blocks remain wages and pensions, including a proposal to move, new hires only, to a defined contribution plan, from a defined benefit plan, which has a guaranteed payout.

Some passengers may already have made alternate plans. Porter Airlines says it has seen a slight increase in last-minute bookings.

“It may be a circumstance that people are looking for something that is reliable in the short-term,” said Porter spokesman Brad Cicero, adding that the airline started a 30 per cent off sale last week that is unrelated to Air Canada's situation.

At WestJet Airlines, the company hasn't taken any particular steps in anticipation of labour disruption, but will have plenty of seats available.

“Our own existing schedule has 15,000 to 18,000 seats that go empty every day,” WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky told reporters after a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade.

As well, it has 96 planes that are parked mostly in Canada every night, so they could be put into service for extra early morning or late night flights, if needed.

“At this point, we haven't planned any of that,” Saretsky said. “We'll take a wait and see.”

While it was unclear what other unions will do, Lewenza added noted picket lines are already in place and “Union solidarity means you don't cross picket lines,” he said

The CAW wants to see a wage increase to make up for previous cuts and freezes, which, when inflation is factored in, it says has translated into a real drop of 10 per cent over the past decade.

The union points out that top executives received lucrative compensation packages, including president and CEO Calin Rovinescu, whose total compensation last year was $4.5 million, up from $2.6 million in 2009.



Ohio judge says Ford
must pay dealers $2B

Associated Press
June 13., 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. must pay nearly $2 billion in damages to thousands of dealerships in a 2002 class-action lawsuit that said the automaker violated dealer agreements, an Ohio judge ruled Friday.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter Corrigan in Cleveland issued the ruling based on a Feb. 11 jury determination that the company overcharged dealers for commercial trucks over an 11-year period.

The $2 billion award covers more than 3,000 dealerships and about 474,000 trucks. It includes a judgment of about $781 million and about $1.2 billion in interest.

"In awarding the dealers the amount of money they overpaid for trucks, the jury verdict places ... the dealers in the financial position contemplated by the terms of the contract," said James Lowe, a Cleveland attorney for Westgate Ford Truck Sales Inc., a dealership in Youngstown that represents the class.

Ford's annual report, filed on Feb. 28, says the class action included all dealers who purchased a 600?series or higher truck from Ford from 1987 to 1997. It says the lawsuit accused the automaker of failing to reveal that price concessions were given to some dealers.

Ford said in a Friday statement that the company will appeal.

"We believe that the trial court committed significant legal errors. Ford will appeal the judgment and we are confident that it will be reversed," the statement said.

The jury had awarded $4.5 million in damages to Westgate, to which about $6.7 million in interest was added.

In the annual report, the automaker said "total damages could be substantial" in the case if similar amounts were awarded to other dealers represented by the lawsuit.

Lowe said the lawsuit stemmed from a wholesale price-discount system called the CPA program and that internal documents and testimony showed the automaker used the program to shift retail revenue from the dealerships to Ford.

Corrigan says Ford's use of the program breached its franchise agreements.

"Westgate showed that the CPA program, through its scheme of unrealistically high published wholesale prices and secretive unpublished discounts, systematically violated the ... requirement that Ford sell medium and heavy trucks to dealers at prices and discounts that were published in accordance with all dealer Terms of Sale Bulletins."

Ford disputes the finding.

"We continue to believe that the CPA program caused no harm to our dealers; rather, it brought significant benefit to the dealers," its statement said.


Last of the Grand Marquis
is old-school smooth

2010 Mercury Grand Marquis (Ford)

For 35 years, the Mercury Grand Marquis ruled the road.

Scott Burgess June 12, 2011

Recently, I spent a couple of days in a 2010 Grand Marquis — the last Grand Marquis. Ford Motor Co. discontinued its Mercury brand last year and is slowly discontinuing the Grand Marquis' platform siblings, the Lincoln Town Car and Ford Crown Victoria.

The world has just gotten too small for these big motor cars.

Typically, a car that an automaker no longer makes for a brand that no longer exists doesn't warrant a review. But the Grand Marquis is no typical car. It's a time machine. It transcends most cars and has a trunk big enough — 20.4 cubic feet — to carry all of Detroit's baggage, both good and bad. It's worthy of a review because this car will be on the road for decades to come. Nuclear bombs cannot kill the vehicles built on the Panther platform — the longest-running platform in the history of cars.

The reason so many taxi drivers and cops have ridden on Panther platforms for literally billions of miles (a totally made up but possibly a real number) is because of this platform's toughness.

I could feel the Grand Marquis transporting me to another era as soon as I slid onto the bench-esque vinyl seat. The soft springs in the seat let me bounce a little, and the plastic-wrapped steering wheel felt two sizes too big. (Really, the two front seats are separate, but they're about as close as you'll get to a bench in any car today.) How many other cars can realistically fit three people in the front?

Ah, the pleasure of not a single bolster to hold me in place. No subtle reminder that I'm one Big Mac over the sport seat limit or a seat so low I need an elaborate pulley system just to get out of it. I'm not a race car driver; I don't need to sit like one. No, the Grand Marquis provides pure sofa comfort.

And the back seat, that huge area of the back seat. These are the seats on which brothers and sisters learned about centrifugal force. The younger brother in the middle learns how to build up momentum and crush the older sibling against the window.

There's a mechanical simplicity to the Grand Marquis that cannot be overstated. It's a just "drive" kind of car. So few other cars can offer that kind of experience. Just click down the steering column-mounted gear shifter to "D" and go. There, the 4.6-liter V-8 — another bulletproof Ford item being replaced — burbles to life, and the Grand Marquis is off.

What a ride. Many people dislike that soft, floating ride; they've been brainwashed into thinking only bumpy, hard rides are proper. So many of today's cars come with tight suspensions — even the "loose" ones are tight compared with the Grand Marquis. This car simply remembers comfort, and you arrive refreshed. Sometimes, the journey isn't the most important part of a trip; it's the arrival. If I was required to transport nitroglycerin like those old western movies, where the nitro couldn't experience a bump without exploding, I would toss all that nitro in the back seat and head out.

Between the soft suspension and the big tires, few — if any — bumps are ever felt.

Driving fast with the windows down
But the specialness of the Grand Marquis' ride lives in how much of it is an optical illusion. Too often nowadays, things like "go-kart-like ride" and "very nimble" are only seen as compliments. But in a politically correct world, those descriptions are hurtful to the Grand Marquis. It is neither go-kart-like or nimble at any speed. My kidneys and fillings are grateful.

The body starts to roll just entering a turn, and then it wants to push all of its weight to the outside, as if its little brother, the Crown Vic, is in the middle spot of the back seat. It tosses, and the turn feels like you're going much faster than you really are through the corner. Often, the tires squeal, most likely out of frustration or pain than anything else.

But on a straight line, the Grand Marquis is the creamy center of a Big Wheel — soft and floaty and perfectly sweet. Driving 70 mph, the tachometer barely touches 1,500 rpm. (Though it still somehow got a miserable 14 mpg despite having an EPA rating of 24 mpg highway.) While moving slowly, it feels fast. When moving fast, the Grand Marquis feels slow. It just glides like a penguin down an ice slide. Tyler Durden would be proud.

The power steering is numb. No, it has the same feel as the original Spy Hunter game's steering wheel. And just like that arcade game, the Grand Marquis requires fast hands, as you're always spinning the wheel, never entirely sure precisely where the car is going because of its disconnected feel from the road. But somehow, that makes this car so much easier to drive.

Most of the time you'll find yourself driving with your wrist at the 12 o'clock position, maybe the window rolled down, the heat of summer pressing one side of your face, while the powerful air conditioning blasts against the other side of it.

Because the aerodynamics are not particularly good, and the seals throughout the car are not particularly sealy, it's easy to ride with the windows down, even at high speeds. It never creates that awful warble effect that pops your ears over and over. I like riding fast with the windows down. The Grand Marquis lets you do that.

Johnny Cash edition
The interior offers nothing out of the ordinary: a few buttons, a few knobs, a little wood trim and a pop-out ashtray at the bottom of the center stack that looks like a TV tray. The black vents on a black dash and black buttons on black plastic radio face look great. It's like I have the Johnny Cash edition.

It doesn't get lost in the high-tech world of Bluetooth connectivity or some fancy-pants stereo with an abundance of speakers popping out of the dash. It does come with more radio bands than you can listen to at one time — AM and FM. And you can lock the trunk without getting out of the car; there's a legitimate trunk button in the car. Take that, Buick LaCrosse.

There's no navigation system. Instead, it still has map pockets on the back of the seats, and they were designed to hold maps — because it can be driven by people who know how to read, and more importantly, fold maps. This Mercury is old school to the very end.

Then there's that long, long body. The Grand Marquis measures 212 inches long. It's a beautiful sight. The hood could be used as a roof on some houses, and a family of three could live in the trunk.

The Grand Marquis, however, remains nondescript beautiful. It is the universal picture of a car people have in their head when they think of a car.

One afternoon, I was following a Lincoln MKZ, the nimble future of the remaining luxury brand at Ford. It was quickly getting too far in front of me on the narrow road, where it obviously felt more at home than me. But I knew along the way was a set of railroad tracks. It was easy prey.

Sure enough, the MKZ had to slow to nearly a stop to cross over the tracks and patchwork of asphalt that are always being refilled. The Mercury? If I closed my eyes, I would not have been able to tell you when I actually drove over the tracks.

The Mercury Grand Marquis might have been discontinued, but it's not going to die. It's just going to glide and slide and ride right on down the road.


Ford plans 150 layoffs in N.Y state

Keith Naughton/ Bloomberg News
June 11, 2011

Ford Motor Co., weeks before entering contract talks with the United Auto Workers, said it plans to lay off 150 workers in New York state who make body panels for the soon-to-be-discontinued Lincoln Town Car.

The workers at Ford's stamping plant in Buffalo will lose their jobs in September, according to a filing Thursday with the New York Department of Labor. The layoffs represent 23 percent of the 61-year-old factory's 651 hourly workers, according to Ford's website.

The Buffalo layoffs result from Ford's decision to halt production of the Town Car, the Ford Crown Victoria and the Mercury Grand Marquis, all made at an assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ontario. The St. Thomas plant will close in September, said Marcey Evans, a spokeswoman.

"Buffalo Stamping plant is the primary provider of automotive sheet metal stampings for the vehicles assembled at the St. Thomas plant," according to the filing. "The reduced volume will result in these layoffs."

No other layoffs are expected at Ford's U.S. plants as a result of the St. Thomas closing, Evans said. The second-largest U.S. automaker will work with the UAW to find new jobs for the workers, Evans said.

"It's hard to say today what the opportunities could be," Evans said in an interview Friday. "It's possible they could be placed back at Buffalo if new work is brought in to that facility or it's possible they could be offered an opportunity to transfer to another location."

UAW Local 897 President Charlie Gangarossa, who represents workers at the Buffalo plant, didn't immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.

UAW President Bob King, 64, will negotiate new contracts this year with Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC to replace agreements expiring Sept. 14. King has said workers must be rewarded for the $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions they each gave since 2005 to help the automakers survive.

The workers surrendered raises, bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments and agreed to a two-tier wage system, in which new hires earn about $14 an hour, half the amount paid to senior production workers.

Ford has said it must further reduce its labor costs, which at $58 an hour for wages and benefits, are still higher than the average of $50 an hour Asian and German automakers pay workers at their U.S. factories.

The UAW is willing to expand the use of the $14 hourly wage if the automakers commit to more jobs in the U.S., UAW Vice President Joe Ashton has said.

"We will look at anything that will retain jobs," Ashton said March 29 at a GM factory in Orion Township.


June 10, 2011
Volume 41, No. 23


Air Canada Workers Rally in Vancouver

Hundreds of Air Canada employees and community supporters rallied outside Vancouver International Airport on June 2, to protest the company's demands for a two-tiered workforce, the elimination of the defined benefit pension plan and other concessions during ongoing contract talks that have fueled the anger of workers across Canada.

The Vancouver rally, organized by CAW, was the latest in a series of cross-country rallies targeting Air Canada. Demonstrators waved personalized picket signs highlighting the multi-million dollar salaries of Air Canada executives, calling for pension protection and for Air Canada to negotiate a fair deal with workers.
British Columbia Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair addressed rally-goes, along with Vancouver City Councillor Ellen Woodsworth and Corinne Aubin, CAW Local 2002 Vice President, Western Region.

Aubin spoke of the constant sacrifices made by Air Canada employees over the past decade to support the once financially fragile airline but stressed how current concessionary demands have no justification in light of record corporate earnings and increased productivity. She said the resolve of workers to negotiate a fair deal is strong.

"It's because we're not backing down (that) many of the Air Canada employees are getting stronger by the day," Aubin said to loud applause.


CAW members attend the June 2 rally for Air Canada workers in Vancouver, British Columbia. To watch a video of the rally visit: http://bit.ly/2002av

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Roberston issued a statement expressing his appreciation for the hard work of Air Canada employees, crediting them as ambassadors to the City for travelers, and wishing for them a timely and satisfying conclusion to ongoing contract negotiations.

Susan Spratt, CAW Area Director for British Columbia, read out a joint solidarity letter written by NDP Leader Jack Layton and party MPs Peter Julian and Yvon Godin.

"Without a fair and equitable settlement, it will be clear that Air Canada employees will not have the trust and respect each and every one of you deserve," Spratt read.

CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross said she was extremely proud of the union leaders and members who participated in the rally.

"The show of support and solidarity provides a huge boost to our bargaining committee and sends a clear message to the company that concessions are a non-starter for our members."

As CONTACT went to press, CAW members at Air Canada were preparing for a follow-up demonstration at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on June 9. The CAW, which represents 3,800 customer service agents at Air Canada, has set a strike deadline for June 13 at 11:59 p.m.

Budget to Inflict Hardship on Citizens and Economy

The federal budget tabled June 6 by the Conservative majority government will result in "unnecessary hardship for Canadians, and unnecessary risks for our economy," according to CAW National President Ken Lewenza.

"The deep spending cuts planned in this budget will destroy tens of thousands of jobs, and will noticeably reduce the quality of public services expected by Canadians," Lewenza said, reacting to the federal budget's announcement of $11 billion in spending reductions over four years under the so-called "strategic review."

"With the economic recovery already very much in doubt, and with private sector growth and investment sluggish, the last thing Canada needs is billions less in spending in our public sector," said Lewenza. He argued the spending cuts will further undermine consumer spending and overall purchasing power in the economy.

Lewenza pointed out that last year's deficit significantly undershot the official targets, by $13 billion for 2010-11 (the fiscal year just completed). Next year's deficit target is also clearly designed to be outperformed, expecting only a $4 billion decline in the shortfall. "This continues a tried-and-true pattern of Finance Ministers who over-exaggerate the scale of deficits, in order to achieve their ideological goal of smaller, weaker government."

Under the budget, federal program spending will decrease by three percentage points of GDP from 2009-10 to 2015-16. That represents a decline in real per capita program spending of almost 15 percent.

Canada's federal deficit and debt are much smaller than most other industrialized countries, and are the lowest in the G7. Last year's deficit came in at just two per cent of GDP, and the debt-to-GDP ratio - which is the most important indicator of fiscal stability - has already begun to fall after the recession.

"No reasonable argument can be made that Canada faces a deficit or debt crisis," Lewenza added, "so why is the government prepared to sacrifice so much in pursuit of a budgetary goal that is clearly ideological?"

Lewenza called on the government to reverse the planned cutbacks, and instead reinvest the funds in public infrastructure, services, and pensions. "If we're going to have a strategic review, it should be to identify areas where government is failing to meet the needs of Canadians, and then quickly correct those failings - in areas like early childhood education, poverty among seniors, and Canada's longer-run infrastructure deficit."

Lewenza criticized the government for pressing ahead with $3 billion per year in additional corporate income tax cuts (the rate, which equalled 29.1 per cent in 2000, will fall to just 15 per cent next year). "To eliminate good jobs and cancel entire public programs, while handing out still more to corporations who just sit on the cash, reveals terrible judgment, both economically and morally."

Lewenza also highlighted the problem faced by unemployed Canadians whose EI benefits have run out, even though unemployment remains very high (over 2 million, according to broad measures). He called on the government to reinstate its recently-expired extension of EI benefits.

Workers at Electro-Motive Ratify Extension Agreement

After a tough round of negotiations, CAW Local 27 members who work at Electro-Motive in London, Ontario voted 69 per cent in favour of anextension agreement with the locomotive manufacturer on June 5.

The contract extends the current collective agreement from June 1 until December 31, 2011. The agreement was reached on May 29.

"The membership have made a prudent decision and the message to the employer is that we will not accept an agreement that slashes our wages, pensions and benefits," said CAW Local 27 President Tim Carrie.

CAW Local 27 represents 650 production and skilled trades workers at the London facility.

Inquest Action Group Recognized for Work on Bill 168


Members of the Inquest Action Group were recognized at the annual Clifton Grant Awards Dinner in Windsor, Ontario on June 3. The IAG was formed after the inquest into the workplace murder of Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital nurse Lori Dupont. The group includes family members of Lori Dupont, CAW members and Windsor community activists.

The award honours the important work performed by health and safety activists. The IAG was honoured for its critical work that lead to the creation and adoption of Bill 168, an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which added harassment or threat of violence as a grounds for refusing what is thought to be unsafe work or an unsafe work environment.

In photo -back left to right - Lois Smedick, Pat Noonan, Lynn Watts, Sandra Dominato (CAW Local 444), Carol Libby. Front left to right - Michelle Schryer, Barb Dupont, Joy Hamilton, Pat Cunningham (CAW Local 444).

Global Solidarity for Delivery Workers

Global labour federations the ITF and UNI sponsored a global delivery industry conference bringing together union leadership and rank and file members in Frankfurt, Germany.

CAW DHL Corporate Council President Mario Santos of CAW Local 114, and CAW national representative Len Poirier attended on behalf of the union, joining 80 participants from 30 countries representing workers from DHL, TNT, Fed-EX and UPS.

At the May 23-25 conference, attendees gave an update to the status of the multi-national employers in their region of the world, sharing information on the organized and strategized on how the unorganized workers in these companies can be represented in the future. CAW representatives gave a presentation on how the DHL Corporate Council was established and what they have been doing collectively together across Canada to support workers from all over the world.

Much discussion and debate was held on further actions of organizing DHL workers globally and how they have different standards of treatment and labour relations in different countries. It was unanimously agreed that the global Respect for DHL Workers campaign will have to take a more aggressive approach this year as the company is still failing to recognize the significance of signing a world framework agreement-an agreement that aims to improve working conditions for all company employees around the world.


CAW conference delegates join with other delegates outside the DHL corporate shareholders meeting in Frankfurt Germany.

Photo sent by Len Poirier CAW national representative

Conference participants also attended the DHL corporate shareholders meeting dressed in DHL yellow coloured shirts, handing out leaflets to all attendees. The leaflet highlighted workplace actions held during the 2010 Respect for DHL Workers campaign.

New Agreement at Bristol Ends Nine-Week Strike

CAW Local 3005 members at Bristol Aerospace (owned by Magellan Aerospace) in Winnipeg, Manitoba have ratified a new three-year collective agreement that ends a difficult nine-week strike for 400 workers.

Workers successfully fought off company demands to eliminate retiree benefits, as well as other concessions, and made improvements in wages and working conditions.

Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President, credits the members for their determination and selflessness in defending the rights of current and future retirees. Dias also recognized the important contribution of CAW activists in Kitchener, Ontario for staging an important information leaflet outside a non-unionized local Magellan facility on June 2 to raise awareness of the Winnipeg workers' plight and exert pressure on the company and its customers.


Over 100 activists distributed information leaflets outside a Magellan Aerospace-owned parts facility in Kitchener, Ontario on June 2, in support of CAW Local 3005 members in Winnipeg. Inset (L-R) Bill Gibson, CAW Kitchener Area Director; Jerry Dias, Assistant to the President; Tim Mitchell, President CAW Local 1524 during the rally.

"Shortly after the action in Kitchener the company came back to us with a renewed sense of urgency to get this deal done," Dias said.

CAW Local 3005 President Branko Maligec said the bargaining committee worked "very hard" in the 36-hours following the information picket to ensure a deal got done and members could get back to work, in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press. The strike was the longest in the history of the Winnipeg facility

Workers voted 66 per cent in favour of the new deal at a ratification meeting on June 6.

Health Care Workers, Residents Rally at Ottawa Revera Homes


Workers and residents of the Kanata Retirement Residence near Ottawa, Ontario held an information picket on June 5 to protest proposed wage and work hour cuts. A similar picket was held at the Colonel By Retirement Residence on the same day and was attended by Senator Jim Munson, who expressed his support for the demonstrators. The workers, who are members of CAW Local 830, each face a substantial reduction in work hours that amounts to over 1000 hours per month. The union is concerned these cuts will increase workplace health and safety risks and that they will further limit the time needed to properly care for residents. The company has since agreed to not implement these cuts until after an arbitrator rules on the matter, with a hearing scheduled for June 27 in Ottawa.

Stop Wage Theft, Lewenza Urges Labour Minister

New evidence of widespread abuse of employment standards and wage theft in Ontario workplaces is cited in a newly released report by the Toronto-based Workers' Action Centre (WAC) and "paints a disturbing picture of the realities many hard-working, yet vulnerable Ontarians face," said CAW President Ken Lewenza in a June 3 letter sent to Ontario Minister of Labour Charles Sousa.

Lewenza said the WAC report entitled Unpaid Wages, Unprotected Workers "is a damning portrait of Ontario's workplaces and one that should prompt swift action by the provincial government and your ministry." The report highlights that one-in-five Ontarians surveyed are paid illegal wages by their employer (e.g. less than the legislated minimum wage). Many others have suffered from some form of wage theft (e.g. not paid for overtime work; failed to receive termination pay).

"The constant effort by employers to exploit legislative loopholes and promote new forms of unconventional work arrangements (such as temporary agency work, term, contract and involuntary part-time work, as well as jobs intentionally misclassified, among others) has created a growing second-tier workforce - one marked by very low wages, constant insecurity, few rights and a lower standard of living," said Lewenza. He pointed to the steady rise in "precarious" work as a major cause of declining work standards.

Lewenza urged the minister to work towards full adoption of the list of recommendations outlined in the report, including better enforcement of employment standards, updated labour laws, increasing the minimum wage to keep workers out of poverty and equal status and protection for all

To read the entire letter from Ken Lewenza to Minister
Sousa visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10345.htm

To download a copy of Unpaid Wages, Unprotected
Workers, visit: http://www.workersactioncentre.org/

Outreach to Canadian Municipal Leaders


CAW local union leaders and staff did outreach to city councillors and other muncipal staff at the annual meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, held this year in Halifax.

The CAW set up a table at the FCM trade show which preceeded the conference - June 3-4. Municipal leaders were urged to pass the Canada Pension Plan resolution at their city councils, supporting an increase to the CPP. Councillors were also provided information about the far reaching consequences for municipalities of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement. The CETA would significantly curtail municipalities' ability to set local procurement policies and impact publicly provided services

Registration Now Open for 2011 CAW Youth Conference

The CAW will be hosting its 2011 Youth Conference from September 30 to October 2 at the Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario. Conference registration is now open to CAW members 30 years of age and younger.

Through a mixture of world café discussions, special presentations and thought-provoking activities, conference participants will be examining the employment fallout from the "Great Recession" and how it's impacted Canadian youth. Despite modest job gains, youth unemployment in Canada remains staggeringly high.

Participants will critically assess this period of supposed economic "recovery" and whether it's delivering benefits for young workers. What is the quality of jobs on offer? Are these jobs helping to reduce our environmental footprint? Are these unionized jobs that offer security? How can young workers, through unions, actively shape a more promising future?

For breaking updates now and until the start of the conference be sure to check out: www.facebook.com/cawyouthconference2011


Ford to triple electrics by 2013

The C-max hybrid, on sale in 2012, will be available as a two-mode hybrid, as well as a plug-in hybrid. There won’t be a gasoline version. (Ford)

Automaker to up yearly production from 35K to 100K,
make its C-max models hybrid-only

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
June 10, 2011

Sterling Heights— Ford Motor Co. plans to triple electric vehicle production by 2013 and will make its C-max model hybrid-only, the automaker said Thursday.

Ford has shelved its earlier plan to bring a seven-passenger C-max to the U.S. market from Europe. The Dearborn automaker said it wants to focus on the five-passenger C-max hybrids instead. The C-max will be available as a two-mode hybrid, as well as a plug-in hybrid.

It will be the only Ford that isn't also available in a gasoline version.

In all, Ford will build 100,000 hybrid and electric vehicles by 2013, up from 35,000 a year today. The current offering includes hybrid versions of the Ford Escape SUV vehicle and the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ sedans.

"The way we're executing our electric vehicles is a little different than other companies," said Jim Farley, Ford's vice president of marketing, speaking at the company's Van Dyke Transmission plant in Sterling Heights.

"We're not electrifying a certain vehicle and making a science project for a few people. We're electrifying our core (models)."

In May, Ford announced it would invest $135 million in three southeastern Michigan plants and add 220 jobs to help build five electric models by 2012.

About 170 jobs will go to its factory in Rawsonville, where Ford will assemble batteries for its electric cars.

Ford already has hybrid versions of the Escape and Fusion and will add the two C-max hybrids and pure electric Focus next year.

The new C-max hybrids will get better gas mileage than the Fusion hybrid's 41 mpg, Farley said.

The plug-in version, the C-max Energi, will go up against General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Volt — a battery-powered car with a backup gas engine.

Ford officials say the Energi will have a 500-mile range and charge the battery in less time than the Volt.

The $41,000 Volt has a total gas-electric range of 379 miles.

Ford will not say how many miles the Energi can run on electricity alone, nor put a price tag on the plug-in car.

With gas prices around $4 a gallon in many parts of the country, automakers are rushing to stock dealerships with more fuel-efficient options.

"We're seeing a huge growing appetite for fuel-efficient, green vehicles, even in the last quarter," Farley said.

Last month, GM announced it would increase Volt production to 60,000 next year, up from the previously planned 45,000.

Still, some analysts worry whether demand for hybrids and electric cars will materialize in strong numbers.

Hybrid sales account for about 3 percent of the U.S. market, said Dave Sullivan, an Ann Arbor-based analyst with AutoPacific Inc.

"Whether there is a market for tripling capacity remains to be seen," he said. Ford is still selling large volumes of pickup trucks every month, he added. Its F-150 series is the most popular vehicle in America.

"People are still willing to buy these big trucks at $4 a gallon."

Automotive research site Edmunds.com estimates that about 8.3 percent of the 18 million vehicles forecast to sell in 2020 will be hybrid/electric.

Sullivan said he was disappointed with Ford's plans to scrap the seven-seater C-max, which is like a small minivan.

He said the market has ripened for these kinds of European-styled seven-passenger vehicles, especially with many gen Yers having children.

"There is a unique market for it," he said of the larger C-max. "The minivan segment is coming back."


Air Canada facing strike next week

Check-in staff at Air Canada could be walking the picket line at midnight Monday, June 13, 2011.

Vanessa Lu Business Reporter
Toronto Star

June 9, 2011

After years of sacrifices to help the struggling airline, Air Canada's 3,800 customer service agents are gearing for a fight, threatening a strike at midnight Monday night.

The Canadian Auto Workers union is meeting with the company at a downtown Toronto hotel in hopes of averting a strike.

"We still have major mountains to climb here," said Bob Chernecki, assistant to CAW national president Ken Lewenza. "At this point, we're not feeling very positive about the direction of it, but we'll see."

Two big issues are a proposed discount airline and pension changes. The low-cost carrier would fly to vacation destinations down south and to Europe that would require lower wages and different work rules. The company wants significant pension changes including switching to a defined contribution pension plan for new hires from the current defined benefit plan, which has a guaranteed payout.

"It's not happening in our union," Chernecki said, noting the company knows those pension changes are a no go. "It will absolutely put this in a ditch."

Another non-starter is the discount carrier, which was resoundingly rejected by pilots who recently voted down a tentative deal. Rank-and-file pilots were so upset by those plans that they ousted four union officials. Internal elections are being held now, and bargaining will likely resume next month.

Under federal law, the CAW would need to give 72 hours' notice on Friday that it plans to walk off the job at 11:59 p.m. Monday. It has scheduled a rally at Pearson airport on Thursday to show management that the union is serious and members are united, getting a 98 per cent strike mandate.

Talks are scheduled through the weekend, and Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the immediate focus is getting an agreement.

"Customers can continue to book with confidence, and carry on with their travel plans," he said. "We think that we'll reach a settlement. We're focused on that."

However, in the event of a walkout, the company has contingencies in place and plans to operate a full schedule, Fitzpatrick added.

It is unclear whether other unions including pilots, flight attendants and mechanics could create chaos by slowing down at picket lines or refusing to cross at all.

The CAW is fighting concessions, including classification changes, but it also wants to make some real progress for employees who have had a wage freeze in the last two years. Taking inflation into account, the union argues real wages have fallen 10 per cent in the past decade.

"The workers have had enough of this 'Woe is me' story from Air Canada," said Chernecki, noting top executives are getting lucrative compensation packages including president and CEO Calin Rovinescu whose total compensation last year was $4.5 million, up from $2.6 million in 2009.

Air Canada is hoping for labour peace as it heads into the busy summer season, when it makes most of its money, but employees clearly aren't happy.

The pilots' union is still figuring out it next steps, while the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents flight attendants, filed for conciliation last week, starting the countdown to a legal strike position in late August.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents maintenance workers and ground crews, is also in contract talks for Air Canada workers as well as those spun off into another unit, Aveos.

Pensions are a sensitive issue for the unionized staff at Air Canada because back in 2009, when it looked like the airline might seek bankruptcy protection again, the unions agreed to give the airline some breathing room by delaying pension payments for a 21-month period and fixed payments in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Air Canada has about $13 billion of pension commitments and as of Jan. 1, 2011, it was underfunded by about $2.1 billion, about $600 million better than a year earlier due to a strong fund performance in 2010.

However, the company says the shortfall is too high. The company paid $180 million into the pension last year, and is scheduled to make retroactive payments this year for a total of $320 million. By 2014, Air Canada could be required to make $550 million of payments for both current and past service if the deficit remains at current levels.

The industry's recovery remains fragile as fuel prices have risen, adding an estimated $800 million to Air Canada's operating costs this year.

The carrier reported an operating loss of $66 million in the first quarter that ended March 31, compared with a $136 million operating loss in the first quarter of 2010.

Air Canada's flight path

• On the brink of bankruptcy, in April 2003, Air Canada sought protection from its creditors and emerged from the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in October 2004.

• Through restructuring, unions made various concessions to help the airline that including wage cuts and changes to work rules. Layoffs also occurred.

• CAW members gave up one week of vacation, paid 30 minute lunch and sick days.

• In 2003, for 60 days, they took a 10 per cent wage cut. They took a 2.5 per cent wage cut for 2004 and 2005.

• While CAW members got modest increases from 2006 to 2008, under the threat of more restructuring, they took wage freezes for 2009 and 2010.

** CAW Local 584 Retirees attended a rally at the Toronto airport on June 9, 2011 to support the Air Canada workers


Ford sets ambitious
plan for growth

Ford CEO Alan Mulally said Tuesday the company aimed to achieve its new goals using the laser-focused One-Ford strategy underlying its success in the United States. (Ben Hider / NYSE Euronext)

Christine Tierney/ The Detroit News
June 8, 2011

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally plans to take the One-Ford strategy that transformed the automaker's U.S. operations and apply it to the rest of the world, where Ford now ranks among the secondary players.

By the middle of the decade, Ford expects to increase its sales to 8 million vehicles from 5.3 million last year, mostly by expanding its business in Asia, Mulally told analysts and investors at a presentation Tuesday in New York.

But while Mulally has high credibility on Wall Street after leading a turnaround at Ford, analysts say the Dearborn automaker may find it hard to elbow past bigger automakers with long-established operations in China and other emerging markets.

As Ford caters to consumers in emerging markets, it will be selling more small cars, Mulally said. But the company still expects to boost its profitability by producing ever-larger numbers of vehicles on a few platforms to keep down costs.

"The plan that got us here is exactly the same plan that will take us forward," Mulally said.

The majority of Ford's new sales are expected to come from China, India and other fast-growing emerging markets. They are estimated to account for a third of the company's vehicle sales in 2020, up from 15 percent currently and 4 percent in 2000.

Emerging markets are leading the growth in overall industry sales, which are forecast to rise to 112 million vehicles in 2020 from 74 million last year, Ford said, citing figures from forecasting firm IHS Automotive.

"This is a very ambitious plan," said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of online automotive research firm Edmunds.com. While Ford detailed its growth targets, "what they're not talking about is that everyone else has realized the same thing. If you add up all the sales everyone's targeting, global sales would be some staggeringly large number. That's not going to happen."

Ford has small presence
General Motors Co., Germany's Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co. are pushing aggressively to increase their sales and share in growth markets such as India and China, where Ford has a very small presence. According to J.D. Power and Associates, Ford has a 4 percent share of the Indian market and 2 percent of China's.

In recent years, the Dearborn automaker retrenched, selling Volvo and its other foreign carmakers, to focus on the Ford brand.

The company's overseas growth strategy also will be led by the Ford brand — with the premium Lincoln marque playing no part for the time being in the automaker's expansion abroad.

Up to now, many Ford vehicles sold in developing markets have been built on so-called "legacy platforms" from older models that may no longer be in production in the United States and other established markets.

But Ford is now moving toward developing lower-priced versions of vehicles sold worldwide, such as the Fiesta, to trim selling prices in emerging markets by $1,000 to $2,000.

Cost reductions are achieved by installing simpler noise-reduction or other nonessential systems that first-time car buyers are unlikely to demand and might not even notice, the automaker said.

"That enables us to participate in the heart of some of the market segments," instead of being at the high end, said Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth.

At the same time, by producing millions of vehicles for emerging markets on its global platforms, Ford achieves economies of scale.

The automaker's goal
By the middle of the decade, Ford expects to be producing about 6 million vehicles on five platforms — and more than 2 million cars on the Fiesta subcompact platform, and a similar amount on the Focus compact platform.

Even though Ford anticipates it will be selling increasing numbers of small cars — which will account for 55 percent of its overall vehicle sales in 2020 — it expects to continue to achieve gains in profitability.

By the middle of the decade, Ford expects operating margins from its automotive operations — operating income as a percentage of revenue — to increase to between 8 percent and 9 percent from 6.1 percent last year. For North America, the margins may be higher, ranging between 8 percent and 10 percent.

In North America, Ford already has managed to boost profits while selling a growing proportion of small vehicles. Its Fiesta and Fusion cars command higher transaction prices than most rival models in the same segments.

Last year, Ford earned $6.6 billion, its highest income in more than a decade.

During the current quarter, Ford plans to pay down $2.3 billion of debt, leaving it with around $14 billion — down from $33.6 billion of debt at the end of 2009. By the middle of the decade, Ford expects to have automotive debt of about $10 billion.

Ford's annual capital expenditures are expected to average around $6 billion, up from $3.9 billion in 2010.

Mulally and his team deserve much credit, Anwyl said.

"They've been able to accomplish what General Motors and Chrysler accomplished in bankruptcy without going through that much turmoil," he said.

Mulally, who is about to turn 66, did not address questions Tuesday about how long he would remain chief executive. The speculation was stirred when Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said last week Mulally's successor would most likely come from within the company.

"I absolutely am honored to be serving here and look forward to helping accelerate the implementation of this plan," Mulally said.



Ford plans smallest engine ever

June 7, 2010

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce its smallest engine ever by 2013, part of the race to improve fuel economy across the industry.

Ford said it's working on a one-liter, three-cylinder engine that will be available in small cars globally. Ford didn't say which cars will get the engine, but it plans to release more details this fall.

Currently Ford's smallest engine available in the U.S. is the 1.6-liter, four-cylinder used in the Ford Fiesta subcompact. That engine has 120 horsepower and gets up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway.

Ford says the new three-cylinder engine would match that power but be more efficient. The engine has Ford's EcoBoost technology, which uses turbocharging, direct injection and variable camshaft timing to boost performance. It's also about 20 pounds lighter than the four-cylinder, which helps fuel economy.

"No one's ever built a three-cylinder engine quite like this," said Joe Bakaj, Ford's vice president of global powertrain engineering.

Three-cylinder engines are common in Europe and Asia, but the only one currently available in the U.S. is in the Smart Fortwo. The Fortwo has a 70-horsepower engine - the same as some snowmobiles - and gets 41 miles per gallon on the highway.

EcoBoost technology is currently available on four Ford products - the F-150 pickup, the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT crossovers and the Taurus SHO sedan. Ford is adding it to the lineup for the Edge crossover and the Explorer SUV this summer. The starting price of the Flex SEL with EcoBoost is $40,080, or nearly $8,000 more than a Flex SEL with the base engine. It costs $4,400 to add EcoBoost to an F-150 XL.

Still, the option has been popular with some customers looking for fuel economy. Forty-one percent of individual F-150 buyers chose the EcoBoost option in May, the company said. Ford said there are currently 180,000 vehicles in North America with EcoBoost, which was introduced in 2009. Ford aims to have 1.5 million on the road globally by 2013.

Ford product development chief Derrick Kuzak said the company is exploring whether it could use EcoBoost technology in hybrid vehicles for even more fuel savings.

Ford also said Thursday it's developing its first eight-speed transmission, which will get up to 6 percent better fuel economy than its six-speed. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC have also said they're developing eight-speed transmissions, which are already available on luxury brands like Lexus and BMW.


Mazda to leave Flat Rock
plant it shares with Ford

Detroit News
June 6, 2011

Mazda Motor Corp. will pull out of its manufacturing venture with Ford Motor Co. and stop making cars in Michigan, a Japanese newspaper reported Friday.

Ford and Mazda both declined to comment on the report.

But Mazda has been studying whether to keep making autos at the Flat Rock plant, and senior executives have said they expect to make a decision this year.

Mazda and Ford operate the AutoAlliance International plant as a 50-50 partnership. But the plant was running at less than half of its capacity last year, as its 1,700 workers produced just 36,000 Mazda6 cars and 78,000 Ford Mustangs on a single shift.

Citing unidentified company sources, the Nikkei business daily said Mazda was considering selling its stake to Ford as part of a restructuring of its global production operations.

Mazda would ship cars to the United States from Japan and from Mexico starting around 2013, according to the Nikkei.

The Japanese automaker said in a statement Friday that it had "nothing to announce at this time.

"Today's news report … is not based on information released by Mazda. We do not comment on speculation."

Several analysts expect Mazda to announce a decision soon.

"Mazda has signaled for months that it may be ending its U.S. manufacturing presence at the Flat Rock assembly plant, and although the company still hasn't confirmed the action, it seems circumstances are pointing in that direction," said Bill Visnic, senior analyst at online research firm Edmunds.com.

"Sales in the United States for the redesigned Mazda6 built at Flat Rock are running at about one-third of expectations," he said.

This year, Mazda has sold 103,072 vehicles in America, up 5.7 percent. But sales of Mazda6 cars, battling in the cutthroat midsize sedan segment, are down 8.9 percent at 13,604.

Ford has maintained employment at Flat Rock by increasing output of its vehicles at the plant, the Nikkei said.

But the ties binding the companies have loosened. Ford, once Mazda's controlling shareholder with a 33.4 percent stake, has reduced its holding to 3.5 percent.

In the meantime, Mazda is struggling financially. In the fiscal year ended March 31, its losses widened to 60 billion yen, or $742 million, from 6.5 billion yen, or $76 million, in the previous year.

The Hiroshima-based automaker attributed the deterioration in its results to lackluster sales in Japan, the initial impact of the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and the strength of the yen. Mazda exports around 80 percent of the vehicles it makes in Japan.


Ford chairman says next CEO
likely to come from within

Keith Naughton/ Bloomberg News
June 5, 2011

Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, who has said he has no plans to retire, likely will be replaced by an executive inside the company when he does decide to step down, Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. said.

"I really like our inside talent," Ford told reporters today at an event on Mackinac Island in Michigan. "It would be very unusual if we didn't pick somebody from the inside."

Mulally, 65, joined Ford from Boeing Co. in 2006 and helped turn the automaker around by revamping its model lineup with a focus on quality and fuel-efficiency. He said at Ford's annual meeting last month that he planned to stay with the automaker as it works to regain its investment-grade credit rating.

Mulally holds "Business Performance Review" meetings with about 15 top executives on Thursdays that are helping "train the next generation," Ford said. The gatherings encourage executives to learn about and become involved in all facets of the company, rather than remaining in their own areas, Ford said.

"Everybody in the meeting has access to all the information, all the issues facing the company," Ford said. "It will be a much better trained group of executives when Alan does decide to leave."


June 3, 2011
Vol 41 No.22


Air Canada Unions Call for Airline to Stop Attacking Pensions in Joint Statement

Three of the unions representing Air Canada workers -the CAW, CUPE and the IAMAW released a joint statement May 30 calling on Air Canada to halt the attack on its workers' pension plan in the current round of contract talks.

The statement says that the unions and their members are fully intent on maintaining the current pension model, although the exact details of the plan will be subject to negotiation.

Below is an excerpt from the statement:

Through repeated episodes of corporate bankruptcy and near-bankruptcy, Air Canada employees have endured wage cuts and wage freezes, the loss of benefits and paid time off, and ongoing deterioration in working conditions and stress levels. We have also experienced an erosion in the financial well-being of our pension plan - a plan to which the workers contribute through significant payroll deductions.

Most recently, to assist the company through the difficult economic aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, the workers and their unions agreed to the deferral of major pension contributions that would have otherwise been required under federal pension law (reprising a similar deferral which was implemented in 2003-2004).

The purpose of the deferrals was obviously not to provide the company with a subsequent excuse to eliminate pension benefits; it was to provide the company with financial breathing room (at critical periods in its history), on the expectation and the explicit promise that the company would subsequently make up for lost time, with extra contributions once financial circumstances improved.

We believe that the AC defined plan is sustainable as long as AC lives up to its legal and moral obligations to adequately fund the plan (complemented by employee contributions of course).

With this joint declaration, the leadership of the CUPE, CAW, and IAM bargaining units at Air Canada declare our joint commitment to preserve Air Canada's defined benefit pension plan for current retirees, current employees, and future employees alike. We will make the maintenance of the plan, including employer contributions that are the necessary consequence of past funding deferrals, a central priority during our coming collective bargaining with Air Canada. And we commit to the most determined and active solidarity between our members to defend the pension against the company's illegitimate demands for benefit reductions and two-tier structures."

To read the full statement in English, please visit

To read the full statement in French, please visit

CAW Members Named to NDP Shadow Cabinet

CAW members have been asked to play a number of key roles in the NDP's shadow cabinet on Parliament Hill.

Peggy Nash, former assistant to the CAW president, has been named to the high profile post of finance critic by NDP leader Jack Layton. Nash was re-elected MP for Parkdale High-Park in Toronto, defeating Liberal Gerard Kennedy in the May 2 federal election. She had earlier held the seat from 2006 to 2008.

In addition, CAW member Malcolm Allen, who held his seat in Welland, Ontario has been named the NDP's agriculture critic.

Joe Comartin, an honourary member of CAW Local 444, retained his seat in Windsor-Tecumseh, and is justice critic.

The riding of Sackville Eastern Shore in Nova Scotia re-elected CAW member Peter Stoffer, who is veteran's affairs critic for the NDP.

In Quebec, Claude Patry, a CAW retiree and previous president of Local 1937, which represents workers at Rio Tinto Alcan, in the Saguenay region, will serve as EI critic.

The critic for democratic reform (Minister of State) is Dave Christopherson, member of the former CAW Local 525, who was re-elected in Hamilton Centre.

Protesting Planned Wage and Hours of Service Cuts at Revera Retirement

CAW Local 830 members who work at the Kanata Retirement Residence near Ottawa, Ontario held an information picket May 25 to protest plans to cut wages and hours of service.

The employer, Revera Retirement, is planning to cut hundreds of hours of resident care per month by reducing the working hours of every employee, said Elaine Walker, CAW Local 830 president.

"These cuts are not necessary and will only result in residents not receiving the care they need and certainly deserve," Walker said. "As a result our membership, who includes nursing, housekeeping and kitchen staff, will be more at risk with health and safety issues as will the residents, because of the lack of time to provide proper care for them."

CAW National Representative Mohamad Alsadi said: "Revera Retirement is planning to cut more than 1000 hours of resident care at its Kanata and Colonel By Retirement Residences in Ottawa per month by reducing the working hours of every employee.

"The employer blamed the cuts on the workers by claiming that the residents' food is cold and that they receive slow service. It is ridiculous for the employer to blame the employees, who are forced to deal each day with a huge workload. Cuts will only make this worse," Alsadi said.

In Kitchener, Ontario at the Victoria Place Revera Retirement Residence, the company is also pushing to get full time hours cut back, said CAW Kitchener Area Director Bill Gibson.


Eleanor Cowburn and Pierre Lalonde, residents of the Kanata Retirement Residence, joined a protest against company plans to cut hundreds of hours of resident care per month at two Revera Retirement facilities in the Ottawa area. The two residents brought their signs inside the residence after joining nursing, housekeeping and kitchen staff, who are CAW Local 830 members, in the May 25 protest to highlight concerns about the impact of the planned cuts.

The company wants to reduce full time workers and replace them with casual workers and is refusing to follow seniority rules in the collective agreement, said Bill McLachlan, President of CAW Local 1106. He said the membership is upset.

"We don't believe these cuts are justified," said McLachlan. "We don't believe they have the residents' care as a priority."

Gibson said the company cutback demands come as the two sides are entering bargaining and at a time that workloads are increasing.

"These demands for reduced service come at a time when many retirement home residents now require more intense care," Gibson said. "We've got no appetite for giving up hard won bargaining rights that protect workers from layoffs - we won't accept the erosion of fulltime jobs in favour of casual work."

National Aboriginal Peoples' Day

The CAW joins Aboriginal Peoples in celebration of June 21, National Aboriginal Peoples' Day. In commemorating this day, we pay tribute to the unparalleled contributions of Aboriginal peoples in the development of Canada and their ongoing contributions as First People. We also recognize the strength and determination of our Aboriginal
sisters and brothers working in solidarity with the labour movement.

Fish Harvesters Protest in Newfoundland

As Contact went to press a group of 100 fish harvesters, members of FFAW/CAW, had surrounded a federal government building in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and a second group of harvesters had taken over the Department of Fisheries and Oceans building in Port aux Choix to protest an ongoing turbot and halibut dispute.

Harvesters are upset with reduced quotas for turbot and halibut in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence area.

Windsor Staff Appointment

CAW President Ken Lewenza has appointed Luis Domingues as a service representative working out of the CAW Windsor area office, effective Sunday, May 29.


New powertrain, engine to
up Ford fuel efficiency

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
June 3, 2011

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. hopes to retain its leadership in fuel-efficient vehicles by engineering its own transmission for hybrid vehicles, an eight-speed automatic transmission and its smallest engine yet: a 1-liter engine for cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Focus.

Most will be made and sold in the United States by 2013, the automaker said Thursday. Already 220 jobs have been created and more could be coming, Ford said.

The powertrain announcements are the next stage in Ford's EcoBoost strategy of using smaller engines that are direct-injection and turboboosted, as well as new transmissions, to give vehicles the performance consumers demand. They also will have up to 20 percent better fuel economy than their predecessors with larger conventional powertrains.

The moves match, and in some cases exceed, recent announcements by General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC to introduce multispeed transmissions and smaller engines as consumers place more importance on fuel economy every time gas prices exceed $4 a gallon.

"Ford is upping the ante here," said analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor.

The three-cylinder engine will be for global use, including small cars in the United States. The engine will be built in numerous locations. Officials declined to confirm U.S. production.

The engines will offer the power of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine but 15 percent to 20 percent better mileage. That could translate into a Ford Focus getting 48 mpg on the highway. Further details will be revealed this fall at the Frankfurt auto show.

It will be the smallest engine Ford has ever offered.

Joe Bakaj, head of global powertrain, said consumers will not balk at an engine more easily associated with a motorcycle.

"We're seeing customers not counting the number of cylinders or displacement anymore, just absolute performance," he said, noting 41 percent of F-150s sold in May had a V-6 engine.

Ford introduced its first EcoBoost engine in the Taurus SHO in 2009 and on Thursday increased its global target to deliver 1.5 million vehicles annually with EcoBoost by 2013. The previous goal was 1.3 million.

"Consumers have shown a willingness to downsize," said Sullivan. If the three-cylinder "feels and sounds like a four-cylinder when consumers drive it, they'll go for it."

The new continuously variable transmission for hybrids will go into production at Ford's Van Dyke transmission plant in Sterling Heights in December.


Ford invests $100M in robot
tech to build Focus, Explorer

Lasers to help ensure precision fit during the assembly process

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
June 2, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is investing $100 million in robotic laser technology to better attach doors and other large panels to vehicles, beginning with the 2012 Ford Focus and Explorer, during assembly.

The advanced robots can measure the opening on the car to guide the door perfectly into place, said Ron Ketelhut, Ford chief engineer, Body Construction Engineering. The laser-guided technology ensures a better fit with less room for human judgment or error.

"The door goes into the same place every time," Ketelhut said. "And robots don't get tired."

Further down the assembly line, robots with laser beams measure all gaps to evaluate the fit. The robots can stop the assembly line if the camera detects a door or hood does not meet strict quality guidelines.

Attaching doors is tricky, and a tight fit is crucial to prevent wind noise, which affects quality. Ford has worked to position itself as a quality leader and has been rewarded with high scores in the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study and "recommended buys" from Consumer Reports on 90 percent of its vehicles.

The advanced robots will be first used at the Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne and the Saarlouis, Germany, facilities, both of which make the Focus, and the Explorer plant in Chicago. Over the next several years, 17 plants around the world will add the technology.

The same technology is also inspecting the quality of stages of assembly with a system developed with local supplier Gonzalez Design Group of Detroit. Gonzalez designs and builds robotic systems for welding parts together and has about 800 employees in the Detroit area, including 180 in the Production Systems division that worked on the Ford project.

"We developed this specifically for Ford," said Chief Executive Gary Gonzalez. The project took about eight months to develop and customize for Ford. The supplier will make it available to other automakers.

"The robots actually track the vehicle, but nothing touches the vehicle in taking the gap measurements," said Ray Kauffmann, Gonzalez vice president, technology development.

The system can verify dimensions in more than 500 places on a vehicle as it is being assembled, Ketelhut said. "We can ensure precision like never before; these measurements are to a tenth of a millimeter."

The Gonzalez system also uses the inspection data from each vehicle to detect problems. The information goes back to the body shop so adjustments can be made to the tooling, which fix the issue at the source, Gonzalez said.

"When it comes to quality, you can't cut corners," Ketelhut said.


Ford CEO Mulally urges
one fuel standard


He tells lawmakers any more would be a costly burden

Nathan Hurst and David Shepardson/ Detroit News Washington Bureau
June 1, 2011

Washington— Ford Motor Co.'s top executive pushed for unity on national fuel efficiency standards for automakers Tuesday, telling Capitol Hill legislators that multiple U.S. standards put undue burden on automakers and consumers.

"We're not talking about specific numbers," Mulally told reporters in the Capitol after meeting with more than a dozen freshman House members, the vast majority of them Republicans.

But Ford's president and chief executive officer did say he was pushing for a "unified standard across all the states."

Among those attending the late afternoon meeting were co-hosts Reps. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls; Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; and Jeff Duncan, R-S.C; plus Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit. Earlier in the day, Mulally met with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, a long-time advocate in Washington for Detroit's Big Three automakers.

Mulally also met with Bill Daley, the White House chief of staff, and David Plouffe, senior adviser to President Barack Obama. The swing through the capital was described by a Ford spokeswoman as "regular check-in meetings with government officials where (Mulally) will underscore the importance of American manufacturing to the U.S. economy."

In the meeting with House members, Mulally said that if Congress is serious about pursuing alternative energy policies, the effort needs to be unified behind one technology, so manufacturers can invest.

The Ford exec's comments on Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards come as Upton's Energy and Commerce Committee mulls legislation that would bar California officials from setting a higher fuel efficiency or tailpipe emissions standard.

In 2009, California and federal regulators settled on a national standard for 2012-16, requiring a 40 percent boost in fleetwide efficiency to 34.1 mpg, a move estimated to cost manufacturers $51.5 billion over five years.

California is mulling its own rules for 2017 onward.

At the White House, Mulally "discussed the importance of increasing American exports and encouraging innovation in manufacturing to grow the economy and create jobs," said an administration aide briefed on the meeting.

While speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Mulally said Ford's May sales, to be announced today, closely tracked the nation's overall economy. By many indicators, the recent bounce-back from recessionary depths has slowed in the spring.

Though he wouldn't tip his hand on any numbers, Mulally said business for the Dearborn-based automaker was "slowing down … it's a little less than what we hoped for at the beginning of the year."


Marchionne in talks to buy
Canada's Chrysler stake

Associated Press
May 31, 2011

Toronto— The chief executive officer of Chrysler and Fiat said today he and Canadian authorities have begun talking about purchasing Canada's 1.7 percent ownership in Chrysler.

