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Economy
2:52 pm
Wed October 12, 2011

Prison chief: Inmates should learn building skills, work in community projects

Michigan Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns.

There’s not a lot of industry inside Michigan’s prisons right now. Most of the jobs involve making prison or guard uniforms.

Dan Heyns says he wants to change that.

The new head of the Michigan Department of Corrections says prisoners should be learning job skills they can use when they’re released.

Heyns has formed a woring group of the state’s 33 prison wardens to look at some options for inmates. Learning the construction trade is one of them.

Another option is for prisons to partner with communities, cleaning up parks, for example.

“There are an awful lot of projects in communities – because they’re so cash-strapped – that wouldn’t get done if not for access to a reasonably cheap labor force," Heyns says.

He says the community projects would give taxpayers something in return for the $2 billion dollar annual state corrections budget.

Heyns also says construction skills would be useful for inmates to learn. He suggested former prisoners could build Department of Natural Resources huts or migrant housing units.

Auto
11:40 am
Wed October 12, 2011

GM aims new electric mini-car at millennial, urban market

The all-electric Chevy Spark will be available in California in 2013; the gasoline version will arrive in summer 2012.
Chevrolet.com

General Motors is adding another electric car to its lineup.

The Chevy Spark will be marketed as the perfect city car,  which translates to "small."

There will be a gas version of the Spark, and GM said in what it called a “surprise announcement" today it will make an all-electric version, too.

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Economy
10:44 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Stabenow: South Korea free trade agreement includes auto industry provisions

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks at a recent news conference at Capital Region International Airport
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Congress is expected to vote on free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama today.  The South Korean agreement is potentially one of the largest free trade deals in years.  

 Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow says she opposed the agreement initially reached by the Bush Administration, but she says the trade pact now has special protections for the U.S. auto industry.  

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Auto/Economy
7:44 am
Wed October 12, 2011

Chrysler & UAW reach tentative deal

Chrysler Group and the United Auto Workers have reached a deal on a new four-year contract that creates 2,100 new jobs.

The union says in a statement Wednesday that Chrysler will invest $4.5 billion in its plants under terms of the deal.

The union gave few other details.

But the agreement is expected to be similar to deals reached earlier with General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.

Workers at those companies gave up pay raises for most union members in exchange for profit-sharing payments.

The Chrysler deal covers 26,000 workers.

EN-V could cut gridlock
11:50 pm
Tue October 11, 2011

Cute cars with a serious mission: cut smog and gridlock in megacities

Soaring rates of car ownership in China’s biggest cities are causing huge problems, from days-long traffic jams to choking smog. Even car companies say the trend is not sustainable. 

General Motors says one solution could be to reinvent the vehicle. Introducing the Miao, the Jiao, and the Shiao –  three cute, tiny cars with a serious mission.  

Car ownership in China has a dark side. Last year, a nine-day and a three-day construction-related traffic jam on the highway leading to Beijing were the most dramatic examples.

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Selling cars in China different than U.S.
10:59 am
Tue October 11, 2011

Detroit automakers shift approach to sell cars in China

General Motors now sells more cars in China that it does in the United States. In a few years, it’s likely that will be the case for Ford Motor Company, too.   

But selling cars in China takes a different approach than it does in the U.S.

There's much that's familiar at Shanghai Dongchang Fude Auto Sales and Service. There’s the piped in music -- the salespeople hanging out near the front entrance, waiting to grab the next walk-in customer., and the lineup of shiny new cars on the floor. 

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Auto/Economy
10:16 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Gov. Snyder wants to attract immigrants ready to start businesses

Governor Rick Snyder tells the 'World Affairs Council of Western Michigan' he wants immigrants with talent and money who are willing to invest in the United States to come to Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder says he wants to attract more foreign entrepreneurs to the state. Snyder told a gathering of “The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan” he’d would like to leverage a federal immigration program to attract new jobs and investments.

The EB-5 immigration program

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Auto/Economy
4:59 pm
Mon October 10, 2011

Chrysler and UAW to resume talks Tuesday morning

Contract talks between the United Auto Workers union and Chrysler resume Tuesday morning.  That’s after after negotiators were unable to reach a deal over the weekend. 

The UAW has asked its local presidents to come to Detroit on Wednesday.  That could mean an agreement is imminent. 

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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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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”.

Read more
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.

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