Home » A New Era Of Technology Is Driving A New Era Of Labor Fights

A New Era Of Technology Is Driving A New Era Of Labor Fights

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It used to be that when the United Auto Workers union would sit down to negotiate its latest contracts with the Big Three automakers, it would do a nice, respectful, pleasant “handshake ceremony” with each of those companies’ CEOs. You know, to show that everyone is pals, that they’re on the same team and that they’re gonna figure this all out together.

That ain’t the case anymore. The new round of UAW talks are about to be the most vicious they’ve been in decades, and there are direct parallels to what’s happening in the entertainment industry right now too.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

That leads off this Friday edition of the morning news roundup, along with the EV scramble for small but scrappy Mazda; its headaches in China, which are shared by every non-Chinese automaker these days; and Mitsubishi’s the first to cash out there. Let’s dive in!

More Like ‘U Didn’t Come To Play-A-W,’ Am I Right, Folks

You’ve almost certainly heard about the entertainment industry strikes happening right now in Hollywood and its wider ecosystem. It started with the television writers a few months ago (Full Disclosure: I’m a member of the Writers Guild America, East, which unionized a bunch of digital media shops in recent years) and as of yesterday, that strike includes the actors too.

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Entertainment industry workers are going to battle over a lot of things, including the potential for artificial intelligence to take their jobs and residual payments over streaming TV, which are vastly lower than they are in the fading world of broadcast TV. And the entertainment companies, profitable as they are, are coming out of being battered by the pandemic and facing future disruptions to a business model they’ve relied on for a century. Meanwhile, they’re dealing with Wall Street investors who demand to be feted on the same level as always.

I could change a few nouns in the paragraph above and be able to say the exact same thing about the auto industry, globally and in the U.S. Here, the Big Three are doing well at the moment. But this likely transition to electric vehicles—rocky and uncertain as it is—means huge investments, sweeping technological changes, new business models and potentially fewer manufacturing jobs as these cars generally require fewer parts to build.

So the UAW’s workers are going into negotiations trying to get guarantees for the jobs they have now. And the leadership they’ve elected this year is far from the effete, feckless bosses of the recent future, the ones who got busted for embezzling and kickbacks while their workers’ jobs got offshored to Mexico and China.

Here’s CNBC on that front with a quote I like:

“We’re in the process of changing the culture of this union from a reactionary, defensive union, to an aggressive and offensive-minded union,” Fain said last month during a Facebook livestream. “We’ve also made big changes in how we do politics. … We’re going to be organizing elected officials rather than being organized by them.”

Case in point: no handshakes with the CEOs anymore, which the UAW has done since the 1960s. Instead, the UAW did a big handshake thing with its own members this week. Here’s the Wall Street Journal (including our old pal Ryan Felton) on UAW President Shawn Fain, who seems to bring the energy of Spinal Tap’s cricket bat-toting manager to these negotiations:

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“There’s no point in having a big pomp and [circumstance] ceremony where we act like we’re friends, and we’re working together, when we’re not,” said Fain, while meeting with workers at a Ram truck factory in Sterling Heights, Mich. “The membership comes first. That’s our job.”

[…] Analysts have warned the chances of an auto-industry strike are high and the UAW leader could look to stage walkouts at more than one car company.

“He was elected saying ‘We don’t want to do anything the traditional way. We’re ready to go to war,’ ” said Art Wheaton, a director of labor studies at Cornell University.

The union has pointed to the closure of plants, such as Stellantis’s Jeep Cherokee factory in Belvidere, Ill., as a warning sign to its members that the transition to EVs is already rendering some jobs obsolete.

“This is our defining moment, as a union, as working people, and we’re taking a different approach every step of the way,” Fain said.

The emphasized stuff above is the part you may care about most. It does seem like there’s a very solid chance a strike will happen this fall if negotiations don’t go the way the workers want, and that could hammer an industry that’s just now kind of getting back on track after the pandemic. But many of these auto workers, like the entertainment workers, feel like this is their moment; that if they don’t draw a hard line right now, there won’t be anything left for them to fight for in the near future.

The UAW’s current contract expires Sept. 14. Negotiations with Stellantis and Ford began this week, and General Motors is up next week. It is going to be a very, very interesting time in the labor moment, and not only jobs but what we drive (and watch on TV and at movie theaters) is at stake.

Mazda’s EV Plans Get In Gear With Mexico, New Platforms On The Horizon

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The Mazda Vision Study Model, which some speculate could preview the next Miata. Photo: Mazda

I keep a close eye on Mazda a lot because not only am I a customer, I also think it’s going to be a fascinating company to watch as the auto industry deals with all the stuff I listed above: it makes stylish, high-tech cars that are generally designed with The Autopian’s values in mind, but it’s also tiny.

It has partnerships with Toyota, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to Toyota’s scale. So how does this small, independent player—which is somewhere between niche and mainstream a lot—compete in an era of EVs and hybrids without going broke?

(Also, my platonic ideal for an EV is like, an electric Mazda 3 hatchback. Same driving dynamics, same style, premium without making you look like a dick, same affordability. That would surely be nice.)

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Mazda’s new CEO Masahiro Moro said it’s not really looking at the U.S. for EV manufacturing (it has just one American plant, a JV with Toyota in Alabama where it makes the CX-50) but rather Mexico instead, reports Automotive News. It has a plant in Mexico already and that would be an ideal place to start rolling out two new platforms, not unlike what BMW has done with electrification:

Speaking to reporters early Friday, Moro said North American production of EVs would likely begin in the 2028-30 third stage of that business plan. Marumoto had earlier suggested it could begin to meet local production requirements in the second half of the 2025-27 second stage.

