Episode 484 – UAW Needs to Take a Stand, Nissan Backtracks, Citroën Fights Dictatorships

September 23rd, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:29

Chrysler workers are caught drinking and getting high on lunch break, and the UAW has nothing to say. Nissan backpedals on comments made by its CEO about China. Citroën says its latest concept car will reject the status quo oppression of the automotive world. All that and more, plus a look at the new Ford Edge Sport.

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This is Autoline Daily for September 23, 2010. And now, the news.

A local television station in Detroit broke a story showing a number of Chrysler workers going out and drinking and getting high on their lunch break. Several carloads of workers from Chrysler’s Jefferson-North plant, the one which builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee, would head to a liquor store on their lunch break, then drive to a local park and began partying before returning to the plant. The same plant, by the way, that president Obama visited this summer, praising the American auto worker. Chrysler has suspended the workers without pay, or at least suspended the ones it can identify in this video. It will likely move to fire them. Unfortunately, no one from the UAW would appear on camera to talk about this. The union did put out a statement, but it did not call for them to be fired or face any kind of reprimand. The UAW needs to take a stronger stand. If it truly wants to be able to organize the transplants, it needs to show foreign automakers that it is willing to see workers who behave like this dismissed immediately.

Yesterday we reported that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said there was no limit on the amount of technology the company would bring to China to share with its partner. Today, Nissan officials are backpedaling on that statement. The Wall Street Journal quotes one Nissan official as saying it’s difficult to see how they would share their latest technology with their partner Dongfeng without putting strict controls on what they share.

This is all in reaction to a policy that China is considering which would force foreign automakers to turn over their latest electric car technology to their Chinese partners, if they want to sell EVs in China. Now several U.S. politicians are speaking up against that. The Detroit Free Press reports that Congressman John Dingel of Michigan sent a letter to the Chinese ambassador warning him of possible retaliation against Chinese goods if this policy is put in place.

Uh-oh, this doesn’t sound good. According to The Detroit News, the U.S. Treasury Department estimates that when GM does its initial-public offering the stock will have to sell for about $133 a share for the government to break even on the bailout. That’s a pretty high price for the stock, and makes it hard to believe the government will get all its money back.

Ward’s reports French automaker Citroën will exhibit a funky-looking concept vehicle at the Paris Motor Show next week. This tiny four-seater – its wheelbase is just 230 centimeters, less than 91 inches – was inspired by Lacoste, an upscale clothing maker best known for its polo shirts with an alligator logo on them. The car features an open design with no windows or doors and barely any roof. The windshield can also fold down for an even more airy driving experience. Its design was inspired by the Mehari, a beach-buggy built by Citroen decades ago. The company says the Lacoste is, and I quote: “. . .  a vehicle whose will is to end the dictatorship of ‘always more’ that sometimes plagues the automotive world.” Strong words for a car that will probably never make it to production.

And now for some news about my favorite automaker in the world. According to Ward’s, Mitsuoka, that boutique company that builds REALLY wacky-looking cars is following the recent trend of other Japanese OEMs and moving south, to Thailand. It’s just signed a joint-venture agreement with Yontrakit Corporation, a Thai auto-distributor, to build handmade Mitsuoka cars in the country. If the deal goes through about 280 vehicles will be built there, but the article is unclear if that’s in total or per year. Cars will be built individually as orders are received taking about three months to complete. Up to 90 percent of its production will be exported to markets in South-East Asia and the Middle East.

Ford has made a lot of changes to its crossover called the Edge. So what changed and what did not? We’ll show you, right after this.

2011 Ford Edge Sport
A few weeks back we showed you the new Ford Edge, but the company is also releasing a sport version of the CUV. Seamus McElroy filed this report.

So what’s different about the interior?

Powering the Edge Sport is a 3.7-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic, but for those who want more sporty driving, paddle shifters are also available. This upgraded package produces 305 horsepower which is 40 more than the outgoing Sport model. Fuel economy for an Edge Sport equipped with front-wheel drive gets 18 MPG in the city and 25 on the highway.

