Latest Solidarity Issue

Save our economy: Buy a union-made vehicle

10/14/10

UAW releases the 2011 Union-Made Vehicles list

Undoubtedly someone will tell you they support jobs in the United States because they bought a vehicle made at a U.S. plant, even if it is nonunion.

Sure, those jobs may be filled by Americans, but there’s no way that their purchase supports as many jobs in the United States than if they bought a union-built vehicle. Why support our struggling economy just a little when you can do more?

2011 Union-Built Vehicles Guide photo
U.S.-based automakers directly employ about two-thirds of all American autoworkers.

“It matters a great deal who built your vehicle,” said UAW President Bob King. “When you buy union-made, you help support the middle class. One of the best ways to support our country, our states and our local communities is to buy a top-quality, union-made vehicle.”

The UAW has released its 2011 Union-Made Vehicles list, which thousands of consumers use not only to look for excellent, best in class vehicles, but to make sure their purchase supports the middle class.

You’ll notice that some of the vehicles on the list are made by our union brothers and sisters in the Canadian Auto Workers union. The UAW proudly recommends these fine vehicles because UAW members make a significant portion of the engines, transmissions and other components.
 
“There’s a lot of U.S.-manufactured content in these vehicles that our UAW brothers and sisters make,” King said. “When you buy these vehicles, you are supporting decent wages and fair working conditions in both countries.”

Some other handy facts about the domestic auto industry:

  • The U.S.-based automakers directly employ about two-thirds of all American autoworkers, some 300,000.
  • Another 3 million U.S. workers are directly or indirectly dependent on the U.S.-based automakers in jobs in the automotive parts industry, automotive research, design and engineering, and in jobs created by money spent on goods and services from the automotive industry and its workers.
  • Ford, GM and Chrysler sell less than half the cars bought in the United States, but they buy about two-thirds of the parts made in the United States.
  • U.S.-based automakers buy much of the steel, rubber and semiconductors made in the United States; conduct more R&D than any other industry and have invested more than $230 billion in new plants and infrastructure over the past 25 years.
  • Investment in R&D has a big impact on whether tomorrow’s best jobs remain in the United States. In 2009, U.S.-based automakers spent $17.5 billion on R&D and 80 cents of every dollar was spent in the United States. U.S.-based automakers do the bulk of their research, design and engineering in the United States, unlike the foreign automakers.
  • From 2001 to 2005, the U.S.-based automakers invested more in U.S. plants and infrastructure than all the foreign automakers together invested over the past 25 years. Eighty-six cents of every dollar automakers invested in America came from Ford, GM or Chrysler; the remaining 14 cents came from all the foreign automakers combined.
  • Chrysler, Ford and GM manufacture vehicles with more domestic content across their fleets than the foreign brands. As an example, averaged across fleets, Chrysler’s domestic content is 76 percent; Ford, 64 percent; GM, 64 percent; Honda, 63 percent; Toyota 46 percent and Nissan, 31 percent. If the U.S.-based automakers’ domestic content shrank to the same level as the foreign automakers, it would mean $49 billion less spent in the United States, costing more than 1 million U.S. jobs.

And let’s not forget that for the past several years, vehicles made by U.S.-based automakers have consistently been ranked high, if not the highest, in several quality categories in the esteemed, annual J.D. Power vehicle quality studies. In fact, in the 2010 J.D. Power Quality study results, U.S.-based automakers' cars ranked in the top three of 12 categories and ranked first over foreign-company brands in six of the 12 categories.

2011 Union-Built Vehicles list -- worker
Vehicles made by U.S.-based automakers have consistently been ranked high, if not the highest, in several quality categories.

 

In the July, 2010 J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) that measures customer satisfaction, domestic brands ranked higher than foreign brands. Domestic manufacturers won eight of the top 20 ranked vehicles, with Ford winning the highest award in five segments – more than any other manufacturer.

