The past few years have been an eye-opener for labor across the globe. From the Great Resignation to high costs of living to cheerleading essential workers, only to go back to prior treatment, people are fed up with wages not keeping up with the realities of everyday life. This autumn, several auto workers’ unions are geared up for contract renewal, and if automakers balk, we could see labor strikes around the world. Welcome back to The Morning Dump, where we round up bite-sized pieces of news for your perusal.
Labor Showdowns Aren’t Just Happening In America
Heading into September, the UAW isn’t the only auto workers’ union that could go on strike. In Canada, Unifor members working for Detroit’s big three are in the midst of contract negotiations, and have voted to strike on Sept. 19 should an agreement fail to be reached. That might not sound huge compared to the potential of a UAW labor strike, but Canada assembles more than people might think. Canadian plants build the Chrysler 300, Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Voyager, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Silverado HD, Ford Edge, and Lincoln Nautilus.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific, Reuters reports that unionized Hyundai auto workers in South Korea have also voted to strike should labor negotiations thoroughly break down. So what concessions is the union demanding? Well, let’s take a look.
The union is seeking a minimum basic monthly pay increase of 184,900 won ($139) and a performance pay equating to 30% of Hyundai’s 2022 net profit. It is also demanding an increase to the retirement age to 64 from 60.
Well, that seems doable. Raising the retirement age is reportedly meant to compensate for low pension replacement rates, and although multiplying an extra $139 per month in base pay by 44,000 union members results in a yearly figure of 73,392,000, it’s not outrageous in the grand scheme of things.
Should these aforementioned unions fail to reach collective labor agreements with automakers, the shock to the new car supply chain could be impressive. If you’re seriously shopping for a new car built in a potentially affected factory, you might want to find something on the lot now. There’s a definite possibility that inventory could be scarce for a bit.
We knew this would come eventually, right? With Hellcat-powered Mopar car production winding down, the end of the awe-inspiring 702-horsepower Ram TRX pickup truck has been announced. By the end of 2023, the last supercharged Ram will roll off the factory floor, marking the end of a gloriously ridiculous era. To commemorate this short but incredible burn-the-candle-at-both-ends four model year production run, Ram has announced a special 6.2L Supercharged V8 Final Edition model.
Limited to 4,000 units, the Final Edition throws everything and the kitchen sink at the Ram TRX just because it can. From beadlock-capable wheels to a Harman/Kardon stereo, pretty much everything you could want comes standard here. As a bonus, Ram is offering the TRX Final Edition in three new colors: Delmonico Red, Night Edge Blue, and Harvest Sunrise. At $119,620 including freight, it certainly isn’t a cheap truck, but it feels like the sort of vehicle we may never see from Stellantis again. Or could we? Ram CEO Tim Kuniskis stated in a press release, “This current chapter in Ram’s high-performance trucks is coming to a close, but it’s not the end of TRX’s story.” Perhaps some future TRX will come along with a very different powertrain. Stellantis has been investing heavily into electrification, and an electrically-assisted or wholly electric dune jumper doesn’t seem out of the question just yet.
An Unexpected Shutdown
Earlier this week, Toyota was forced to pause production in all of its Japanese assembly plants due to a software issue with its ordering system. Production has since resumed, but the incident really makes you wonder what went wrong. Well, on the bright side, it doesn’t seem like a cyberattack. Reuters reports that the cause of the shutdown may be more relatable than you’d think.
A malfunction that shut down all of Toyota Motor Corp’s plants in Japan on Tuesday happened during an update of the automaker’s parts ordering system, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
I’m sure anyone who’s experienced an ill-timed Windows update can sympathize, although that typically doesn’t have the side effect of shutting down assembly plants at one of the world’s major automakers. If anything, this latest snag helps show further cracks in the armor of just-in-time parts delivery. If parts show up seamlessly on an as-needed basis, just-in-time is a lean, cost-effective way of making cars. However, if a supplier encounters a snag or if parts aren’t ordered, vehicles often cannot be made. A period of time without production is extremely costly, so perhaps some sort of balance between just-in-time and stockpiling parts is needed. A few days worth of parts on hand could be a sound insurance policy, should warehousing costs not prove prohibitive. Oh, and vertical integration is attracting more and more interest, with automakers like Volkswagen looking to build more components in-house. If the last half-century has been largely defined by the Toyota Production System, the next half-century could look radically different.
Not The Bees!
From tomatoes to beer, spilled loads of all sorts have wreaked havoc on roads, but that only scratches the surface of weird cargo upsets. How about millions of bees? That’s exactly what happened on Wednesday in Burlington, Ont., Canada, roughly 30 miles outside of Toronto. As CBC News reports:
“We’re not sure how or what exactly took place but at some point the boxes containing bees or beehives slid off the trailer and spilled all over the road,” Ryan Anderson, media relations officer with HRPS told CBC News.
The routine business of an estimated five million bees was rudely interrupted by the load spilling, which sounds overwhelming until you learn that roughly 80,000 bees inhabited each hive. Beekeepers were on the scene ASAP, managing to get the bulk of the bees back in their homes by mid-morning, although some pollinators remain at large. Needless to say, drivers in the area are being asked to keep their windows up.
Labor contract negotiations are obviously affected by changes in living conditions, but what about the love of cars in general? Over the past few years, we’ve seen cars and parts are get more expensive, gas prices fluctuate wildly, and insurance in certain jurisdictions is get sticky. Not necessarily great things for automotive enthusiasm. My big question is: How are you doing? Have the past few years tempered your automotive goals, or do you still find the hobby just as fun as it always was?
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