“Our assumption for North American production of EVs is Phase 3 timing,” Moro said.

Mazda is planning two varieties of full electrics, Moro said.

One will be an EV based on an existing architecture that also accommodates internal combustion and hybrid powertrains. The other will be a dedicated EV platform. Both will be introduced in the 2025-2027 stage two, Moro said. But production is expected to begin in Japan.

Remember, to get those sweet tax incentives, both EVs and their battery components must be made in North America, so Mexican production would still qualify here. In the U.S., it seems Mazda hopes to pay for this move the same way GM is: selling ultra-popular, gas-powered crossovers (in GM’s case it’s trucks and SUVs but you get the idea.)

But Moro said Mazda wants to focus Huntsville on ramping up output of the CX-50 through the end of the decade. The company has already said, for instance, that it plans to introduce production of a hybrid version there. U.S. sales of the CX-50 reached only 21,466 through June.

Mazda must also consult with its partner Toyota before introducing an EV there, he said.

“At this point, we’re not thinking about it,” Moro said of making EVs in Alabama.

Moro also cast some doubt on the Biden Administration’s aggressive goals to have automakers get two-thirds of their sales from EVs by 2032. “American electrification will certainly continue,” Moro told Automotive News. “But I don’t know if it will continue in the direction desired by the Biden administration.” I do think that if EV adoption happens, it’s not going to be on some perfectly clean, up-and-to-the-right curve anytime soon. Not until these things get cheaper and charging gets easier.

The China Problem Makes Everything Worse (For Everyone Outside Of China, Anyway)

Image Factory Ats.media.messe Muenchen
Photo: via Auto Shanghai

North America isn’t the only source of Mazda’s challenges. It’s also getting its ass beat in China, where its best-selling model is the Mazda 3 but where its sales are down 41% between 2021 and 2022 because buyers are flocking to EVs from homegrown Chinese brands.

Mazda, like every “foreign” automaker except Tesla for many years, has JVs in China but conditions are expected to get tough there over the next 18 months, Reuters reports:

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Moro said it was not planning to “scale back”, although the company was planning to cut fixed costs.

“Production output will be low for the time being while pressure on profits is increasing,” Moro told reporters at a roundtable meeting.

“The important thing is to turn the tide and introduce electric vehicles one by one,” he said.

During a visit to Mazda’s China unit last month, Moro said he discussed with the joint venture’s management efforts to catch up with the high speed of electrification.

We’ve covered this all year here, but as a reminder: basically, every Western or other Asian automaker got caught off guard by the progress of China’s homegrown brands on the EV front. Many of them assumed permanent growth in China forever (see what happens when you assume things?) but a rising China isn’t content to be the world’s cheap export goods factory forever. Their car market is slowing down a little too, but those buyers want stuff from their home teams; even Tesla’s sales are down there.

Back to the WSJ again, here’s how their market compares to ours:

China’s auto revolution is being driven by its commanding lead in battery powered and plug-in hybrid cars—the only types of vehicle for which demand has been consistently growing. Led by BYD, nine local manufacturers were among China’s 10 bestselling electric-vehicle makers in June, according to CPCA data. Tesla was the only foreign carmaker on the list.

Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid passenger cars jumped 44% in the first half of 2023 to more than 3.5 million vehicles, making up around a third of total sales that grew almost 9% over the same period, the data showed. Some industry experts predict electric cars will outsell gas-fueled ones in China in the next four years. In the U.S., electric vehicles’ market share was 7% in the first half, after sales surged 50% to 557,330 units.

China’s probably going to be the world’s first car market to go primarily electric; it even overtook Japan for the first time ever recently as the world’s biggest exporter of cars. So, yeah: to go back to our Mazda analogy here, the deck is very much stacked against you now if you want to keep playing in the world’s biggest car market.

Mitsubishi To China: Deuces

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart 2

Finally, to further illustrate this challenge, it looks like Mitsubishi’s the canary in the coal mine here. The automaker is cashing out its chips in China and going home. From Bloomberg:

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Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has suspended its China business indefinitely and will lay off staff after years of poor sales in a market rapidly turning to electric vehicles.

The Japanese automaker said that China’s transition away from gasoline cars to cleaner vehicles had hit its existing line up and seen sales fall far below expectations, according to a July 12 company memo that was circulated on Chinese social media.

“In the past few months, management and shareholders have tried to the best of our ability, but due to market conditions and with great reluctance and regret, we must seize the opportunity to transition to new energy vehicles. The company will resurrect after going through trials and tribulations,” the memo said.

Mitsubishi’s failure in China reflects the pressure facing fellow Japanese carmakers, who have been slow to offer electric models and lost market share to new competitors like Tesla Inc. and BYD Co. Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. sales in China have been falling for at least two years while Toyota Motor Corp.’s deliveries last year declined for the first time in a decade.

Failure! In China! The market that was once treated as the goose that would lay golden eggs for the car companies forever. Now we must ask… who’s next?

Your Turn

What should auto workers in America be seeking as the industry stares down this massive upheaval?

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ScottyB
ScottyB
10 months ago

If Mazda did a reasonably priced coupe that looked like that as an EV, my electrification plans would be very greatly accelerated.

Dsa Lkjh
Dsa Lkjh
10 months ago

I once spent a nearly decade with the management and workers negotiating annually on working hours with both sides going in for unacceptable numbers until, every year, they’d both report a substantial victory of no changes at all after months of negotiation.

After the first couple of years I’d lost all hope of any change at all. I didn’t really want a shorter week, I just wanted my pay to go up with inflation. It did not. I eventually got a better job instead.

