‘New GM’ Gets a Visit from a Shareholder
â€śThink about it. If you are a member of the union right now, youâ€™re spending all your time negotiating about health care. You need to be spending some time negotiating about wages, but you canâ€™t do it,” he said.
In fact, theÂ UAW locked itself into a contract limiting wages and changes toÂ health care,Â without the ability to negotiate with a threat of strike,Â until 2015. TheseÂ stands were agreed to by the union at the prodding of the Obama administration, which demanded that union autoworkers acceptÂ lower wages — as a condition to the bailout that saved Lordstown — to match non-union workers at Toyota plants in Kentucky and Honda plants in Ohio.
Even so, LordstownÂ isÂ something of a success story forÂ both the UAW and GM, and Obama’s remarks were punctuated with enthusiastic applause. Â After winning deep concessions from the UAW in 2007, GM agreed to invest $500 million to retoolÂ the plantÂ to make a new fuel-efficient small sedan, the Chevy Cruze.
ObamaÂ had nice things to say about theÂ Cruze, which GM expects to get more than 40 miles-per-gallon in highway driving.
“I just sat in the car,” Obama said of the Cruze. “I asked for the keys. They wouldn’t give me the keys. I was going to take it for a little spin. But it was nice sitting in there. It was a roomy car.”
Consumers will not get the keys to a new Cruze, either, until the middle of next year when it arrives in showrooms.Â In the meantime, Lordstown is stuckÂ building the Cobalt, aÂ budget-mindedÂ Chevy and vestige of the “old GM.”Â
Consumer Reports in its October edition branded the CobaltÂ as one of the five “cruddiest cheap cars” on the market.
(Writing by Kevin Krolicki. Reuters photo by Larry Downing.)