Monday, January 26, 2015

State of the Union January 24, 2015

January 24, 2015 online at

• There will be a Civil and Human Rights Committee meeting Monday, Jan. 26 between shifts in the cafeteria. All are welcome to attend. • In the event that there is a payout under the Profit Sharing Plan, you will have the opportunity to contribute all or a portion of your payout in one percent increments, up to 100 percent, to your Personal Savings Plan (PSP) on a pre-tax basis, subject to tax law limitations. Deferral contribution elections will be accepted between 8:00 a.m. EST on January 29, 2015 and 4 p.m. EST on February 12, 2015. Elections can be made online at or by calling the GM Benefits & Services Center at 1-800-489-4646. If you are considering deferring all or a portion of your Profit Sharing payout into your PSP account, please consider the following:
  • You must make a new deferral election during the window period.
  • The payout will be subject to FICA taxes and Union dues.
  • For active employees receiving wages, your profit sharing contribution will be the percentage you elected, provided your other wages are enough to satisfy the FICA and Union dues obligations.
  • For active employees not receiving wages, your profit sharing contribution will be after FICA taxes and Union dues are deducted.
  • Any outstanding payroll or benefit overpayments, special court orders for child support arrearages, tax levies or similar obligations will have these obligations paid before any contributions are made to the PSP.
  • You must be eligible to accumulate savings in the PSP for your contribution election to be effective.

For more details and deferral examples, please refer to the Profit Sharing communication that will be sent to your address of record beginning January 28, 2015. (GM will report 4th quarter and full year earnings, along with profit share payout, on Wednesday Feb. 4. We have accumulated $4250 through the first 3 quarters)

• The 2014 W2’s are now available on the ADP iPay portal. Hardcopy W2 forms are also being mailed to employees at their residential address and should be received in the next week to 10 days

• Lake Orion Assembly (Buick Verano, Chevy Sonic) will be taking 2 down weeks and will be derating from 45 mph to 38 mph, according to Automotive News.

• One of the great mysteries that have perplexed economists is why, with the so-called recovery lowering unemployment rates to pre-recession levels, that there has been virtually no wage growth for the middle class. How about the fact that the percentage of unionized workers nationwide fell from 11.3 percent in 2013 to 11.1 percent in 2014 — the lowest level since before the Great Depression. This is due in no small part to the increase in right-to-work laws being passed in more states. UAW President Dennis Williams said Friday that on average, states with right-to-work laws have "$6,400 less in salary to union members, fewer benefits, less retirement and reduced consumer spending money. So the practical impact on (the) economy from today's numbers are that consumers have less money to spend in stores, with small businesses, and yes, even on cars." Roland Zullo, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, said the impact of right-to-work legislation has been to weaken unions.
"Unions are weaker because of the law, and some close down and/or new organizing stalls, and former members of unions choose to become free-riders — i.e., are covered but are not dues-payers," Zullo said. Michigan is a prime example, having passed right-to-work in 2012. Just last year, the headcount of union members in Michigan fell by 48,000, even as the workforce grew by 44,000.
A spokeswoman for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Sara Wurfel, said right-to-work wasn't aimed at reducing membership. "It was never about union membership numbers — in fact, it preserved the role of unions and collective bargaining. It was simply about (allowing) every worker to choose for themselves whether to join a union or not was right for and benefits them, and giving Michigan an additional tool to help ensure our state's economic competitiveness." And footballs just magically deflate themselves…..

• From Automotive News: The Missouri Automobile Dealers Association on Thursday filed a lawsuit in a state court, accusing the Department of Revenue and its director, Nia Ray, of violating Missouri law by allowing Tesla to sell its vehicles without a franchise dealer. MADA is asking the court to stop the state department of revenue from renewing Tesla’s license for its University City, Mo., store and from granting Tesla other dealer licenses throughout Missouri. “For many years, new motor vehicles have been sold in Missouri using a tried-and-true structure: manufacturers do not sell cars themselves, but do so through a network of licensed dealers,” the lawsuit said. “This structure of separate roles for manufacturers and dealers is established by statute and reflects wise public policy.”
Missouri law says that automotive manufacturers can only sell cars through dealers. When the department of revenue issued Tesla a dealer license, it “violated both the law and the structure that’s been in place for many years,” said Lowell Pearson, attorney for MADA and former deputy director of the department of revenue. “Missouri requires any state agency to change policy through formal rule making process… the department didn’t do any of that here,” he added. “It created a new public policy for the state by issuing a license to Tesla.” Tesla opened its store in University City, Mo. in June 2013 after it was issued a dealer license by the revenue department. The automaker also has multiple charging stations in the state, according to its website (bet you didn’t know that). Tom Brune
UAW Communications Coordinator
Wentzville Assembly

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

State of the Union, January 21, 2015

January 21, 2015 online at

• The Community Services meeting is rescheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29. It will be in the cafeteria between shifts.

