Home » Is Detroit Ready For A Union Fight With Everyone’s No-Nonsense Uncle?

Is Detroit Ready For A Union Fight With Everyone’s No-Nonsense Uncle?

Uncle Shawn Fein Uaw
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It’s being widely reported that the United Auto Workers are going to present Detroit automakers with an “audacious” plan to try to recoup wages lost to inflation and concessions made during the Great Recession. A union fight is nothing new, but what’s new is the leadership of the UAW, run by a guy who is giving real “uncle” vibes.

If you’re not into labor stuff we’re going to talk about the blisteringly hot Indian SUV market and Fisker’s not-so-hot production plans.

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Uncle Shawn Doesn’t Have Time For Your Nonsense

Shawn Fain Uaw
Photo: UAW

If you’re lucky, you’ve got both kinds of uncles in your family: The Uncle who helps you get into trouble and the Uncle who helps you get out of that trouble. The former is the one who buys you the illegal fireworks and shows you how to mount a Roman Candle launcher to your Jeep. The other guy shows up to explain to the cops that this was a physics projects and promises that you’ll definitely help replant that ficus.

Shawn Fain, the man who was elected to lead the United Auto Workers before perhaps their most pivotal negotiation in century, feels like the second kind of Uncle. A former electrician from a then-Chrysler plant in Indiana, Fain ran against the long-entrenched incumbent UAW administration as someone who wasn’t going to pretend to fight and then rollover. He won, barely, and so far he seems to be sticking to his guns.

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If you’re really bored you can watch the video above of Fain, in a livestream, laying out the reasons why he thinks UAW workers deserve more compensation, which are, essentially:

  • Automakers are posting record profits.
  • They’re saying they’re using those profits for the EV transition.
  • They’re actually using some of these profits for share buybacks, special dividends, and executive compensation.
  • With the incoming EV transition, labor demands more protections for future job losses, et cetera.

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in anti-labor Texas, but my sense of what a UAW leader should be is a boisterous, aggressive, Jimmy Hoffa type and I cannot quite wrap my head around Fain’s tough-but-fair high school physics teacher mood. The real telling bit in all of this is in the video above when Fain complains that he worked as a national negotiator, only to have the UAW President and UAW President’s Office make a backroom deal with the companies. He says, quite clearly, that he’s not going to do that.

More details will surely come out this week, but Automotive News has a preview of the ask, which includes:

The gains would include a 20 percent raise upon ratification, followed by 5 percent raises each year of the four-year deal, according to the people, who requested anonymity discussing the negotiations.

General Motors seems, to some degree, on board with wage increases, but has issues with other demands (the end of two-tier worker pay, the return of Cost-Of-Living-Adjustemnts, et cetera). Here’s a statement they made in response to Fain’s video:

The breadth and scope of the Presidential Demands, at face value, would threaten our ability to do what’s right for the long-term benefit of the team. A fair agreement rewards our employees and also enables GM to maintain our momentum now and into the future. It’s an exciting time to be part of GM, as our entire manufacturing team can benefit from leading in the EV transformation. We think it’s important to protect U.S. manufacturing and jobs in an industry that is dominated by non-unionized competition.

You can hear the subtle implication that more cars could surely be built in non-union places, which most foreign automakers are currently doing.

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I don’t know where this ends up and, surely, both the UAW and automakers will have to each find ways to bend and compromise to make a deal. That’s the nature of negotiation.

But is Detroit ready for this guy and his volunteer JV baseball third base coach schtick? I’m not so sure. I’m wondering if Detroit automakers aren’t going to start missing the older, corrupt generation of UAW leaders.

UPS Workers Avoid A Strike

Upsdrivers
Photo: Teamsters

I’ve got a buddy who is a UPS driver, and the talk over the last few months was over who was going to strike longer: the UPS/Teamsters union (of which he is a member) or the Writers Guild of America (of which I am a member). Well, we know how that worked out, because the WGA and SAG-AFTRA are now on strike and UPS workers, it seems, have avoided one.

From Reuters:

The tentative deal covering 340,000 Teamsters-represented workers at United Parcel Service (UPS.N) averted a threatened strike that could have wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy by disrupting about a quarter of the nation’s parcel shipments.