In the uk we have a tradition of both management and unions working in opposition to make things worse for the workers and customers. I hope the US does it better.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
11 months ago

Those unions…strike is back on @ H&H Bagels…SCAB! No bagel, no bagel, no bagel

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
11 months ago

What should auto workers in America be seeking as the industry stares down this massive upheaval?”

Jobs at BEV, battery and BEV component plants. Tied in with that, for existing plants that make ICE vehicles and ICE-related stuff, try to get a committment to get a BEV-related product allocated in the future.

Unclesam
Unclesam
11 months ago

It’s encouraging to see flickers of life in the labor movement broadly. Say what you will about unions, but without jobs that pay well enough to buy what the economy produces, everyone who doesn’t already own a Kiwi Apocalypse Bunker will be in for a rough time

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

Hillarious UAW members over paid underworked, SAG Members overpaid and no talent. I as a normal Amerucan cant afford a new car but thankfully they suck and i wouldnt take obe for free. As far as Hollywood as long as NCIS, METV, LONESTAR LAW ARE on im good there is maybe 2=3 news shows that barely watchable i dont watch reality TV OR the 7th remake of the 7th edition of some show i never watched. Why do either industry members think the recanned shit is watchable or worth paying for? 3,000 channels nothing worth watching but reruns of barney miller. Cant get reruns of good old shows but tons of new crap even laugh tracks remain silent.

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

when you lick the boots of the Big 3 CEOs, do they taste like Corinthian Leather?

Chris with bad opinions
Chris with bad opinions
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Do you have any other Newsmax bullshit to parrot, bad take dave? Also, can you learn some grammar? If you’re going to spout ignorant garbage all the time at least make it readable. That alone tells the average person all they need to know about you.

Last edited 11 months ago by Chris with bad opinions
...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
11 months ago

How do you know it’s “Newsmax bullshit” without reading it yourself?

Play nice and don’t be so judgy 🙂 Life is too short to be an online holier-than-thou type.

Last edited 11 months ago by ...getstoneyII
Chris with bad opinions
Chris with bad opinions
11 months ago
Reply to  ...getstoneyII

Thanks for the feedback. I’ll change my life now.

...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
11 months ago

Enjoy the transformation 🙂

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
11 months ago

I really want that white MAZDA in the photo. And they should be building these already. And GTFO of China. Fuck China. They did not beat the other car builders at a damn thing, EXCEPT for the ripped off designs, and slave labor factories.

Those fuckers would have you eating cats and dogs, and driving a rickshaw if they could figure out how to make it happen. Eat shit and die.

ScottyB
ScottyB
10 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Ditto on the white Mazda.

And sadly they do eat cats and dogs, but there are also quite a few good souls working relentlessly and breaking the law to save as many as they can.

Also, FWIW, Petsmart is selling cat toys made of rabbit fur throughout the US right now.

Ben
Ben
11 months ago

Any auto exec who did not see the rise of the Chinese car industry coming should be fired. Why did they think China was requiring them to partner with a local company and share trade secrets? This is what China does! Lure your manufacturing in with cheap labor, steal your designs, then sell knockoffs cheaper than you can because they have $0 invested in R&D.

Regarding the UAW, biting the hand that signs your paychecks instead of shaking it seems like a potentially disastrous strategy, but I guess time will tell if it works out for them.

Bhtooefr
Bhtooefr
11 months ago
Reply to  Ben

My understanding is that quite a lot of how the union movement got wins was through vastly more, uh, violent strategies than merely refusing to shake hands with CEOs.

Like, with the threat of murdering said CEOs in their sleep, instead.

James Hathaway
James Hathaway
11 months ago
Reply to  Bhtooefr

If you look at labour history, you’ll find it was mostly owners using cops and literally shooting at organized labour for demanding safety, living wages and benefits. And it was only a generation ago; one of my coworkers, who was a union organizer, remembers having cops follow him home and driving by his house late at night – that was only the 80’s.

Bhtooefr
Bhtooefr
11 months ago
Reply to  James Hathaway

Hell, not just cops – look at Blair Mountain.

When the army is literally taking out surplus WW1 airplanes to bomb you to break the strike… honestly a few murder threats are mild compared to that.

Mantis Toboggan, MD
Mantis Toboggan, MD
10 months ago
Reply to  Bhtooefr

Yeah but people won’t risk their lives for their beliefs now. Unless they’re actually crazy. Look at the Supreme Court situation. Millions of people disagree with their recent decisions. A majority of the country. Yet one of those people could easily create enough vacancies to shift the court left if they were willing to die to do it. No one is. Juvenal knew the truth of it, if they keep the bread and circuses flowing the powerful can do whatever they want.

Salaryman
Salaryman
11 months ago

Mazda – I have a Mazda 3 with the Turbo. I would absolutely love to have one that was battery-powered with about the same terrible range as this car and the same performance level. If someone made something like that, it would move like hotcakes.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
11 months ago

I work in Live Entertainment, but I am represented by the same Union that represents Film and Television Technicians. I have been a member of IATSE for 30 years.

If I worked in the Film and Television end, I’d be shaking in my shoes. I don’t follow AI developments very closely, but from what I can tell, we’re not far off from the place where AI can create and produce a complete feature-length film starring John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe performing to a script entirely untouched by human hands. If my assumption is correct, that would put 99% of the people who work in (all aspects of) the industry out of work.

I’m sure film producers are chomping at the bit for the ability to produce feature films for a cost of about $1000 and still sell $15 movie tickets. I dread this future.

Ben
Ben
11 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

we’re not far off from the place where AI can create and produce a complete feature-length film starring John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe performing to a script entirely untouched by human hands.