• There will be a Civil and Human Rights Committee meeting Monday, Jan. 26 between shifts in the cafeteria. All are welcome to attend.

• From the Benefits Department: Employees who have recently gotten health insurance coverage need to call 1-800-489-4646 as soon as possible to add dependents. If you need to, you can bring appropriate documentation to the benefits office to fax.

• From the International Union UAW: We need your help now. Congress is considering a bill that will allow trade bills to quickly become law without traditional debate and an amendment process. Tell your elected representative that this is a bad deal for American workers and the domestic auto industry.

CALL 1-855-712-8441. You will be asked to enter your zip code and then you will be connected with your representative.

THE UAW does not support a FAST TRACK bill.
  • Fast Track severely limits the ability of Congress to amend pending and future trade agreements.
  • Fast Track is un-democratic.
  • Fast Track keeps Congress from doing its job: shaping and debating legislation and only gives elected leaders an up or down vote.
  • Fast Track puts US workers and companies at a competitive disadvantage internationally. Please call now. It will take less than 5 minutes. CALL 1-855-712-8441.

Visit Fast Track for more information. visit

• GM will not be advertising in this year’s Super Bowl, but once again the MVP of a premier sporting event will be receiving a Chevrolet Colorado. We’re assuming that Rick “Chevy Guy” Wilde will not be doing the presenting. We're also assuming that the person who will be presenting will have practiced their statement until exhaustion. So even though the matchup of teams is less than desirable, you may want to tune in at the end of the game for the presentation.

From Reuters: General Motors has received 108 claims for compensation for ignition switch defects in its cars in the past week, bringing the total to 2,818, according to the official administering the compensation program. Through Friday, GM received 311 claims for death, 207 for catastrophic injuries and 2,300 for less-serious injuries requiring hospitalization, according to the report from lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, hired by GM to administer the program. The number of claims found eligible for compensation rose to 121 from 112, according to the report. The company's compensation program has so far determined that 49 deaths, seven severe injuries and 65 other injuries were eligible to be compensated. The report said 320 claims had been deemed ineligible, while 857 were under review. Another 757 lacked sufficient paperwork or evidence and 763 had no documentation at all. GM has set aside an initial $400 million to cover its costs of compensation for claims on behalf of people injured or killed because of the faulty switches.

From President Barack Obama: Earlier this month, I visited metro Detroit, where the auto industry has made a historic rebound, proving that America can enter this new year with new confidence that we are coming back. Thanks to the hard work of Americans across the country and the steps we took early on to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation, we've made real progress. Last year was the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. Over a 57-month streak, our businesses have created nearly 11 million jobs. After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is in its best stretch of job growth since the 1990s.
The year before I took office, 400,000 jobs across the auto industry vanished. Sales plunged 40%. With the financial crisis hitting with its full fury, two of the Detroit Three automakers — GM and Chrysler — were on the brink of failure. As the heartbeat of American manufacturing was flatlining, America had a choice to make. We could have kept giving billions of taxpayer dollars to the auto industry without demanding real accountability or change in return. But that would have just kicked the problem further down the road.
We could have done nothing, and let those companies fail. But that would have meant a massive loss of jobs, the failure of suppliers and dealerships, and terrible consequences for the communities that depend on them. In exchange for helping out the auto companies, we demanded accountability and responsibility. We rejected the false choice that either unions or businesses could succeed, but not both — because America is at its best when workers and businesses work together. Shared sacrifice, we believed, would lead to shared prosperity.
That bet paid off. Today, the American auto industry is back and well-positioned for the future, creating about 500,000 new jobs in the last five years. And with the auto industry rescue officially over, taxpayers have been paid back more than what my administration invested. Last year, American autoworkers churned out cars faster than any year since 2005.
Thanks to the resilience, determination and grit of the American people, we are coming back stronger than ever. And if we all do our part, together, we can build a stronger middle class and ensure that all Americans share in our recovery.