The Canadian federal government and provincial Ontario governments received 1.7 percent of Chrysler two years ago as part of a bailout that also provided $1.7 billion in loans to help the Detroit company survive.

Chrysler, already controlled by Fiat, recently paid back the last of the money it borrowed from the Canadian and American governments. Fiat then began the process of buying the shares owned by the U.S. government.

Chief executive Sergio Marchionne joined Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty at a Chrysler Canada casting plant in Toronto today to announce the loan repayment.

Marchionne said that he and Flaherty discussed buying Canada's shares and said they are quite willing to consider purchasing them.

Unlike with the shares owed by the U.S. government, the company has no right to compel the Canadian government to sell.

Flaherty said Ottawa will wait to see how the stock transfer process unfolds in the United States before deciding whether Canada will also sell its shares.

The Turin, Italy-based automaker said Friday it will buy the U.S. government's six percent stake in Chrysler under a process that was put in place in 2009 when Chrysler virtually shut down while in bankruptcy court.

Fiat initially received a 20 percent stake in Chrysler in 2009 for providing Chrysler with management expertise and technology.

Since then Fiat has been increasing its holdings in Chrysler and will soon control more than half of the company.

Fiat has helped change the corporate strategy of Chrysler, brought new fuel-efficient vehicles quickly to market and made the company cut costs and operate more efficiently.

The future looks brighter for the company, which has cut thousands of jobs in the United States and Canada in its bid to survive bankruptcy.

In Canada, the company employs 9,000 people and has major assembly plants in Windsor, a southwestern Ontario border city, and Brampton, a community northwest of Toronto.

Joyal, Ron
View/Sign Guest Book
JOYAL, Ron Passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at his home on May 26, 2011, at the age of 64 years. He is survived by his children Veronica, Dawn, and John Paul. Grandfather of Justin, Jason, and great grandfather of Dustin Dupuis. Son of Jean (Joyal) Garneau and the late John Joyal (April 1981). Predeceased by his brother Danny of Windsor. Brother of Betty Ann Baum-gartner (Marvin) of Harrow; Paul, Richard (Donna), Michael (Gail), Mary Jane Barsotta (John), all of Windsor; Kenny of Leam-ington; and dogs Harley, Vegas, Buffy, and Rocky. Also surviving are several nieces and nephews. Ron was a former employee and CAW Bargaining Unit Chairperson of Ford Motor Company Windsor, Vice President of CAW Local 200, and joined the National staff in 1989, retiring as Area Director of London in 2005. Visiting at the WINDSOR CHAPEL FUNERAL HOME (Banwell Chapel) 253-7234 11677 Tecumseh Rd. E. (corner of Banwell & Tecumseh Rd. E.) on Monday, May 30, 2011, from 2 - 5 and 7 - 9 p.m. Prayers Monday at 7 p.m. Friends and relatives are requested to meet Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at St. Theresa Church (1991 Norman Rd) for visitation from 10:30 am until time of funeral mass at 11 a.m. Interment to follow at Heavenly Rest Cemetery. In kindness, donations may be made to the family, Heart & Stroke Foundation, and Windsor Essex County Humane Society. Online condolences and shared memories may be submitted at www.windsorchapel.com
Published in the Windsor Star on 5/30/2011
NoticeGuest Book


In Its Rebound, Detroit Focuses
on Selling Smaller Cars

New York Times
May 30, 2011

DETROIT — After years of being outgunned by Japanese rivals, the American auto industry has made small cars a central part of its strategy, seeking to capitalize on a fundamental shift in the preferences of consumers in an era of fast-rising gas prices.

By refocusing on small cars and de-emphasizing the gas-guzzlers that had long sustained the industry, General Motors and Ford in particular are preserving jobs and positioning themselves to prosper. Their efforts are already paying off in the marketplace. Ford's tiny Fiesta is the best-selling subcompact in the United States this year, and G.M.'s Chevrolet Cruze outsold every other compact car in America last month except the segment-leading Honda Civic.

Nearly one in four vehicles sold in the United States in April was a compact or subcompact car, compared with one in eight a decade ago. Of the small cars sold in April, about 27 percent were American models, compared with 20 percent a year earlier. Data on sales in May will be released on Wednesday.

"There is a less-is-more mentality," said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of the auto research site Edmunds.com. "The market demand and receptivity for these vehicles just didn't exist four or five years ago."

The transformation in Detroit was sparked by the worst financial crisis in generations, but was also assisted by an unusual set of circumstances.

The United Auto Workers made steep concessions on wages and benefits. The Obama administration used the opportunity of the bankruptcies of G.M. and Chrysler to prod them on fuel efficiency. Japanese carmakers like Toyota and Honda became complacent about their frontrunner status. And the psychology of the American car buyer underwent a stunning change.

"The most important thing we had to do was restore our reputation as a fuel-economy company," said James D. Farley Jr., Ford's head of global sales and marketing. "Without that, we couldn't get a wide group of people to even consider these new products."

After decades of turning out embarrassingly uncompetitive small cars like the Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto that rarely contributed to their bottom lines, G.M. and Ford have devoted their vast global resources to producing new models that are both fuel-conscious and laden with technology and attractive features. Chrysler, the smallest of the Detroit car companies, has been slower to make the changes, but with the help of its Italian partner Fiat it is headed in the same direction, with a new compact model expected next year.

The emphasis on smaller vehicles has proven to be a necessity for the recovering auto companies. Rising fuel prices have prompted a steady migration away from bigger vehicles since the spring of 2008, when gas hit $3.50 a gallon. Industry analysts and company executives say the shift is likely a permanent one, as consumers flock to small cars packed with features like heated leather seats, Internet access and voice-activated entertainment systems.

With every new small car sold, the acceptance of American brands is reinforced as automakers erase the bad memories of their cheap and unappealing "econo-boxes" of the past.

"This car has changed my impression of Detroit, big time," said Christopher L. Garcia-Rivera of Northborough, Mass., who averages nearly 40 miles to the gallon in the Ford Fiesta he bought for $14,900 in April.

The signs of change are apparent everywhere in the industry's home state of Michigan, where Ford has converted a former S.U.V. plant to build small cars that will be available in hybrid and electric versions, and G.M. is preparing to make the first subcompact model it has ever produced in the United States.

Ford got a head start on its small-car push when it hired an outsider, Alan R. Mulally from Boeing, to reorganize its operations five years ago. G.M., however, had to go through bankruptcy in 2009 before it could shed its big-truck mentality.

"We focused our resources where the market was before," said Mark L. Reuss, president of G.M. North America. "You have got to spend money to do great small cars."

The dominance of the Japanese small car has eroded, in part, because Toyota and others didn't consistently update their models in recent years. "Toyota really dropped the ball with their bland styling and plastic interiors," said John Menschede, a retired county assessor in High Ridge, Mo., who paid $19,700 for a Cruze with a turbo-charged engine and Bluetooth wireless communication equipment. "I wanted something with a lot of bells and whistles and that's what I got."

Still, foreign cars continue to give Detroit stiff competition. The Korean carmaker Hyundai has introduced well-received models, and Honda recently started selling a new version of the Civic, the perennial market leader. But instead of a few Japanese models grabbing the bulk of the sales, the compact-car segment is now a wide open field.

John W. Mendel, Honda's top American sales executive, said the Japanese carmaker was confident that its small cars would meet the challenge from the latest American models. "Better products from our competitors?" said Mr. Mendel. "That's a good thing for the U.S. marketplace, but the Civic remains the trendsetter."

In the past, Detroit automakers neglected small cars because they could not make money on them. That has changed for several reasons. Labor costs are lower since the U.A.W. agreed to concessions on health care for retirees and a 50 percent wage reduction for new workers. G.M. and Ford are also spreading the development costs of compact and subcompact cars across their global divisions in North America, Europe and Asia.

Ford is building variations of its new Focus at factories across the world. The car's basic design and engineering, however, was done in Europe, where consumers have long appreciated the value, fuel efficiency and performance of smaller models. "The way we work now is to use the teams that know the markets the best," said Derrick M. Kuzak, Ford's global product chief.

The companies still earn far bigger profits on trucks and S.U.V.'s. But small cars are now commanding better prices in the showroom. A year ago, G.M.'s previous small sedan, the Chevrolet Cobalt, sold for an average price of $18,400, according to TrueCar.com. Last month, however, the typical Cruze sold for $20,600.

Detroit executives are aware they still have a lot to prove. Mr. Reuss cringes when reminded of some of G.M.'s subpar products of the past, and vows never to repeat those mistakes. "Our company has been changed forever," he said. "We've got a window to get it right this time."

He knew G.M. was on the right track when he parked one of the first new Cruzes off the assembly line at a supermarket in suburban Detroit, and a store employee rushed over to check it out. "She said, 'I can't believe Chevrolet is building a car this size that's this good,' " Mr. Reuss said.


Ford raises U.S. prices by average
of 0.4% per vehicle in May

Craig Trudell/ Bloomberg News
May 29. 2011

Ford Motor Co. raised prices by an average of $124, or 0.4 percent, per vehicle this month because of higher commodity costs, said Todd Nissen, a spokesman.

Ford also increased prices in April and January, Nissen said in a telephone interview. Ford has raised prices by an average of 1.3 percent, or $375 per vehicle, this year, he said.


Focus Titanium the best high-end compact you can buy

2012 Ford Focus Titanium (Ford)

Scott Burgess/ The Detroit News
May 28, 2011

It's the crème de la crème of Foci — the best in the bunch: The 2012 Ford Focus Titanium five-door.

It's the fully loaded, high tech, ultimate compact car on the road. There may be other compact cars that are cheaper with similar features, but even higher-end luxury compact cars don't match a fully loaded Focus Titanium.

If you're a check-all-of-the-boxes kind of customer, the Focus provides the most boxes:

Rear view camera

Multi-color ambient lighting

Push button start

Active park assist

MyFord Touch with Sync

HD Radio with iTunes tagging

Torque vectoring controls

All of the technology serves a purpose for the driver. Whether making the driving experience safer — such as operating the stereo, heat and air conditioning and phone by voice, so your hands never have to leave the wheel or making it easier and faster to park your car in a tight street space — the Focus Titanium has about everything.

The Active Park Assist, a feature brought to America by Lexus, is much better than the Lexus system and will amaze friends every time you use it.

MyFord Touch, the next-generation telematics system that integrates Sync and other features, still amazes me and is a solid half-step ahead of every other system offered. (In fairness to the competition, other carmakers are quickly catching up.)

Even the high mileage numbers put the Focus near the top of the list of fuel-sipping vehicles on the road. One can quibble over 2 or 3 miles per gallon, but when a car approaches 40 mpg (the base Titanium gets 28 mpg city and 38 highway) there's only a few dollars difference after 10,000 miles. (Actually, it's a difference of 13 gallons of gas over 10,000 miles, or about $50.)

The difference is worth it.

Plenty of zip

During a recent week of testing the Focus Titanium, I was reminded again how much I like this car.

The 2-liter inline four-cylinder engine provides 160 horsepower, which is more than enough for this 3,000-pound car. The six-speed automatic transmission tended to race to sixth gear a little too fast for my liking, often finding itself in the wrong gear at the wrong time, but that is mostly because it wants to maintain good gas mileage. There is a sport mode available for the transmission which will keep gears longer, but then I might complain that it keeps the gears too long.

Really, the Focus will let you toss it around pretty well. The balanced and nicely weighted electric power steering allows for easy swerving through semi-trucks along Fort Street and the suspension holds the body well through curvy country roads outside of Dexter. Ford has a sort of torque vectoring available on the Focus, but it's more of a super advance stability control, using the brakes to limit different wheels from spinning to help control the car through a corner. It's fine as a stability control system.

More important than stability control is the car's independent suspension, which holds relatively flat through fast turns and gives the Focus a lot of zip in the city.

Lots of nice touches

But the Titanium package is less about performance than it is about luxuries.

Very little road noise seeps into the cabin and hardly any wind noise finds its way inside, either.

More importantly, the Focus Titanium just feels a step above all of the other Foci available. It should, because it comes with a high price tag, which can top $27,000 — or the same price as a 2011 Ford Fusion Sport with 3.5-liter V-6, which has an MSRP of $27,150.

That Fusion comes with a lot more space and a lot more power, so there has to be a reason to pick the Titanium over the Fusion. It's the amenities. The nicely bolstered leather seats, the well-put-together dash and all of those high-tech features are certainly a start.

Plus, the Focus Titanium just looks nicer. The five-door and sedan share similar looks, but the hatch just has that convenience of being able to carry bikes and other big objects by just putting the second row seats down.

Additionally, even though the five-door model is seven inches shorter than the sedan, both offer the same interior space for passengers.

The driver and front passenger will feel like they're in a spacious midsize car with more than 41 inches of legroom (the passengers in the second row will not feel as lucky with just 33.2 inches of leg space).

Really, the Titanium feels like a great two-person car and could manage well with two adults plus a child, but bigger families may have problems cramming everyone into it.

And the Titanium was never built for everyone. There are much less expensive versions of the Focus that offer nearly as many features, just without the additional panache.

Which is exactly the point of the high-end Focus. It's not for everybody, but for the people who buy it, it is just what they wanted, the very best compact money can buy.

2012 Ford Focus Titanium (5-door)
Price : $22,700
Engine : 2-liter Ti-VCT I-4
Horsepower : 160
Torque: 146 pound-feet
Transmission : 6-speed automatic
EPA gas mileage:
Suspension :
Front: Independent MacPherson struts with 23.5 mm stabilizer bar
Rear: Control Blade multilink independent with 19 mm stabilizer bar
Steering : Electric power-assisted steering
Turning circle : 36 feet
Brakes: Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes with four sensors, four-channel anti-lock braking system.
Wheels: 17-, 18-inch
Exterior dimensions
Wheelbase: 104.3 inches
Length: 171.6 inches
Width: 71.8 inches
Height: 57.7 inches
Interior dimensions
Front / Rear
Headroom: 38.3 inches / 37.9 inches
Hip room: 53.9 inches / 33.2 inches
Legroom: 41.9 inches / 33.2 inches
Shoulder room: 43.7 inches / 52.7 inches
Cargo space
Second row up: 23.8 cubic feet
Second row down: 44.8 cubic feet


May 27, 2011
Volume 41, No. 21


Air Canada Workers Vote to Strike if Necessary

CAW members at Air Canada have voted 98.25 per cent in favour of going on strike if necessary, strengthening demands at the bargaining table for a fair and equitable new collective agreement. Votes were cast by more than 80 per cent of the total membership. The strike deadline is set for Monday, June 13 at 11:59 p.m. (midnight).

"With this strong strike vote, our members have clearly demonstrated that they've had enough of being taken for granted by Air Canada," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"What we're looking for at the bargaining table is a fair and equitable settlement, not the many concessions and the destruction of our pension plan like Air Canada is demanding. This company cannot lecture workers about their role in making the airline more efficient while dolling out major bonuses to corporate executives, including extremely rich retirement packages."

The strike votes were held in a series of meetings right across the country from May 13-19, with results released on May 20.

Lewenza said that the desire is not to cause interruptions for the travelling public, but negotiations require flexibility from both parties and so far this has not been the case, with Air Canada showing little will to arrive at a new agreement.

"I believe this company has underestimated the growing frustration of our members as they've worked hard to deliver major productivity improvements over the last ten years while seeing their wages stagnate and co-workers pushed out the door," said Jamie Ross, president of CAW Local 2002, representing Air Canada workers. "Air Canada can well afford to compensate its workers fairly and continue the pension plan."

Negotiations with Air Canada resumed in Toronto on Tuesday, May 24 with a federally appointed concilliator.

The union has also been organizing targeted demonstrations in major airport terminals, drawing hundreds of Air Canada workers and supporters. Rallies have so far been held in the Montreal Trudeau Airport on April 21, the Calgary International Airport on April 28, the Air Canada shareholders meeting in Montreal on May 5, with other rallies to come.

CAW Local 2002 represents 3,800 members at Air Canada, who work in customer service and sales in major airports and call centres. The collective agreement expired on February 28.

The Fightback at Bristol Aerospace

CAW Local 3005 retirees have repeatedly raised their concerns with Conservative MP Steven Fletcher over the attack on their benefits during the current round of contract talks with Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

CAW Local 3005 members at Bristol have been on strike at the aircraft manufacturing facility since April 1, fighting company demands for cutbacks on cost of living adjustments and retiree benefits.

On May 4, a protest was held to call for the resumption of stalled negotiations between Bristol and CAW Local 3005. More than 200 participants joined forces in an overwhelming display of solidarity on the picket line. The rally included participants from the CAW Local 3005 Retirees Chapter, CAW Locals 100, 101, 144, 468, 3003 and 3007; members of the Winnipeg Local from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers; CUPE Local 500 and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 832.


CAW protest rally outside Bristol Aerospace Plant in Winnipeg MB
CAW protest rally outside Bristol Aerospace Plant in Winnipeg MB.

Those in attendance included CAW Area Director Tom Murphy, Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck, MFL Executive Director Sylvia Farley, Former MFL President Rob Hilliard, Winnipeg Labour Council President David Sauer, CUPW Winnipeg Local President Bob Tyre, Executive Director Bob Linsdell of the Telecommunications Employees Association of Manitoba Local 161 and CEP Local 830 President Maurice Thiessen.

CAW Area Director Tom Murphy, MFL President Kevin Rebeck, Local 3005 President Branko Maligec and Plant Chairperson Dan Davis all expressed gratitude and heart-felt thanks to all those in attendance.

On April 21, John Marlow, President of CAW Local 3005 Retirees Chapter, and the local's retirees presented a petition to Conservative MP Steven Fletcher's campaign manager. Although the retirees had occupied Fletcher's office for approximately three hours, the MP did not show up to address these concerns.

Since the original demonstration at Fletcher's office, Local 3005 Retirees have returned to the office twice more and he has refused to speak to them.

BC Community Leadership Forum


CAW members and activists in BC took part May 14 in a special forum on the keys to becoming a community leader. NDP MLA Jenny Kwan, Vancouver-Mt Pleasant, speaks about her experiences. Also attending were CAW Director of Human Rights Vinay Sharma, BC and Alberta Area Director Susan Spratt and Raj Chouhan, NDP MLA for Burnaby Edmonds.

CAW members and activists in BC took part May 14 in a special forum on the keys to becoming a community leader. NDP MLA Jenny Kwan, Vancouver-Mt Pleasant, speaks about her experiences. Also attending were CAW Director of Human Rights Vinay Sharma, BC and Alberta Area Director Susan Spratt and Raj Chouhan, NDP MLA for Burnaby Edmonds.
Photo by Murray Gore

Investment in Amherstburg Plant Ensures Greater Stability

A $2.5 million investment in the Diageo plant in Amherstburg, Ontario is good news for CAW Local 2098 members.

The company recently announced the investment in the plant, which produces Crown Royal and Crown Royal Black whiskies. The investment was made after a new collective agreement in January ensured improved efficiencies at the facility, which employs 200 CAW members.

"This investment will bring greater stability as we move forward," said CAW Local 2098 President Barry Pritz.

CAW National Representative Colette Hooson said the new investment comes after a lot of uncertainty and a critical set of contract talks.

"This investment is a sign of a changing relationship with the employer and much improved labour relations," Hooson said.

Staff Appointment

CAW President Ken Lewenza has appointed National Representative Jack Robinson, CAW Windsor Area Director, effective June 1, 2011, following the retirement of Debbie Fields.

Aboriginal and Workers of Colour Conference

The CAW Aboriginal & Workers of Colour Conference takes place Friday, June 24 - 26 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario with registration at 4 pm and the plenary session beginning at 7 pm on Friday June 24.

For more information please contact: humanrights@caw.ca or go to: http://www.caw.ca/en/10195.htm

CAW Substance Abuse Conference

The bi-annual CAW Substance Abuse/Employee and Family Assistance Program Conference will be held at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario September 16-18.

All local unions are encouraged to send a full complement of delegates including EFAP/Substance Abuse representatives or peer referral agents, local union leadership, human rights, women and equity representatives. The registration deadline is August 19, 2011.

To view the Substance Abuse Conference call letter, go to: http://www.caw.ca/assets/images/EFAP_call_ltr.pdf

For more information contact CAW national representative Steve Watson at steve.watson@caw.ca

Big Hearts in Brampton


On May 19, CAW Local 1285 members at the Chrysler Brampton Assembly Plant took to the streets by bike to show their support for the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the community they work in. Team Spikes Challengers raised more than $4,000 including a corporate donation.Photo sent by Sam Manak, CAW Local 1285
On May 19, CAW Local 1285 members at the Chrysler Brampton Assembly Plant took to the streets by bike to show their support for the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the community they work in. Team Spikes Challengers raised more than $4,000 including a corporate donation.Photo sent by Sam Manak, CAW Local 1285


GM confirms new shifts,
2,500 jobs in Hamtramck

UAW plans to seek higher entry-level wage,
faster bump into better-paid tier

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
May 27, 2011

General Motors Co. says it will need about 2,500 additional workers to build Chevys around the clock at its Detroit Hamtramck plant.

The automaker confirmed Wednesday it will add two shifts at the factory, where eventually it will build three high-profile Chevrolets on one line: the electric extended range Volt, the midsize 2013 Malibu and next-generation Impala.

About 1,350 laid-off GM workers will have first recall rights for the job openings.

The rest will be new hires who will earn a second-tier, $14-$16 hourly wage — about half what veteran workers get. Second-tier wages are among the issues the United Auto Workers intends to press in this year's contract negotiations.

The UAW wants higher entry-level wages, Vice President Joe Ashton told reporters at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant Wednesday, reiterating comments made by UAW President Bob King at the union's bargaining convention in Detroit last March.

The union also will seek to bump up lower wage workers more quickly into the better-paid first tier, Ashton said.

But to be competitive, he said, the companies "need the second tier. It is no good making $28, $38 or $48 an hour if you don't have a job."

The auto companies may not be receptive to an entry-level pay increase, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research.

The second-tier lower wage is keeping the Detroit Big Three's labor costs competitive with the transplant automakers, she said.

GM isn't accepting new applications for the hourly work at this time, but salaried job openings are available at GM's website, said spokeswoman Kim Carpenter.

The automaker will spend $69 million to upgrade the factory, which employs 1,100 and has run on one shift since 2009.

The new Chevy production will mark the end of an era for the plant, which for more than two decades has built mostly Cadillacs and Buicks. GM this month is retiring two full-size cars now built at the plant — the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS.

GM added the Volt to Detroit-Hamtramck last fall, and will boost production of the vehicle after a four-week shutdown in June for retooling. It will begin making the next-generation 2013 Malibu early next year.

The plant will add the second shift in late fall, and the third shift at an unspecified future date.

When Impala production begins, the plant will be running three shifts for the first time.

GM officials declined to stay when the factory would start building the full-size Impala sedan, but stressed it would be an important addition to the Chevy lineup. Now two years in the making, the new full-size Chevy is undergoing a complete redesign.

"The great history of the Cadillac wreath and crest is important," said GM North American President Mark Reuss.

"But our Chevrolet bowtie is where the volume is at," he said, referring to Chevy's iconic logo.

GM hasn't said when the new Impala will go on sale, although it is expected in 2012 or 2013.

The Impala will have front wheel drive, deliver better fuel economy than its predecessor and stand apart from the Malibu in design, Reuss said.

"This next Impala is going to be all of GM's hard work coming together," in styling, technology and fuel economy, said Dave Sullivan, an Ann Arbor-based analyst with AutoPacific Inc.

"Right now, (the Impala) is a rental car special," he added. But GM is going to follow Ford's lead in what it did with the Taurus, and make the Impala its flagship car.

"This is going to be a showcase vehicle for GM," he added.

The current generation Impala is built at GM's Oshawa complex in Ontario, where it also makes the Camaro, Equinox and Buick Regal.

GM declined to say Wednesday whether it will continue to build the Impala there.

Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers, said GM hasn't indicated its leanings, but it will build the car at the Oshawa plant until 2012.

His union members remain hopeful the market can support production at two plants, Lewenza said.

"Anytime you have two plants manufacturing the same vehicle, there is reason to be nervous," he said.

The hiring at Detroit-Hamtramck will account for a little more than half of the 4,000 jobs GM has said it will keep or preserve by investing $2 billion in 17 U.S. sites in eight states over the next few years.


Union worries about more
job losses at GM Canada

Chevrolet Impala sedans are carried past the repair area near the end of the production line at General Motors (Canada) Corp.'s plant in Oshawa, Ont. GM said Wednesday it will start building the next-generation Malibu sedan and Impala at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant in late 2012 or early 2013.

Tony Van Alphen

Union leaders fear up to 2,000 jobs will be lost at General Motors of Canada after the automaker's parent confirmed it will move production of the popular Chevrolet Impala sedan from Oshawa to the U.S.

GM said it will start building the next-generation Malibu sedan and Impala at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant in late 2012 or early 2013, adding another 2,500 jobs to that plant while phasing out the Impala model and a production line in Oshawa.

Canadian Auto Workers officials said GM's decision to partially shift Impala production south suggests the company is now intent on proceeding with a previous plan to close one of two assembly lines in Oshawa.

That could slash the current workforce of 4,200 workers on two lines to about 2,200 in one flexible manufacturing operation within the next few years, they said, adding the move could also adversely affect parts suppliers.

GM employed almost 10,000 workers at three plants in Oshawa five years ago, before a major restructuring saved the company from collapse.

GM's announcement sparked anxiety among Oshawa workers, who have already faced considerable uncertainty because of the company's financial troubles in recent years.

But Tony LaRocca, communications director at GM of Canada, said it is too early to speculate on the impact of the Impala decision on Oshawa operations.

GM noted in a "confidential" memo to managers earlier in the day that there may be a need for some Impala output in Oshawa, but on the flex line rather than the older consolidated operation where production now occurs. That would boost employment on the flex line by a few hundred but not make up for losses on the consolidated line.

GM made a commitment to the union in 2008 for future products in Oshawa, including the Impala 2013, but the company's announcement appears to suggest an emphasis on primary production in the U.S.

GM informed the union more than a year ago about plans to close the consolidated line at the end of its "current product lifecycles" because it is no longer efficient enough. But the union has continued to press GM for new models to boost productivity and save jobs.

Buckley said he thinks volume projections for the Chevrolet Volt electric car, future Malibu and Impala at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant should force the company to keep the consolidated line open for some output of the Impala, which remains one of the most popular family sedans in the U.S.

He rejected GM's position that the consolidated line is no longer efficient, pointing to its overhaul last year to accommodate increased production of the hot-selling Chevrolet Equinox crossover vehicle early and below budget.

In the memo to managers, GM revealed it has not disclosed more products in Oshawa because of the failure to complete a new health care trust with retirees. The formation of a trust to reduce costs was a critical component of the deal between GM, the union and government so the company could qualify for billions of dollars in taxpayers' aid in 2009.

" … The finalization of the Health Care Trust which is a key element of our restructuring has not yet been fulfilled," said the memo to managers, obtained by The Star. "Therefore, we are not making any announcements regarding our Canadian operations today … GM Canada is working with retirees and their legal counsel to finalize the Health Care Trust as soon as possible."

Buckley said the memo is "aggressive and threatening" to workers in an attempt by GM to put pressure on the union to resolve the trust issue before the automaker confirms new products. Only retirees and their steering committee can reach an agreement with the company, he added.

Standoff at GM: retiree
benefits vs. the Impala

Globe and Mail Update
May 26, 2011

General Motors of Canada Ltd. is warning that a dispute with its unionized retirees over a key element of the auto maker's restructuring plan threatens future investment for new vehicles at the massive assembly operations in Oshawa, Ont.

The disagreement about funding for a health care trust that GM, its unionized retirees and the Canadian Auto Workers union are setting up to finance benefits for retirees surfaced Wednesday as General Motors Co. confirmed that it will assemble the next generation of the Impala sedan at a plant in Detroit in 2013.

In an internal memo distributed in Oshawa, GM Canada said it will redesign the Impala and build it in Hamtramck, Mich., but didn't specify whether the next version of the car will also be built in Oshawa, the only factory where it's built now.

"GM Canada intends to meet its contractual and production commitments," the memo said. "However, the health care trust, which is a key element of our restructuring, has not yet been established. Therefore, we are not making any announcements regarding our Canadian operations today."

The memo infuriated the CAW, which interpreted the document as a threat that the next generation Impala will be pulled from Oshawa unless the union convinces retirees to agree to how the company wants the health care trust structured.

"What we find very disrespectful, threatening, you name it, is the way they communicated to our members in the plant, implying that there will be no announcements of products in Oshawa as a result of the health care trust not being resolved," said Chris Buckley, president of CAW local 222, which represents the Oshawa workers.

The creation of a health care trust to finance dental care, vision care and other benefits for retirees was demanded by the federal and Ontario governments in 2009 when General Motors Corp., sought a bailout as it was on the verge of financial collapse.

The union agreed to negotiate such a plan. GM agreed to put up $1.8-billion to finance the fund, Mr. Buckley and Leslie MacDonald, a member of the retirees' steering committee negotiating with GM Canada said Wednesday.

"I don't think we have enough [money]. I know we don't," Mr. MacDonald said.

The retirees group has made a counter-proposal, he said, but would not reveal the amount.

The communication by GM is not helpful as the retirees, the union and the company negotiate the terms of the health care trust, CAW president Ken Lewenza said.

"General Motors has repeatedly said to me that if the health care trust does not get completed, then the Canadian competitive advantage will be in a precarious position," Mr. Lewenza said. "We recognize the pressures of the fund and the pressures on investment in Canada."

But both he and Mr. Buckley noted that neither the CAW leadership, nor the workers at the Oshawa plants speak or negotiate for the retirees.

The memo came as GM announced that it will add 2,500 jobs at Hamtramck, which already builds the Chevrolet Volt and will add production of the mid-sized Malibu as well as the Impala.

"We are going to communicate to our members that General Motors is using scare tactics in order to have the health care trust resolved," Mr. Buckley said. He said he was reassured by GM officials Wednesday that Oshawa will assemble the next generation Impala.

CAW officials won a commitment in contract negotiations in 2008 that GM would keep its Oshawa Truck Plant open, but the company announced the closing of the plant a few months later when pickup truck sales collapsed.

GM reiterated in the memo, which pointed out three times that the health care trust issue has not been settled, that it plans to close what it calls the consolidated line, which is the Oshawa plant where the Impala is built now.

The union has written commitments that GM will build the next generation Impala in Oshawa, but at the neighbouring flex plant, which currently assembles the Chevrolet Camaro and Buick Regal and is scheduled to add a Cadillac model.

"The consolidated line will cease production at the end of its current product lifecycles," the memo said. The CAW has been urging GM for several years to find new products to assemble on the consolidated line because shutting it down would wipe out more than 1,600 jobs. The two plants employ about 4,200 hourly workers in total.

Jason Easton, a spokesman for GM Canada, said the company looks forward to completing the health care trust, but did not respond directly to comments made by the union leaders


Chrysler pays back bailout
loans, looks ahead

Even CEO Sergio Marchionne said he didn’t think Chrysler could pay back the government so quickly. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)

CEO says payoff removes 'taint' of federal involvement

Alisa Priddle and Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
May 25, 2011

Now that its government loans are repaid, Chrysler Group LLC hopes consumers will measure it — and make it solidly profitable — by buying its cars and trucks.

As expected Tuesday, Auburn Hills-based Chrysler repaid $7.6 billion in outstanding loans, interest and fees. That wipes its slate clean with the U.S. and Canadian governments less than two years after government bailouts kept Chrysler and General Motors Co. in business.

Analyst Jack Nerad of online data firm Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, Calif., said the loan payoff may help Chrysler put to rest any residual animosity from Americans opposed to the bailout.

"From a consumer's perspective, there were some people who were pretty angry about the bailout," he said. "Paying that off and not being a burden to the taxpayers is a good counter argument."

Dealers expect to benefit.

"For a while during bankruptcy, I think Chrysler and GM were being overlooked," said David Shepherd, owner of Shepherd Auto Team Plaza in Fort Scott, Kan.

"Who wants to buy a vehicle from a company that has gone broke?" said Shepherd, who sells GM, Chrysler, Toyota and Ford products.

The U.S. government also has recouped almost half the $49.5 billion it spent to save GM, which went bankrupt, like Chrysler, and emerged as a new company. GM, which has repaid $23.1 billion through stock sale and loan repayment, also has had to repair its reputation with new products.

Shepherd noted that GM's sales have been on the uptick since the initial public stock offering and stronger earnings. He hopes Chrysler gets a similar bounce as news of the loan repayment spreads and consumers recognize the company is here for the long term.

It's a hope shared by Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who celebrated the government loan repayment Tuesday with 1,100 workers at the automaker's Sterling Heights plant.

"It's not going to be a make-or-break event, but it will certainly remove any taint that we may have had," said Marchionne, wearing a button that said "Paid" on his trademark black sweater.

"We dared to dream big, and we delivered on that dream," he said. "All of us remember that until just a short time ago, in the eyes of most, Chrysler had been condemned to death."

Marchionne hopes consumers will visit Chrysler showrooms to see the improved lineup of cars and trucks. More are to come with the help of partner Fiat SpA, whose little 500 already is on the U.S. market.

Move eases interest burden
Chrysler repaid the Treasury by refinancing its high-interest government loans — reselling the debt in the capital market. The move, similar to refinancing a home mortgage at a better rate, will save more than $300 million in interest annually that can be invested in future products.

The U.S. Treasury received wire transfers of more than $5.9 billion; Canadian governments received $1.7 billion to retire their loans to the automaker.

Also Tuesday, Fiat paid Chrysler $1.27 billion to increase its stake in the American automaker from 30 percent to 46 percent.

Now that Fiat has a controlling stake, Marchionne said Fiat earnings, starting with June's second-quarter results, will include Chrysler's earnings as well. Chrysler also will continue to release its results separately.

Chrysler workers see all these financial moves as building job security.

"I'm glad we got to this point," said Bill Parker, president of United Auto Workers union Local 1700 at the Sterling Heights plant.

"It's gotta be a positive sign."

Repaying the loans "sets the right posture for both sides" for contract talks to replace the current contract that expires in September, UAW Vice President General Holiefield said.

Obama commends move

In a statement issued Tuesday, President Barack Obama said "Chrysler's repayment of its outstanding loans to the U.S. Treasury and American taxpayers marks a significant milestone for the turnaround of Chrysler and the countless communities and families who rely on the American auto industry."

For Marchionne and his team, repayment was a matter of pride, and a personal objective since the June 2009 bailout.

But even he didn't think it could be done so quickly. "I didn't know if the financial markets would be there."

The Treasury gave $12.5 billion to Chrysler and $10.6 billion in loans were recovered. The government may get some of that outstanding $1.9 billion investment when Chrysler has an IPO as early as this year. The Treasury still holds a 6.6 percent equity stake in Chrysler.

Loan repayment came more than six years ahead of deadlines established in 2009.

Ron Bloom, Obama's assistant for manufacturing policy, said the event qualifies as "the comeback of the year."


Ford uses animation technology
to aid global workers

Patty Racco, a Ford manufacturing ergonomic engineer, demonstrates how her movements help digital models become more realistic. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)

Digital avatar used to further reduce injuries on the job

Alisa Priddle/ The Detroit News
May 25, 2011

Dearborn — Ford Motor Co. is using a Hollywood-style animation technique to improve worker safety.

The automaker said Tuesday it has developed a global avatar of a worker to help it build vehicles the same way the world over, even though workers' sizes can vary significantly.

Ford's "global manikin" was developed from size and shape data gathered from six assembly plants around the world.

That led to creation of a female avatar who is 5 feet 4 inches tall, but with large male hands, said Allison Stephens, Ford ergonomics specialist with Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering.

The size reflects that workers in many parts of the world are smaller than in other nations, but the big hands are to make sure a larger German or North American assembly line worker can grab the necessary part and perform the job.

Under CEO Alan Mulally, Ford has pursued a strategy to build and sell vehicles everywhere with as many common parts and manufacturing practices as possible.

Ford, like most automakers, has used digital modeling for years to design workstations that are as ergonomically correct as possible, to reduce strain injuries.

But the automaker wanted to take the simulations, through its Jack and Jill digital models, a step further. So it created "motion capture labs" in Dearborn and in Merkinish, Germany.

In the labs, real people are suited up with reflective tape on key joints and parts of the body and their movements are captured by 15 cameras. The data is fed into the digital human models to make their movements even more realistic. The basic technique is used in computer animated films and video games.

"The result is workers are not going to get the injury and consumers will get better quality vehicles," Stephens said.

Since January this new technique has been implemented, with much of the work centered on the hybrid and electric versions of the new Ford Focus, said Mary Heck, manufacturing ergonomics engineer.

By putting a person in the capture motion lab, it became evident that installing a strut, for example, was a difficult reach for a smaller worker, Heck said. With the help of a UAW worker at the Wayne Assembly plant in Dearborn, that finding led to development of a tool to extend the worker's reach and make the assembly easier. A tall person can choose not to use the aid.

That is the general concept Ford is seeking globally — to design assembly plant workstations where the task can be done by this new global manikin. Each plant tweaks its workstations as necessary, to reflect the regional workforce and the individual plant. Ford wants to share its findings in countries where the work is done by suppliers.

Stephens said that when digital modeling was introduced about a decade ago, ergonomic injuries fell about 80 percent.

Potential problems on the assembly line can be identified two or three years before an operator is exposed to it, Stephens said.

And the work is far from done. Santos, a military-style avatar, is being developed to assess heavy lifting by line workers.


Ford sees chance to
woo Japanese buyers

AP Business Writer
May 24, 2011

TOKYO (AP) -- Ford sees a big chance to snatch buyers away from Japanese automakers battling production delays caused by the March earthquake and tsunami, and vehicles in the works could help deliver it growth in a long-difficult market.

"The opportunities for Ford in Japan have never been greater," Ford Japan Chief Executive Tim Tucker said Tuesday of the products planned for Japan.

Like other U.S. automakers, Ford Motor Co. has lagged in a market dominated by local manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co.

American cars don't enjoy much of a reputation in Japan, partly because they tend to be too large for Japan's crowded streets, and they have built an image over the years as gas-guzzlers that break down.

But Japanese car makers have not been able to produce at full capacity since the March 11 magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami destroyed key auto-parts makers in northeastern Japan.

Some customers aren't expecting their vehicles delivered for months in Japan, some until next year.

And that is an opportunity for imports, including cars made by Ford, based in Dearborn, Michigan.

Tucker said there have been signs that people who might have otherwise bought a Toyota or Honda are opting for a Ford.

Tucker was speaking at a Tokyo cafe, where the remodeled Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle, selling for 4.4 million yen ($53,800) and 5.3 million yen ($64,800), was shown to reporters.

Orders started being taken Tuesday. Deliveries are set for September in Japan. The model went on sale in North America in December.

Ford is planning 50 new products and powertrains over the next four years in the Asia-Pacific and Africa. It also plans five environmentally friendly models, such as electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-ins, globally next year, but declined to say if any would be sold in Japan.

Ford's sales in Japan grew 5 percent in 2010 over the previous year, but it sold just 700 Explorer vehicles here last year. That contrasts with Explorer sales in North America totaling 42,000 in January-April alone.

Its overall Japan sales at 2,400 vehicles last year make up about 1 percent of the Japanese import market, and a fraction of 1 percent of the overall Japanese auto market.

Ford, the second-largest U.S.-based automaker, has invested $4 billion since 2006 for growth in Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and is hoping to build its brand in Japan as "quality, safe, smart and green," according to Tucker.

The Japanese auto market has been stagnant for years. But the disaster that devastated the northeastern coast, leaving more than 25,000 people dead or missing has further depressed consumer sentiment.

Auto production in Japan for March plunged 57 percent from a year earlier to 404,039 vehicles - marking the sixth straight month of decline.

While acknowledging Ford must be cautious about prospects in the troubled Japanese market, Tucker appeared confident, saying its Japan sales had not been hurt by the quake.


Lincoln, Chrysler score top
marks in vehicle satisfaction

The Lincoln MKZ hybrid was one of the car's that earned a top award in AutoPacific's annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. (Lincoln)

Christina Rogers/ The Detroit News
May 23, 2011

Car buyers are giving two Detroit brands high marks for their 2011 car and lineups.

Lincoln earned top premium brand, while Chrysler was ranked most popular in California-based auto research firm AutoPacific's annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.

The two brands scored the highest in their respective categories, according to the results of a 68,000-participant survey that asks owners how satisfied they are with their cars.

The honors were awarded in 48 categories that include cars, trucks, and hybrids. The rankings help car buyers sort through the more than 262 nameplates sitting on dealer lots.

"While the economy is strengthening, buyers continue to be especially careful in selecting the perfect vehicle for their needs," said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. "A wise purchase decision is like money in the bank."

The Cadillac Escalade won highest overall satisfaction for a single model, while the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was named most satisfying car.

"It's especially gratifying to be honored by AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Awards because they're chosen by owners," said Don Butler, vice president for Cadillac marketing.

"Escalade's consistent strong showing in these awards is a testament to its ability to deliver what customers want in a luxury vehicle," he added.

Going by automaker, Ford Motor Co. scored seven wins; Toyota Motor Corp. had four, and General Motors Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. tied with three wins.

AutoPacific’s Annual Vehicle Satisfaction Award winners

Premium Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Aspirational Luxury Car: Hyundai Genesis
Luxury Mid-Size Car: Lincoln MKZ
Large Car: Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon (tie)
Premium Mid-Size Car: Hyundai Sonata
Mid-Size Car: Suzuki Kizashi
Premium Compact Car: Volvo C30/S40/V50
Compact Car: Hyundai Elantra
Economy Car: Honda Fit
Sports Car: Porsche 911
Sporty Car: Scion tC
Hybrid Car: Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
Heavy DutyPickup: Ford F-Series Super Duty
Large Light Duty Pickup: Chevrolet Avalanche
Compact Pickup: Honda Ridgeline
Luxury Sport Utility Vehicle: Cadillac Escalade
Large Sport Utility Vehicle: GMC Yukon
Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicle: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Premium Luxury Crossover SUV: Lincoln MKT
Luxury Crossover SUV: Lexus RX
Large Crossover SUV: Ford Flex
Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Ford Explorer
Mid-Size Crossover SUV: Mitsubishi Outlander
Compact Crossover SUV: Kia Sportage
Minivan: Chrysler Town & Country
Hybrid Truck: Lexus RX450h Hybrid



Ford to build first transmission plant in China

Associated Press
May 22, 2011

Dearborn— Ford Motor Co. says a Chinese joint venture will spend $350 million to build the company's first transmission plant for the world's largest auto market.

The company says the factory in Chongqing will be able to build 400,000 six-speed automatic transmissions. It will make them for Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Limited, the Chinese joint venture.

Ford has a relatively small presence in fast-growing China but says the plant is part of its growth plans.

The company says construction will start in July and production will begin in late 2013.

Ford also is building a $500 million engine plant in Chongqing that will open in two years.

China's auto market last year overtook the U.S. as the world's largest. Sales rose 32 percent last year to over 18 million vehicles.


Ford transfers fuel-tank business
to France's Plastic Omnium

Keith Naughton/ Bloomberg News
May 21, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is transferring ownership of its fuel-tank production to Inergy Automotive Systems LLC, a unit of France's Cie. Plastic Omnium SA, as the automaker exits its parts businesses.

The fuel tanks are built in a factory in Milan, Mich., that will be closed in 2013 and replaced by a $30 million plant Inergy will build in southeast Michigan, said Tarick Dali, a spokesman for Plastic Omnium. The Paris-based company is paying nothing for the business, Dali said today in an interview.

"The activities in Milan are being given by Ford to Plastic Omnium, and Plastic Omnium is in charge of building the new factory at a cost of roughly $30 million," Dali said. "The deal is to build the new factory to supply Ford."

The Milan plant was one of five remaining plants of the 17 that Ford took back in the 2005 bailout of its former parts subsidiary Visteon Corp. Ford will close an Indianapolis steering-parts factory within 12 months and has three other former Visteon plants for sale, said Della DiPietro, a company spokeswoman. Ford, which retains ownership of the Milan plant, said it sold the fuel-tank business for a price that "is not material and will not be disclosed," DiPietro said.

"We are delighted to announce the sale of our blow-molded fuel tank business to Inergy," Mark Blair, president of Automotive Components Holdings, the unit Ford created for the former Visteon plants, said in the statement. "This is another important step in our strategic plan."

Job offers
Plastic Omnium will offer jobs to 240 of the Milan plant's workers, Dali said. The plant employs about 500 workers, DiPietro said. About 200 of the plant's 430 hourly workers belong to the United Auto Workers union and are eligible for jobs at Ford factories, DiPietro said.

The "vast majority" of the plant's 70 salaried employees will receive job offers "on a transitional basis or a permanent basis with the buyer," DiPietro said.

Plastic Omnium is at least the second buyer that emerged for the fuel-tank operations. In December 2006, Ford said it had reached a memorandum of understanding to sell the business to Flex-N-Gate, which the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker described as an "international and privately held company with numerous manufacturing operations in several countries."

The Flex-N-Gate deal fell through in early 2009 because "economic conditions at that time were not favorable," DiPietro said.

Fuel tanks
Plastic Omnium's Inergy unit will produce 1.3 million fuel tanks annually exclusively for Ford, Dali said. The French company now supplies tanks for Ford's Edge sport-utility vehicle in the U.S. and a Ford pickup in Argentina, he said.

"Ford will become an important customer for Plastic Omnium," Dali said.

Ford in 2000 spun off Visteon, once the second-largest U.S. auto-parts maker. Even with Ford's attempt to rescue its former unit in 2005, Van Buren Township, Michigan-based Visteon filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2009. Visteon emerged from bankruptcy Oct. 1, 2010, after paring debt by $2.1 billion.

By returning plants and offices to Ford in 2005, Visteon eliminated responsibility for 18,000 workers represented by the UAW. That allowed Visteon to lower its average hourly wage to $18 from $38.

The company closed or divested 30 factories or units from 2006 to 2008 and trimmed its reliance on Ford to 28 percent of sales in 2009 from 88 percent in 1999. Visteon has reported one annual profit as an independent company.


Volume 41, No. 20
May 20, 2011

Victory for Locked Out Limo Drivers

A recent ruling by the Ontario Labour Relations Board to send a contract dispute involving 200 Toronto airport limo drivers to arbitration is a victory for the locked out CAW members and the union as a whole, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.

The drivers are employed by McIntosh, Air Cab and Aaroport, all owned by the same individual, and have been locked out since December 1, 2010.

"These workers will be going back to their jobs after months of uncertainty and hardship," said Lewenza. "The incredible solidarity of the membership and their leadership resulted in this win for these workers," Lewenza said.

"This lock-out was totally unnecessary and cruel to this group of workers," said CAW National Representative Sukhvinder Johl. "Yet the fight back by our membership was truly inspiring.

CAW Local 252 President Abbot Harvey, whose local represents the drivers, said that this outcome would not have been possible without the workers sticking together and the great community support they enjoyed. "We particularly want to thank other local unions and members of the Punjabi and broader south Asian communities who showed tremendous support to our members in what was a very difficult situation. We can now look forward to a positive resolution to this long struggle," said Harvey.

CAW Unit Chair Baljit Garcha said he is elated by the board's decision. "Now our members can go back to work and put bread back on the table for their families after six months of struggle," Garcha said. "They can also go back to providing quality service to the public, which they have done for so many years."

The company owner had refused to issue drivers the necessary provincial registration stickers, effectively locking the workers out of their cars and their jobs December 1, 2010. The company owner had left negotiations months ago maintaining the status quo and refusing all union proposals, while demanding an increase to already highly-inflated fees collected by the company.

New Agreement for Sault Ste. Marie Paramedics

CAW Local 1120 members who are paramedics in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario have voted in favour of a new agreement with wage increases in each year of the three-year deal.

The agreement provides wage increases of 2.5 per cent, 2 per cent and 2 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2011, along with other language and monetary gains.

A key issue in negotiations was parity with other first responders such as fire and police. These EMS members hourly rate is well behind, despite large call volumes and the evolving role of paramedics and the need for constant upgrading, said CAW National Representative Andy Savela.

"The issue of wage disparity between paramedics and other first responders was a huge focus in these negotiations," said Rob Giovagnoli, CAW Local 1120 president. "We achieved a settlement that begins to close that gap."

Savela said "this agreement supports the fact we have the ability to freely negotiate settlements in the public sector that bargaining committees can recommend to their members in spite of the province's direction towards wage restraint."

As part of the effort to close the wage parity gap, the CAW is participating in meetings coordinated by AMEMSO, the umbrella group representing municipalities and EMS administration groups, with the goal of determining who responds to various emergency calls and how they are responded to. The issue of wage parity among first responders is an issue the CAW intends to raise at the meeting.

The CAW represents 38 paramedics in Local 1120, who work in Sault Ste. Marie, Garden River and the surrounding area. They voted 54 per cent in favour of the agreement on May 13.

Inquiry Recommends Broad Law Changes in Dealing with Multinational Corporations

A special provincial government inquiry in Newfoundland and Labrador has recommended important changes to labour laws in the case of collective bargaining and in particular collective bargaining with multinational corporations.

The commission was appointed by the provincial government last October to investigate the bitter work stoppage at the Vale nickel processing operation in Voisey's Bay, Labrador. That dispute was subsequently settled by Vale and the United Steelworkers in January after 18 months of picketing. But the fundamental issues considered by the inquiry continue to affect other bargaining in that province, and across Canada. So the commission has issued six recommendations aimed at improving labour relations in circumstances where large global corporations may possess undue bargaining power in dealings with Canadian workers.

The commission recommended that the provincial government must use other policy levers, not just labour laws, to ensure that multinational corporations (especially those investing in remote resource-based operations) respect Canadian labour relations values, and enhance benefits to the local and provincial economies. It also recommended provisions whereby long disputes could be referred to binding third-party arbitration and measures to improve participation by aboriginal populations in northern resource developments.

Lana Payne, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, praised the inquiry's work, but noted that the recommendations are just the beginning of a longer-run process of modernizing labour laws in order to deal with the challenges posed by globalization and multinational corporations. "The Vale strike was an especially painful lesson in how global corporations can use their diversity and geographic reach to undermine the wages and conditions of workers in any particular country," she said.

"It's not just the workers who suffer, but entire communities lose their ability to get fair value from the resources which they own," Payne added. "Faced with such a lopsided bargaining relationship, government must intervene to level the playing field."

Payne pledged her Federation's best efforts in coming months to press the Progressive Conservative provincial government to act on the inquiry's recommendations. She said the Federation in its submissions to the Inquiry stressed the importance of examining how globalization and multinationals have eroded labour relations and worker rights.

The commission's full report, an important background paper prepared by Montreal university professor Gregor Murray, and the full list of recommendations can all be viewed at http://gov.nl.ca/LRA/voisey_bay.html.

Memorial in Honour of Late CAW Staff Member Frank McAnally


A gazebo named in memory of the late Frank McAnally was dedicated recently at the Tamiami Village, a resident owned mobile home community in southwest Florida, a location for many retired CAW members who spend the winter.

Frank McAnally was president of CAW Local 200, president of CAW Council, British Columbia and Alberta CAW area director, and handled the Ford staff assignment in Toronto, before retiring to both Windsor and Tamiami Village.

CAW Locals 200, 444, the national union, as well as Tamiami Village committees and fundraisers provided funds to ensure completion of the project in March.

Frank died on December 3, 2008

RPNs Form New Standing Committee

CAW Local 229 has created a new RPN standing committee for the local union. The new committee is compromised of a broad cross-section of workers from different facilities in urban, rural locations and remote towns, including hospitals, long term care homes and assisted living residences.

The role of the committee will be to work on specific issues facing RPNs in their workplaces "I spend a lot of time at meetings, in phone conversations, and corresponding by email with RPNs who are fed up with their workload demands, the ever-expanding scope of practice and the many misconceptions and lack of respect for the role RPNs play in our health care system," said CAW Local 229 President Kari Jefford. "We need to look at these issues and strategize on how to address them."

CAW Transportation Conference

The CAW Transportation Conference is scheduled for September 23-to-25 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

The conference will feature workshops and plenary sessions on various transportation issues including political action. A key component of the conference will be a review and endorsement by delegates of a National Transportation Policy for the CAW. The policy will then be moved to the National Executive Board and to CAW Council for final endorsement.

The conference is open to members in the transportation sector, both in the manufacturing and operation of transportation vehicles.

The registration deadline is August 22. To read the conference call letter go to http://www.caw.ca/en/10252.htm.

Lewenza Urges Massive Support for Public Services and Workers


3 CAW President Ken Lewenza delivered a fiery intervention during the CLC Constitutional Convention, bringing delegates to their feet in a standing ovation. "3.2 million union members need to know that we're making a difference," said Lewenza.

He said that people are now working past 65 into their 70s and 80s and the labour movement needs to ensure that people can retire in dignity. He also urged increased support for public services which he called essential to individual and community well-being. "Around the room, there are people who are providing important public services to Canadians, we must support these people."

NDP Leader Jack Layton Pledges Support for Stronger Pensions

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton was treated to a hero's welcome as he arrived to address the CLC Convention on May 11.