The only way anyone in AI would claim we’re close to that is if they’re trying to get your VC dollars (so…basically everyone in AI then). What AI can do today is impressive, but it’s also incredibly flawed because there’s no actual intelligence involved (despite the name). It’s also not clear how we get out of this uncanny valley because nobody fully understands how or why these systems work. It’s a lot of the same problems autonomous cars are facing, which makes sense since they’re both based on machine learning. I predict fully AI movies will perpetually be a “next year” thing just like AVs.

That said, I fully support the creatives here. They got screwed by the move to streaming and even if AI content production is probably a bad idea, some studio is going to try it anyway.

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
11 months ago
Reply to  Patrick George

AI could certainly do it these days as all that comes out of Hollywood is reboots, remakes, slightly change the story and call it something different. Even reality shows which are all scripted lies is just the same thing over and over. Originality in media is dead, there’s nothing left in the well.

Studdley
Studdley
11 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

Not too tricky when they output the same garbage year after year, and we keep buying tickets to see it.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
11 months ago
Reply to  Studdley

Which is why it gives me hope that so many big movies right now are box office disasters. People aren’t paying to see the same old garbage anymore, the entertainment industry is going to have to figure out how to make something new again if they want to stop bleeding money.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
11 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

And yet, especially this year, all of those movies are flopping hard. Nobody wants to see that trash anymore, people want originality. Pop music tried the same thing this year, just make covers and sample from old songs, and the result is a year with basically no big hits.

People want originality back. I see this as a pivotal year in many ways, people are clamoring for something fresh and aren’t tolerating the same old bullcrap anymore. The question is what will the new things be?

AC2DE
AC2DE
11 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

This is why I’m considering going to see Oppenheimer when it comes out. It would be the first feature film I’ve gone to a theater for in probably 15 years. I really hope it doesn’t disappoint…

90sBuicksAreUnderrated
90sBuicksAreUnderrated
11 months ago

The union should be taking a harder line than it has in the past. For one, after the whole corruption scandal it needs to reestablish credibility with its members. For another, the gave up a lot during the bankruptcy (which arguably needed to happen at the time) but haven’t really gotten much in the ensuing, profitable years. The OEMs are still acting like it’s 2009 in negotiations, when in reality they’ve been making record profits hand over fist for a decade and a half. Basically, if you’re a UAW production member you rely on overtime and profit sharing (which is variable) to make a decent living.

I don’t want to go back to the “bad old days” of the jobs bank and wildly uncompetitive compensation and benefits. But the companies absolutely can and should afford to give them a raise. UAW members start at only about $15/hour and work up to a maximum $28/hour over a number of years. That $28/hour hasn’t budged since 2009 (and would be equivalent to about $40/hour today). The companies are having a hard time even recruiting new employees to work in the plants these days. It’s time.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
11 months ago

Working in manufacturing, I can tell you that even at a higher wage, people don’t want to work in a factory. Even for our non-union team members, we offer good pay, great benefits, and an awesome PTO policy, but we are struggling to get people from assemblers to machinists.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
11 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

There is a factory near me that is having huge trouble finding workers with the same kind of pay/benefits offered like you describe. its not even a dangerous or really HARD physical labor type of factory. But it does require most people to travel an hour commute, and that really seems to kill most peoples interest (I live in a small town an hour away from the metro area where most people live).

recruitement and retention are huge problems in all areas of physical labor I think.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Sadly, passing a drug test was the biggest issue for finding candidates in the rural factory I used to work in.

90sBuicksAreUnderrated
90sBuicksAreUnderrated
11 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

For sure, it would definitely help with recruitment but still be a problem. I definitely feel like there’s a stigma around factory work, some of it deserved, some of it not so much. It can definitely be physically demanding, but the right place can offer a stable job with great pay and benefits. I’d also personally (with the caveat that I work a white collar job) much rather work in a plant than in the retail or food service industry, which I have done. The pay and benefits are generally better and the general public is worse than ever to deal with.

I think a lot of it is the perceived (fairly or not) lack of stability. When I was coming of age in Michigan, we’d been getting decimated by plant closures for decades. My parents constantly instilled in us to attend college or learn a trade and not even consider manufacturing, as a lot of my extended family in the industry grappled with the constant threat of layoffs through the 90’s and 2000’s. None of them had a backup plan or clear path to make anywhere near the same living in the event of a layoff, and it was very stressful. This happened not just in domestic auto manufacturing, but any kind of manufacturing in that era.

I think that the instability of that period had an enormous impact on a lot of folks and they’ve elected to stay away. The (unjustified) perception that you can only achieve success and status by attending college doesn’t help. Neither does the fact that marijuana has increasingly become legal across the country while most manufacturing facilities still screen for it in pre-employment drug tests.

Last edited 11 months ago by 90sBuicksAreUnderrated
Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
10 months ago

A lot of good points. Stability is a big factor, especially if it is not a US-owned company. I have worked for European-owned companies that basically use their US factories as flex capacity because of how difficult it is to fire anyone in their European shops – floor workers to engineers. It was extremely frustrating seeing them close factory after factory here in the US, and not shut down 1 facility in Europe. Unfortunately, I was the one running the shut-down projects. It got really old.

AC2DE
AC2DE
11 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

My company has a 2-person welding shop that has seen over 14 different workers in the last 3 years. Machining, with 3 people, has only turned over 2 or 3 in that time. Assembly and shipping, with 6 people, has turned over about 10.

The welding situation got so bad that we have started going robotic.

