News Article | February 20, 2017
Co-Production International, the shelter services provider for companies looking to start manufacturing in Mexico, offered a seminar last week to help answer questions about the future of NAFTA under Trump. As a part of the national medical device industry, many manufacturers wanted to know if expanding operations to nearshore Mexico was still a viable option for their firms. The answer was an unequivocal “yes.” NAFTA has improved the economies of its three member nations, added millions of new jobs and created a successful and profitable atmosphere of cooperation. Since its inception in 1994 manufacturing has become a cooperative effort where products are built from multi-origin parts. Businesses faced with global competitiveness have not only stayed in business, but have expanded capabilities and increased their profit margins. While headlines continue to include words like “worry” and “uncertainty” in regards to President Trump’s position on NAFTA and trade with Mexico, the reality of free trade and the interwovenness of North America’s economies is a testament to the success of international trade. HOW NAFTA HAS BENEFITED THE U.S. SEVERE IMPACT ON U.S. MAKES NAFTA WITHDRAWAL UNLIKELY President Trump has zeroed in on the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs as the reason why NAFTA is unfair to the U.S. So if the U.S. withdraws from NAFTA, would that actually bring manufacturing jobs back home? Not so, says the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). In fact, more U.S. jobs would be lost in the automotive sector should his plans to withdraw from the treaty come to fruition. According to CAR’s report released this month, “for instance, a 35 percent tariff on vehicles imported from Mexico would result in the loss of at least 6,700 North American assembly jobs and 450,000 units of U.S. auto sales.” And this isn’t just about U.S. auto jobs, it’s also about parts and supply. The CAR report noted that U.S. suppliers would also be threatened as the U.S. exported $22 billion in parts to Canada in 2015 in addition to $20 billion to Mexico. The CAR report attributes North America’s automotive industry competitiveness to NAFTA and Mexico, highlighting, "Without NAFTA, large segments of the U.S. automotive industry would have moved to other low-wage countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, or South America. By producing cheaper automotive parts and components on the 'near shore' in Mexico rather than truly 'off-shore,' Mexican automotive plants helped sustain a competitive automotive industry across North America." NAFTA RENEGOTIATION THE LIKELY ROUTE “NAFTA is an agreement that has been around for about 20 years or so. I think it will be healthy to review it and to make sure that all the participants are getting their fair share. There are changes that could be made to reflect the world we live in now,” says Enrique Esparza, President of the manufacturer and shelter services firm, Co-Production International. To drive home the point that NAFTA would benefit from a review and update, the 2015 Congressional Research Service report on NAFTA concluded, “Both proponents and critics of NAFTA agree that the three countries should look at what the agreement has failed to do as they look to the future of North American trade and economic relations. Policies could include strengthening institutions to protect the environment and worker rights; considering the establishment of a border infrastructure plan; increasing regulatory cooperation; promoting research and development to enhance the global competiveness of North American industries; investing in more border infrastructure to make border crossings more efficient; and/or creating more efforts to lessen income differentials within the region.” Everyone seems to agree, renegotiation is going to be the most likely route. With so many stakeholders, U.S. cities and their entire economies dependent on efficient, free trade, it will be hard for the Trump Administration to unilaterally pull out of the treaty. ### Co-Production International is hardhearted in San Diego, California and is the premier Shelter services provider in Mexico. CPI handles the complete set-up of manufacturing operations in Mexico and manage the day-to-day administrative duties in accordance with Mexican regulations allowing our clients to focus on what matters, manufacturing. For more information visit http://www.co-production.net or call (619) 429 4344
News Article | February 25, 2017