Thanks for that report, Seamus. Pricing for the Edge Sport starts just under $37,000.

Don’t forget to tune into Autoline After Hours tonight. Our guest will be Chris Preuss, the president of OnStar. What we’ll be wanting to talk to him about is how OnStar can keep up with new technology coming into cars, like with Ford’s SYNC system. Make sure you send in your questions as well. That’s tonight starting live at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Autoline After Hours.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, thanks for watching. We’ll see you tonight, and tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

30 Comments to “Episode 484 – UAW Needs to Take a Stand, Nissan Backtracks, Citroën Fights Dictatorships”

  1. dcars Says:

    Does John Dingel know that the chinese do not have to put this law into effect? They intend to buy GM, one of the most technologically advanced company’s in the world.

  2. Mark Says:

    I hope the UAW stands up and does the right thing. No one; union or otherwise should be allowed to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol without termination risk. The company I work for tests us randomly for drugs and alcohol, and to keep these great jobs bring a level of expectation of competenance of all workers.

  3. Mark Says:

    Seamus: Nice voiceover! You’re getting better in every episode.

    John/Seamus: These product introductions are always interesting. Keep them coming! I really enjoy hearing the designer explain some of the less obvious styling details they incorporated into the cars.

  4. HtG Says:

    One might hope that China’s attempt to coerce Western automakers into handing over their battery tech means that they have not been successful in stealing said tech abroad. Espionage happens.

  5. Mike D Says:

    The correct price for the GM shares will be basically a little simple match. Take the expected annual dividend and multiply it by 33 for a 3% return or 25 for a 4% return. The investor deserves more of a return than a government guaranteed CD, so maybe the earning multiple could be something else. Without the usurious interest it was paying on the junk bonds, it should be possible for GM to be profitable. It would have to be crazy profitable to justify a stock price of $133
    Mike D.

  6. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Yeah people drinking and drugging at work messes everything up for everybody. Now the Nanny Corps are becoming like Old School Ford and checking on people’s “Social Characters” when they arent working.

  7. Frank Nelson Says:

    Yeah, they don’t call him HyundaiSmoke for nothing. A friend from Ohio worked at a GM plant there while attending college in the 70s. Said they would go out at lunch, drink, get high, then come back and try to remember what they were doing.

  8. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    The UAW has long out lived it’s usefulness much like the UMW and USW. When you can slack off at work without impunity (drinking, smoking dope, shoddy work)what do you expect.

    The Union will do nothing because they would then lose incoming dues. The UAW has given the autoworkers a feeling of entitlement and will soon give them the bad news that their jobs are being sent elsewhere due to inflated wages and poor standards of workmanship.

    If they(the Unions)are so important how do the Imports that have factories in the the USA run so well with out the them??

    We (USA) are no longer the leader in the steel industry and are quickly losing our edge in many other fields.

    When did we lose the desire to be the VERY BEST!! Now being just OK is OK!!

  9. steve salis Says:


    thanks for bringing to light the behavior of UAW workers. from what I hear this is a common practice in many Detroit area plants.

    I only wish the national media would pick up this story.

  10. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Hopefully the ‘fallen’ autoworkers are the exception and not the rule; I suppose you could find similar behavior in all walks of life and or countries.

    All the news today was certainly a bunch of ‘downers’; even when John/Seamus got to the Edge reviews (I was hoping for an optomistic skew) the price of 37,000 dollars pretty much ended that hope.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    If the Jeep assembly workers are getting drunk at lunch time, then the workers who put together the Journey must take crack breaks, how also can you explain vibrating brakes on a new car with less than 5k miles?

  12. Tom L Says:

    The auto jobs must be pretty simple if you can get stoned or pissed and still do them.
    Maybe they are not needed. There are a lot of American’s who would love to get their pay checks

  13. Tony Gray Says:

    Agree with Mark @2. Seamus is doing much better and demonstrating more enthusiasm. Keep up the double espresso buddy and you will be fine.