As leader of the Official Opposition, Layton took the opportunity to thank delegates for their support and hard work in their ridings across the country. Over 4 million Canadians voted for the NDP, sending a record number of 103 NDP Members of Parliament to the House of Commons. In voting NDP, Layton said that these Canadians voted to improve public health care and keep it public and to put hard working families ahead of corporate interests.


CLC Secretary -Treasurer Hassan Yussuff congratulates Jack Layton along with CLC President Ken Georgetti on the NDP's success in rising to Official Opposition in the recent Federal Election.

"Our message struck a chord with hard working Canadians who are looking for action right now," said Layton. "Stephen Harper is alone in ignoring this looming pension crisis. In this country there are seniors who must make the choice between paying their rent or their grocery bill. I believe seniors have earned the right to live in respect and dignity in their retirement."

Layton said that the response from provinces on strengthening the CPP was overwhelmingly positive and that there should be no excuse for failing to change the legislation that could increase both employer and worker contributions to the plan. "Stephen Harper is facing the largest and most united opposition in 13 years," said Layton. "We're an opposition that knows where we stand. We will fight every day for Canadian jobs and Canadian pensions."

Rebuilding Union Density

What exactly derailed the post-war wave of progress for workers, also known as the social contract? This question was posed to a four-person panel in an effort to not only arrive at what went wrong, but also how to move forward for a more inclusive, more just society where the right to good working conditions and a high quality of life for all are the norm.

In the post-World War II era spanning into the 70s, there was a common understanding of the importance of creating conditions conducive to improving the situation for each new generation, said CLC President Ken Georgetti in his introduction to the panel on May 10.

The panel, moderated by the CBC's Wendy Mesley, featured CAW Economist Jim Stanford, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Armine Yalnizyan, Ryerson University professor and author Grace-Edward Galabuzi and Economist for the Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-économiques (IRIS) Pierre-Antoine Harvey.


L-R: The CBC's Wendy Mesley moderates a panel featuring Jim Stanford, Grace-Edward Galabuzi, Armine Yalnizyan and Pierre-Antoine Harvey at the CLC's 26th Constitutional Convention.

Stanford said that the so-called "social contract" was never actually signed by employers, they were only forced into it for a while.

The economy was doing well, private business was strong, labour laws were favourable to unionization after several important struggles by unions -the introduction of the Rand formula and card check certification in many jurisdictions, explained Stanford. "Workers had high expectations and the ability to meet those expectations."

Galabuzi pointed out that the labour market wasn't rosy for all groups of workers, particularly workers of colour and aboriginal people who habitually experienced much higher unemployment rates -always the last hired and first fired.

Similarly, Yalnizyan warned that it's a mistake to want to return to the time of the social contract, instead she suggested returning to a period 100 years ago at the advent of the women's movement, civil rights movement and labour organizing in Canada -a time when people were desiring greater equality on many fronts. She suggested that today conditions are very similar with growing globalization, inequality, and the mass movement from the countryside into the city.

She spoke about how this desire for equality and fair conditions was the driving momentum of numerous actions on the other side of the world, whereas here in Canada, we're wondering how we're going to hang on to what we have. "We must channel the benefits of globalization to give them a globalization they've never dreamed of."

The decades that followed the post-war boom though, through out the 1980s and 90s, were characterized by a rise in corporate power and increasing globalization. Companies could relocate their operations to other countries with little, if any consequence, no longer constrained by national boundaries, regulations or government intervention.

Stanford stressed that the decline in our collective quality of life was not part of some natural evolution, but a series of conscious efforts by a neoliberal agenda endorsed by wealthy corporations and governments -including the destabilizing of many important social safety nets and the end of full employment.

By the 1990s, workers were less likely to show up at their jobs ready to fight for their rights. "We shouldn't have to bend down and be thankful that we have a job," said Stanford. "Workers deserve to be paid for the work that we do and be treated fairly."

Galabuzi said the revitalization of the role of organized labour will require a community-based approach to union organizing, one that goes beyond the workplace. He said that in the post-war period, unions shifted into an economic form of unionism, but that in order to regain and expand their public role, they must advocate for Canadians and marginalized groups beyond just their own members.

Galabuzi suggested that it's the role of unions to address the issues of temporary foreign workers and push for them to be allowed into Canada as permanent residents.

Stanford said that unions and workers more generally should not lose hope regarding the strength of the collective. "Without the labour of our members, the system would be no-where.

President Ken Lewenza visits Daimler Orion Bus in Mississauga



CAW President Ken Lewenza joins with Daimler (Orion) Bus plant chairperson Arastou Rafizadeh (third from left) during a recent visit to the Mississauga, Ontario plant.

CAW Welcomes New Members

  • Compass Group Canada Ltd (Humber College North Campus), Toronto, ON 133 Members.
  • Brinks Canada Ltd, (multiple locations), British Columbia 300 Members.
  • Manitoba Lotteries Corporation, Winnipeg MB 1100 Members.
  • Medical Laboratories of Windsor Ltd, Windsor, ON 110 Members
  • Veterans Transportation Services, Hamilton, ON 45 Members.
  • National Fast Freight, Vaughan, ON 65 Members.


Ford is working
on a 'car that cares'
A Ford Sync display model runs Pollen.com's app, on Wednesday at Ford's Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)

Its Sync system will interface with medical devices

Alisa Priddle / / The Detroit News
May 19, 2011

Dearborn — Millions of people with diabetes, asthma, allergies and other chronic ailments spend many hours a week in a car, and Ford Motor Co. wants them to be able to use that time to monitor and manage their conditions.

The automaker is working with organizations that make medical devices and offer health care apps to use its in-car communications system, Sync, to offer occupants continuous health monitoring.

The idea is to synchronize devices such as a glucometer or an app that reads pollen levels to the voice-activated MyFord Touch.

This would allow a mother to ask the car to check the device on a sleeping child for a blood sugar reading, or use drive time to get tips on managing the disease. The car also could use its GPS to access pollen levels — and then command the use of recirculated air, or suggest an alternative route with better air quality.

"We want to create the car that cares," said Gary Strumolo, manager of vehicle design.

The project also recognizes potential safety hazards caused by medical condition — low blood sugar levels, for example, which can blur a driver's vision or cause confusion. Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes; 60 million have asthma and allergies.

The connections can be via Bluetooth, the computing cloud or smartphone apps. To prevent distraction, commands are voice-activated and hands-free.

Ford Chief Technical Officer Paul Mascarenas said the first applications could be on board Ford vehicles in a year or two.

The research began in 2005 and includes partnerships with Medtronic Inc., WellDoc and SDI Health, which promote wireless health care.

SDI's "Allergy Alert" app, which monitors pollen levels and risk levels, likely will be first to reach the market. The app soon will be available for Blackberry and Droid phones as well as iPhones, said Jody Fisher, SDI vice president of marketing.

Mascarenas said Ford vehicles have the necessary hardware, but apps must be approved and new ones written to connect to the medical devices that people use. Engineering must sign off as well.

"We need a business model with all partners involved," Mascarenas said.

He is not worried that by making the effort public, Ford will lose its competitive advantage.

"We're confident we're in a leadership position," he said.

And the work is worthy of duplication. "We need a better world, not just better transportation," said Mascarenas.


Ford CEO outlines
company's future

David Mondragon, Ford Canada CEO, sees high fuel costs shifting the demand to smaller cars.

Interview with David Mondragon
By Scott Deveau, Financial Post
May 18, 2011

In late 2006, Ford Motor Co. bet the bank on its turnaround plan. It essentially put all of its assets, including its iconic blue oval logo, up as collateral on a massive line of credit it would use to transform the company. Three years and a recession later, Ford has one of the best balance sheets and product portfolios of any of big automaker. In the first four months of the year, Ford has outsold GM in Canada by 7,500 vehicles, after last year claiming the top sales spot in the country for the first time in 50 years. David Mondragon, Ford Motor Company of Canada chief executive, spoke to the Financial Post's Scott Deveau to discuss the Detroit automaker's renaissance and what comes next as gas prices rise, and its competitors start to get on better financial footing.

Q How do you account for Ford's turnaround?

A We don't think we're here by chance. We're on a long journey that started five years ago with the restructuring of the company. We made some really difficult decisions at that time from a financial perspective, and we've managed our finances very closely and diligently since. We've paid off $17-billion in debt over the last 15 months -50% debt reduction -and we're in a position now of being net-cash positive. What that is helping us do is not only take care of our financial stakeholders, but we're investing very aggressively in new product and we started that when we started right-sizing the business. We've invested billions of dollars in research, and really a key focus has been in four areas: First is fuel efficiency, the second is quality, third is safety, and fourth key area has been smart technology. If you look at our successes of in the past couple years, it's really been based on those key areas.

Q Now that fuel prices are up again, how are those efforts paying dividends?

A On a simple numerical basis, in 2005 the vehicles we sold in Canada were 60% truckbased products, and only 40% car-based. In 2010, we moved to 50% truck-based products and 50% car-based. That's a significant move of 10 points. By the end of 2011, we'll be at 45% truck and 55% car-based products. And by the end of 2012, we'll be at 40% truckbased products and 60% carbased products. We've not only shifted our platforms, in terms of delivering vehicles that have value and are very high on consumer want and need basis in Canada, but we've also shifted the platforms we produce vehicles on for much lower emissions, higher fuel economy vehicles that are car-based platforms. A good example of that is the all-new Explorer. That used to be a truck-based platform. The fuel efficiency was marginal at best. We moved it to a car-based platform that got close to a 30% increase in fuel economy.

Q What impact do you think the bankruptcy restructuring of GM and Chrysler, and now the production hurdles at Honda and Toyota, will have on your sales?

A We took that money at the right time, but we also plowed it into new product. That is what is paying huge dividends today. That's the difference between our position and, I would say, not only our North American competitors, but also our foreign competitors who sort of pulled in the reins during the recessionary period. Quite frankly, that was a tactic Ford had traditionally done ... and this is one period when we bet the house. We mortgaged the Ford oval so we would have the funds to see us through not only the downturn, but to see us through the future. Consumers rewarded us by not taking government assistance and government loans, by coming into our dealerships and saying, ''I'll take a look at your product''.. We're seeing a lot of conquest, especially in the car segment. Sixty per cent of buyers on the car side are new to Ford. They've never bought a Ford. These are GM buyers. These are Chrysler owners. These are abandoned brand owners, and they're also Honda, Toyota and Hyundai owners.

Q What is Ford investing in to try to stay ahead of the game?

A We continue to invest aggressively in product. First, and most important, we're commonizing our platforms, and we've reduced our number of nameplates. Just five years ago, Ford had 97 nameplates globally. That was in 2005. By 2008, we were down to 60 nameplates globally, and our plan is to get our nameplates down to between 20 and 25. With that we're shooting for very high levels of commonalities.... It allows us to bring new technology, new engine technology and vehicle smart technology, like sync technology for consumers, at much lower prices.

Q What about electrification, either through hybrid or full electric vehicles?

A We'll have seven electrified vehicles by the end of 2012, and so we're very much on the forefront of this. However, when we talk about electrified vehicles, the viability of this is limited because of the cost and range issues on a full-electric vehicle in the near term. It will get more viable over time, but we still think that through the end of this decade, 75% of the vehicles sold will be fossil-fuel based -they'll still use a traditional combustion engine. We do think that 20% to 25% by the end of the decade will be hybrid, a plugin hybrid and regular hybrid. That's where we're betting on: smaller combustion engines with turbocharging that gives us better fuel economy at lower more affordable prices. Then, as fuel prices escalate, they will migrate to the next most-affordable technology, which are hybrids, and then after that, as we get into the next decade, we think that there will be more viability for the full-electric platform. We still are focused on all these technologies, but our bet right now is, in the short term, stay with gas, stay with hybrid, and to continue to work with these emerging technologies.


Ford to expand engine
plant in India

Associated Press
May 17, 2011

Dearborn— Ford Motor Co. says it will spend $72 million to expand an engine plant in India to support sales and export growth.

The company said today the investment in its Chennai engine plant will create more than 300 jobs. Ford plans to run the factory on three shifts per day.

When the expansion is complete in mid-2012, the factory will be able to build 80,000 more diesel engines per year than it does now. Currently the plant can make about 250,000 gasoline and diesel engines.

Ford India President Michael Boneham says the expansion will help Ford build more fuel-efficient engines for India and other markets.

The Dearborn company says it plans to introduce eight new models in India by 2015.


Ford Freestyle SUV is under
U.S. review for 'lunging'

2005 Freestyle

Angela Greiling Keane / / Bloomberg News
May 16, 2011

Ford Motor Co.'s Freestyle crossover SUVs are under investigation by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration following 238 complaints about unintended "lunging" at low speeds when the driver's foot isn't on the accelerator pedal.

The U.S. auto-safety regulator is investigating about 170,000 Freestyles, model years 2005 through 2007, after 18 crashes attributed to the defect, including one that resulted in a minor injury, the agency said today in a posting on its website.

What consumers have described as a "lunge," can be stopped by applying the brakes, "but in some cases the vehicle has moved as much as 10 feet if the brake was not applied, lightly applied or applied late," NHTSA said in its notice, citing complaints.

Consumers have reported movement in both forward and reverse gears and described it as "sudden and unexpected and generally brief in duration," NHTSA said.

"We will fully cooperate with the government as they review this matter," Susan Krusel, a spokeswoman for the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker, said in an e-mail.

The reported injury was to a pedestrian in a residential driveway whose knee was bruised, NHTSA said. Reports indicate the lunges may be made worse when vehicles' air conditioning is on or when the steering wheel is turned sharply, NHTSA said.

U.S. regulators and lawmakers last year investigated Toyota Motor Corp., the world's largest automaker, for defects that could cause unintended acceleration. Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, identified floor mats that could jam accelerator pedals and pedals supplied by CTS Corp. that could stick as the causes of the incidents.

Toyota has recalled millions of vehicles worldwide since 2009 because of the flaws


Ford's Mulally cashes in
stock options for $1.74M

Alisa Priddle / / The Detroit News
May 14, 2011

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally made $1.74 million Friday by exercising and selling some performance-based stock options.

The chief executive bought 250,000 shares at $8.28 each and sold them for $15.25, according to a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The options were part of Mulally's September 2006 hiring package and would expire Aug. 31 if not used.

The money does not represent new compensation for the CEO whose 2010 compensation rose nearly 50 percent to $26.5 million. In March, Ford gave Mulally $56.5 million in pre-tax stock.

For today's payout, there are four performance thresholds that each trigger the ability to exercise 250,000-share stock options. The first is achieved if Ford stock exceeds $15 a share for 30 days, a condition the Dearborn-based automaker finally hit in 2010. It was this option on which Mulally has cashed in.

The subsequent thresholds, worth a total of 750,000 shares, require the stock to exceed $20, $25 and $30 in order to be vested.

Ford stock closed today at $15.08, down 18 cents. Cashing in further options appears unlikely by the August deadline.

"These options are related to Mr. Mulally's hiring agreement with Ford and would have never vested had the company not achieved the thresholds put in place by the Board of Directors when he was hired," said spokesman John Stoll.

"This is another example of Ford's commitment to aligning executive compensation to company performance and long-term shareholder value as the award is entirely based on the performance of Ford's stock."

Ford reported first-quarter earnings of $2.6 billion, up from $2.1 billion in the first quarter last year.

VOL 41 NO 19
May 13, 2011

Sale of DHL Express Domestic Raises Job Loss Concerns

A 10-year strategic alliance between DHL Express (Canada) Ltd and TransForce Inc. which will see DHL's domestic business purchased and operated as Loomis Express, is creating concern about potential job losses at the courier business.

Bob Chernecki, assistant to the CAW President, said the corporation has agreed the CAW collective agreement is in full force and will be followed. But with the CAW representing 3,500 members across Canada in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia, Chernecki said there are concerns about the potential of job losses.

"We are fully aware of what these types of situations mean in terms of potential job loss when major corporations come together," said Chernecki.

'We are watching this situation very carefully and working with local leadership and senior levels of the corporation to ensure our members interests are protected," Chernecki said.

In a May 3 letter to CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy the DHL President Mathieu Floreani states the vast majority of DHL's current workforce will transfer to Loomis Express. He also states Loomis Express will recognize CAW as the exclusive bargaining agent in provinces where CAW currently represents DHL.

CAW Locals 114, 4005, 4050, 4215 and 4457 represent workers at DHL, including owner-operators, warehouse employees, drivers, customer service, billing and accounts receivable.

CAW National Representative Len Poirier said the sale raises uncertainty for the workforce.

"The split of one company into two organizations will be a trying time for our members, but we have confirmation that seniority will be recognized through the transition," said Poirier. "In the end we are going to end up with collective agreements with Loomis Express and DHL and it will be important that the membership participates in our meetings and takes direction from their local union leadership," Poirier said.

The sale is scheduled to close May 30 when Loomis Express will become owner of DHL's domestic business. While there will be a transition period the integrated operations of the two companies will be separated in stages with the process complete no later than October 31, 2011. DHL and Loomis will continue to be "strategically aligned" but operate wholly independently, according to the letter.

CAW's Peggy Nash Receives Hope Award at Gala

Peggy Nash, assistant to CAW President Ken Lewenza and the newly elected MP for Parkdale High-Park, was honoured May 5th at a gala to raise funds for the North York Women's Shelter.

The North York Women's Shelter hosted its 6th annual Mother's Day fundraising event Hope Gala to raise funds and to celebrate extraordinary women. Peggy was honoured with the annual Hope Award, in recognition of her efforts to improve the lives of women and children including more than two decades of advocacy on behalf of women's equality and social justice."

In a world that often pushes women's rights aside, organizations like North York Women's Shelter are truly a beacon of hope," said Nash. "It is a privilege and an honour to receive the Hope Award."

"The CAW has actively supported women's shelters across Canada, including the North York Women's Shelter, as part of its long standing commitment to end violence against women," said Nash.

Charlene Catchpole, executive director of the North York Women's Shelter, said "Peggy Nash has dedicated her career to promoting women's rights and social justice. We see her as a woman of courage and strength, as someone who truly inspires hope."

In addition, Nash presented an award to Gloria John, a former resident of NYWS. Reflecting on her experience at NYWS, John said "Support of the staff at the shelter through the meetings, discussions and counseling has helped my children and I move on with our lives and find peace."


Peggy Nash with Gloria John after receiving their respective awards .
Photo by Annie Labaj

Demands for a fair Contract for Woodingford Lodge Workers

CAW Local 636 members at Woodingford Lodge in Woodstock, Ontario are being forced to arbitration while non-union employees at the Oxford County nursing home have recently received 2.5 and two per cent wage increases.

On April 27 a protest was held prior to the Oxford County Council meeting demanding fairness in the current round of bargaining for the 250 full-time and part-time workers at the facility.


CAW Local 636 members at Woodingford Lodge protest.

Unit chairperson Kelly-Anne Orr and CAW national representative Robert Buchanan made a deputation to council expressing outrage at the treatment of Woodingford's front line workers.

"The membership work extremely hard and deserve to be treated fairly in terms of compensation, especially considering that the employer has already provided wage increases to non-union workers," said Orr.

The front line workers at Woodingford's three sites have fully endorsed further action to highlight the lack of respect that County Council has exhibited towards unionized staff.

Arbitration remains scheduled for August 22.

Oxford County, the employer, originally incorrectly argued the nursing home was covered by provincial wage restraint legislation (Bill 16). They later shifted their position claiming they were covered under the "spirit of the Act," said CAW National Representative Robert Buchanan.

"We told County Council that they needed to show some leadership and order their bargaining team
back to the table with a mandate to bargain." said Buchanan. "Lets see if they listen".

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia: May 17, 2011

The following are excerpts from a CAW Statement to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, 2011:

"On May 17th, the Canadian Auto Workers Union stands in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer communities and affirms our ongoing commitment to fight against homophobia and transphobia.

We have made many gains socially and legally. Important protections against discrimination in human rights law as well as legal recognition of same sex couples and equal marriage are major victories in Canada. The CAW is proud of our contribution to the progress we have made on LGBTQ issues in Canada.

Despite these important victories, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer members of our communities still face the reality of homophobia and transphobia in their daily lives.

.On May 17 the Canadian Auto Workers Union will firmly challenge homophobia and transphobia. Now and throughout the year, we must work together in solidarity against all forms of discrimination because we understand that an injury to one is an injury to all."

To read the complete CAW statement go to http://www.caw.ca/en/10262.htm

CAW Wins Big at CALM!

CAW local unions, as well as the CAW national union, were recognized for their communications efforts at the annual Canadian Association of Labour Media awards, held on May 7 in Burnaby, British Columbia.

As part of the weekend conference, CALM pays tribute to the important contribution good communications make toward the vitality of unions.

Congratulations to all those who won awards and honourable mentions and all those who put in a tremendous amount of work on local union websites, newsletters, facebook pages, email lists, podcasts and all sorts of Way to go!

The 2011 CALM Award Winners are:


Honourable Mention -Best overall publication for locals of 501-1,000 members
Hotline - CAW Local 2301

Best overall publication for locals of more than 1,000 members
Oshaworker -CAW Local 222

Honourable Mention - Best overall publication for locals of more than 1,000 members
Off the line - CAW Local 88

Excellence in Layout and Design for locals of more than 1,000
The Aircrafter - CAW Local 112

Best website by volunteers
CAW Local 199 http://www.caw199.com/

Best website content by volunteers
CAW Local 88 http://www.local88.ca/

Best photograph produced by volunteers
Day of Mourning - CAW Local 199

Best poster
HIV/AIDS: A Worker's Issue, A Union Issue -CAW National

Honourable mention - Best flyer or brochure
HIV/AIDS: A Worker's Issue, A Union Issue - CAW National

Best public advocacy audio-visual production
"The Curious Case of the Missing Recovery" -
CAW National/ Jim Stanford/ Amistad Productions

Morden Lazarus Prize (for best column, editorial or opinion piece)
"In Broken Skies" by Sean Smith and Delia Gaskill,
CAW Local 2002

Honourable mention - The Dennis McGann Stroke-of-Genius Award for the most innovative, uncategorizable communications project (by volunteers)
Buy Local/ Local Flavour chili! -CAW Local 199


CAW winners at the Canadian Association of Labour Media awards, in Vancouver BC.

Union Membership Holds Lifetime Advantage, CLC President says

Unions and union members must renew their efforts to right misconceptions and poor portrayals of organized labour, urged Canadian Labour Congress President Ken Georgetti in his opening address to the 26th Constitutional Convention on May 9th.

In many cases, public opinion does not correspond to the many benefits of unionization. "There is a
lifetime union advantage - in terms of better wages, benefits and pensions," said Georgetti, to an audience of approximately 2,600 delegates and guests, in downtown Vancouver. In many cases, a unionized job means being able to send one's children to post-secondary school, have retirement security and a have a safer, fairer workplace, he said. It also means anywhere from a 7-14 per cent wage advantage.




CLC President Ken Georgetti reminded Convention attendees that a silent majority of more than 60% of Canadians who voted, did not vote for the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

He congratulated union members on the success, so far, of the national pension campaign and on building unprecedented broad-based support to double the Canada Pension Plan. "In Canada 1.6 million seniors live on less than $16,000 a year," said Georgetti.

When compared internationally, Canadians are way behind on retirement security, he said.

Despite the results of the recent federal election, Georgetti committed to winning an improvement to CPP in this term.

In closing, Georgetti spoke of the old adage "change is inevitable, but progress is optional," in urging union members to get active in their communities and to ramp up their efforts to make a positive shift in the tide of public perception.

First Nations Greeting to CLC Delegates


As a fitting opening to the CLC Convention on May 9, which took place on Coast Salish Territory (downtown Vancouver), Elder Rose Point welcomed delegates to the event and urged everyone to go out and be a positive force for others and for the environment.

An elder of the Musqueam First Nation, Point told participants to "pass our knowledge to future generations with open minds and open hearts."

"The good you do today, some people may forget, but do good anyway."

Financial Regulatory Reform Still Needed to Avoid Similar Recession

Financial reform coming out of the great recession has been very weak and totally insufficient, according to the director of the Academy Award winning documentary Inside Job, Charles Ferguson.

The recession, in part, was caused by a failure of regulators to keep pace with the speed at which money can now move electronically and since the recession, we have done nothing to change, moderate or regulate this, setting the world economy up for another collapse within the next 15 years, he said.

The film Inside Job is about how the policy environment and banking practices helped create the 2008 financial meltdown and subsequent recession.

In his address to the CLC Convention on May 9, Ferguson lamented the lack of action in the U.S. particularly under a Democratic Party president who was elected on a platform of change. Although they differ on a number of key policy items, when it comes to money, there is little divergence between the approaches of the Democratic and Republican parties, said Ferguson.


Director Charles Ferguson lamented the fact that despite the millions of people who lost their jobs, homes and life savings due to the human-induced financial crisis, not one person has gone to jail, unlike previous cases of gross fiscal mismanagement and wrong doing in the 1980s and 1990s.

He believes this is contributing to a sense of fatalism among Americans who are no longer pushing for an overhaul of the financial system, after failing to see governmental leadership following the housing and financial crisis. What he sees now is not just anger but resignation.

"I hope that the silver lining of this situation will be that next time there is a crisis, there will be a president who will use the political moment to do something to reform the system."

He also warned the audience about how money is shaping U.S. politics and increasingly is an issue here in Canada.

The next U.S. presidential election could cost more than $1 billion dollars for each party.

Shirley Carr Remembered

Former CLC President Shirley Carr was commemorated in a touching video presentation during the opening session of the CLC's Constitutional Convention on May 9. Carr, the first and only female CLC president to date, served from 1986-1992.

She was best known for her inspiring speeches, grassroots community organizing, and dedication to equity for all workers, including fighting against the South African apartheid. Carr was a trailblazer for trade union women.

She was the first woman to lead any national labour body anywhere in the world and the first public sector union member to become CLC president.

Carr was preceded by former UAW-Canada Director Dennis McDermott and succeeded by CAW founding President Bob White.

Shirley Carr passed away at the age of 81 on June 24, 2010.


Shareholders deny bid to end Ford family's special class of shares

David Shepardson / / Detroit News Washington Bureau
May 13, 2011

Wilmington, Del.— At their annual meeting Thursday, Ford Motor Co. shareholders rejected a bid to eliminate special voting rights for the Ford family — but the proposal received its highest tally ever.

A total of 31.2 percent of shareholders voted in favor, above the 29.2 percent that the proposal won last year. The Ford family holds a special class of stock worth about 40 percent of the voting shares, but has just a small equity stake, giving it effective control of the company.

The company opposed the effort, saying, "The Ford family has proven that the long-term success of the company for the benefit of all shareholders has been, and continues to be, the primary purpose of their involvement."

Following the meeting, Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, 65, told reporters that he isn't thinking about retiring and declined to talk about any succession plan.

The company noted that the two-tier stock structure has been in place since the automaker became a public company in 1956.

Groups such as Institutional Shareholder and the Corporate Library advise large shareholders on corporate governance issues and the higher vote may reflect that more large institutions hold Ford stock.

The company's board of directors met after the company's most profitable year since 2000.

"Last year, Ford Motor Co. completed a remarkable turnaround," Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. told shareholders. It was the automaker's most profitable year since 2000.

But Bill Ford said the company can't become complacent.

"If you are not moving ahead, then you are falling behind, and we're not going to let that happen," Ford said, saying he was optimistic about the company's future. "The best is yet to come."

The company has no immediate plans, he said, to restore a dividend that it canceled in 2006.

Bill Ford praised his family's role in the company and for standing by management.

Ford also said employees were key to the company's turnaround. "They weren't going to let it fail," he said.

Several stockholders thanked the company's leadership, with one comparing Mulally's position to that of Steve Jobs at Apple Co.


Ford's probable rating rise
may help attract investors

May 12, 2011

Ford Motor Co. 's probable boost to an investment grade credit rating puts the carmaker in position to reach more investors and lead a pack of auto companies back out of junk bond territory.

Ford, the fourth-largest issuer of junk bonds last year, aims to lower its financing costs by losing its speculative label for the first time since 2005 . General Motors Co., TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. may follow Ford by achieving investment grade ratings by 2012, said Eric Selle, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. debt analyst in New York.

"I feel very confident that half of our universe is going to be investment grade by the end of 2012," said Selle, referring to U.S. firms in the auto industry. He predicts Dearborn-based Ford will return to investment grade by year's end. Some borrowing is already at low-risk rates


GM retirees sue for
lost pension benefits

Robert Snell and David Shepardson / / The Detroit News
May 11, 2011

Detroit— More than 100 former General Motors Corp. executives are suing the automaker in federal court to recoup millions of dollars in pension benefits lost during GM's historic bankruptcy.

The retirees, including former vice presidents and other high-ranking managers, are trying to recover benefits plus interest, and increase their future payouts. GM says the executives' claims already were reviewed and properly rejected by the pension plan administrator.

The former GM executives were among thousands of white collar retirees whose pensions were hit hard in the aftermath of bankruptcies by GM, Chrysler and a host of auto parts suppliers during the recession. Some pension plans were turned over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Board, the government's pension insurer, because the companies couldn't pay them.

The lawsuit against GM, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, threatens to undo a cost-saving move that helped the automaker shed billions in debt and emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a new, leaner company. The suit is the latest clash over reductions to salaried benefits and pensions as GM restructured.

GM spokesman Jim Cain said the claims were without merit.

"Sacrifices were made by every stakeholder, including former executives, to create a foundation upon which the new GM can thrive," Cain said Tuesday. "We are confident that the plan administrator properly considered and denied their claim."

The executives who are suing include John G. Middlebrook, who was vice president and general manager of vehicle brand marketing for GM. He had also been generalmanager of Chevrolet and helped launch GM's now-shuttered Saturn division.

Others in the lawsuit include Richard C. Nerod, retired president of GM-Latin America, Africa andMiddle East; and Donald W. Hudler, a GM vice president and former president of Saturn.

The retirees are spread across the United States, from Michigan to Florida; two are in England.

University of Michigan Professor Dana Muir, an expert in business law who previouslyworked at Chrysler, said theretirees' lawsuit faces a "difficult hill," because rulings by pensionplan administrators are not easy to overturn.

"The federal courts will largely defer to the plan administrator," Muir said. The courts, she said, have ruled that even if the ruling by the administrator waswrong, it can stand if it was not "arbitrary and capricious."

Since July 2009, the retirees have lost millions, according to their lawyer, Brian Koncius. Because the amount varies greatly by retiree, the total loss is difficult to calculate, he said.

GM is wrongly calculating how much to cut from retiree benefits, Koncius said. In determining how much to reduce benefits, the automaker is combining salaried retirement benefits with a separate benefit given to executive retirees. All of the retirees listed in the lawsuit receive both benefits.

As an example, Koncius said that a retired executive who was to receive $100,000 under the salaried program and $130,000 under the executive retiree program is losing too much. GM, he said, is wiping out two-thirds of the executive benefit, when it should be eliminating two-thirds of the amount over $100,000 — $20,000, in his example.

The cuts became effective July 10, 2009, the day GM emerged from bankruptcy.

Some retirees' benefits have been reduced considerably, Koncius said. "A lot of these individuals care for their families, their grandchildren even," he said. "And there had been financial aid provided or a desire to send all of their grandchildren to college or things along that line. That's not able to happen now."

GM saved $221 million with the cuts to the pension plan that applied to former top executives, known as the Supplemental Employee Retiree Plan.

The losers included one-time CEO Rick Wagoner, whose pension fell from roughly $20 million to about $8.5 million. Wagoner is not part of the lawsuit.

Overall, GM saved $4.6 billion by trimming pension and retiree health care benefits as it reorganized in bankruptcy, it said in a filing last year. That includes $2.7 billion saved by eliminating health care benefits for salaried retirees who are 65 or older and eligible for Medicare, and capping the amount GM will spend on retiree health care for salaried retirees younger than 65.

Detroit-based GM is giving salaried retirees $260 a month until they turn 65 and qualify for Medicare. That money can be used for health expenses.

GM also limited life insurance for current salaried retirees to $10,000, but ended it completely for former top executives.

The retirees challenged the new pension benefits in November, arguing GM is providing benefits that "are substantially less than" they should be, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

After GM failed to respond to the retirees' challenge within 60 days, the retirees appealed to GM's Executive Compensation Committee. Janice Uhlig, the company's plan administrator, denied the claims a week later, according to the lawsuit.

Last fall, more than 450 retired Chrysler executives, including former CEO Lee Iacocca, sued the company's former parent, Daimler AG; a company overseeing a retirement trust; and former Chrysler CEOs Dieter Zetsche and Tom LaSorda. Their intention also was to recover lost pension benefits.

U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook held a hearing on the Chrysler retirees' suit on April 12, but hasn't ruled whether it can go forward.

NHTSA expands probe into
2.7 million F-150 pickups

David Shepardson / / Detroit News Washington Bureau
May 9, 2011

Washington — Federal regulators have expanded an investigation into 2.7 million Ford F-150 pickups over complaints fuel tank straps have rusted and failed, putting vehicles at risk of a fire.

In a notice posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website Sunday, the agency said it had upgraded its investigation into 2.7 million 1997-2001 F-150 pickups after reviewing about 300 complaints.

NHTSA said there are two reports of fires. In one, leaking fuel ignited, but quickly burned out. In the other incident, Ford said "the leaking fuel ignited and the … fire destroyed the vehicle." No injuries have been reported.

Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said the company was working with NHTSA. "We are aware of the matter, and we're going to continue to cooperate," he said.

NHTSA said its investigation is focused on the steel straps holding the fuel tank and attaching it to the truck frame, saying it "can corrode and break."

If the straps break, the tank might tilt, drop and hit the road, causing a fuel leak. The leaking gasoline can potentially cause a fire, NHTSA said.

The F-series truck line is the best-selling vehicle line in the United States.

NHTSA said it is "upgrading this investigation to further investigate the frequency, severity and scope of this problem." The upgrade is the next step toward formally deciding whether to ask Ford to recall the vehicles.

The agency said it has reviewed 175 complaints, while Ford has separately received 164 complaints and warranty complaints.

NHTSA said its investigation "yielded information that strongly suggests the subject defect as the cause of the reported problem."

The agency cited that of the incidents reported, 243 involved the fuel tank dropping below the vehicle — with some dragging on the ground. Of those, 95 involved fuel leakage, and nine included reports of sparks from the tank being dragged on the road.

The February 2008 fire under investigation that destroyed a vehicle was a 1998 F-150 in New Hampshire with 153,000 miles. In the fire, the gas tank fell off the vehicle, an investigator found.

As part of the investigation, Ford turned over emails from 2002 detailing corrosion reports and photos from F-150s. Some of Ford's submission was labeled confidential and not made public.

NHTSA said it has received reports of corrosion-induced tank strap failures with other F-150 model years.


Ford says hourly labor costs
$8 more than nonunion plants

Keith Naughton / / Bloomberg News
May 8, 2011

Ford Motor Co., set to enter contract talks with the United Auto Workers, said its U.S. labor costs are now $8 an hour higher than the mostly nonunion U.S. factories of foreign automakers such as Hyundai Motor Co.

Ford, on a website it posted last month, said it pays about $58 an hour in wages and benefits to its 40,600 U.S. hourly workers, $3 more than the automaker said last year. Labor costs average $50 an hour at the U.S. plants of international automakers such as Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and South Korea's Hyundai, according to Ford.

Closing the labor cost gap with foreign automakers' U.S. plants was important to the restructuring Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC undertook two years ago. Ford, the only one of the three to avoid bankruptcy, persuaded the UAW to accept concessions in 2009 that lowered annual labor costs by $500 million and cut hourly rates to $55, Ford said at the time.

"There is still a gap," Dearborn-based Ford wrote on fordahead.com, a website that details its negotiating position in contract talks. "We cannot continue to have a cost gap with the competition and still be able to make significant U.S. investment and create new jobs. For Ford to be fully competitive in the years ahead, we'll need to focus on closing the gap even more."

In a speech in New York last October, Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said the automaker's labor costs were "close to being fully competitive." He said Ford's labor costs would drop to $50 an hour, from $55, once the automaker hires new workers, who can be paid half of what senior workers make.

Profit Sharing
Ford's labor costs have risen, in part, because of the $5,000 profit-sharing checks the automaker handed out to U.S. workers this year, said Marcey Evans, a company spokeswoman. Ford earned $6.56 billion last year, the most since 1999.

"Profit sharing has been added to the amount, and the $5,000 adds about $2 an hour to our labor costs," Evans said in an interview today. "Without that, our labor costs are closer to $56 an hour."

Ford's new website is more elaborate than previous online repositories of labor information the automaker has posted, she said. The site, which went live April 21, is aimed at informing the media and "influential thought leaders" about the issues in this year's contract talks as Ford sees them, she said.

"This is a site where folks can go to get the facts and Ford's point of view on the issues that are in play," Evans said of the site, which includes a video of Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, articles about Ford and the auto industry, and photos of workers on the assembly line.

Michele Martin, a spokeswoman for the UAW, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

UAW negotiations
UAW President Bob King will negotiate new contracts this year with Ford, GM and Chrysler. While the agreements don't expire until Sept. 14, King has said workers must be rewarded for the $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions they each gave since 2005 to help the automakers survive.

King told delegates to the union's bargaining convention in March that he is committed to gaining back what workers gave up. The concessions included surrendering raises, bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments as well as agreeing to a two-tier wage system, in which new hires earn about $14 an hour, half the wage paid to senior production workers, and limited benefits.

"We did what we had to do to save the companies," King said in a March 22 speech at the convention in Detroit. "It will take time to win back what we've given up."

Narrowing gap
The concessions helped the U.S. automakers lower labor costs to about $58 an hour for wages and benefits from about $75 an hour and get close to the $52 an hour Toyota gives its U.S. workers, according to Sean McAlinden, chief economist with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

Labor rates at U.S. automakers remain above the $44 to $48 hourly rate Hyundai pays its U.S. workers in wages and benefits, McAlinden has said.

To come up with the $50 an hour average for foreign automakers' U.S. workers, Ford blended labor rates among several international carmakers, Evans said. In 2007 contract talks with the UAW, U.S. automakers benchmarked Toyota's Georgetown, Ky., factory.

"We have to be competitive, period, and we can't look at just one location," Evans said. "No matter how you look at it, there's still a gap. We need to be competitive with not just one location; we need to be competitive with the full range."


CAW Contact
Volume 41, No. 18
May 6, 2011

Election Results Surprise Many

As the final results of the 2011 federal election were broadcast across the country, they came as a shock to many, in what is being called an historic election.

Few political analysts and commentators predicted the rise of the Stephen Harper Conservatives to such a strong majority position, the NDP leaping into the official opposition with more than 100 seats or even the near collapse of both the Liberal and Bloc Quebecois parties. Add to that the success of Green Party leader Elizabeth May in finally winning her seat, a first for the Green Party, and it all added up to a truly historic election.

"NDP leader Jack Layton's success in Quebec and the momentum that resonated throughout Canada as a result of that shift was a significant story that had a huge impact on this campaign," said Lewenza.

CAW members made important contributions to many campaigns, including those of a number of CAW members who ran for the NDP. Peggy Nash, assistant to the CAW National President, was successful in regaining her former seat in Parkdale - High Park. Nash had earlier occupied the seat from 2006 to 2008.


Peggy Nash at her victory party after being elected NDP MP for Parkdale-Highpark in Toronto.

In addition, CAW member Malcolm Allen held his NDP seat in Welland, Ontario and Peter Stoffer in Sackville Eastern Shore in Nova Scotia. Joe Comartin, an honourary member of CAW Local 444, retained his seat for the NDP in Windsor-Tecumseh in Ontario. In Quebec, Claude Patry, a CAW retiree and previous president of Local 1937, which represents workers at Rio Tinto Alcan, was elected for the NDP in Jonquiere-Alma.


Malcolm Allen was re-elected for the NDP in Welland.

Lewenza lamented the fact that the Conservative Party will lead a majority government, even though they received less than 50 per cent of the popular vote.

"The majority of Canadians voted against the Conservative government, yet they received a comfortable majority," said Lewenza. He indicated that the union should push for ways to strengthen democracy, such as considering supporting proportional representation or other methods of increasing popular representation and voter turnout.

In the 2011 federal election only 61.4 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, up slightly from 2008 when only 58.8% of eligible voters exercised their democratic right -the lowest turnout on record.

Lewenza thanked all CAW leadership, members and staff for their hard work and dedication throughout the election.

Last Days of Election Key for Mobilization

CAW President Ken Lewenza used his opening address to CAW Council to urge delegates to use the last days and hours of the election campaign to mobilize in support of progressive candidates and to stop Prime Minister Stephen Harper's agenda for a majority government.


Delegates, staff and retired workers pack the assembly hall at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, ON during CAW Council

Nearly 700 delegates, staff, retired workers and guests attended the CAW Council meeting April 29 - May 1 at the union's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

Lewenza acknowledged that for many, initially it was difficult to get excited about the election particularly when it seemed to be engineered by the Conservative party after polls showed that the party was within reach of winning a majority.

Since then though, the political landscape has changed and continued to shift. Lewenza expressed excitement about the rise of the NDP, in several parts of the country and congratulated Jack Layton for his leadership and that of his candidates in genuinely speaking to the concerns of Canadians.

Over the last five years, the union has emphasized outreach and education on the Conservative government's agenda for the country, which borrows from the former Reform Party as well as from Harper's days with the National Citizen's Coalition. Most recently this has included a CAW National Union in Politics Committee conference in early March and then leadership meetings in Kitchener, St. Thomas, St. Catharines and Vancouver over the campaign period.


CAW President Ken Lewenza addresses CAW Council.

Provincial Elections

For the coming provincial elections, Lewenza also outlined the ABC (Anyone But Conservative) voting strategy, favouring progressive candidates, including NDP where possible. He expressed particular concern about anti-union parties like the Tim Hudak Progressive Conservatives in Ontario, who he likened to former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and the Christy Clark Liberals in British Columbia.

He emphasized the connection between making gains for workers and political involvement. "Victories made at the bargaining table can be taken away legislatively," said Lewenza. Similarly, victories in the political realm, such as increases to the minimum wage have an impact at the bargaining table.

Lewenza raised the issue of soaring gas prices, which is making life unaffordable for many working people. "This is caused purely by the greed of the oil companies, speculation and oil companies wanting to make more money than the billions they already make."

Ongoing Lock Out and Strike

Lewenza spoke about two aggressive employers. McIntosh Limousine locked out 200 Toronto airport limo drivers on December 1, after a breakdown in first contract negotiations. After another failure in negotiations, the union will now be pursuing a first contract through the Ontario Labour Relations Board. The workers are represented by CAW Local 252

CAW Local 3005 members at Bristol Aerospace have been on strike since April 1, after negotiations broke down over health care benefits for retirees.

In Toronto, 600 school bus drivers employed by Stock Transportation, represented by CAW Local 4268, were in a legal strike position, Monday, May 2 but reached a tentative agreement several days earlier.

Collective Bargaining

The union will be back in negotiations with the Detroit Three next year. Lewenza lambasted Ford Motor Company for its hypocrisy in paying Ford CEO Alan Mulally upwards of $100 million in total compensation while claiming it "cannot afford" to offer early retirement incentives in the Oakville plant that would create openings for laid off St. Thomas workers after their plant closes this year. The story is very similar at Navistar where the CEO enjoyed an exorbitant salary while the Chatham, Ontario plant remains idled since June 30, 2009.

Lewenza congratulated CAW members at both CN and CP Rail who have ratified new collective agreements in January and February. He also highlighted the fact that many health care workers in the long term care sector have been without a new contract for more than a year, now awaiting arbitration rulings after negotiations stalled with employers tabling concessionary agreements.

Workers in the retail sector will also be going into bargaining this year, particularly at the Metro chain, Pharmaplus, Metro Save-a-Centres and Sears. The union recently reached new agreements with The Bay.

Lewenza also highlighted a recent situation in the small community of Puce, Ontario where a group of retirement home workers continued on the job without pay for several months. "This group of workers was truly courageous in the way that they served the public." The union rallied around the CAW Local 2458 members at LaChaumiere Retirement Residence, wherein a number of local unions donated money so that the workers would be supported in their struggle.


CAW President Ken Lewenza, CAW staff and local union leadership join with unit chairperson Lynne Pelletier (third from left in back row) and co-workers from the LaChaumiere Retirement Residence.

"The true heroes are the people on the ground, the true heroes are those who told members not to lose faith in the union."


Working to End Workplace Deaths and Injury

Guest Speaker Fred Broughton with a picture of his 22 year old son Bruce, who died in a workplace accident.

Fred Broughton told the moving story of the tragic loss of his 22 year-old son Bruce in a workplace accident on a construction site in Alberta.

In an emotional speech to Council delegates Fred outlined the devastating impact of the death of his son on his family and friends. He stressed the importance of making sure young people understand the crucial value of training, skills and knowledge as well as safe work procedures.

"We need to support one another and prevent tragic workplace accidents," Broughton said as part of a recognition ceremony observing April 28 as the National Day of Mourning honouring those killed or injured on the job.

Delegate after delegate rose to the microphones to outline the importance of employers providing appropriate health and safety training for all, but especially young workers, and workers with precarious jobs, who suffer a much higher percentage of workplace deaths and injuries.

In 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 939 Canadians lost their lives as a direct result of their work, the CLC says.

Broughton is a member of Threads of Life, a support group for families who have suffered from a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease. For more information on Threads of Life visit http://www.threadsoflife.ca/

Jim Stanford Awarded for Contributions to Public Policy

CAW Economist Jim Stanford was honoured by the Public Policy Forum for his outstanding contributions to Canadian public policy and ideas, at the 24th annual Testimonial Dinner and Awards, April 28 in Toronto.

Stanford is one of the country's most frequently quoted economists and a well-respected progressive voice on economic issues for a broad sector of the population. His motto: "Economics is too important to be left to the economists" is reflected in his tireless work to popularize economic education for union members and socially progressive organizations and citizens.

"Jim Stanford's activism, research and insight on public policy issues have added credibility to the struggle of working people for a more fair and just economy and society," said CAW National President Ken Lewenza. "I cannot think of someone more deserving of this award."

Stanford's research and analysis have covered areas such as government investment, trade policy including Canada's growing trade imbalance, business investment, public infrastructure, tax and fiscal policy and the real impact of corporate tax cuts, as well as a number of other labour issues, including minimum and living wages.

Stanford's most recent work includes a detailed empirical study of business investment in Canada showing that tax cuts have had no positive impact on investment spending.

Stanford received his Ph.D. in Economics in 1995 from the New School for Social Research in New York, and holds economics degrees from Cambridge University and the University of Calgary, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's own alma mater.

He is one of four honourees, including former Premier of Ontario the Honourable Bill Davis, RBC President and CEO Gordon Nixon and Desjardins Group President, CEO and Chair of the Board Monique F. Leroux.

Stanford works at the CAW as an economist. He has authored two books Paper Boom (1999) and Economics for Everyone (Pluto Press and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2008). He also writes a regular economics column for the Globe and Mail, is a frequent contributor to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and is a regular guest on the CBC's The National, as well as other radio and television programs.

Gold Ribbons for Childhood Cancers and Cancer Survivors


There were many teary eyes in the room as Nancy, Stephanie and Pie Simmons spoke about Stephanie's long battle with cancer, the toll that it took on her and their family and their quest for the gold ribbon postage stamp and coin.

Childhood cancers are more commonplace than many Canadians realize, Nancy Simmons told CAW Council delegates on April 30, during an emotional presentation with her two sisters, one of whom is a brain cancer survivor. Currently, there are over 10,000 children and youth (under the age of 18) living with some form of cancer in Canada. As many as 1,500 new cases are diagnosed each year.

Her younger sister, Stephanie, 16, has courageously battled the disease since 2004. She has had three major operations and has had to re-learn how to both walk and speak the same number of times.

Stephanie is in good spirits, surrounded by her supportive family. She urged though that when people meet a cancer patient, not to look at them with pity, but with respect and admiration for their courage and tenacity for persevering.

One in five children die of their cancer, but many more will suffer from life long mental health issues caused by prolonged treatment, social isolation and other factors. Many also suffer from permanent immune deficiencies.

Stephanie and her family are now on a campaign to create greater awareness for childhood cancers and cancer survivors. The Simmons family, joined by many enthusiastic supporters, are petitioning Canada Post to introduce a commemorative gold ribbon stamp campaign, in recognition of childhood cancer, its survivors and its victims and their families.

The campaign also includes a quest to have the Canadian Mint issue a commemorative gold ribbon coin, similar to the special Remembrance Day poppy and breast cancer quarters that were released into circulation in 2004 and 2006.

Help Stephanie and send a letter to Canada Post: http://www.goldribboncampaign.org/

Renewal at the CAW Family Education Centre

A strategic plan to reinvigorate the CAW's Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario with new groups of participants, new courses, increased national and local union contributions and a new oversight committee is in the works.

CAW National Secretary-Treasurer Peter Kennedy and Education Director Rick Rose provided CAW Council delegates with a detailed review of the impact on the centre of declining membership and a reduction in funding from The Big Three automakers.

The Family Education Centre (FEC) has been left with a sizable deficit of approximately $5 million over the last five years, Kennedy said. But the strategic plan outlined to delegates establishes new goals and ideas to address this deficit, he said. It provides an opportunity to re-invigorate education programs at the centre.

The plan outlines a number of goals including:

- an annual occupancy target which calls for a 38 per cent increase in course attendance;

- the launch of a new series of CAW leadership courses;

- developing a series of new courses that target different membership groups including older workers, retired workers, youth, skilled trades, team leaders and workers from different economic sectors;

- calls for a plan to encourage members from other unions to attend the FEC;

- an increase in Paid Education Leave (PEL) finances by bargaining PEL in more workplaces, collecting all PEL funds, and bargaining an increase in current PEL funding by 1 cent per hour, wherever possible;

- establishment of a new Family Education Centre oversight committee that will meet each month to oversee the centre, track developments and establish operational plans.

CAW President Ken Lewenza stressed the importance of this new plan and the vital contribution that Port Elgin has made to the membership and the growth of the CAW over the years.

"When people leave Port Elgin after any one of the PEL programs, after any one of the conferences, they go back to their workplace a different person," Lewenza said.

"Many people in this room developed their confidence here at Port Elgin. They developed their ability to stand up at a mike and speak better than any Parliamentarian. This confidence comes from the interaction at this Centre," Lewenza said.

Delegates approved the plan, which was developed over the last year by a task force chaired by CAW Work Organization and Training Director David Roberston.

Fighting Back at Air Canada

After a decade of tough bargaining and continuing demands for takeaways and cutbacks in the Canadian airline industry, Air Canada workers are rallying and pulling together as the deadline for a new contract rapidly approaches.

The CAW Local 2002 bargaining committee, which represents 3,800 Air Canada workers in customer services and sales in major airports and call centres, is working to negotiate a fair and equitable agreement with the company by a June 13 deadline.
"Air Canada has conditioned itself to believe that bargaining is all about taking more away from workers," said CAW National Representative Leslie Dias. "We need a fair agreement and we are ready to fight if need be."

She slammed the 77 per cent increase in compensation to Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu last year. While the company is demanding cuts in the pension plan during this round of bargaining, Rovinescu received total compensation of $4.6 million last year.

Speaker after speaker outlined the need for gains for Air Canada members who are working harder than ever after years of concession demands. More than 700 CAW Council delegates unanimously approved a resolution calling on all CAW local unions across the country to support Local 2002 in its current round of bargaining.

Marcel Rondeau, Local 2002 Eastern Region bargaining representative, said the membership has gone through 10 years of tough bargaining. He said during this period wage increases for Air Canada members have averaged less than one percent while over the same period consumer prices have gone up two per cent.

Rondeau also outlined how average productivity in the airline industry has increased 30 per cent over the 10 years, while the productivity of CAW members at Air Canada has gone up 75 per cent.

Bob Chernecki, assistant to the CAW President, said airline workers at Air Canada have faced tremendous hardship over the years.

"Enough is enough," Chernecki said. He urged all CAW members across Canada to stop and show support to airline workers in airports across the country.

Protocol on Union Raiding

CAW Council delegates unanimously approved a protocol agreement worked out in cooperation with the CLC involving Teamsters Canada that is intended to stop predatory raiding between CAW and Teamsters Canada workplaces.

The protocol, which will be voted on at the CLC Convention in May as a protocol to apply to all union raiding, also includes a process for workers' democracy.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said there remains a lot of work to do on this issue and stressed the responsibility of all parts of the labour movement in building greater union density. He said it will take a lot of work from labour leadership to make the new protocol work.

"It's about how do we continue to build our movement," said Lewenza. "I see this as an opportunity to build confidence."

CAW Organizing Director John Aman said the protocol shows strong leadership by CAW. He said there is a pressing need for a strong labour movement that is able to resolve differences - "it's the only way we can attack the neo-Liberal agenda."

"Everyone must come together rather than fighting each other," Aman said.

Delegates spoke about the importance of rebuilding the labour movement to fight globalization and the right wing political agenda.

Agreement with Toronto School Bus Drivers

The CAW has reached a tentative agreement with Stock Transportation, only two days before the strike deadline of Monday, May 2 at 12:01 a.m.

The agreement is subject to ratification.

"We're pleased to have reached a tentative agreement after a challenging set of negotiations," said CAW Local 4268 President Debbie Montgomery. "School bus service will continue as usual on Monday."

