Auto

Auto/Economy
11:43 am
Mon October 10, 2011

UAW and Chrysler temporarily halt contract talks

Top officials with the United Auto Workers are briefing local union leaders on contract talks with Chrysler today, after negotiators were unable to come to an agreement over the weekend.

A statement from Chrysler says talks ended this morning so the UAW could meet with its National Council.

Chrysler is the last of the Detroit Three to reach a tentative contract with the UAW.  General Motors workers last week ratified a new four-year contract by a margin of two-to-one.

Ford workers are voting this week on a new contract.

Both the contract at Ford and General Motors provide for a pay increase for the company's entry-level workers.

But Chrysler has many more of the entry-level workers than Ford and GM.  Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has called the pay increase at Ford and GM "overly generous."

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Economy
1:00 am
Sun October 9, 2011

Wayne County set to start second round of tax auction

Detroit1701 flickr

People interested in purchasing tax-foreclosed properties in Wayne County have until Friday to submit deposits.

The second round of this year’s auction starts the following week. The minimum bid for all properties is $500.

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Auto/Economy
5:00 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

UM economist expects slower job growth in 2012

A Ford assembly plant.
Ford Motor Company

In his economic forecast for Michigan released today, George Fulton, Director of the University of Michigan's Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics wrote that Michigan's economy is recovering from hitting bottom in late 2009, "but it has not been a smooth climb, especially during 2011."

The Detroit Free Press writes that Fulton cut his jobs forecast for 2012.

...he expects just 33,000 new jobs next year, down sharply from his earlier forecast of 61,500 positions.

Fulton expects the total number of jobs created from late 2009 through 2013 to be 187,000.

From the report summary:

The continuation of the recovery is supported by steadily rising vehicle sales and an improved U.S. economy over the next two years. Manufacturing continues to grow through 2013, but the largest job gains are in the service industries, led by health services and professional and business services. Government continues to shrink over the period.

Economy
1:01 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Report: Home sale prices rise in Michigan (but is a fall coming this winter?)

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan home sale prices increased significantly during the past three months. But according to a new report, prices are predicted to take another tumble. 

Michigan home sale prices are down dramatically from their pre-recession highs. However, a new report from Clear Capitol says Michigan home buyers have been paying more in recent months.

“Michigan overall is actually up even more so than the Midwest region. We have them up 8.5 percent on a quarter over quarter basis.  But still down six percent from where prices were a year ago," says Alex Villacorta with Clear Capitol. 

But Villacorta says home sale prices nationally appear to have plateaued and he expects they will decline about 3 percent this winter and even more in Michigan, which he says is more volatile than the national housing market.  

Villacorta says Detroit’s housing market continues to struggle and remains one of the lowest performing home sales markets in the country. He blames this on the fact that one in every three homes on the market has been repossessed by banks that are now trying to sell them at far below market prices.

Economy
4:39 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

New job search site looks at personalities, not just skills

Michigan, Indiana and Ohio lost 57,000 assembly jobs during the recent recession. A job search site hosted by Indiana University includes a personality test to help workers determine other types of work for which they may be suited.
American Panel

Michigan’s unemployed have a new online resource that looks at their personalities as well as their job skills.

A tool long used in evaluating white-collar workers is now being used for people who worked in manufacturing.

Tim Slaper is with the Indiana Business Research Center, which is part of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

The school developed a Web site to help displaced workers look at new options. It includes a personality profile to find out if they like working with other people or prefer solitary jobs, and how they handle conflict.

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Changing Gears
12:16 pm
Wed October 5, 2011

Help Wanted: Why manufacturing temps are in demand

Becky Hall and Shannon Burkel of Staffing Inc. say hiring is off the charts.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

Here are four very bad words you hear a lot these days:

There.  Are.  No.  Jobs.

But it turns out, that’s not entirely true.

Yes, the manufacturing sector lost six million jobs last decade.  But now, staffing agencies that place temporary workers in manufacturing say business is booming.

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Auto/Economy
11:06 am
Wed October 5, 2011

Ford and the UAW

There’s a fair amount of grumbling in union ranks over the new four-year contract the United Auto Workers reached with Ford.

Some workers are unhappy that they failed to gain back concessions, and that there is nothing new for the retirees, who overwhelmingly outnumber those still working on the line.

Ford workers also thought they deserved more than those at GM and Chrysler, mainly because their automaker was the only one not to declare bankruptcy. They get a little more, but not much.

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Auto/Economy
1:03 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Ford-UAW deal includes more jobs and U.S. investment

John Fleming, Ford executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs discusses the UAW agreement with reporters this morning.
screen grab fordahead.com

Update 1:03 p.m.

More details of the UAW-Ford agreement emerged after the UAW's press conference. UAW vice president Jimmy Settles reports winning a "a $6,000 settlement bonus for workers and $7,000 in inflation protection and competitive lump-sum payments over the term of the agreement."