Dolsh
Dolsh
11 months ago

It’ll be interesting to see in 5 years time just how far behind China the domestic market finds itself. While everyone if fighting about keeping everything the same, China is moving FAST. UAW could win now, but it’ll be a loss long term if the domestics become non-competitive globally.

The unions really need to be coming forward with proposals on how to out-innovate China, not how to keep the workforce the same.

Industries change. They have to. Fighting to keep them the same is worse for all of us.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
10 months ago
Reply to  Dolsh

Unfortunately, the UAW in particular can be extremely short-sighted. In my experience working with multiple unions, they represented the least-skilled people and demanded the most. They were far more combative than the machinists or electrical brotherhood often to their detriment.

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
11 months ago

The union jobs are great jobs. Hope as many can continue as possible. But the reality- current, changing demographics and the EV evolution (not revolution as the government touts) make for uncertain negotiations. Union didn’t mention benefits, which one knows they wont give up either, while benefit costs continue to rise)

i think automakers will be fine with a longer strike. They profited from low inventories the last couple of years. So they can take it

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 months ago

Unions need to operate like a guild, not a mafia. Bring something to the table (training, skills, attendance/performance/drug-free standards, your own pension plan, and maybe even your own health care). Now you are a labor supplier that is bringing value, which is a position of negotiating strength. Being a union member would be aspirational and respected.

Which is better, “I represent tens of thousands of well-trained responsible employees who are ready to work. I will take care of their needs and make sure they perform.”
or
“If you don’t pony up, something around here could get damaged.”

And did we learn nothing from the bad old decades of the UAW? Job guarantees are a loser for everybody. Useless job banks are demeaning for the worker and economic suicide for the company.

Studdley
Studdley
11 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

You don’t know how Unions operate.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  Studdley

Neither does the UAW, so I don’t think he’s wrong for giving his, even possibly uneducated, opinion.

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 months ago
Reply to  Studdley

I said nothing about union operations, other than strongarm negotiating tactics. I suggested an alternative model for labor organizing. Perhaps you don’t understand how words operate.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
10 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Unions need to operate like a guild, not a mafia.

This x1000
QFT

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
11 months ago

Solidarity with my fellow union people.

These companies have been wildly profitable. Demand the stars. Remind them that Henry Ford, who cut costs to the bone, paid his workers a good wage so they could afford the cars they built. No more two tier junk and keep good healthcare. Factory work is demanding and beats people up.

Studdley
Studdley
11 months ago

I doubt any of these folks could pony up for a 50k pickup truck

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
11 months ago

I fear that while it is perfectly reasonable for the UAW to require a minimum of decent living wages and good health care for their members, the additional costs will NOT be absorbed by the manufacturers. It will get passed on to consumers through even higher auto prices. The increased pricing will put more stress on the auto market, making cars even harder to own for the average american. Especially if the UAW insists that if there have always been 100 jobs at this factory, it HAS to retain 100 jobs, even though the EV now being built on needs 70 jobs. That means the car price has to carry those extra 30 people with it. So it just ends up that car buyers now subsidize the UAW to carry extra weight, again making it that much harder for all the other average americans to afford a car.

The correct answer is achieving this by reducing company profit, and if necessary or useful, reducing pay in the upper echelons of the company somewhat, to cover the increased pay to UAW members. But I don’t think the UAW has the ability require that from their negotiations.

So what i’m getting at is, its very hard for me to tell if supporting the UAW here is voting for the little guy, or if by supporting the UAW, I would be giving the finger to every other little guy out there.

Studdley
Studdley
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

OEMs have been stressing their consumer base for 3 years, laughing all the way to the bank. Maybe they should sell of a private jet or two to pay their workers a good wage.

James Hathaway
James Hathaway
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

It sounds like you’re suggesting is that the company behave in a morally decent way by paying a fair wage to everyone, which I totally agree with.

I just don’t think there is any way they’ll do that unless regulated to do so, like a low/high wage ratio cap.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago

And the entertainment companies, profitable as they are, are coming out of being battered by the pandemic and facing future disruptions to a business model they’ve relied on for a century.

Let’s be perfectly clear, Patrick. This? This is absolute bullshit. The entertainment companies are being “battered” by nothing but disasters of their own making. Rampant mismanagement and nepotism. Colossal megamergers in pursuit of monopoly. Launching 500+ niche streaming services to try and extract every last penny out of consumers. Blowing $50M on ‘tentpole’ series they cancel after a season because it’s not profitable.

It’s not the pandemic. It was never the pandemic. It’s just mismanagement.

But many of these auto workers, like the entertainment workers, feel like this is their moment; that if they don’t draw a hard line right now, there won’t be anything left for them to fight for in the near future.

Because there won’t be. And that goes for every last one of you.
Unless you start actually fucking fighting? Instead of saying “oh, see, instead of getting beat with a razor blade dildo I’m only getting beaten with a concrete dildo, an improvement!” Guess what? Putting food on the table is only going to get harder. Cars will only get more out of reach. Home ownership will become a distant fantasy of the past.
Don’t like it? Then fucking fight. I’m just telling you the facts.

Or in more blunt, plain language: your average UAW member made a whole $53,000 a year in 2021. Does that sound overpaid to you? Does that sound like someone who can even afford the cars they build? Because it’s not.
“Oh, but the benefits! The pension!” Yeah, no. Medicare PPO sound like gold-plated benefits to you? (It’s very much not.) UAW member planning to retire in 2023? Boy are you screwed; if you were salaried, Ford cut your lump sum by over 25% claiming interest rates. Meaning you can no longer afford to retire.