When Anthony Levandowski loped on to the stage to accept the Hot New Startup award at an industry awards show this month, the trucker hat perched on his head served as a cringeworthy nod to the millions of drivers his self-driving truck company is poised to leave jobless. Three weeks later, it is the pioneering engineer of self-driving car technology whose job could be in jeopardy, and the lawsuit he is named in could pose an existential threat to an increasingly vulnerable Uber. With deep pockets and a $70bn valuation, Uber has racked up a series of victories against regulators, taxi companies, and upstart competitors. But Uber will now go up against tech’s undisputed heavyweight champion – Google – while it is still on the ropes after a consumer boycott campaign and allegations of a toxic work environment. A report by the New York Times that Uber misled the public by blaming a human driver for running a red light during the company’s short-lived self-driving trial in San Francisco further damaged both Uber’s and Levandowski’s credibility. The car was in fact driving itself when it ran the red light, according to two sources and internal documents obtained by the Times. Levandowski, who runs Uber’s self-driving car program, is at the center of a blistering lawsuit against Uber that was filed Thursday by his former employer, Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo. He is accused of brazenly stealing critical intellectual property and trade secrets and using them to start his own company, Otto. Uber’s $680m acquisition of Otto in August 2016 gave it access to Waymo’s secrets, the suit claims, which the ride sharing company is now using to bypass Google’s seven years and many millions of dollars worth of research and development. Waymo claims to have significant evidence of the theft, including logs of downloads by Levandowski and other Otto recruits, an errant email from a vendor showing that Otto’s LiDAR system – the system that allows an autonomous vehicle to navigate – bears a “striking resemblance” to Waymo’s own design, and documents Otto filed with the Nevada state government. The suit also alleges that Levandowski met with “high-level executives” at Uber’s San Francisco headquarters while he still worked at Google – and one day before he formed the company that would become Otto. On Friday, Uber issued a blanket denial, saying in a statement: “We have reviewed Waymo’s claims and determined them to be a baseless attempt to slow down a competitor and we look forward to vigorously defending against them in court.” Levandowski did not respond to a request for comment. But if Google is able to prove its case, the cost to Uber could be significant. In addition to monetary damages, Waymo is seeking an injunction against Uber to bar it from using the allegedly stolen tech. Google could win a “head-start” injunction against Uber, preventing the company from working on the disputed LiDAR technology for as long as it took Google to develop, according to Robert Merges, an intellectual property expert at the University of California, Berkeley law school. For Uber to “sit on the sideline” for three to five years while its competitors race to market would be a “very significant setback”, Merges said. Indeed, according to Uber’s own CEO, Travis Kalanick, such a delay could be fatal. In August, Kalanick laid out the stakes of his competition with Google to Bloomberg: “The minute it was clear to us that our friends in Mountain View were going to be getting in the ride-sharing space, we needed to make sure there is an alternative [self-driving car], because if there is not, we’re not going to have any business.” Building their own self-driving car “is basically existential for us”, he added. At the center of the current dispute is LiDAR, the system of lasers that allow an autonomous vehicle to build a 3D map of its environment and “see” where it is going. Waymo claims that its proprietary LiDAR is its secret sauce, but Merges cautioned that “it might not be as innovative as they make it seem”. If Waymo’s design is derived from public information, such as scientific papers, then Otto and Uber could defend the alleged similarities in design. Still, experts questioned the speed at which Otto claimed to have developed its own system. “It takes years to break into commercialisation if you start with a blank sheet of paper,” said Richard Wallace of the Center for Automotive Research. “Recreating is a lot slower than ‘I already have it.’” Wallace and others suggested that in the worst-case scenario – an injunction – Uber could simply purchase LiDAR from another company, but it’s not the kind of technology that can be simply bought off the shelf. According to Laszlo Kishonti, the CEO of AImotive, a driverless car company, the only LiDAR systems available for sale (at about $80,000 a pop) have long wait lists. Waiting is a risk, Kishonti said, because once a LiDAR-equipped car is on the road, a company can start building a precise 3D map of a city or neighborhood, cornering the local market. “If someone else gets there first,” Kishonti said, “they can steal whole cities and all the revenue.” Waymo has also alleged that the theft went beyond the LiDAR system’s specifications to include other trade secrets involving the company’s supply chain and vendors. And despite Levandowski’s claim that the company was started “traditionally in a house in Palo Alto”, the company’s roots clearly point to Mountain View. The four co-founders – Levandowski, Lior Ron, Claire Delaunay, and Don Burnette – all left jobs at Google to start Otto. An additional 28 Otto employees are Google alumni, according to a review of LinkedIn profiles, and 18 of them left jobs with Google’s self-driving car unit and joined Otto a month or two later. Many moved into positions with the same or comparable job titles, including Sameer Kshirsagar, Google’s former manager for global supply management for self-driving cars who became Uber and Otto’s director of supply chain in July 2016, the same month he left Google. In the lawsuit, Waymo alleges that a “supply chain