Posts Tagged ‘General Motors’

Black GM employees sue for inaction over racist remarks, threats

January 17, 2019

“Underlying atmosphere of violent racial hate and bullying.”

A supervisor and eight other black General Motors workers in Toledo, Ohio filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that managers didn’t do enough to stop racist comments and threats in the workplace.

Marcus Boyd, a supervisor at the Toledo Powertrain plant, who is black, told CNN the N-word was a phrase commonly used in the workplace.

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He said he would report his subordinates, but was told by his superiors to let the matter go if he wanted to get along at GM, and no disciplinary action was taken against the employees.

Derrick Brooks, another black supervisor, found a noose hanging in an area he worked, which he believed was meant to intimidate him as he was the only black employee in that area during that shift.

In the lawsuit, Boyd, along with eight other GM employees, allege that five nooses were found and reported to GM. They say, however, that the company allowed the “underlying atmosphere of violent racial hate and bullying.”

One of the nooses was found in a bathroom marked in graffiti: “White’s Only.”

“Discrimination and harassment are not acceptable and [are] in stark contrast to how we expect people to show up at work,” GM said in a statement, rejecting the lawsuit’s characterization of its handling of the situation. “We treat any reported incident with sensitivity and urgency, and are committed to providing an environment that is safe, open and inclusive. General Motors is taking this matter seriously and addressing it through the appropriate court process.”

Another black employee, Darlene Sweeney-Newbern, the commission’s director of regional operations, claimed that in a meeting to address the noose placements a white supervisor said, “There was never a black person who was lynched that didn’t deserve it.”

Boyd said that white employees would call all black workers “Dan,” which he thought was just a lack of respect in learning black employee’s names. He later learned it was an acronym for “dumb ass n—-r.”

There have been no identifications for those responsible for hanging the nooses, but a GM representative said there have been several firings in Toledo linked to an extensive anti-discrimination, anti-harassment work initiative.

Lawyers for those suing GM say there continues to be racist remarks at the plant, which will likely be included in the lawsuit.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/black-gm-employees-sue-for-inaction-over-racist-remarks-threats

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GM sees higher 2019 profits on job cuts, solid US, China sales

January 11, 2019

General Motors projected strong 2019 profits Friday, fueled by savings from a deep restructuring including job cuts, and by solid sales in the United States and China.

GM, which has faced criticism from President Donald Trump and other US politicians over the planned layoffs, expects $2-2.5 billion in additional profits this year due to the restructuring, pushing its earnings-per-share forecast well above analyst expectations.

The biggest US automaker forecast 2019 profits of between $6.50 and $7.00 a share, compared to the $5.88 now expected by Wall Street analysts. GM also said it expects 2018 earnings per share to exceed analyst expectations.

GM chief Mary Barra has come under fire for the company's planned layoffs, but now says the restructuring will boost profits this year

GM chief Mary Barra has come under fire for the company’s planned layoffs, but now says the restructuring will boost profits this year GETTY/AFP

“We are focused on strengthening our cash generation and creating efficiencies that will position us to take advantage of opportunities through the cycle,” said Chief Financial Officer Dhivya Suryadevara said in a statement.

Global markets have been shaken in recent weeks amid worries over slowing global growth due in part to weakness in China amid the trade confrontation with Washington, and some forecasts indicating the US will tip into recession in 2020.

But GM offered a solid outlook for the US the China, estimating overall US sales in 2019 in the “low 17-million range,” a good level, and projecting no sales drop in China.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra was upbeat on the prospects for a US-China trade deal, characterizing this week’s talks between US and Chinese officials as “constructive.”

According to news reports the next round of talks is set for late January in Washington.

Barra told reporters it was a “good sign” that the two governments already had plans for additional negotiations, adding that sales in China also could be boosted by government stimulus spending.

AFP

Tesla breaks ground on Shanghai factory

January 7, 2019

Tesla broke ground Monday for a factory in Shanghai, its first outside the United States.

CEO Elon Musk said Monday on Twitter that the company will start production in China of its Model 3 and a planned crossover by the end of the year.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, center, and Shanghai’s Mayor Ying Yong, right, attend the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony in Shanghai. (Reuters)

Tesla announced plans in July to build the Gigafactory 3 facility in China, the biggest electric vehicle market, despite trade tension between Beijing and Washington. That followed Beijing’s announcement it would end restrictions this year on foreign ownership of electric vehicle producers in an effort to spur industry development.

