Thursday, September 15, 2011
Yesterday, we talked about the two-tier wage system implemented by three Detroit automakers. In the two-tier system, new employees make half the salary of workers already on the job. We talked with a few tier-two workers yesterday, and we asked our listeners if they would be willing to do their job for half the salary.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Four years ago, the United Auto Workers Union allowed the three Detroit auto makers to put in place a two-tier system for paying employees, which allowed them to continue to functioning and stay in business as they struggled to stay afloat. New hires were given a salary around $14 an hour, while their tier-one counterparts were making almost double that. The system has helped increase employment in Detroit and kept the auto giants from tanking, but many people say it's unfair.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Later today, President Obama plans to announce a major agreement between the White House and the nation’s top automakers. By 2025, cars sold domestically will have to drive 54.5 miles to the gallon. The president hopes this move will dramatically decrease the country’s need for foreign oil, but this agreement may also dramatically change the face of the American highway as we know it.
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
By Kate Hinds
The White House's efforts to rebuild the auto industry have a new leader.
Jay Williams, the current mayor of Youngstown, Ohio -- an factory town near a General Motors assembly plant -- will be the director of a revamped Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers.
According to a press release, Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made the announcement today in Flint, Michigan. The auto recovery office is part of the US Department of Labor.
In June 2009, President Obama created the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers and the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers. The post of director had been vacant since the previous head left last year. Jay Williams takes the helm on August 8.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The American auto industry traveled a bumpy road in recent years. The big three auto makers watched their profits fall throughout the Great Recession. The Troubled Asset Relief Program saved Chrysler and General Motors from total ruin, but the American car industry was suffering long before the recession began. Bob Lutz was the vice chairman of General Motors from 2001 to 2010. His new book is "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters." He analyzes the auto industry and the culture of business.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday, June 03, 2011
(Transportation Nation) It can't be quite the punctuation the President wanted at the end of a week of full-court press on the auto-industry rebound. Manufacturers cut 5,000 jobs in the last month, including a drop of 3,400 jobs in the automobile sector.
If you check the White House chart from earlier in the week, you'll see that, basically since the bailouts, auto jobs have been on a steady march upwards. The White House has been all over that news this week -- V.P. Joe Biden gave the weekly address about it (the President was in Europe), the White House issued a report, and today the President was in Toledo.
So they can't be happy that today's jobs report shows auto numbers down, even though analysts are attributing that mainly to Japanese tsunami-related disruptions, and an economy stumbling as gas prices rise.
And yet, the President, fortifed by chili dogs, continued undaunted at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly complex. Here's the pool report from Toledo, followed by the Presidents' remarks. You can also check out the Republican National Committee Video on the bailout, essentially scoffing at the President's suggestion that Americans got their money back from the auto bailout.
"POTUS arrived from Rudy’s at the Chrysler Toledo Assembly complex at about 12:45 pm and toured the line for assembling the 2011 Jeep Wrangler, making several stops to watch mechanized assemblage of the Jeep’s front grill and its instrument panel. He was greeted respectfully rather than enthusiastically by the workers demonstrating for him, many wearing red-and-white company T-shirts. When he got to the end of his tour, he approached a woman in a red-and-white shirt that instead said “President OBAMA” next to another woman in a black Obama ’08 campaign T-shirt. “Those are nice shirts,” POTUS told them. The woman in the red “President OBAMA” shirt spun around to show the words on the back: “THANK YOU.” He wrapped her in a big hug.
"As he was leaving, a couple people asked to pose with him for a photo. Immediately, the other workers were hustling from the other points on the floor and pretty soon there was a group shot of at least two dozen people surrounding POTUS.
"Then he was off to the waiting audience about 100’ away for his open remarks."
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat. Please have a seat.
It is good to be back in Toledo. (Applause.) It is good to be with all of you. Now, for those of you who I’ve met up close, I just want you to know that I stopped by Rudy’s -- (laughter) -- had two hot dogs, two chili dogs with onions. So I’ve been looking for a mint backstage. (Laughter.) It tasted pretty good going down though.
It is wonderful to see you. We’ve got some outstanding public servants who are here who’ve been working hard on behalf of working Americans their entire careers. One of the finest senators that I know of, Senator Sherrod Brown, is in the house. (Applause.) Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is in the house. (Applause.) Your mayor is in the house. Give him a big round of applause. (Applause.)
I just took a short tour of the plant and watched some of you putting the finishing touches on the Wrangler. Now, as somebody reminded, I need to call it the “iconic” Wrangler. (Laughter.) And that’s appropriate because when you think about what Wrangler has always symbolized. It symbolized freedom, adventure, hitting the open road, never looking back -- which is why Malia and Sasha will never buy one. (Laughter.) Until maybe they’re 35. (Laughter.) I don’t want any adventure for them.