One will be an EV based on an existing architecture that also accommodates internal combustion and hybrid powertrains. The other will be a dedicated EV platform. Both will be introduced in the 2025-2027 stage two, Moro said. But production is expected to begin in Japan.

This is the smart move. And why FCAtlantis does similar. Developing architectures and platforms is horrendously expensive, it takes a huge amount of time, and takes years to recover the cost on. By refining an existing architecture, Mazda saves tens of millions of dollars. By ensuring that architecture has adaptability to multiple powertrains, they save hundreds of millions by not needing to develop more architectures.
It’s the smart play. Same with starting in Japan. That’s where all their equipment and knowledge is. You don’t spin up new stuff five thousand miles away from the people refining and troubleshooting it.

Failure! In China! The market that was once treated as the goose that would lay golden eggs for the car companies forever. Now we must ask… who’s next?

Ask Winnie the Pooh. He’s the one calling all the shots.
If management at any of these manufacturers had the least clue, they’d be yanking as many assets out of China as they could, as fast as they could. They figured for years they were feeding a docile pig to lead to slaughter, and now they’re finding out they’ve been engorging a warthog that’s more than happy to gore them and leave them bleeding in the road.

What should auto workers in America be seeking as the industry stares down this massive upheaval?

Everything. Period.
First of all, negotiation is the art of compromise. And if you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. Any negotiator that walks over unreasonable demands isn’t there to negotiate, full stop. “Pay our members a minimum $100k salary”? Put it on the table. “Fully covered healthcare with no contributions”? On the table. “Complete tuition reimbursement no matter the college or course”? Abso-fucking-loutely.
The question is not what they should be asking for. They should be asking for absolutely everything.
The question is what is the minimum they should accept. And the answer there is equally simple: if a new member in an entry position can’t comfortably put food on the table, pay rent, and buy a reliable used car at the average transaction price ($30k currently.) Then it’s not enough and it’s not acceptable. If a 10 year member can’t buy a house and buy a new car at the average transaction price ($49k)? Then it’s not enough and not acceptable. If a retiree has to pick up a job at McDonald’s just so they can go out to the movies occasionally or pay for their medications? It’s not enough and it’s not acceptable.
If any member of the UAW can’t live the mythical ‘American dream’ without having to resort to Ramen and hot dogs for every meal or a 20 year old rusty Malibu, then it’s not enough.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
11 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Meanwhile, People working in the Union get paid an average of $95,000. Hell, Switchboard operators make over $70,000. Yes, the UAW still has switchboard operators and they make more than the average UAW union member.

That sweet $75k for the switchboard operator, that came from a hard working line-workers paycheck, food off THEIR table.

It’s too bad there is no other way to get fair pay for workers without the bloated gold watch wearing UAW.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago

“WAAH WAAH UNION BAD!! WORKERS SHOULDN’T JOIN UNIONS!! UNIONS ARE JUST THIEVES!!”

That’s exactly the bullshit you’re pushing.

UAW represents 971,000 people in everything from facilities maintenance to senior management, with 1,750 contracts across 1,050 employers.
UAW itself employs 132 people. Total.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
11 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

What’s your point? besides yelling?

Also, I was talking about the UAW, a union that even among unions is universally loathed because of their history of mismanagement, kickbacks, special favors, and self dealing.

James Hathaway
James Hathaway
11 months ago

Good, I’m glad people are making $75k for a job. I don’t put qualification’s on what people should make based on their job description; everyone should make a good, liveable wage, period.

Don’t create a race to the bottom with the argument “x person makes too much”, instead, argue that you and everyone should be paid more. Billion dollar companies can afford it.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
11 months ago

I wonder how many legacy auto workers there are
Legacy = Grandpa>father>son>son of son>etc

They all know by now the workforce is going to shrink do to more automation and the shift to EVs. The UAW should be training their members on new technology instead of insisting on the some ole same ole. These workers should plan adoringly for their futures too. I knew early on I wouldn’t want to be a construction worker past my 30s, so I planned to get out of the field before then.

JTilla
JTilla
11 months ago

Does China have the infrastructure for all those EVs? It would seem to me they would be just as behind as we are.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago
Reply to  JTilla

Nope!
That’s why China is “solving” this by building coal burning power plants at a rate more than 6 times that of all other power plant types.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
11 months ago
Reply to  JTilla

They absolutely do not. The company I work for set up a factory there several years back, and power generation was a big factor in choosing the site. The company made sure to install emergency power generation onsite, as well. They will just call you up and tell you that you are not getting power that day. It is especially bad in the summer for obvious reasons. They are building more coal plants, but there is no way they are keeping up.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

If they build the coal plants to a low enough standard, they are absolutely certain they can keep up! At least that’s what they keep telling themselves as they keep building more and more of them.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
11 months ago

The UAW gives unions a bad name. Even other unions don’t like them.

China sucks, but everyone else left the bottom of the market open to them by gouging and eliminating their less-expensive cars. If they sell new cars over here for less than 20k, especially if they can sell something with a starting price under 10k, they will absolutely clean up here.

Modern Chinese cars meet modern standards, and they can undercut anyone.

90sBuicksAreUnderrated
90sBuicksAreUnderrated
11 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

$10K new cars that meet safety standards and that consumers actually want to buy are impossible in the U.S., even absent the tariffs and being built with cheap labor. That ship probably sailed 10-15 years ago. I’ll also be say that even cars that are offered here at the lowest price points (Mitsubishi Mirage and Nissan Versa, starting MSRP of $16K) don’t sell, because people don’t want them. The Mirage barely cracked 20K U.S. sales last year, and the Versa didn’t even hit 15K. If there was actual demand for cheap cars with lots of compromises like this, you’d better believe they’d be cranking them out by the hundreds of thousands.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
11 months ago

The Mirage MSRP is too high by at least $3K. $16K isn’t just audacious, it’s downright insulting. At least the Versa is a better value.