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“Looking forward to breaking ground on the @Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory today!” said Musk on Twitter. “Aiming to finish initial construction this summer, start Model 3 production end of year & reach high volume production next year.”

China’s state broadcaster CCTV showed Musk and other Tesla and local officials attending a chilly ceremony in the rain Monday in Shanghai’s outskirts.

The Shanghai factory will produce “affordable versions of 3/Y for greater China,” Musk said. The company refers to a planned crossover that has yet to receive a formal name as the Y.

The land of Tesla Gigafactory at a groundbreaking ceremony of Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory in Shanghai. (Reuters)

Higher-priced models will be built in the United States for export to China, Musk said.

Tesla, based on Palo Alto, California, global automakers including General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Corp. that are pouring billions of dollars into manufacturing electric vehicles in China.

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Local production would eliminate risks from tariffs and other import controls. It would help Tesla develop parts suppliers to support service and make its vehicles more appealing to mainstream Chinese buyers.

Tesla said in October it had signed an agreement for a 210-acre (84-hectare) site in the Lingang district in southeastern Shanghai.

Shanghai is a center of China’s auto industry and home to state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp., the main local manufacturer for GM and VW.

A Chinese flag is seen on the land secured by Tesla for its Gigafactory in Shanghai, China. (Reuters)

Tesla has yet to give a price tag but the Shanghai government said it would be the biggest foreign investment there to date.

The company faces competition from Chinese brands including BYD Auto and BAIC Group that already sell tens of thousands of hybrid and pure-electric sedans and SUVs annually.

Until now, foreign automakers that wanted to manufacture in China were required to work through state-owned partners. Foreign brands balked at bringing electric vehicle technology into China to avoid having to share it with potential competitors.

Tesla plans to produce its Model 3 and Model Y cars in the initial phase of production at the Shanghai plant. (Reuters)

The first of the new electric models being developed by global automakers to hit the market, Nissan’s Sylphy Zero Emission, began rolling off a production line in southern China in August.

Lower-priced electric models from GM, Volkswagen and other global brands are due to hit the market starting this year, well before Tesla is up and running in Shanghai.

Reuters

Trump Vows Consequences for GM, Says China Car Tariffs Too High

December 13, 2018

President Donald Trump reaffirmed his promise to punish General Motors Co. for plans to close an auto factory in the electoral battleground of Ohio and said China’s plan to lower tariffs on U.S. cars to 15 percent doesn’t go far enough.

“General Motors is not going to be treated well,” Trump said in a Fox News interview Thursday. He said GM chief executive Mary Barra was “nasty” to announce the factory-closing plan shortly before the holidays.

“I don’t like what she did, I think it was nasty,” Trump said. “It doesn’t really matter because Ohio is under my leadership from a national standpoint. Ohio is going to replace those jobs in like two minutes.”

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GM announced in November it planned to cut more than 14,000 jobs and close seven factories worldwide, including one in Lordstown, Ohio, that produces the Chevrolet Cruze. The announcement drew immediate criticism from Trump and he later said he would seek to block any federal subsidies the carmaker receives.

Trump also said he would seek further reductions in the tariff China charges on U.S.-made automobiles.

“It’s not acceptable, 15 is still too high,” Trump said.

proposal to reduce tariffs on cars made in the U.S. to 15 percent from the current 40 percent — bringing the U.S. back in line with what other countries pay — has been submitted to China’s Cabinet for review, according to people familiar with the matter.

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Trump blasts General Motors for move toward electric vehicles

December 13, 2018

President Trump said Thursday that car companies should not switch wholly to making electric vehicles while arguing U.S. job loses in the industry are “not acceptable” and that France is “burning down” because of clean-energy policies.

Trump, during an interview with Fox News, blasted looming General Motors job cuts in the Midwest and mentioned ongoing fuel-tax protests in France.

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“They are changing the whole model of General Motors. They going to all electric. That’s not going to work,” Trump said. “I don’t run a car company, but all electric isn’t going to work.”

“It’s wonderful to have it as a percentage of your cars,” he continued, “but to tell me a couple weeks before Christmas that [GM is] going to close in Ohio and Michigan? Not acceptable to me.”

In the same interview, Trump said the international Paris climate accord, from which he withdrew the U.S., “is not working out too well for Paris.