Domestic brands had an average score of 787 points on a 1,000-point scale, 13 points higher than the overall score of foreign brands.

Let’s also not forget that many nonunion auto companies violate their U.S. workers’ First Amendment rights to free speech and association by viciously fighting their workers when they express a desire to organize.

These same corporations allow workers in their home countries the right to organize and collectively bargain.  Should our American workers be given fewer rights and less respect?

Buying a union-built vehicle does make a huge difference. Happy shopping.
 

 

Vince Piscopo

UAW looks beyond autos to help workers

By Bob King

Many have noticed that the UAW has become more vocal and active in standing up for economic justice outside our union.

We've taken strong positions protesting Wall Street banks that helped cause the current economic crisis -- and are now foreclosing on hard-hit property owners in Detroit. We're supporting farm workers in North Carolina who want the right to organize.

We're working with the Rainbow PUSH coalition to promote an agenda of "Jobs, Justice and Peace" for our country and will be marching with them on Aug. 28 here in Detroit. We will participate with the NAACP and other allies in the "One Nation, Working Together" march on Oct. 2 in Washington, calling for jobs for all.

We plan much more.

It's fair to ask why: What difference does it make to our members in manufacturing plants or at casino tables, insurance companies, colleges, hospitals and elsewhere?

We've always been at the forefront of social justice campaigns, whether it was providing office space to Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 so he could preview his "I Have a Dream Speech," walking with Cesar Chavez as he fought for farm workers in California's vineyards or working with Nelson Mandela to end apartheid.

We've always been there for others seeking justice. It's the right thing to do. We also know that a "rising tide raises all boats" so that when we win social and economic justice for any other workers, we are strengthening our members' ability to win and maintain fair standards of living and social and economic justice with their employers.

And you know there is a wonderful phenomenon in life: When you do the right thing, the right moral and spiritual "thing," unintended and unexpected benefits come back to you. This has certainly been my experience.

Right now, the UAW is running a campaign to convince Toyota to respect workers' First Amendment rights to freedom of association and free speech.

Toyota has run a decades-long battle against its nonunion workers who simply want a fair union representation election, free of management's fear and intimidation tactics. Our top priority is workers' right to organize for a voice on the job in the United States and around the globe.

While we welcome Toyota and the other foreign-owned manufacturers and the jobs they provide Americans, it is essential that these corporations respect the fundamental rights of American workers to free speech and assembly.

Unfortunately, it is an irony that many of these foreign-owned corporations like Toyota accept and cooperate with unions in other countries, but when they operate in the United States they treat Americans as second-class global citizens, resisting the workers' right to organize unions.

With a little help from our friends, we're going to expose Toyota until it agrees that its U.S. workers have the legal right to join a union if they so choose -- just like its workers in Japan have.

Workers in China and in other nations are beginning to fight back, launching strikes and other job actions that would have made the UAW sit-downers at General Motors or the veterans of the Battle of the Overpass at Ford Motor Co. proud.

The flow of jobs overseas will never ebb unless we can help workers in China and other countries raise their standard of living.

This will keep more manufacturing jobs from leaving our shores. It will improve our economy so local governments won't have to cut health care, colleges can keep tuition affordable and Americans have a little more spending money.

We'll be out in the streets of Detroit on Aug. 28 and the streets of Washington on Oct. 2 to march for jobs, peace and justice.

The Aug. 28 event will mark the 47th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream Speech," which previewed in Detroit before it was delivered on the Washington Mall.

Hope to see you there.

Bob King is president of the UAW. This opinion piece first appeared in the Aug. 4 edition of the Detroit News.

Buying UAW-built vehicles matters to our economy

08/01/10

It happens occasionally, and when it does it’s almost always contentious: Someone tries to drive a non-UAW made vehicle into the parking lot of a UAW building and they get turned away. It happened again recently, only this time the person turned away was a reporter from the Kansas City Business Journal who was trying to cover the signing of the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act, which could result in tens of millions of dollars for a major UAW employer – Ford Motor Co. The signing was a good story for the UAW, but in a blog post the reporter also was critical of the UAW about his parking experience at Local 249.