manager” downloaded “confidential supply chain information and other confidential manufacturing information” one month before resigning in July 2016 and going to work for Otto. Kshirsagar did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The suit comes as Uber is being buffeted on multiple fronts. The company has long appeared to enjoy its battles with state and local regulators and the taxi industry, but the company is now facing enemies closer to home. For years, the company dominated the ride-hail market despite widely discussed concerns about ethics. Customers seemed content to ignore any moral qualms about Uber’s treatment of its drivers in favor of the service’s convenience. But the election of Donald Trump has changed the political climate in the US. More than 200,000 customers reportedly deleted their accounts in February after a questionable tweet from Uber during a New York airport taxi strike over the president’s travel ban and Kalanick’s role on an economic advisory panel for Trump produced a maelstrom of #DeleteUber outrage. Sunday’s publication of allegations of a workplace culture rife with sexual harassment and gender discrimination by a former Uber engineer have intensified the crisis. While Uber has pledged to investigate and reform, a steady flow of leaks about company meetings and other airings of dirty laundry suggest that some employees are feeling significantly less loyal to their employer. The negative portrayal of Uber’s workplace could hamper its ability to attract and retain top talent, and the fact that Uber has crafted a special message to account deleters about the harassment allegations suggests that customers continue to flee. On Thursday, just hours before the Waymo suit dropped, Uber was also hit with a public rebuke from two of its earliest investors, Mitch and Freada Kapor. The pair lambasted “a culture plagued by disrespect, exclusionary cliques, lack of diversity, and tolerance for bullying and harassment of every form” and pointed out Uber’s habit of “responding to public exposure of bad behavior by holding an all-hands meeting, apologizing and vowing to change, only to quickly return to aggressive business as usual”.
News Article | September 22, 2016
For years now, the electric vehicle world speed record race has been a competition of one. But that hasn't deterred Venturi and its partners at Ohio State University from pushing the bar continuously higher. Still, things have remained steady for over half a decade since the Venturi Buckeye Bullet 2.5 electric streamliner set a 307.7-mph (495 km/h) record back in 2010. That changed on Monday, when the VBB-3 sped to a new electric vehicle record just over 341.4 mph (549.4 km/h) and reached a top speed of 358 mph (576 km/h). Venturi and OSU's Center for Automotive Research have had eyes on a new EV record since unveiling the VBB-3 in 2013. Poor weather that year and in the years that followed stymied its efforts to get the car running full speed, though it was able to set class records in 2014 and 2015. Earlier this year, it vowed to come back to Bonneville and make another serious go at proving the VBB-3 the fastest electric car in the world. The conditions weren't perfect. We witnessed rough salt conditions at Speed Week 2016 in August, and reports from Mike Cook's Bonneville Shootout FIA/FIM event, held between September 15 and 20, suggested that recent rain had left the 11-mile (17.7-km) course pretty variable. Triumph postponed its well-publicized motorcycle world speed record attempt, citing conditions and safety concerns. Perhaps had the salt been smoother, the VBB-3 would have gotten closer to its estimated 440-mph (708-km/h) top speed. But the subpar conditions didn't stop VBB team driver Roger Schroer from tacking 35 mph (56 km) onto Venturi/CAR's listing in the record books, pending FIA certification. The car averaged 341.4 mph (549.4 km/h) on the mandatory two-way run. It also hit a top speed of 358 mph (576 km/h), another record, according to Venturi. "At those speeds you have to focus on your task, not on your emotions," Schroer says. "I know we can go further. This week the track was good. No main vehicle instability. Much better than the last days during tuning and testing. We always have to be patient and wait for the track to be ready." The VBB-3 is quite a feat of electric vehicle engineering, and at roughly 3,000 hp is billed as the most powerful EV in the world, as well as the now-fastest. Motivation comes from a pair of custom Venturi-built motors fed by a massive lithium-ion multi-pack with cells from A123 Systems. While the new record makes a very successful milestone, the VBB-3 team has no intentions of stopping at 341. "The progress made this year is a very important step in the quest to reach the 400-mph (644 km/h) goal," says Giorgio Rizzoni, CAR research director. As we came to appreciate when watching the story of Danny Thompson's historic 406.7-mph (655 km/h) national record unfold last month, the 400-mph club is a very exclusive one, even for fuel-engine vehicles. It'll be an even bigger feat when an all-electric vehicle like the VBB-3 breaks through. The Bonneville land speed record season isn't over just yet. The Southern California Timing Association will be back out on Western Utah's salt next week for its World Finals event.