“That whole country is burning down. I was the one who kept us out of the Paris accord. If I was in the Paris accord, we would be paying trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars for nothing,” he said.

[Read more: Trump’s GM threats put electric vehicles at risk]

Related:

U.S. automakers surge on report China will lower vehicle tariffs

December 11, 2018

China is reportedly preparing to lower tariffs on U.S. auto imports, a key concession in trade talks between the two countries and one that President Trump signaled would occur earlier this month.

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Stock for the “Big Three” U.S. automakers jumped on Bloomberg’s report that China is moving to trim its duties on car shipments to 15 percent, down from the current 40 percent. General Motors rose 3.1 percent to $35.48 in pre-market trading in New York, while Ford Motor Co. added 3.2 percent to $8.79 and Toyota increased slightly to $120.94.

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Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter, said the decision is not yet final. While Beijing previously lowered tariffs on all auto imports into the country, it raised the duties on U.S. shipments amid an intensifying trade dispute. Trump had said China would change course on the punitive levies after he agreed to a 90-day trade detente during talks with President Xi Jinping.

While White House officials are optimistic a deal can be reached in that time-frame, the Trump administration says it’s prepared to add tariffs on an additional $267 billion in Chinese goods, as well as raise duties on an existing $200 billion in products from 10 percent to 25 percent.

China’s move could predominantly benefit German carmakers, given that most U.S. companies do the bulk of their production for the country via partnerships with local businesses, experts previously told the Washington Examiner.

“U.S. auto manufacturers, they’re not shipping much to China right now, and China is a very small percentage of their overall profits,” said Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at investment research firm CFRA.

Stock for BMW and Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes-Benz, both rose in trading in Frankfurt. Shares for Tesla, which ships vehicles from the U.S. to China, increased 1.96 percent to $372.30 in pre-market trading.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/business/u-s-automakers-surge-on-report-china-will-lower-vehicle-tariffs

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China Moves on U.S. Car Tariff Cut Trump Tweeted About

December 11, 2018
  • Cabinet to consider 15% tariff in coming days, people say
  • Global carmaker shares jump on the news, led by Daimler, BMW
BMW AG’s X5 sport utility vehicle is displayed at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, on Nov. 16.   Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

China is moving toward cutting its trade-war tariffs on imported U.S.-made cars, a step already brandished by President Donald Trump as a concession won during trade talks in Argentina.

A proposal to reduce tariffs on cars made in the U.S. to 15 percent from the current 40 percent has been submitted to China’s Cabinet to be reviewed in the coming days, according to people familiar with the matter. Shares of carmakers including BMW AGFord Motor Co. and Tesla Inc. rose on the news.

The step hasn’t been finalized and could still change. Top Chinese and American trade officials spoke by phone Tuesday morning Beijing time, signaling that dialog between the two nations on trade issues is at least continuing despite a diplomatic row over the arrest of a senior Chinese businesswoman.

The Finance Ministry didn’t immediately respond to faxed request for comment sent outside business hours.

BMW, which exports sport utility vehicles from the U.S. to China, rose as much as 3 percent to 72.20 euros at 1:01 p.m. in Frankfurt. The German luxury carmaker previously said the tariffs would cost the company 300 million euros ($342 million) this year alone. Daimler AG, which named the tariffs as the key reason in a profit warning, gained as much as 3.5 percent. Volkswagen AG rallied 4.5 percent, while Ford advanced 2.7 percent in premarket trading. General Motors Co. was up 1.7 percent.

In July, China had boosted the tariff on American-made cars to 40 percent as part of retaliatory measures against the U.S. Following a summit on trade in Buenos Aires earlier this month, Trump jolted global auto stocks with a tweet that China agreed to “reduce and remove” tariffs on imported American-made cars, something China did not confirm at the time.

Trump’s tweet came shortly after he agreed with Xi to a truce in the trade war during a meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.

48.2K people are talking about this

The trade war has taken a toll on car companies that manufacture in the U.S., with the makers of Mercedes-Benz and its rival BMW both warning of lower profits this year as tariffs forced them to hike prices in China. Car sales in the world’s second-biggest economy declined for a sixth consecutive month in November, bringing the market closer to its first annual drop in at least two decades. That’s piled pressure on auto companies that have relied on the country for growth amid declining car sales in the U.S.