UAW President Bob King used the blog post to create a teaching moment not only for the reporter who wanted to park his Toyota Camry in Local 249’s parking lot, but for those who think simply buying a car made in the United States is as helpful to American workers and the U.S. economy as is buying a UAW-made car.

Here is UAW President Bob King’s response to that post. He outlines why driving a Toyota Camry isn’t the same as driving a UAW-made vehicle:

 

“Dear Mr. Dornbrook:

Thank you for covering the signing of the Missouri Automotive Manufacturing Jobs Act. It’s an important measure for the overall health of American automotive manufacturing and for workers who depend on good jobs at auto plants, their suppliers and other businesses dependent on these plants and the revenue and tax dollars they generate.

We are sorry you were inconvenienced and had to worry about where your car was parked while you covered the signing. The UAW member you encountered in the UAW Local 249 parking lot meant no personal disrespect to you. Accommodating vehicles not made by UAW brothers and sisters is a passionate subject for our members. He and UAW members across the country know that foreign automakers who allow workers to freely join unions in their home countries, while denying that same right to U.S. workers are denying the First Amendment right of American workers to freely organize. Yet foreign automakers accept U.S. taxpayer’s dollars in incentives to build assembly plants in the United States, jeopardizing the future of middle-class workers in the domestic auto industry.

Here are some facts you may want to consider about the domestic auto industry:

  • The U.S.-based automakers directly employ nearly 300,000 employees – about two-thirds of all American auto workers.
  • Nearly three million U.S. workers are directly or indirectly dependent on the U.S.-based automakers in jobs in the automotive parts industry, automotive research, design and engineering, and in jobs created by money spent on goods and services from the automotive industry and its workers.
  • Ford, GM and Chrysler sell less than half the cars bought in the United States, but they buy about two-thirds of the parts made in the United States.
  • U.S.-based automakers buy much of the steel, rubber and semiconductors made in the United States; conduct more R&D than any other industry and have invested more than $230 billion in new plants and infrastructure over the past 25 years.
  • Investment in R&D has a big impact on whether tomorrow’s best jobs remain in the United States. In 2009, U.S.-based automakers spent $17.5 billion on R&D and 80 cents of every dollar was spent in the United States. U.S.-based automakers do the bulk of their research, design and engineering in the United States, unlike the foreign automakers.
  • From 2001 to 2005, the U.S.-based automakers invested more in U.S. plants and infrastructure than all the foreign automakers together invested over the past 25 years. Eighty-six cents of every dollar automakers invested in America came from Ford, GM or Chrysler; the remaining 14 cents came from all the foreign automakers combined.
  • Unionization of the U.S.-based automakers by the UAW was a major factor in the creation of the post-war middle class in the United States. Unionization gave workers the right to bargain for fair wages and benefits, giving them the means to buy a house, send their children to college and have a secure retirement. Workers need a voice on the job and a place at the table with employers. Union representation provides that and gives workers a ladder to economic stability. The foreign-owned automakers in the United States are mostly nonunion and resist attempts by workers to organize.
  • And quite honestly, all workers’ (union and non-union, manufacturing and service, professional and non-professional) wages and benefits rose when union manufacturing workers raised their wages and benefits through collective bargaining. Health care benefits, pensions, vacations, holidays, and many other benefits and improvements in working conditions were first won in union contracts that later became standard benefits for all workers. And you may have noticed as union workers have been losing some or a portion of these benefits, so have all workers. It is no coincidence.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Camry has 75 percent domestic content. In contrast, Ford produces seven vehicles with 90 percent domestic content. The highest domestic content for any of Toyota’s vehicles is the Sienna, with 85 percent.
  • Chrysler, Ford and GM manufacture vehicles with more domestic content across their fleets than the foreign brands. As an example, averaged across fleets, Chrysler’s domestic content is 76 percent; Ford, 64 percent; GM, 64 percent; Honda, 63 percent; Toyota 46 percent and Nissan, 31 percent. If the U.S.-based automakers’ domestic content shrank to the same level as the foreign automakers, it would mean $49 billion less spent in the United States, costing more than 1 million U.S. jobs.
  • For the past several years, vehicles made by U.S.-based automakers have consistently been ranked high, if not the highest, in several quality categories in the esteemed, annual J.D. Power vehicle quality studies. In fact, in the 2010 J.D. Power Quality study results, U.S.-based automakers' cars ranked in the top three of 12 categories and ranked first over foreign-company brands in six of the 12 categories.
  • In the July, 2010 JD Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) that measures customer satisfaction, domestic brands ranked higher than foreign brands. Domestic manufacturers won eight of the top 20 ranked vehicles, with Ford winning the highest award in five segments – more than any other manufacturer. Domestic brands had an average score of 787 points on a 1,000-point scale, 13 points higher than the overall score of foreign brands.