In a meeting in Washington on Monday, Teamsters local leaders voted 161-1 for the deal. The agreement would raise wages for all UPS workers, provide another paid holiday, end a two-tier wage system for drivers and add air conditioning to new models of the company’s ubiquitous brown trucks, according to the Teamsters.

Teamsters know how to strike and are not afraid to get active, so it’s interesting to see that the UPS/Teamsters workers union (arguably, the best organized and most effective union in the United States), managed to avoid a showdown. Is this a recognition from corporations that it’s better to make a quick deal than risk rocking a boat that’s currently full of gold? Is this a result of historically low unemployment? Will this help the UAW? Questions, questions, questions.

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Indian Carmaker Profits Way Up In Q1

Mahindra Thar

We don’t talk about India often, though it’s a huge and important growing car market.

Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s biggest automakers (along with Tata and Maruti-Suzuki), saw profits nearly double with a year-over-year quarterly increase of 98%. Here’s the skinny from the The Economic Times:

Auto major Mahindra and Mahindra on Friday has reported a standalone net profit of Rs 2,774 crore for the quarter ended June 2023, up 98% from Rs 1,404 crore clocked in the last year period.

The profit beat the ET Now Poll estimate of Rs 1,923 crore.

It’s not the only company doing well. Maruti-Suzuki saw profits up by nearly 250% and Tata saw its quarterly balance sheet improve from a loss in 2022 to a profit in Q1 of 2023. Where’s this money coming from? Obviously, the easing of supply chain woes is helping all automakers, but it’s particularly an increase in Indian purchasing power that’s leading to to consumers picking up SUVs.

From The Deccan Herald:

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Sales of utility vehicles (UVs) have also outpaced overall passenger vehicle (PV) sales growth so far this year. UVs generally cost two to three times more than compact cars or sedans. Their sales grew around 18 per cent in the quarter to June, compared to a 9.4 per cent rise in sales of PVs.

Man, now I want a RWD Mahindra Thar (pictured).

Fisker Is Making Money, But Not Making Vehicles Fast Enough

Fisker Ocean 1

The Fisker experiment is an interesting one, as the EV carmaker isn’t actually making cars. Instead, it’s been outsourcing production to Magna Steyr, the Austrian arm of Canadian supplier giant Magna. How’s that going?

Fiskerati did a dive through the company’s Q2 guidance and found a pretty steep reduction in planned production:

[D]uring Q2 2023, Fisker produced 1,022 vehicles, and in July, they produced 1,009 units, which had fewer working hours due to the planned Magna Steyr annual summer shutdown. The calendar 2023 production forecast was updated to a range of 20,000-23,000 units due to a short-term capacity constraint at one supplier. This new guidance, down from 32,000-36,000 units, assumes support from Fisker’s suppliers and partners to meet this volume and ramp up production.

That’s pretty bad, but at least Fisker is making and selling cars.

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The Big Question

Has anyone actually seen a Fisker Ocean on the road? A Lucid Air? A VinFast?

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Who Knows
Who Knows
11 months ago

Other than lots of Rivians all the time, last weekend we saw a bunch of camouflaged Mercedes coming from cottonwood pass, including what looked like some G wagons without tailpipes, perhaps G wagon EVs? We only got an ok view of one, that looked like a standard G wagon, solid rear axle, but couldn’t see a tailpipe.

Ncbrit
Ncbrit
11 months ago

I’ve never seen a Fisker Ocean on the road, let alone the rode.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
11 months ago
Reply to  Ncbrit

…but have you seen one in the ocean?

Peter Andruskiewicz
Peter Andruskiewicz
11 months ago

I’ve seen both a Lucid Air and a group of 2 VinFasts here in Ann Arbor, but they were all M-plates. That means they’re likely either development mules by their manufacturer, being tested by the EPA at their facility here, being competitively tested by rival manufacturers or a comp-eval house like Munroe, A2Mac1 etc, or here for review by Car & Driver or another media outlet.

Lots of Rivian R1T & R1S’s, Ford F150 Lightnings (in fact, I think the town itself owns a few now), a few Hummer H1s etc around too. Only one Cadillac Lyric in the wild so far though.