News Article | December 23, 2016
« DOE awards $18M to 5 projects to accelerate development of plug-in electric vehicles & use of other alternative fuels | Main | DOE to award $15M to accelerate deployment of efficient transportation technology » Researchers from the University of Waterloo Center for Automotive Research (WatCAR) in Canada are modifying a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid to autonomous drive-by-wire operation. The research platform, dubbed “Autonomoose” is equipped with a full suite of radar, sonar, lidar, inertial and vision sensors; NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 AI platform (earlier post) to run a complete autonomous driving system, integrating sensor fusion, path planning, and motion control software; and a custom autonomy software stack being developed at Waterloo as part of the research. Recently, the Autonomoose autonomously drove a crew of Ontario Ministry of Transportation officials to the podium of a launch event to introduce the first car approved to hit the roads under the province’s automated vehicle pilot program. Operating at 24 trillion deep learning operations per second, DRIVE PX 2 enables Autonomoose to navigate Ontario’s city streets and highways, even in inclement weather. The WatCAR research team has Autonomoose operating at level 2 autonomy, where the driver must be prepared to take over from the system in the event it fails to respond to a situation properly. Over the duration of the research program, they will advance the automation through level 3—where drivers can turn their attention away in certain environments, such as freeways—and ultimately reach level 4, where the automated system can control the car under most all circumstances. Ontario is the first province in Canada to create a pilot program to test automated vehicles on its roads. WatCAR was the first applicant and the first approved participant to test a vehicle on public roads. Public road testing of Autonomoose in both ideal and adverse weather conditions will begin early next year. The province places no restriction on where these test vehicles can be driven—an advantage compared to most programs around the world, which restrict driving to certain areas of cities or highways. Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) provided initial research funding for Autonomoose. Nine professors are involved from the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Mathematics. Specific projects include:
News Article | November 3, 2016
TROY, Mich., Nov. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2017 Enlighten Award, presented jointly by Altair and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), is now open for nominations. The award recognizes achievements in weight reduction across the automotive industry and is set to be presented July 31...
News Article | November 10, 2016
(Reuters) - The election of Republican Donald Trump as U.S. president put new pressure on automakers and other manufacturers that depend on open trade with Mexico. Shares fell for U.S. automakers and suppliers, which rely heavily on production in Mexico to feed their U.S. manufacturing and sales operations. General Motors Co shares dropped as much as 4 percent on Wednesday before recovering some of that decline in the late afternoon. The automaker said on Wednesday it was laying off 2,000 people and cutting a shift at a Lordstown, Ohio, factory that builds Chevrolet Cruze small cars and at a Lansing, Michigan, plant that builds slow-selling Cadillac sedans and Chevrolet Camaro sports cars. Ford Motor Co shares were up 1.2 percent in late afternoon trading after sliding earlier in the day. Electric luxury car maker Tesla Motors Inc shed 3.3 percent. Tesla could be hurt if a Trump administration cuts federal support for electric cars. Shares of big automotive parts makers that have shifted operations to Mexico were hit hard. Delphi Automotive Plc fell nearly 6 percent after rebounding from deeper losses. Canada's Magna International Inc , whose Mexican operations account for about 14 percent of sales, were down 3.7 percent. Trump made attacks on the outsourcing of American auto jobs to Mexico a recurrent theme in his campaign, a message that rallied blue-collar workers while threatening to upend the business assumptions behind billions of dollars in planned investment by the auto industry. In announcing his campaign in June 2015, Trump vowed to block Ford from opening a new plant in Mexico and threatened to impose tariffs on cars it shipped back across the border. But those moves would force U.S. consumers to pay higher prices for vehicles, said Charles Chesbrough, senior economist at the Detroit-based Original Equipment Suppliers Association trade group. "(Trump's) trade policies could add $5,000 or more to the price of a small car from Mexico," Chesbrough said. U.S. vehicle manufacturers and many of their suppliers have based billions of dollars of investment on relatively open trade with Mexico, China and other countries. Ford in April announced plans to invest $1.6 billion to expand production of small cars in Mexico. Trump took aim at that move as well as GM's plans to invest $5 billion there. GM said in a statement on Wednesday that it "looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and the new Congress on policies that support a strong and competitive U.S. manufacturing base." Ford spokeswoman Christin Baker said: "We agree with Mr. Trump that it is really important to unite the country, and we look forward to working together to support economic growth and jobs." In September, Ford said it would shift small-car production from U.S. plants to lower-cost Mexico, drawing another rebuke from Trump. "We shouldn't allow it to happen," Trump said. The company said its decision to build new vehicles in Mexico would not cost U.S. jobs. Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford last month said he met with Trump to discuss criticism from the candidate but called the discussion "infuriating" and "frustrating." Ford said his company employed more people at its U.S. plants than any other automaker. Ford has not slowed investment outside the U.S. As ballots were cast in the United States on Tuesday, Bill Ford was in India to announce a $195 million investment in a new technical center near Chennai. Between 1994 and 2013, the number of auto factory jobs dropped by a third in the United States and rose almost fivefold in Mexico as lower-wage production boomed. Mexico now accounts for 20 percent of all vehicle production in North America and has attracted more than $24 billion in investment from the industry since 2010, according to Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research. Based on current investment plans, Mexico’s auto production capacity will grow by another 50 percent over the next five years, said the center, which draws funding from the industry. "Dismantling NAFTA at this point would be pretty hard to do," said Kristin Dziczek, the center's director of industry, labor and economics.
