Phony Car War With China Gets Real In Canada

Picture courtesy UNIFOR

The United State’s phony “car war” with China may be more political rhetoric than business reality, but Canadian labor union Unifor (successor to the Canadian Auto Workers) seems prepared to switch to live ammunition. Reuters reports that Unifor is threatening a strike on Johnson Controls Inc’s plant in Whitby, Ontario in hopes shutting down the GM Oshawa plant it supplies. Unifor thinks that by hurting GM at Oshawa it will leverage pressure on JCI to change its plans to shut down the Whitby interior plant. Unfortunately a peaceful resolution is unlikely. As Reuters reported last month, JCI is transferring its entire interior supply business to a joint venture with a subsidy of GM’s main Chinese partner SAIC. GM will not fight an SAIC-related merger on behalf of Unifor, and as a result Canada can look to Australia for hints at the future of its auto industry. [Continue Reading]

General Motors Ushers Australia Into The Post-Industrial Age

You just keep me Holden on...

You just keep me Holden on…

Amidst the copious news General Motors has made over the last week, one fully-formed and profoundly important story is doggedly evading the notice of the press. Overshadowed by the end of US Treasury ownership and the promotion of GM’s first female CEO, the demise of The General’s Australian unit Holden should not be overlooked. Not because the phenomenon it demonstrates is new… in fact it’s nothing more than the latest example of the GM standard operating procedure that has helped devastate local governments across America. Rather, the tragic turn of events in Australia sends a sharp warning, every bit as poignant as the recent bankruptcy of Detroit, to the American taxpayers about the company they rescued.

The Government Motors endgame is only just beginning…

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Blind Spot: The Chattanooga Two-Step

A worker at VW's Chattanooga plant answers questions from the author during a plant tour in 2011.

A worker at VW’s Chattanooga plant answers questions from the author during a plant tour in 2011.

 

When United Auto Workers President Bob King staked the future of his union on a campaign to organize a transplant auto factory, the desperation was palpable. Decades of membership decline culminating  in the drama of GM and Chrysler’s bankruptcy-bailout had left the UAW reeling. Few observers gave the union, which hadn’t organized a transplant auto factory in the US  since 1978, much chance of success.

Now the UAW stands at the brink of a historical act of redemption, having all but claimed victory in the drive to organize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN plant. While we wait to see whether that claim holds up, it’s worth examining a few intriguing but undercovered aspects of this case and assess what the impact of a resurgent UAW could be.

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