Tom Brune
UAW Communications Coordinator
Wentzville Assembly

Monday, January 12, 2015

State of the Union January 9, 2015

· From Chairman Mike Bullock: Good news: After weeks of discussions, management has agreed to another round of referrals. The referral window will open next Monday, Jan. 12 and will be open for 2 weeks. Once again, you will refer people online through mysocrates under the “workplace” tab. Instruction sheets will be available at the entrances and personnel.

· December was a blowout sales month for GM. Market share came in at 18.2% for the month. As expected, our van sales dropped for the month as we cut back production. For the 2014 calendar year we sold 105,993 vans. Here’s a look at both the van and pickup numbers for December:

· Field supplies for the van reflect the reduced production numbers. Net field stock dropped to a 37 day supply from 62 at the end of November. Total stock stands at 10,560 at the end of the year. That compares to 18,189 at the end of 2013. Cargo van supply is barely a third of what it was then, passenger vans less than half. Pickup supplies are also very tight. The Colorado stands at 19 days and the Canyon at 37 days (60 – 70 days is considered ideal). The plant will continue to be under pressure to produce both vans and pickups for the foreseeable future.

· Mark your calendars: First up, next Monday, Jan. 12, is the announcement of the North American Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The Colorado is a finalist along with the Ford F150 and the Lincoln MKC.

· Next up: GM is reporting 4th quarter and full year earnings Wednesday, Feb. 4, at which time we will learn what the profit share payout will be (profit share currently stands at $4250). The contract states payment is due “no later than the end of the 3rd month following the end of the plan year.” This translates to the end of March. However, last year payment was made Feb. 28.

· UAW President Dennis Williams on President Obama’s auto plant tour marking the auto sector's successful turnaround and the end of the government's historic efforts to save the auto industry: "Together, the members of the UAW, government officials of all parties led by the Obama White House, and the auto companies have shown how cooperation and shared sacrifice could take an industry from its darkest day to the economic bright spot of the international economy. Through shared sacrifice members and consumers can benefit and it is our hope that both members and consumers can continue to reap the significant benefits of a prosperous industry that drives our economy." The remarks come as President Obama stopped in at Ford's Michigan Assembly plant as part of a multicity tour to highlight his administration's successes in preparation for his Jan. 20 State of the Union address. The remarks also come on the heels of the Dec. 22 announcement by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew of the final sale of Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) stock involved in the rejuvenation of the U.S. auto industry. In all, the unprecedented work of the UAW, the auto companies and the U.S. government yielded $15.35 billion in profit. It also saved 1.5 million jobs and preserved $105.3 billion in personal and social insurance tax collections, according to a 2013 study by the Center for Automotive Research.

· Sporting a face only a mother could love, the redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma broke cover yesterday in advance of the Detroit Auto Show. Initial reports were thin on details, but we know that it will have a new frame, interior and obviously sheet metal. It will have both 4 and 6 cylinder engines, neither of which were identified, never mind the specifications. Ditto any transmission choices.