The 600 CAW Local 4268 members drive school buses for the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Toronto French School Board.

CAW Urges Improvements to Public Health Care, Celebrates Nurses Week

In honour of National Nurses Week, May 9-13 2011, CAW President Ken Lewenza commended the important contributions of nurses and all other health care workers in their efforts to enhance and preserve the well-being of Canadians in the nation's publicly funded, universal health care system.

"If we have learned anything from this recent economic crisis, it's that the medicare system and other public programs are crucial to the good of the country," said Lewenza. He said that the union commits to doing whatever it can to ensure that it's working for all Canadians, including fighting to expand the scope of the Canada Health Act to cover pharmacare, home care and long-term care, and resisting the corporate-driven notion that health care is not sustainable.

"What is not sustainable is the greed of pharmaceutical companies and others that would profit from those who are ill and defenseless," said Lewenza.

Lewenza recommitted his support on behalf of the 200,000 CAW members across the country to improving working conditions for those who provide care, and to resisting short-sighted demands for compensation freezes for health care workers. "Enhancing their working conditions will directly benefit everyone who is touched by our health care system."

CAW represents 27,000 health care workers across the country, including 5,000 practical nurses.
For more information on the health care workers represented by the CAW, or to watch the CAW's health care workers video, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/sectors-health-care.htm

Reminder: CAW EI and CPP Conference

The CAW EI and CPP Conference will be held June 3 to 5 at the CAW Family Education Centre in Port Elgin, Ontario.

Delegates to the conference will build advocacy skills and learn about current EI rules and policies; layoffs; work sharing; sickness and parental benefits; adjustment and Action Centre work; CPP benefits; and the CLC's Pension Reform Campaign.

The conference will also look at the challenges of strengthening EI and CPP given the new majority government in Ottawa. These are Canada's largest social insurance programs and are key to workers income security.

To see the full CAW Conference Call Letter click on this link http://www.caw.ca/en/9982.htm . For more information contact CAW National Representative Laurell Ritchie at 416-718-8443

Local 1285 Partners in Project Green

Partners in Project Green 3rd Annual Earth Day Tree Planting Event, held on April 16th 2011 at Mimico Creek's West Deane Park, Toronto, ON. Brampton Assembly's very own Cammie Peirce, CAW B-Shift District Rep, Michel Le Page and CAW Plant Chair, Ardis Snow


GM posts $3B profit, but momentum may slow

Japan's woes, Delphi sale propel earnings to highest in decade

Christina Rogers / / The Detroit News
May 6, 2011

General Motors Co. heads into the spring selling season with its strongest first-quarter earnings in more than a decade — $3.2 billion — thanks to robust sales in the United States and overseas and the jettisoning of parts supplier Delphi Automotive.

"We view this quarter as a solid quarter," Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said Thursday. "It's on plan. It sets up a good foundation for the year."

But, he added, "we have more work to do on several fronts all around the company, and that's what we're focused on."

Deep discounts, which industry analysts say were a gamble, stimulated showroom traffic during the typically sluggish late-winter months. So did GM's line-up of fuel-efficient cars and crossovers in the face of steadily climbing gas prices. The $3.2 billion profit, the equivalent of $1.77 per share, was more than triple the $865 million GM made in the first quarter of 2010.

Still, analysts and investors fear that developing headwinds, including higher materials costs, could offset some of the gains posted by GM and its domestic rivals.

GM stockholders didn't see the first-quarter results that they expected in Thursday's earnings report: GM stock fell $1.02, or 3.1 percent, to $32.02 per share on the New York Stock Exchange — its largest decline since late February.

"North American auto profit was the biggest disappointment, offset partially by a break-even result in Europe and stronger-than-expected profit" in GM's overall international operations, explained Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas.

In North America, GM's earnings were nearly flat over last year's first quarter. The company earned a $1.3 billion profit after excluding a onetime gain from its Delphi sale but before taxes and interest were figured in. That's up from $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2010.

'Results were good'
GM was the last of Detroit's Big Three automakers to report its first-quarter earnings; Ford Motor Co. last month posted a $2.6 billion profit for the first three months of the year; Chrysler Group LLC on Monday announced its first profitable quarter — $116 million — since exiting bankruptcy in 2009.

The first-quarter profits build on last year's momentum in the industry and usher in a new chapter for the American automakers, which after a rough couple of years are all profitable again. GM earned $4.7 billion in 2010 — its first profitable year since 2004.

Excluding special items, such as the $1.6 billion Delphi sale and a $300 million gain from its sale of Ally Financial preferred stock, GM earned $1.7 billion in the first quarter, or 95 cents a share.

"The results were good," said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst with Santa Monica, Calif.-based automotive website Edmunds.com. "But there were some lucky occurrences that helped them get to it."

GM is projecting larger per-vehicle profits heading into the summer, as parts shortages in Japan put a squeeze on U.S. inventories, but rising commodity costs remain a concern. It plans to offset those increases through higher prices and additional cost controls — but no staff reductions, Ammann said.

Additionally, GM has pulled back on vehicle discounts after spending about $300 million in January and February on incentives — a tactic that was criticized by analysts but appears to have worked. The automaker sold about 593,000 vehicles in the first quarter, up 25 percent from the same quarter of 2010. It also has increased car and truck prices nearly 1 percent since the end of last year.

Treasury watching
Among those closely watching GM's performance is the U.S. Treasury, which holds a 26 percent stake in the automaker as a result of the government's bailout in 2009. The Treasury wants to sell its stake for at least the initial public stock offering price of $33 a share.

The government sold about half its stake during the IPO and can sell more shares as early as May 22.

GM's international operations, including those in China and Russia, earned $480 million, before taxes and interest, in the first quarter, down from $908 million during the same period last year.

The automaker improved its sales in Europe with new introductions, such as the Opel Corsa and Meriva, helping it to break even on its core automotive business.

But a $400 million one-time charge drove a quarterly loss in Europe, which has been an ongoing trouble spot for GM.

South America — GM's weakest regional performer during the quarter — earned $90 million in the first quarter, down from $265 million in last year's first quarter.

CEO Daniel Akerson attributed the profit decline to a massive overhaul of GM's South American lineup that he said will start generating returns toward the end of this year and next.

"In a sense, South America is sort of the new version of what … Asia was a year or two ago," Akerson said.

Meanwhile, after years of robust growth, sales in China have begun to taper off in the near-term, Ammann said.

"But it's all relative," he added. "We were at 30, 40, 50 percent (growth)."

Now, GM is down to 10 percent to 15 percent growth in China, Ammann said.

"The long-term macropicture in China remains incredibly compelling," he added.


Ford Canada Sales Increase 9% in April; Best April since 2000

As gas prices rise, Ford’s fuel-efficient cars post 33% increase
April Highlights:

  • Ford Canada #1 in April and year-to-date
  • Overall Ford sales were up 9%
  • Overall car sales increased 33%
  • Overall truck sales rose 3%
  • Ford Focus sales were up 3%
  • Ford Mustang sales increased 73%
  • Ford Transit Connect sales were up 162%
  • Ford Escape sales rose 5%
  • Ford Explorer sales increased 143%
  • Ford F-Series sales were up 5%
  • Lincoln MKZ sales rose 4%

OAKVILLE, Ont., May 5, 2011 – Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited saw sales increase 9 per cent compared to the same period last year and marking the best April in 11 years. Strong car sales delivering a 33 per cent increase in April helped to drive Ford sales to #1 in Canada with positive results from fresh new vehicles like Fiesta, Ford’s popular compact car, posting its best month ever.

"Ford’s strategy to improve fuel economy in anticipation of higher gas prices is paying off as consumers are placing a higher priority on fuel efficiency in the showroom," said David Mondragon, president and CEO, Ford of Canada.

”Ford offers 7 vehicles that deliver best-in-class fuel economy, more than any other brand in Canada including 4 vehicles that deliver 5.7L/100km (50 imperial mpg) or better -- a claim no other automaker can make."

Full-sized trucks have also experienced record-breaking sales this month, powered by F-150’s all-new V-6 EcoBoost engine which offers better payload and towing than comparable V-8 engines with up to 20 per cent better fuel economy. Almost half of all F-150 customers are choosing the EcoBoost engine showing customers are definitely focused on fuel economy as they purchase big trucks in Canada.

"We see sales opportunity at Ford throughout the second quarter with good supply of Canada’s most fuel efficient models,” said Mondragon.

For example, the all-new 2012 Ford Focus with fuel economy of 4.8L/100 km is now starting to arrive at dealerships. With its unparalleled range of smart technologies, outstanding fuel economy and dynamic performance and handling, Focus will set a new standard in the small car segment.

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited
April 2011 Vehicle Sales



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Total Vehicles








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January - April








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January - April





Ford shifts from recovery
mode to all-out growth

Globe and Mail
May 4, 2011

Ford Motor's shift in tone and action has happened so subtly and so carefully, you might have just missed it amid the news about the company's $2.8-billion profit in the first quarter – the company's largest first-quarter profit in 12 years (all figures in U.S. dollars).

We heard this from Alan Mulally, the CEO. During the first quarter results conference call, he didn't spend much time at all talking about profit numbers and ratios related to debt versus cash on hand. No, he was all about the products; Ford's financial position or the greater economic climate were of little interest.

Mulally, the big boss, is focused on talking about Ford's current and future products and what profits they generate. Because of that, it seems fair to say the first stage of Mulally's "One Ford" vision – building good vehicles on common platforms for the world, to be sold at good prices – is entrenched within the company.

Ford's product goal is to develop "world-class competitive vehicles" for which the company can get an average of $1,100 extra. It means getting buyers to pay more even for former econocars like the Fiesta.

"The heated leather seat is the most popular option in a Fiesta," Mulally said on the call. "This is a tremendous change. Our buyers are now making a lifestyle choice. This is something that we foresaw four years ago and are ready for."

To make more money, Ford is pushing hard to accelerate the cadence of its product renewal. That was the message Ford was spinning at the recent New York auto show. The 2013 Taurus was, in fact, the metaphor for the overall product message.

"The Taurus is more than just a car for us," said global product czar Derrick Kuzak. "It's our flagship sedan."

Exactly. In New York, many journos groused about Ford putting so much energy into showcasing a modestly reworked sedan – the Taurus – that won't reach showrooms for another year. They missed the point. The Taurus unveiling wasn't about one particular model. No, it was about where Ford is moving with its whole lineup, globally.

Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development, used the Taurus to illustrate the company's goal of having a three- to three-and-a-half year product cycle for all its models; that will become Ford's norm going forward, Kuzak said.

"One of the biggest determinants of market share is freshness of your product lineup. The fresher it is the more your customers agree to go to your showroom," Kuzak said. "When we develop our product plan the most important metric we have is the average age of our showroom."

The average age of the Ford portfolio in the United States is 2.8 years, Kuzak said. That's young and Ford would like to make it even younger, still. That's a major competitive edge, said Kuzak.

The 2013 Taurus also carried messages about the design and technology vision at Ford.

On the power train side, the 2013 Taurus will offer a re-engineered version of the 3.5-litre V-6 EcoBoost engine currently available in the Taurus SHO. But the more important engine will be the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine used in the Ford Mondeo sedan in Europe. The 2013 Taurus with the 2.0-litre engine is expected to achieve 31 mpg (U.S.), or 7.59 litres per 100 km, on the highway.

"This signals our commitment to EcoBoost," said Moray Callum, Ford's executive director of design. "EcoBoost delivers two different things – it delivers performance, and it can also deliver fuel economy."

If you want to know where Ford is headed in the next 12 months, look no further than the restyled Taurus. It will be the "face of Ford," Kuzak said.

And it's not just the design, but everything about the car – from the exterior styling to the Audi A7-inspired interior, to the engineering and the technology, including MyFord Touch touch-screen technology and active park assist, to the marketing and the speed of its remake. This current Taurus was introduced mid-year 2009, so we're talking a very fast remake.

If Ford is successful in this next growth phase, the company will further pay down large chunks of its huge debt. If that happens, Ford will be re-established as an investment-grade security – the junk status will be history.


DOWNTOWN: West end votes orange - Peggy Nash Wins

Nash, Chow and Cash help NDP to its first ever official opposition role

Downtown west votes orange. Peggy Nash hugs a supporter at her victory party in Parkdale after regaining her federal Parkdale-High Park seat. Staff photo/ERIN HATFIELD

It was a clear win for the New Democratic Party across the downtown west end on May 2 with all three federal ridings in the area opting for orange.

For a second straight election, the riding of Parkdale-High Park hosted one of the fiercest and most talked about fights for the federal seat between the Liberals and the NDP.

But, when the ballots were counted NDP candidate Peggy Nash easily won the seat. Nash and Kennedy went head-to-head for the seat back in October of 2008 when Kennedy unseated Nash, but she remained active in the riding and was named the president of the Federal NDP.

At her campaign party in Parkdale she told a room jammed with supporters she would hit the ground running.

"The electric train is a big issue, we want to get federal money to electrify that train, we want to get one cent of the gas tax to expand our transit system and we will be pushing Mr. Harper to make sure that he takes every senior out of poverty," Nash said.

Nash took 47.2 per cent of the vote with Kennedy garnering 32.9 per cent.

"I am truly humbled that the voters of Parkdale-High Park have made the decision to elect me again," Nash said. "I respect this incredible honour and I will work with all my energy and commitment to represent the people of Parkdale-High Park to the absolute best of my ability."

Gord Perks, the city councillor for Parkdale-High Park (Ward 14) said he is looking forward to once again working with Nash as he believes she is a dedicated partner in the area committed to helping people.

"In the last term I served both with Peggy and Gerard and it was the difference between day and night," Perks said. "Peggy puts so much energy into working with particular constituents and their particular problems that it was hard to keep up and Gerard was essentially just absent."

However, Perks said with a Conservative majority, he is worried that there won't be good investments made in Toronto.

"Prime Minister Harper doesn't believe in investing in people or communities, he believes in cutting spending," Perks said. "And secondly, he has never understood the urban agenda."

In Trinity-Spadina NDP Olivia Chow rode the stunning NDP tide into its first ever role as official opposition with her own strong showing in Trinity-Spadina capturing 54.1 per cent of the vote, ahead of the Liberal's Christine Innes with 23.2 per cent.

"I had an amazing campaign team," said Chow. "We'll just keep working hard, getting things done for people, and standing up against Stephen Harper. It's about change - people want something different."

Meanwhile in the riding of Davenport the electorate also opted to go with the NDP and voted in Andrew Cash who ousted incumbent Liberal Mario Silva by more than 10,000 votes. Cash walked away with 53.6 per cent of the vote, over Silva's 27.8 per cent.

On election night, Cash outlined some of his top priorities to The Villager. The NDP, said Cash, has been focused on cities like Toronto and its need for stable operating funding.

"Canada is the only industrialized country that doesn't have a national transit strategy. We're the engine of the Canadian economy," he said. "This has to change."

Simple affordability issues were key to the NDP's and Cash's campaign, which he will continue to champion in Ottawa. It is crucial that the voices of the hardworking residents in Davenport are heard in the House of Commons, he said.

"We're getting hammered on service fees - like cable, Internet, phone. These all add up to a city that gets harder and harder to live in. There's a whole host of affordability issues that need attention," Cash said. "We need to connect local issues to federal parliament. I look forward to when our federal government is an ally for our city."


Ford's US sales up 13 pct in April

May 4, 2011

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. says its U.S. sales rose 13 percent in April on strong sales of its cars.

Ford said buyers are placing more emphasis on fuel economy in every category of vehicle they're buying.

Fuel-efficient models such as the subcompact Fiesta and the Focus sedan did well. But so did the Ford Mustang sport car, which saw sales jump 59 percent over last April. Overall car sales rose 26 percent.

Truck sales rose 11.5 percent while utility sales climbed 11 percent. Sales of the Explorer SUV more than doubled from last year. Ford says the SUV is currently the fastest selling vehicle in its lineup.

Half of all pickup buyers chose Ford's new V-6 engine instead of the less efficient V-8.


East Court Ford Lincoln

Conservatives soar to majority with NDP forming historic opposition

Richard J. Brennan and Bruce Campion-Smith
Toronto Star
May 3, 2011







Bloc Québécois

Green Party




"Step by step, working together, we can build the Canada we want," Jack Layton said last night.

The Conservatives have finally captured their coveted majority government in an historic election that vaulted the NDP to a stunning second-place finish, making them the official opposition, pushing aside the Liberals to a humiliating third.

At the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper expressed elation at his huge win. "What a great night," Harper told more than 1,500 cheering Conservative supporters.

"A strong, stable, national Conservative government," he said.

Harper said Canadians "can now turn the page from uncertainties" with a majority government.

"They chose hope and unity of purpose," he said.

"We must be the government of all Canadians including those who didn't vote for us."

It is the first time in Canadian history that the Liberal party did not finish either first or second.

"It's tough to lose like this," said Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who lost his own riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

The Liberals have never suffered a crushing defeat, either in popular support or seat.

"Defeat is a teacher and now we have to learn the lesson of defeat and look at ourselves in the mirror," Ignatieff said.

The night was full of surprises, but in the end Stephen Harper got what he has so long sought after – a healthy majority. The Tories won 167 seats, earning 40 per cent of the vote.

The NDP nearly tripled the 36 seats the party held at dissolution, winning 102 seats while the Liberals took 34

A triumphant NDP Leader Jack Layton strode through the crowd to speak to his supporters.

"I let Mr. Harper know that I look forward to working with his party and in fact with all parties to get things done for our families. And I shared with him my desire to bring a more positive and respectful tone to Parliament," Layton said.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe lost his Montreal riding after a 21-year run. The 63-year-old Duceppe proved to be just another Bloc pushover on Monday as the NDP steamrolled to a crushing victory in Quebec.

Duceppe, who became the Bloc's first MP in 1990, was defeated by the NDP's Helene Laverdiere in Laurier-Sainte-Marie. He announced he would be officially resigning in the next couple of days but will continue to fight for Quebec sovereignty.

The Liberals were pounded in Ontario with the Conservatives making gains in Toronto. In the 905 belt around Toronto long-time Liberals MPs were falling, including Ruby Dhalla in Brampton-Springdale and Mark Holland in Ajax-Pickering where he conceded to political novice Chris Alexander, former ambassador to Afghanistan.

Of the 46 seats in GTA, the Conservatives won 31, at the expense the Liberals.

One of the stories of the night was the orange wave across Quebec, the NDP reducing the Bloc to single digits.

And for the first time the Green Party won a seat in the House of Commons after party leader Elizabeth May defeated Conservative incumbent Gary Lunn in the B.C. riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands.

"Today we proved the Canadians want change in politics … I stand here today as the first elected Green member of Parliament in Canadian history," May said after her victory.

In Atlantic Canada, the Conservatives led for the first time in 23 years.

It appears the much-talked-about surge by the NDP — it picked up two new seats in Atlantic Canada at the expense of the Liberals — has contributed mostly to vote splitting, allowing the Tories to come up the centre. The Conservatives picked up three new seats, up nearly seven per cent in support.

Former journalist Ryan Cleary easily won the riding of St. John's South-Mount Pearl in Newfoundland in what was expected to be a tight race. He defeated Liberal incumbent Siobhan Coady and Tory candidate Loyola Sullivan, a former provincial cabinet minister.

"We did it, Jack! We did it!" Cleary yelled at a rally.

"Can you feel the winds of political change sweeping across Newfoundland and Labrador?

"Those winds are stirring a sea change in Canadian politics —a sea change that begins here."

In Nova Scotia, where the first NDP government in Atlantic Canada was elected two years ago, star NDP candidate Robert Chisholm won Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, unseating Liberal Mike Savage. Savage, the son of a former Nova Scotia premier, held the riding since 2004.

Early rumours that Conservative heavyweight Peter MacKay, who was defence minister in the last government, could go down in Central Nova turned out to be just that —rumours. In fact, he won handily.

The NDP's historic success came about as result of a strong performance by Layton, who defied political predictions and naysayers who questioned whether he would have the stamina for a tiring campaign just weeks after surgery to repair a broken hip.
Yet as he hit the trail with cane in hand, voters, especially those in Quebec, embraced Layton as the "new" guy, a surprising twist for a politician who has led the NDP in Ottawa for the last eight years and campaigned in three previous elections.

As Harper and Ignatieff traded partisan shots, Layton seemed to engage voters with his folksy relaxed style and upbeat messages. He came into the campaign as the most popular leader and thanks in part to two solid debate performances, transformed that popularity into a surge of support for the NDP.

Harper made plain his election ambition from the start, when he stood on the front steps of Rideau Hall on the campaign's first day. After falling short three times before —2004, 2006 and 2008 —he declared that he was going all-out this time to win a majority and put an end to the cycle of minority governments.

And he darkly warned that another minority Conservative would never get a chance to govern, toppled by opposition rivals who would seek to form government themselves.


Feds investigate 2010-11 Ford
SUVs for shattered rear windows

David Shepardson / / Detroit News Washington Bureau
May 2, 2011

Washington— Federal auto safety regulators have opened an investigation into 200,000 newer Ford SUVs over complaints that the window glass in the liftgate shattered without warning, the government said today.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice posted on its website today that it has opened a preliminary investigation into the 2010-2011 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner after the agency received 18 complaints of liftgate window glass breakage. The complaints asserted "that the liftgate window glass shattered spontaneously, while opening the liftgate or while closing the liftgate. In one alleged injury incident, the complainant and her 10 year old son were cut by glass fragments." NHTSA said that many of the incidents have occurred in colder weather.

The agency also noted in opening its investigation that Ford had issued a technical service bulletin to its dealers on Nov. 22 addressing broken windows in 2010-2011 Escape and Mariner SUVs.

The bulletin, titled "Broken Liftgate Window Glass — Built on or before 10/15/2010," warned that "some 2010-2011 Escape and Mariner vehicles built on or before Oct. 15, 2010 may experience the liftgate window glass breaking, typically when colder ambient temperatures are present." "Correct the condition by replacing the liftgate window glass after closely inspecting for any signs of impact or external damage that may have caused the glass breakage. If no evidence of external damage found then proceed with glass replacement."

Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said the company is "aware of the investigation and will cooperate with the investigation as always."This isn't the first time NHTSA has investigated a liftgate glass issue in Ford SUVs.

In September 2004, Ford recalled about 955,000 2002-2003 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer SUVs to replace the liftgate glass strut brackets and hinges after NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation into injuries from broken windows. In recalling the vehicles, Ford said the hinges could fail and allow the glass to break. In that recall, NHTSA said there were about 165 reports of minor injuries and no accidents. In total, NHTSA reported there were nearly 5,000 complaints and incidents on the Explorer and Mountaineers — mostly warranty claims for broken windows.


Next phase of Ford ads to debut

4 commercials focus on press conference with vehicle owners

Alisa Priddle / / The Detroit News
May 1, 2011

Ford Motor Co. today will begin airing the next phase of its national Drive One ad campaign that features Ford owners caught in a surprise press conference to talk about their car or truck.

Four television spots debut this weekend on all major networks, said Thomais Zaremba, Ford car communications manager. She declined to say how much the automaker is spending on one of its biggest marketing commitments of the year.

The Drive One campaign debuted in 2008 with employees talking about new cars for consumers who thought Ford only sold Mustangs and trucks.

A year later, the campaign switched to messages from customers discussing features.

"This is the next iteration," said Toby Barlow, chief creative officer at ad agency Team Detroit.

Shooting for the latest commercials involved about 20 people. They thought they were part of a focus research group, entered a room and were then bombarded by actors playing the parts of aggressive reporters, firing questions about what the owner thought of his or her Ford.

"We were nervous (that) people would scream and run," Barlow said.

"Instead they took it in stride, assumed the role and looked so comfortable behind the mike," Zaremba said.

More ads will be shot with the new Focus and Taurus.

The national campaign is complemented by the new regional Swap Your Ride ads that debuted this month.

The campaigns grew out of brainstorming in advance of the crucial spring selling season even though research by Nielsen Co.'s Global Automotive Division showed existing campaigns still resonated with consumers.

But Ford wanted new ads to help their message stand out. The automaker has chosen to let the voice of the consumer add credibility to its message.

Ford is currently a darling of the auto industry as its products increasingly are being associated with quality, value and fuel efficiency. Sales so far this year are up 16 percent.

To view the commercials, go Here.


CAW Contact
April 29, 2011
Volume 41, No 17

CAW Extends Strike Deadline for School Bus Drivers

The CAW is extending the strike deadline to Monday, May 2 at 12:01 a.m. for its members who drive school buses for the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board and the Toronto French School Board.

CAW Local 4268 was in a legal strike position with Stock Transportation (contract service provider for the school boards) as of Thursday, April 28 at 12:01 a.m.

Debbie Montgomery, president of CAW Local 4268, said the strike deadline was extended in the hope of reaching a fair settlement and avoiding any interruption in service. A work stoppage would impact between 6,000 -7,000 students in the east and northern parts of Toronto for all three school boards.

"School bus drivers are in these jobs because they care about children and their safety, we have no interest in disrupting service -but we do expect our members to be treated fairly. Currently, this is not the case," said Montgomery.

"Our members make a very important contribution to the city's school system and the education of school-aged children, and bear incredible responsibility, but this work is not fairly compensated," said Montgomery. "We're looking for basic improvements to conditions of work."

CAW Local 4268 represents 600 workers at Stock Transportation

Members at Air Canada Rally in Montreal
More than 100 Air Canada workers rallied outside the airport in Montreal on April 21 calling for a fair contract. Negotiations have been on going since February.

More than 100 CAW members from Air Canada openly took their frustrations to management by rallying together outside of the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport on April 21. Members were protesting Air Canada's disregard for workers at the bargaining table, as well as the excessive $5 million retention bonus awarded to company CEO Calin Rovinescu; this in light of Air Canada wanting to claw away the members' pension plan once again.

"The workers are re-energized and are ready to fight; they are ready to fight for their rights and ready to fight for their pensions," said CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross. "This company must be accountable to its employees who have given back in an effort to keep Air Canada viable. It's too bad that its CEO cannot see the bigger picture here."

Marcel Rondeau, Eastern Region bargaining representative said, "we gave in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2009 we helped this company by agreeing to a 21-month pension moratorium. Enough is enough! Now it's our turn!"

Jean-Pierre Fortin, CAW Quebec Director also attended the rally to show his support for his fellow brothers and sisters. "Local 2002 is a major local union within the CAW, and the actions of this company are completely unacceptable," said Fortin. "We will stand together and demand that these members are treated fairly."

CAW Local 2002 members work in customer service and sales at Air Canada.

Negotiations between CAW and Air Canada are scheduled to resume in Toronto at the end of the month.

(By Delia Gaskill, CAW Local 2002 communications officer)

Arbitration Victory for CAW on BC Transit Dispute

An arbitrator has supported the CAW's case that BC Transit had agreed in recent bargaining not to introduce new larger community shuttle "Dart" buses until the next round of contract talks.

Moreover the arbitrator found the collective agreement prohibited the deployment of the Dart bus as planned by the employer.

During collective bargaining for 600 members of CAW Local 333 in Victoria, British Columbia the employer said they would not introduce new larger community shuttle buses.

"The issues around this new bus are complex," said Bob Jones, CAW Local 333 president. "We took the employer's word they would not introduce these buses till the next round of bargaining in 2012."

The BC government imposed a zero wage increase for all public sector workers in the province in 2010. "We believe the drivers with this new model bus should benefit from extensive changes to the agreement, including substantial wage increases," Jones said.

"Arbitrator Jim Dorsey agreed that this vehicle cannot be introduced until the next round of bargaining," said Susan Spratt, BC area director. "The decision gives us the time to prepare for bargaining an agreement which will reflect the realities of a new technology in transit," she said.

AGS Automotive Systems Arbitration Award

Another significant arbitration victory involves AGS Automotive Systems and CAW Local 124 in Scarborough, Ontario.

An arbitrator has agreed that a laid off employee in Ontario is entitled to both retire and receive severance pay under the Employment Standards Act and retiree health benefits under a collective agreement, as argued by the union.

The employer had argued that a laid off worker had only two mutually exclusive choices; retire and get retiree benefits or renounce his or her recall rights and get severance pay.

The CAW submitted that receipt of both was legally consistent and logical. The positive award will benefit dozens of workers at AGS Automotive Systems and workers across the province

Ratification at Kawneer Manufacturing (Alcoa)

The CAW has ratified an agreement with Kawneer Manufacturing, a division of Alcoa, in Lethbridge, Alberta, avoiding a strike.

CAW Local 99 represents 218 workers at Kawneer Manufacturing in Lethbridge Alberta; the workers include production and maintenance employees at the Alcoa-owned plant, which operates a press for aluminum extrusion and the production of architectural products.

CAW members at Kawneer ratified the agreement with 75 per cent voting in favour.

"While there is large disappointment that the company would not offer more, the members are relieved that there is now an agreement in place for the next three years and that a strike has been averted," said CAW National Representative Todd Romanow.

Kawneer's Lethbridge facility is located approximately 250 km southeast of Calgary. It manufactures aluminum architectural products including window systems, curtain walls, stock and custom doors. Operations consist of a 2,500-ton extrusion press, anodizing, electrostatic spray painting and fabrication.

Settlement at First Ontario Credit Union

CAW Local 199 members at First Ontario Credit Union in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Thorold and Welland, Ontario have overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year collective agreement.

Workers voted 98.5 per cent in favour of the agreement. It includes two per cent wage increases in each year, a signing bonus of $500 for full and part time workers, modest benefit improvements, preserves COLA language and features a retirement allowance for members who are eligible and elect to retire between May 1, 2011 and May 1, 2012.

The gains come despite company demands for concessions at the outset of bargaining, said CAW Local 199 President Wayne Gates. "This was a tough set of contract talks, but the solidarity of the bargaining committee and strong support from the membership helped us achieve a good contract in difficult economic times," Gates said.

CAW Local 199 represents approximately 86 members at First Ontario Credit Union.

Lear Whitby Visit

CAW President Ken Lewenza joins with Lear Corporation Unit Chairperson Scott Bateman (fourth from right) at 25th anniversary celebrations at the Local 222 plant in Whitby, Ontario recently.


Ford Motor Credit
plans benchmark sale
of seven-year securities

Sapna Maheshwari / / Bloomberg News
April 29, 2011

Ford Motor Credit Co., the finance arm of the second-largest U.S. automaker, plans to sell seven-year senior unsecured notes as its parent company works to achieve an investment-grade credit rating.

The unit of Ford Motor Co. may issue the debt in benchmark size, typically at least $500 million, as soon as today, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction. The notes may be rated Ba2 by Moody's Investors Service and BB- by Standard & Poor's, both with positive outlooks, said the person, who declined to be identified because terms aren't set.

Ford Motor Credit, the second-biggest issuer of speculative-grade bonds last year after Ally Financial Inc., is tapping the junk-debt market after selling $1.25 billion of 5.75 percent, 10-year notes in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Dearborn automaker plans to sell between $7 billion and $9 billion of unsecured debt this year, and it has already sold $2 billion year-to-date, according to a presentation on April 26.

"In the minds of investors, we're well on our way" to an investment-grade rating, assistant treasurer David Brandi said in an April 26 earnings call. "Our borrowing spreads have decreased, reflecting improved credit profiles of Ford and Ford Credit, strong investor demand and supportive capital markets."


Life under a Jack Layton government

Michael Byers
CBC News
April 28, 2011

My childhood fears revolved around the monster in our basement, that dark and mysterious place at the bottom of the stairs.

This week's attack ads seek to tap into that same primordial anxiety about the unknown. We're told that the NDP platform is "science fiction," that an NDP government would be "amateur hour," that Jack Layton eats babies.

OK, I made that last part up — though on close examination, the other claims are just as ridiculous.

New Democrats have formed provincial governments for decades across this country, and have generally succeeded in addressing peoples' needs and interests while delivering balanced budgets.

Tommy Douglas lifted Saskatchewan out of the Depression while pioneering public health care and balancing the books through five majority governments.

In B.C., Dave Barrett introduced the Agricultural Land Reserve, government car insurance, the institution of "question period" in the provincial legislature, and a host of other initiatives that remain in place today.

In Manitoba, Ed Schreyer developed the province's hydroelectric wealth and public auto insurance while investing heavily in affordable housing. Gary Doer later won three majorities on economic policies that delivered the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Jack Layton, on his way to a media scrum in Winnipeg, on April 27, 2011. Rising in the polls faster than anyone imagined. (Fred Greenslade/Reuters)

Such was the unquestionable quality of Doer's performance that Stephen Harper chose him for Canada's most important diplomatic appointment — ambassador to the U.S.

Some exceptions

There have been exceptions to the record, of course, most notably Bob Rae and Ujjal Dosanjh, who crashed and burned as NDP premiers before becoming Liberal MPs.

But other parties have had their failures, too: Pierre Trudeau drove the country deep into debt, while Alberta's Ed Stelmach still can't balance the budget in Canada's richest province.

Expect an NDP federal government to rely on the experience of respected former leaders such as Roy Romanow, Stephen Lewis, Mike Harcourt, Tony Penikett, Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough and Ed Broadbent, as well as the current premiers of Nova Scotia and Manitoba, Darrell Dexter and Greg Selinger.

Most importantly, Canadians have come to know, like and trust Jack Layton.

In the last eight years, the former Toronto councillor and president of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities has rolled up his sleeves, rebuilt the federal NDP and turned it into a truly national, broadly inclusive party that meshes perfectly with his own personal background.

Remember, the Quebec-born Layton is the son of a Progressive Conservative cabinet minister from the Brian Mulroney government.

He is also someone who holds a PhD in political science and always plays the long game.

What to expect

From a Layton government, Canadians can expect an ambitious but pragmatic governing agenda that is directed at demonstrating that the NDP can exercise power responsibly and effectively.

Expect Layton to adhere to his commitment to balance the federal budget within the next four years, by returning the corporate tax rate to the 2008 level and eliminating the roughly $2 billion in subsidies to the oil sands — though this might depend what his minority partners, the Liberals, have to say.

Expect investments in employment insurance, affordable housing and health care that reflect an understanding that helping people when they're down is the best way to get them back on their feet and contributing again.

When it comes to climate change, Layton understands the scale and immediacy of the crisis, and also the opportunities.

Expect a new emphasis on green jobs, with significant investments in environmental retrofits and public transportation, in the latter, by redirecting some of the existing federal gas tax.

Expect a cap-and-trade system that will use market forces to push businesses towards significant emission reductions and reward those who are the best at this.

What else

Expect a new engagement with Quebec, including talks on bringing the province into the Constitution.

No less significantly, expect legislation on proportional representation: the NDP, after years of being held back by our centuries-old first-past-the-post system, is not about to miss its chance at electoral reform.

On foreign policy, look for a distinct improvement in Canada-U.S. relations. There are numerous personal connections between the Layton and Obama teams, including Gary Doer who, after two years in Washington, is perfectly poised to deliver for his New Democrat colleague and friend.

Expect new Canadian leadership on a host of global issues, from a nuclear weapons convention to international development assistance to stepped-up efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In Afghanistan, the NDP's commitment to an "immediate" withdrawal of Canada's soldiers coincides perfectly with the current deployment out of Kandahar.

The Conservative plans to purchase stealth fighter jets would be carefully reviewed to ensure that Canadians only pay for equipment that makes sense. For the same reason, Canadian shipyards would soon be busy building new ships for the Canadian Forces and Coast Guard.

In the Middle East, expect a policy that is more consistent with that of the U.S. and U.K.

An NDP government would support Israel's right to exist while playing more of a role in the peace process. It would also be prepared to criticize transgressions on all sides.

In general, Canada's approach to the world would take on a new and generally optimistic tone — one that reflects Layton's approach to people and politics. Canada would once again play a role as mediator, conciliator, peacekeeper and partner.

Canada might once again win a seat on the UN Security Council, because, sometimes, you can alter reality overnight.

One day, when I was about 10, I told my mother that I was no longer afraid of the monster in the basement. "Is he gone?" she asked.

"No," I replied. "But I turned on the light."


UAW wants to deal
with Big 3 all at once

UAW President Bob King said Tuesday the union has made no commitment to settle the contract talks early, and that it may not be realistic to expect a deal ahead of the Sept. 14 deadline. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)

Union's new strategy seeks to end pattern bargaining of past

Christina Rogers / / The Detroit News
April 27, 2011

Detroit — The United Auto Workers hopes to negotiate a new contract with all three Detroit automakers at once — breaking a long tradition in which the union targets one company for a deal and then replicates the agreement with the other two.

UAW President Bob King said Tuesday he wants to avoid picking a target company when contract talks start this summer. The union's four-year agreements with Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC expire Sept. 14.

"We have very advanced and good relationships and we should be able to work together," King said at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit. "I would hope we don't have to pick a target."

The union hasn't made a final decision; leaders are meeting next week to discuss strategy.

Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said the auto industry has changed so much, "there is no longer a conventional approach."

Creating and preserving as many jobs as possible will be a top priority in this round of contract talks, Shaiken said, and "that's not going to require a target company to achieve."

The union has made no commitment to settle the negotiations ahead of the deadline. "There are a lot of problems and a lot of issues to work through so I don't know if it would be realistic to think that anything would get done early," King said.

This year's negotiations will present the UAW with some unique challenges.

Workers at neither Chrysler nor GM can strike on wages and benefits. The UAW accepted that concession, among others, in 2009 when the U.S. government mandated that GM and Chrysler renegotiate their 2007 UAW contracts as they restructured.

The union made major sacrifices to ensure the automakers' survival; reversing them now could hurt the companies' ability to remain competitive.

But persuading workers to accept the givebacks for another four years could prove tricky with the industry rebounding and with big profits for Ford and GM grabbing headlines.

The $26.5 million pay package awarded to Ford CEO Alan Mulally for 2010 could "harm" Ford's reputation among workers and complicate labor talks, King said. "Alan Mulally is a good CEO," he said. "I think he has done a lot of good, but he has a blind spot."

The UAW continues its drive to organize factories operated by foreign automakers in the South and is asking leaders at these so-called "transplant" factories to allow workers to vote on whether they want to join the union.

King said the companies have been more responsive than expected and the UAW is not likely to pick a target, at least right now. "We're trying to achieve results through a high road, so I hope we never have to pick a target."

Separately, King said Fiat SpA's expected takeover of Chrysler could benefit the UAW's health care trust, used to pay retiree health care costs. The union gave up some cash payments from Chrysler to fund the trust for a 59 percent stake in the automaker as part of its restructuring.

"The (health care trust) cannot be successful," King said, "unless the Fiat-Chrysler partnership is successful."


Ford Motor Company 2011 First Quarter Financial Results

Ford Reports $2.6 Billion 2011 First Quarter Net
Income as One Ford Plan Continues Strong Progress

April 26, 2011

Ford Motor Company today reported first quarter 2011 net income of U.S. $2.6 billion, or 61 cents per share, an increase of $466 million, or 11 cents per share, from first quarter 2010 as fuel-efficient new products, continued investment in global growth and the strengthening of Ford's core business boosted results.

"Our team delivered a great quarter, with solid growth and improvements in all regions," said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. "We continue to accelerate our One Ford plan around the world, delivering on our commitments to serve our global customers with a full family of best-in-class vehicles and deliver profitable growth for all, despite uncertain economic conditions."

First quarter 2011 pre-tax operating profit was $2.8 billion, or 62 cents per share, an increase of $827 million, or 16 cents per share, from first quarter 2010. This increase reflects improved profits in each Automotive segment, led by a strong performance in North America and solid improvement in Europe.

First quarter Automotive pre-tax operating profit was $2.1 billion, an increase of $936 million from first quarter 2010. Ford's Automotive business is benefiting from growth in both volume and per-unit net revenue. This revenue growth, along with scale benefits from increasing volume, are driving improvements in profitability and operating margin – despite higher commodity costs and planned cost increases associated with the investments Ford is making in its products, brand and future growth. The profitability improvement also reflects Ford's stronger balance sheet through lower net interest expense.

First quarter Ford Credit pre-tax operating profit was $713 million, a decrease of $115 million from first quarter 2010, consistent with previous guidance.

North America posted a first quarter pre-tax operating profit of $1.8 billion, a $591 million increase from first quarter 2010. Europe reported a first quarter pre-tax operating profit of $293 million, an increase of $186 million from first quarter 2010. South America and Asia Pacific Africa also posted increased pre-tax operating profits.

Ford's first quarter revenue was $33.1 billion, an increase of $5 billion from first quarter 2010.

Ford generated positive Automotive operating-related cash flow of $2.2 billion in the first quarter, an improvement of $2.3 billion from first quarter 2010.

Ford also made significant progress in strengthening its balance sheet, with a net reduction in Automotive debt of $2.5 billion in the first quarter, including the redemption of all outstanding Trust Preferred Securities. Ford ended the first quarter with $21.3 billion of Automotive gross cash, an increase of $800 million compared to Dec. 31, 2010. Automotive gross cash exceeded debt by $4.7 billion, an improvement of $3.3 billion from year end 2010.

Ford took action to increase overall liquidity, including an additional $1.7 billion of capacity on its secured revolving credit facility, reflecting Ford's improved credit profile and overall credit conditions. Ford's Automotive liquidity totaled $30.7 billion, an increase of $2.8 billion from year end 2010.
"Our business is improving as we achieve growth in volume and revenue, while maintaining our focus on increasing competitiveness," said Lewis Booth, Ford executive vice president and chief financial officer. "The quarter was another encouraging step as we invest for an even stronger business for the future."


  • Completed additional debt reduction action with a $3 billion redemption of Ford's Trust Preferred Securities, while increasing liquidity by $2.8 billion
  • Announced investment of $400 million and retention of 3,750 full-time jobs at the Kansas City Assembly Plant for a new vehicle to be built at the facility
  • Signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sollers to form a 50:50-owned JV to expand production and distribution of Ford vehicles in Russia
  • Posted 16 percent increase in U.S. sales due to strong demand for fuel-efficient products such as Fiesta, Fusion, Edge, Escape, Explorer and F-Series
  • Remained top-selling automaker in Canada, reporting an 8.6 percent year-over-year sales increase
  • Increased Asia Pacific Africa share to 2.4 percent, fueled by Fiesta, Focus, Figo and Ranger; China sales increased 18 percent, India up 115 percent
  • Lincoln won top spot in J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability survey
  • Unveiled Ford B-MAX small car and Ranger Wildtrak pickup at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show
  • Announced SYNC with MyFord Touch expansion to Europe in 2012
  • Launched EcoBoost engine technology in China with production of the 2011 Ford Mondeo at the Changan Ford Mazda Automotive plant
  • Fiesta became the first in its segment to earn top safety ratings in the world’s largest markets – the U.S., Europe, and China
  • Introduced a new Cargo truck in Brazil, representing our commitment to competitiveness in a critical segment in South America

Click here to read this press release in full and see additional information, including financial tables.


Strong Ford 1Q profit
expected as U.S. sales rise

Tom Krisher / Associated Press
April 26, 2011

Dearborn— Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S.-based automaker, is scheduled to report first-quarter results before the market opens on Tuesday.

Ford had a very successful 2010, earning $6.6 billion, more than double what it made in 2009 and its largest profit since 1999. The company also cut the staggering debt it amassed to stay in business and avoid bankruptcy protection during the recession. Last year, debt was slashed to $14.5 billion from $33.6 billion. Interest payments fell by more than $1 billion, which should help earnings this year.

But the Dearborn company faltered in the fourth quarter as profits dropped 79 percent to $190 million, missing Wall Street's forecasts and ending two years of better-than-expected results.

What to expect: Ford's sales in the U.S., by far its largest market, continued to grow. That should translate into first-quarter earnings that are at least as strong as the same quarter last year.

The company introduced a new, more fuel-efficient Explorer SUV in the quarter, and Ford's reputation for quality pushed up sales of the Fusion sedan, Escape small SUV and other models. Sales of the profitable F-Series pickup rose 23 percent as businesses started to replace trucks they've kept for a long time. Ford also says that it's getting higher prices per vehicle than it did last year. Many models have more expensive options.

Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson said Ford's new turbocharged V-6 engine, which gets better gas mileage than a traditional V-8, should help the company protect F-150 pickup truck sales as gasoline prices head toward $4 a gallon.

But first-quarter sales growth of 12 percent over with the same period in 2010 is slower than last year's 16 percent rise. Ford shut down the Mercury brand and sold Volvo last year, so it's now operating only with the Ford and Lincoln brands in the United States. Ford brand captured some of the old Mercury buyers, rising almost 25 percent in the quarter. But Lincoln sales kept struggling, falling 11 percent.

During the quarter, Ford saw minimal impact from earthquake-related parts shortages that hobbled Japanese automakers starting in March. In April it closed a Louisville, Ky., truck plant for a week and planned shutdowns at several European plants.

Ford's fourth-quarter net earnings fell far short of Wall Street estimates, something Ford will try to avoid in the first quarter. Excluding charges for debt reduction and dropping the Mercury brand, Ford earned 30 cents per share, below the 48 cents analysts expected. Much of the drop was blamed on $1 billion in higher costs from ramping up production and marketing of several new vehicles. Johnson estimated that half the costs were seasonal. They are unlikely in the first quarter.

What to watch for: CEO Alan Mulally remains upbeat about 2011 and expects profits and cash flow to improve. Debt reduction also will continue. Ford could also benefit from shortages of models at Toyota dealers and other Japan-based automakers due to the March 11 earthquake.

Ford, like other automakers, faces higher oil and steel costs, and that could affect earnings. The company raised prices by an average of $117 per vehicle at the end of the first quarter to offset some of the cost increases.

Why it matters: Car sales are an indicator of the health of the economy, since they are closely aligned to consumer confidence. The U.S. auto industry is recovering from 2009, when sales hit a 30-year low of 10.4 million cars and trucks. Most analysts expect sales to reach 13 million this year.

What's expected: Analysts surveyed by FactSet are forecasting first-quarter earnings of $2.1 billion, or 50 cents per share, on revenue of $30.5 billion.

Last year's quarter: In the first quarter of 2010, Ford earned just over $2 billion, or 50 cents per share, on revenue of $31.6 billion.


Honkin' pickup makes
sense on paper
The Ford F-150 EcoBoost provided lots of low-end grunt with little effort.

Peter Bleakney
Special to the Star
April 24, 2011

Despite soaring fuel prices, North America's growing distaste for foreign oil dependency and the general greening of our collective consciousness, pickup trucks are doing quite nicely, thank you.

In fact, sales are through the roof. (David Suzuki, if you're reading this, best go take a walk).

Last year, the segment was up 20 per cent (while compact cars sales actually fell) and so far this year, the Ford F-150 pickup has posted a record for the number of vehicles sold in Canada for the period. Ever.

It sold more than 20,000 trucks in the first three months, compared to almost 12,000 Honda Civics — the best-selling passenger car — in the same period.

In case you think this is some kind of aberration, the F-150 has been the top selling vehicle in Canada for 45 years.

(Okay David, you can come back now.)

But here's some encouraging news. According to Ford, fuel economy is now on the pickup buyer's radar, leaping to about number 10 on the list of important criteria. Ten doesn't sound like much, but in years past fuel economy rated somewhere between pastel running boards and lipstick holders.

For 2011, Ford has broomed the F-150's engine bay, ditching the two 4.6L V8's and the 5.4L V8 to make room for a quartet of brand-new powerplants that reduces fuel consumption across the lineup by 20 per cent. Additionally, all 2011 F-150s get a new six-speed auto with Tow/Haul mode. According to Ford engineers, this 12th generation F-150 is now "complete", as the 2009 redesign was waiting for these engines.

The entry-level engine is a 3.7L V6 that puts out a class-leading 302 hp, 278 lb.-ft. of torque and gets best-in-class fuel economy: 12.8 L/100 km city and 8.9 city. You can get into a regular cab, rear drive F-150 with this engine for $20,000.

The smallest engine option has historically accounted for an equally small part of the F-150 pie, but Ford is optimistic that this may change. This is an eager and snarly six-pot, and the fact that it is tow-rated for 6,100 lbs may be all that a chunk of pickup buyers need.

Next up is the DOHC "Coyote" 5.0L V8, borrowed from the Mustang but modified to make more low-end torque (380 lb.-ft.) with less top-end power (360 hp). This is a thoroughly modern engine with independent variable camshaft timing. The compression ratio has been reduced to allow the use of regular fuel, which it consumes at 13.9 L/100 km in the city and 9.7 on the highway.

This 5.0 is a strong and great sounding engine and will likely be the volume seller. Tow-rated at 10,000 lbs., it costs $1,000 more than the 3.7L V6.

For those who need the biggest and baddest V8, Ford has shoehorned the iron-block pushrod 6.2L V8 from the Super Duty line into the F-150 for 2011. With 411 hp and 434 lb.-ft. of torque, I didn't hear any of the Ford brass bragging about this lump's fuel economy, which sits at 16.9 L/100 city and 11.4 highway. This is more of a specialty item, which can be optioned on most F-150s and comes standard with the Harley Davidson model and the SVT Raptor.

I drove a Platinum edition with this engine (about $67,000 worth), and yes, it convincingly hauls some serious butt.

The big news underhood is the available 3.5L V6 EcoBoost, which is a game changer in the pickup world. For a $1,000 premium over the 5.0L V8, this twin-turbo, direct-injection, DOHC engine (technologies as foreign to traditional pickups as bicycles are to fish) is available across 90 per cent of the lineup. Fuel economy is impressive (12.9 city, 9.0 hwy), but Ford is also pitching this as the workhorse of the bunch.

Ford's biggest challenge will be convincing die-hard truckies that a high-tech turbo V6 will out-do a V8 while also proving reliable. By the numbers, at least, it's really not such a tough sell.

The blown V6 makes 365 hp and 465 lb.-ft. of torque way down in the rev range, and it shares the highest tow and payload rating (11,300 lbs and 3060 lbs respectively) with the 6.2L V8.

At a recent Ford event, we towed 6,500 lb trailers with an F-150 EcoBoost, a Dodge Ram 5.7L Hemi (390 hp, 407 lb.-ft.) and a Chevy Silverado 5.3L V8 (315 hp, 335 lb.-ft.). The Chevy got the job done but felt the weakest. The Dodge's Hemi was strong and sounded fabulous but like the Chevy, it had to see about 4000 r.p.m. before the real power came on. The Ford EcoBoost drove more like a turbo-diesel engine, providing lots of low-end grunt with little apparent effort.

Driving the EcoBoost unladen over some country roads also proved it to be a swift and very quiet pickup, although the observed 13.4 L/100 km was considerably off the claimed economy. Best to use those figures only for comparison.

There was also a short drag strip set up, where the EcoBoost consistently beat all comers, even edging the F-150 Platinum with the honkin' 411 hp 6.2L V8.

The only area where the EcoBoost falls short is in character. While the V8s were howling out their lusty Detroit song, this turbo-techie went about its business with a bland exhaust note and a bit of turbo whistle. Interestingly, without the V8 soundtrack, the EcoBoost never felt as fast as the others.

The EcoBoost certainly makes the most sense on paper, however, delivering the most torque, maximum tow rating and fuel economy that is only one point off the entry-level V6.

Ford claims buyers will recoup their $1,000 premium over the 5.0L V8 after three years of fuel savings. Will this be enough to pry pickup buyers away from their cherished V8s?


Air Canada braces for labour woes

With the expiration of all its major union contracts, it could be a turbulent summer of labour unrest for Air Canada. (June 19, 2010)

Vanessa Lu
Business Reporter
Toronto Star
April 22, 2011

Fasten your seat belts. It could be a turbulent summer of labour unrest for Air Canada.

With all its major union contracts expired, the airline which, has only recently returned to profitability, is eager to take off in a new direction.

But a proposed low-cost carrier to vacation destinations in Europe and down south to compete with the likes of Air Transat has already set off alarm bells for Air Canada's employees, who have made concessions over the years to save the company.

"Air Canada's members, they are all upset. They have done a lot to help out this airline," said Carlos DaCosta, airline coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which includes ground crews, mechanics and baggage handlers. "They sacrificed to save the airline."

And as unions are being asked for significant changes, including new pension schemes and switching new hires to defined contribution plans over defined benefit plans, the airline revealed the total compensation packages for its top executives, including president and CEO Calin Rovinescu, whose pay jumped nearly 77 per cent to $4.5 million last year.

"Our members are rattling the cage," said DaCosta. "Their expectation, before they heard that, was at these negotiations we need a lot of gains, 10 years' worth.

"And now they're looking at what he's getting and (other executives) all the way down the ladder . . . they're saying, not only do we want gains, but it better be comparable," DaCosta said.

No strike dates have been set yet. In some cases, the unions are in the early days of negotiations with the initial exchanges of proposals between labour and management.

At Air Transat, one of Air Canada's targets with its proposed discount carrier, flight attendants asked Thursday for a federal conciliator to help with contract talks that began last September.

"It's not a bad thing to have conciliation for both sides," said Nathalie Stringer, president of the Air Transat component of CUPE, which represents 1,400 flight attendants.

At issue are efforts to boost the hours on duty per day as well as create a different pay scale for new hires, which would penalize junior staff, Stringer said.

By filing for conciliation, CUPE kicks off the countdown process to a possible legal strike or lockout in the last week of July. Air Transat reached a deal with its 300 pilots last fall.