Settles said workers will receive a payment averaging $3,700 this year.

Entry-level wages for new Ford workers are similar to the GM agreement. Their hourly pay was raised to $19.28 over the term of the agreement.

The union details where the investments in jobs and upgraded auto plants will occur in the U.S. saying that "jobs, investment and product guarantees in the tentative agreement include":

  • Flat Rock, Mich., second source for the next generation Fusion and next-generation Mustang.
  • Kansas City, Mo., in-source Transit Commercial Van from Europe.
  • Louisville, Ky., new unnamed vehicle in addition to 2012 Escape.
  • Wayne, Mich., in-source C-Max from Europe in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.
  • Avon Lake, Ohio, in-source medium truck and frame assembly from Mexico, along with in-source Motorhome Chassis.

The agreement with Ford was recommenced to the union's larger membership. Now all UAW members will vote for or against ratification this week.

10:27 a.m.

The agreement reached between Ford Motor Company and United Auto Worker representatives will lead to more jobs and investment in the U.S., according to the Detroit News.

Alisa Priddle of the Detroit News reports that many of those jobs will be in Michigan:

The figure includes 7,000 jobs previously announced as well as 5,000 additional jobs - the majority of them new and paying the lower, entry-level wage. Ford officials declined to break down the exact split between new and saved jobs. Some the jobs are from in-sourcing of work that has been previously done in other countries, including Mexico, Japan and China.

The UAW says that "proposed agreement also includes $16 billion of investment to produce new models and upgraded vehicles and components by 2015, of which, $6.3 billion will be invested directly into retooling and upgrading plants."

Ford's union workers are demanding more from Ford compared to the workers at GM and Chrysler.

Part of it has to do with bargaining from a position of power. Ford's union workers could strike should an agreement not be reached. Chrysler and GM workers do not have that option. Both Chrysler and GM took loans from the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). A condition of those loans stipulated that its workers could not strike.

Brent Snavely reports in USA Today on the other reasons workers at Ford hope to achieve more in their negotiations with the company.

Entering contract talks, the UAW and Ford had an unresolved grievance, signed by 35,000 of the automaker's 40,600 workers, alleging that Ford had violated equity of sacrifice promise by restoring merit pay to white-collar workers but not to hourly workers.

But Ford workers say they have more reasons to expect more than UAW members at GM. Ford has made $14.2 billion in profits since the end of 2008. Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Executive Chairman Bill Ford each made $26.5 million in 2010, an amount that many workers find excessive since production workers have gone eight years without a base wage increase. That high executive pay has become a rallying point for discontents in Ford's factories.

Comparing previous contracts, Snavely reports that "Ford pays $58 an hour for wages and benefits, which is about $2 more per hour than GM and $9 an hour more than Chrysler were paying..."

More details of the tentative 4-year agreement between Ford and the UAW will be revealed at an 11:30 press conference. The contract will not be ratified until the UAW membership votes on it.

Auto/Economy
7:56 am
Tue October 4, 2011

Ford and UAW to announce contract deal

John Fleming, Ford executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs, and Marty Mulloy, Ford vice president, Labor Affairs, hosting a news conference to discuss the latest developments with the UAW agreement.
screen grab fordahead.com

Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers have reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract.

Details of the agreement have not been released, but at 9:00 am this morning, Ford executives John Fleming and Marty Mulloy will discuss the deal at the company's Dearborn headquarters. Then at 11:30 am, UAW President Bob King and Vice President Jimmy Settles will present their view of the agreement at a press conference.

The UAW and Ford began contract talks for a new national labor agreement on July 29th and have been in eight consecutive days of intense negotiations on economic and job issues.

General Motors workers ratified a new four-year agreement with the UAW last week and talks at Chrysler are ongoing.

The Ford deal is expected to swap annual pay raises for profit sharing checks and will include commitments from Ford for thousands of new union jobs.

Local union leaders from around the nation will also meet this morning in Detroit to vote on whether they'll recommend the deal to Ford's 41,000 union members.

Auto/Economy
11:42 pm
Mon October 3, 2011

Coalition wants Michigan incentives for electric vehicle charging stations

An electric vehicle charging station at a cafe in Grand Rapids that was purchased through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A coalition of businesses, non-profits and environmental groups are working to get more electric vehicle charging stations located in Michigan.

The group “Built by Michigan” is asking voters to petition Governor Rick Snyder to create incentives for installing charging stations. It’s also pushing for the state to buy more electric vehicles and tougher regulations requiring “clean fuel standards”.

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Auto/Economy
4:01 pm
Sun October 2, 2011

Big boost in September auto sales expected

Analysts expect the auto industry to post very good sales numbers on Monday.  