Tom Brune
UAW Communications Coordinator
Wentzville Assembly

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

State of the Union December 16, 2014

State of the Union December 16, 2014 online at

• If you were feeling sorry for the Canyon as the Colorado garners all the attention, weep no more. Autoweek has named the GMC Canyon Best of the Best Truck for 2015. Said Autoweek:
Yes, the Porsche Macan is fast and handles like a sports car. The Lincoln MKC is a beautiful piece—smooth, comfortable and refined—and it bodes well for the future of the brand. We loved them both, enough to choose them as finalists for our 2015 Best of the Best/Truck award.
But trucks speak to a different part of the brain than cars, where the desire for power and road chops meets the need for utility and good ol’-fashioned dirt-under-the-fingernails grunt. That’s part of the reason we’re giddy to give the 2015 GMC Canyon the award. It’s truly a truck in the most honest sense of the word—with a roughly 1,500-pound payload in all trims and up to 7,000 pounds of towing ability—but refuses to forego the requirements a modern buyer has in a vehicle: refinement, modern conveniences and amenities, high-quality build, practicality and style.
Perhaps more importantly, GMC puts all that trucky goodness into a palatably sized package. We hesitate calling it small; as one editor pointed out, the Canyon sports a longer wheelbase than a first-gen GMT800 Sierra. Nevertheless, it’s a far cry from the gargantuan half-ton trucks running around these days like mini-Macks. “To me, the Canyon is the right size for a truck,” said one tester. “Modern full-sizers often feel too big to be really useful both as commuters and as trucks.” Every staffer echoed the sentiment: The Canyon is the perfect size.
It also helps the Canyon’s cause that it’s one handsome truck, stylish yet still sturdy looking. Where the Chevy offers perhaps a bit more value, the GMC is brimming with a near-luxury experience. It’s startlingly quiet inside, with a lush feel about the cabin and rich appointments throughout. For General Motors and for the wider buying public, the Canyon is as important an entry as we’ve seen in a long time. It marks the exciting return to the American compact-truck market, and we couldn’t be more pleased to call it a winner. “It’s truly a truck in the most honest sense…but refuses to forego the requirements a modern buyer has in a vehicle: refinement, modern conveniences and amenities, high-quality build, practicality and style,” said Autoweek’s editors, who also noted the Canyon is “brimming with a near-luxury experience.”
Autoweek’s annual Best of the Best awards are based on the evaluations of eight vehicle finalists selected for their performance, design, build quality, value and significance. A three-day test session at Michigan International Speedway by the editors determined the awards, which include one car and one truck.
“Of the hundreds of vehicles Autoweek tests each year, only a relative few truly stand out from the rest,” said Autoweek editor Wes Raynal. “The GMC Canyon is not only one of the best new vehicles on the market, it’s one of the most important, signaling an exciting return to the mid-sized truck segment.”

• FYI – We have been informed by management that team meeting this Friday, Dec. 19, will be taken 20 minutes prior to lunch at 10:10 to provide extra time for team dinners.

• The annual Chassis Christmas Party will be Friday, Dec. 19 at Maggie Malones after first shift. There will be free food, drink specials, prizes and live music as well as a visit from Santa! All are welcome so come and join us for an evening of fun and holiday cheer. For more info contact Susan Daniel (Picou) at column F-43 of the engine line.

• There is still one item left to cover from November sales results: field supplies. Van supplies overall dropped by nearly 1000 despite the tepid sales rate. Because of that rate the supply as measured in days rose to 62 from 56 days supply at the end of October. If you look at units in net field stock at the end of last November, supplies have dropped by about 6500 units, or 33%. Passenger vans are down 50% from then. And while it’s still very early on, the supply of the Colorado stand at 21 days, while the Canyon is at 34 days. Total stock for the two models is around 3000 units. Expect these numbers to fluctuate until the product pipeline gets filled.

• UAW President Dennis Williams held a press conference at Solidarity House Monday. Here are some of his remarks:
o On raises for traditional, or legacy workers: “In the Big Three, what we consider legacy employees have not had a general wage increase for many years and we will be addressing that.” And “If they want to go ahead and want to talk about wages, I am more than happy to sit down and talk about their salaries.”
o On bridging the gap between those workers and tier 2 workers: “We are very aware that the need to balance the wages is very important to our membership. None of it is going to be easy, but I have committed that we are going to start bridging that gap.” And "We want to keep the companies competitive at the same time we want our members to have a lifestyle that gives them a family life.”
o On maintaining competitiveness: “I often listen to companies about being competitive, and the only thing they ever talk about in the public is being competitive based on the backs of workers. That’s not the only way to do it.” And "It is about how we keep the companies competitive, and we are conscious of that. But general wage increases are important to our members, and it is important to us as a nation, to bring our standard of living up." But the union will “not repeat the sins of the past.”
o On the possibility of a strike: “Striking is a failure on both parties’ part. We don’t plan on failing, but we’re going to be prepared.” And "I never go into negotiations with the idea that we are preparing for a strike. That is the last thing we want to do as an organization."
o On organizing in the south: "We believe every time we organize in the South it is going to get more difficult, not easier. But I think that we have the right strategy."
o On right-to-work: "I don't think challenging right to work is going to be a priority right now. We are focused on the needs of the membership."

• GM was contacted after the press conference. According to the Detroit Free Press, GM said it is confident it will be able to reach a new agreement with the UAW next year, despite Williams' comments today. "We have a strong track record of creative problem-solving and are committed to working with our union partners to enable long-term success for the business and our employees," GM said in a statement.

Tom Brune
UAW Communications Coordinator
Wentzville Assembly

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

State of the Union December 10, 2014

December 10, 2014 online at

• Reminder: Friday, Dec. 12 is also the deadline for turning in resolutions for the upcoming National Negotiations in 2015. Forms are available from your committee person or at the Union Hall and you can return them to same. All resolutions (except duplicates) will be submitted for negotiations.