Buying a U.S./UAW vehicle does make a difference.

Thank you for your attention to this and for covering issues important to American workers. We look forward to hearing from you in the future.”
 

These are important points for us to share the next time someone tells us it doesn’t matter that their U.S.-built Toyota or Honda wasn’t assembled by our UAW sisters and brothers. It does matter. Who builds those cars builds the American middle-class, which the UAW had a major part in creating. Let’s keep it that way.

 

New York Times: Toyota still doesn’t get it

08/01/10

There’s more news about how Toyota has lost its way when it comes to being a responsible corporate citizen. The New York Times, in a July 24 editorial, says Toyota has “repeatedly failed to report potentially deadly problems.”

By rule, all automakers are required to report flaws in the vehicles within five days of detection. Yet, the Times says Toyota issued a recall in Japan regarding problems with steering wheel relay rods. But it didn’t do so in the United States, because of “different driving conditions.”

It kind of sounds like it has two different standards. We’ve heard this before: Toyota allows its workers in Japan to unionize without fear and intimidation from management. In the United States, it has a completely different standard for its workers when it comes to organizing. Why is that?

UAW statement in support of China's autoworkers' struggle for higher wages and true trade union representation

06/24/10

The UAW today released the following statement on the labor unrest in China's auto plants:

The one million active and retired members of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) stand in solidarity with Chinese autoworkers who in recent weeks have escalated their struggle for higher wages, safer working conditions, and the establishment of independent trade unions. The current wave of labor unrest began with a spontaneous strike at a Honda component manufacturing plant in Guangdong province and has now spread to Toyota parts plants in Tianjin and elsewhere throughout southeast China’s industrial belt.
 
The Chinese government has used the suppression of wages and worker rights, manipulation of its currency, and heavy subsidization of industry to create an extremely attractive investment environment for foreign-based automotive manufacturers. In addition to Honda and Toyota, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler-Fiat have established profitable joint-venture operations with Chinese auto companies, as have the Europeans (Daimler and Volkswagen) and Koreans (Hyundai and Kia).  
 
So-called “unions” in China are affiliated under the Communist Party-dominated All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), which, in turn, is heavily influenced by both domestic and foreign corporations.  The maintenance of foreign direct investment apparently takes priority over the promotion of basic human rights. The 2010 U.S. State Department’s Annual Report on Human Rights characterized the ACFTU as “generally unassertive and ineffective in protecting the rights and interests of members.”
 
In the absence of real unions in China to prevent the harsh exploitation of Chinese auto workers, the global automakers are able to suppress wages and worker rights at their operations throughout the world, including here in the United States. The world’s major manufacturers, regardless of country of origin, are shifting production to those locations where wages are low and unions non-existent, whether they be in China, India, Mexico, or regions of the United States. The threat, or reality, of such production transfers weakens the ability of American workers to achieve and maintain higher wages and better benefits.
 