News Article | October 28, 2016
« Volkswagen unveils Atlas; new MQB-based 7-seat SUV; first VW Digital Cockpit in US | Main | ARPA-E launches PNDIODES program to boost power electronics work » At the 2016 SAE-China Congress & Exhibition from October 26-28 in Shanghai, General Motors teamed up with the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), Tsinghua University, Chang’an Auto, Yanfeng Visteon and Shanghai International Auto City to demonstrate the interoperability of the emerging China connected vehicle (V2X) application layer standard for the first time. A complete set of communication standards is necessary for underpinning an intelligent transportation system (ITS) using connected vehicles as a key component. GM, Tsinghua University and Chang’an Auto are leading a working group for the development of the V2X application layer and application data-exchange service standard with the support of SAE-China and C-ITS (China ITS Industry Alliance). The goal of the working group is to standardize V2X message formats agnostic to lower-layer communication technology. The WG is using a message set dictionary similar to SAE J2735 as the basis, taking into account unique traffic characteristics in China. The working group initially completed a definition and demand analysis of the applications, and is now working to define the required message set dictionary and data exchange standards. The required message set dictionary defines the content, format and coding methods for data exchange at the application layer. The data exchange standards stipulate time, frequency, data requirements and interface definition for data exchange. Through the demonstration, the working group improved and verified the required message set dictionary and data exchange standards at the V2X application layer. In addition, it generated important reference data to bolster China’s further research on intelligent and connected vehicles (ICVs) and pave the way for their future deployment. The demonstration included the following safety applications: Blind Spot/Lane Change Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Intersection Movement Assist and Special Vehicle Avoid Notification. In a paper published earlier this year (“Global Harmonization Of Connected Vehicle Communication Standards”), the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) noted that connected vehicle standards in China are lagging behind the rapid market growth driven by global auto manufactures and domestic telecommunication service providers. China has set aside spectrum (5.795-5.815GHz) for ITS applications - mainly for ETC, traveler information systems, traffic operation, and fleet management.