The tariff reduction benefits Daimler and BMW more than U.S. automakers such as General Motors Co. or Ford Motor Co. That’s because the German luxury brands dominate the top 10 list of vehicle imports into China.

Longer-term, China has a lot to gain from free trade in autos as Chinese manufacturers such as Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. and Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. look to move overseas. The U.S. currently charges a 27.5 percent tax on imported cars from China.

Of China’s $51 billion of vehicle imports in 2017, about $13.5 billion came from North America, including sales of models made there by non-U.S. manufacturers like BMW. China imported 280,208 vehicles, or 10 percent of total imported cars, from the U.S. last year, according to China’s Passenger Car Association.

U.S. exports of cars and light trucks to China were worth $9.5 billion in 2017 and have dropped off significantly since China imposed its retaliatory tariffs over the summer that gave exporters in Europe and Japan a significant advantage.

Trump’s Tariff War With China Deals Global Carmakers a Whiplash

For Tesla, a tariff cut will provide a boon until the company sets up local production. The Palo Alto, California-based carmaker has been working with Shanghai’s government on establishing a factory to assemble cars in China.

Foreign carmakers have long pleaded for freer access to China’s auto market, while its own manufacturers are trying to expand abroad. In April, China announced a timetable to permit foreign automakers to own more than 50 percent of local carmaking ventures.

— With assistance by Haze Fan, Yinan Zhao, and Ville Heiskanen

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-11/china-is-said-to-move-on-u-s-car-tariff-cut-trump-tweeted-about?srnd=premium

GM To Ditch Chevy Volt — Struggled to catch on with the masses

December 9, 2018
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The Chevrolet Volt is headed to the scrap heap, but during its decade on the market, the electric vehicle reflected the strengths and weaknesses of General Motors Co. GM -2.83%and auto making in Detroit.

The plug-in electric vehicle won praise from auto critics who heralded the car as an engineering marvel when it was introduced in 2010. The acclaim eased some of the pain from GM’s bankruptcy at the time and showed that Detroit could still develop an enviable vehicle.

The Volt, though, was also a big money loser for GM. It cost a lot to build and wasn’t a big seller because of its high price and customer skepticism about American-made cars. With a number of electric vehicles in the pipeline using similar technology, the auto maker said last month that it would end production of the Volt by March and idle the Detroit factory where it is built as part of a broader restructuring.

Still, in its short time, the car developed a small but loyal following. “It’s the best car GM has made in decades,” said Volt owner Sean Hadley, a 45-year-old attorney from New Jersey. He recently traded in his 2013 model for a 2017 version, and has persuaded two co-workers to buy Volts.

The Volt can travel about 50 miles in electric mode on a single charge. But it also has a backup gas-powered generator that kicks in once the charge is depleted to run the electric motor, allowing the vehicle to travel another few hundred miles—a range similar to a typical gasoline-engine car.

The design offered buyers a novel solution to so-called range anxiety, the fear of the battery running out of juice before reaching the destination.

GM showed a prototype of the Volt at the Detroit auto show in January 2007. Engineers hurried the car through development, eager to prove GM could compete on environmentally friendly cars with Japanese rivals like Toyota Motor Corp. , said Bob Lutz, a retired former GM product chief who championed the Volt’s development.

“Toyota was seen as the most technologically advanced car company on the planet, and we were viewed as that bad old American car company that wouldn’t risk anything on new technology,” Mr. Lutz said. “We just had to break that cycle. And the Volt did it.”

Mr. Lutz also said an electric roadster developed by then-startup Tesla Inc. around that time emboldened him to push for an electric car based on lithium-ion battery technology.

The Volt’s creation became a symbol of GM’s emergence from bankruptcy, a fate precipitated by its heavy reliance on gas-guzzling trucks and sport-utility vehicles amid soaring gas prices. The car went on to win awards from car critics, and President Barack Obama was so intrigued by the car that he took it for a spin on the White House grounds, breaking the Secret Service’s ban on driving for presidents.

Wall Street Journal columnist Dan Neil wrote in his October 2010 review of the Volt: “A bunch of Midwestern engineers in bad haircuts and cheap wristwatches just out-engineered every other car company on the planet.”

At the same time, the Volt became a symbol of the Obama administration’s push for electric cars and a lightning rod for critics of GM’s government bailout. A $7,500 tax credit implemented under Mr. Obama helped make the car more affordable—it has a sticker price of roughly $35,000—but that credit will start to phase out in coming weeks, when GM is expected to hit a federal cap of 200,000 sales.