The strikes and protests taking place in China now are a reaction to the same anti-worker, anti-union business strategy employed by many companies here in the United States. When American Honda, Toyota, or Hyundai workers attempt to organize, the companies threaten to fire them or move their jobs. The behavior of Toyota management in China is not much different than here in the United States where, earlier this year, Toyota decided to cease production of its profitable Corolla at its only UAW-represented plant (NUMMI) in California and to move thousands of jobs to an assembly plant under construction in non-union Mississippi.
 
The UAW stands in solidarity with China’s autoworkers and their reasonable demands for higher wages, shorter working hours, and unions that truly represent their economic interests. We call on Honda, Toyota, and other auto manufacturers to improve the living standards of their employees by implementing a genuine system of collective bargaining.
 

UAW partners with our allies at U.S. Social Forum

06/23/10

DETROIT -- The UAW was born 75 years ago this year so that workers could share in the wealth created by their labor, obtain justice for working people, and have a voice in their future.

But the gains we have made are never guaranteed. Indeed, today they remain under attack by corporations that care only for the bottom line. The UAW is proud to participate in the United States Social Forum in Detroit as a way of demonstrating our solidarity with other community-based social justice organizations that share our concern for workers’ rights, economic fairness and social justice for all.

“We’re proud to associate ourselves with this great event that brings together hundreds of community-based organizations to discuss ways we can bring about social justice,” said UAW President Bob King. “It’s not only an opportunity to share ideas with like-minded organizations, it’s also a way for us to make the public – particularly young people – aware of issues affecting working Americans.”

United States Social Forum promoThe full schedule for the forum, which runs through Friday, is available at the USSF website. The UAW is involved in many of the programs:

  • Faith, Labor and Community Alliances – Word & World: Join Baldemar Velazquez/FLOC; Nelson Johnson/BCC Greensboro; Bob King/UAW; Kim Bobo/IWJ, and Charles Williams/AFSCME. Labor and faith creating a vision and strategy for social transformation. What is community unionism? How can the religious presence not merely support economic struggle, but reframe it morally and socially? Thursday, 10 a.m. to Noon, Christ Church, 960 E. Jefferson Ave.
  • The UAW and Toyota: Toyota has Lost its Way. ...It is time to Organize! UAW President Bob King, Vice President Jimmy Settles, Harley Shaiken and Ron Carver discuss the changing Toyota Corporation and the opportunities for organizing. Wednesday, 1-5:30 p.m., Cobo Hall, W1-51.
  • Open Forum and Conversation: Creating Common Ground! Creating Stronger Allies and Building a 21st Century Social Movement! Learning, listening and organizing in the South: It takes a village to build social justice! A call to activists from the South to join in dialogue with the UAW. Friday, 10 a.m. to Noon. UAW-Ford National Program Center on Jefferson Avenue next to Cobo Hall.
  • New Strategies Membership Education and Mobilization: UAW Region 1A Director Rory Gamble, staff, local leadership, membership and activists from the Metro area will share their work, activism and plans for their labor-community organizing. Thursday, 1-4 p.m. at the UAW-Ford National Program Center on Jefferson Avenue next to Cobo Hall.
  • Local Union Dances on the Big Stage: UAW Local 174 has shown initiative and creativity around the issue of fighting “free trade agreements." Wednesday, 1-5:30 p.m. at the UAW-Ford National Program Center on Jefferson Avenue next to Cobo Hall.
  • SOAW: School of the Americas Watch: Labor and International Solidarity! Why does our government continue to use our tax money to train and kill trade union organizers in Colombia and throughout Latin America? Thursday, 1-3 p.m., Wayne State University, Manoogian Hall, Room 289.
  • UAW Work Day Projects: Join with others in the community south of Henry Ford Hospital (North Goldberg area) for green demolition projects, constructing two outdoor classrooms designed by youth, erecting fences around a future park or rebuilding a neighborhood porch on Wabash Street. To volunteer, call Rich Feldman at (248) 225-8037.