IHS Global Insight automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland says September was a very good month at car dealerships.   She says the number of car buyers increased last month.  At the same time, Honda and Toyota were finally able to get more vehicles to showrooms, as the disruptive effects of last March’s earthquake and tsunami began to fade.

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Economy
6:38 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

An interview with Gilda Jacobs, President of the Michigan League for Human Services

New rules for the 48-month limit on welfare cash assistance goes in effect on October 1. Twelve-thousand families will lose cash assistance, that includes upwards of 25,000 children. Gilda Jacobs, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services spoke with Michigan Radio's Jennifer White about what impacts the limit will in our state.

Economy
3:10 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Flint rally to give voice to the poor, offer skill shares

Michigan's four-year lifetime limit on welfare cash assistance begins Saturday, Oct. 1.
Publicbroadcasting.net

About 41,000 Michiganders will be affected by the loss of cash-assistance benefits starting Saturday, including 1,500 Genesee County families.

Nayyirah Shariff is with Community Action Brigade in Flint,  a nonprofit group created to help people on public assistance.

The group is holding a rally from noon until 2 p.m. Saturday at Flint City Hall.

Shariff says the event will provide an open microphone for people to explain what the loss of benefits will mean to them – or someone they know.

Shariff says it’s also an opportunity to trade knowledge and expertise.

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Business
6:49 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

New airport director gets $200,000 severance deal from prior county post

Turkia Mullin became the director of Detroit Metro Airport in August 2011, leaving her post as Wayne County economic development director. She received a $200,000 severance package in the switch from one county position to another.
Californiaaviation.org

A Wayne County Commissioner says he was unaware of a six-figure severance deal given to the new head of Detroit Metro Airport.

Turkia Mullin left her $200,000-a-year job as Wayne County’s economic developer so she could run the airport for $250,000 annually.

She also got a $200,000 severance check.

Bernard Parker is a Wayne County Commissioner who’s also a member of the airport authority.

Parker says Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano chose Mullin. Parker says he didn’t know about the severance deal.

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Economy
2:23 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Activists: Stop delaying fair farm rules

Activists are calling for the implementation of rules that allow small and medium-size farmers to compete more fairly with large and corporate farms.
jschumacher Morguefile

Activists are pressuring U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow to implement new rules to support small and medium-sized farms.

A group called Food and Water Watch says corporate farming dominates America’s food system.

Spokeswoman Lynn Kaucheck says the 2008 Farm Bill has rules designed to level the playing field, but they haven’t taken effect yet.

They want Sen. Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, to do something about it

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Auto/Economy
2:14 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

In Lansing, Michigan, little jubilation over UAW-General Motors deal

Members of the Local 602, employed at the Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant above, voted against ratifying a new contract between UAW and General Motors.
Photo courtesy GM

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Auto workers at the Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant make some of General Motors’ most popular vehicles.

The GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave are all produced inside this 3.4-million square-foot facility on the outskirts of Lansing, which is Michigan’s state capital.

In August, when GM announced an 18 percent sales increase from 2010, GMC led the turnaround with a 40.3 percent increase. Chevrolet had gained 15.8 percent.

So when contract negotiations began last month, the plant’s 3,430 hourly workers expected they’d be sharing in the company’s improved position. But when they saw the proposed deal between the United Auto Workers and GM, many members of UAW Local 602 here felt jilted instead.

They rejected the deal — a rarity for a contract approved by two-thirds of GM workers nationwide.

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Auto/Economy
11:07 am
Thu September 29, 2011

GM to offer center air bag on 3 models

GM says center airbags will be standard on all 2013 Buick Enclaves as well as some other models.
user alins Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors Co. said Thursday it will install a center air bag on three of its models next year to better protect drivers and front-seat passengers.

The new bag inflates from the right side of the driver's seat and is designed to protect people when their vehicles are hit on the opposite side of where they are sitting. They serve as a cushion between a driver and front-seat passenger in a collision, GM said in a statement.

The bags will come standard on all Buick Enclave crossover vehicles starting in the 2013 model year, and they'll be on the Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers that are equipped with
power seats. The 2013 models will come out in the fall of 2012. Crossovers are like SUVs but are more efficient because they're built on car underpinnings rather than trucks.

GM said in the statement that the center air bags, developed with parts supplier Takata Corp., are the first in the industry. It has plans to put them in more of its models, but the company would
not say which ones.

GM said it analyzed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's database of fatal auto accidents and found that crashes on the opposite side of where people sit accounted for 11 percent of deaths in non-rollover crashes from 2004 through 2009. The company said it checked crashes involving passengers wearing seat belts in vehicles from the 1999 model year or newer models.

The center air bag also is expected to help protect passengers in rollover crashes, the company said.