    The UAW had a chance here to show they really are full partners with management by condemning and joining Chrysler in getting rid of these losers. Alas, they will go to the grave defending these guys and their credibility will remain in the dumper.

  14. DukeT Says:

    LOL, it never ceases to amaze me at the naivety of many. Apparently, you guys have never been in the executive ranks . . . and attended the proverbial “drink your lunch”.

    The only difference really is the where, what, & how – it is done.

    I do not condone this type of behavior one iota, just thought that I’d remind some of you guys that this practice has been around for a long time and it is not confined to the working ranks. It needs to be weeded out at ALL ranks of workers.

  15. len simpson Says:

    It is the nature of humans to be human , regardless of their status.

  16. Salvador G. Says:

    I disagree with JohnMc., it’s not that the UAW won’t take a stand… It’s just that they’re really high right now.

    “And now for some news about my favorite automaker in the world.”

    (man, what a weirdo) Anywho, some of those Mitsuoka (or Mits’oka -silent ‘u- trust me) do look a lot like Morgans.

    “. . . a vehicle whose will is to end the dictatorship of ‘always more’ that sometimes plagues the automotive world.”

    Can someone tell the French that “WE WANT MORE!”

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Once again the uaw shows what it doesn’t have,and that is a backbone.Those auto workers are going to go back to work completely impaired whether it’s from booze,weed,or check “c” all of the above.Jeep would be 100% right in terminating them right away.The uaw should also publicly condemn that kind of behavior at the workplace.This will bode ill for those that are considering buying the flagship of the jeep brand.My advice to those that got caught partying at lunch……….go work for gm,it seems they are always wacked out over there ;}>

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “thanks for bringing to light the behavior of UAW workers. from what I hear this is a common practice in many Detroit area plants.”

    This is nothing new, and is not at all unique to “Detroit area plants.” It has been common at Kokomo, Indiana plants for at least 50 years, and not just Chrysler plants.

    It is unfortunate that the UAW won’t take a stand against it, in this day and age of disappearing factory jobs. Employees who go to work drunk and stoned can easily be replaced.

  19. Alex Kovnat Says:

    I was watching Fox News last night, and saw the video where those guys were drinking and working the line.

    I remember reading years ago about how auto workers would shoot just enough heroin to cover withdrawl symptoms. So the problem isn’t new. In fact, when George Romney was the head guy at American Motors he personally fired a few guys who were drinking on the job.

    But the fact that drinking on the line was always done, doesn’t make it excusable anymore than drunk driving is excusable simply because people have always done so.

  20. cwolf Says:

    I am a UAW member and I hope the people in this piece are fired. Regardless of the UAW, the act of firing IS up to the company! Too many of the daily participants of ALD falsely assume the work force of the UAW is the same as it was in the 70″s. Not so! With the economy as it is, the majority of workers realize their job may be on the line and are blessed to have a job. It is IDIOTS like those seen are also the ones who are lazy. But,again,one must realize supervisors do know what is going on and do nothing about it. Maybe a good idea to fire them,too! Then this BS might be put to an end.

  21. XA351GT Says:

    Those execs that drink their lunch probably are not putting somewhat important things like wheels on the cars. Like you said it’s not right that they do so ,but the ramifications of them screwing up something while drunk won’t kill someone( unless they do it driving drunk). That’s what happens when you have more money than you need and a attitude that you deserve what you get and more. And then some fat cat in the Union will back you up and not agree to punish you. I’m supposed to feel sorry for these ass clowns?

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    all plant managers need to make it clear to all employees that this type of behavior will not be allowed and they will be fired immediately

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Years ago, when I worked at a UAW-represented GM plant, people sometimes got fired for being drunk on the job, beating up their supervisors, etc., but always got re-hired with back pay as part of the next contract. I would hope things have changed since then. If not, the UAW does not deserve any chance of organizing the transplants.

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Frank, guys like this make it bad for everybody who takes a puff here and there on a joint and has a beer. Guys like this make employers do stupid random drug testing, and HAVE DRUG TESTS FOR $8 HOUR JOBS!!!

