Auto Chiefs Concerned with NAFTA Stance

The auto industry has warned that significant changes to the so-called rules of origin could undercut the president’s America-first goals.

Top executives from Detroit automakers met Monday with Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials and aired their concerns about changes the Trump administration is seeking to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump has pushed for companies to construct more auto assembly plants in the U.S., while also pushing for major changes to NAFTA that the automakers oppose. U.S. negotiators have proposed significant changes to the so-called rules of origin for autos in a bid to ensure more U.S.-made parts are used in vehicles assembled in North America, a change that the auto industry has warned could undercut Trump’s America-first goals.

“We view the modernization of NAFTA as an important opportunity to update the 23-year-old agreement and set the stage for an expansion of U.S. auto exports,” Matt Blunt, a former Missouri governor who leads the American Automotive Policy Council, a trade association representing Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said in a statement. “We also appreciate the opportunity to directly address the industry’s concerns with the administration’s rule of origin proposal.”

Blunt said there are other things the group would like to have added to NAFTA, including a provision to guard against currency manipulation by Mexico and Canada.

Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, GM CEO Mary Barra and Joe Hinrichs,  Ford’s president of global operations, attended the White House meeting. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn were also scheduled to attend the meeting, Pence’s office said earlier on Monday.

By Ryan Beene Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-27/auto-chiefs-air-concerns-with-trump-nafta-stance-in-white-house

 

 

Detroit, Shinola is ‘Made in USA’ success story

 

detroit-shinola

Detroit (AFP) – From the outside, there’s nothing much to say about this nondescript, hulking building in downtown Detroit, once the cradle of American industry.

But inside this former General Motors research lab, the fifth floor has been transformed into a state-of-the-art workshop producing watches and high-end bicycles.

Welcome to Shinola, a young American luxury lifestyle company breathing new life into the “Made in USA” label — a designation championed by President-elect Donald Trump.

The firm, which shares the building with a design school, has built an open factory space with wooden desks reminiscent of 1950s movie sets and high-tech machinery.

Watches, handbags, appointment books and other accessories carrying the “Made in Detroit” label are turned out here, while the bikes — made from parts designed in neighboring Wisconsin — and turntables, a new product, are assembled at the flagship store located nearby.

Dozens of employees work here — most of them African Americans, who make up the majority of residents in this blighted working-class city, forced into bankruptcy in 2013 under the weight of its massive debt.

Detroit suffered hugely from the decline of US manufacturing and especially the difficulties facing the “Big Three” — auto giants General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

The unemployment rate hit 10.4 percent in November, compared to the national average of 4.6 percent, according to official statistics.

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Ford Salaried Workers to Get Raises & Bonuses

Associated Press – Thu, Jan 19, 2012

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford Motor Co. is showing confidence in its turnaround and the U.S. economy by giving pay raises and bonuses to 20,000 white-collar workers mainly in the U.S. and Canada.

Workers got letters from President of the Americas Mark Fields last week saying they’ll get 2.7 percent base pay increases on April 1. They’ll also get bonuses this year based on their individual performances, spokeswoman Marcey Evans said.

Ford made $6.6 billion in the first three quarters of last year. It will report fourth-quarter earnings later this month. The company’s U.S. sales rose 11 percent last year. It has made a huge turnaround since 2006, when it lost $12.6 billion and had to borrow more than $20 billion to stay in business.

Salaried workers didn’t get pay raises last year, but many were granted performance bonuses. They got only merit pay in 2010 and no raises or bonuses were given in 2009, Evans said.

The raises are necessary to keep Ford’s pay competitive with other Fortune 100 companies, Evans said. Each year, Ford studies pay at competitors and other companies, she said.

Ford also raised its matching contribution to the salaried employees’ 401(k) retirement plan. The company now pays 60 cents for every dollar an employee contributes, up to 5 percent of their salary. This year the contribution will rise to 80 cents, Evans said.

She would not say how much the raises, bonuses and additional contributions will cost the company.

The raises rankled some United Auto Workers members because they did not get annual pay raises in a new four-year contract negotiated with the company last year. During the contract talks, the company told union negotiators that it didn’t want to give raises to avoid recurring annual expenses.

But the workers got signing bonuses and lump-sum profit sharing payments that are worth at least $16,700 over the four-year contract. Workers at General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC agreed to similar contracts with payments smaller than those given to Ford workers.

“I’m disappointed to hear that,” Mark Caruso, president of a UAW local at a factory in Saline, Mich., said of the white-collar raises. Caruso said morale already is bad among workers at his plant west of Detroit. A Ford holding company is trying to sell the factory to an auto parts supplier.

A UAW spokeswoman in Detroit said Thursday that she would check with her superiors to see if the union will comment on the white-collar raises.

The pay raise announcement was reported early Thursday by the Detroit Free Press.

Ford compensation records obtained by The Associated Press last year show that UAW-represented hourly workers have seen larger increases in pay and benefits over the last decade than many white-collar workers.

The UAW, according to the records, was able to protect longtime factory workers from changes to health care, overtime and other benefit cuts that salaried workers were forced to take. The average hourly worker at Ford received wages, benefits and overtime totaling $109,020 in 2010, up 17 percent from 1999. But the average salaried factory supervisor made $99,760 in wages and benefits, up just 2 percent in the same period, the records showed.

Dismantling Detroit

Dismantling Detroit

Dismantling Detroit

Dismantling Detroit: The filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady look at young men who salvage scrap metal from Detroit’s derelict buildings, set against the backdrop of globalization.  Check out their video here.

By HEIDI EWING and RACHEL GRADY Published: January 18, 2012

We chose to focus our cameras on Detroit out of a gut feeling that this city — often heralded as the birthplace of the middle class — may well be a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the country.

Detroit lost 25 percent of its population between 2000 and 2010, and now, broke, finds itself on the verge of a possible state takeover. Yet visual reminders of a better time both haunt and anoint the residents here. The past is achingly present in Detroit, and the way its citizens interact with the hulking, physical remnants of yesterday is striking.

A few years ago, there was a rash of power outages in Detroit, caused by people illegally cutting down live telephone wires to get to the valuable copper coils inside. The Detroit police created a copper theft task force to deter the so-called “scrappers,” young men who case old buildings for valuable metals, troll cemeteries to steal copper grave plates and risk their lives to squeeze any last dollar out of the industrial detritus.   Read more of this post

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