90sBuicksAreUnderrated
90sBuicksAreUnderrated
11 months ago

Oh 100%. You fish a little further upstream (like the new Chevy Trax, starting at $20K) and can get a far better car for similar money. The Mirage would be fine if it was $10K but it’s embarrassing for what it offers at $16K+. I have a feeling the only people who buy them are in a desperate situation, need a new car and can’t get financed anywhere else.

James Kohler
James Kohler
11 months ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

I despise corruption as much as the next guy, but what is happening here is the last bastion of hope for the lower tier workforce of the automotive industry and the entertainment industry. If the executives win out on these fights, we will be headed for a terrible recession. The flip side is that cars and entertainment media probably gets a tiny bit more expensive.

...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
11 months ago

I can’t speak specifically as to what is in the current contract and what is on the table for the new one. What I do know is that they should be getting all the things that were denied to the Railroad workers (and way more) when they got backdoored into accepting the bullshit deal that was forced on them. Ya know, things like paid sick days and the mere fact of taking an “unscheduled” sick day won’t get you written up. Greedy stuff like that. (ugh)

Pardon my French, but the Railroad workers got soooo forked and should have gone on strike. Not trying to get off-topic, but I’m still mad about it.

Mike B
Mike B
11 months ago
Reply to  ...getstoneyII

I’m with you on the RR. It’s infuriating how that went down. If the railroads are that crucial, they should be nationalized.

Last edited 11 months ago by Mike B
...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

There really is no solution to it. To put it all in the hands of the Feds to govern is not gonna help anything because they already have their sticky fingers in it anyway. The phrase too many cooks in the kitchen is an apt metaphor.

Unclesam
Unclesam
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

Arguably lots of things should be, not just railroads

Mike B
Mike B
10 months ago
Reply to  Unclesam

Oh I’m with you, but we have to start somewhere.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago
Reply to  ...getstoneyII

The only problem with them striking is that they were told straight up that they would be arrested and criminally charged if they did. Backed up by the federal government.

They still should’ve done it.

...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
11 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

They wouldn’t have gotten arrested. Not a chance. You are correct in saying that it would have pissed off the Feds (and the owners/shareholders) real nice, though.

Some of the Railroad laws/rules/regs go back to the 1800s and often contradict each other. It’s extremely complicated stuff. I offered to do a big write-up on here about what it’s like to work as a Conductor and deal with management and the FRA, but yeah, no bites on that one. lol.

I’m a few years out of the game now, but at one point we were days away from a strike. It would have crippled a lot of NYC (pre-Zoom meetings) and the stock market would have tanked. The MTA caved at the last minute and we got a pretty decent deal.

That being said, the Commuter rail in NYC is a whole different animal than privately/publically owned Freight carriers or even Amtrak. This is why it was that much more infuriating that our Amtrak-riding POTUS gave all the workers the ol’ baton up the behind rather than pinch the purses of other “interested parties.” Those freight guys were already getting the worst deal out of anyone on the rails and the new contract cemented it even further. Amazing that it’s now dust in the wind.

Last edited 11 months ago by ...getstoneyII
RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago
Reply to  ...getstoneyII

We can say that, but come on. You know that’s 100% wrong.

There is no rule of law in the US. They would’ve literally cited some law from 1843 and rounded them up, come up with some other excuse to shut down the union, full well knowing that the employees don’t have the financial means to fight criminal charges.
Given the way the Class 1s operate, guarantee they would’ve filed civil suit too, and just kept running regardless of safety. I mean, not like they were running safely before or since anyways, so who needs trained personnel?

...getstoneyII
...getstoneyII
11 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Yes and no. People always like to refer to the Railway Labor Act of 1926 as one source, but it gets trickier from there on forward.

One thing that is not up for debate is FRA certification. It’s mandatory to have a current license to operate as an Engineer or Conductor. The testing and requirements to hold a valid license aren’t exactly easy. The workers themselves operate in an extremely safe manner because their lives literally depend on it. What you are saying would be like saying Delta would just hire cropdusters from Kansas to fly commercial planes. That’s just silly talk.

Also, the TWU and BLE are 2 of the many very well-funded RR unions. Aside from that, the RRB pension is fully funded many times over (unlike Social Security). The workers have ample amounts of money in their coffers.

MrLM002
MrLM002
11 months ago

What should auto workers in America be seeking as the industry stares down this massive upheaval?

New Jobs.

Automation is the future of automobile production. When BEVs become the new norm dealerships will disappear as well as DTC is legally possible with BEVs.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

“New Jobs.

Automation is the future of automobile production. When BEVs become the new norm dealerships will disappear as well as DTC is legally possible with BEVs.”

I hear there’s a shortage of truck drivers …

Steve
Steve
11 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Trucking is horrible right now. One of the largest LTL carriers in the USA is about to go tits up.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Yeah, I heard that a certain color truck is circling the drain. Also dealing with a port strike on the West coast of Canada. Shipping as a whole is going to be a major issue for the near future or longer.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I sincerely hope you aren’t serious, because this is the absolute dumbest take.