In November 2010, Washington Post columnist George Will wrote of the Volt: “People will have to be bribed, with other people’s money, to buy this.” President Trump, upset by GM’s recent cost-cutting moves, recently threatened to pull the tax credit for all electric vehicles.

Even with the tax credit, the Volt struggled to appeal a broader base of consumers beyond environmentalists and tech-savvy buyers. U.S. sales peaked in 2016 at a paltry 25,000 vehicles, about one-fifth the number of Toyota Prius hybrid cars sold that year. This year, GM is on pace to sell about 20,000 Volts, flat compared with last year.

The Volt was also a money loser for the Detroit car maker because it was expensive to make with a high cost battery pack and the need for both an electric motor and gasoline engine. For a time, GM was losing $8,000 to $10,000 on every Volt it sold, according to people familiar with the matter.

GM’s decision to drop the Volt has jolted passionate owners, many of whom take pride in how infrequently they need to fill up their gas tank. It also stirs memories of the auto maker’s first failed electric car effort, the EV1, which developed a cult following in the 1990s during the model’s three-year run and was the subject of the 2006 Michael Moore documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car?”

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has said the company believes in an all-electric future and has several other battery-powered vehicles coming to the U.S., including an SUV likely in the next few years.

GM executives have said much of the technology that went into the Volt, such as electric-motor design and battery cell chemistry, is being applied to forthcoming electrics. The auto maker plans 20 new models by 2023, most of which will be earmarked for China, which has strict green-car rules.

Volt owner Chris Hauck isn’t interested in waiting. He plans to trade in his current model for a newer Volt this spring before the nameplate disappears from showrooms.

The 77-year-old retired electric-utility executive, who lives in western Colorado, estimated his family has used only 50 gallons of gas to travel a combined 25,000 miles between his current Volt and an earlier one.

“We hate to buy gas,” he said.

Write to Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/gm-bids-farewell-to-its-breakthrough-electric-car-1544356800?mod=hp_lead_pos7

The places, the placed, and the placeless

December 9, 2018

Wondering about the hostility and irritation at who is president, the people in fly-over country and how that insults some in their sense of place in society.

There is a house I see every so often in my travels. It sits where the alabaster 33-mile marker stands along the long-defunct Pennsylvania and Lake Erie Railroad line — perched in a place where the train no longer rumbles by on an old stone foundation that has likely stood for over a century.

By  Salena Zito
Commentary

Every year, ivy and wild vines suffocate its simple charm, climbing up and over its slanted gingerbread slate roof on its right side, the one that faces Cedar Street. And every year, it loses one more shingle and sheds more luster from its ancient apricot paint.

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File photo

In the back of its sloped property, a smaller structure sits — likely a cold cellar, where the family would have stored roots, canned fruits and vegetables, and jerky. The elements have been less kind to it, and its roof has nearly all peeled off.

Once upon a time, a man and a woman likely walked through the threshold of its front door and began their lives together with the same hopes and aspirations most young couples share. They may have struggled, they may have sacrificed, they raised their family, and as their children left for far off places, they grew old in this home.

At least, that’s how I imagine this story goes. I don’t know the ending other than to say the owners are gone, and I wonder why no one came back to love this home again.

It is a line of thought my mind travels down every time I see a place, whether it is a home or a business, that time and people have left behind. How did that impact the neighbors? The community?

It’s increasingly popular to criticize journalists today for spending too much time reporting on places that used to be something much greater. Those who are not populists have become bored and ultimately dismissive of places that used to prosper and the people who made them thrive.

The reaction has gone from a mild annoyance to full-on hostility — placing the blame of their collapse on some sort of racism, denialism, or lack of intelligence. The root of this hostility may be irritation at who is president and how that insults their sense of place in society.

“People like to talk about the dichotomy between coastal elites/fly-over; rural/urban; low density/high density,” said Tom Maraffa, professor emeritus of geography at Youngstown State University. “I would add that the difference is between the placed and placeless, or people who are rooted in their places versus people who are essentially nomads.”

These placeless people, like those highly critical of fly-over folks, develop affinities to ideology and abstractions as opposed to neighborhoods and cities. The lives of the the coastal elites, academics, big business owners, high tech innovators, entertainers, and media personalities have led to this, because they are so mobile.

