The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has blasted General Motors (GM) for considering selling Chinese-built Buick Envisions in the United States. The Union vowed to try to kill the plan during ongoing contract negotiations. Cindy Estrada, the UAW vice president responsible for the union’s relations with GM, said in a statement:
After the sacrifices made by US taxpayers and the US workforce to make General Motors the profitable quality company it is today, UAW members are disappointed with the tone-deaf speculation that the Envision would be imported from China. GM should stand by its declaration that it will build where it sells. The Envision should be made in the US by the workforce that saved GM in its darkest time, and UAW members intend to address this issue in contract talks.
GM claims reports about importing the Envision, a compact sport utility vehicle GM put on sale in China in 2014, are “speculative.” The automaker said it hasn’t announced the Buick Envision for any markets other than the China market. Reports have indicated that in 2016 GM would shift production of the Buick Verano sedan from Michigan to China; production of the Buick Regal from Canada to either China or Europe; and also start importing the Buick Cascade convertible from Europe.
The GM speculation comes as Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has seized on trade with China as a campaign issue. He has called for putting a 25 percent tariff on Chinese imports. Buick is one of GM’s most popular brands in China and the automaker sells four Buicks in China for every Buick it sells in North America. But car sales are slowing in China, where the Detroit-based carmaker has installed a huge production base over the past decade. The UAW is currently in the midst of negotiating new labor pacts with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler America (FCA), which owns the Chrysler brands.
Union president Dennis Williams has said a pay raise will be the union’s top priority in the upcoming negations. However, the potential for lost jobs and production will certainly complicate the talks. That’s especially true considering that both GM and Ford have announced major investments in Mexico. A substantial portion of all the vehicles built in Mexico are exported to the United States. I agree with the union that American jobs must be protected.
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