I want to thank Jill for the kind introduction. Somebody on my staff asked Jill to describe herself in three words or less, and she said “hard working.” Hard working. And her entire family agreed. So she’s with the right team here at this plant because I know there are a lot of hard-working people here. And I am -- (applause) -- I’m proud of all of you. Jill was born and raised right here in Toledo. Her mother retired from this plant. Her stepfather retired from this plant. Her uncle still works at this plant. She met her husband at this plant. Now they have two children of their own, and her three-year-old wants to work at this plant. (Laughter.)
I don’t think her story is unique. I’m sure there are a lot of you who have similar stories of previous generations working for Chrysler. And this plant, or the earlier plant that used to -- that I guess is still right down the road, this is the economic rock of the community. You depend on it, and so do thousands of Americans. The Wrangler you build here directly supports 3,000 other jobs, with parts manufactured all across America. Doors from Michigan. Axles from Kentucky. Tires from Tennessee. And this plant indirectly supports hundreds of other jobs right here in Toledo. After all, without you, who’d eat at Chet’s or Inky’s or Rudy’s? Or who’d buy all those cold ones at Zinger’s? (Laughter and applause.) This guy right here? That’s the Zinger crew right there. (Laughter.) All right. What would be life like here in Toledo if you didn’t make these cars?
Now, two years ago, we came pretty close to finding out. We were still near the bottom of a vicious recession -- the worst that we’ve seen in our lifetimes -- and ultimately, that recession cost 8 million jobs. And it hit this industry particularly hard. So in the year before I took office, this industry lost more than 400,000 jobs. In the span of a few months, one in five American autoworkers got a pink slip. And two great American companies, Chrysler and GM, stood on the brink of liquidation.
Now, we had a few options. We could have followed the status quo and kept the automakers on life support by just giving them tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money, but never really dealing with the structural issues at these plants. But that would have just kicked the problem down the road.
Or we could have done what a lot of folks in Washington thought we should do, and that is nothing. We could have just let U.S. automakers go into an uncontrolled freefall. And that would have triggered a cascade of damage all across the country. If we let Chrysler and GM fail, plants like this would have shut down, then dealers and suppliers across the country would have shriveled up, then Ford and other automakers could have failed, too, because they wouldn’t have had the suppliers that they needed. And by the time the dominos stopped falling, more than a million jobs, and countless communities, and a proud industry that helped build America’s middle class for generations wouldn’t have been around anymore.
So in the middle of a deep recession, that would have been a brutal and irreversible shock to the entire economy and to the future of millions of Americans. So we refused to let that happen.
I didn’t run for President to get into the auto business –- I’ve got more than enough to do. I ran for President because too many Americans felt their dreams slipping away from them. That core idea of America –- that if you work hard, if you do right, if you’re responsible, that you can lead a better life and most importantly pass on a better life to your kids -- that American Dream felt like it was getting further and further out of reach.
Folks were working harder for less. Wages were flat while the cost of everything from health care to groceries kept on going up. And as if things weren’t hard enough, the bottom fell out of the economy in the closing weeks of that campaign back in 2008, so life got that much harder.
So I want everybody to understand, our task hasn’t just been to recover from the recession. Our task has been to rebuild the future on a stronger foundation than we had before to make sure that you can see your incomes and your savings rise again. And you can retire with security and respect again. And you can open doors of opportunity for your kids again. And we can live out the American Dream again. That's what we’re fighting for. (Applause.) That's what we’re fighting for.
So that’s what drives me every day as I step into the Oval Office. That’s why we stood by the American auto industry. It was about you -- your families, your jobs, your lives, your dreams -– making sure that we were doing everything possible to keep them within reach.
So we decided to do more than just rescue the industry from crisis. We decided to retool it for a new age. We said that if everyone involved was willing to take the tough steps and make the painful sacrifices that were needed to become competitive, then we’d invest in your future and the future of communities like Toledo; that we’d have your back.
So I placed my bet on you. I put my faith in the American worker. And I’ll tell you what -- I’m going to do that every day of the week, because what you’ve done vindicates my faith.
Today, all three American automakers are turning a profit. That hasn’t happened since 2004. Today, all three American automakers are gaining market share. That hasn’t happened since 1995. And today, I’m proud to announce the government has been completely repaid for the investments we made under my watch by Chrysler because of the outstanding work that you guys did. (Applause.) Because of you. (Applause.)
Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes the American taxpayer from the investment we made during my watch. And by the way, you guys repaid it six years ahead of schedule. (Applause.) And last night, we reached an agreement to sell the government’s remaining interest in the company. So, soon, Chrysler will be 100 percent in private hands. Early. Faster than anybody believed. (Applause.)
So I couldn’t be prouder of what you’ve done. And what's most important, all three American automakers are now adding shifts and creating jobs at the strongest rate since the 1990s. So far the auto industry has added 113,000 jobs over the past two years. In Detroit, Chrysler added a second shift at its Jefferson North plant. GM is adding a third shift at its Hamtramck plant for the first time ever. In Indiana, Chrysler is investing more than $1.3 billion in its Kokomo facilities. And across the country, GM plans to hire back every single one of its laid-off workers by the end of the year -- every single one.
And that makes a difference for everyone who depends on this industry. Companies like a small precision tooling manufacturer in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, have brought back many of the employees they had laid off two years ago. Manufacturers from Michigan to Massachusetts are looking for new engineers to build advanced batteries for American-made electric cars. And obviously, Chet’s and Inky’s and Zinger’s, they’ll all have your business for some time to come -- especially those guys over there. (Laughter.)
So this industry is back on its feet, repaying its debts, gaining ground. Because of you, we can once again say that the best cars in the world are built right here in the U.S. of A., right here in Ohio, right here in the Midwest. (Applause.) And each day when you clock in, you’re doing more than earning your pay by churning out cars. You’re standing up for this company. You’re sticking up for this way of life. You’re scoring one for the home team and showing the world that American manufacturing and American industry is back.
Now, I don’t want to pretend like everything is solved. We’ve still got a long way to go not just in this industry, but in our economy; for all our friends, all our neighbors who are still feeling the sting of recession. There’s nobody here who doesn’t know someone who is looking for work and hasn’t found something yet. Even though the economy is growing, even though it’s created more than 2 million jobs over the past 15 months, we still face some tough times. We still face some challenges. This economy took a big hit. You know, it’s just like if you had a bad illness, if you got hit by a truck, it’s going to take a while for you to mend. And that’s what’s happened to our economy. It’s taking a while to mend.
And there are still some headwinds that are coming at us. Lately, it’s been high gas prices that have caused a lot of hardship for a lot of working families. And then you had the economic disruptions following the tragedy in Japan. You got the instability in the Middle East, which makes folks uncertain. There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery. We’re going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a hard time with. We know that.
THE PRESIDENT: A Wrangler can go over anything, huh? (Laughter.)
But you know what, we know what’s happened here. We know what’s possible when we invest in what works. And just as we succeeded in retooling this industry for a new age, we’ve got to rebuild this whole economy for a new age, so that the middle class doesn’t just survive, but it also thrives.
These are tight fiscal times. You guys have all heard about the deficit and the debt, and that demands that we spend wisely, cut everywhere that we can. We’ve got to live within our means. Everybody’s got to do their part. Middle-class workers like you, though, shouldn’t be bearing all the burden. You work too hard for someone to ask you to pay more so that somebody who’s making millions or billions of dollars can pay less. That’s not right. (Applause.)
And even though we’re in tough times, there are still some things that we’ve got to keep on doing if we’re going to win the future. We can’t just sit back and stop. We got business we got to do. We got to make sure that our schools are educating our kids so that they can succeed. I was looking at all the gizmos and gadgets you got in this plant here -- it’s a lot more complicated working on a plant than it used to be. Kids have to know math and science.
We got to have a transportation and communications network that allows our businesses to compete. We used to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best airports. In a lot of places we don’t have that anymore. If you go to China, Beijing, they’ve got a fancier airport. You go to Europe, they got fancier trains, better roads. We can’t let our infrastructure just crumble and fall apart. We’re American. We’ve got to make that investment. (Applause.)
We’ve got to invest in innovation that will pave the way for future prosperity. We invented stuff that the world now uses and the world now makes. We’ve got to keep on inventing stuff and make sure it’s made right here in America. And that requires investments. (Applause.) That requires investments in basic research and basic science.
So these are all things that will help America out-innovate, out-educate, out-compete, out-hustle everybody else in the world. I want America to win the future, and I want our future to be big and optimistic, not small and fearful.
So we’ve got a lot of hard work that’s left to do, Ohio. We’ve got a lot of work to do. But we’re going to get there. And if anybody tells you otherwise, I want you to remember the improbable turnaround that’s taken place here at Chrysler. I want you to remember all those folks who were -- all those voices who were saying no -- saying no, we can’t. Because, Toledo, you showed that this was a good investment, betting on America’s workers.