People who live in places in the heartland are not so mobile. Neither the rooted nor the rootless are “better.” But, too often the cultures clash, with one spending an inordinate amount of time putting down the other, usually on a widely read platform.

“Many people in small towns, rural areas, and some cities lives are tied to their places for generations. So, issues such as climate change and globalization are therefore viewed fundamentally different,” said Maraffa.

The placeless think of global policies, abstract efficiencies, and lofty ideas like social justice.

The placed think of how it will affect their neighborhood, town, and city.

“Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both demagogues,” Maraffa said, referring to the president and the independent Vermont senator. “Trump is the demagogue of the placed, Bernie Sanders is the demagogue of the placeless.”

Examples abound, said Maraffa: “People who voted for Trump share a rootedness in place. Think of people in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy or the TV series “Justified,” which was tied by the phrase, ‘We dug coal together,’ an expression of place.”

“The recent GM/Lordstown discussion is fundamentally about corporate abstraction versus the impact on places,” he said of the Detroit carmaker’s decision to render the 50-year-old plant “unallocated” for a new car beginning next year.

So, how do we bridge the gap between the placed and the placeless? How do we get the placeless to recognize the importance of place and that opposition to certain policies is not about ignorance or racism or denialism, but about how those policies affect places?

Maraffa said Youngstown State is a good illustration: “Most universities talk about preparing students to go out into the world. At YSU, the discussion is about creating students to stay in Youngstown and doing things to create employment so students won’t have to move away and doing things so that people can move back.”

When Maraffa first started teaching there, he never saw anything like that. “I’ve seen students who were very bright and who could really have made it big somewhere else decide to stay here with a lesser-paying job or future because they were so tied to the greater region,” he said.

It is a very distinct attitude that is sprinkled between places like Washington and New York, but that kind of identity to place is very foreign to people who don’t mind being transient, who have left places like Clark Street for bigger and better things.

There is no easy bridge across this gulf, but it is worth considering that there should be a balance of discussion. Politicians, policymakers, media, academics, business leaders, and the elite could consider that the value of place may have more importance over a person’s attitudes than they ever understood.

And that the root of that tie impacts many of the decisions they make when it comes not just to politics, but also to how they consume goods and view globalization.

No one wants to see houses like the one on Clark Street dot their community. It’s a reminder of loss and abandonment of their social structure, just like so many businesses and churches and social clubs that used to be where they were from.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/the-places-the-placed-and-the-placeless

Lawmakers More Open Minded on General Motors Than Donald Trump

December 7, 2018

GM’s Barra defends plant closings to Mich. lawmakers

Washington — General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra defended plans to idle five plants, lay off 6,000 salaried employees and imperil the jobs of 3,300 hourly workers as she met Thursday with members of Michigan’s U.S. congressional delegation.

Speaking with reporters after an hour-long closed meeting with Michigan’s U.S. senators and most of the state’s U.S. House delegation, the GM chief said she conveyed to lawmakers that the moves she has made are intended to help the company respond to shifts in market trends and improve its overall capacity.

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“We had really productive discussions, and I think they have a better understanding of what we’re doing and why, and how we’re making sure that we’re supporting the displaced workers, especially at the plants that are impacted, ” she said. “And I have an understanding and appreciation of some of the challenges they are working on. As always, when you communicate, you find ways to improve the situation, so I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to meet with as members of Congress as I did.”

Lawmakers are furious at GM for moving to cease production next year at its Detroit-Hamtramck and Warren Transmission plants in Michigan; at Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio; at Baltimore Operations in Maryland; and at Oshawa Assembly in Ontario.

Work will stop next year at predetermined dates, but plants will not officially close. The future of those facilities will be determined during 2019 negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.

The company is planning to lay off nearly 6,000 salaried workers next year after a buyout program last month only had 2,250 takers, according to a memo sent to employees by CEO Mary Barra and obtained by The Detroit News. The salaried buyouts and the layoffs together will affect 8,000 North American employees and a number of global executives, none of whom are part of the senior leadership team.

Lawmakers lamented the fact that GM has cited excess capacity as part of its rationale for idling U.S. plants, but the company chose earlier this year to build its second-coming of the Chevrolet Blazer in Mexico.