• The Body Shop bake sale netted $1007 for Adopt-A-Child! This money will be used to level gifts. Thanks to everyone once again for your generosity. We have a revised number for number of children adopted – 190! This is easily the highest total ever. To those who have adopted a child, please return your gifts (unwrapped) to the communications office no later than this Friday, Dec. 12. Gift distribution begins Monday, Dec. 15.

• FYI – employees cannot attend Apprentice Orientation sessions on company time.

• The annual Chassis Christmas Party will be Friday, Dec. 19 at Maggie Malones after first shift. There will be free food, drink specials, prizes and live music as well as a visit from Santa! All are welcome so come and join us for an evening of fun and holiday cheer. For more info contact Susan Daniel (Picou) at column F-43 of the engine line.

• The UAW has been certified as the representative of more than 45% of Volkswagen's workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., a major victory for the union, which has been trying to gain a foothold in the South and in foreign auto plants. The results of the independent audit of union membership clear the way for the union to meet regularly with management on workplace issues.
Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW, who heads the International Union’s Transnational Department, released the following statement regarding Volkswagen's verification of the membership of UAW Local 42: "We appreciate Volkswagen's timely response in verifying UAW Local 42’s substantial membership level, which exceeds a majority of workers at the plant. As anticipated, we surpassed the highest level under Volkswagen's new Community Organization Engagement policy, and the local leadership is ready to move forward with additional conversations with the company. In the initial conversations, the local union will remind Human Resources and the Chattanooga Executive Committee of the mutually agreed-upon commitments that were made by Volkswagen and the UAW last spring in Germany. Among those commitments: Volkswagen will recognize the UAW as the representative of our members. We believe Volkswagen made this commitment in good faith and we believe the company will honor this commitment. Additionally, the local union will present the Chattanooga plant management with the September letter of intent in which the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council expressed its desire for the Chattanooga plant to be a ‘UAW-represented facility.' With this in mind, we will be working toward the process of collective bargaining with the company.”

• From the Wall Street Journal: Workers at U.S. assembly plants for General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are likely to get 2014 bonuses exceeding $6,000 each, capping a four-year labor contract under which profit-sharing checks have gone to factory employees in record amounts. But the United Auto Workers union, gearing up for negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three next summer, is prepared to argue that isn’t good enough.
After 10 years without hourly wage increases as well as an agreement by the union to accept lower pay for new hires, compensation is increasingly tied to the auto makers’ performance, which has been in a boom-or-bust cycle for decades. “Workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler have made painful sacrifices,” UAW Vice President Cindy
Estrada said in an interview. “Now it’s time for workers to share in the success, too.”
Ms. Estrada, entering her first contract talks as the lead GM negotiator, said it is too early to discuss specifics. “I don’t want to talk about bargaining now, because we’re not bargaining,” she added. Ms. Estrada also oversees UAW activities tied to auto-parts suppliers. She said “this bargaining is important for all,” noting that some auto jobs at U.S. parts makers pay less than $10 an hour, forcing workers to go on food stamps or work elsewhere.
In discussions with UAW officials in October, Ms. Estrada and UAW President Dennis Williams said two-tier wages must be addressed. Mr. Williams, who was elected in 2014, has consistently said he aims to “close the gap” between what legacy UAW workers—hired before the U.S. economic crisis—are paid and what new hires earn. One of the UAW’s rallying cries in months to come is expected to be “no more tiers.”
Officials working for Detroit auto makers anticipate coming to a solution on two-tier wages that will make the UAW more comfortable, people familiar with the strategy say. Pay increases are not off the table. But the companies plan to continue pursuing pay structures that are heavy on variable compensation so they can avoid the troubles they had when the economy skidded in 2007, according to people familiar with the negotiating strategy.
Citing hourly-pay flexibility as a big factor, GM, Ford and Chrysler have invested billions of dollars in U.S. plants and hired tens of thousands of workers in recent years. Ford, for instance, will have hired 14,000 by the end of 2015, 2,000 more than it initially committed to. Chrysler has pledged $5.3 billion in U.S. factory investments over the term, $800 million more than its initial commitment. To keep the money flowing, the UAW is seen as needing to continue to protect the Big Three from the consequences of a downturn by providing another contract laden with incentives that doesn’t drive up fixed costs.
Ms. Estrada said Detroit shouldn’t perceive labor as the source of its problems. “These companies didn’t go bankrupt because of their workers,” she said, adding that what “UAW workers did [to help bail out Detroit] was smart” and a template for how the union would respond in the face of crisis. “We have shown over and over that we will come to the table,” she said.

• Ford is no doubt still licking their wounds from the 3rd place finish for the F150 pickup in this year’s Motor Trend truck of the year contest. But a Car and Driver review of that pickup seems to validate the decision. Among other things, they point out that the truck they tested was 519 pounds lighter than its predecessor, not 700 (which makes the Ford only 150 to 200 pounds lighter than a comparable Silverado). They also say the cabin is “almost as quiet as the Silverado” and the brakes have a “touchy pedal that delivers no feedback.” Going inside the cab, they say, “the primary dash plastics are still relatively low-rent, and the fit and finish fall well behind what Chevrolet and Ram have achieved.” Focusing on price, “We drove a low spec, 4-dr XLT model with the 2.7 V6, cloth seats, rear wheel drive and few creature comforts that stickered at $42,875. Affordability is a problem…”.

Tom Brune
UAW Communications Coordinator
Wentzville Assembly

Monday, December 8, 2014

State of the Union December 6, 2014

December 6, 2014 online at

• The Body Shop Bake Sale will be Monday, Dec. 8 and held at column S-21. All proceeds will go to leveling gifts for Adopt-A-Child. Thanks in advance for your support of this great program. And speaking of that, please return your child’s gifts to the communications office no later than next Friday, Dec. 12. And remember to put the child information sheet with the gifts so we know who gets what (as always, do not wrap the gifts). This year over 160 children were adopted, an all-time high. Because of your generosity, many children will now have a great Christmas that otherwise would not. Thanks again!
• Friday, Dec. 12 is also the deadline for turning in resolutions for the upcoming National Negotiations in 2015. Forms are available from your committee person or at the Union Hall and you can return them to same. All resolutions (except duplicates) will be submitted for negotiations.
• FYI – to whom it may concern; the apprentice orientation letters have been mailed.
• The annual Chassis Christmas Party will be Friday, Dec. 19 at Maggie Malones after first shift. There will be free food, drink specials, prizes and live music as well as a visit from Santa! All are welcome so come and join us for an evening of fun and holiday cheer. For more info contact Susan Daniel (Picou) at column F-43 of the engine line.
• As you may remember, our van sales dipped again last month, but this is certainly not a function of a lack of orders. Here are the segment results for full-sized vans:
2014 2013 Change Share GM 5194 7311 - 29% 24.5% Ford Transit 4851 --- --- 22.9% Ford Econoline 4151 10,145 - 59.1% 19.6% Ram Promaster 3290 828 +297% 15.5% Mercedes Sprinter 2532 2010 +26% 12.0% Nissan NV 1141 990 +15.3% 5.4% And here’s a look at midsize truck sales for November: 2014 2013 Change Share Toyota Tacoma 13,018 12,601 + 3.3% 56.4% Nissan Frontier 6,332 6,003 + 5.5% 27.4% Chevy Colorado 2,336 --- --- 10.1% GMC Canyon 854 --- --- 3.7% Honda Ridgeline 535 1,353 - 60.5% 2.3%

• We’re still basking in the glow of Motor Trend’s unanimous decision to recognize the Colorado as the 2015 Truck of the Year. Editor-in-chief Ed Loh has stood defiant in the face of criticism that the Ford F150 should’ve gotten the award instead (it finished 3rd behind the Transit van). Scott Burgess, Motor Trend’s Detroit editor and one of the judges, weighed in with this:
It’s rare for any vehicle to get unanimous approval from Motor Trend editors. But the Chevrolet Colorado did just that winning the 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year in a landslide. For me, it wasn’t the nicely loaded Colorado Crew Cab Z71 that convinced me to vote for the Colorado. That’s a great pickup, riding high on those bouncy Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires with a promise of off-road hoopties. It was the least assuming truck out of the 10 vehicles we drove, tested, loaded and unloaded for nearly a week in Arizona. A very basic, extended cab Chevy work truck with a price tag of $23,300.
First, that’s something you rarely hear anymore: A pickup costing less than an addition to your house. This little truck is downright affordable. But it never felt cheap. Many editors noted the interior comfort, the quiet ride and how it seemed the right size for the right price at the right time.
In the Motor Trend story, I note the Texasification of pickups. It’s been an ongoing issue as fullsize pickups continue to grow larger– often out performing heavy-duty pickups from two decades ago. They are truly testaments to engineering capability. (Full disclosure, at one point, we drove the Colorado next to a ‘90s Chevy S-10 and were blown away at how big the Colorado looked.) But the world is not just one giant construction site or open country where someone needs to wrap chains around a rock and pull it somewhere. There are city streets to traverse, suburban neighborhoods to cruise down, Home Depot parking lots to squeeze into and fullsize pickups can be challenging in tight spaces. Fitting one in your garage can be a hassle if not a physical impossibility. Every time I got out of a fullsize truck and jumped into the Colorado, it was much easier to drive. In fact, it is downright fun with sharp steering feel, nice acceleration and a nimbleness that big rigs inherently don’t possess.
Of course, Truck of the Year testing is not a direct head-to-head comparison. The Colorado did not beat the Ford F-150 or the GMC HD 2500 in a showdown. In fact, if you’re looking to buy a fullsize pickup, the choices are nearly limitless with fantastic pickups from Ram, Ford and GM. But the Colorado did outperform everyone against the testing regiment Motor Trend has in place. Really, the Colorado is a big test for Chevrolet and consumers. The midsize pickup segment has been shrinking for decades. American pickup makers, Ford, GM and Ram have all said in the past that little trucks never made sense because their price point is too low, they steal business from the more profitable fullsize trucks and why would a person buy a midsize truck when they could get a fullsize truck for the same price.
My answer has always been: Because some people want a smaller truck. And make no mistake, the Colorado is the best midsize pickup in its class. Furthermore, the Colorado doesn’t pretend to be a midsize Silverado. It doesn’t tow as much, carry as much or weigh as much. It’s not supposed to. True pickup guys may grumble, but this pickup wasn’t made for them.
Designers took a lot of care to make sure they weren’t creating a baby Silverado. Instead, they designed an aggressive looking pickup and gave it all of those cool Silverado features such as the bumper step, cargo management system and plush interior. A smaller pickup means it will have a lot more versatility than its bigger counterparts. This is truly a lifestyle vehicle that could handle daily commutes without emptying the tank; weekend camping trips and the occasional run to the hardware store. You may not want to build a new house with this truck, but you can certainly fix the one you live in with it. Sure, a bigger rig can do many of those things, but downsizing one’s life can certainly include the vehicle you choose to keep in your driveway. Particularly this one, as it takes up a little less space, uses a little less gas and leaves a few more dollars in your wallet than its bigger counterparts.
So congratulations to the Chevrolet Colorado for winning Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year honors for 2015. To the engineers, designers, factory workers and executives who brought new life to a midsize pickup, it’s a well-deserved award for your tireless dedication and work. Every judge agrees, and that doesn’t happen often.

Tom Brune
UAW Communications Coordinator
Wentzville Assembly

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

State of the Union December 2, 2014

December 2, 2014 online at

• Reminder: You can order jackets now through Dec. 5 at the Union Hall. These are heavier weight, lined jackets and will come with logos on the front and the UAW wheel logo on the back (all embroidered). Cost is $85 ($90 if you want your name on the front). When placing your order a $45 deposit will be required with the balance due upon receipt. Expect 4+ weeks for delivery of the jackets.

• General Motors Co. dealers in the United States delivered 225,818 vehicles last month for the company’s best November sales in seven years. Total sales were up 6 percent compared to a year ago, retail sales were up 5 percent and fleet deliveries were up 11 percent. The Buick brand had its best November since 2003. GMC had its best November since 2001, and the GMC Sierra had its best November sales ever. At Chevrolet, the Spark, Cruze and Equinox also had their best November sales ever, Silverado had its best November since 2006 and Traverse had its best November since 2010. “The buzz around Black Friday helped drive strong showroom traffic but there was a lot more at work in the market,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “More people have jobs and job security, their wages are starting to increase, household wealth is growing and low pump prices look like they’re here to stay through 2015. All of this helped deliver an exceptional month and it will help keep auto sales at very healthy levels going forward.”

Additional November Highlights (vs. 2013 except as noted)

Chevrolet: The Cruze was up 26 percent, Spark was up 64 percent, Sonic was up 3 percent. Silverado was up 24 percent, Tahoe was up 10 percent and Traverse was up 14 percent. Dealers delivered 2,366 all-new Colorados, ahead of plan, with a low retail days supply of 21 days. GMC: GMC was up 23 percent. The Sierra was up 57 percent and the Yukon was up 14 percent. The Terrain was up 13 percent and 854 all-new Canyons were delivered, which is ahead of plan. Buick: Buick was up 27 percent. Encore had a 72 percent sales increase, LaCrosse was up 71 percent and Verano was up 22 percent.