News Article | October 28, 2015
The United Auto Workers union won a sweeter deal with General Motors Co. than the one with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV that members approved last week. The tentative agreement offers lower-paid entry-level workers the pay and medical benefits that long-time factory hands receive. GM’s ratification payment of $8,000 for all members is at least double what those at Fiat Chrysler received. And the profit-sharing formula will remain the same as in the previous contract -- not the revised Fiat Chrysler formula -- which should provide bigger payouts at a company the size of GM. The tentative agreement, reached late Sunday, will give the so-called Tier 2 workers the same health-care benefits and eventually the same wage as senior workers. It goes to rank-and-file members for a vote. The UAW has pushed for a better deal with GM because the automaker is larger and more profitable than Fiat Chrysler. GM last week reported a record $3.1 billion adjusted profit for the third quarter. With strong earnings, UAW leaders probably need better terms from GM and from Ford Motor Co. to win ratification votes. Fiat Chrysler workers voted down one tentative agreement that would’ve raised the hourly wage of newer workers to as much as $25 from $19 before approving one that would let them eventually earn more than $29 -- the same as senior workers. “The council was very happy with this agreement,” UAW President Dennis Williams said Wednesday at a news conference at the union’s headquarters in Detroit. “We don’t see any drama with this.” After granting concessions in 2007 to try to help U.S. automakers stem losses and again during the 2009 bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler, union members are eager to regain some ground. Back then, the UAW agreed to a lower wage for entry-level workers, who also had a weaker health-care benefits. Those differences have mostly been eliminated for active employees; in retirement the newer employees won’t get a pension or company-paid medical care. The Fiat Chrysler contract, which adds almost $2 billion in costs over four years, was the first in a decade to significantly increase automakers’ spending. UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada called the GM deal a “transformational agreement” because it helps bring Tier 2 workers closer to what traditional autoworkers make. “In the eyes of workers, they saved General Motors with concessions and now they want to be rewarded for it,” said Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. “A bigger signing bonus is very attractive to workers and it’s a good settlement.” Wage increases will be the same as what Fiat Chrysler agreed to, the UAW said. GM would give veteran workers two 3 percent raises and two lump-sum payments of 4 percent of annual pay during the proposed contract’s four-year term, as Fiat Chrysler did, the union said. GM workers probably wanted more, especially bigger lump sums, said Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The second-tier workers will get the same health care under this agreement as the senior workers, giving them full dental and vision coverage with no deductible or co-insurance. GM also agreed to commit an additional $1.9 billion of investments on top of $6.4 billion in previously pledged money. On profit-sharing, GM workers keep the same formula they have now. It pays $1,000 per $1 billion in North American profit. Fiat Chrysler has switched to paying $800 for each 1 percent of North American profit margin, which should be better for workers at that company. It paid out an average of $9,000 per UAW member over the past four years, while GM paid $9,000 in 2015 alone, according to the Center for Automotive Research. The GM deal also offers $60,000 to certain members who retire between Feb. 1 and May 1, the union said.
News Article | November 1, 2015
Ford workers did not like the FCA contract but if they negotiate a deal similar to GM's it might find favor The new four-year agreement the UAW negotiated with General Motors might be rich enough to satisfy not only the 52,700 workers voting this week but also the anxious Ford workers waiting in the wings. There were early signs that Ford workers have high expectations and could prove to be a cantankerous bunch, but the terms of the GM deal -- which puts more money in workers' pockets than the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles deal -- may have a calming effect. And there is a sense that if UAW Ford Vice President Jimmy Settles and his bargaining team can be satisfied, the deal likely will please the majority of the 52,900 members he represents. "Jimmy has been around the block twice. He has credibility and people know he wouldn't sign if it was not the best he could get," said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at University of California-Berkeley. Settles has primed the pump. As the senior statesman of the 2015 talks, he positioned himself as the rogue, using Facebook messages and videos that promised raises in an attempt to recoup some of the compensation losses and concessions over the past decade. "Now is our time," Settles said of his determination early in the talks to negotiate a wage raise. "It's just how much." But Ford workers were relegated to bridesmaid status since monetary talks started with Fiat Chrysler in September and then moved on to GM in October. By the time Ford gets its turn to finalize details this month, a couple significant factors will have come into play. One is that negotiation fatigue has been setting in. With the holidays approaching, workers want to get their signing bonuses and lock in raises. The other factor is that the GM agreement is much richer than the FCA deal. The terms of the original FCA contract landed with a thud in Ford plants across the country. Facebook lit up with howls of protest, and Ford workers began campaigning for a "no" vote if their deal followed suit, knowing the UAW uses pattern bargaining where the first contract serves as a template for the other companies to follow. FCA workers rejected the first deal soundly and the two sides returned to the table. A second agreement addressed many of the workers' concerns and was ratified. But Ford workers wanted no part of that one either and Settles reassured them again. “It is imperative that you keep in mind that the (Fiat Chrysler) agreement is