In Air Canada's negotiations, it is furthest along with its pilots, having reached a tentative deal last month.

But the union suffered a huge setback last week when rank-and-file members signalled their opposition to the contract, which one pilot described as a complete rewriting of the collective agreement.

The deal also calls for changes to working conditions and a significantly lower wage scale for pilots who would operate large aircraft for the discount airline. The two-tier pension system is another sticking point.

As a result, the union abruptly cancelled a scheduled ratification vote because of the anger — and is returning to the bargaining table with management.

"It could be a couple of days or it could be a couple of weeks," said Paul Strachan, president of the Air Canada Pilots Association, noting formal notice to bargain was only filed at the end of the March so any labour disruption would be months away. "It's operations normal."

At the same time, the union is also holding a 10-day recall vote on the top union official, captain Bruce White, after an online petition for the recall vote garnered nearly 1,500 votes, almost half of its 3,000 pilots, over White's handling of the negotiations.

"Democracy is messy," Strachan said, adding results are expected on May 2. "It is part of the process contained within our constitution. Our membership will decide."

The Canadian Auto Workers, which represents 3,800 customer service agents, has scheduled strike votes on May 16, with a strike deadline of June 13.

"At this point, I'm not optimistic that we can reach a settlement," said Bob Chernecki, assistant to CAW president Ken Lewenza.

"I can tell you that we're not going to agree with two areas of the pilots' deal," Chernecki said. "They're after a two-tier pension plan, which we're not going to do. We're not going to do a low-cost airline."


CAW Contact
April 21, 2011
Vol 41, No. 16

Take Action to Prevent Workplace Injury and Death

The National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured as a result of their job is Thursday, April 28.

CAW President Ken Lewenza is calling for continued vigilance and stricter enforcement of health and safety protections by provincial and federal officials as well as vigorous prosecution of employers when their actions cause death or serious injury.

"There are approximately one million workplace injuries a year in Canada and over a thousand Canadian families are wrought with pain and suffering when a loved one does not return home from their job," Lewenza said.

CAW local unions continue to address hazardous working conditions through joint health and safety committees and through collective bargaining, Lewenza states in an April 12 letter to CAW locals. However occupational hazards remain in workplaces and new risks continue to be identified.

Musculoskeletal injuries are the single largest classification of worker injuries and violence is spilling into workplaces, counting nurses, teachers, public transit employees, retail workers and many others as victims. Occupational stressors are also becoming more significant, affecting the health of workers in all industries.

Special prosecutors have been appointed in Nova Scotia and in Manitoba, while in Ontario and Quebec criminal charges have been laid against employers. But, Lewenza said, more prosecutions are needed to send a message.

On April 28 Lewenza urged participants to remember those who have lost their lives, have been injured or become ill due to work.

But he also urged Day of Mourning participants to call local police chiefs and commissioners to tell them that employers who kill must have charges laid, resulting in convictions which include jail time.

To read the sample letters to local police commissioners and politicians, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/8782.htm

Nova Scotia Legislature Supports Shipbuilding Bid

The Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly voted unanimously April 8 to support Irving Shipbuilding's bid for its Halifax shipyard under the federal government National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

Under this plan, the federal government will select two shipyards to build large vessels for the Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Representatives of the provincial NDP, the Liberals and Conservatives have outlined their strong support for the bid.

"This is the biggest opportunity for Nova Scotia since the navy was established 100 years ago," said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter. "If successful, this contract would create and sustain up to 4,000 direct jobs across the province for the next 30 years."

CAW/MWF Local 1 represents workers at Irving's Halifax shipyard.

"This work is not only critical for our members and their families, but also the local economy, which will benefit from the ongoing renewal of the Canadian shipbuilding industry," CAW Atlantic Area Director Les Holloway said.

"The CAW's ongoing shipbuilding campaign continues to play an important role in rebuilding the Canadian shipbuilding industry," he said.

Karl Risser, president of CAW/Marine Workers Federation Local 1, said "we are ready to compete in an open process with the rest of the Canadian yards."

It's great to see all party support in Nova Scotia but now its time for our federal parties to step up," Risser said.

Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness

April 17-23 is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week and the CAW is recognizing the week by encouraging all members to sign their donor registration card and urge family and friends to do the same.

Phil Goodwin, CAW Local 222 member and workplace trainer, co-ordinates the Trillium Gift of Life initiatives on behalf of the union and said that CAW members can make a world of difference in the lives of others by signing their donor card. He stressed that it's equally crucial to make one's wishes known to your family so that they know you want the donation to take place.

The Trillium Gift of Life Network will have a table set up at CAW Council in Port Elgin, Ontario from April 29-30.

For more information on National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week, please visit: http://www.giftoflife.on.ca/

Mayworks: A Festival of Working People and the Arts

Who's art? Our art! So say the Mayworks Festivals across the country that are only a few weeks away.

With the Day of Mourning on April 28 and May Day (May 1) around the corner, a number of festivals will be showcasing and celebrating workers culture, history, struggle and art.

Mayworks Halifax is a celebration of the arts and artists, of the workers and their work, that are building a culture and society that celebrates and recognizes the history and struggle of the working people of Nova Scotia. The program runs from April 29-May 5 and includes film, theatre, talk and music performances by Faith Nolan, and "Workers Take The Mic" with Deedee Slye. http://www.mayworkshalifax.ca/

Mayworks Toronto the Festival of Working People and the Arts celebrates its 26th year with programming on the Day of Mourning, a special poetry marathon on May Day and a festival from May 7-15. At the festival youcan find Juno nominated musicians Maria Dunn and JohnWort Hannam performing songsabout working people, CBC Poetry Face-off winners Motion and Michelle Muir explore what's becoming of our city, plus works by emerging Indigenous playwrights, provocative dance, a labour walking tour, evocative video, storytelling, mural making for kids, visual arts exploring labour histories and stories, a writing workshop and much more. http://www.mayworks.ca/ and on facebook.

Mayworks Windsor is a celebration of labour, arts and community that runs from April 28 through the month of May. The issues and themes coming from this year's participants - youth and solidarity, alternative economies, health, safety and environment - are expressed through MayWorks Windsor programming of film, visual art, theatre, music, gardening and more. A highlight is on April 29 with the event Abilene Paradox, by Vancouver-New York City based artist collective RTST, (Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan), who create a multi-room environment at ARTCITE INC., Windsor's artist run centre for the contemporary arts, that examining the common ground of cultural workers and trade unions. http://www.artcite.ca/

Mayworks Winnipeg celebrates its 17th MayWorks Festival of labour and the arts with a month long program of films, concerts and even a working class cabaret. For filmgoers there are several films that look at the struggle for justice and rights and a film about the life of legendary musician Phil Ochs. For those who love song, dance and concerts there is a fundraising cabaret dedicated to protecting Winnipeg's labour history, a concert of working class songs and a concert commemorating the Holocaust with the music of that time. http://www.mayworks.org/ and on facebook.

Vancouver Island Mayworks runs April 28 through the month of May and features film, music, visual arts, poetry, the Empty Bowl Soup Kitchen fundraiser and even a kart derby! Performers include Rebel Voices, a duo from Seattle who sing a wide range of socially conscious songs with beautiful harmonies, David Rovics who performs "songs of social significance," poets Carol Neufeld, Kate Braid, Kim Goldberg, Wendy Morton, David Fraser, Tracy Myers, and more.


Ford spotlights '13 Tauruses

The 2013 Taurus gets its first significant changes since the 2010 model. (Ford Motor Co.)

Upgraded models to be introduced at New York auto show today

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 20, 2011

New York— Ford Motor Co. this week is unveiling two refreshed versions of its 2013 Ford Taurus with improvements inside and out.

The Taurus and Taurus SHO will be presented to the global automotive media today at the New York International Auto Show

"We have significantly upgraded Ford's flagship sedan through obsessive attention to detail," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas.

The refreshed Taurus has its first significant changes since the 2010 model.

The new Taurus gets at least 31 mpg highway — up from 28 mpg today — and will have two EcoBoost turbo-engine choices, an improved interior and a resculpted hood. The high-performance SHO version will get up to 25 mpg on the highway.

Taurus is the first car in Ford's North American lineup to offer a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, combining a turbocharger with gasoline direct injection.

"Taurus is more than just a car for us. It's our flagship sedan. It's a rolling showcase of our best features and technologies," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford vice president of global product development.

Taurus sales are down 15.5 percent for the first three months of 2011, to 14,470 vehicles. That is a decline from 17,128 from the same period in 2010 and marks the worst performance of any Ford division car this year.

The Taurus may have been hurt by the rising gas prices, which have sent some customers into smaller, more fuel-efficient sedans.

The Taurus was introduced in 1986. Between 1992 and 1996, the Taurus was America's best-selling car. Ford sold 7 million, making the Taurus one of the best-sellers in Ford's sales history before the company halted production in late 2006. The Ford Five Hundred was rebadged as a Taurus in 2007.

Ford sold 350,000 to 400,000 Taurus sedans in its heyday. Last year, 68,859 were sold, up 51 percent over the 45,617 in 2009.

Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst with IHS Automotive, said the Taurus is in a shrinking segment.

"They are going to focus on fuel efficiency," he said. "The Taurus has sold quite well for them. They never expected to return to the sales of the '80s and '90s."

Given its size, Bragman said, the Taurus is "basically a niche vehicle," and he expects the new version will sell about as well as the current one. The 2013 model has the same dimensions and weight as its predecessor.

The new Taurus, to be built at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant, has active park assist technology and curve control, which slows the vehicle if it senses that a driver inadvertently has entered a curve too quickly.

Ford hasn't released the pricing, but the 2011 starts at $25,355 and can go up to $37,955.


Ford's new Taurus aimed at
fuel-conscious buyers

By Deepa Seetharaman
April 20, 2011

NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co unveiled a more fuel-efficient version of its flagship sedan, the Taurus, aimed at attracting consumers sensitive to rising fuel prices.

The 2013 Ford Taurus is expected to get at least 31 miles per gallon on the highway and can be outfitted with two different types of engines, Ford executives said at an event linked to the New York auto show.

Ford's push comes at a time when surging fuel prices are driving car shoppers away from the large-car segment, where the Taurus is situated.

The market share of this segment has been sliding, while small- and mid-size cars are gaining favour as fuel prices climb, Derrick Kuzak, the head of Ford's product development, told reporters at a media event this week.

This trend away from large cars was the basis of Ford's decision to offer a two-litre engine, Kuzak said.

"What we're trying to do here is provide customers who had been interested in the size and comfort of a large passenger sedan and still give them exceptional fuel economy," Kuzak said.

U.S. retail gasoline prices averaged $3.84 a gallon last week, the highest since August 2008, according to government data. The U.S. Energy Department said last week that gasoline retail prices nationally could exceed $4 per gallon on average in July.


Ford sold nearly 69,000 Taurus sedans last year, up 51 percent from 2009, according to Autodata.

But its volumes were far thinner than sales of Ford's smaller cars, the Focus and Fusion, whose sales were 172,421 and 219,219, respectively.

The Taurus was, in the early 1990s, the best-selling car in the United States, when fleet sales to rental and government agencies are included. The Taurus was introduced for the 1986 model year, but in the late 1990s its sales slipped as Ford put more emphasis on profit-making SUVs.

The model's run ended with the 2006 model year, the same year that Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally was recruited by Ford Chairman Bill Ford. Two decades earlier, Mulally was lead engineer for the Boeing 777 airliner at Boeing Co , when he worked with Ford Taurus engineers on early digital designing.

Mulally is fond of telling the story of his recruitment, when he was shown the Ford lineup and future models and was horrified to learn there was no Taurus.

At an auto industry event last week, Mulally recounted his shock.

"I said, 'You don't make the Taurus anymore? Why not?' They said, 'Well we made a couple that looked like a football that didn't sell very well, so we killed it.'

"I said, 'How can you kill a (model) that sold 17 million? Why don't you make a neat one right away an d keep it going?'" Mulally said.

The Taurus returned in the 2008 model year.



Gas prices help push inflation to largest increase in 2.5 years

Julian Beltrame
The Canadian Press
April 19, 2011

OTTAWA—Canadian price inflation accelerated in March at the fastest pace in more than two years, pushed especially by increases in gas and food prices.

Statistics Canada announced Tuesday that the country's annual inflation rate surged by 1.1 points to 3.3 per cent last month, the first time the rate has topped three per cent since September 2008, on the eve of the recession.

The month-over-month increase was also 1.1 per cent, and even core inflation, which is closely watched by the Bank of Canada, almost doubled to 1.7 per cent.

With the price of oil skyrocketing past US$100 a barrel, and most of the rest of the world suffering through bouts of inflation, Canada's consumer price index was widely expected to see a large gain in Tuesday's report.

But few expected the leap would be so high. Only last week, the Bank of Canada predicted inflation would reach three per cent sometime this spring — that target has now been already surpassed, and may be once again in April if the price of oil does not moderate.

In its analysis, the central bank said it believed high inflation would be a short-term phenomenon and declined to raise interest rates in response. The bank has a mandate to keep inflation within a one-to-three per cent range, and as close to two per cent as possible.

The March report, if it is followed up by outsized gains in the next two months, could convince the bank that it needs to start tightening monetary policy soon, however.

Energy prices, particularly gasoline, were the main contributors to both the annual inflation gain and the sharp one-month increase in prices.

Gas prices were 18.9 per cent higher in March than a year ago, fuel oil and other fuels surged 31.3 per cent, electricity costs increased by 4.3 per cent, and transportation costs, which have a heavy gasoline component, were up 6.6 per cent.

If energy were taken out of the calculation, inflation would have risen to only 2.4 per cent on an annual basis.

But other items also contributed to the prices jump. In fact, there were few exceptions.

Food prices, which has been rising sharply in the emerging world, increased 3.3 per cent in March as the price for fresh vegetables rose by 18.6 per cent and meat rose by five per cent. The agency said cold weather in Mexico and the southern U.S. was mostly responsible for the price spike for vegetables.

Shelter costs, with the exception of mortgage interest, recreation, household operations, health and personal care, alcohol and tobacco, even clothing and footwear, normally downward contributors to inflation, were all higher in March than last year, although the gains were more modest.

The few outliers were computer equipment and supplies, which were 9.9 per cent lower, video equipment, down 10.4 per cent, along with fresh fruit and natural gas.

Regionally, Nova Scotia had the highest inflation rate of any province in Canada at 3.9 per cent, followed by Ontario at 3.6 per cent and Quebec at 3.3. Annual inflation was lowest in Alberta at two per cent.


Ford's Canadian history

For nearly 106 years, Ford has been making and selling cars in Canada and is now the No. 1 best-selling manufacturer in the land.

John Leblanc
Special to the Toronto Star
April 18, 2011

While the 25th anniversary of Toronto Star Wheels is nothing to be taken lightly, it pales beside the history of the longest-established automaker in Canada.

It was almost 106 years ago, on Aug. 17, 1905, that Canadian entrepreneur Gordon McGregor signed on with American Henry Ford to create the Ford Motor Co. of Canada at the Walkerville Wagon Works in Windsor, Ont.

This was three years before Henry's Model T would go on sale and just two years after the Dearborn, Mich.-based company was founded in 1903.

In spanning almost the entire history of the automobile in Canada, Ford has created some of the most popular and iconic cars in this country, like the original "Tin Lizzie," the Depression-era Model A, the trendsetting 1949 Ford, the 1955 Thunderbird convertible, the 1964 Mustang "pony car" and the perennially best-selling F-Series pickups.

During the 25 years that Wheels has been around, Ford has introduced numerous vehicles that have been popular with Canadian consumers and defined their segments.

These include the 1986 Ford Taurus sedan, with its revolutionary aerodynamic styling; the 1991 Ford Explorer, which kick-started the sports utility vehicle craze; the European-influenced 200 Ford Focus compact, and the world's first gasoline-electric hybrid SUV, the 2005 Escape.

Of course, Wheels has also covered some of Ford's lows in the past 25 years.

The 1990s Firestone and Ford tire controversy (where there were an unusually high number of tire failures on some Ford vehicles), was a dark time for the automaker.

Some say the costs associated with the crisis prevented nearly bankrupt Ford from creating the new rear-wheel-drive cars promised by numerous Lincoln concepts in the late 1990s and forced the consolidation of Ford and Lincoln dealers and the dropping of the Mercury brand in Canadian in 1999.

During this era, Ford also made one of its early attempts to manufacture a "world car," the 1995 to 2000 Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique, documented in a damning review of the Mercury version by our own Jim Kenzie in February 1995.

Kenzie questioned if the billions of dollars spent and years of time to develop it were, in fact, worth it.

The beginning of the new millennium didn't get any easier for Ford.

Despite the acquisition (and eventual dispersal) of import brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, Ford struggled on the sales charts.

"From 2000 to 2008, we were on a steady decline", David Mondragon president and CEO, Ford of Canada, recently told Wheels.

According to Mondragon, the year he was appointed to his position was a low point for the automaker.

"But as humiliating as the ride down was, the ride back up has been 10 times more exciting for our dealers and customers," said Mondragon.

During a time when its Detroit-based rivals were filing for bankruptcy and receiving bailouts from American and Canadian taxpayers, Ford kept its independence and stuck to a global product strategy — introduced in 2006 and dubbed "One Ford" — and rode out the crisis.

Mondragon says that over the last two years, Ford has "clawed back" that decline by listening to consumers and delivering the products they've requested.

The turnaround has been swift and substantial.

With sales of 267,871 in 2010, Ford of Canada finished as the best-selling automaker in the country, passing General Motors for the first time in half a century.

With almost 100,00 units sold, the Ford F-Series pick-up not only kept its title as the No. 1 selling truck in Canada for 44 consecutive years, it was the best-selling car or truck in the country last year.

One of the main reasons Ford has reached the top in Canada has been the automaker's constant updating and introduction of new products.

"We used to be a global company that acted very regionally. [North America, Europe and Asia] didn't talk to each other. We kept our blinders on. We missed the mark. Today we're not doing that," said Mondragon.

The proof is in Ford showrooms.

For 2011, the automaker has launched the all-new Fiesta subcompact; Lincoln's first hybrid (the Lincoln MKZ sedan); the redesigned Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers; an all-new car-based Explorer crossover and all-new engine lineups in its bestselling F-Series pick-ups and Mustang sports coupe and convertible.

And there are more new Fords on the way.

At this year's Detroit auto show, Ford showcased 10 new compact segment vehicles, led by the all-new 2012 Ford Focus.

While Ford has tried to launch a "world car" before (i.e. the 1981 Escort, the ill-fated 1995 Contour/Mystique and the 1999 Focus), this time around Mondragon says the cars haven't been "watered down" to meet so-called North American car buyer needs.

Also coming later in the year will be the Ford C-Max, a compact minivan built off the Focus chassis, plus the start of Ford's electric vehicle plans, including purely electric versions of the Focus, C-Max and Transit Connect, as well as a C-Max hybrid.

In 2012, Ford will replace its popular Escape with a production version of its Vertrek concept, also debuting in Detroit.

"The diversity of Canada allows us to introduce our global products," Mondragon said. "The Canadian consumer is very educated, they are looking for value and functionality, and everyone is looking for greater fuel economy."

Looking down the road, the automaker's dependence on pick-up sales may be seen as a weakness. But Ford is already looking at how to make its trucks meet future and more demanding fuel-efficiency regulations.

Ford has already started the process with the introduction for 2011 of a turbocharged V6 in the F-150, making it the most- fuel efficient vehicle in its class.

"In addition to these new, high-tech engines, we're looking at stop-start technology, better aerodynamics and lighter weight materials to increase the fuel economy over the next 5 to 10 years," said Mondragon.

And although Mondragon has no complaints with the automaker's sales in Canada, he's even more optimistic about Ford's manufacturing plans in this country.

Ford employs approximately 7,000 people in Canada, plus an additional 18,000 people in the approximately 440 Ford and Ford-Lincoln dealerships across the country.

Canadian plants includes the St. Thomas Assembly Plant, Windsor Engine Plant, Essex Engine Plant, and the Oakville Assembly Complex that became Ford's first flexible manufacturing plant in 2004 and now builds the Ford Edge and Flex and Lincoln MKX and MKT crossovers.

And it's these plants that hold the future to Ford's manufacturing growth in Canada.

Mondragon says that while the Canadian new car market has returned to 94 per cent of its peak in 2002, the U.S. market is only at 72 per cent of its peak capacity.

Because 90 per cent of the vehicles Ford builds in Canada goes to other North American markets, the head of Ford Canada sees this as a "great upside."

But he's also realistic.

For 2010, more than half of Ford's sales in Canada were trucks. And Mondragon thinks that's not sustainable and not healthy for the industry.

"However, as we introduce new cars in the subcompact and compact segments, combined with the projected increase in gas prices by the end of 2011, we're projecting that we'll be 50:50 cars versus trucks by the end of the year, rising to a 60 per cent car ratio by 2012."



Richard came from Windsor to Ford Bramalea November 10, 2008.
He will be sadly missed by his co-workers and family.

SARAFINCHIN, Richard "Rick" Passed away suddenly on April 6, 2011, at the age of 44 years. Loving husband of Jackie. Cherished and devoted father of Tyler and Courtney. Dear son of Sharon McGaffey and Ron Sarafinchin (Marie). Loving grandson of Sophie Sarafinchin and son-in-law of Danny Wigle. Dear brother of Robert Sarafinchin (Debbie) and Anton Jinkerson (Char-lene). Survived by many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and friends. Rick was a dedicated employee of the Ford Motor Company for over 13 years and a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs and Windsor Spitfires fan. In following Rick's wishes, cremation has already taken place. Arrangements entrusted to WINDSOR CHAPEL FUNERAL HOME (Main Chapel) 519-253-7234 As an expression of sympathy, memorial donations may be made to a trust fund for Tyler and Courtney at the Bank of Montreal (account number 405-8994-528). Online condolences and cherished memories may be shared at www.windsorchapel.com


Zowie! Tricked-out
Batmobile really a Ford
A Batmobile from the 1960s television series "Batman" sold at auction for 119,000 pounds ($233,000) through Coys auctioneers in London in 2007. (Coys Auctioneers)

Jason H. Harper / Bloomberg News
April 17, 2011

This is every kid's dream. I'm sitting in the Batmobile, a gonzo fantasy car with parachutes and fins so big they look like wings.

I've arrived at a custom-car garage in North Hollywood to meet two automotive legends: the original car from the 1960s Batman TV show ("Pow!" "Zap!" "Kaboom!") and its creator, 85-year-old George Barris.

I've even been promised a drive in the Caped Crusader's cruiser ... if only it will stop raining.

Barris calls himself the "King of the Kustomizers." He's behind innumerable TV and movie cars, including the "Back to the Future" DeLorean, "The A-Team" van and "Knight Rider" KITT Trans Am. His most famous car will always be the Batmobile, fashioned in 1966.

Most were built at Barris's Riverside Drive garage, where I arrive in a deluge — hardly typical L.A. weather. The Batmobile has no roof, which signals trouble.

In a car world populated with big kids who've simply graduated to bigger toys, Barris is Peter Pan. A small man with white hair haloing his skull and funky 1970s-style gold-rimmed glasses, he's a live wire who constantly tells stories about former clients from Elvis and Michael Jackson to Clint Eastwood.

"I wasn't really aware of Batman before making the car," he says. "I knew the comic books, I guess, but had no idea it was going to turn into such a big thing."

ABC Studios gave him less than three weeks to conceptualize and build it. "The only idea they had was to cut out a bat face and stick it on the front of a Lincoln. Ridiculous!"

Barris had a long-standing relationship with Ford and owned a concept car called the Lincoln Futura — an outlandishly long, bubble-windowed coupe hand-built in Italy. It became the base.

Almost 20 feet long, it's too big to take in at a single glance. Barris's team fashioned wings that start from the middle of the doors and rise over the beltline, coming to a sharp rake in the rear.

There's a fake jet exhaust in the back (actually a painted 10-gallon bucket), and two packed parachutes that actually work, used to effect a "Bat turn."

"I popped them once on the Hollywood Freeway and got pulled over," Barris says. "The officer asked, 'What do you think you're doing?' I told him, 'Just checking the Bat chutes out before you and me go out to catch the Riddler.' 'Now I've heard it all!' he said."

Fashioned from steel, the car doors are incredibly heavy. I slip into the black-leather bucket seats where Adam West once perched ("He's a good driver," says Barris). The large steering wheel has a tachometer in the center (an original concept-car detail), and controls for various James Bond-like gadgets on the dash.

They include oil slicks, an ejector, rockets, nails and an anti-theft system, all helpfully labeled — and all very imaginary. The oil-slick nozzles on the front of the car are actually sprinkler heads.

There's a radar screen and, rather inexplicably, a large plastic bubble-encased compass mounted on top of the vinyl dash.

To my right is the Bat phone, a clunky hunk of red plastic attached to a coiled phone cord. A pretty revolutionary idea for its time. Instead of a roof, there's just a Plexiglas half bubble front and rear that make up the windscreens.

A Ford badge adorns each side. While the car runs and has a 500-horsepower engine, Barris prefers not to drive it often. "I wouldn't sell it for the world," he says. "It's for my kids."

During the TV show, which ran from 1966 to 1968, molds were made from the original and some half- dozen fiberglass replicas were created for stunt work and promotional events. In 2007, one sold at auction for $233,000.

Car No. 2, the first reproduction, is also here and Barris fires it up. It's loud and rough-sounding. "As soon as it stops raining ..." he says pointedly. I look outside. Buckets of rain.

As we wait, Barris shows me around. "This is my Batcave," he says of a room brimming with Batman toys in their original packages. I contemplate their worth on eBay.

Every inch of wall space is covered with movie posters and promotional photos of shows Barris has worked on. He's currently a judge on Speed channel's "Car Warriors," where two teams compete to customize cars. "It's awesome what these guys do," he says breezily.

Still, he complains that cars used on retreads of TV shows like "Knight Rider" and the movie "Green Hornet" aren't as cool as the versions he worked on. "They use computer effects. Our cars actually had to do all that stuff."

One last look outside. The rain has gotten even worse. Foiled! No Bat turns today.


Ford gears up for China blitz

15 new models expected to hit growing market in four years

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News
April 16, 2011

Ford Motor Co., now a bit player in China, will roll out 15 new vehicles over the next four years, starting with the all-new Focus compact, to expand its presence in the world's largest auto market.

The Dearborn automaker also plans to more than double the number of dealerships it has in China, to around 700, and boost its work force.

"We're going to significantly increase our resources here," Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa, said Thursday in Shanghai. "We're committed to it. We have the capital, we have the products."

The plan to add more vehicles to Ford's China lineup is part of the company's objective to introduce 50 new models and powertrains in the Asia-Pacific region in the next four years.

Ford expects the fast-growing region and other emerging markets to generate 70 percent of its sales growth during the next 10 years.

China became the world's No. 1 auto market in 2009 and sales there increased 32 percent last year to 18 million vehicles.

Ford's sales in China rose 19 percent in the first quarter, after a 40 percent sales surge last year.

But Ford is a secondary player, compared with General Motors Co., Hyundai Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG. According to J.D. Power and Associates, its share of China's passenger car market in 2010 was 2 percent, while Hyundai had 6 percent, GM 7 percent and VW 11 percent.

"Ford was late to the game in Asia," said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, Calif. "Because they were late, they didn't have the opportunity to pick the strongest partners."

GM and Volkswagen, by contrast, both have ventures with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. "SAIC is a very good company," Peterson said.

Ford has teamed up with Chang'an Automobile Co. to comply with Chinese rules allowing foreign automakers to produce vehicles only in ventures with local partners.

Previously Ford's Asia strategy had centered more on Thailand and Australia, and on its partnership with Mazda Motor Corp.

During the industry downturn of 2008 and 2009, Ford CEO Alan Mulally's focus on the firm's core North American operations helped Ford avoid bankruptcy. The company sold foreign brands and assets, including Swedish carmaker Volvo to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

GM ended up filing for bankruptcy, but made it a priority to preserve its big operations in China.

Now, Ford executives believe Mulally's "One Ford" plan will help it expand its model range in China. The plan allows Ford to generate economies of scale by building vehicles for all regions using the same underpinnings.

"We are leveraging the strength of the One Ford plan and our global platforms to bring 15 new vehicles to China by 2015, reinforcing our commitment to offer a full portfolio of vehicles for our Chinese customers," Hinrichs said.

Ford currently has four models in its passenger car lineup.

Ford did not disclose information about the vehicles, aside from the Focus, that are coming to China. But analysts say the new offerings are expected to include a car smaller than the Fiesta subcompact.

Ford executives are expected to say more about their plans at the Shanghai auto show next week.

In a recent report, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said Ford was targetting 8 percent of the Chinese market within 10 years.

As part of its growth drive, Ford said it plans to more than double the number of dealerships it has in China by 2015, from 340 today.

It will add 1,200 jobs at its China operations, doubling the size of its skilled work force.

Ford plans to start building the Focus next year at a $490 million plant it is building with Chang'an in the giant city of Chongqing in central China. The plant will have an initial production capacity of 150,000 vehicles.

When the Focus goes into production in China in 2012, Ford will be closer to achieving its goal of producing 2 million compacts a year on the same platform.


Volume 41, No. 15
April 15, 2011

Use Your Vote Wisely, CAW President Urges

Hundreds of CAW leaders, activists and members gathered for federal election leadership meetings in Vancouver, London and Kitchener, Ontario to strategize for the May 2 election.

At the April 13 and 14 meetings, participants heard about the consequences of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives taking office once again, whether with a minority or majority mandate.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza called the election a turning point for progressives and the labour movement

"If Stephen Harper is elected with a majority, make no mistake, he will spend the next four years attacking pensions, universal health care, social programs and our public education system," said Lewenza.

He also called for a system of proportional representation, an official first for the union. Lewenza said this would lead to a more accurate reflection of popular opinion and encourage more people to vote.

Detailed presentations about Harper's vision for Canada were given by David Robertson, CAW director of work organization and training, the breakdown of seats and slim win ridings by Bill Murnighan, CAW research and Jenny Ahn, CAW director of membership mobilization and political action.

CAW members were urged to learn about the slim win ridings and dedicate their energies to help NDP incumbents and those with the best hope of unseating or keeping out a Conservative candidate. Also CAW members can use materials provided to do outreach about the election to co-workers.

For the latest CAW election information, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10080.htm
For updates emailed to your inbox, please join: http://connected.caw.ca/

CAW Prepares for Strike Vote at Air Canada as Negotiations Lag

Representatives of more than 3,800 CAW members at Air Canada met April 12 in Toronto to prepare for a coming strike vote, should negotiations continue to lag with the airline.

More than 100 area representatives were in attendance to report back on members' growing frustration at the airline's attacks on workers pensions, wages and benefits -particularly in light of the announced bonus for Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu.

According to Canadian Press, in addition to $3 million in cash Rovinescu received last year, he also received $1.4 million of Air Canada shares and

$156,400 of retirement benefits. Rovinescu will be able to access a $5 million retention payment if he remains on the job until March 31, 2012, CP states.

"This company will have a fight on its hands if it keeps trying to put the squeeze on our pensions," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. This company has a responsibility, similar to our members' responsibility to the public, to treat these workers with dignity and respect -they have been falling short on their end of the bargain for far too long. People have had enough."

At the meeting, the union also distributed yellow "Fair Deal" bracelets which will be worn by members across the country until an agreement is reached.

CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross, said that after years of concessions at Air Canada, enough is enough -the company cannot cry poor while paying out exorbitant bonuses. "Our membership wants a fair deal and we'll be wearing our Fair Deal bracelets until we get one."

Talks opened up with the airline in early February and the agreement expired on February 28. Negotiations resume at the end of April.

Cascade Aerospace Members Ratify New Agreement

CAW Local 114 members at Cascade Aerospace have overwhelmingly approved a new three-year collective agreement.

Workers at the Abbotsford, British Columbia aerospace company voted 87 per cent in favour of a tentative agreement that was reached in late March.

Improvements include wage and premium increases, COLA and significant benefit improvements. In addition there is an increase to pension contributions. Wage increases are 1.7 per cent in the first year, 1.8 in the second and 1.8 in the third plus COLA added on the wages in each quarter during the agreement.

"With the solidarity of the membership at Cascade, we bargained another first rate agreement with the CAW that will serve us well for years to come," said plant chair Nate Shier. "The membership showed complete confidence and support for the bargaining committee and demonstrated it with their solidarity on the floor as well as with a strong ratification result," Shier said.

Other gains include language changes such as transfer of operations and job security guarantees, significant severance and layoff language as well as scheduling improvements.

In addition, a minimum of 12 hours per week for the elected health and safety chair was negotiated and, for the first time, recognition of a Women's Advocate was bargained.

The CAW represents approximately 375 aircraft maintenance engineers, interior technicians, sheet metal mechanics and painters at Cascade.

Thousands Call For Respect

Ten thousand workers, students, community agency members and supporters filled Toronto's downtown Yonge and Dundas square, calling for respect from Toronto City Council for citizens and city services.

The April 9 rally was called in response to a number of moves by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to cut, cancel or otherwise curtail social programs, city services and the rights of city workers.

Most recently, this includes cancelling the light rail transit plan for outlying areas of the city, attempting to sell off public housing units, firing the board of directors of Toronto Community Housing and asking the Ontario government to pass legislation removing the right to strike for transit workers. Ford has also threatened to privatize garbage collection and other services currently performed by city workers.

The rally began with speeches at the square and then demonstrators took to the streets to march all the way to City Hall. Participants heard from a variety of speakers ranging from public housing tenants, city workers to labour representatives such as Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan, who expressed solidarity with city workers.

Toronto and York Region Labour Council President John Cartwright said that the mass rally is only the beginning of the coalition of citizen and labour group's attempt to make their voice heard by City Council.

"This is just the start of the hard work that we're going to have to do in our communities talking to our elected politicians, in their own wards ensuring that they don't support negative policies that will hurt our communities and instead ensuring that they support good jobs and strong public services for all," said Cartwright.

The Toronto and York Region Labour Council is asking Torontonians to contact their city councillor and urge them to support city services, social programs and the promotion and preservation of good jobs.

Salvation Army to Close its Doors at Long Term Care Home

Workers at the Salvation Army A.R Goudie Eventide long-term care home in Kitchener, Ontario are reeling after management announced April 7 it would be closing the facility.

No date for the closure was given, but the home has already notified the Local Integrated Health Network and is in the process of contacting the residents' families.

The workers are represented by CAW Local 1106, which was in the middle of contract negotiations with the Salvation Army when the announcement was made. A closure would leave 80 residents without a home and 100 workers without jobs.

"It is extremely frustrating that this "socially conscious" employer chose to remain silent at the bargaining table about their viability," said Bill Gibson, CAW Kitchener area director.

Gibson said the union will meet with the employer to push it to keep the facility open, failing that the facility must be sold to a new owner, keeping the home open. Many of the workers are women with up to 25 years seniority.

"The potential job loss for our members is devastating however the uprooting of residents during the most fragile period in their lives is saddening," said Gibson.

Japan Earthquake Financial Request

The strongest recorded earthquake ever in Japan has triggered the country's worst disaster of the post-war era.

The Tohoku Pacific Earthquake and resulting tsunami took the lives of tens of thousands of people on March 11, 2011. The subsequent radiation leaks from the badly damaged Fukushima nuclear plant has further resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated from the area. The long-term consequences of this ongoing crisis are unknown, but will have major lasting repercussions for the region.

"As Japan suffers the effects of this devastating earthquake, we are all deeply moved by the strength and dignity of the people in this time of crisis," CAW President Ken Lewenza said. As Japan begins the long road to recovery, Lewenza stressed the importance of supporting relief and rebuilding efforts.

In an April 8 letter for Japan relief support, Lewenza encouraged contributions to the CAW Social Justice Fund.

Please make cheques payable to CAW SJF Japan Earthquake/Tsunamis Fund and mail to: International Department, CAW-Canada, 205 Placer Court, Toronto, ON M2H 3H9.

Tax receipts will be issued, where appropriate. For more information, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10043.htm

Tax Cuts Take Money Out of the Economy, CCPA Study says

The Conservatives' proposed three-point cut in corporate tax rates would cost the public purse $6 billion per year, yet only stimulate about $600 million of new business investment annually, says an April 13 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The study, by CAW economist Jim Stanford, examines historical data on business investment and cash flow from 1961 through 2010. The study shows that business fixed capital spending has declined notably as a share of GDP and as a share of corporate cash flow since the early 1980s, despite repeated tax cuts that have reduced the combined federal-provincial corporate tax rate from 50 percent to just 29.5 percent in 2010. The study finds no evidence in the historical data that lower taxes have directly stimulated more investment. What's worse is that the indirect impact of tax cuts on investment (experienced through corporate cash flow) has become much weaker over time.

"After adjusting for other determinants of investment spending, incremental cash flow has elicited only small amounts of business investment in recent years: about 10 cents in new investment for each dollar in extra cash flow," says Stanford. The federal government would have a far more powerful impact on both public and private investment by investing directly in public infrastructure, rather than providing additional tax reductions for businesses."

If the federal government spent $6 billion on public infrastructure instead of corporate tax cuts, the total increase in investment would be more than ten times as great as the increase in private investment from tax cuts alone.

According to the study, Canadian corporations have received $745 billion in excess, uninvested after-tax cash flow since 2001: cash flow that was not reinvested in real capital projects in Canada. A lack of business investment spending was the major source of Canada's recent downturn, and the sluggish rebound in business spending is a key reason why Canada's recovery from the recession has been uncertain, sluggish, and incomplete.

Having Their Cake and Eating It: Business Profits, Taxes, and Investment in Canada is available on the CCPA website: http://policyalternatives.ca/



Grow the CPP - A better way to save

The CLC proposes a doubling of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits to ensure a better minimum pension for all Canadians. This would be financed through a modest and gradual increase in contributions over seven years, following the pattern set by CPP reforms in the 1990s.

This plan is endorsed by Bernard Dussault, who was the Chief Actuary of the CPP and Old Age Security program from 1992 to 1997.

Currently workers and employers pay 4.95% of salary into the CPP (up to a current “Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings” limit of $47,200 per year).

Labour's plan to double future CPP benefits can be paid for by increasing what workers currently save through CPP contributions by 0.43% of pensionable earnings each year for 7 years.

These increased contributions would effectively double the average earnings replaced by CPP pension benefits, to a maximum (in 2010 dollars) of $1,868 per month.

Some might be surprised that we can finance a future doubling of CPP pension benefits by saving less than 3% more of our salaries. This is because the CPP structure is so cost-efficient. It is possible to achieve more with less.

The CLC plan offers a better minimum pension to everyone. CPP benefits are indexed, secure, and portable across jobs. Workers wouldn’t fear losing their pensions given the misdeeds of Bay Street and Wall Street.

This reform will benefit young workers the most, as they would pay higher CPP contributions over the rest of their worklives. That’s why our plan for the CPP is about preparing for the future, so the next generation of workers can count on a dignified retirement.

Why This is a Good Idea

Canadians would have more pension security: They would no longer fear losing their pension savings to higher inflation, stock market shenanigans, or the loss of employment.

This is a pan-Canadian solution to a pan-Canadian problem: Some provinces have suggested their own solutions to address pension concerns, but these initiatives won’t suffice. Worker mobility between provinces is a major concern, and the CPP’s scope is capable of dealing with this issue. The CPP’s framework can’t be matched by any provincial or regional solution.

This prepares us for the future: Young and future workers would benefit the most from CPP expansion given they would make more CPP contributions at a higher rate. In this way, expanding the CPP is about preparing for the future, and leaving behind a better system for our kids.

How our CPP Plan Would Work

The CLC proposes a doubling of the Canada Pension Plan benefits, financed on a go-forward basis.   Labour’s plan to double future CPP benefits can be paid for by increasing what workers currently save through CPP contributions by 0.43% of pensionable earnings* each year for 7 years.

* Pensionable earnings include all declared earnings above $3,500 up to $47,200 (the 2010 cap, established annually by the Canada Revenue Agency).

For a worker earning $47,200 or more per year, the initial cost of gradually doubling future CPP benefits works out to about 9 cents an hour, or $3.57 a week. That’s less than the cost of a newspaper subscription.

For a worker earning $30,000 per year, the initial cost would be about 6 cents an hour, or $2.27 a week. That’s less than the cost of a medium double-double with a donut at Tim Hortons.

Our plan would effectively double the average earnings replaced by CPP pension benefits, to a maximum (in current dollars) of $1,868 per month. 

Increase in CPP contributions, each year for seven years

% increase .
$ increase
$47,200.00 0.43% $185.43 $3.57
$41,000.00 0.43% $161.07 $3.10
$30,000.00 0.43% $117.86 $2.27
$20,000.00 0.43% $78.57 $1.51
$10,000.00 0.43% $39.29 76¢




Protect Pensions - Expand CPP Leadership Assembly
March 9, 2011

Protecting Pensions and expanding the CPP

March 9th. was a nasty evening weather wise but the  discussions and sense of urgency inside the United Steel Workers Hall on Aerowood Drive in Mississauga made it worth the trip.

As usual, the attendance by Local 584 leadership both active and retired was impressive. Sisters White, Morrison and Harwood along with Brothers Champagne, Gangwar,Honcharsky, Chris Wilski, and Berry listened intently and offered suggestions as how to push our politicians to expand the CPP.

Simply put, the current CPP is the best vehicle to ensure that everyone will be able to tap into a pension when their working lives come to an end. The cost of administering the plan is 0.5% per annum as opposed to the typical 2.5% in the private sector. That difference means that if we let the Conservative Government (or should I say the Harper Government as he had instructed his staff this week  on the hill) have their way and hand future voluntary pension mechanisms over to the banks and financial advisors he will send thousands and thousands of your hard earned dollars into their pockets instead of yours by the time you or your children retire.

As can be seen with the continuing attacks on working people and the middle class in Wisconsin and many other states it would not be out of the question that should Harper win a majority in the coming election he would emulate his Republican mentors and start ripping apart any hopes of pension reform that would help ALL Canadians and bring their dismantling of hard won collective bargaining rights north of the 49th.

According to the CLC 76% of Canadians support expanding CPP over the private voluntary option. This fight can be won, IT MUST BE WON. Your support by contacting your MP and your MPP to voice your backing of an expanded CPP is vital to this cause in aid of current and future generations of Canadians.

Thanks to Brother Hassan Yussuff Secretary-treasurer of the CLC and Sister Peggy Nash assistant to Ken Lewenza and former NDP MP along with the team representing Andrew Kania Liberal MP for Brampton West whose input, support and attendance at this meeting was greatly appreciated.
Below is a list of MPs for the Peel/Halton region. Please take a moment of your time to fire off an email showing your support for an expanded CPP.

Mississauga-Brampton South:
Navadeep Bains (L) 905-795-5220  Fax-905-795-5252  Bains.N@parl.gc.ca

Bonnie Crombie (L) 905-812-1811 Fax-905-812-8464 Crombie.B@parl.gc.ca

Ruby Dhalla (L) 905-874-6868 Fax-905-875-1415 Dhalla.R@parl.gc.ca

Mississauga East-Cooksville:
Albina Guarnieri (L) 905-566-0009 Fax-905-566-0017 Guarnieri.A@parl.gc.ca

Brampton West:
Andrew Kania (L) 905-846-0076 Fax-905-846-3901 Kania.A@parl.gc.ca

Gurbax Malhi (L) 905-790-9211 Fax-905-790-9507 Malhi.G@parl.gc.ca

Mississauga South:
Paul Szabo (L) 905-822-2111 Fax-905-822-2115 Szabo.P@parl.gc.ca

Bob Dechert (C) 905-897-1952 Fax-905-897-6117 Dechert.B@parl.gc.ca

Lisa Raitt (C) 905-693-0166 Fax-905-693-0704 Raitt.L@parl.gc.ca

David Tilson (C) 905-857-6080 Fax-906-857-5570   Tilson.D@parl.gc.ca

For federal government contact info: http://canada.gc.ca/directories-repertoires/direct-eng.html#mp


Peggy Nash speaks to delegates

CAW LOCAL 584 Takes up two tables

Alison White, Chris Wilski & Doug Berry


F-150 recall expands by 1.2 million

Feds push Ford to fix air bag issue reported in 2004-06 models

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 15, 2011

Detroit— Ford Motor Co., under government pressure, has agreed to recall an additional 1.2 million F-150 pickups after air bags suddenly deployed in more than 260 cases.

The recalled trucks are from the 2004-06 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on its website Thursday that the Dearborn automaker — which resisted a recall for more than five months — had agreed to the action.

NHTSA said it has received reports of at least 269 unintended air bag deployments and 98 injuries from suspect F-150s. Injuries include chipped teeth, fractured arms and burns.

This recall is in addition to Ford's announcement in February that it would recall 135,000 2005-06 F-150 trucks in the United States over concerns raised by the government that air bags could deploy without warning. But that was a fraction of the 1.3 million recalled vehicles that NHTSA sought.

"The bottom line is that this problem will only multiply. To remedy it, the agency firmly believes Ford must initiate a recall," said a Jan. 26 letter to Ford signed by Frank Borris, a NHTSA enforcement attorney.

The recall announced Thursday includes 16,000 2006 Lincoln Mark LT pickups. Ford is also recalling 89,000 pickups in Canada and 47,000 in Mexico.

A wiring glitch is to blame, according to NHTSA.

Ford made a mid-model fix in 2006, and another in 2007.

"We are pleased that Ford shares our commitment to safety and is taking action to protect consumers by expanding its safety recall to include an additional 1.2 million Ford F-150 and Lincoln Mark LT vehicles," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said Thursday.

"We hope to continue working cooperatively with auto manufacturers to ensure safety defects are addressed quickly for the driving public."

Barclays Capital said the recall may cost Ford $150 per vehicle, or $180 million. That translates into $0.04 per share.

While Ford had vigorously opposed recalling the additional vehicles, it said in a letter to NHTSA that it is expanding the recall "to reassure customers of Ford's commitment to safety and to eliminate any possible customer confusion."

The F-150, including other F-series trucks, is the best-selling truck in the United States and one of Ford's most profitable vehicles. The automaker sold more than 500,000 F-series trucks in 2010. Sales of the F-series were up 25 percent in March.

NHTSA warned that if Ford didn't agree to a recall, the government agency could convene a formal public hearing to compel a recall — a rarely used step that hasn't happened in decades. In agreeing to the settlement, Ford will avoid the potential embarrassment in which safety regulators publicly lay out the evidence to force a recall.

"The writing is on the wall with this recall," said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies Inc., an auto safety advocacy group.

"Having a non-impact air bag deployment is such an obvious defect there's no question Ford was going to have to expand the recall."

Over the past 27 years, NHTSA said it has opened 33 investigations into sudden air bag deployment — and said 269 air bag deployments "represented the most incidents ever recorded in any inadvertent air bag deployment investigation or recall in NHTSA history."

The agency has taken a hard line with automakers over safety issues over the last year, especially in the wake of Toyota Motor Corp.'s sudden acceleration issues.

Ford had argued that a limited recall made sense because of the higher failure rate at one of the three plants where the F-150 was assembled.

But NHTSA officials contended that since the same suspect part was in all F-150 vehicles built in the time frame, Ford should recall all of them.

The only reported crash linked to the problem was when a driver jumped from a truck after the air bag deployed, mistakenly thinking the vehicle was on fire.

Ford said it will notify owners in May.

"We understand the government's desire to reach a broad group of potentially affected consumers and will recall the remaining population of trucks for our customers' peace of mind," Ford said in a statement.


Ford output to stay affected
by Japan quake

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 14, 2011

Ford Motor Co. production in Asia-Pacific will continue to be impacted in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake, Chief Executive Alan Mulally said today following an event in Detroit honoring him as executive of the year.

The disaster has shown how complicated the automotive supply chain is, Mulally said after receiving the award from Norwegian supplier DNV Certification which is the lead sponsor of the annual event. Mulally was the 52nd leader to be honored.

More than a month after the earthquake, the industry is still struggling to get to the bottom of the impact, Mulally said.

"You will see us continue to update everybody, because we are very transparent about what we learn," Mulally said. "But it's still unfolding."

While Ford does not have assembly plants in the affected area, there are plants in Asia-Pacific suffering from shortages of Japanese parts.

On April 11 Ford disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission that some Asia-Pacific operations, including joint ventures, could be idled or production slowed later this month and into May.

The automaker continues to monitor the situation closely but no downtime is currently planned at North American plants.

The CEO also stressed that Ford's earnings will not be impacted or its business plan affected.

Addressing a wide range of topics, Mulally said Ford will continue to hold the line on incentives with discipline to match production with demand.

And he addressed distracted driving with the growing amount of electronics in today's vehicles. Technology such as smartphones, Bluetooth and voice recognition systems are designed to ensure drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while remaining connected to their ever-important digital world, he said.

The CEO who earned $26.5 million in 2010 said he is pleased Ford continues to align compensation with business performance.

He does not see his large payout as a detriment heading into negotiations with the United Auto Workers and said the relationship between the two is strong. Conversion of truck plants to make cars and the hiring of workers again are appreciated by the UAW, he said


Engineer Sentenced for
Stealing Ford Secrets

Associated Press
April 13, 2011

DETROIT—An engineer who stole trade secrets from Ford Motor Co. has been sentenced to almost six years in prison.

Xiang Dong Yu, also known as Mike Yum, admits copying thousands of documents with details on engine-transmission systems and electrical-power supply before leaving to work for a Chinese competitor in 2008.

Mr. Yu was sentenced Tuesday to 70 months in prison and will be deported to China after his release. He worked at Ford for 10 years and quit the company by sending an e-mail from China in January 2007.

A year earlier, Ford had received a tip from Mr. Yu's ex-girlfriend that he'd provided Ford documents to potential employers.

The company has described the information as the "DNA" found in all Ford vehicles.


Ford says Japan disaster
could lower financial results

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
April 12, 2011

Detroit— Ford Motor Co. warned company's financial outlook could be hurt by the ongoing fallout from the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

In a filing late Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ford said its financial outlook could be affected.

Ford said that "should the supply of a key material or component from Japan be disrupted and an alternate supply not be available, we could have to reduce or temporarily cease production of vehicles, which could adversely affect our and Ford Motor Credit Company's financial condition and results of operations."

Ford said earlier this month it had taken into account potential parts shortages related to Japan both as it scheduled previously planned down weeks and as part of regular production planning process to match supply to current demand.

"We now expect that beginning in the last week of April and continuing into May, certain of our operations in the Asia-Pacific region (including certain of our joint venture operations) will be affected by shortages of components and vehicle kits as a result of the events in Japan," Ford said. "Although this likely will require us and the affected joint venture affiliates to reduce or temporarily cease production of certain vehicles in the Asia-Pacific region, we do not expect this production disruption would have a material impact on our overall results."

Ford said it is still working to find other sources of parts.

Although we have no production facilities in Japan, we do obtain materials and components from suppliers located in Japan, and we are working closely with those suppliers to assess their production and shipping capabilities and to minimize any disruptions. We also are pursuing other sources of supply as necessary and practicable," the company said.

The only immediate impact has been restrictions on ordering vehicles in certain paint colors for which an essential element is sourced from a plant in Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp. told dealers on Sunday that the company is producing cars and trucks at reduced levels in April and hasn't set its production schedule for May through July. They warned dealers that new vehicle may be in limited supply.


Ford says Asian operations
may face part shortages

April 12, 2011

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford Motor Co. says that its Asia-Pacific operations may have to slow or stop production later this month because of parts shortages from Japan.

Ford has had to temporarily halt operations in the U.S. and Europe because of shortages, but this was the first word of possible production cuts in Asia. Ford has 13 plants in its Asia-Pacific region, including eight assembly plants in Australia, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, India, the Philippines and China.

Ford doesn't have any production facilities in Japan but, like other automakers, does source parts from suppliers that were hurt by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Ford said in a regulatory filing Monday that it expects its operations will be affected beginning the last week of April and into May. It didn't say which factories or for how long, but said it doesn't expect any production disruption to have a big impact on the company's overall financial results. It is pursuing other sources for some of its supply.

However, if the supply of a key material or part from Japan is disrupted and it can't find an alternate, Ford said it may have to reduce or temporarily halt vehicle production. That could hurt both the company's results and Ford Motor Credit Co.'s financial condition, it added.

Thousands rally against
Ford policies

Protesters rally against Mayor Rob Ford's cuts to social programs and services during a march to City Hall on Saturday.

April 11, 2011

Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew
Staff Reporter

Several thousand people converged on Yonge-Dundas Square and marched to City Hall Saturday to rally against privatization and cuts to public services.

The demonstration, dubbed the “Rally for Respect,” was organized by a coalition of unions, community activists, environmental, and student groups that called on Mayor Rob Ford to halt any plans to privatize city services and public transit, sell off public housing, and impose user fees at recreation centre facilities.

John Cartwright, head of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, told the gathering crowd across from the Eaton Centre, that the rally was not against any particular politician.

“It’s a rally to talk about the kind of city we want to live in together, build together, invest in together, and fight for together,” he said.

“This is the start of the people of Toronto coming out and saying we want a different direction from where the Ford administration is taking us,” Cartwright later told the Star in an interview.

But other speakers clearly singled out Ford, who campaigned on promises of tax cuts with no reductions in city services.