Last edited 11 months ago by Peter Andruskiewicz
H T
H T
11 months ago

I see the occasional Lucid on the highway. Looks absolutely massive, even next to all the massive trucks and SUVs.

Data
Data
11 months ago

Considering Vinfast only registered 128 cars between January and May, that’s likely to be a Unicorn. I live in Memphis. I see people on here who live in car meccas. They see all sorts of fancy cars, Ferrari, Lambo, Bentleys, etc. I see clapped out Altima’s and lifted super-duty/heavy-duty trucks. With that in mind, I have seen two Rivian R1Ts and one F-150 Lightning cruising around. I don’t expect to see a Fisker, Lucid, or Vinfast ever.

MH7
MH7
11 months ago
Reply to  Data

There’s at least one hummer ev cruising around Germantown, and I saw what I assume was an equinox EV yesterday

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
11 months ago

laughing at the idea of a website entirely dedicated to fisker

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago

I’ve never seen any of the above listed cars in the wild. I did once see a Fisker Karma driving around in 2018 though.

If you’re lucky, you’ve got both kinds of uncles in your family: The Uncle who helps you get into trouble and the Uncle who helps you get out of that trouble. The former is the one who buys you the illegal fireworks and shows you how to mount a Roman Candle launcher to your Jeep. The other guy shows up to explain to the cops that this was a physics projects and promises that you’ll definitely help replant that focus.

To my nieces, I’m both uncles in the same person. If you want to do things that can get you into trouble, do so in a way that you don’t get caught. Plan ahead, KNOW what you are doing along with the potential implications, don’t harm anyone, and have contingency plans for things that may go wrong. I did all kinds of fun/illegal things as a kid and never got caught. 🙂

Stacks
Stacks
11 months ago

I’m still psyched to see a Rivian now and then, I haven’t noticed anything rarer than that. I did see my first SUV variant recently.

Last edited 11 months ago by Stacks
Dar Khorse
Dar Khorse
11 months ago
Reply to  Stacks

I see Rivians almost every day here in Colorado. I can’t afford one but I’m glad to see them out and about. Maybe I’ll be able to get a used one one day?

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
11 months ago

I keep waiting to see a Lucid. I saw my first Nikola a few weeks ago (on a flatbed) which should be considerably harder to do.

Njd
Njd
11 months ago

I saw a Lucid for the first time a week ago. It looked nice!

Paul B
Paul B
11 months ago

See lots of Vinfasts on my commute here in Montreal. There’s a dealership opening up soon and their lot is full, but the showroom isn’t ready.

Also saw my first Lyriq yesterday. Jason should do a deep dive on the rear lights on them.

Dwegmull
Dwegmull
11 months ago

I’ve seen Lucids but then again, my office used to be across the street from their headquarters… I don’t think I’ve seen a Vinfast yet, but I might have been near one and not realized it as they look quite generic.
I want to see an Ocean in person as I think they are supposed to be small (or whatever passes for small these days).

DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago

I wonder what would happen if GM & Ford went full German and invited labor into the boardroom.

SarlaccRoadster
SarlaccRoadster
11 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

That could only happen through govt intervention, just as it did in Germany post-WW2.

They’d rather set the company on fire than ever do that without a fight.

Last edited 11 months ago by SarlaccRoadster
Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
11 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

The UAW does own about 10% of General Motors and had a seat on the board until 2018. They would probably like to get that back at some point, but I guess there’s other priorities right now

Space
Space
11 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

I wonder if the UAW could just buy stock in the automakers to muscle their way in, is that even allowed?

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago

Several Rivians in town, both trucks and SUVs. Tons of them out west when I was on vacation.

I’ve seen a couple Lucids.

Nothing else from any of the startups.

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
11 months ago

Sometimes I feel like 9/10 Rivians are sold in Colorado

DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago
Reply to  TheHairyNug

I saw a high school kid in one at the mtn bike trails here in Maine. WTF dad, buy me one too.