Shares of GM rose 11 cents to $20.52 in morning trading. They are down 38 percent from the November initial public offering price of $33 per share.

housing
5:51 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

Landlords, renters debating tougher housing regulations proposed in Grand Rapids

West Michigan Environmental Action Council Executive Director Rachel Hood addresses city commissioners at the public hearing Tuesday. Landlords against the changes are wearing red.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The proposed changes would require landlords to register rental properties every year, instead of every four years. They would also require inspections of single family rental units. Right now only rental properties with two or more units get inspected.

This week hundreds of people turned out to speak at a public hearing. Mayor George Heartwell guessed the commission has received as many comments on this as they did on a proposed ordinance to allow residents to keep backyard chickens a little more than a year ago.

Read more
Auto/Economy
5:26 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

At auto plants, a reversal of fortune

Auto workers and brothers - Justin (left) and Derick Jewell. In September of 2010, Justin Jewell made $16 an hour. Derick Jewell, his older brother, made $28 an hour.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

*Editors note - This story by Kate Davidson of Changing Gears was first broadcast last year (September 22, 2010). Now that GM and the UAW have agreed to a new contract that will allow GM to hire more "two-tier" workers (newly hired workers paid a lower wage than traditional workers), we thought we'd bring her story on "two-tier" workers back. As Micki Maynard of Changing Gears points out, only about 4 percent of GM's workforce is "two-tier" now - under the new contract, that number could go up to 25 percent.

The American Dream is that each generation will do better than the last.  But many families of auto workers no longer have that expectation.  As Detroit car makers sped towards financial ruin, their union agreed to a dual wage structure, plus deep cuts in benefits.

Now, new hires earn about half what traditional workers make.  This reversal of fortune has altered their lives.

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Auto/Economy
3:07 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

UAW membership approves 4-year deal with GM

A view from GM's Headquarters. The UAW membership and GM have agreed to a four-year contract. The team from Changing Gears share their analysis.
user santoshkrishnan Flickr

Update - 3:07 p.m.

More thoughts on the newly ratified UAW-GM contract from Micky Maynard with Changing Gears:

General Motors gave some new details today on its just-ratified agreement with the United Auto Workers union. Among them: up to 25 percent of its workforce could be “two-tiers” — new hires at lower rates than veteran workers.

Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson profiled two-tier workers last year. Right now, they’re only 4 percent of GM’s workforce, but the auto company clearly has plans for more of them.

There’s a caveat, though. In order for GM to hire more workers, auto sales have to pick up, company executives said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts. And it isn’t promising to hire the same number of workers as it sees sales go up: it will study its staffing needs and hire accordingly. 

The new contract runs through 2015 and caps the number of “two-tiers” at 25 percent at the end of the contract. It calls for the new hires to get a raise to nearly $20 an hour by 2015 (veteran workers are paid about $28 an hour now).

Other GM highlights:

  • The number of people working in its U.S. factories has dropped sharply. GM had 110,000 hourly production workers in 2005, according to its presentation. In 2008, the year before it filed for bankruptcy production, GM had 78,000 U.S. workers. Now, GM has just 49,000 hourly workers, or less than half what it had six years ago.
  • For the first time in 58 years, GM does not expect its pension expense to rise under the new contract. One reason is that newly hired workers will not be covered by GM’s traditional pension plan; they will receive a 401(k) retirement program instead.
  • GM says it still has 700 workers laid off from their jobs. They have first dibs on jobs at GM plants, including the workers it plans to hire when it reopens its factory in Spring Hill, Tenn. Once those workers have been offered the chance to come back, then GM will hire new workers, including temporaries.

Read more about the GM contract in The New York Times.

1:05 p.m.

More from Pete Bigelow of Changing Gears:

General Motors became the first domestic automaker to reach an official agreement on a new contract with members of the United Auto Workers union Wednesday afternoon.

The UAW said in a written release that 65 percent of production workers and 63 percent of skilled trade workers voted in favor of the agreement, which had been tentatively agreed upon Sept 16. A four-year contract provides a wage increase for entry-level workers, and goes into effect immediately.

The agreement would create 6,400 jobs in the United States, the release said.

“When it seems like everyone in America is getting cuts in benefits and paying higher co-pays and deductibles, we were able to maintain and improve on our current benefits,” said UAW vice president Joe Ashton.

GM CEO Dan Akerson is expected to hold a conference call with Wall Street analysts at 2 p.m.

12:37 p.m.

The deal is complete. UAW members officially ratified their contract with General Motors.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The UAW said today that its members have ratified a new four-year labor agreement with GM that gives workers a $5,000 signing bonus and is expected to preserve or add 6,400 U.S. jobs.

It is the first contract for 48,500 GM hourly workers since the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy and restructuring.

The union said the vote was 65% in favor of the agreement among production workers, and 63% in favor among skilled-trades workers.

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