only a pattern and the tentative agreement reached with Ford will be UAW-Ford specific aimed at addressing concerns with the current agreement and securing gains for our membership," Settles told members. The negative social chatter is not as loud in the wake of the details of the GM deal, but there are still calls to hold out for more. Even workers at other companies expect Ford workers to pull in the best contract of the three. "Ford will want bragging rights," said FCA worker Ken Mefford who gets a $4,000 signing bonus and expects Ford workers to get about triple that. Observers expect Ford to match GM's $8,000 signing bonus, raises, path to equal pay within eight years and expand full health care to second-tier workers. Ford is also expected to follow GM's lead in keeping the profit-sharing formula intact and not change it as FCA did. One Ford union leader not authorized to speak publicly, said plant workers generally approve of the GM deal and appear willing to approve a similar deal. He figures about 75% are in favor which is in stark contrast to the few who approved of the FCA deal. He does not see anything in the GM deal worth striking over. But there are also workers like Shawn Richardson of Cincinnati, who on Facebook encouraged his colleagues to hold out for more. Richardson said he would not accept the GM contract if it were brought to Ford. "We expect nothing less than a 5% raise to legacy workers for all 4 years," he writes, as well as bringing all entry-level workers to the full pay scale in four years, a $10,000 signing bonus for all as well as $1,500 performance bonus or the return of a cost-of-living allowance, another $1,000 bonus every Christmas (for retirees as well) and the same benefits for all workers. "GM and Ford are very distinct companies but similar in their strong financial performance," said Shaiken. GM reported third -quarter earnings of $1.4 billion with North American profits of $3.3 billion. Ford reported $1.9 billion in net earnings and $2.7 billion in North American profit. "I suspect the Ford deal will track GM very closely," Shaiken said. One key difference: Mexico. None of the GM product or plant plans included plans to shift production to Mexico while Ford is moving assembly of the Ford Focus and C-Max out of Michigan. Most expect the work is going to Mexico. Another difference is Ford's limit on the number of entry-level workers it can carry on its payroll. Under the collective agreement, Ford is allowed to hire 20% of its workforce at a second-tier wage, with exemptions for in-sourced work, temporary workers and those employed at the Sterling axle and Rawsonville components plants, which brings the actual cap to 29%. In February when Ford hired more workers, it exceeded the cap and started moving some workers to the higher rate. So far 825 have been moved up, said Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski. The UAW feels its new path to full and equal wages for all makes a cap unnecessary. “Instituting the cap in a market where sales production and employment are likely flat or falling over the next four years does not provide mobility for everyone to move up,” said Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group for the Center for Automotive Research. A Ford labor leader said members are not in favor of the cap. "It divides people." Shaiken said he thinks GM workers will ratify their agreement and Ford workers will reach and approve a similar one. Ford workers can be more cantankerous, he said, but they have also been through hard times and recognize the need for the company to remain competitive and invest in products as well as reward workers. Contact Alisa Priddle: 313-222-5394 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlisaPriddle On Oct. 25 the UAW reached a tentative agreement with GM shortly before midnight. On Wednesday it was approved by the UAW's national council, details were released and local union leaders planned information meetings and ratification votes. Early voting is mixed: on Saturday, Local 652 representing workers in Lansing Grand River voted 57% in favor while workers at Local 31 at the Fairfax plant, Kansas City. Ks., voted 63% no and skilled workers were 66% against. Voting is expected to continue through this week.If the agreement is not ratified, the two sides return to the bargaining table. Once ratified, talks switch to Ford.
News Article | February 24, 2016
The emissions scandal was a public relations nightmare for Audi and its parent company, Volkswagen AG. Despite the still-undetermined loss of brand loyalty the automaker suffered as a result, Audi's craftsmanship just received huge praise from Consumer Reports when the consumer watchdog group released its 2016 rankings of automotive brands. Audi was Consumer Reports' top pick of the 30 best automakers, besting Lexus, Porsche, BMW and Subaru. And 2016 wasn't the only year Audi got things right, according to Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing. "We're seeing consistency over the last several years of Audi getting it right," says Fisher. "They're combining good reliability with good performing vehicles, and that's why they're on top.'' While Audi was honored as the best brand of the bunch, regulators are still investigating several of its vehicles, such as the Audi A3 (model years 2009 through 2015), for fabricated emissions tests. It was discovered last year that Volkswagen used sophisticated defeat devices in vehicles from several of its brands. That software throttling tuned the vehicles to run well within the Environmental Protection Agency's emissions standards while the automobiles were being tested, covering up the fact that they'd emit up to 40 times the acceptable amount of nitrogen oxides when not under the microscope of an emissions test. As a result of the emissions scandal, Volkswagen was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice and was forced to recall half a million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles. The top honors should be a huge help for the Audi brand, said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research. Despite taking a hit, "Audi hasn't borne the brunt of what happened," Cole said. While the the rankings may help Audi, it could bruise a few other brands such as brands in Fiat Chrysler's fold. Here's how Consumer Reports ranked the entire field of 30 with the brands' overall score: