Why The Germans Are Leading The Resurgence Of The American Auto Union

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1st Gear: The Globalization Of Cars Means The Globalization Of Unions


The UAW's curious partnership with Volkswagen, which we've covered in TMS before, has VW essentially seeking out the UAW to help them form a "works council" similar to what mega union IG Metall does in Germany.

And now we learn from a fairly thorough WSJ piece that Mercedes workers in Alabama are also pondering adding a similar council to their plant. What's with the sudden push?

Recent cooperation between the UAW and Germany's IG Metall trade union is part of a broader effort by auto unions in several countries to build ties and attempt to build alliances that reflect the global scope and partnerships among the big auto makers. The UAW has sent delegations to meet with auto workers in Brazil, Japan, South Africa and South Korea.

In few places are these international ties having a clearer impact than in the U.S., where the UAW says it is close to organizing its first foreign-owned plant in the South because of the extra push from German workers and IG Metall. A breakthrough in Tennessee or Alabama would be a historic turn for the union and manufacturing in the union-averse South.


Global markets for products will inevitably lead to these kinds of transcontinental labor deals as organizing everyone in your home market doesn't mean as much as it used to.

On the worker side, you've got the fact that foreign companies in the U.S. can hire and fire large groups of employees whenever they feel like it. A union could help prevent this (as the article points out, that would be unheard of in Germany). On the other hand, you're reducing the competitive advantage you have as a worker in the U.S. if it's suddenly less attractive to move all of a company's production there.


On the business side, you're saving tons of money in the U.S. compared to Germany without a union, and the European market isn't great anyways.

This requires a lot of trust on the part of the various unions and, so long as the workers in the U.S. hold out against organized labor, they'll benefit more from the boom. Of course, they'll also be hurt more by the bust.


2nd Gear: It's Now Better To Be A Gay GM Employee


GM has joined Chrysler and Ford in the 21st century, offering married same-sex workers the ability to add their spouses to a healthcare plan reports Automotive News.

This follows the Senate approval of a bill to prevent workplace discrimination (that may be dead in the house, but whatevs). While Michigan bans same-sex marriage, there are a dozen or so states that allow it, and more to follow as everyone realizes this was an unreasonably stupid thing to be upset about.


GM also recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships, and has for more than a decade.


3rd Gear: Jaguar Is Doing A Super Bowl Ad


Jaguar continues to rock the halo appeal of their F-Type and will push the F-Type Coupe in a 30-second Super Bowl spot that plays up the fact that Brits always play villains.


"Have you ever noticed how in Hollywood, the best villains are played by Brits?" a familiar voice asks in a teaser trailer that cuts into another Jaguar ad?

However, our favorite part of this story is the villains that Automotive News picked out as representative examples:

Jaguar chose the campaign theme largely because Brits often make the best television and film villains, with a long line of famous rogues. They include Anthony Hopkins, star of the Academy-award winning shocker "Silence of the Lambs," and Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List."


Umm… Hopkins we get, but there's a little something problematic about Ralph Fiennes.

  • 1. He's playing a German.
  • 2. He's more of a real life horrific evil person than a classic movie villain.
  • 3. What a terrible thing to connect Jaguar with.

Could you have picked, oh, I don't know, BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH!?! You can hear his voice in the damn ad.


4th Gear: Mulally Definitely Maybe Moving To Microsoft


The Alan Mulally to Microsoft rumor mill continues with a note from financial analyst Rick Sherlund.


Per Chris Woodyard:

"We think it likely that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is Microsoft's top pick based on the merits of his candidacy and will be named Microsoft's new CEO in a month or so," writes Nomura Equity Research's Rick Sherlund in a note to investors Wednesday.


Woodyard then runs through all the non-denial denials.

5th Gear: Safety Advocates Curious About Those Tesla Fires


There's been a curious surge in Tesla fires lately, after a long period of no Tesla fires. Is just the result of a lot of cars out on the road? Design flaw? Stock market conspiracy?


Hard to say right now, but events tend to cluster together in a way that seems meaningful at the time but turns out to be coincidental.

Nevertheless, David Shepardson reports that Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety wants NHTSA to probe Tesla like a New Mexican police officer.

"Three fires is a big number out of 19,000" Model S cars on the roads, Ditlow said. "They have to open an investigation. I would fall out of my chair if they didn't."


Ditlow, as everyone knows, sits cross-legged on the floor because he doesn't trust the safety of chairs.

Reverse: Nooooooo!!!!

On this day in 1962, the famous Ford Rotunda stands in Dearborn, Michigan for the last time: the next day, it is destroyed in a massive fire. Some 1.5 million people visited the Rotunda each year, making it the fifth most popular tourist attraction in the U.S. (behind Niagara Falls, Smokey Mountain National Park, the Smithsonian, and the Lincoln Memorial).



Neutral: Will Southern Auto Plants Ever Unionize? If not, why? If so, when?

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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