“I stand with you in opposition to an administration that wants to reduce taxes in Rosedale while imposing user fees to residents of Jane and Finch and Scarborough,” said Bob Kinnear, head of the union representing TTC workers, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113.

It was a message that struck a nerve for Ashley Bouman, a student at George Brown College. “I don’t like anything Rob Ford stands for,” she said, marching along Queen St. to City Hall. “He looks out for his rich friends and that’s it.”

“No matter who you voted for in the municipal election, you didn’t vote to cut the jobs and agencies that deliver services to every community in the city,” Toronto Community Housing resident Kay Bisnath, told the demonstrators.

Ford recently cancelled a transit plan that would build light rail transit lines, in favour of expanding the subway system.

Deborah Mandell, a 34-year-old mental health counselor said she’s concerned about Ford’s plans for public transit and worries that charging user fees will make community recreation centres too expensive. “I want to make sure public services are really serving the needs of families and the people in the community who need them.”

The rally drew union members from other parts of southern Ontario.

“I believe what’s happened here will turn into a pattern and social services will be cut everywhere. We need people to stand up for the fabric of society that we believe is Canada,” said Steve Holmes, a bus driver from London, Ont.

City councilors Mary Fragedakis (Toronto-Danforth) and Adam Vaughan (Trinity-Spadina) attended the rally.

Last month, Ford gave the green light to a core service review, which will take an inventory of all city services, which Cartwright described at the rally as a “Trojan Horse” to privatize city services.

In mid-May, city council will vote on a proposal to privatize garbage collection west of Yonge St. Ford has also publicly mused about privatizing social housing.

Ford’s cuts will affect those who are the most vulnerable and marginalized, including seniors, the disabled, and those living in low-income neighbourhoods, said organizer Winnie Ng, who is Ryerson University’s Gindin Chair of Social Justice and Democracy.

“This is the beginning of our campaign,” she told the crowd at City Hall. “We are going to take back our city. The next time we have a rally, we want to see 100,000 people here.”


April 8, 2011
Volume 41, No. 14


CAW Launches Election Materials

The CAW has launched its federal election campaign, with the theme Shift Change: Your Vote Matters -calling for a dramatic change in the make up of government in Ottawa.

More than five years of Stephen Harper Conservative minority government has wreaked havoc on jobs, infrastructure, social programs and social and economic policy in Canada.

"As union members, we have a chance to put candidates in office who represent the interests and concerns of working people and to re-elect Members of Parliament who have shown their support on important issues," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

Lewenza encouraged CAW members to get involved in the election campaign by doing one of the following:

1.  Organize an event or an all-candidates meeting at their local union to discuss issues like health care, pensions, the economy and other issues of importance to working people in this election.

2.  Volunteer for the campaign for a priority candidate.

3.  Encourage friends, family, neighbours, co-workers and anyone you know to get out to vote on  May 2.

On April 11, the CAW will be releasing its lists of preferred candidates (including several CAW members), and 50 priority ridings which were slim wins in the last election.

Materials are being sent around to local unions and should arrive by Monday, April 11.

To download the election poster or fact sheets, or for the latest information, please visit:



Toronto NDP supporters came out in droves to a March 30 rally with Federal NDP leader Jack Layton, calling for stronger, more progressive representation for the City of Toronto.

Peggy Nash, assistant to the CAW national president and NDP candidate for the Parkdale-High Park riding in Toronto introduced Layton. Nash was joined by  musician and writer Andrew Cash, candidate for Davenport in Toronto.

Nash held the Parkdale-High Park seat from 2006-2008 and became the industry critic for the NDP and a Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. She was instrumental in stopping the foreign takeover of  MacDonald Dettwiler, maker of the Canadarm and RADARSAT-2.

In her years as MP and a trade union leader and activist, Nash has been an outspoken advocate on human rights and equality issues.

For more information on Peggy's campaign or to get involved, please visit: www.peggynash.ca


CAW Applauds NDP Pension Commitments

CAW President Ken Lewenza is commending New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton for his party's significant commitments to retirement security for all Canadians, in response to the campaign announcement that the NDP would strengthen pensions.

"A doubling of the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan is the only practical and plausible way to ensure that working Canadians have enough to retire on," said Lewenza. "The NDP has been extremely supportive of initiatives to improve pensions and retirement security. Unlike the Conservatives, the party has adopted a smart approach to helping Canadians retire from their jobs and in the process create opportunities for young people in the workforce."  

Lewenza noted that support for expanding the CPP has now been expressed by a broad range of political parties, pension experts, and anti-poverty activists.  "By failing to commit to expanding the CPP, the Conservatives are increasingly isolated.  They are standing in the way of an important and sensible measure that would benefit millions of future retirees."

Over the last number of years, thousands of Canadians have seen their workplace pensions disintegrate or be dramatically reduced when their employers closed up shop due to bankruptcy. The NDP plan, which includes amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) as well as the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), would mean that fewer pensioners would have to face this heartbreaking situation, said Lewenza.

Workers, pensioners and the long-term disabled should not be put at the back of the line when their employers close down. "In the last five years, the retirement security of Canadians has been devastated by the crisis, by the stock market meltdown, and by the irresponsibility of employers.  The Harper government has not recognized that stronger public pensions are the best solution to this crisis," said Lewenza.

The NDP's plan to provide a substantial increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement and an automatic enrolment in both the GIS and Old Age Security is a good investment in the country's economic well being and would remove the threat of poverty - a threat with which far too many of our seniors must cope, said Lewenza. 

The CAW, with the Canadian Labour Congress, has been calling for a doubling of the CPP, as well as an increase to the GIS and the creation of a federal guaranteed pension insurance fund. 

CAW Members Ratify New Windsor Casino Contract

After months of bargaining, a new-three-year contract has been reached at Windsor Casino Ltd. CAW Local 444 members at Caesars Windsor voted in favour of the tentative agreement at meetings April 6.

Signing bonuses for both full and part-time workers and modest wage increases in the second and third years form part of the package. The contract also includes revised vacation and sick days rules, Green Shield benefit coverage, and rules that discourage contracting out among other changes.

After years of a very difficult relationship with the employer, a new respectful understanding has finally begun, said CAW Local 444 President Rick Laporte.

"Changes in work place practices will give our members a better work life balance, access to a greatly improved job posting and bumping procedures, and the creation of new utility positions to maximize full time jobs," said Laporte.

Members voted 57.4 per cent in favour of the agreement. Laporte said that several rounds of lay-offs and years of bad relations have contributed to the hard feelings that many workers may still harbour about the Casino. Add to that that tough economic times created a very difficult environment for bargaining big increases, he said.

Workers Reeling from Honeywell North Safety Closure Plans

Workers at Honeywell North Safety group in Toronto were left in shock April 5 by a company announcement their plant would be closing by December.

"This is a sad day for the workers and their families," said CAW Local 462 President Charles Redden. "The workers are in shock and are concerned about their future. This workforce has done a tremendous job for this company and the union is determined to negotiate a strong closure agreement," Redden said.

Redden said the company has indicated the work will be phased out by December with half the work being relocated to the United States and the other half going to Mexico.

"This came as a complete surprise today because we had recently negotiated a modest collective agreement and there was no indication on the part of the company that a closure could take place," said CAW National Representative Paulo Ribeiro.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said "this is now another sad example of the absolutely dismal record of this federal government's antiquated economic policies. This plant is another victim of corporate greed as they move our work to the south."

CAW Local 462 represents approximately 80 workers at the plant, which produces work site safety equipment.

CAW Members on Strike at Bristol Aerospace

CAW Local 3005 members at Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg, Manitoba are on strike after negotiations broke down over company demands to slash benefits for retirees as well as other concession demands.

"The company's proposals for health care benefits would mean the elimination of benefits for current retirees as well as future retirees," said Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW President.

"The membership is determined to win a fair and equitable contract from this employer," Dias said.

CAW Local 3005 represents 375 workers at Bristol. The workers repair and overhaul aircraft and make aircraft components. The workers have been on strike since April 1.

Mayor Ford's Transit Plan Raises Concerns for Workers, CAW Says

It is always positive when the City of Toronto and the province can work together to improve transit infrastructure, creating manufacturing and construction jobs for workers, CAW President Ken Lewenza says.

For example, the agreement reached between the city, the province and Bombardier to manufacture transit cars in 2007 resulted in the recall of hundreds of workers who had been laid off at the company's Thunder Bay, Ontario facility.

However, Lewenza said the plan recently outlined by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is bad news for retail and service workers, students, and taxpayers in city suburbs who have been waiting for long overdue improved TTC services.

This move will particularly hit low wage service workers, part-time and shift workers in the eastern Scarborough and Finch West areas who would have received improved service under the previous Transit City plan.

"This administration has already cut 41 weekend and late evening bus services, which negatively impacts many retail and service workers who use transit to get to work," said CAW Local 1000 President Dwayne Gunness, whose local represents approximately 1000 service and retail workers in Toronto.

Lewenza said the previous transit plan was more beneficial for residents across the entire city.

"Mayor Ford's current announcement provides no transit improvements in large parts of the city where many workers, students and taxpayers need improved service," Lewenza said. "This new plan will take years longer to implement and will not service nearly as many people."

 "Instead of 52 kilometres of light rail transit this new plan means 25 kilometres for roughly the same amount of money," he said.

Solidarity 'We Are One' Rally in British Columbia

More than 2,000 Canadian and American trade unionists gathered at the Peace Arch in British Columbia on April 2 to protest union busting legislation like that in Wisconsin and other U.S. states.

CAW Local 111 bus drivers operated 14 buses on a volunteer basis, making sure that participants could get to the event. CAW members attended from Victoria and Nanaimo, British Columbia coming over on the ferry to show their solidarity.

"CAW locals from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland showed enthusiastic support to the U.S. trade unionists," said BC Area Director Susan Spratt.

"We all understand that it is not far fetched to believe that many provincial governments and certainly the Harper Conservative government would love to do to workers in Canada what they have done to workers in many states by taking away hard won rights such as free collective bargaining," Spratt said.

"Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has already started by taking away transit workers rights in Toronto by having them deemed essential," she said.

OFL Honour Roll Scholarships

Applications are being accepted for the OFL's Labour Honour Roll Scholarships.

The Ontario Federation of Labour will award two scholarships worth $2,000 each to a member or the child of a member of a local union affiliated to the OFL.

Recipients must be entering, in September 2011,  the first year of a full-time course leading to a diploma or certificate at a public Ontario community college or the first year of an undergraduate program, leading to a degree, at a publicly-funded Ontario university.

Scholarship winners must submit a brief resume as well as evidence of their understanding of the role and significance of the Canadian labour movement  including an essay of not more than 1000 words on a topic specified by the OFL.

Deadline for applications is May 27, 2011. Application forms can be found on-line at www.ofl.ca/youth.

Winners will be announced by July 5.

Scarborough Van Plant Reunion: Sunday, May 1

The second annual Scarborough Van Plant Reunion will be held Sunday, May 1 in Oshawa, Ontario.

The reunion will run from 1 pm to 6 pm at the Moose Lodge, 731 Wilson Road South, in Oshawa. It's a free event for van plant retirees.

Last year more than 300 attended the reunion and organizers are hoping to make this year's event more successful. CAW Local 303 van plant retirees, former salaried employees, TRS, CNR, truckers and others are welcome to attend.

The Scarborough van plant produced GM vans. In May of 1993 the plant, which at one point employed 2,800 workers, was closed. Many of the workers transferred to GM's car and truck assembly plants in Oshawa.


 Quality Public Healthcare Is Sustainable

The Canadian Health Coalition is working hard to debunk the myth that universal, public health care is "fiscally unsustainable."

Robert Evans, Canada's leading health care economist, recently spoke out, shattering the myth that public health care is 'unsustainable'; instead he pinned the blame for soaring costs on private health care spending.

"Opponents of Medicare claim that public health care is 'fiscally unsustainable' and that the only viable solution is a shift to more private coverage," Evans said. "Bluntly, this is a lie."

Evans, O.C., Ph.D. (Economics, Harvard), an officer of the Order of Canada, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, recently delivered this message to Members of Parliament during a special briefing session.

Here are a few Medicare facts and myths from http://www.medicare.ca/ .

The Myth: Our aging population will make health care unaffordable.

The Facts: Population aging is a very small factor in increasing health care costs. At 0.8 per cent per year, it has less of an impact than population growth (1 per cent) and inflation (2.5 per cent). The key cost drivers in health care services are the private, for-profit elements - pharmaceuticals, dental, diagnostic testing and other non-insured services. If one is concerned about rising costs, an aging population is not a reason to privatize the delivery of services.

The Myth: Privatization of health services will control health care costs.

The Facts: Public health care is the best way to control health care spending. Privatization is not sustainable.

Sustainability is often a code word for privatization and for-profit health care. Saying that public health care is unsustainable opens the door to privatization. Shifting from public to private spending shifts the cost burden from the wealthy to the sick.

Sandy Carricato of the National Pensioners and Senior Citizens Federation said some are sowing anxiety about the costs of an aging population.

"I think these costs will be manageable," Carricato said. "The real fiscal menace is the cost of prescription drugs. We desperately need federal leadership to bring in a universal drug plan. This would in fact save a lot of money."

The CAW is a member organization of the Canadian Health Coalition.


Ford resisting larger F-150 recall

Automaker, NHSTA in talks over
air bags that deploy without warning

David Shepardson / The Detroit News
FridayApril 8, 2011

Washington — Ford Motor Co. and federal regulators remain in talks over whether the automaker should expand a recall of F-150 pickups over dozens of reports that air bags have deployed without warning.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Strickland said Wednesday that talks are continuing after more than a month — and the agency has been pushing for more vehicles to be called back .

In February, the Dearborn automaker said it would recall 135,000 F-150 trucks in the United States over concerns raised by the government that air bags could deploy without warning.

That number, however, represents just a fraction of the 1.3 million vehicles that NHTSA asked Ford to recall in a Jan. 26 letter.

"Ford took great action and recalled about 135,000 vehicles. Our folks think that we would like to see something larger than that, and we're in talks right now," Strickland said.

He said he hopes both sides can soon come to a "mutually beneficial resolution" on the size of the recall.

Fordspokesman Wes Sherwood saidtheautomakercontinues to cooperate with NHTSA.

NHTSA said it has reports of 269 air bag deployments and 98 injuries in 2004-2006 F-150s.

Injuries include chipped teeth, fractured arms and burns.

"The bottom line is that this problem will only multiply. To remedy it, the agency firmly believes Ford must initiate a recall," said a Jan. 26 letter to Ford signed by Frank Borris, a NHTSA enforcement attorney.

NHTSA's letter warned that if Ford doesn't agree to a recall, the agency could convene a formal public hearing to compel a recall — a rarely used step that hasn't happened in decades.

Ford agreed to a limited recall — calling back F-150s made at the Norfolk, Va., plant — and argued that it made sense because of the higher failure rate of vehicles from one of the three plants where the F-150 was assembled.

"Ford wants to be careful about how wide the recall is, because they don't want to be overinclusive. They don't think that's fair," Strickland said.

The agency has taken a hard line with automakers over safety issues over the last year, especially in the wake of Toyota Motor Corp.'s sudden acceleration issues.


Ford gives Swap Your
Ride another spin

Marketers say ads featuring consumers prove more effective

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 7, 2011

Ford Motor Co. has relaunched its Swap Your Ride advertising campaign, which lets real customers talk about their impressions after spending a week behind the wheel of a new Ford car or truck.

Print and television ads debuted Tuesday, and the campaign's 16 ads will run for 60 days. The Dearborn automaker would not say how much it is spending on the campaign.

The original campaign debuted in 2007, and Ford resurrected the idea again last year.

Matt VanDyke, Ford's director of U.S. marketing communications, said when the creative team was brainstorming advertising ideas for the crucial spring selling season, we "realized the answer was in our own back yard with Swap Your Ride."

The Ford Swap Your Ride ads are 48 percent more effective than other automotive sales ads campaigns measured between 2006-2010, said Lois Miller, president of Nielsen Co.'s Global Automotive Division.

"People reacted to the ads and connected them to Ford," Miller said.

With so much commercial clutter on television, the ads have resonated with consumers for being genuine because they feature real people talking in their own words, Miller said.

Mike Rowe, host of the cable TV show "Dirty Jobs," returns as front man for the Ford ads. Miller said Rowe is seen as "human, real and genuine. He has embodied everyman."

The consumers in the ads were chosen from a pool of about 200 people in southern California and the ads were shot and produced in Los Angeles, said Mike Priebe, senior vice president with Jwt Y&r Retail First, which is part of Team Detroit, Ford's main creative agency.

Priebe said 32 people were chosen to swap their vehicle for one of 10 Ford vehicles for a week. The consumers were interviewed by Rowe after a week of testing.

The marketing executive said dealers asked for Swap Your Ride to return.

VanDyke said until about five years ago, the company did national brand advertising while dealers did second-tier campaigns to get people into the showroom. But when the economy tanked, neither group had money to fund their respective ads so Ford looked for synergies to stretch each advertising dollar.

The new Swap Your Ride ads reflect that efficiency because they are designed to draw customers to dealerships but also hold the appeal of a national ad promoting the Ford brand.


Chrysler Brampton
Production Stalls

April 6, 2011

Production at Chrysler’s Brampton facility could grind to a halt due to a shortage of parts.

The shortage is the result of an interruption in supplies from manufacturer H.E. Vannatter in Wallaceburg, where about 100 workers were laid off last week.

The labour disruption has already caused delays at the auto firm’s assembly plant in Windsor. At least two shifts were cancelled last week and Chrysler has conceded that more shifts could be scratched off the books if the company can’t relocate production of the parts, which include die-cast aluminum engine and transmission brackets, to its casting plant in Etobicoke.

Delays in receiving shipments of parts could impact other operations including Brampton, the company said.  

“If not resolved, this parts interruption could affect production at our Brampton assembly plant and other Chrysler facilities in North America,” Chrysler said in a statement.

The Brampton facility produces the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger.


Ford to raise prices on
2011 vehicles by $117

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 6, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is raising the prices of its 2011 models by $117 or 0.4 percent per vehicle to reflect the higher cost of raw materials.

This is the second price increase this year but has been in the works for months as the industry faces higher commodity costs, said spokesman Todd Nissen.

Steel and petroleum-based products including rubber have been steadily increasing and gasoline prices remain high.

Ford raised prices by $130 per model, or 0.5 percent, in January, Nissen said.

The automaker has been increasing sales as well as commanding higher transaction prices for its vehicles as consumers embrace a lineup that has improved quality as well as fuel efficiency.

Nissen said the price increases are also in line with actions by its competitors.

Last week, Toyota Motor Corp. said it would raise prices on many 2011 models by an average of 1.7 percent.

In addition to higher commodity costs, Toyota is also grappling with the high cost of the yen and supply issues due to last month's earthquake and tsunami which impacted many parts makers.


Credit Suisse upgrades
Ford's rating

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 5, 2011

Ford Motor Co. got a rating upgrade to neutral from Credit Suisse, as the automaker works to regain the investment grade status it last held in 2005.

The rating agency had Ford at underperform but upgraded the automaker for being a stronger company than it was a year ago, despite fourth-quarter earnings that did not meet analysts' expectations.

"Since late April 2010, a number of things have changed," Credit Suisse analyst Christopher Ceraso write in a report released today.

"Ford has demonstrated earnings power that is substantially greater than was anticipated at the time," Ceraso said in raising the 12-month price target for the stock to $18 from $17.

Ceraso said Ford's balance sheet is much stronger than it was a year ago with net debt of about $2 billion, down substantially from $15 billion last April.

Debt reduction is crucial for the company that avoided following General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC into bankruptcy, where those carmakers shed most of their debt. Ford mortgaged everything the company had, including its Blue Oval trademark, to restructure itself and has made cleaning up its balance sheet a priority.

The automaker is seeking to get its debt back to investment grade status and start paying dividends again.

"We are pleased that consumers' and other stakeholders' perceptions about Ford continue to strengthen, thanks to our new products that are leading in quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value," said Ford spokesman John Stoll.

Credit Suisse noted that Ford shares had a strong run from July 2010 to January 2011 but then saw some falloff so that the stock has only increased about 11 percent from a year ago. But Ceraso sees that as providing a more reasonable valuation of the company than a year ago.

Disappointing fourth-quarter earnings of $190 million or $0.30 per share injected a healthy dose of skepticism into the stock, Credit Suisse said.

Ford recorded a $6.6 billion profit in 2010.

"However, beneath that caution, we believe investors are ready and willing to re-embrace Ford," Ceraso said.

A strong first-quarter profit — he estimates $0.55 per share which is above the 48-cent consensus — "could be the catalyst the market is waiting for."

Congratulations to our
Newest Retiree


Paul Uren with Gary Rumbodlt

Retired: April 1, 2011
21.8 Years Service


Ford to idle first plants over parts shortage due to Japan quake

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 4, 2011

Ford Motor Co. will have to shutter its first plants this week due to parts shortages related to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami last month.

During a sales call today, Ford sales analyst George Pipas said the Louisville, Ky., plant will be idled next week due to a parts shortage. He declined to identify the part. The plant makes F-Series Super Duty pickups as well as the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

The timing of the downtime is fortuitous as sales of large trucks and utility vehicles have fallen off with recent high gasoline prices, Pipas said.

Additionally, the Genk, Belgium, plant that makes the S-Max and Galaxy minivans and Mondeo midsize sedan will also be down next week, which will help prevent parts shortages in the weeks to come.

The plant would have been down for a week in May but Ford moved up the timing to preserve parts.

Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant will be down the week of April 4 to retool for the new 2012 Fusion and Lincoln MKZ. This was previously scheduled and it is not parts related.

And the Flat Rock, Mich., plant will be down next week because Ford has an abundance of Mustangs. Day supply is about 116 days which is almost double the desired inventory level.

Pipas said total production figures are unchanged.

In a regulatory filing today, Ford said it is assessing the impact of the earthquake and while the automakerhas no production facilities in Japan, it continues to work with suppliers of parts and materials located there to ensure shipments continue with minimaldisruption.

"We also are pursuing other sources of supply as necessary and practicable," Ford said, noting there still are restrictions on orderingvehicles in certain paint colors because of a pigment that is solely sourced from a plant near Japan's damaged nuclear reactor.

"Because the situation in Japan continues to develop, supply interruptions related to materials and components from Japan could manifest themselves in the weeks ahead."

The automaker said if shipment of akey componentis affected and an alternate supply cannot be found, forcing vehicle assembly to stop, it would adversely affect the automaker's financial condition.


Ford outsells GM for second time since '98; Chrysler sales up 31%

Christina Rogers and Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 3, 2011

U.S. vehicles sales remained strong in March, propelled by consumer demand for small cars because of rising gas prices.

Passenger car sales were up 21.1 percent for the month, surpassing truck sales — which increased 12.7 percent — for the first time since August.

In all, U.S. light vehicle sales rose 16.9 percent to 1.25 million in March, putting the industry on an annualized selling rate of 13.1 million vehicles. That slowed slightly from February's 13.4 million pace.

The migration to smaller vehicles was good news for Ford Motor Co., helping the Dearborn automaker outsell General Motors Co. for only the second time since 1998.

Ford's sales jumped 19.1 percent. GM's were up 9.9 percent.

Analysts said Ford's robust lineup of fuel-efficient cars and small sport utility vehicles helped give it the edge last month, although experts are split on whether the Dearborn automaker can sustain its lead over GM for the year.

"With gasoline prices eclipsing $3.50 a gallon, consumers are placing a high priority on fuel efficiency in every size and kind of vehicle," said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.

Small car sales also boosted figures for other automakers, with all but Toyota Motor Corp. reporting sales increases for March, compared to the same month last year.

While monthly sales were good, the crisis in Japan continues to loom as an unknown. Most automakers said there has been minimal impact, and analysts predict its full effect might not be felt for months.

"It's really going to depend on what it is they need, what there is a shortage of, whether or not they can find a replacement part," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Santa Monica, Calif.-based research firm, Edmunds.com.

Helping Ford's numbers was an uptick in Fiesta, Fusion and hybrid sales, which all had a record sales month.

Overall, Ford sold 212,295 vehicles in March.

Ford also spent slightly more on incentives than other automakers; such discounts were down overall in March, typically a strong selling month for vehicles.

That decline from February to March was among the biggest drops since 2002, according Edmunds.com, which began tracking incentives that year.

GM's single-digit spike was its smallest monthly increase this year. The Detroit automaker, which led the industry in incentives in January and February, cut discounts by $600 to $800 per vehicle in March.

The pullback contributed to the slower sales month, which GM expected.

The Chevrolet Cruze sales helped keep March numbers up.

The automaker sold about 18,018 Cruzes in March for an average transaction price about $4,000 higher than its predecessor, the Cobalt.

Chrysler Group LLC continued to fare well. The Auburn Hills automaker's sales were up 30.9 percent to 121,230 vehicles last month — a notable jump considering there are few small cars in its lineup.

Jeep sales were up 35 percent for the month, and Dodge truck sales increased 36.2 percent, thanks to refreshes or redesigns on many models.

Foreign automakers also reported strong U.S. sales gains, with Nissan Motor Co. seeing a 26.9 percent sales jump, a monthly record. Kia Motors America showed a 44 percent sales rise, with the Optima midsize car enjoying a 90 percent spike in sales.

Toyota was the exception. Its sales dropped 5.7 percent, despite strong demand for its cars and hybrid vehicles. Prius sales were up 57.9 percent, but inventories of the popular hybrid were down to 18 days' supply.

Challenges remain as automakers try to gauge the long-term fallout of the parts supply disruption in Japan. Ford is shutting plants next week due in part to the shortages related to Japan.

Among them is its truck plant in Louisville, Ky., which makes F-Series Super Duty pickups.

Nissan also announced it has stopped production at several plants in North America, but expects to make up for the lost output later this year.

Toyota has fared better, saying the events in Japan have had little impact on sales. The automaker makes about 70 percent of its cars and trucks sold in the United States in North America, its officials said.

However, Toyota, the world's largest automaker, will start shifting discounts away from sought-after small cars, said Bob Carter, general manager for sales.

"Gas prices had an impact," he said. "We're seeing customers continue to migrate to high mpg vehicles."


CEO Mulally, Ford Jr. pay
jumped to $26M in 2010

Mulally, who joined Ford in 2006 from Boeing Co., was paid $1.4 million in salary and $9.45 million in cash bonus last year. (Ramin Talaie/Getty Images

Compensation for top executives 'final' sign
firm has turned around fortunes, analyst says

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 2, 2011

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally's pay package rose 48 percent to $26.52 million for 2010 after the automaker had its best year in more than a decade.

Ford outlined Mulally's 2010 compensation in a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

When added to about $56.5 million in stock awarded last month for his performance in past years, Mulally is pocketing about $83 million for Ford's performance under his leadership.

Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. received $26.46 million for 2010, in addition to a stock award last month valued at $42.4 million, for total compensation of almost $69 million. Bill Ford had been working without compensation since the first quarter of 2005, when the automaker was struggling.

Mulally, 65, who joined Ford from Boeing Co. in 2006, is credited with reversing the company's fortunes. The Dearborn automaker earned $9.28 billion during the last two years, including $6.6 billion in 2010, after racking up $30.1 billion in losses from 2006 through 2008.

But the generous compensation for Mulally and other senior executives comes as Ford prepares to negotiate a new contract with the United Auto Workers.

"If Ford expects the UAW to make more concessions, they can forget about it," said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

"The size of executive compensation is the final symbol that a company has turned around, so they can't plead for major cost-cutting."

A UAW spokeswoman said the union had no comment.

Mulally's $26.5 million for 2010 — up from $17.9 million in 2009 and $16.98 million in 2008 — includes $1.4 million in salary and $9.45 million in a cash bonus. Stock awards total an additional $15 million, and there was $678,000 in perks such as air travel and security.

The compensation is in addition to 3.8 million shares of unrestricted stock worth $56.5 million — $33.4 million after income taxes — that Mulally received last month for performance during the past two years. Those stock awards were previously revealed in a March 3 filing with the SEC.

UAW President Bob King last month called the stock award unfair to Ford employees who have made concessions.

"Alan Mulally is a great CEO, but I don't think any human being in the world deserves that much money," King told reporters at a union conference. "It's outrageous."

Chaison said this issue may simplify bargaining because it takes many corporate requests off the table.

"You cannot ask workers to make sacrifices unless the top executives are," he said.

The compensation of senior executives is in the proxy that serves as notice of Ford's annual meeting May 12 in Wilmington, Del.

The $4.8 million salary Bill Ford collected in 2010 is the combination of $1.4 million for last year, $1.4 million for 2009 and $2 million for 2008. The executive chairman also received $2.7 million in cash bonuses.

Of Ford's $26.5 million payment, $13.5 million is for 2010 and the rest is compensation for previous years. On top of that is the granting of restricted shares revealed last month.

The payouts may sound extreme, but $25 million is the pay level top companies performing well are paying their chief executives, said Dan Farrell, a professor of management at Western Michigan University. "That's the amount they are looking for."

General Motors Co. CEO Dan Akerson receives about $9 million in cash and stock annually.

Sergio Marchionne did not receive a salary as CEO of Chrysler in 2010 but could gross about $600,000 in potential shares in the future. As CEO of partner Fiat SpA, Marchionne was paid $4.8 million last year.

Compensation for other Ford execs released Friday include:

Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth received almost $8.2 million in 2010, including a $1.2 million salary.

Mark Fields, president of the Americas, got $8.8 million with almost $1.3 million in salary.

CAW Contact
April 1, 2011
Volume 41, No. 13

Lewenza Challenges Business to Do More for Economic Recovery

In a lunch time address to the C.D. Howe Institute recently in Toronto, CAW President Ken Lewenza challenged Canada's business community to step up its contribution to Canada's fragile economic recovery.

In his speech, Lewenza reviewed recent data on income and expenditure in the country's economy. Consumers and governments have increased spending since 2008, but business is the only sector in Canada's economy still spending far less than before the recession began. While business capital investment has rebounded somewhat in recent quarters, the business sector has reversed less than half of the spending cutbacks imposed during the recession.

Meanwhile, business has used resources to pay off debt and accumulate liquid assets, rather than committing to new investment projects. Non-financial corporations in Canada are now sitting on cash and short-term assets equal to almost half a trillion dollars.

"This excess corporate saving is not helpful at all to the recovery," Lewenza said. "We need companies to be borrowing and investing: financing new projects, creating new jobs, doing the things business is supposed to do in our economic system."

Over a longer-term perspective, too, business investment has been sluggish - especially in contrast to the increases in business profits and after-tax cash flow. Indeed, businesses are not fully re-investing their cash flow into new investment projects in Canada. After-tax cash flow has exceeded business capital spending in Canada by $750 billion since 2001 and by $200 billion since the recession began.

"The problem is not a lack of profits. The problem is not high taxes. The problem is the failure of Canadian businesses to innovate."

Lewenza concluded by encouraging Canadian businesses to join with government, labour, and other stakeholders to work cooperatively to build a high-investment, innovative economy. "Instead of pointing the finger at deficits, taxes, and unions, let's take the resources we clearly have available in our economy, and put them to good use in new investment and innovation."

Lewenza's full remarks are available at:

From Victims of Plant Closure to Second Career Graduates

Hundreds of former Progressive Moulded Products (PMP) workers celebrated their graduation from Second Career programs in an official ceremony March 28.

The story of the PMP workers is a triumph against all odds -a successful tale of a group of people putting their lives back together after a sudden workplace closure, with government, educational institutions, community groups and unions all working together to ensure that those who lose their jobs due to a plant closure can access the services they need to move into new employment.

More than 170 former PMP workers received their certificates of achievement from Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities John Milloy and CAW President Ken Lewenza for their successful completion of Second Career or upgrading programs. The group is a part of the 700 PMP workers who have completed Second Career and/or upgrading programs since January 2010. Many have secured employment upon graduation.

On July 1, 2008, PMP then the largest employer in the City of Vaughan, filed for bankruptcy protection and closed down its 11 facilities, leaving over 2,400 non-unionized auto-parts workers jobless and owing them over $30 million in severance and termination pay.

The workers staged a 16 day 24/7 picket outside the main plant to block the machinery from leaving. Their spontaneous mass action received much media attention and public support. With funding from MTCU and CAW as sponsor, the PMP Workers Action Centre opened its doors on Sept 1, 2008. The PMP Worker Action Centre closed March 31, but the PMP Learning Centre, a partnership with Seneca College and the Toronto District School Board, remains open til June.

CAW Welcomes Liberal Election Commitment to Expand the CPP

CAW National President Ken Lewenza, welcomed the Liberal Party's election commitment to expand the Canada Pension Plan, announced on March 30.

"Securing the future income security of our seniors is one of the most important economic and social priorities facing this country," Lewenza said, "and there is no better way to do that than by expanding the CPP."

"It's a guaranteed inflation-indexed benefit, and it requires employers to pay half of the premiums. It's far more fair and cost-efficient than private-sector RRSPs."

Lewenza called on all parties in the campaign to endorse the expansion of the CPP, and then to begin work immediately following the election to negotiate the details with the provinces. The NDP is already on record as supporting the idea.

Lewenza critiqued the outgoing Harper Conservative government for failing to address the looming pension crisis of Canadians.

"Initially, the Harper government indicated it would work with the provinces to expand the CPP," Lewenza recalled. "But squeezed by financial industry lobbyists, they suddenly dropped the idea like a hot potato, without ever giving an explanation to Canadians."

Local 555 Gives Hope Through Habitat for Humanity Build

CAW Local 555 has followed in the CAW's tradition of being a key supporter of Habitat for Humanity by sponsoring a 'build' for a home for a poor working family in Hamilton, Ontario.

Local 555's involvement with Habitat for Humanity was spearheaded by Delia Hutchinson, chair of the local's Social Justice Committee, back in the spring of 2008.

"The goal of the Social Justice Committee was to seek opportunities to engage our members in projects that promote social justice in the greater Hamilton community, and to identify a cause to support that would provide our members with an opportunity to engage collectively in our community," a Local 555 newsletter story explains.

In the fall of 2008, the membership approved a donation of $80,000 to Habitat for Humanity Hamilton to sponsor the build of one of eleven planned town homes. Eventually the project was altered to become two sets of four town homes.

The Local 555 build days were scheduled in the fall of 2010. More than 60 members of the local actively took part. With the work complete a dedication ceremony was held and Delia handed over the keys to the town home to the partnered family.

"CAW Local 555 is very proud to have given a hand-up to a Hamilton family in need. It was the experience of a lifetime for many 555 members, and many plan to continue to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity."

(This is an edited version of a story written by Rosemary Viola, CAW Local 555 vice president and editor of CAW 555 Local News).

Agreement Provides Gains for Newfoundland Crab Fishermen

The CAW/FFAW has reached a settlement with the Association of Seafood Producers on the price of crab for 2011 which provides approximately a 60 per cent improvement from last year.

FFAW President Earle McCurdy said the agreement means the landed value of crab or the amount paid to fish harvesters in Newfoundland will increase by nearly $100 million. The agreement establishes a price of $2.15 per pound.

"The last couple of years have been very marginal in the crab fishery," McCurdy said. "This settlement provides a badly-needed opportunity for thousands of people involved in this fishery to make a dollar. A timely start to the 2011 fishery will also be a plus for plant workers."

In Newfoundland the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act applies to collective bargaining for inshore fishers. It establishes a Fish Price Setting Panel that resolves price disputes by final offer selection.

The crab fishery is set to open in early April. The Fish Price Setting Panel also ruled recently in favour of FFAW in a shrimp price dispute, implementing a 35% increase in price compared to last year.


Ford working on digital child dummy for seatbelt testing

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
April 1, 2010

Dearborn— Ford Motor Co. is developing one of the world's first digital child - sized crash test dummies to help design better seat belts to protect children, the automaker said Thursday.

Creating a new virtual dummy is important because a child's body is different than an adult's and requires different protection. A virtual 6-year-old was chosen as a model because that is about the size of a child moving from car seats to adult seat belts, with or without booster seats.

A digital dummy allows for virtual crash testing to get more results, faster and with less cost.

"Virtual testing has reduced the number of physical crashes we need to run," said Steve Rouhana, Ford senior technical leader.

About 1,300 children die annually in automobile-related accidents, according to data gathered by Ford.

That figure includes pedestrian deaths, but a large number are children in cars.

The new dummy will not take as long to develop as the 11 years spent on the digital adult, completed in 2003, Rouhana said. The child version should take five years or less.

Ford began the project last year with the help of a university and children's hospital in China, he said.

The Chinese partners are providing data, including CT scans that are being used to slowly create a digital child component by component.

Ford has started building images of a head, chest, rib cage, some internal organs and lower extremities, said Jesse Ruan of Ford's Research and Advanced Engineering.

The team will continue to layer in more detail for what will be a three-dimensional model with about 100,000 elements, including tissue, that need to be connected properly, Ruan said.

Toyota Motor Corp. developed a digital child for safety testing but some of the anatomy is not accurate because it is a scaled-down version of a digital adult, Ruan said.

Universities have done studies with digital parts, such as a child's head, but the Ford dummy will be the first digital full body, he said.

Analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in Ann Arbor said Ford has a worthwhile but difficult task.

"There are so many different child restraints and booster seats on the market."

Ford sues Nissan over Brazilian bikinis and bling ad
The Nissan commercial shows two rappers dressed as Ford engineers in factory outfits boasting about the money they pocket by overpricing the hatchback Focus model.

March 31, 2011

SAO PAULO—The Brazilian unit of Ford Motor Co. filed a criminal lawsuit against the local management of rival Nissan Motor Co. for airing a TV commercial that says the U.S. automaker charges customers too much for hatchback models.

The commercial, which was withdrawn from national TV on March 3 after Ford obtained an injunction, shows two rappers dressed as Ford engineers in factory outfits boasting about the money they pocket by overpricing the hatchback Focus model. A silver Focus lies in the background, while bikini-clad models dance and sip champagne.

“All the luxury that I got, I got it with your money,” the rappers boast, showing off their gold rings and chains. “Don’t weep because you’re paying extra money—your money was well spent, look what I do with it.”

The lawsuit was filed at a regional police department in the city of Sao Jose dos Pinhais, in southern Parana state, where Nissan and France’s Renault have a joint factory, people familiar with the situation told Reuters on the condition of anonymity. Police Chief Osman Feijoo has agreed to file charges against Nissan, an assistant said.

Feijoo declined to comment, as did Ford’s media office in Sao Paulo. A Nissan spokeswoman in Sao Paulo did not have an immediate comment on the suit, which accuses Nissan’s local management of “improper brand use” and “unfair competition.”

Nissan has taken on a more aggressive marketing approach in recent months in Brazil, where car sales have hit sequential records for four years. The ad touts Nissan’s Tiida model, which costs 3,000 reais ($1,764 Cdn) less than the Focus.

TV ads where companies name and poke fun at rivals are uncommon in Brazil. Last year Nissan took aim at General Motors and Fiat, Brazil’s best-selling auto brand, in a series of ads that were eventually withdrawn.

Ford is ranked fourth in Brazil’s auto market, with a market share of 9.4 percent. Nissan, a relative newcomer to Brazil, ranks 12th, with market share of 1.6 percent.

Watch the commercial below:


UAW: Jobs the goal,
even at 2nd-tier wages

Union says expansion a priority for summer contract negotiations

Christina Rogers / The Detroit News
March 30, 2011

Preserving and expanding U.S. factory jobs is the United Auto Workers' top priority heading into contracts talks this summer with Detroit's Big Three — even if that means having to consider paying more workers a lower, second-tier wage.

"We will look at anything when it comes to negotiations that will retain jobs," UAW Vice President Joe Ashton said Tuesday at General Motors Co.'s plant in Orion Township. "The most important thing going into this set of negotiations (is) jobs."

Ashton's comments came in response to a question about whether the union would consider applying a unique two-tier wage structure in effect at Orion Assembly to other plants.

Under the agreement, about 40 percent of Orion workers will be paid $14-$16 an hour, compared to $28 for veterans.

Separately, Ashton said he expects new hiring at GM to begin immediately after the automaker recalls 1,200 workers still on layoff. That should happen by September, as GM adds workers at several other plants where the automaker is adding shifts, he said.

Ashton did not know how many new workers GM will need, or where they will be hired.

Ashton said the union also will use the coming negotiations to push for reopening idled plants in Spring Hill, Tenn., and Janesville, Wis., and to block the shutdown of GM's factory in Shreveport, La., in mid-2012.

Four-year contracts with GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC expire Sept. 14.

He called the union's chances of succeeding in Tennessee and Wisconsin "great," because those plants were put on standby during GM's bankruptcy. But he is less confident about Shreveport, because it is owned by the estate of the old GM, Motors Liquidation Co. That's the repository of the company's "bad" assets that were left behind in bankruptcy.

"We're going to put a big emphasis on jobs," Ashton said. "We can talk about wages and benefits, but if you don't have jobs … wages don't matter much."

The UAW also may not pursue its long practice of pattern bargaining, in which the union targets one automaker to bargain with, and then replicates the agreement with the other two.

"That could change at negotiations," Ashton said. "There are different stipulations than we've had in the past."

Among those stipulations is a no-strike clause inserted into GM and Chrysler contracts during the automakers' bankruptcies.

Expanding the two-tier pay model in place at Orion to other GM plants could prove difficult.

When the union agreed to lower, entry-level pay for new workers in 2007 to help Detroit's automakers stay afloat, the agreement did not mandate a percentage of a plant's work force be paid the lower wage.

The agreement that covers Orion, struck in 2009, called for paying the lower wage to 40 percent of workers in exchange for bringing small car manufacturing back to a U.S. GM factory.

The deal saved Orion from closing and GM starts production there this year on a new compact Buick called the Verano and the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact.

The two-tier pay concept has riled some UAW members who say it's divisive.

Last week, UAW President Bob King said he doesn't like the idea of different wages for the same job. The union wants to reopen the issue, but eliminating two-tier wages may not be feasible at this point, King said.

"This is going to be a tough issue," Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said about trying to expand the Orion two-tier model to other factories.

Ashton and the UAW will have to make some compromises in pursuit of the larger goal — securing jobs, Shaiken said.

"If they're able to generate new jobs, then they can regain wages down the road."


Pay by smartphone for parking, track bus with GPS

Motorists can pay for parking with smartphones in meters off West Village Drive in Dearborn. (Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News)

Melissa Burden / The Detroit News
March 29, 2011

A Detroit-based strategic investment firm co-founded by Bill Ford Jr. is bringing pay-by-phone parking to Michigan and the country.

And it's helping school districts — and eventually parents — keep better eyes on school buses.

Fontinalis Partners LLC invests in young transportation-focused technology companies such as Atlanta-based Parkmobile USA Inc., a company giving drivers alternate payment options at parking meters, and Everyday Solutions, Inc., a Massachusetts firm that equips school buses with GPS (satellite) tracking.

Out of quarters or in a rush to beat the meter maid? Parkmobile's service allows drivers to "feed a meter" by phone, through a smartphone application and the Internet.

"It gives another option for people not carrying change," said Mary Laundroche, a spokeswoman for the city of Dearborn, which debuted Parkmobile's service in its 272-space Lot H in mid-December and is considering expanding to all of west Dearborn. "You can sign up to get alerts. If you're having a good time with friends in a restaurant or bar … (you can) get a message on your cell phone, an alert saying you have 15 minutes left."

Fontinalis' investment in Everyday Solutions will help the company accelerate the service that lets parents know the whereabouts of their son's or daughter's school bus through a text alert or email, said Bill Westerman, vice president of marketing for Everyday Solutions.

Ford, known as a "green" auto executive, described Fontinalis' plans to aid intelligent technology companies during a recent speech to University of Michigan Ross School of Business students, telling them that technology will help solve environmental and transportation problems such as gridlock.

"I believe that there's so much going on here, and so much cool stuff about to happen," said Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. "And some of it is beneath the radar and too small for big companies like Ford to participate in, that I really wanted to help lead and define this space, and I wanted to do it in Detroit."

Ford's vision includes helping companies trying to solve problems caused by mobility, said former Ford Motor executive Mark Schulz, who with Bill Ford and businessman Ralph Booth founded Fontinalis in late 2009. "This is people mobility and other approaches to addressing congestion, pollution and traffic flow," he said.

First investments in 2010

In early 2010, Fontinalis made its first investment in Parkmobile USA and its parent company, Parkmobile International, which launched in 1999 with pay-by-cell-phone parking in the Netherlands. The company opened a U.S. office in early 2008, and its service debuted nationally in 2009 in Grand Rapids and is available in about 30 cities, including Dearborn and Petoskey, said Albert Bogaard, Parkmobile USA's CEO. There are also plans to roll out the service in Detroit, he added.

Parkmobile also is considering using its technology to guide drivers to parking spaces and connecting with parking garages to allow a driver through a vehicle's navigation system to see how many spaces are available, Bogaard said.

"We see a lot of other add on opportunity once it's established," Schulz said.

Just as Fontinalis sees growth potential in Parkmobile, it also sees additional applications coming from Everyday Solutions. Fontinalis made an investment in the company in June.

Tracking vehicles

Founded in 2000, Everyday Solutions has more than 25,000 vehicles in North America using its GPS tracking solutions applications, including school buses in more than 100 districts, such as Ionia and Dearborn public schools. Everyday Solutions helps districts annually save between 10 percent and 15 percent on transportation costs, Westerman said.

The company's software allows districts to watch buses in real time and can help districts reduce bus idling time, he said.

"Buses, they're big and they can assume a lot of fuel," Westerman said. "Every mile that's driven that doesn't need to be is basically wasting money for the district."

Fontinalis, which declined to provide company investment amounts, continues to seek investments domestically and abroad, founding principal Chris Thomas said. "We haven't made an investment in a Michigan firm yet, but obviously we're looking at doing that," he said.

Unlike some venture capital firms, Fontinalis' senior leadership is directly involved in the companies it invests in, sitting on boards to "work side-by-side with the companies to help them grow their companies," Thomas said.

Schulz expects more investment to come this year. "We're just getting started," he said.


Global auto crisis worsens as
Japan shutdowns drag on

New vehicles damaged by the March 11 tsunami sit lined in a Toyota parking lot at Sendai port, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Monday, March 28, 2011.

Elaine Kurtenbach and Sharon Silke Carty
Associated Press
March 28, 2011

TOKYO—The auto industry disruptions triggered by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are about to get worse.

In the weeks ahead, car buyers will have difficulty finding the model they want in certain colours, thousands of auto plant workers will likely be told to stay home, and companies such as Toyota, Honda and others will lose billions of dollars in revenue. More than two weeks since the natural disaster, inventories of crucial car supplies — from computer chips to paint pigments — are dwindling fast as Japanese factories that make them struggle to restart.

Because parts and supplies are shipped by slow-moving boats, the real drop-off has yet to be felt by factories in the U.S., Europe and Asia. That will come by the middle of April.

“This is the biggest impact ever in the history of the automobile industry,” said Koji Endo, managing director at Advanced Research Japan in Tokyo.

Much of Japan’s auto industry — the second largest supplier of cars in the world — remains idle. Few plants were seriously damaged by the quake, but with supplies of water and electricity fleeting, no one can say when factories will crank up. Some auto analysts said it could be as late as this summer.

Hitachi Automotive Systems, which makes parts such as airflow sensors and drive control systems, is waiting for its suppliers to restart while dealing with its own problems. Its plants are without water and gas, and have rolling electricity blackouts. Workers are repairing crumpled ceilings, fallen walls and cleaning up shattered glass. A spokesman said he doesn’t know when its plants will reopen.

The uncertainly has suppliers, automakers and dealers scrambling. And it exposes the vulnerability of the world’s most complex supply chain, where 3,000 parts go into single car or truck. Each one of those parts is made up of hundreds of other pieces supplied by multiple companies. All it takes is for one part to go missing or arrive late, and a vehicle can’t be built.

When General Motors briefly shut a pickup plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, due to a lack of parts, it caused the partial closing of a New York factory that supplies engines for those trucks. Sweden’s Volvo has warned that its production could be disrupted because it is down to a week’s worth of some parts.

Car buyers will soon see higher prices and fewer choices. Some car colours will be harder to get because a paint pigment factory in Japan was damaged and shut production. As a result, Ford is telling dealers to stop ordering “tuxedo black” models of its F-150 pickup and Expedition and Navigator SUVs. It’s also shifting away from some reds. The moves are precautionary, Ford said. Chrysler told dealers it was temporarily restricting orders of vehicles in 10 colours.

That worries some dealers, especially when popular colours like black could be in short supply

“It’s hard enough to sell a $60,000 Navigator in this economy,” said Fortunes O’Neal, general manager at Park Cities Ford in Dallas. “We don’t want to have to tell customers, ‘You’ve got to pick another colour.’”

Customers also face rising prices for models like Toyota’s Prius, which is made only in Japan. Fears of falling supply have some dealers driving a hard bargain with customers who want the fuel-efficient hybrid as gasoline prices rise. Recent discounts of 5 to 10 per cent on that car are disappearing.

Japanese carmakers, who have shut most of their domestic plants, are warning that some of their overseas factories will stop running, too, in an effort to conserve supplies. Toyota and Honda expect shutdowns at North American plants. Honda said production could be interrupted after April 1. Even though most of its parts are sourced in the region, a few critical ones still come from Japan.

Goldman Sachs estimates the shutdowns are costing the Japan automakers $200 million a day, which adds up to $2.8 billion for just the past two weeks. Each week of continued shutdowns costs $1.4 billion. By comparison, Toyota made $2.3 billion in all of 2010, and its sudden acceleration recalls cost $2 billion. The cost of damage from Japan’s natural disaster could dwarf that recall, which was considered Toyota’s biggest crisis ever.

Much depends on how many spare components automakers have in stock — which is probably very few. Japan’s automakers spearheaded lean manufacturing, under which parts are delivered to plants the same day they are used. Automakers are still receiving parts that were put on ships weeks ago, but those supplies will dwindle.

After the earthquake hit, car companies began the long process of figuring out which parts are in danger of running out. That means figuring out where every piece in every part comes from.

“Everyone is putting on the brakes a little bit and taking a look to see where they are affected,” said Paul Newton, an analyst with IHS Automotive.

Companies will shut down plants as soon as some parts start running out, which could start happening in the next four to six weeks, he said. “You will see it happen almost daily.”

IHS Automotive predicts that one-third of daily global automotive production will be cut because of supply chain disruptions. That means about 5 million vehicles worldwide won’t be built, out of the 72 million vehicles planned for production in 2011.

To get a feel for the supply chain, consider a car radio. It’s made up of hundreds of pieces from all over the world. The display may come from a supplier in Japan, while the wiring and circuitry originate in Korea. The plastic knobs could come from a company in China, and the metal structure that holds it all together is shipped from India.

All those parts come together at different times: The wiring and electronic components are installed into the metal frame. Then that piece is shipped to another supplier, who snaps on the plastic face and knobs. The radio could pass through three or four suppliers before being put on a ship, where it will spend weeks at sea heading to its final destination: The assembly plant.

“This isn’t just as straightforward as assembling the iPad 2,” said Brian Johnson, an autos analyst with Barclays Capital.

An example of Japan’s importance in auto parts: its suppliers make many of the electronic components that control music systems and the sensors that monitor fuel levels and airbags.

Although most Japanese auto parts makers are not located in the areas that were inundated by the tsunami, between quake damage, electricity outages and water cutoffs, many factories in the region have remained paralyzed ever since.

Suppliers could be up and running again in April, but it could take until May or June for the entire supply base to be back.

Some car manufacturers, meanwhile, are considering shifting operations to deal with the crisis. Nissan, for example, is thinking of moving some of its engine production to Tennessee from Japan.

But those shifts won’t be easy. First, lean inventories make it hard for automakers to suddenly change sources of supply. And plants that build car electronics, for example, have stringent safety requirements and exacting high-tech specifications that limit a company’s flexibility, said Christopher Richter, an industry analyst at CLSA Asia Capital Markets. A supplier for the computer chip that triggers an air bag, for example, can’t be switched quickly.

But car executives can keep this from becoming a total disaster: They can allocate scarce parts to their more popular or profitable vehicles, keeping those assembly lines running while slowing down the less profitable ones.

That’s what many people believe GM did when it decided to close the Shreveport plant, because dealers have ample inventory of both trucks made there, more than two months’ worth.

Newton said car companies will do their best to keep producing the cars people want.

“It’s quite a lot to prioritize, but they’ll do it,” he said.

Kurtenbach reported from Tokyo and Carty reported from Detroit. David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.


Ford to idle Belgian
plant for 5 days

Associated Press / Associated Press
March 27, 2011

Ford says it will idle an auto plant in Belgium for five days, trying to conserve supplies of Japanese parts that could run low following an earthquake and tsunami.

Ford Motor Co. spokesman Todd Nissen says the plant in Genk will close beginning April 4. The company says it had planned to idle the plant in May but moved up the date after suppliers in Japan were damaged by the earthquake.

Ford makes sedans and minivans in Genk. Nissen says there's no parts shortage yet at the plant.

Japanese suppliers are a key source of auto parts for global car companies. But those parts aren't reaching foreign factories because of quake damage and power outages in Japan. That's interrupting auto production around the world, from Louisiana to Germany.