What we see here is a proud reminder that in difficult times, Americans, they dig deep, they recapture the toughness that makes us who we are –- builders and doers who never stop imagining a better future. What I see here is a reminder of the character that makes us great –- that we’re a people who will forge a better future because that's what we do. What I see here is an America that is resilient, an America that understands that when we come together, nobody can stop us.
So I’ll tell you what -– I’m going to keep betting on you. And as long as I continue to have the privilege of being the President of the United States, I’m going to keep fighting alongside you for a future that is brighter for this community, for Toledo, for Ohio, for America. Thank you. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
Friday, June 03, 2011
With gas prices on the rise, and energy policy in the headlines, both consumers and governments have reason to be happy about GM’s new hybrid, the Chevy Volt. The car is still in limited supply, and it’s pretty expensive — near $50,000. But for those who can get their hands on a brand new Chevy Volt, the government has added an incentive — a tax rebate of $7,500. However, as Mary Chapman writes in The New York Times "Wheels" blog, that deal may have been a little too sweet. Car dealers across the country have begun snatching up the rebate for themselves, and leaving their customers in the dust.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) On the second anniversary of General Motors' declaration of bankruptcy, the White House is capping a weeks' worth of activities designed to tout that fact with a report documenting what it's calling "The Resurgence of the American Automotive Industry."
As we've reported, the President has gotten little credit for Detroit's crawl out of its hole. Democrats took a bath in Michigan this December, in what was, in 2008, such a desperate situation for Republicans that John McCain never fought for the state.
But this week, beginning with a radio address last week by Vice President Joe Biden (while the President was in Europe), continuing with the report, and culminating Friday with a trip to a Jeep plant, the Obama administration is trying to claim credit for the jobs created in the auto industry.
The report says the industry has added 115,000 jobs, which it says is the fastest rate of growth in over a decade.
It's part of the administration's march out of its own hole .
You can read the full report here.
Sales of Small Cars Boosting US Auto Industry, Boston's Transit Is Booming, Melbourne's Bike Share Is Not
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
By Kate Hinds
Sales of small, fuel-efficient cars are revitalizing the American auto industry. (New York Times)
Meanwhile, Democrats try to use that industry's recovery as political leverage. (Wall Street Journal)
Is the Sacramento Kings' new arena putting a long-planned downtown transit center at risk? (Sacramento Bee)
Development is following New England's future high-speed rail line. (AP via NECN)
Ridership on Boston's transit system climbed last month to its highest number since September 2008. (Boston Globe)
A mostly empty bus system in Central Indiana seems to indicate that until the state is prepared to invest in mass transit that will offer residents a viable alternative to their cars, even some of the most avid transit supporters will stay away. (Indianapolis Star)
Theories abound as to why Melbourne's year-old bike share program is underperforming -- maybe it's due to bad weather, the roads, or the relatively few (50) stations. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.
In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:
--Panasonic moved to Newark to be near transit (link)
-- car-free Central Park not happening anytime soon (link)
-- a survey of pedestrians seeks to quantify why walkers walk (link)
-- a profile of the MTA board member engaged to Sir Paul McCartney (link)
-- NYC subway ridership is up (link)
-- DC tries to get a handle on excessively wordy Metro station names (link)
-- TN's Alex Goldmark talked about mapping bike ticketing on the BL Show (link)
-- why did NJ Governor Christie exit the 10-state cap-and-trade program? (link)
Monday, May 30, 2011
Wall Street Journal reporter Kelly Evans says that this week's monthly jobs report will reveal data on unemployment rates, the housing market and other key points that could lead to some speculation about the possibility of a double-dip recession.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Japan’s Sendai earthquake disrupted work in that country, shutting down factories, which supply parts to the United States. Thanks to hi-tech supply chain issues, car parts are missing and U.S. factories are beginning to shut down. Last week, General Motors stopped production at its Shreveport Louisiana production facility. This week, the Detroit based car company laid off 59 of its 623 full time employees at its Tonawanda New York production facility — before ultimately halting all production. All of these shutdowns were due to shortages of parts that are produced in Japan.
Monday, February 28, 2011
The nation's automakers release their sales figures for the month of February Tuesday. By some estimates, sales were up around 20 percent from a year ago.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Paul Clemens, a Detroit native, talks about the slow death of a Detroit auto plant and of the working-class culture that once defined America. Built in 1919, the Budd Company stamping plant on Detroit’s East Side was one of the city’s oldest active auto plants before it closed. Punching Out: One Year in a Closing Auto Plant is an account of the process of picking the plant apart and sending it, piece by piece, to the countries that have use for its machines.
TN Moving Stories: Rise in NYC's Transportation Costs Outpaces Inflation, American Airlines Breaches Protocol, and Did WI Gov Set Transit Back 20 Years?