Cadillac: Cadillac Escalade deliveries were up 75 percent, with the retail days supply very tight at 16 days. Sales of the CTS sedan increased 18 percent. Average Transaction Prices (ATPs): GM has now posted 26 consecutive months of year-over-year average transaction price (ATP) increases on the strength of new pickup trucks, SUVs and Cadillacs. ATPs were a record $35,600, according to J.D. Power PIN mid-month estimates, up $790 per unit compared to October and up $3,100 versus a year ago. GM’s November incentive spending as a percentage of ATPs was 10.4 percent, down 1.2 points month over month, while industry average spending was 9.6 percent of ATP, down 0.1 points.

Fleet and Commercial: Fleet sales were up 11 percent. Van sales totaled 5194, down 29% vs. last November.

• Now that most every automotive media outlet has done a review of the Colorado/Canyon (which have been overwhelmingly positive) it’s time for the inevitable comparisons to our competitors to begin. First out of the gate is Motor Trend, who did a 3-truck comparison with the Colorado Z71, the Tacoma TRD and the Frontier Pro 4X, all with V6 engines. The magazine article quickly dispatched the Frontier, choosing not to waste valuable print space, saying, “for more on the 3rd place finishing Nissan, visit”.

Going head to head with the long-time segment leading Tacoma, the first evaluation dealt with the powertrains and issues like acceleration, fuel economy and overall refinement. Doing the testing were three editors: Benson Kong, Kim Reynolds and Jason Udy. About the Toyota, “The engine note sounds as if it has half the cylinders it actually has," Reynolds observed of the Tacoma's powertrain, whereas Udy declared: "Great low-end torque. Loud exhaust, didn't like to rev, and sounded slightly strained." Turning to the Colorado, Udy again: "Initially I didn't like the sound and feel of the powertrain. It felt sluggish and didn't sound like it wanted to rev. Not as much low-end torque as the competitors' larger engines. By the end of the second day, the powertrain felt livelier. Smoothest revving engine and shifted smoothly." Acceleration times proved the superiority of the Colorado, which was quicker 0-60 mph (7.4 vs. 7.7) and in the ¼ mile. And Motor Trend’s “real fuel economy” measurement showed the Chevy topping the Toyota by 2 mpg combined. Round 1 to the Colorado.

Next up was ride and handling. Tests were done with loaded (880 lbs) and unloaded versions. Able to measure vertical movement, tests showed the Colorado registered the smallest difference between loaded and unloaded beds. Udy asserted the Bowtie truck has the "best handling feel" with its cab-isolating ride. Reynolds on the Colorado: "Its ride is more car-like than truck-like. Its smaller-than-full size results in a dramatic improvement in nimbleness. Full-size trucks can be quite ponderous." About the Tacoma, Kong wrote: “the hydraulically assisted power steering weighting would suddenly become heavy as the steering wheel passed true center.” To top it off the Chevy was quicker through the figure-eight and needed 12 less feet to stop from 60-0. Round 2 to the Colorado.

Interior features, quality and design was the final phase. Kong wrote, “There wasn't much of a contest with the interior accommodations either, with everyone preferring the Chevrolet's vastly more modern cabin as a place to spend time in.” After fiddling with each trucks' sound systems, Udy said: "Inside, the Colorado had the most comfortable seats. The materials and power lumbar helped. Best rear seat space and visibility. Nicest infotainment system, though no real nav. Best storage cubbies." The Tacoma drew scorn from Kong: “At initial inspection, some of the Tacoma's switches and the surfaces on the dashboard, panels, and headliner look like they're shared with a mid-1990s Camry.” Udy jotted down for the Toyota: "Harder to see over front headrests from back seat. Infotainment system and dash layout seemed old." Cabin noise as measured in sones was also lower in the Colorado (24.7 to 27.1). Round 3 to the Colorado.

At the end of the day, the Colorado was the unanimous winner. "Its power is smoothly delivered (almost car-like), and its steering points into a corner quite well for a truck," Reynolds determined of the matchup-winning truck. "What's not to like? If I absolutely had to have one this would be it."

Tom Brune
UAW Communications Coordinator
Wentzville Assembly