Ford hopes efficiency will
fuel Police Interceptor sales
Police Taurus

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
March 26, 2011

Criminals don't respect the high cost of gasoline when they are being chased by a police cruiser.

But Ford Motor Co. thinks the improved fuel economy of its new police cruisers will be a big selling point when the Taurus-based Police Interceptor sedan and Explorer-based Interceptor-based sport-utility vehicle hit the streets next year.

The new Interceptors, with V-6 engines, are expected to improve fuel efficiency by 20 percent to 25 percent over the V-8-equipped Crown Victoria cruisers they'll replace. The outgoing Crown Vics get 14 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

Fuel costs are a concern for retail and fleet buyers alike with oil exceeding $100 a barrel and prices at the pump in the $3.40 to $3.90 range.

Detroit spent roughly $10 million on gasoline for its police fleet in 2010. Ford calculates that by switching to the new Ford Interceptor sedan and utility, the city could save taxpayers at least $2 million a year.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the largest sheriff's department in the country, has a fleet of 6,200 vehicles that logged more than 27 million miles in 2010. There, a 20 percent fuel economy gain would amount to savings of more than $20 million a year, with pump prices just shy of $4 per gallon.

On a smaller scale, Oakland County's Berkley has 13 Crown Victorias in its fleet patrolling 2.2 square miles. To keep them gassed up, the city traditionally spends about $2,500 a month — a figure that is slightly more with the recent hike in gas prices.

A 20 percent gain in fuel economy would save Berkley $500 per month, or $6,000 a year.

"Right now, budgets are extremely tight, and we're looking to save money wherever we can to enable us to continue to provide services to the citizens of Berkley," said David Sabuda, the city's finance director. "It's very important to us that we have fuel-efficient police cars."

Ford's corporate goal is to be a leader in fuel economy in all its vehicle segments, and the company said that applies to fleet vehicles as well.

"We set out to deliver our new portfolio of Police Interceptors to be industry-leading from durability to performance, including taking on one of the most important challenges for agencies today, fuel efficiency," said Kevin Koswick, director of Ford's North American Fleet Operations. "With Ford's new Police Interceptors, we took the industry benchmark, our Crown Victoria, and improved every element including delivering up to a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy."

The new Interceptors have fresh competition.

Chrysler Group LLC started taking orders in September for the all-new 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit — or Enforcer, as it's known in Canada (where it's already available).

The Dodge comes with Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6 engine or the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with cylinder displacement system that saves fuel by shutting down four of the eight cylinders when they are not needed. The Charger gets 18/27 mpg in city/highway driving with a V-6 and 16/25 with the V-8.

From General Motors Co., competition comes in the form of the new Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle, which returns to the market after 15 years to augment the Chevy Impala and Tahoe police vehicles.

The Caprice, which is a fullsize car with a huge 6-liter V-8, gets 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Chevy will add a V-6 for the 2012 model year.

Many municipalities and police organizations do their annual ordering in June.


CAW Contact
March 25, 2011
Volume 41, No. 12

Federal Budget Falls Far Short of Need for Recovery

CAW President Ken Lewenza called the newly released federal budget disappointing, and said it contains less than a handful of measures to support workers and the economy.

Lewenza did commend the government for introducing improvements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement, but said it wouldn't have happened without NDP leader Jack Layton pushing the government on the issue.

"Without the leadership of Jack Layton, our seniors would have been left out in the cold by this government once again," said Lewenza.

Lewenza deplored what he called the deceit and anti-democratic tendencies of the Harper Conservative government, including the current budget which included only small offerings. "The Canadian people deserve better than what we've seen come out of this Parliament and this government over the last number of months. This budget is not about political integrity and staying the course, but pre-election campaigning."

He also underlined the need for ongoing infrastructure support, not just as a job booster when the economy is on the skids. "Our country's infrastructure, including roads, rail systems, public transit, telecommunications and other areas cannot be ignored the bulk of the time and still be expected to function at full capacity -these entities need ongoing attention from responsible government.

Other governments in the developed world are attentive to this fact and their economies reap the benefits on an ongoing basis," said Lewenza. He said that the country requires a formal infrastructure investment program from the federal government.

Lewenza also warned that the best way to pay down the deficit is to grow the economy, as opposed to cutting spending, which will stall job growth.

One major area where the budget falls far short is support for training and unemployed workers, said Lewenza.

"The economy is still sputtering," said Lewenza. Although the actual number of jobs lost since the recession began have been recovered, they have largely been in the form of part-time and temporary employment, which sets a precarious foundation for the economy.

Lewenza had several suggestions to strengthen Employment Insurance and supports for unemployed workers. He recommends extending the EI benefit period, as long as national unemployment rates exceed six per cent, which would still be high by historic standards. There is also a case to be made for revamping the EI Training Benefit to include more than just tuition support so that more people can use the program to transition into opportunities in new fields.

He also said that across the country, the number of qualifying hours should be set to a uniform 360 hours country-wide, especially in light of what he called the "bad jobs recovery" characterized by temporary, part time employment.

Lewenza also voiced his concern that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty failed at another opportunity to improve the Canada Pension Plan, as called for by two of the three opposition parties. Lewenza said that it's not agreement from the provinces that's missing, but the will of the federal government to help Canadians. Lewenza called this lack of action even more offensive given that the government has now eliminated the mandatory retirement age among federally regulated employees.

To view the CLC Analysis of the Federal Budget please visit:


Windsor-area Lab Techs Join CAW After Labour Board Ruling

Workers at Medical Laboratories of Windsor have officially joined the CAW after the Ontario Labour Relations Board issued the certification, following months of legal proceedings.

The union won a majority at an OLRB supervised vote on May 5, 2010, despite significant intimidation from the employer. Following the vote, the employer then challenged the geographic scope and wanted the inclusion of supervisors in the bargaining unit.

In the OLRB decision, the Board chose to exclude the supervisors from the bargaining unit and to recognize the scope to cover employees in Windsor, Leamington, and Tecumseh.

"While most hospital lab technologists are unionized, it's rare for those that work in for-profit private clinics in the community, so we're hopeful that organizing this group will have an impact on the industry," said CAW Organizer Luis Domingues.

Workers joined the union because of concerns around unfair wage practices, and arbitrary reductions to benefits. "At one time these employees were treated very much like their hospital counterparts, but today the employer practice is no where near that standard, and is completely inconsistent from employee to employee, even if they are performing exactly the same job," said Domingues.

The certification covers 110 lab technologists, lab assistants, and clerical support workers. CAW covers similar employees in hospitals across the province, including Windsor Regional Hospital and Leamington District Memorial Hospital.

New Agreement for SNEMS Paramedics

CAW Local 229 members who work as paramedics for Superior North Emergency Medical Services in rural areas north of Thunder Bay, Ontario have voted 68 per cent in favour of a new two-year agreement.

Local 229 represents 90 members who work at 14 EMS stations. The new agreement is retroactive to November 1, 2010 and includes a 1.5 per cent wage increase in the first year and 1.5 per cent Nov 1, 2011.

It also includes an increase in stat holiday compensation, benefit improvements and scheduling gains.
CAW Local 229 President Kari Jefford said this is a solid agreement that was negotiated under difficult
circumstances. "There is no doubt a strike mandate of 100 per cent sent a clear message to the employer about the will of our membership," Jefford said.

CAW National Representative Andy Savela said that "achieving parity with their colleagues who work in the City of Thunder Bay for stat holiday compensation was the goal for the committee."

"It was definitely an issue of fairness that was dealt with," Savela said. "It resulted in the deal being supported by roughly 70 per cent of the membership, which is the highest percentage by which this group has ever ratified."

CEO Pay Excessive at Navistar

The CEO and President of trucking company Navistar took home $10.3 million in compensation in 2010, a year when the company had shuttered its Chatham, Ontario plant as it pushes for massive concessions from Canadian workers.

As part of that package Daniel Ustian received a $1.95 million bonus for creating a business model "that kept the company profitable in the midst of the worst truck market in 50 years," according to a March 18 story on executive bonuses in the Daily Mail in Britain. This bonus was on top of a regular bonus of the same amount.

In addition his total compensation of $10,382,469 in 2010 includes salary, the value of stock options and changes in pension value. This is an increase from 2009 when he received total compensation of $8,818,126 and 2008 when he got $6,642,747.

In the last five years alone three of the top executives at Navistar - Ustian, Navistar's CFO and the President of the company's truck group - took home combined total compensation of $63,970,992, according to Navistar's latest filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Navistar is demanding massive concessions and has outlined plans to cut employment and production levels at its Chatham, Ontario plant to 100 workers. The facility once employed 2,000 workers, but has not operated since June 2009.

CAW President Ken Lewenza is demanding that the federal and provincial governments take action to force the company to live up to its obligations to these workers, their families and the community of Chatham.

"This massive executive compensation comes at a time when workers are suffering and after the company received over $63 million from the provincial and federal governments," Lewenza said. In addition, it received $40 million of concessions from workers in the last round of negotiations.

"We will continue to pressure this corporation to reopen this important facility to the community," said Lewenza.


Honda cancels overtime
shift at Ontario plant

GREG KEENAN - Globe and Mail
March 24, 2011

Honda of Canada Mfg. has cancelled an overtime shift at an assembly plant in Alliston, Ont., and its parent company, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp. have extended the shutdowns of their Japanese plants as the impact of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis spreads.

Honda has also cancelled an overtime shift at a plant in Alabama, joining rival Toyota, which has put a halt to overtime at its North American plants as all Japan-based auto makers and other vehicle manufacturers try to determine how parts shortages will affect their operations inside and outside Japan.

"We're assessing literally day by day, as you can imagine," Richard Jacobs, a spokesman for Honda Canada said Tuesday.

The impact of the devastating quake has spread beyond Japanese auto makers to General Motors Co., which has temporarily closed an assembly plant in Shreveport, La., because of a parts shortage and has also laid off workers in Tonawanda, N.Y., who make engines for the trucks that come out of Shreveport.

U.S. and Europe-based auto makers rely on many of the same suppliers that ship parts – both large and small – to the Japanese auto makers, which is one reason why analysts expect the impact of the crisis to spread well beyond Japan.

"In the end, virtually every major OEM [original equipment manufacturer] will be affected by this disaster by mid-to-late April," consulting firm IHS Global Insight warned in a report earlier this week. "It is not a matter of if, but when."

The Honda plant in Ontario that is affected assembles the auto maker's compact Civic model, which has been the best-selling passenger car in Canada for the past 13 years. It is one of two plants in Alliston. A redesigned version of the car is scheduled to be produced in Alliston beginning later next month and a smooth launch is crucial amid soaring gas prices in Canada and the U.S. and slumping sales of the car during the first two months of 2011.

About 96 per cent of the vehicles Honda sells in Canada are assembled in North America and the vast majority of the parts used in them are also made in Canada, the United States or Mexico – including engines and transmissions – but some parts are shipped from Japan, Mr. Jacobs said.

The highest-selling Toyota Canada vehicles, including the Corolla compact and RAV4 crossover utility vehicles, are assembled in Canada, while others, such as the Camry mid-sized sedan, Tundra pickup and Highlander mid-sized crossover, are put together at U.S. plants.

In the Canadian market, the Mazda3 has the highest sales volume among vehicles assembled in Japan. Mazda Canada Inc. sold 47,740 of the cars last year.

Mazda reopened two Japanese plants Tuesday to produce parts and finish some vehicles that were on the assembly line last week when the earthquake hit.

The danger for the Japanese companies is a prolonged shutdown of their plants in Japan and elsewhere that eventually chokes off supply and sends customers to competitors.

"It may be some time before consumers are faced with the prospect of having to change their purchase decisions because a microprocessor or axle is not available for the vehicle they want," Moody's Investor Service said in a report Tuesday. "But if that time arrives, it will hit Japanese manufacturers harder and sooner than it will Ford, GM or Chrysler."

South Korean auto makers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. are most likely to benefit from a prolonged shutdown, in part because they are least affected by the disruption to the auto supply chain, Moody's said.


UAW to launch global
effort to boost ranks

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
March 24, 2011

The United Auto Workers is enlisting a global army of activists to demonstrate against nonunionized auto plants in the United States perceived as violating workers' rights.

At the second day of the UAW's national bargaining convention in Detroit, union officials said the army will be unleashed when the union's board targets a company.

Demonstration tactics will include protests at dealerships, corporate headquarters, the World Cup soccer championships and auto shows, said Dennis Williams, UAW secretary treasurer.

Richard Bensinger, director of organizing, said the UAW has been meeting with autoworkers from companies headquartered in Japan, Europe and South Korea.

UAW President Bob King said he thought a target would have already emerged by now but continuing talks with workers show there is no cause to launch a campaign yet. Ideally he hopes to avoid naming a target because that means workers at all plants, unionized or not, are being treated fairly.

If action is necessary, "we have a new strategy to organize them," Williams said, which involves mobilizing members, retirees and allies "to expose violations of human rights."

The efforts fall under the umbrella of the newly created Global Organizing Institute that is training the activists.

In the United States, the Institute has put coordinators in each state to oversee recruits from university campuses and social organizations. An initial group of activists also has been recruited abroad in countries including China, India, Brazil, Japan and South Korea.

This coordinated effort will allow simultaneous protests at a company's dealerships around the world to press for auto plant union organization in the U.S.

A second wave of eight interns from other countries is wrapping up a visit to the United States, where they interviewed workers at nonunion auto plants in Mississippi and Alabama.

When the UAW picks a company, these young international leaders say they will take action against the target, knowing they have UAW support.

In addition, alliances have been formed with unions in Germany, Japan and South Korea.

"It has the potential to be the largest, sustained consumer action by organized labor," Williams said. "We have the resources and the people to be successful in this mission."

"If the companies are global by nature, we have to be global in labor," said Alan Benchich, a delegate for Local 909, which represents General Motors Co. workers in Warren.

"Our other strategies haven't worked, but this one might work."

Bensinger said there will be a presence everywhere cars are made and sold.

"It's a type of mobilization we've never done before."

John Heraghty, shop chairman for UAW Local 163 in Westland, said many developing nations could benefit from collective bargaining for higher wages and benefits.

"If you're going to do international, you need to do the countries that are behind," he said.


The mind-set that survived the Triangle Shirtwaist fire

By Harold Meyerson
Washington Post,
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The seamstresses were just getting off work that Saturday, some of them singing a new popular song, "Every Little Movement (Has a Meaning of Its Own)," when they heard shouts from the eighth floor just below. They saw smoke outside the windows, and then fire. As David Von Drehle recounts the ensuing catastrophe, in his award-winning book "Triangle," just a couple minutes later the ninth floor was fully ablaze.

The fire engines that rushed to the scene did not have ladders that reached to the ninth floor. The fire escape — which didn't reach all the way to the street anyway — was not built to accommodate more than a few people and soon collapsed. The stairwell that led to the roof was already burning, and after a few minutes was consumed by flames. The other stairwell led down to the street, but the door was padlocked from the outside so that the men and women who worked at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company would be compelled to use just the one stairwell or the two elevators to exit, lest any of them elude inspection and make off with leftover scraps of cloth.

The elevator operators made runs up to the ninth floor several times before their cables stopped working, and before desperate sewers sought to escape by jumping down one of the elevator shafts, hoping to find a softer landing atop the descending elevator than on the sidewalk nine stories down.

But many, facing the choice of death by fire or death by impact on the city streets, chose the latter and leapt. Down they came, some already engulfed in flame — first a few, then a torrent, before the horrified crowd that had gathered by the building, which was just off Washington Square in the heart of New York's Greenwich Village.

When it was over, 146 people had either died by fire or jumped to their deaths. Most were young women, almost entirely Jewish or Italian immigrants, many still in their teens, one just 14.

That was 100 years ago Friday — March 25, 1911. But the battles that arose in the wake of Triangle over worker safety, worker rights and whether government should regulate business are with us still.

Triangle's owners, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, had fiercely opposed the general strike of Lower East Side garment workers two years earlier and had hired thugs to beat up their seamstresses when they picketed the plant. They rebuffed the union's demand for sprinklers and unlocked stairwells — and when these facts became widely known in the fire's aftermath, outrage swept the city. Blanck and Harris were tried for manslaughter — but acquitted in the absence of any laws that set workplace safety standards.

But standards were on the way. In Triangle's wake, and facing the prospect of losing New York's Jewish community to an ascending Socialist Party, Charlie Murphy, who ran Tammany Hall and controlled the state's Democratic Party, told two young protégés — Assembly Speaker Al Smith and state Senate President Robert Wagner — to make some changes to New York's industrial order. Aided by Frances Perkins, a young social worker who was in Washington Square looking on in horror as the seamstresses jumped to their deaths, Smith and Wagner visited hundreds of factories and sweatshops. Over time, they authored and enacted legislation that required certain workplaces to have sprinklers, open doors, fireproof stairwells and functioning fire escapes; limited women's workweeks to 54 hours and banned children under 18 from certain hazardous jobs. (Years later, Wagner, by then a U.S. senator, authored — with help from Perkins, who had become labor secretary — the legislation establishing Social Security; he also wrote the bill legalizing collective bargaining.)

Businesses reacted as if the revolution had arrived. The changes to the fire code, said a spokesman for the Associated Industries of New York, would lead to "the wiping out of industry in this state." The regulations, wrote George Olvany, special counsel to the Real Estate Board of New York City, would force expenditures on precautions that were "absolutely needless and useless."

"The best government is the least possible government," said Laurence McGuire, president of the Real Estate Board. "To my mind, this [the post-Triangle regulations] is all wrong."

Such complaints, of course, are with us still. We hear them from mine operators after fatal explosions, from bankers after they've crashed the economy, from energy moguls after their rig explodes or their plant starts leaking radiation. We hear them from politicians who take their money. We hear them from Republican members of Congress and from some Democrats, too. A century after Triangle, greed encased in libertarianism remains a fixture of — and danger to — American life.


UAW's King launches efforts to strengthen union, set goals

UAW President Bob King addresses 1,200 national delegates Tuesday, the first day of the special convention, at Cobo Center in Detroit. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Christina Rogers and Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
March 23, 2011

The United Auto Workers union is mounting a global organizing effort to bolster its membership and strengthen its bargaining clout as it heads into contract talks with Detroit's Big Three automakers this summer.

The union also is determined to see that workers share in the success that companies such as Ford Motor Co. are enjoying.

UAW President Bob King said Tuesday the "outrageous" $56.5 million stock award recently given to Ford CEO Alan Mulally will help the union argue for a better deal when current contracts expire on Sept. 14.

"Alan Mulally is a great CEO, but I don't think any human being in the world deserves that much money," King told reporters at the start of a three-day bargaining convention in Detroit.

"It's outrageous."

King has said auto workers must be rewarded for the $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions they each gave since 2005 to help the automakers survive.

To strengthen the union as a whole, King said the UAW has met with union leaders in Germany and hopes to work with organized labor in less-developed countries such as Mexico, China and India.

"We have to be brutally honest with ourselves," King told 1,200 delegates in a ballroom festooned with motivational banners.

"If we don't have a plan to build the power, to win these goals, then they become irrelevant."

The convention is the UAW's first step in setting a national agenda for more than 1,000 contracts it negotiates.

Including auto workers, the UAW represents about 1 million U.S. workers and retirees in industries as varied as casino gaming, agriculture, higher education and aerospace.

King urged members to preserve solidarity by continuing their fight against any erosion of public-sector unions in states such as Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The union's goals, King said, include giving workers a greater voice in setting quality standards, higher pay for new hires and limiting automakers' use of temporary workers.

In 2007, the UAW agreed to a two-tier wage scale for new workers; entry-level employees earn half the traditional wage of tenured workers. Automakers also save money by hiring temporary workers — a move strongly criticized by King and his members.

But the UAW leader was quick to acknowledge that reversing some concessions, such as two-tier wages, would take time and could hurt companies.

"If we bargain too much in fixed cost with the companies … we make them non-competitive," King said in a nod toward giving automakers more flexibility with paying hourly workers.

Executives at Detroit's Big Three automakers have said they want to build in more flexibility in labor costs by offering union workers large bonuses and increasing incentive-based pay.

System creates division
Bill Parker, president of Local 1700 at Chrysler's Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, said the two-tier wage set-up creates a division within the membership, because workers are doing the same work, under the same contract, but for different pay.

Parker called for a guarantee that these entry-level workers eventually will move up to the same wage scale as their peers.

Tim Gasparski, a senior designer with Chrysler Group LLC, said the biggest issue he sees for the UAW is preventing the erosion of the middle class, although he noted that Chrysler has improved under Fiat SpA management and hiring has resumed.

"I can look at working with Chrysler with optimism again," Gasparski said.


Japan disaster to hit
automakers globally

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
March 22, 2011

Every major automaker worldwide will be affected by the disaster in Japan by mid-to-late April, according to a report released Monday by automotive forecasters IHS Global Insight of Northville.

"It is not a matter of if, but when," said Michael Robinet, IHS's Director of Automotive Forecast, in an analysis of the impact of the disaster that halted domestic vehicle production and affected the parts supply chain.

The ripple effect is already being felt at plants around the world but Robinet expects the impact to grow in the coming weeks and months because many automakers rely on Japanese-sourced components such as semi-conductors, integrated circuits, sensors and LCD displays.

Many of those parts were in short supply before the disaster.

Future shortages could include resins and synthetic rubber from Japan, the IHS forecasts, and the region has many engine and powertrain parts plants.

Ford Motor Co. holds meetings "hourly" as it scrambles to keep its supply chain intact and its plants running, said spokesman Todd Nissen.

IHS calculates Japan's lost production at more than 337,000 vehicles by the end of this week — because all plants in that country have been idled since the quake — and 450,000 by the end of March, if all remain closed. The daily production loss is about 37,000 cars and trucks.

This week, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. plan to gingerly resume production of components for overseas plants and later in the week restart vehicle assembly in Japan.

Robinet said it could take seven weeks of full production, with overtime, for each facility to make up for one week of lost production. Japan accounts for about 13 percent of global production, he said.

Some of the most fuel-efficient Japanese vehicles are built in Japan and as supplies diminish, prices will creep up and incentives will evaporate, said IHS analyst Aaron Bragman in a separate report released Monday.

TrueCar.com says prices of Japanese models in the U.S. are rising already, with the Toyota Prius up $169, on average, in the past week, Bragman notes.

"If the supply of imported Japanese fuel-efficient vehicles cannot be restored quickly, an opportunity may arise for well-placed competitors to start stealing U.S. market share from Japanese automakers," Bragman said.

Ford is well-situated, with a number of new models that get 40 mpg. General Motors Co. also has new small vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt hybrid. Hyundai Motor Co. has strong contenders for those buyers, too.

Ford is seeing no additional sales blip because of a shortage of Japanese models, in part because it is too early to detect such signs, said sales analyst George Pipas.

Gas prices created a demand for smaller vehicles and hybrids. Ford has a 40-day supply of those vehicles, compared with 60 days on average, Pipas said. "The domestics are not in a situation to take advantage of anybody," Pipas said, given inventory levels.

Chrysler Group LLC met with its dealer council late last week, and no one reported increased showroom traffic because of the Japanese crisis, said spokesman Ralph Kisiel.

Competitors can capitalize on shortages only if they have the parts to keep their own plants running.

All are monitoring their supply lines closely.

So far, lost volume outside Japan is only about 10,000 vehicles, according to Robinet. That includes GM's truck plant in Shreveport, La., which suspended work because of parts shortages.


Continental recalls tires
used on Ford pickups

390K targeted after fatal crash involving blowout in 2010

David Shepardson / The Detroit News
March 21, 2011

Washington— Continental AG's North American unit is recalling 390,000 truck tires following a fatal crash involving a Ford pickup in September, the company announced Friday.

Most of the recalled tires were used as original equipment on new Ford F-250 and F-350 vehicles.

The company said 330,000 of the tires were used on new 2008-09 Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks, while the rest were sold as replacement tires on Ford and other trucks.

The recall by South Carolina-based Continental Tire was prompted after the company received notice in January of a fatality involving a vehicle with a tire that has now been recalled.

The company hasn't identified a root cause of the crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Continental and Utah State police are trying to figure out if the tire was to blame.

Continental spokeswoman Kathryn Blackwell said the fatal incident occurred in Utah in September. The driver of a Ford F-250 lost control after one of the front tires blew out two miles from the Utah-Colorado border. The vehicle veered into the median and rolled over. A passenger was ejected and killed.

The tire on the vehicle was original equipment.

Continental has been studying the issue since September 2009, when it began to see a higher number of warranty claims and property damage claims, the company said. Blackwell said the company has received about 100 property damage claims.

The company has had five claims for personal injuries — most for minor injuries like neck and back pain since 2009 — she said.

Continental said some of the tires may experience uneven wear or vibration. Under conditions of overloading or under inflation in high temperatures, separation may occur between the belt edges.

Blackwell said in some instances tread separation has also been reported.

Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood said the company is working with Continental and providing them with a list of its owners to help facilitate the recall.

The issue of tread separation is particularly sensitive to Ford.

In 2000, problems first emerged with Firestone tires failing on Ford SUVs that were linked to 280 deaths. Ford eventually spent $3 billion to recall 13 million tires.

The recalled Continental tires are LT275/70R18 125/122S — with outline white letters and black sidewall and Contitrack, LT275/70R18 125/122S, black sidewall produced between May 2007 and September 2008.

Continental is alerting tire dealers to try to reach customers who bought replacement tires and failed to register them.

The recalled tires were made at the company's San Luis Potosi plant in Mexico. Continental will replace the tires free of charge and the recall will begin later this month.


UAW's bargaining strategy complex

Union to set agenda for auto talks amid
more global unrest, anti-union rhetoric

Christina Rogers / The Detroit News
March 20, 2011

As the United Auto Workers union takes its first steps at hammering out a national bargaining agenda next week, the task will be complicated by new challenges facing the U.S. auto industry and controversy now surrounding public sector unions.

The union gathering at Detroit's Cobo Center — in advance of contract negotiations with Detroit's Big Three this summer — falls against a rapidly shifting economic and political backdrop, adding complexity to talks that several weeks ago seemed relatively straightforward, labor experts said.

Political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa has sent oil prices soaring and could hurt the auto industry recovery. The crisis in Japan is disrupting U.S. auto parts supplies, and its long-term impact is still unknown.

At the same time, legislative battles have sprung up across the Midwest, including in Michigan, challenging public sector bargaining rights.

"If they were negotiating a month ago, things would look better," said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

"Now, the UAW is going to be on the national stage, and they're very aware of it," he added. "They've got to push, but not push too hard."

About 1,200 union members from across the country will attend the three-day bargaining convention that begins Tuesday. Among those scheduled to speak are UAW President Bob King, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

The gathering is geared at setting negotiating principles for all UAW members — including those outside the auto sector — but contract talks with the Detroit's Big Three are likely to capture the spotlight.

The UAW's four-year contract with the automakers expires Sept. 14.

During the convention, which runs through Thursday, the UAW will hear from members and decide on key issues that will be raised at the bargaining table. They'll also elect bargaining committee members and chairs to represent the rank and file.

The UAW has about 390,000 active members from a variety of public and private industry sectors, including auto, aerospace, higher education and gaming, and about 750 local unions, according to the union's website.

The big issues for auto workers are likely to be job security and boosting factory employment, along with ensuring that workers share in the automakers' returning prosperity, labor experts and union leaders say. That could include restoring benefits trimmed or eliminated in the previous contract to help the automakers survive.

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. announced multibillion-dollar profits for 2010 and doled out large profit-sharing checks to hourly workers in January and February. Chrysler Group LLC also gave out bonuses to hourly workers after showing financial improvement.

The Big Three executives have previously said they want to make bonuses a larger part of hourly worker pay, so they can lower fixed costs related to labor and ensure union employees prosper when the companies make money.

But looming uncertainty in the auto industry may temper the union's agenda.

"Obviously, people want their concessions back, but people have a lot of anxiety because they don't know what's going to happen," said Jimmy Settles, a UAW vice president and head of the Ford unit.

Settles said next week's convention is a chance to hear from members. "That's our barometer to see what our delegates feel like," he said.

Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, said the UAW could seek a shorter three-year contract because circumstances surrounding the industry remain tenuous and the union may feel it can get a better deal the next time around.

"The recovery is slow, steady and risky," McAlinden said. "And union leadership must know they can't ask for too expensive of an agreement."

Meanwhile, the UAW's King has embarked on an aggressive campaign to organize foreign automaker factories and reverse a slide in membership numbers, an effort that could be hampered by the disaster in Japan.

Settles said the union isn't likely to target a Japanese automaker if the company has been crippled by the Japan crisis.

Instead, the UAW is likely to target South Korean automakers first, McAlinden said. The union, he said, has the financial wherewithal to undertake this organizing campaign, along with continuing its public sector fight.

The UAW has set aside $60 million for strikes and campaigning, more than enough to take up both causes, McAlinden said. "They can tough it out," he added.


Lincoln ranked most dependable
car brand by J.D. Power

Lincoln MKT

Jerry Hirsch
Los Angeles Times
March 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES—The auto industry is producing more reliable vehicles. That's the finding of a J.D. Power and Associates dependability study examining problems experienced during the last 12 months by owners of 2008 model-year vehicles.

The study, released Thursday, found there were an average of 151 problems per 100 of the 3-year-old vehicles during the time period surveyed. That was the lowest problem rate since the inception of the study in 1990 and an improvement from the 155 problems owners of 2007 models reported in last year's study, J.D. Power said.

Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln brand had the best score—101 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus, a division of Toyota Motor Corp., was second with 109.

Jaguar was third at 112, Porsche fourth at 114, and the Toyota brand, notwithstanding millions of recalls in the last 18 months, still ranked fifth with 122.

Mini, a division of BMW, fared the worst, scoring 221. Jeep, 214; Land Rover, 212; Dodge, 206; and Chrysler, 202, rounded out the bottom five.

With the exception of Chrysler Group, which owns the Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler brands, the other American nameplates scored near or above average in the dependability rankings.

"Automakers, as a whole, have made significant improvements in reducing traditional problems, particularly with vehicle interiors, engines and transmissions and steering and braking during the past several years," said David Sargent, a J.D. Power and Associates vice president.

Auto companies, however, are seeing increased rates of problems with electronic features in vehicles, including audio, entertainment and navigation systems and new safety features, such as tire-pressure monitoring systems, he said. Toyota had the top vehicles in seven segment awards, the most of any automaker.

The Lexus RX 350 was the top luxury crossover. Other top-ranked Toyota-built vehicles included the Scion xB compact utility vehicle, Toyota 4Runner mid-size SUV, Toyota Prius sedan, Toyota Sienna minivan, Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup truck and Toyota Tundra large pickup.

Ford had four top models, including the Ford Fusion mid-size sedan, the Ford Mustang, the Lincoln MKZ sedan and the Lincoln Navigator SUV.

General Motors placed three vehicles among the top models, including the Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS and Chevrolet Tahoe. Honda also had three—the Acura RL, Honda CR-V and Honda Fit. Other top-ranked models included the BMW X3, Mazda MX-5 Miata and Mercedes-Benz CLK.


Volume 41, No. 11
March 18, 2011

Workers Promised Back Salary at Windsor Retirement Home
 CAW members at La Chaumiere Retirement Residence in Puce, Ontario (located just outside of Windsor) have been promised their back wages after it was placed into receivership on March 10.

The 38 workers, represented by CAW Local 2458, had been on the job with no income for more than 10 weeks, after the company repeatedly failed to pay the workers, and other suppliers. The home was managed by Liberty Assisted Living.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said that under normal circumstances the company going into receivership would be extremely difficult news, but in this case, it could mean a positive new beginning for the home, the residents and its workers.

“This group of workers should be applauded for their commitment to caring for the residents,” said Lewenza. “Company owners exploited the goodwill of the workers at La Chaumiere for their own profit, putting residents and workers at peril.

“The terrible experience at La Chaumiere highlights the actions of unscrupulous employers in this sector who take advantage of vulnerable seniors and the workers who care for them,” said Bruce Dickie, CAW Local 2458 president.

The appointed receiver has agreed to pay the workers’ outstanding salary within a week. The receiver has also agreed to honour all aspects of the collective agreement and the union has pledged its support to working with the receiver to find a new owner for the facility.

Solidarity with Japanese Workers

Tens of thousands of people around the globe want to express their support and condolences to the survivors of the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that violently swept over the north east coastal region of Japan on March 10. 

Below is an excerpt from a letter from CAW President Ken Lewenza sent to all Japanese affiliates of the global labour federations UNI, ITF, IUF and IMF.

“I am writing on behalf of the 200,000 members of the Canadian Auto Workers union to express our deepest condolences on the terrible loss and devastation caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Here in Canada, we watched in horror, as many did around the world, as the ocean swept violently into coastal towns in the Tohoku and Kanto regions and emergency crews tried to rescue as many as they could to safety. Our hearts particularly go out to the citizens living in the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, tens of thousands of whom have lost their loved ones, homes and livelihoods...

We want to assure you that your sisters and brothers in Canada support your efforts to re-build your community and the lives of those impacted by this tragedy.” 

To read the full letter or download a copy, please visit: http://www.caw.ca/en/10024.htm

The International Transport Workers' Federation has set up a webpage to allow supporters to send a message of solidarity with Japanese workers and to get an update on the situation as it evolves.

For more information, please visit: http://www.itfglobal.org/solidarity/japan.cfm

Seeking Justice for CAW Airport Limo Drivers

In a case between the CAW representing 200 airport limo drivers and the limo company, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has ruled that maintaining the existing high fees paid by the drivers is not justified within the realm of collective bargaining.

“At the hearing, the board said that once workers organize through a union, they have the right to better their lives –the status quo does not apply,” said Sukhvinder Johl, CAW national representative.

Although the application for first contract final binding arbitration was rejected at the March 9 hearing, the board did lay out a set of guidelines for how to proceed with negotiations and has also appointed a mediator, said Johl. Should the company still refuse to make any compromises on its position, the union can reapply for binding arbitration to reach the first collective agreement.

“This ruling wholly supports what we’ve been saying since the beginning of this lock out –that workers have a right to improve their working conditions through collective bargaining and that the company is being unreasonable in expecting otherwise,” said CAW President Ken Lewenza. The union will continue to push for justice for the drivers, and will commence mediated negotiations over the coming days and weeks, he said.

The Toronto airport limo drivers are employed by McIntosh, Air Cab and Aaroport and have been locked out of their jobs since December 1. The drivers are represented by CAW Local 252 

New Agreement with Ocean Choice International

FFAW/CAW members in Newfoundland have voted 67 per cent in favour of a new collective agreement with Ocean Choice International, ending a six-week labour dispute.

More than 90 workers who make up OCI trawler crews working in southern Newfoundland voted to go on strike in January. The dispute also forced the closing of OCI fish plants in Fortune and Marystown, Newfoundland. The company has indicated the Marystown facility will resume operations around March 21.

FFAW/CAW President Earle McCurdy said the new agreement is a two-year contract, expiring at the end of 2012. The contract includes an increase in fish prices which results in an increase in crew pay. There is also an increase in per diems and clothing allowances.

“This is the best deal that could be negotiated under these difficult circumstances,” said McCurdy. “These trawler crews work extremely hard – this is a foundation to build on.”

The trawler crews harvest various species of fish, including flounder.

A More Thoughtful Federal Budget

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is calling for the federal government to restore a fair tax system, along with other recommendations included in its annual Alternative Federal Budget.

According to the CCPA, the Harper government has presided over a massive shift of Canada’s tax system, with tax cuts from 2006- to the announced tax cuts for 2013-14 amounting to an incredible $200 billion from public coffers.

The AFB proposes a number of changes that would restore fairness to the country’s tax system and allow an expansion of public services –which would in turn create jobs and keep more Canadians working.

The AFB makes a number of key recommendations, including 10 solutions for the post recession recovery.
Here is a brief version of the CCPA’s proposed solutions: 
1.      Reduce poverty by 25% within the next five years
2.      Restore a fair tax system
3.      Make the Employment Insurance system work for those who lose their jobs
4.      Repair our cities and create jobs with a national public infrastructure build program
5.      Implement a publicly insured pharmacare plan for all Canadians
6.      Protect and improve public pensions
7.      Support families by creating universal publicly funded child care
8.      Invest in First Nations
9.      Make Canada an international environmental leader
10.When it comes to deficit reduction, don’t press the panic button
To read the full Alternative Federal Budget 2011 or to download 10 Solutions for the Federal Budget, please visit: http://www.policyalternatives.ca/afb2011

 Exec Compensation Shows No Lesson Learned from Recession

CAW President Ken Lewenza is reacting with frustration to news of exorbitant compensation at Ford Motor Company for Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford, announced March 9.

Mulally received $56.5 million in stock, and Ford $42.4 million in shares for the automaker’s turnaround.

“It is this kind of individualistic greed and excess that contributed to the recent bubble collapse in the U.S. and the resulting global recession,” said Lewenza. “Have we learned nothing from that experience?”

Lewenza said that these inflated compensation packages are particularly offensive given the fact the company will close its St. Thomas facility later this year and already have approximately 1,300 workers in Canada on lay-off.

"Autoworkers, and the communities in which they live, have experienced incredible loss, insecurity, and belt-tightening in recent years. When Ford closes its St. Thomas plant later this year, another 1,300 hard-working families will be devastated. 

How Ford's board of directors can pay out $56.5 million to one individual, while this company is jeopardizing the future of thousands of Canadian families, is simply beyond me."


UAW expects Ford will share wealth

VP says union will 'negotiate smart' in face of $6.6B profit

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 18, 2011

Wayne — Jimmy Settles, United Auto Workers union vice president and director of its Ford Department, said Thursday he doesn't object to Ford Motor Co.'s decision to award more than $130 million in stock to senior Ford executives.

Settles, at an event at the Michigan Assembly Plant celebrating the new Focus, said the union believes the company will spread the wealth.

"I am going to look at that on the up side and say that I know that they compensated them very well at the top, so I feel that they are going to compensate us at the bottom very well," he said.

"They believe in fairness."

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally received $58.5 million in pretax stock awards this month; Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. received $42.4 million under various incentive programs.

The union is looking for concessions from Ford, which posted a $6.6 billion profit last year, in this year's negotiations.

"We're looking for everything — plus," Settles said. "We're going to negotiate smart. We're not going to cut our nose off to spite our face. We're going to do what's best for the membership."

Ford Americas President Mark Fields said the company is committed to making sure all workers enjoy the fruits of the automaker's success. Ford handed out profit sharing checks this month to hourly workers averaging $5,000.

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the UAW's national bargaining convention in Detroit next week. Settles called the gathering "a barometer to hear what our delegates are thinking about."

Separately, Settles said he doesn't think the union would target a Japanese automaker for organizing in the United States, if the company is crippled by Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

"If they are in dire need, we would not be trying to taking advantage of the situation," Settles told reporters.


Ford to hold launch ceremony for 2012 Focus at Wayne plant
“For me, it’s about the company and the car,” said Liz Boyd, who was press secretary for former Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Boyd is buying a 2012 Focus. (Ford)

Snyder, UAW officials, dealers expected
at Wayne plant launch ceremony

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 17, 2011

Ford Motor Co., at a ceremony today at its Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, will tout the launch of its new 2012 Ford Focus — a critical vehicle for the Dearborn automaker as it courts buyers demanding a fuel-efficient vehicle.

Gov. Rick Snyder, Ford Americas President Mark Fields, manufacturing chief John Fleming, UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, Ford dealers, key suppliers and workers are scheduled to be in a crowd that is expected to top 1,000.

"It's going to be a great day for Ford, a great day for southeast Michigan," Fields said in an interview. "This is a hugely important launch for us."

Ford began producing its 2012 Focus in Wayne in January, and vehicles are beginning to arrive in showrooms now. The Dearborn-based automaker announced a $550 million investment last year to build the Focus and its battery-electric sibling at the plant.

Ford will also build an electric version of its new C-MAX in Wayne.

"Not only is the (Focus) segment growing, but it's going to be the only plant in the world that's going to be building a gas-powered, a hybrid and a battery-electric vehicle all in the same plant," Fields said.

"It's going to be one of the leading plants in the world in terms of flexibility."

Ford has touted the flexibility of the plant as a way to respond quickly to high gas prices or consumer demand. The battery version of the Focus is due by year's end.

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said last week the company is well-positioned to meet demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles if gas prices continue to climb, in part because of its flexibility to shift production among the various powertrains.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, who helped write the $25 billion low-cost government auto retooling program, noted that Ford returned jobs from Mexico to the Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti to build hybrid and plug-in vehicle battery packs to support the new production in Wayne.

"We are bringing jobs back," Stabenow said.

Among those waiting for the 2012 Focus is Liz Boyd, who was press secretary to former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Boyd recently sold her 2005 Focus with more than 80,000 miles on it and put down a deposit for a 2012 Focus at her Okemos Ford dealer.

"For me, it's about the company and the car," said Boyd, who wants a fuel-efficient vehicle.

With the new Focus, four Ford models achieve at least 40 miles per gallon: the Ford Fiesta SE with the SFE package, Ford Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.


GM's Reuss: Impact of Japan earthquake 'has yet to unfold'

Christina Rogers / The Detroit News
March 17, 2011

Earthquake damage to Japan's auto supplier network could have an affect "bigger than anyone knows today" on the U.S. auto industry, said General Motors Co.'s North American President Mark Reuss today.

GM has put some contingency plans in place to cushion against any production loss, Reuss said, but he declined to elaborate.

"The impact of this has yet to unfold," Reuss said.

GM, having emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, is in a much better position to confront a crisis of this magnitude, he added. However, the situation on the ground in Japan remains confusing and it's unclear the toll it could take on the industry at large.

"I think we're going to be tested," he added.

Despite the uncertainty, GM is pressing ahead with plans to hire 1,000 engineers announced last fall, Reuss said, when asked about how the supplier disruption in Japan could affect auto hiring stateside.

"The question is about the future," he said.

Reuss spoke for about an hour this morning to engineering students at University of Detroit Mercy. His talked spanned everything from his childhood growing up in Detroit, as the son of a GM executive, to money he'd save by driving an electric Chevrolet Volt.

"Now we have the opportunity to really reinvent and rebirth a company," Reuss said of GM's post-bankruptcy turnaround. "To have that opportunity…is a massive weapon," he noted.


UAW plans auto contract
strategy session

Labor union should be rewarded for past sacrifices, leader says

Keith Naughton / Bloomberg News
March 16, 2011

The United Auto Workers union will hold its quadrennial bargaining convention in Detroit next week to create its strategy for negotiating a new contract with U.S. automakers.

UAW President Bob King will lead the convention from March 22 to March 24 at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michele Martin, a spokeswoman, said Tuesday in an e-mail.

King, 64, will negotiate new contracts this year with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. While the agreements don't expire until September, King has said workers must be rewarded for sacrifices they made to help the automakers survive. He said UAW members each gave $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions since 2005.

"All the sacrifices that our members made to turn these companies around were part of the process that's really led to this amazing turnaround," King said in a January interview. "We want our membership to share in a very meaningful way in the upside of these companies."

To help the automakers survive, the union surrendered raises, bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments. The UAW also agreed to a two-tier wage system, in which new hires earn about $14 an hour, half the amount paid to senior production workers.

GM, which reorganized in bankruptcy in 2009, earned $6.2 billion last year. Ford, the only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy, had net income of $6.6 billion last year, the most since 1999. Chrysler, which also reorganized in 2009, posted a net loss of $652 million last year and forecast net income of as much as $500 million this year.

King also is seeking to organize the U.S. factories of Asian and German automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Daimler AG. King has said he expects to organize at least one nonunion automaker this year.

Through organizing and hiring at the U.S. automakers, King has said he hopes this year to reverse the UAW's three-decade decline in membership that has fallen to 355,000 members.


Stocks for Ford executives mature into $34 million payday

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 15, 2010

Washington— Ford Motor Co. disclosed Monday that it awarded 18 senior executives stock worth more than $34 million under the company's long-term incentive and retention plans.

In total, the executives received about 2.4 million shares, before taxes. After taxes, the stock is worth about $22 million.

In past years, Ford had distributed restricted stock units to executives. The units didn't convert to stock immediately, giving the executives an incentive to stick around and help improve the company's performance so the shares would gain value.

The stock awards outlined Monday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are largely for performance in 2008.

Eight of the executives received awards totaling around $3 million or more.

Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally received 136,005 shares worth nearly $2 million.

After the company withheld 55,491 shares for taxes, Mulally received stock worth $1.1 million.

The stock units were awarded in 2009, and vested on Friday, which means the executives now own the shares. When the shares were awarded, Ford stock was worth less than $3 a share; on Monday, it closed at $14.30 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The filings Monday follow Ford's disclosure last week that Mulally received $56.5 million in stock for his 2010 performance, worth about $33 million after taxes.

Mulally defended his compensation Friday, saying it was tied to the automaker's performance.

Ford spokesman John Stoll said Monday the automaker is "committed to aligning executive compensation to the company's performance and long-term shareholder value."

The awards outlined Monday "entirely reflect that philosophy because they are based on the performance of Ford's stock," Stoll said.

Ford's stock price jumped nearly 70 percent in 2010 as Ford recorded $6.6 billion in profit — its largest yearly tally since 1999. Ford's hourly workers are receiving profit sharing checks averaging $5,000.

Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst at IHS Automotive, said the awards were justified. "This is the reward that they earned for taking risks," he said. "There was no guarantee Ford would stay out of bankruptcy or return to profitability. They were getting less than market compensation in terms of cash."

Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in labor and the global economy, said the bonuses could be an issue in contract talks this summer with the United Auto Workers.

"Ford's performance has been very strong but these kinds of bonuses tend to create resentment at a particularly critical moment," Shaiken said. "Awarding $130 million in bonuses makes it very difficult to ask for restraint by hourly workers."

Other executives also received stock that had converted from previously awarded restricted stock units. They include: John Fleming, Ford's executive vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs, received about 396,000 shares worth $5.7 million before taxes, and $3.4 million after taxes.

Ford group vice president Jim Farley was awarded 214,957 shares worth nearly $3.1 million. After Ford withheld 87,700 shares for taxes, Farley realized $1.8 million.

Ford quality chief Bennie Fowler received 208,237 shares worth $3 million before taxes, and realized $1.8 million after taxes. J Mays, the company's group vice president of design and chief creative officer, also received about $3 million in stock before taxes, and $1.8 million in stock after taxes were withheld.

Ford Americas President Mark Fields received 46,615 shares of stock worth $670,000. After taxes, Fields received stock worth $400,000. Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth received 45,499 shares worth $653,000, or $385,000 after taxes.

Ford group vice president for sustainability, environment and safety engineering Sue Cischke received about $3 million in stock and received about $1.9 million after taxes.

Ford group vice president and chief information officer Nick Smither also received about $3 million in stock before taxes and $1.9 million after taxes.

Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., who received $42.4 million in stock last week before taxes, did not receive any new award Monday. Ford will disclose total compensation for its senior executives when the company files its annual proxy for 2010.


John Moore: Unions don't cause
the problems they're blamed for

Pro-union protesters march on Madison, Wisc. on Saturday.

March 14, 2011
John Moore - National Post

There’s blood in the water for the labour movement, and the political sharks are circling.
In Wisconsin the Governor has stripped public workers of the right to collective bargaining. Tellingly, he exempted those unions that supported him during the election. The rhetoric south of the border has reached such a peak that one deputy attorney general floated the idea of using live ammunition on protesters. “You’re damn right I advocate deadly force,” he frothed.
In Canada the mood is less lethal but an anti-union wind is blowing. The city of Toronto has petitioned to remove the right to strike from transit workers. The measure ignores the fact that the union has walked out a grand total of 75 days since 1921, but newly elected Mayor Rob Ford says this is only the start when it comes to laying down the law to city employees.
Free market cultists rejoice in these developments. They’ve waited decades for the right circumstances to marshal their forces against organized labour. Now they make the case that our economic troubles stem not from bad fiscal policy or the chicanery of the financial sector, it’s the average working man who is to blame.
They complain that unionized workers make more than their non-unionized colleagues, which is a bit like being astonished that pasteurized milk has less bacteria than the raw stuff.
In a column entitled “Why the Public Sector is Hanging on For All It’s Worth” (March 6), Terence Corcoran crows that Canada’s private-sector workers don’t want unions, pointing out that organizing efforts at Walmart and Toyota have failed. He omits that Walmart shuttered a profitable Quebec outlet as a means of staving off a pro-union vote, while Toyota workers coast on the wages and benefits hard won by the CAW at the Big Three.
Corcoran and others may present more persuasive arguments when it comes to public sector workers except that as Kelly McParland has pointed out in “Unions and Government, a Happy Marriage that Benefits Both” (March 2), the packages politicians decry as overly generous were eagerly dispensed by their own vote-hungry hands.
Governments at all levels claim the larder is bare, forgetting always that they themselves emptied it with ill-considered tax cuts and wasteful spending. Wisconsin was actually in surplus when its union-bashing governor came to power in January 2011, but Scott Walker gave 117% of it away to business in the form of tax cuts. In other cases governments looted the very same pension plans they now say cannot be sustained.
There was a time where lifting up the collective standard of living was a shared and worthy endeavour. Men and women did a day’s labour in a safe working environment and enjoyed protection from the capriciousness of their supervisors. In return they earned enough to buy a home, a car, raise a family, take a vacation and enjoy a few years retirement before they died.
But as more and more people slip into economic hardship the new attitude is “if I’m going to barely scrape by why should anyone have it better?” This collective foul mood is manna to grandstanding politicians and indignant businesspeople who have always regarded unions as a type of shakedown operation. Never mind that according to CAW records 98% of collective agreements are concluded without a strike.
Critics claim that unions have outlived their mandate. Children no longer toil in factories and seamstresses aren’t burned alive in firetraps. But the union movement didn’t just seek to lift people above the status of interchangeable and disposable mules; the intention has always been to use collective power to obtain a portion of wealth that represents the genuine value of labour.
Unions and the working man didn’t create the financial meltdown. They didn’t invent and market worthless financial instruments. They didn’t swindle pension funds or blow up the housing market. They didn’t hack away at revenues to the point where government can no longer supply basic services. In short, unions didn’t create the dire economic circumstances now being used to justify a wholesale attack on their very existence.
Let elected officials surrender their pensions. Perhaps it’s the spoiled brats of Wall Street — whose six figure bonuses have been paid from government funds — who need to wake up to the new economic reality.
The upside to the anti-union endgame is that it may lead to a resurgence of labour solidarity. The sharks may be circling, but they will always be outnumbered by the fish.
National Post
John Moore is host of Moore in the Morning on Newstalk 1010 AM Toronto. Outside of southern Ontario he can be heard at Newstalk1010.com.



Will Wisconsin's chill on
labour move north?

Konrad Yakabuski
Globe & Mail
March 14, 2011

In late 2009, Wisconsin became the first state to require schools to include “the history of organized labour in America and the collective-bargaining process” in social-studies curricula. That was when Democrats ran the state.

Now, with Republicans in charge, the state where public-sector bargaining was born is writing its obituary. It truly is one for the history books.

For nearly a month, thousands of public-sector workers and their supporters have protested daily outside – and even inside – the Wisconsin Capitol. Democratic senators took refuge across the state line in Illinois to deny Governor Scott Walker the quorum needed to put his “budget-repair bill” to a vote.

By Wednesday night, Mr. Walker had had enough. He reintroduced the bill's most controversial provisions in a separate piece of non-budgetary legislation to get around the quorum rule. It sailed through the Senate in, literally, five seconds, and through the Assembly on Thursday.

For the American labour movement, this could be its Battle of Gettysburg. Already a spent force in the private sector, unions now face a fight for survival in the public sector as legislators in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere – even Michigan – move to impose new labour laws.

If Canadian unions think that they are immune from the Tea Party politics that have triggered this radical shift, they may be in for a shock. Public-sector unionization rates are 71 per cent here, compared with 37 per cent there, but as the labour fortress of the U.S. North falls, the once-formidable unions of the Great White North may follow.

That great explainer of the differences between the U.S. and Canada, Seymour Martin Lipset, once posited that higher unionization rates simply reflected this country's collectivist mores.

“Canada, by retaining British institutions and Tory values, created a society and a culture that are more statist, group-oriented, communitarian, less individualistic and, ironically, social democratic,” the American scholar wrote a decade before his death in 2006. South of the border, by contrast, laissez-faireism, individualism and populism created a hostile climate for unions.

But that analysis fails to account for regional differences within the U.S. After all, union density – the percentage of workers belonging to unions – was and is essentially the same in New York State as in Ontario. But, Norma Rae notwithstanding, the union movement never made inroads into the South.

Barely 4 per cent of all workers in North Carolina – the setting of that 1979 Oscar-honoured movie – belong to unions. In Texas, it's about 5 per cent. It's below 7 per cent in South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

So it's the South that explains the Canada-U.S. differential. The real divide on unionization historically is not the Canadian border but the Mason-Dixon Line.

In the private sector, that metaphorical line has long been creeping north. Union density among private companies has plummeted to 7 per cent in the U.S. and 16 per cent in Canada.

Now, the demarcation appears about to be erased altogether.

The new Wisconsin law, for example, is sweeping. It ends collective bargaining for state workers, except on base wages. It makes negotiated pay raises above inflation subject to approval by voters in a statewide referendum. It requires unions to hold recertification votes annually and ends the practice of withholding union dues on employee paycheques.

It sounds draconian, heavy-handed and, to some, just plain mean. It smacks more of politics than economics (organized labour remains the biggest source of Democratic funding).

Yet what seems revolutionary in Wisconsin has long been the norm in most of the South. The North is only playing catch-up.

The golden era of private-sector unions lasted from the Depression until the 1970s. The corporate sector in both Canada and the U.S. then was organized along largely oligopolistic lines.

Sure, there was only one phone company and it cost a day's pay to call Mom in Kapuskasing, Ont. But price regulation and the absence of competition allowed for fat bottom lines that enabled companies to provide rising wages and benefits. Their workers unionized in droves to increase their share of the pie (in part to pay that phone bill).

Both sides of the bargaining table would have been content to see this arrangement endure. Why it broke down is the subject of much debate. But Walter Russell Mead of the journal The American Interest offers as compelling explanation as any: Simply put, the forces of deregulation were too strong.

It was not Ronald Reagan who set them in motion. The 1982 breakup of AT&T was the culmination of a process that began a decade earlier. Jimmy Carter, for instance, unshackled the U.S. airline sector in 1978, urged on by Democratic senator Ted Kennedy.

“Anti-corporate liberals rebelled at the way government power and regulation was being used to allow corporations to give their consumers the shaft,” Mr. Mead asserts. “The collapse of the regulated economy (plus the rise of foreign competition from developing countries) made unionization unsustainably expensive in many industries.”

North American unions, meanwhile, ignored the writing on the wall. They continued to demand ironclad job security, rigid workplace rules and ever-fatter health and pension benefits. Employers gave in until they went bankrupt, or pushed paying the piper far enough off into future to survive a few more years.

While this painful reckoning was playing out among old-guard corporations in the airline, auto, steel and other sectors, a new generation of non-unionized upstarts and foreign transplants thrived. Occasionally, they located in the North. But mostly they set up shop where unions didn't.

“Right-to-work” laws, which prohibit closed union shops, lured foreign and domestic employers alike to the South. While Detroit and Oshawa burned, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes and Toyota opened auto-assembly or engine plants in Alabama. BMW began building SUVs in South Carolina. Hyundai's sister company, Kia, cut the ribbon on a factory in Georgia.

Southern states were also among those most likely to ban or strictly constrain collective bargaining in the public sector. Indeed, only a tiny percentage of state and municipal employees in the Carolinas, Georgia, Texas and Virginia were ever organized in the first place.

It's a bailout for governments

Not long ago, it would have been unthinkable for a northern governor, even a Republican one, to publicly endorse withdrawing or curtailing the collective-bargaining rights of public employees. Now, many of them sound just like their Southern counterparts – only without the drawl.

Union rights “didn't come down on tablets from the top of a mountain,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie insists. “The union, they protect the worst of the worst. That's what they're there for.”

Even in states with Democratic-controlled legislatures, such as New Jersey and California, the conversation has shifted dramatically and public employees have been forced onto the defensive.

The reason is that state and local governments have become the equivalent of a pre-bailout General Motors, spending more and more of their shrinking revenues on concessions to workers while facing back-breaking tabs for future retirees.

Whether public employees deserve the pay and benefits they have wrested from governments is beside the point. States can't pay for them. Estimates of their unfunded health and pension liabilities range from $1-trillion (U.S.) to $3-trillion, depending on the projected returns on pension investments.

It hardly seems fair that public workers are being forced to surrender rights and benefits negotiated in good faith. They are not solely responsible for pushing state and local governments to the verge of bankruptcy.

Unfunded liabilities surged after the 2008 stock-market crash that was brought on, according to Barack Obama and many others, by recklessness on Wall Street. And, for years, states shirked their legal obligations to contribute their share to worker pension funds.

But, fair or not, public employees must give up benefits or pay more themselves to keep them. They have agreed to do that in Wisconsin. But Mr. Walker either doesn't trust them to hold the line or sees an opportunity to eviscerate a political foe. (Likely, it's both.)

Why not raise revenue instead?

Nearly absent from this debate is any discussion of tax increases. Why is that? Governments still have a monopoly on the provision of most public services, so why can't they charge what they like for them?

It's politics. As Mr. Mead puts it: “Voters with insecure job tenure and [weak] pensions will simply not pay higher taxes so that bureaucrats can enjoy lifetime tenure and secure pensions.”

Polls show there is considerable public sympathy for the Wisconsin unions. After all, Americans believe in fair play and usually side with the underdog.

But the longer-term polling trends reveal an unwillingness among voters to foot the bill for benefits the average taxpayer cannot dream of.

“Unions are an alien and strange creature to most people,” explains David Kettler, a political studies professor at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. “American workers do want some kind of representation. It's the union design that has lost its legitimacy.”

Facing declining membership, the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. trade-union federation, is slowly morphing into a lobby group for non-unionized workers. Its Working America unit brings together “millions of workers without the benefit of a workplace union” to negotiate discounts on health and legal benefits. It could be the shape of things to come.

Whether this is to be welcomed is another matter. For the first half of the 20th century, the labour movement was the impetus for progressive legislation whose benefits we now take for granted. The movement's descent has closely tracked the rise in income inequality in the United States and Canada.

But North American labour has played its hand poorly. Instead of adapting to change, it simply turned a blind eye to it. Just as unions often stifled innovation in the private sector – hello, GM – their loss of clout in the public sector could pave the way for better and cheaper public services.

Bringing the great fight north

Canada's laws are vastly more favourable to unions than those in the United States. As it stands, no Canadian government could probably go as far as Wisconsin's Mr. Walker or his Southern counterparts.

But as the political fallout from the introduction of harmonized sales taxes in British Columbia and Ontario illustrates, Canadians' comparatively higher tolerance for taxes is certainly not as high as it used to be. Public-sector unions here should prepare for the coming onslaught.

Listen to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who is moving to privatize the garbage collection in the city: “We are doing this so we are not going to go through another 40-day garbage strike. ... We're going to save millions of dollars, we're going to reduce the size of government. That's what people elected us to do, that's exactly what we're going to deliver on.”

How many Torontonians and other Canadians agree with that?

In many ways, the impetus for rewriting of the social contract with labour in Canada is greater than in the United States. Most provincial governments are deeper in debt and their citizens more heavily taxed than their counterparts south of the border.

And as Prof. Lipset noted years ago, public antipathy toward unions has often been higher in Canada, presumably because they are perceived to be more powerful than in the United States.

Almost a decade ago, the British Columbia government sought to throw out the collective agreement of thousands of health workers to permit contracting out and end job-security provisions, all in an effort to curb spiralling health-care costs.

This led the Supreme Court, in 2007, to overturn decades of precedent to rule that the B.C. legislation constituted “a virtual denial of the right to a process of good-faith bargaining and consultation.” The decision had the effect of establishing a constitutional right to collective bargaining in the public sector.

This might seem like an insurmountable obstacle to Wisconsin-like measures in Canada. But it's more of a technical hurdle than an impenetrable barrier to change. The balance of power has shifted on both sides of the border – not to management or government, but to taxpayers, to consumers and to the politicians who claim to fight on their behalf.

It may not be a permanent state of affairs. The Rob Fords and Chris Christies of this world will not be popular forever.

But when future editions of Wisconsin schoolbooks recount the great labour battle of 2011, they may portray it as the moment the political mores of the South won out over those of the North.

Should we start practising our “y'alls” now?

Konrad Yakabuski is The Globe and Mail's chief U.S. political writer based in Washington.


Japanese auto factories shut
down in wake of earthquake

Vehicles ready for shipping were carried off by Friday’s tsunami in Hitachinaka. U.S. carmakers, with only small Japan offices, reported no impact . (Getty Images)

Far-reaching impact felt by carmakers as well as suppliers

Christine Tierney and Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
March 13, 2011

Japanese automakers halted production at factories hit by Friday's deadly quake and scrambled to assess the damage to their hundreds of parts suppliers.

The 8.9-magnitude quake caused the greatest devastation in the northeastern region of Honshu, Japan's most populous island. But the impact extended more than 200 miles south to the cities of Tokyo and Yokohama, where Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are based, along with many parts suppliers.

A Honda employee was killed at a research center north of Tokyo that was damaged by the quake and 30 others were injured at facilities in the region.

Nissan said two of its workers were injured.

Toyota Motor Corp. said no injuries were reported at its head office in Toyota City. Its auto plants southwest of Tokyo were running, but production was halted at some part-owned subsidiary factories in the hard-hit region. Two of them, the Central Motor Corp. Miyagi plant and Kanto Auto Works Iwate plant, make Toyota Yaris and Scion cars.

Toyota said it was still collecting information on other sites.

Mike Goss, a spokesman for Toyota's U.S. manufacturing operations based in Erlanger, Ky., said it will take time to verify the status of Toyota's many suppliers in Japan. But he said output in North America was not likely to be affected in the short term.

"The biggest risk," said Michael Robinet, an analyst at IHS Automotive in Northville, "is if there's a single-source component that's difficult to move to another facility quickly." That could create production bottlenecks.

Honda closed its Tochigi Research & Development Center north of Tokyo after an employee was killed when a wall collapsed in a cafeteria. More than 30 Honda workers were injured in the region.

Honda said that of its two major assembly plants, the Suzuka complex will remain open but the Sayama factory will be closed through Monday.

"There is no immediate impact on Honda's operations in North America," it said.

Big 3 employees safe
About 90 percent of the Honda vehicles are sold in the United States, and most of the components used to make them are produced in North America.

General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC said their employees in Japan were safe, and Ford Motor Co. was unaware of any damage or injuries. The U.S. automakers have small offices in Japan, a hard-to-crack market where they sell few vehicles.

U.S. auto parts supplier Delphi said its 200 employees in Japan were safe; it was checking on 50 to 100 lower-tier suppliers.

Visteon Corp., TRW Automotive Inc. and BorgWarner Inc. all reported that their employees are safe and facilities undamaged.

Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. said its workers were safe, but there was flooding at its Soma facility, located on the coast 220 miles north of Tokyo.

The Ada, Mich.-based direct sales firm Amway said its 400 Japanese and expatriate staff and travelers in Japan from western Michigan were safe.

Fires at factories
Nissan suspended operations at several plants and facilities after the quake struck early Friday afternoon, local time.

Small fires broke out at its Tochigi and Iwaki casting facilities but were extinguished, it said. Two employees were injured at the Tochigi plant.

As aftershocks shook Nissan's new Yokohama headquarters, the company evacuated staffers in sites near the Pacific coastline.

Engineers and others at the Nissan Technical Center in Atsugi City were evacuated to a nearby facility after a power outage.

Nissan suspended weekend production at its plants and said it would decide about resuming operations Monday, after assessing its facilities and those of its suppliers.

Some Nissan dealerships in the Tokyo area suffered damage, but the big devastation occurred in the northeast. There, the shock of the quake was followed by a tsunami, bringing waves more than 20 feet high.

Suzuki Motor Corp., 160 miles south of Tokyo and 400 miles south of the quake's epicenter 80 miles from Japan's northeastern coastline, said its employees were unharmed and plants intact.

"We are gathering information about any additional effects to Suzuki's operations, including port distribution, plant and dealership operations, as well as our vendors and suppliers located in the damaged areas," it said. Suzuki said its efforts were hindered by widespread power outages.

Mazda Motor Corp., based in Hiroshima in southern Honshu, said its operations in Hiroshima and in Osaka, also south of Tokyo, were running normally.


Mulally: Pay matches
Ford's strength

CEO defends stock compensation; CAW calls it 'obscene'

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 12, 2011

Washington — Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally defended his pretax $56.5 million stock award, saying Friday it is in line with the company's strong financial performance.

"It's clearly established by the board of directors and it's tied to the performance of the Ford Motor Co.," Mulally told reporters outside the White House after a meeting of the President's Export Council. "I am absolutely pleased with what the Ford team, all stakeholders have done to create an exciting, profitably growing Ford for all of us."

He said Ford is committed to being competitive on all fronts, and "compensation is a very important part of that."

The Dearborn-based automaker announced Monday it awarded more than $100 million in stock to senior executives, including a pretax $42.4 million to Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr., along with stock options and stock units that will convert to stock.

It's a sensitive subject, especially as the automaker goes into contract talks this summer with the United Auto Workers union. UAW President Bob King didn't return a call seeking comment.

The automaker hasn't yet disclosed Mulally's total compensation for 2010; that is expected within the next month.

Ford's stock price jumped nearly 70 percent in 2010 and the company earned $6.6 billion profits — the most since 1999.

Ford's hourly workers are getting an average of $5,000 profit-sharing checks.

"We have turned the corner; we have not only survived, but we invested in Ford in the worst of times," Mulally said. "All of the stakeholders now are benefiting: our suppliers, the Ford store owners, the employees, the UAW."

Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza harshly criticized the bonuses for Mulally and other top Ford execs.

"It is obscene for any individual executive to take home many tens of millions of dollars in personal compensation as a result of the performance of an entire large corporation," Lewenza said.


Volume 41, No. 10
March 11, 2011

Young Workers Too Often Fall Prey to Precarious, Unsafe Work

CAW President Ken Lewenza is warning against unsafe conditions for young workers who are often unaware of their rights on the job, including the right to refuse unsafe work.

Lewenza is responding to a $350,000 fine imposed March 9 by the Ministry of Labour on the Metro Ontario grocery store chain following the death of a 17 year old worker and CAW member who died from head injuries sustained on the job. He had only been working for a few weeks at the time of his accident in August 2009.

According to Ontario Ministry of Labour statistics, as many as 10,000 young workers (defined as aged 15-24) are injured on the job and unable to return to work the next day. Just as many young workers file claims after requiring first aid due to workplace injuries, but are able to continue working.

“Employers are failing in their responsibility to ensure young workers are safe on the job through comprehensive health and safety training,” said Lewenza. “The retail sector is a major employer in this country, but we’ve seen conditions gradually erode, where there is much higher staff turnover due to, erratic shift scheduling, limited health and safety considerations and poor wages and benefits.

In the incident that caused his death, the young worker was helping a manager clear materials from the top of a cooler. The young worker stepped onto the drop ceiling to remove a box from the top of the cooler, as requested by the manager, and fell through the ceiling, suffering a grave head injury.

“Employers must stop taking advantage of young workers by providing them very limited health and safety training and then directing them to work outside the scope of that training,” said Lewenza.

“There is no bargaining table in this sector where our union does not insist on creating more full time and sustainable employment. We are determined to end the precarious nature of these jobs.”

The CAW represents 22,000 retail and wholesale workers across the country, including workers at Metro Inc., Loblaws, Sobeys, The Bay, Sears and Zellers.  

CAW Rallies Activists in NUPC Special Session

The CAW held a massive lobby day on Parliament Hill March 3 as a finale to the three-day National Union in Politics Committees (NUPCs) conference in Ottawa that started March 1.

The NUPC special session included speeches and presentations by CAW President Ken Lewenza, Canadian Doctors for Medicare Chair Dr. Danielle Martin, Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff and CAW Economist Jim Stanford.

The union organized approximately 100 lobby appointments with Conservative, Liberal and NDP MPs where local leadership and activists from across the country pressed elected officials on strengthening Medicare, including introducing a national pharmacare program, doubling the Canada Pension Plan and developing a 'good jobs strategy' to end the downward pressure on employment conditions.  

Jenny Ahn, director of political action and membership mobilization, said that the goal of the special session was to make the connection between what happens in CAW activists’ workplaces, communities and with their families to the work of government.

 “Many delegates pledged to meet with the MPs more often now when they return home as they see they value in doing, so I hope this also means more involvement in campaigns, electoral politics and overall better voter turnout,” said Ahn.

Participants also took part in skills building workshops on social media, street theatre, effective lobbying, canvassing and writing letters to the editor and politicians on Wednesday.

VCTA Container Truckers Vote in Favour of Strike Action

Container truck drivers working at American Cartage voted 86 per cent in favour of strike action, if necessary at a meeting held in Surrey, B.C. March 6.

The workers are members of the Vancouver Container Truck Association-CAW Local 2006 (VCTA-CAW Local 2006). 

“If American Cartage and the other container truck companies don’t get serious about a fair agreement, we could end up in a strike position across the board,” said Paul Johal, president of VCTA-CAW Local 2006.

Collective agreements at American Cartage and many other container truck companies working out of Vancouver’s ports expired on June 30, 2010.

“The company continues to demand massive concessions while undercutting remains rampant,” said Gavin McGarrigle, CAW national representative. 
“The answer to undercutting isn’t to slash wages and have massive instability at the Ports, the answer is for both levels of government to step in and ensure that we have reliable, transparent, and effective enforcement of the minimum rates already in place.”

Container truck drivers from VCTA-CAW Local 2006 staged a massive convoy throughout metro Vancouver in late November 2010 to protest the actions of Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) and the failure of the federal and provincial government to step in and fix regulations governing mandatory minimum rates for container moving.

American Cartage is one of the largest full service container truck companies operating at the Vancouver Ports and at the CN and CP intermodal rail terminals.

CAW Members at Handlex Approve New Contracts

CAW Local 2002 members who work at airline services provider Handlex have voted overwhelmingly in favour of new three-year collective agreements.

The two agreements cover 700 CAW members at Handlex, which is wholly owned by parent Air Transat. Overall the workers voted 80 per cent in favour. They work across the country in passenger services, cabin services, ground service equipment and are ramp workers.
Gains were made in many areas including annual wage increases, premiums, RRSP improvements, a signing bonus and the strengthening of contract language. The agreements are fully retroactive.

Bob Orr, assistant to the CAW President, said the members of the Handlex bargaining committees “need to be commended for their determination to improve the working and economic conditions for CAW members. The improvements to the collective agreement add to what is a very good contract in this sector.”

“Our members deserve fair and respectable agreements,” said CAW Local 2002 President Jamie Ross. “The Handlex bargaining committee has achieved their negotiation goals by providing strong language that supports the demands of Handlex members.” Ross said it signals the bargaining committee is united and has unwavering support from the

National Childcare Policy a Must, YWCA Study Shows

A national childcare policy is a priority if Canada’s economic prosperity is to grow, a new report shows. The report, titled “Educated, Employed and Equal – The Economic Prosperity Case for National Child Care,” is a YWCA Canada study released March 7.

Women will be prevented from fully participating in the workforce because of the lack of accessible, affordable childcare, the report indicates. YWCA CEO Paulette Senior said the current system ignores the progress women have made in education and employment over 30 years.

The federal government “is acting as if women are still at home” instead of providing support for working mothers,” Senior recently told Canadian Press. “Unless the government moves now, this gap will actually impact Canada’s ability to move forward in terms of prosperity.”

Julie White, CAW director of women’s programs, said the YWCA report once again identifies child care in Canada as an inadequate patchwork of services. “Stephen Harper and his Conservative government continue to deny that Canadian families require real child care for our kids,” White said.

“The reality is that not investing in a good child care system is bad economics and Canada should follow the lead of other countries like Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, England and yes even the United States who invest more per capita in early childhood development services than Canada does,” she said.

To read the full report, go to: http://ywcacanada.ca/data/publications/00000047.pdf

Apply Now!   Family Education Program

Want a summer vacation where your accommodation, travel costs and meals are paid for? Would you like a week in a resort-like setting where qualified childcare staff provide programs and care for your children? Would you like to meet people from all across Canada, learn about the union and issues facing Canadian families, and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world? If the answer is YES then don't waste anytime applying for the Family Education Program.

The two one-week English sessions run from July 2-9 and August 14-21 and the two week French program runs from July 24- August 5.

The March 25 deadline is quickly approaching, so get your application in as not to be disappointed.


Ford can handle rising
gas prices, Mulally says

Ken Thomas / Associated Press
March 11, 2011

Washington— Ford CEO Alan Mulally says his company is better positioned to withstand rising gasoline prices compared with three years ago when $4 gas battered the auto industry. Ford's top executive says the company has revamped its vehicle lineup to offer more small and mid-size cars that appeal to more customers as gas prices climb.

The national average for a gallon of gasoline has surpassed $3.50, and many drivers on the West Coast are paying close to $4 a gallon or more.

Mulally says the company didn't expect gas prices to rise as quickly as they have in the U.S., but he said Ford is "positioned with the right product line now."

Mulally was in Washington on Thursday to meet with Obama administration and congressional officials.


CAW boss slams 'obscene'
bonuses for Ford execs

Multimillion-dollar compensation packages for Ford execs shows the automaker hasn't learned from the recession, CAW president Ken Lewenza says.

March 10, 2011

Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza is reacting with frustration to the multi-million dollar bonus packages handed to Ford Motor Co. executives in the U.S.

Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally received $56.5 million in stock and Executive Chairman Bill Ford was handed $42.4 million in shares this week for the automaker's remarkable turnaround.

"It is obscene for any individual executive to take home many tens of millions of dollars in personal compensation as a result of the performance of an entire large corporation," said Lewenza. "It is this kind of individualistic greed and excess that contributed to the recent bubble collapse in the U.S. and the resulting global recession. Have we learned nothing from that experience?"

Lewenza said that these inflated compensation packages are particularly offensive given the fact the company will close its St. Thomas facility later this year and already have approximately 1,300 workers in Canada on layoff.

"Autoworkers, and the communities in which they live, have experienced incredible loss, insecurity, and belt-tightening in recent years," he said. "When Ford closes its St. Thomas plant later this year, another 1,300 hard-working families will be devastated."

He added the company is jeopardizing the future of thousands of Canadian families.



Wisconsin senate okays
anti-union bill

Michael A. Fletcher Washington Post
March 10, 2011

Wisconsin Senate Republicans abruptly passed Gov. Scott Walker's plan to sharply curtail collective-bargaining rights for public employees Wednesday night, using a legislative manoeuvre to approve the measure without 14 Democratic senators who fled the state in an effort to block it.

After stripping the bill of fiscal measures that require a 20-member quorum for action, the Senate passed the collective-bargaining measure. Analysts say the legislation would cripple most of the state's public employee unions.

On Thursday, the slimmed-down bill is expected to go to the GOP-run state Assembly, which has already passed another version of it.

The standoff in Wisconsin has gone on for three weeks, thrusting public employee unions into a deep crisis. States are grappling with record budget deficits, which some governors have tried to close by trimming what they call the generous benefits public employees receive.

The measure to curtail union power has been echoed in other states, including Indiana and Ohio.

The legislative manoeuvre used to pass the bill in Wisconsin was met with outrage by Democrats and their allies, who vowed that the governor and his fellow Republicans in the state Senate would pay with their jobs.

“The vote does nothing to create jobs, does nothing to strengthen our state, and shows finally and utterly that this was never about anything but raw political power,” said Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.

Walker appeared undaunted as he applauded the Senate's action. In a statement, he said the state could not afford to be paralyzed any longer by a controversy that had caused Democratic senators to flee for Illinois and brought tens of thousands of protesters to the Capitol in Madison. “Senate Democrats have had three weeks to debate this bill and were offered repeated opportunities to come home, which they refused,” he said. “In order to move the state forward, I applaud the legislature's action today to stand up to the status quo and take a step in the right direction to balance the budget and reform government.”

The bill would eliminate most collective-bargaining rights for public employees across Wisconsin. It also would prevent unions from collecting dues with payroll deductions and would not allow unions to require members to pay dues.

The measure's aim is to close the $137 million budget gap and help municipalities with state aid cuts.


Labour groups tackle CPP

Nest egg. The Brampton-Mississauga and District Labour Council (BMDLC), in collaboration with the Canadian Labour Congress and other community groups, will gather at the Leo Gerrard Union Hall, 1158 Aerowood Dr. At the meeting, participants will discuss what they see as the collapse of Canada’s social safety net. Photo courtesy of Canadian Finance Blog

March 9, 2011
Brampton Guardian

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will be the focus of a strategy meeting in Mississauga later today hosted by various labour and community groups.

The Brampton-Mississauga and District Labour Council (BMDLC), in collaboration with the Canadian Labour Congress, will gather at the Leo Gerrard Union Hall, 1158 Aerowood Dr., starting at 6:30 p.m.

At the meeting, participants will discuss what they see as the collapse of Canada's social safety net.

Due to pressures brought on by a weakened economy, labour activists argue an increasing number of workers are unable to save for their retirement.

More than 60 per cent of working Canadians (11 million) have no workplace pension plan, say labour leaders, while nearly 70 per cent of Canadians do not have money invested in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).

Attendees will strategize how to increase the pressure on government to expand the CPP and "build momentum for ongoing actions leading up to the June 2011 Canadian Finance Ministers meeting."

"Workers don't need another RRSP they can't afford. They deserve a secure future that only an increased CPP and Old Age Security can provide," said Motilall Sarjoo, BMDLC president. "Most of Canada's provincial finance ministers agree and are calling for an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan."

The event will also feature speakers from the Canadian Labour Congress, the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union and Canadian Auto Workers Union.


Mulally, Ford rewarded
for firm's success

Mulally, left, and Ford

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 8, 2011

Ford Motor Co. disclosed Monday it awarded Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally $56 million in stock and Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. $42.4 million in stock before taxes as part of more than $100 million in stock it gave to top executives.

The Dearborn automaker disclosed its stock awards to the two, among the most lucrative in U.S. auto industry compensation, and to about a dozen top executives in securities filings Monday.

Mulally was awarded 3.8 million shares of stock worth $56 million before taxes on Friday at $14.76 a share. But the company withheld $23 million in stock to pay the taxes on the award, so Mulally's net stock award was about $33 million. Mulally also received 884,433 stock options priced at $14.76, meaning they are underwater, since Ford's stock closed at $14.01 on Monday.

Mulally can exercise those options until 2021. He also received another 543,000 stock units that will be converted to stock in 2013 as part of the company's long term compensation program.

Bill Ford received 2.87 million shares worth $42.4 million, but the company withheld 1.17 million shares to pay taxes on the award, meaning he took home stock worth $25 million after taxes. Ford also received 412,735 stock options to buy Ford stock at $14.76 a share. They can be exercised through March 2021. He also received 253,742 stock units that will convert into common stock in March 2013.

Ford Motor Co. earned $6.6 billion in profit in 2010, its largest profit since 1999. The company's stock is up more than 50 percent since its 52-week-low and it is awarding profit-sharing checks to hourly workers that average $5,000.

Just four years ago, Ford was forced to mortgage nearly all of its assets, including its fabled Blue Oval trademark, to borrow $23.5 billion to survive.

"I don't begrudge the big pay days for these guys. I think they've earned it," said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

"They have presided over a remarkable turnaround at Ford and when you think what people on Wall Street make — these guys actually run companies that make things."


Hundreds take incentives,
leave GM in US

Skilled trade buyouts fall far short of staff surplus at carmaker

Christina Rogers / The Detroit News
March 7, 2010

About 476 skilled trade workers at General Motors Co. have taken buyout or early retirement packages, far less than the 2,500 to 3,000 highly trained employees the automaker has said it no longer needs.

The $60,000 buyout and early retirement offers went out in December to skilled trade workers at 14 plants, including eight in Michigan. Nine of the plants are closed or scheduled to shut; many of those workers have already been laid off.

The offer marked the first time GM used generous incentives to persuade hourly workers to leave since the automaker's 2009 bankruptcy. Workers had until March 1 to decide, said GM spokesman Chris Lee.

GM didn't target a number of workers to take the buyout or retire early, and it doesn't have plans to expand the offer past the March 1 deadline, Lee said. In December, GM said it had 2,500 to 3,000 excess skilled trade workers. They include electricians, welders, millwrights and other trades that require special training.

Those who took the buyouts — younger, less-tenured workers — gave up retirement benefits for the $60,000 payout; those who retired early got the cash and retained full benefits.

GM has about 45,000 hourly workers at its U.S. plants.

The automaker has used early retirement incentives and buyout offers in the past to trim its work force, but this time, the automaker is taking a more targeted approach by limiting it to 14 plants, GM officials said.

In Michigan, factories eligible for the incentives included Orion Assembly, Grand Rapids Stamping, Livonia Powertrain, Pontiac Stamping, Pontiac Assembly, Willow Run Powertrain, Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center and Flint North Powertrain.


Michael Moore tells Wisconsin protesters to keep fighting

Filmmaker Michael Moore speaks to a crowd during a large march and rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on March 5, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Todd Richmond
Associated Press
March 6, 2011

MADISON, WIS.—Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight Republican-backed efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling thousands of protesters that "Madison is only the beginning."

The crowd roared in approval as Moore implored demonstrators to keep up their struggle against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's legislation, comparing their fight to Egypt's revolt. He also thanked the 14 state Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to block a vote on the bill, saying they'll go down in history books.

"We're going to do this together. Don't give up. Please don't give up," Moore told the protesters, who have held steady at the Capitol for nearly three weeks. Police have said a crowd of about 70,000 showed up on Feb. 19, and an even larger crowd rallied Feb. 26.

Moore said the wealthy have overreached, first taking the working class' money and then taking their souls by shutting them up at the bargaining table. The crowd yelled "thank you" before Moore began to speak, and he responded: "All of America thanks you, Wisconsin."

Walker has said the legislation is needed to help ease a state deficit projected to hit $3.6 billion by mid-2013; opponents see it as an effort to weaken unions.

Negotiations between Democrats and Republican broke down Thursday, though communication lines remain open, said Sen. Tim Cullen, one of the Democrats who fled the state. Cullen said it's difficult for either side to compromise, since Democrats don't want to lose support from their base and Walker doesn't want to appear weak by backing down.

Walker's spokesman didn't return a message Saturday, though the governor has said that he won't compromise on the collective bargaining issue or anything that saves the state money.

Two other Democratic senators joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Chicago to urge Walker to negotiate with workers. Sen. Lena Taylor said Democrats left because they "needed to slow the bill down" after it was approved unchanged in the state Assembly.

"I ask the governor, 'Do your job. Come to the table and speak to Wisconsin workers,'" Taylor said.

Activists began a sit-in at the Capitol on Feb. 15, and although a judge ended protestors' overnight stays late last week, several hundred were back in the rotunda Saturday chanting "Who's house? Our house!" and "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Scott Walker's got to go!"

Outside, hundreds of people marched in the streets, banging drums and carrying signs that read "No one has ever died from overexposure to education" and "Worst bill ever."

Walker has said the bill is needed to ease a deficit that could hit $137 million by July and $3.6 billion by the middle of 2013.

His proposal comes up with the money for this year in part by forcing state employees to pay for half the cost of their pensions and twice their current health care premiums — concessions equivalent to an 8 per cent pay cut.


Ford may shift its reserves

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
March 6, 2011

Ford Motor Co. is considering eliminating an allowance for future tax credits — an action that speaks volumes about the automaker's return to profitability and confidence in strong future earnings.

Ford may remove a valuation allowance held against deferred tax assets in the second half of the year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tax and accounting rules dictate that if a company loses money for an extended period, instead of paying 35 percent in taxes, it can get that percentage as a benefit. The valuation allowance, created for tax purposes to offset assets, comes off the books when a company shows sustained profits for about three years.

In Ford's case, the allowance was created in 2006, and the reserve grew over subsequent money-losing years. The filing shows it was $15.7 billion at the end of 2010. But Ford has reversed its fortunes. Its net income was $6.6 billion in 2010 — the second consecutive year in the black.

Shifting some of the $15.7 billion allowance to net income will result in a one-time, non-cash gain that could boost 2011 net income $10 billion to $13 billion, Bloomberg News reported.

And Ford's tax rate likely will return to about 35 percent, analyst Brian Johnson of Barclays Capital said in a note to investors. But that should not scare Wall Street because it affects the books used for accounting only, said Stephen Brown, senior director at Fitch Ratings in Chicago.

Separate figures determine cash taxes and factor in $23.4 billion in deferred tax credits after racking up $31.4 billion in operating losses from 2005 to 2009. The tax credits mean Ford is unlikely to pay U.S. taxes for the rest of the decade, both Brown and Johnson said.

Both analysts also said the accounting change will not affect Ford's credit rating.

The accounting change will appear as a huge gain in earnings, but as a non-cash special charge. And there are no surprises, as agencies watched Ford build up the allowance knowing it eventually would be reversed.

"Because it is a non-cash gain, we'll factor it out," Brown said. "We are more interested in cash flow."

But the move is telling.

"It shows the company has achieved enough consistent profitability to convince the accountants (to take the allowance off the books)," Brown said. "It is backwards-looking, but the company is telling the accountants it will be profitable going forward, and the proof is they have been for the last few years."


Ford accounting move may add
$13 billion to profit, expert says

Keith Naughton / Bloomberg News
March 4, 2011

Ford Motor Co., after earning $9.3 billion in the last two years, may make an accounting change this year to reflect confidence in its recovery, a move one tax expert said could boost its 2011 profit as much as $13 billion.

Ford in the second half may eliminate from its balance sheet a valuation allowance held against deferred tax assets, it said in a federal filing this week. The reserve was created in 2006 as Ford began four years of operating losses. Eliminating the allowance may add $10 billion to $13 billion to Ford's net income this year, said Robert Willens, president of Robert Willens LLC of New York, a corporate tax specialist.

"This is a very positive statement from Ford," Willens said. "If you take the radical step of eliminating your valuation allowance, then you've developed a high degree of confidence in your future profit-making ability."

Ford, the only major U.S. automaker to avoid bankruptcy in 2009, revealed in its Feb. 28 10-K filing that its valuation allowance at the end of 2010 was $15.7 billion, one of the five largest among U.S. public companies, Willens said. Once a company believes it has entered a sustained period of profitability, it must remove the item from its books, he said.

"We have had a sustained period of profitability in our operations and if that continues, we would remove our valuation allowance," John Stoll, a company spokesman, said yesterday. "We've said we plan to deliver continued improvement this year in our pretax operating profit."

'Special item'

When Ford removes the allowance from its balance sheet, it will record the accounting move as a "special item for the quarter" to avoid "a large negative effective tax rate," it said in its filing. Without the allowance, the Dearborn-based automaker said it would "experience more normal effective tax rates, approaching the U.S. statutory rate of 35 percent."

Ford, which hasn't paid U.S. taxes since 2005, may not pay federal taxes until the end of the decade because it still would have tax-loss benefits on its books from $31.4 billion in operating losses sustained from 2005 to 2009, said Brian Johnson, a Chicago-based analyst with Barclays Capital Management.

"Releasing the valuation allowance is purely an accounting move," Johnson said in a March 2 interview. "It has absolutely no bearing on cash taxes, and the U.S. government won't collect from Ford for quite some time."

Weighing valuation

The potential change in the reported tax rate has weighed on Ford's shares this year, Johnson said. Investors apparently don't understand Ford won't pay additional taxes, he said.

"Wall Street is focused on how Ford will need to reflect a 35 percent tax rate," Johnson said. "But what investors should look at is that Ford still won't be paying cash taxes."

Ford rose 10 cents to $14.76 in composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. The shares have fallen 12 percent so far this year.

In 1998, Ford recorded a $16 billion gain from spinning off Associates First Captial Corp., a consumer and commercial lender. The automaker had net income that year of $22.1 billion on operating income of $8.98 billion.

Ford earned $6.56 billion last year, the most since 1999, when new models such as the Fiesta subcompact and redesigned Taurus sedan helped the automaker's U.S. sales rise 17 percent, outpacing the industrywide gain of 11 percent. Ford's U.S. sales are up 9.7 percent so far this year, according to Bloomberg, trailing the industry's overall increase of 22.6 percent.

"People won't pay attention to the size of the special item," Willens said of the boost to net income Ford may realize from removing the valuation allowance. "When you eliminate a reserve like this that you had on the books, you're making a strong and bold statement about the outlook for the company."


Volume 41, No. 9
March 4, 2011

Soaring Gas Prices Require New Direction in Energy Policy

The recent surge in gasoline prices across Canada is further proof that Canada needs a fundamental change in its energy policy, says Ken Lewenza, CAW National President.
 He also called on the government of Stephen Harper to reverse corporate tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit the oil industry.

“It is outrageous the oil companies are being twice rewarded: once for gouging Canadians at the gas pump, and then again with a fat tax gift from Ottawa,” Lewenza said. “The more they extract from Canadian consumers, the bigger will be their tax savings under Harper’s plan.”

Gasoline prices spiked to $1.20 per litre in many Canadian cities over the weekend. Prices are up 10 cents per litre in just a few days. Apart from the short-lived price bubble of 2008, gasoline prices are now at the highest level in Canadian history.

The petroleum industry booked before-tax profits of $50 billion in 2008 (considering both upstream and downstream operations), and could earn that much again this year given escalating oil prices. The industry is poised to capture as much as one-quarter of the total savings delivered by the Harper government’s latest corporate tax cut.

Lewenza asked why Canadians are paying dramatically higher oil and gasoline prices as a result of geopolitical events on the other side of the world. “Most of the gasoline we buy is refined from our own oil. It’s no more expensive to produce than it was last year. Yet thanks to globalization, speculation, and greed, Canadians are being gouged again. There is nothing inevitable about this thievery; it reflects a deliberate policy choice by our governments.”

Lewenza called on Ottawa to begin discussions toward a new Canadian energy policy. “We need a policy that would oversee the more gradual and steady development of Canadian resources, control exports and foreign ownership, and ensure that Canadians pay a fair, sustainable price.” He warned of a renewed economic recession if oil and gasoline prices are allowed to soar freely.

CAW Members at CP Ratify New Deal

CAW members at CP Rail have ratified a new deal by 82 per cent in a series of cross country membership meetings that took place over the last two weeks.
This new agreement includes increases in wages, benefits, retirement incentives and language improvements around work rules and skilled trades.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza congratulated the bargaining committee for their hard work in securing a deal.  “This was a challenging round of negotiations and I believe the deal we reached with CP makes important improvements in the work lives of our members,” said Lewenza.
In this set of negotiations, the union also faced the pending closure of the Ogden shop in Calgary, Alberta. In order to lessen the impact on Ogden workers, the union negotiated retirement incentives, severance programs and work opportunities at Calgary’s Alyth facility.

“It was a difficult set of negotiations, particularly given the demographics and varying needs of the membership –ranging from new hires to those heading into retirement,” said CAW Local 101 President Tom Murphy. “We were ultimately successful in meeting a great number of these needs.”

CAW Local 101 represents 2,100 shopcraft (skilled trades) workers at CP.

Lock Out of CAW Local 252 Member Limo Drivers: Update

After being locked out for months by an employer who is refusing to negotiate, the CAW has applied for first contract arbitration for CAW Local 252 members who are Toronto airport limo drivers.

“Our members have been locked out for 3 months now with no end in sight,” said CAW national representative Sukhvinder Johl. “The company's position on all the outstanding issues is untenable and their response is tailor made for rejection by the committee. Clearly they are bargaining in bad faith. The union has taken an unprecedented step to apply for a first contract arbitration.”

Mediation and hearings into this dispute are scheduled in early March. 

Toronto airport limo drivers who are employed by McIntosh, Air Cab and Aaroport have been locked out of their jobs since December 1.
The 200 locked out drivers are members of CAW Local 252. The company owner has refused to issue drivers provincial registration stickers, effectively locking the workers out of their cars and their jobs.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said the company owner has shown complete disregard for the limo drivers, leaving negotiations after demanding an increase to already highly-inflated fees collected by the company.

Solidarity with Wisconsin Workers

The following is a February 28 letter sent to the AFL-CIO from CAW President Ken Lewenza regarding the working families of Wisconsin, trade unionists and students:

On behalf of the 200,000 members of the Canadian Auto Workers union, I am writing you in support of your struggle to maintain decent working conditions through collective bargaining. In doing so, we know we are standing not only with labour activists but the
faith community, human rights organizations, and fair-minded people around the world.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's attack on Wisconsin workers is an attack on all working people, and as President Obama said, it is ‘an assault on unions.’

Corporate tax cuts have cost Wisconsin $800 million a year. It is therefore no surprise, that as the financial crisis continues to take its toll, governments are running deficits. Employers throughout North America and around the world, rather than offering to pay their fair share, now will stop at nothing to make workers pay for the massive bailout that went to banks and insurance companies. The very corporate criminals whose fraud and mismanagement cost working families their pensions, their jobs and their homes are now bankrolling politicians whose number one priority is to dismantle the tools with which working people protect themselves and each other.

Working people across North America continue to face terrible hardships, while corporate profit margins surpass all previous records. By eliminating jobs, cutting benefits, reneging on pensions, reducing their contribution to our local services and safety net, and massively cutting their own tax responsibilities, corporate greed knows no bounds.

In the third quarter of 2010, US corporate profits surged to $1.659 trillion—as the New York Times said: "the steepest annual surge since officials began tracking such matters 60 years ago." Yet these corporate windfalls have produced neither jobs for Americans nor tax revenue for municipal or state governments. In fact, the U.S. Federal Government Accountability Office reports that despite $2.5 trillion in corporate sales between 1998 and 2005, more than half of U.S. companies paid not a penny in US income tax for as much as two years.

Yet, when times were tough for corporations, governments of all stripes happily handed over hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations. Globally, trillions were funnelled to corporations.

The money they gave away was earned by working people. This is money we entrust to state and municipal governments to provide good services, decent jobs, education and a strong social safety net for our communities. Because of these giveaways, they are now telling us that the cupboard is bare and there is no money for education, for services, for decent jobs and pensions. This is a betrayal.

In response the resistance of Wisconsin trade unionists, students, community members and workers of all stripes has been magnificent. Your determination and growing numbers of protesters is tremendous. This weekend’s demonstration of up to 100,000 protestors must send shock waves to corporate power just as similar demonstrations in the Middle East have shaken those with dictatorial power to their core. 

Your strength, dignity and determination in the face of these attacks have been truly inspiring. You are proving that when working people and their families stand together, we give confidence to others across the country and around the world. Indeed, recent polling shows that the vast majority of Americans now oppose Republican measures that are designed to strip workers of their basic right to bargain for fair and decent working conditions.

Here in Canada, working people are facing down our own politicians and employers who are intent on implementing so-called austerity measures with the same anti-social agenda. Your powerful movement has buoyed and strengthened our own resolve to resist similar attacks at home. Sisters and brothers, we are saluting your courage, celebrating your solidarity, honouring your growing strike wave, and—crucially—building our own resistance to the global austerity agenda here in Canada. In this common struggle, we are with you every step of the way.



For car cassette decks, play
time is virtually over

CD players, wireless connectivity for MP3s and other digital formats push older technology off list of options

Stephen Williams / New York Times
March 3, 2011

For all of you who were planning to pack up your oldies tapes and shop for a 2011 car, you're too late.

According to experts who monitor the automotive market, the last new car to be factory-equipped with a cassette deck in the dashboard was a 2010 Lexus.

While it's possible that a little-known exception lurks deep within some automaker's order forms, a survey of major automakers and a search of new-car websites indicates that the tape deck is as passe as tailfins on a Caddy.

In most respects, that's a good thing.

Technologies behind the compact tape cassette, which was invented by Philips, improved through the years — longer play times, better tape quality, Dolby noise reduction. But magnetic tapes were subject to wear. They stretched, wound themselves around the innards of the drive mechanism and melted their cases in hot weather.

Still, for more than two decades the cassette ruled the road. It offered less distortion and higher fidelity than its predecessor, the wobbly eight-track tape.

But the cassette's epitaph was being written with the arrival of the compact disc. The CD, not subject to wear because it was read by a laser beam and had no physical contact with the player, delivered even less distortion, even higher fidelity — and remains the ubiquitous audio source in new cars.

Audio seers say that the CD, too, will eventually fade away.

For now, a variety of high-quality tape decks remains available for self-installation. And should you one day make the leap to a modern digital music player, the files could be accessed through the cassette slot using an adapter readily found in electronics stores.

The cassette tape was warmly received in the 1970s, and it co-existed for decades with CD hardware.

Millions of drivers are still attached to their tape libraries — the homemade party mix tapes as well as store-bought titles — that provided durable, portable alternatives to vinyl records and eight-tracks.

That nostalgic affection for tape holds no sway with automakers, though. For the 2011 model year, no manufacturer selling cars in the United States offers a tape player either as standard equipment or as an option on a new vehicle.

"Lexus was the last holdout," said Phil Magney, vice president of automotive research for the IHS iSuppli Corp., a firm that analyzes technology industry. "We actually stopped tracking cassette players in cars some time ago. Now the question the automakers are asking is, how long has the CD got to go?"

The answer may lie in the ascendancy of the digital music device, especially those using the MP3 and similar file formats, as the preferred source of music in cars.

The iPod and its ilk are easing the trip along the path to the increasingly popular concept of storage known as the cloud — that place in the Internet ether from which music is streamed, generally through a Web-connected mobile device that communicates with the car by a wireless Bluetooth connection.

"We went from radio to tape to optical and then to flash memory or a hard disc drive, and now we're moving away from memory and to storage of our tunes in the cloud," said Mike Kahn, director for mobile electronics of Sony Electronics.

It's nothing radically new: Ford's Sync infotainment system, developed with Microsoft, employs a similar technology, and at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January, a host of carmakers, including General Motors, Mini and Toyota, showed off similar streaming options.

Among the choices by Sync is Pandora Internet radio, a cloud-based service that lets users customize music programming. In many of these systems, the Bluetooth pathway streams content from a smartphone. An app specific to the particular source is downloaded to the smartphone, enabling it to link with the in-car system.

The director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association, Steve Koenig, expects carmakers to continue to support CDs while at the same time marketing USB connectivity for portable players and in-dash slots to accommodate flash memory cards that hold tunes. Eventually, he expects automakers to shift to Internet radio services.

Even satellite radio's time has passed, he said.

"It was a savior to the aftermarket, but in terms of subscription-based models like that, the sun is setting."

Easing out costly hardware
Complicating the choice for drivers and automakers is the multitude of choices.

"Right now," Koenig said, "we typically have copies of our songs on a CD, on our computer, on our iPods. We may have downloads on our phone."

He added: "It's a lot of duplication, and all of that content will eventually exist in the cloud. We'll pull it down on demand. We'll pay a subscription fee, or, more likely, the service will be advertiser supported."

The bottom line to Koenig's vision is that carmakers will be able to drastically reduce the costly electronics and hardware that reside in the dashboard. In this future, he said, the vehicle becomes just another connection node on a network.

"We spend an average of 55 minutes a day commuting in the car," said Kahn of Sony. "The car's cockpit is like a studio on wheels, better than the best headphones. And after all, there's nothing more American for Americans than great songs and the open road."


Automakers report double-digit
sales surge in February

Christina Rogers and Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
March 2, 2011

Emboldened by easier credit and a pickup in the economic recovery, consumers went to auto showrooms in strong numbers last month, driving the selling pace to its highest level since August 2009, when sales were bolstered by the "cash for clunkers" program.

U.S. car and truck sales rose 27 percent last month, to 993,387 vehicles — a stronger-than-expected performance for what typically is a sluggish month for automakers.

But the specter of high gas prices continues to hover over the industry. Fuel prices averaged $3.38 a gallon nationwide Wednesday, up from $2.70 the same day a year ago, according to AAA.

Automakers didn't see a massive movement toward smaller, less profitable cars in February. In fact, truck and SUV sales continued to increase, as small business owners flocked to dealerships to replace aging work vehicles.

If fuel prices continue rising, automakers say they're ready, better prepared to respond than two years ago, when a sudden spike in gas prices increased demand for smaller, fuel-efficient cars.

Analysts say they doubt the industry will be adversely impacted below $4 a gallon.

"I would say without question they are better prepared than they used to be," said Jeff Schuster, director of global forecasting at JD Power and Associates.

But $5 a gallon could be more problematic for the industry, General Motors Co. CEO Daniel Akerson told the Wall Street Journal this week at the Geneva auto show.

"I don't think the industry learned a lot of lessons from 2008 — they will this time around," Akerson said.

"It would not be a good thing to see $5-a-gallon gas right now."

The automaker, Akerson added, is "not in perfect shape, but we are in better shape" to meet rising fuel prices.

GM leads surge
GM led the industry's sales increase with a healthy 46.4 percent bump in February compared to the same month in 2010.

But GM also offered hefty incentive spending to coax shoppers into showrooms: about $3,732 per vehicle on sales incentives, up 11.5 percent from last year.

Toyota Motor Sales were up 41.8 percent over a disastrous February 2010, when it halted sales of some models amid recalls.

Toyota increased incentive spending by 11.3 percent, although its discounts averaged about $2,003 per vehicle, according to research firm AutoData Corp.

Other automakers, including Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, reported double-digit sales increases in February over a year ago: Ford was up 13.7 percent, and Chrysler 12.6 percent.

Ford and Chrysler, however, were more restrained last month in the incentives they offered buyers, compared to last year.

Chrysler's incentives were down 14.2 percent, to about $3,052 per vehicle; Ford was down 9.7 percent, to $2,542 per vehicle.

'Off to a fast start'
February's strong sales could foreshadow a much better year for the slowly recovering auto industry.

The month's gains translate to a seasonally adjusted selling rate of 13.4 million, compared with 10.53 million at that point last year, according to Autodata Corp.

March, which marks the start of the spring selling season, tends to be a big sales month.

"The year is off to a fast start," said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Ford's chief economist.

An improving employment picture and increased lending by banks should enable more consumers to buy new cars.

Cromwick said that while Ford "will remain on alert," the automaker reiterated that it is well positioned for higher fuel prices through its strong lineup of small cars, and an all-new Ford Focus compact hitting the market this spring.

GM likewise says that while it is prepared for higher gas prices, it hasn't yet seen an impact on its sales.

The Chevrolet Cruze compact arrived in dealerships last fall; GM sold 18,556 Cruzes last month, putting it slightly behind the popular Honda Civic, whose sales totaled 19,121 last month.

GM will launch the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic this year, and the compact Buick Verano.

Gas prices and redesigned vehicles contributed to growth in Ford's small car sales, said sales analyst George Pipas.

Retail sales of the Ford Fiesta and Focus doubled in February and sales of its mid-size Ford Fusion hit a record high last month. Ford also made inroads with buyers on the East and West coasts — areas that tend to favor small, gas-sipping cars.

"Fuel economy is No. 2 after quality and reliability as the reason people will defect to a different brand," said Ken Czubay, head of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service for Ford Motor Co.


Ford most improved in Consumer Reports new car report

Consumer Reports named the Ford Mustang best sporty car. Ford was ranked fifth-best overall in the rankings, up from 11th last year. (Ford)

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
March 1, 2011

Consumer Reports says Ford Motor Co. is this year's most improved automaker, hot on the heels of Japanese automakers that finished 1-2-3 in the magazine's annual rankings.

Toyota Motor Corp., which suffered in last year's assessment due to ongoing quality problems and recalls, was the 2011 comeback story, finishing third behind Honda Motor Co. and Subaru.

Dearborn-based Ford leapfrogged from 11th overall last year to fifth among the 13 companies ranked by the influential magazine.

"Ford's been doing extremely well," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, noting its reliability has steadily improved during the last five-plus years. "That's really bringing them up to getting close to Toyota."

Ford cracked the list of Consumer Reports' top picks, winning best sporty car with the Mustang. The magazine recommended 10 of the 15 Ford vehicles it tested.

Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said the "results from a reputable organization like Consumer Reports is further validation of the continued progress we're making on the quality of our products."

Its crosstown rivals, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, didn't fare well. Of the 13 automakers, GM finished 12th and Chrysler, which is just now rolling out a new lineup that executives promise will be better built, was last.

GM, whose Chevrolet Avalanche was named this year's best pickup, is "doing reasonably well in terms of reliability," Champion said, but "we still think GM has some ways to go."

Among the 13 auto companies, GM had the second highest number of recommended vehicles by Consumer Reports: 15 of its 29. That's up from seven GM vehicles recommended by the publication last year.

Dan Nicholson, vice president of global quality, said GM is encouraged by the showing of its newer models, but wants to get better.

"We're on an aggressive quality improvement path that involves input from our entire global team, and we're not letting up until all of our vehicles earn Consumer Reports 'recommendations,'" Nicholson said. The magazine recommended one of the 10 Chrysler models — the Ram 1500 — but Champion said the Auburn Hills automaker, like GM, is making progress.

"There seems to be a new sense of purpose at Chrysler," he said.

Themagazinerecently tested the new Jeep Grand Cherokee and is testing other new models including the Dodge Ram, Durango and Journey, and Chrysler 200. Champion singled out the Journey for its improvements, saying it "has come a long, long way."

"We've improved vehicle reliability more than 50 percent in the past three years, but our improvement is not reflected in Consumer Reports reliability survey data as they did not get sufficient subscriber survey responses for many 2009-10 model year products," said Doug Betts, Chrysler's senior vice president for quality.

Honda Motor Co., Subaru and Toyota were named the top three companies overall, in that order. Volvo, which was sold by Fordlast year, finished fourth.

Consumer Reports recommended 11 of the 15 Honda models it tested; none rated worse than "average."

Honda had the best overall score and reliability.

Its Fit was named best budget car as well as the best overall value from among more than 200 models analyzed, ranging from small cars to luxury sedans.

Toyota's RAV4 was named best small SUV, and its Sienna was named best family hauler. Toyota also led all automakers with 20 recommended models, of 26 models tested.

Consumer Reports said Toyota still has some challenges and noted that the best-selling Camry is "average" on reliability.

"The (sudden unintended acceleration) issue that came out really was the catalyst to changing Toyota across the board," Champion said.






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