“General Motors is an American company,” said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “That means they should hire American workers, and whenever there is an opportunity to move production, with SUVs and others that are being made in Mexico, that production needs to come back to the United States.

“There was a recent decision to make the new Chevy Blazer in Mexico,” he continued. “They moved production for that Blazer to a factory that had excess capacity, whereas we had excess capacity in the United States. The Chevy Blazer should be made in the United States, with American workers.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, added: “She is certainly keeping an open mind in general, and she was very strong about her commitment to Michigan. We were also very strong (in saying) that that’s our expectation.”

Barra defended the decision to build the new Blazer in Mexico, citing other products the company is planning to produce in the U.S.

“The decision of where the Blazer was built, that was made many years ago,” she said. “At that time Lordstown. for instance, was running full out of three shifts. The market has changed dramatically. But in this country, we have just launched the Cadillac XT4 that is being built in Fairfax, Kansas.There’s another product we think has been announced that’s going to be coming out built in Spring Hill.

“We have products being built in Lansing Grand River,” she continued. “We just invested a tremendous amount of money to expand our capacity to build heavy duty trucks that we just launched this week in Flint, Michigan. We have additional jobs that were available with all the investment we made in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for the full-size light duty trucks, and coming at the latter part of this year, we are going to be launching new full-size SUVs, and that’s an expansion in investment.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, was seemingly more understanding of GM’s position than his Democratic colleagues, but he also lamented the surprise nature of GM’s decision.

“She has to run the company,” Walberg said. “We’re not running the company. We’re concerned about our constituents and how they are treated. We’re concerned about the fact that communication wasn’t normal for what we would expect out of an auto company. With us, we want to be part of the whole solution and the process to the best of our ability to support our constituents as well as the company that we want to see succeed.”

klaing@detroitnews.com

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/general-motors/2018/12/06/gm-barra-defends-plant-closings-michigan-lawmakers/2225720002/

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Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., in an interview Thursday dismissed the sharp criticism of General Motors from President Trump and others, saying the automaker is responding to competitive pressure and taking steps to ensure its viability long term.

Trump and many in Congress have tried to browbeat GM into reversing a controversial decision to shutter plants in Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio, a move that could eliminate thousands of jobs. The Detroit manufacturer is casting blame on an array of factors, particularly shifting consumer tastes that have significantly reduced demand for the automobiles produced in the affected facilities.

But Perdue, a Georgia Republican who spent a career in business management before being elected to the Senate in 2014, said the attacks on GM are misplaced. Perdue discussed the matter during a wide-ranging interview with “Behind Closed Doors,” a Washington Examiner podcast.

“I get upset with people in Washington who try and make this a binary question, and it’s not, it is extremely complicated. There are industries that close factories and open factories every day,” Perdue said. “Industries do that. In some cases it’s because of bad management, in most cases it’s because they’re trying to adapt to the marketplace and to survive.”

Perdue was careful not to criticize Trump by name. Trump was a real estate developer and reality television star before running for president, running his own tight-knit family business, and he and Perdue are aligned on most issues. But the senator said that many of the politicians bashing GM appear not to understand how businesses operate and the consequences of failing to adjust to the marketplace.

“I don’t know the details of the decision that GM is making. But having been in that seat, I can tell you that they’re fighting for one thing, and that is survival,” Perdue added. “It’s not just the shareholders that they’re trying to protect, it’s not just the bondholders they’re trying to protect, they’re trying to protect their employee base — the majority of employees — and to be able to survive to meet the needs of those customers. So it’s a complex situation.”

Mary Barra, CEO of GM, is on Capitol Hill this week meeting with lawmakers and explaining the automaker’s position. Democrats and Republicans alike are urging Barra to back off plans to close plants and chop its workforce.

Perdue, 68, has operated firms around the globe and specialized in strengthening flagging businesses. That often required making tough choices.

In his last position before going into politics, the senator revived Dollar General, a discount retail chain. When Perdue took over as CEO, the company was struggling. Hundreds of stores were severely underperforming, putting Dollar General in danger of going out of business. So Perdue closed them, displacing scores of workers. But as the retailer recovered, more than 1,000 new stores were opened, with new jobs created as workers were hired to staff them.

Perdue called the business world the “wild kingdom.”

The “Behind Closed Doors” interview with Perdue will be available for download on Monday.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/campaigns/david-perdue-dismisses-criticism-leveled-against-gm-by-trump-and-others