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
11 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Where do you bike in Maine? I’ve only ever done Blackstrap

DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago
Reply to  TheHairyNug

I mostly ride the Camden Snow Bowl, it’s 5 minutes from my house. Also Thomaston Town Forest are really well maintained trails. For a road trip, Saddleback and Sugarloaf are awesome.

TheHairyNug
TheHairyNug
11 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

I’m actually going to be in Mid Coast this September. Got any recommendations for bike rentals? The Side Country at the snow bowl does demos, but that’s my best lead so far

Frankencamry
Frankencamry
11 months ago
Reply to  TheHairyNug

I live an hour from the factory. Some days I think they outnumber the Teslas around here.

Drew
Drew
11 months ago

I don’t think I’ll see a VinFast any time soon, but the Lucid I saw looked pretty nice. I’d love a Rivian R1T, but I wouldn’t love to pay $80k. I’ve seen several of them in Idaho, though. I look forward to seeing an Ocean in the wild, but I haven’t yet.

LTDScott
LTDScott
11 months ago

I’ve seen one VinFast, a few Lucid Airs, but the only Fiskers I’ve seen are the mustachio’d cars.

Skurdnee
Skurdnee
11 months ago

Shawn Fain is awesome and I hope the UAW gets what they’re asking for; GM’s $5B in share buybacks last year alone could cover all of what the UAW wants. It’s disgusting to see $80k Silverados and the Blazer EV being priced at $60k when the labor in Mexico that are assembling it are paid $2 an hour. Supervisors in these plants are making less than $30k a year. Fuck all of these automakers.

https://truthout.org/articles/mexican-gm-workers-win-an-8-5-percent-wage-hike-in-first-union-contract/

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/General-Motors-GM-Ramos-Arizpe-Salaries-EI_IE279.0,17_IL.18,30_IC3494369.htm

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
11 months ago

I saw a Rivian the other day. It was nice looking and a little smaller than I thought it would be.

10001010
10001010
11 months ago

I’ve seen 2 Lucid Airs, several Rivians, and finally yesterday spotted my first GR Corolla.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

“On the rode?” Is this a hip new way to say being driven?

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
11 months ago

Saw my first Lucid on the road in Michigan last week. Looked nice. But still wonder if they are real cars, as in made in real volumes.

Stones4
Stones4
11 months ago

I’ve seen a Fisker on the road, it definitely was attention grabbing, in a “that doesn’t look like something I recognize, what is it?” Rather than a “wow that’s a beautiful car” way. I’ve seen a lucid at work; it looks so much better in person than it ever does in pictures, it’s got some serious presence. Yet to see a Vinfast anywhere

Last edited 11 months ago by Stones4
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

Another important piece of news: Car and Driver is reporting that Mercedes has heard the rampant backlash against their ridiculously overstressed 4 cylinder hybrid nonsense in cars like the C63 and is planning to bring their 4 liter V8 back to the C and E Class as early as 2026. It’ll still be paired with some hybrid wizardry, as will the still V8 upcoming M5, but hey…V8s living on is incredible news, comrades!

I’ve seen a few Lucids on the road and expect to see Fiskers soon. I live in DC, where the combination of ultra wealth and virtue signaling with electric vehicles is as potent as anywhere. Having the fanciest EV of your friends is the ultimate limousine liberal flex. I see Rivians all the time at this point.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago

The old adage “there’s no replacement for displacement” mostly holds true. The exception is of course electric drive systems. If Mercedes wants to have big horsepower numbers using a 4-cylinder hybrid, they should increase the size/power of the hybrid drive, nd have less output from the 4-cylinder to keep it under-stressed. Turbos shouldn’t ever be necessary in a hybrid, either.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Although I certainly wouldn’t bet on the turbo V8 set up being reliable, I’m inherently less stressed about them getting 600+ horsepower out of a hybrid setup with than than with a 2 liter turbo 4 that’s making over 200 horsepower per liter. I can’t even begin to imagine how expensive the current C63 would be to own out of warranty.

3WiperB
3WiperB
11 months ago

I’ve saw a Vinfast in light camouflage last month. I’ve seen a few Lucid Airs, including one yesterday in matte black. I have not seen a Fisker (outside of a few Karma’s).

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