    The Modern Day Temperance movement in America has gotten ridiculous, and needs to be Stopped. Ive read that Bible up and down. Nothing about Drugs, Tobacco, or Alcohol. The Idea that Drugs are a Lie, and that’s why they are bad under God is a piss poor excuse.

    Sounds more like political interpretation of the religious to control social policy to me.

    However on the other end, the irresposible substance users have gotten ridiculous too.

    A little bit of weed is ok, BUT AT HOME NOT ON THE JOB, NOT OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE, ETC…!!!

    Assholes making it bad for others.

  25. C-tech Says:

    It is sad that they employees are goofing off like this, they should be fired. I don’t think this is representative of all UAW auto workers, and if you look at any large scale operation (2,000+ workers) you can probably find the same issues. Hopefully the UAW will stand for the rest of the workers they represent. As for the new Grand Cherokee and other Chrysler vehicles, the quality has been much better that in the past. As a technician in a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealer the quality problems have not been with assembly, but with materials and engineering. Pedro, your sister’s Journey with possible bad rotors has more to due with the material of the rotor than assembly. You (or your sister) will probably find an updated warranty rotor availible at you local dealership.

  26. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Maybe they were company Plants (ubiquitous clandestine agents) to force stricter drug testing guidelines. I know many people who worked or used to work at plants. Just say they love the Ganja.

    Why not? It’s a shit job anyway, and for most of those people the only enjoyment they get out of their lives.

    At least have the decency to leave them to their Marijuana Devices on off hours, AND AT LEAST HAVE THE DECENCY TO NOT USE YOUR SUBSTANCES AT WORK!!!

  27. Gary Paul Says:

    I worked for a Chrysler supplier as a brake line inspector during the early 1990s. We had a tiny workforce of about 7 men and sure enough a couple of them were flat out alcoholics (and they told me that). During lunch it was typical for them to go out to the party store and hammer down a big Colt 45 so fast I was astonished. I timed my partner once and within 30 seconds he could grab his stash, pop the top and DOWN THE ENTIRE BOTTLE–followed by a big wad of Bubble Gum to disguise his breath. This type of activity occurs all over the world at manufacturing facilities. This situation is particularly troubling however because of Chrysler’s recent bailout by US taxpayers, the importance of the new Grand Cherokee product to Chrysler’s turnaround, President Obama’s recent proclamations about the excellence of these workers, the fact that some appeared to be smoking dope (which is still illegal), the drinking while on the job (instead of at home!), driving while drinking or impaired, and the UAW receiving yet another blow to their reputation (even though many people get stoned at work–not just UAW members). The UAW simply has to take action on this and recommend that these workers be fired by Chrysler or their poor reputation will fall further…

  28. alloverx Says:

    No Ford products should have the 3.7 except maybe a high-end mustang. 3.7 should be reserved for Lincoln. Should have some futures that are unique to Lincoln.

  29. Nick Stevens Says:

    “I am a UAW member and I hope the people in this piece are fired. Regardless of the UAW, the act of firing IS up to the company! ”

    The company of course will fire them. It is greatlyh dissapointing that the UAW did not throw the book and read the riot act to these scumbags that gave a black eye to EVERY OTHER UAW worker.

    If your corrupt UAW leadership does not fix these pigs, YOU, the Rank and File, SHOULD. How about beating the living deaylights off them? How about tarring and feathering these unbelievably DUMB clowns??? OR are they NOT the exception, but the RULE, so you could not possibly tar and feather tens of thousands of drunks on the Job?

    And what does Sergio Macaroni-Castro think about this? He is VERY talkative the rest of the time, talking for 7 hours straight to the poor auto journalists and shareholders. Cat ate your tongue today, Macaroni?

  30. XA351GT Says:

    UNTIL they make POT legal you should get FIRED no excuses. IT IS ILLEGAL . I for one don’t want to get hurt because some dumbass can’t curb his impulses.