A large labor tent will be located within the USSF village. The Michigan Labor History Society and Detroit Labor History Tours will conduct tours daily during the event. Information on times and destinations will be available in front of the Ford National Programs Center next to Cobo Hall or at the labor tent.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King: Sow the seeds of economic justice

Tesla should hire former NUMMI workers

05/25/10

Editor's note: The following letter to the editor was sent to various news outlets across the nation:
 
The recent announcement by upstart automaker Tesla Motors Inc. that it will manufacture an electric vehicle at the former New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant is welcome news for Californians.
 
While in the short term it won’t replace all of the 4,500 direct jobs and thousands of supplier and other jobs lost when the Fremont plant closed earlier this year, any additional jobs in a state with a 12.5 percent unemployment rate is significant.
 
Tesla should hire workers who give it the best chance for success: the workers whose productivity has garnered awards for the facility and who have turned out highly profitable automobiles. That means they understand how to work smart and work safe.
 
That also can only mean Tesla should consider former NUMMI workers before all others. The award-winning Toyota Corolla made at the NUMMI plant was the most purchased vehicle in the “Cash for Clunkers” program. NUMMI workers are used to success – they had more than 25 years of it and helped propel Toyota to unimaginable profitability.
 
One of the reasons the workers were so successful was that they were members of UAW Local 2244. Tesla CEO Elon Musk should be applauded for already hiring some of these workers with plans to hire more. I believe former NUMMI workers should receive priority in the hiring process based on their seniority.
 
It was also heartening to read Musk saying Tesla was “neutral” on any possible union organization drive – that Tesla will let workers decide for themselves whether they want a union. This kind of forward thinking will help Tesla hire the best workers and get this exciting venture off to a successful start.
 
I know former NUMMI workers look forward to coming “home” and returning to what they do best: Building great cars that consumers want.
 
Jim Wells, director
Region 5
International Union, UAW

UAW applauds Toyota’s decision to team up with Tesla at the NUMMI facility

05/21/10

The following statement can be attributed to UAW President Ron Gettelfinger:

"Yesterday’s announcement by Toyota and Tesla Motors Inc. that the companies will team up to manufacture an electric vehicle at the former New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont, Calif., is welcome news for the state's economy and workers after the closing of this highly productive plant in March.

“On Tuesday of this week the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers was the lead sponsor for a summit on Auto Communities and the Next Economy, highlighting the importance of partnerships to revitalize our nation’s automotive communities and build on the skills of the automotive workforce. The decision by Toyota and Tesla to join together in this venture is exactly the type of partnership to spur growth in auto communities that the conference addressed.

“We appreciate the leadership demonstrated by Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota and Tesla CEO Elon Musk by investing in this community and worksite.
  
 "Our union's hope is that this venture will give first hiring preference to former NUMMI employees who are already trained and highly skilled.”

 

UAW NUMMI workers in California ratify plant closing agreement

03/17/10

FREMONT, Calif. – About 4,500 UAW Local 2244 members have ratified a closing agreement for the Fremont, Calif., plant with New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI). In today's ratification vote, members of Local 2244 approved the agreement by a margin of 90 percent.

NUMMI is scheduled to close the facility on April 1, 2010.

UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Transnational and Joint Ventures Department, praised members of the Local 2244 bargaining committee for their hard work and solidarity. "We are all deeply saddened to see these operations come to an end," said Settles. "While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, the terms of this agreement will certainly help cushion the impact for our members."

The UAW and NUMMI reached a tentative agreement March 15. "We are grateful to the members for the solidarity they've shown throughout this process," said UAW Region 5 Director Jim Wells. "We also want to thank our brothers and sisters in the labor movement, community leaders and consumers across the country for the support they've given the NUMMI workers."