Monday, January 03, 2011
By Kate Hinds
NYC transportation costs rose 3.7% in last 12 months, outpacing inflation. (New York Times)
The New York Daily News has some suggestions for the MTA about how to handle blizzards. Step one: admit your mistakes. "A series of screwups before and during last week's blizzard contributed significantly to the stranding of scores of bus and subway riders."
If Fort Worth doesn't want its $25 million in federal streetcar funding, Dallas will be happy to spend it on its own ambitious efforts. (Dallas Morning News)
NJ Transit's "quiet commute" program "significantly" expands today.
The Examiner says Governor Jim Doyle set back transit in Wisconsin by 20 years.
NPR follows one man's illegal journey into New York's subterranean infrastructure. Remember: "The big thing here is not to get killed. So don't touch the third rail. If a train's coming, get out of the way. That might mean — in the worst situation I can imagine — that might mean standing in between two third rails and two pillars with trains coming on either side of you."
The NTSB says American Airlines breached protocol, and takes the unusual step of barring it from inquiry proceedings. "The National Transportation Safety Board ...said the airline improperly downloaded information for its own use from the flight-data recorder of a Boeing 757 that rolled past the end of a runway at Jackson Hole on Dec. 29.....It is the first time in decades that a major U.S. carrier has been kicked off an investigation into an accident or incident involving one of its own aircraft." (Wall Street Journal)
Much to the chagrin of mountain bikers, Los Angeles bans bikes from trails designated for hikers or horses (Los Angeles Times). "A comprehensive update of the city's bicycle plan still gives precedence to hikers and equestrians."
Thursday, December 02, 2010
By Kate Hinds
That was then, this is now. Most of the major U.S. automakers are posting double-digit sales gains for the month of November. And some analysts believe the car sales could be even higher next month.
Industry watchers say demand for new vehicles --which had bottled up for months as potential buyers nervously eyed the economy--pushed more consumers into dealer showrooms. General Motors sold more than 168,000 cars and trucks last month--up 11.4% compared to November 2009.
The report comes just days after the Detroit automaker issued its initial public offering of stock, amid international fanfare.
Ford sales jumped 20% compared to year-ago figures. The automaker saw double-digit increases in demand for both its cars and its trucks. Chrysler sales rose 17%, and demand for the Jeep Grand Cherokee more than tripled from November 2009. November was the eighth consecutive month of sales improvement for the automaker.
Of the major automakers, only Toyota posted lower sales figures for the month, down more than three percent.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Let's do a thought experiment. Let's say that one of the last governors of New York — David Paterson, Eliot Spitzer, George Pataki, or Mario Cuomo — actually had saved an industry. Let's say they'd used the power of the state's purse to keep a company from failing, turned it around, and could reasonably have claimed to have saved a million jobs. Would that have helped either party in upstate New York, where jobs have been hemmoraging for decades? A look at Michigan's electoral situation shows just how hard it is to make that argument, particularly for Democrats.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Steven Rattner, the Obama Administration’s former Car Czar, who led the effort to restructure GM and Chrysler, gives an insider’s account of the process. In Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry, he tells what happened during the historic auto-industry intervention, covering political brinkmanship, corporate mismanagement, and personalities under pressure. He also explains the tough choices he and his team made to keep Chrysler and General Motors in operation.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
At a CNBC Town Hall Meeting on Monday, President Obama announced some good news coming out of Michigan: the three US automakers are making a profit for the first time in a long time.
It hasn’t been so long since the day when GM was almost synonomous with doom. But it’s been long enough, apparently, for the companies to start turning a profit — and for the Car Czar behind the recovery to write a book about how it all came to pass.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
(Detroit -- Jerome Vaughn, WDET). Detroit is buzzing about word of a leadership change at GM -- it's almost as big news as the Flint serial killer. The Editor of Autoline Daily John McElroy says GM's new CEO, Dan Akerson "fits the bill perfectly for what the[U.S] treasury wanted." But, he adds "if GM is going to have only finance people running the company-- we saw the trouble that it got into in the last decade by having those kind of officers in charge."
McElroy also notes that the company's 1.3 billion profit this quarter "is not a surprising number" and that " what everybody seems to forget is that the Obama administration came into town a year ago, waved a magic wand, and made all of GM's and Chrysler's legacy costs disappear, pouf, they're gone...that was not done by the people who are running GM right now."
McElroy's prediction for the future of the industry: "Three, four years from now the auto industry in Detroit is going to be rocking like we haven't seen in a long, long time."
More on Detroit from today's New York Times "Detroit Goes from Gloom to Economic Bright Spot."