What, you think EVs don’t require things like tires? You think EVs don’t break far more frequently, with problems that are orders of magnitude more difficult to diag? You think manufacturers that fought OBD-II to the death are going to let third parties fix these problems?
<rolls around laughing>

Oh, and while we’re at it? Have fun making $85k a year in revenue translating to less than $43k in actual pay.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
11 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I would be curious for a citation about the frequency of EV failures requiring repair at a shop (and isn’t a recall related repair) being higher than ICE. I work in a portion of the auto repair industry that gives me substantial access to data on repair costs and frequencies, down to the model and drivetrain level of specificity. My data doesn’t agree with you, though I will grant our EV data is small subset of total data. My data demonstrates that frequency of repair is much lower, though the cost per repair is typically much higher. You are right about the tires though. It seems like EVs hammer through those faster than ICE do.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Electric cars have to wear out tires faster. They’re significantly heavier, significantly higher horsepower, and usually run stickier tires to handle said weight and horsepower.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Exactly. You don’t have a full subset of data, and your data isn’t valid data because it doesn’t consider complexity.
That’s why the costs are so much higher. That’s a tiny, fractional reflection of it. Tesla’s software stack is still the kind of shit even the most junior of engineers would take one look at and go ‘oh fuck no, this is all wrong.’ And then there’s the simple fact that attempting to diag HV systems is an absolute nightmare, period.

BEVs cram the entire Internet of Shit into a single package on a single CANbus. Or worse, multiple buses. Car won’t pop out the idiotic door handles? Well, besides the fun of gaining entry destructively, the solenoid tests good. So now you have to try and debug software that you can’t actually inspect meaningfully, with what amounts to banging a pair of rocks together.
Which is beyond costly. And as an added bonus now you’re basically paying a tech $125+ an hour to sit on hold, then spend hours going “nope, still didn’t pop out. Nope. Nope.”
And doing anything on the HV system? Huge time sink having to disassemble half the car to disconnect the 12V battery, suit up, disassemble more to access cuts, pull the cuts, and verify circuits are safe before you can touch anything. ICE, it’s literally pulling a single fuse or undoing two bolts to safe the electrical.

And tires, oh yeah. BEVs are just too fucking heavy, full stop.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
11 months ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I’m sorry could you explain how my data doesn’t consider complexity? And also provide a citation for your original statement of frequency? My data is based on 2 simple facts. did a repair get paid for, how much was that repair. Compare the number of paid repairs to the number of vehicles in the pool, and you have frequency. Divide total cost of repairs by number of repairs, you have cost per repair. this accounts for both cost of parts and labor. I’m pretty sure complexity is reflected in number of labor hours and number of parts covered. So again, how doesn’t it reflect complexity? You seem very confident about the information I have, which is odd.

So does only a complete view of all data make “valid” data? Meaning, that unless one has access to every repair ever made on any vehicle, your data is meaningless and no conclusions can be drawn? Considering as how EVs make up a small subset of total vehicles, doesn’t it make sense that EV data also makes up a small subset of my total available auto data?

I agree with you, costs are way higher than ICE per repair. I’m just curious where your data on frequency comes from. If my data is not reflective of the whole market data, I would professionally appreciate knowing that, so I can advise my company how to better prepare for the future.

I’m not looking to fight about this. I am looking for a discussion that reflects some data.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago

I mostly try to stay out of the union articles/arguments here, and I know rhetoric is heated going into negotiations, but I simply hope for all involved that they resolve things quickly.

I have always had a soft spot for the domestic automakers and I root for them to stay competitive. A lengthy shutdown right when the market is coming back strong isn’t ideal.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I just hope that both teams have fun.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I’ve not yet found a way to both care (deeply) about the workers and express distain for unions without being skewered. I’m with you hoping it gets resolved quickly.

The only people that don’t suffer during strikes is the UAW. They all still get paid 100%. The company’s get no work, the workers get a fraction of their pay, and the union employees continues to GET PAID.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago

My first job out of college was working with/supervising a USW workforce at a steel mill, which has influenced my fairly negative view of unions ever since.

As you say, that isn’t a popular perspective around here.

I feel it should be possible to treat people fairly without adversarial labor relations. Certainly the non-unionized auto plants seem to do alright.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
11 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I found the new UAW president’s take on negotiations as “going to war” to be disheartening. That doesn’t indicate any willingness to find what really makes the best compromise. That indicates a desire to cream the other side, pirate style. Take what you can and give nothing back.

Unclesam
Unclesam
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

This is how you start a negotiation with someone who isn’t your friend. If you open with “here’s what we’re prepared to give up” then the other side assumes your “good faith” compromise as their starting point to demand further concessions.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
11 months ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Unions in America don’t have seats on the board like those in Germany, so a cordial relationship is far less appropriate in the US.

Union negotiations in America have been far too friendly and not nearly adversarial enough for far too long. That ends now.

Once unions are represented on the Board of Directors like they are in Germany, then we can consider going back to a “let’s work together to see what we can build”.

Until then, Unions need to embrace an attitude of “you’ve been screwing us over for decades, and that ends NOW”.

Union membership has been falling because unions have been too willing to sacrifice instead of fight. They’ve been far too soft on the corporations, and it shows in their declining membership. When they prove they’re willing to fight hard again, more workplaces will unionize.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
11 months ago

The only people that don’t suffer during strikes is the UAW. They all still get paid 100%. The company’s get no work, the workers get a fraction of their pay, and the union employees continues to GET PAID.

You’re swallowing a right-wing talking point all the way down to your intestines.

There are 132 people employed by the UAW. 132. They’re there to support the union members 100% of the time.

You think they’re going to handle negotiations, record-keeping, contract writing, benefits administration, strike pay, etc. without doing it as a job? And you seem to think they should give up their livelihood for strikes that don’t increase their wages and benefits…

If the auto companies paid these people directly, you might have a valid point. But the auto companies don’t pay them. The unions do, and for very good reasons.

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