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Bob King, the president of the United Auto Workers union, wants a raise. Not for himself, but for entry level workers at auto plants, who are called “two-tiers.”
Our Kate Davidson profiled several of them last year. Two-tiers earn roughly $14 an hour, or about half the wages earned by the industry’s veteran workers.
Speaking to reporters following a speech to the Economic Club of Detroit today, King said he’s “very concerned” about attaining a higher standard of living for these workers, according to the New York Times.
King has previously said he doesn’t want to eliminate the second tier of workers because he believes that it helps create jobs that might otherwise be filled in other countries or at outside suppliers with lower wages. Automakers, meanwhile, say they need the two-tier wage system to be more competitive.
The UAW president says he’s upbeat about the progress of contract talks with Detroit automakers, but says it might be difficult to get a deal by Sept. 14, when those contracts expire. It isn’t unusual for the union and the companies to talk past the deadline, reports WWJ-AM Detroit.
Are you following the negotiations? What are the top issues you hope to see addressed?
August 29th, 2011
“You can drive almost anywhere in the state of Michigan – pick a point at random and start moving – and you will soon come upon the wreckage of American industry.”
That’s the first sentence in a story in this week’s New York Times Magazine about the seismic downturn in manufacturing over the past decade and its tenuous future in the U.S.
For decades, The Times says, the federal government has largely maintained a policy of letting the marketplace dictate the economy. That is, it hasn’t propped up ailing sectors of the economy nor tinkered with aid packages to strengthen niche industries the way China and Japan have maintained active hands in shaping industry.
That’s changed in recent years under the Obama administration. Notably, the federal government rescued American automobile manufacturers and parts suppliers through approximately $82 billion in loans and other incentives. In particular, the government has delivered $2.5 billion in stimulus money to 30 or so companies exploring advanced battery technology. One White House official tells The Times the battery money goes to “the far edge” of how far the federal government is going to create new jobs and boost a nascent industry.
“It’s naïve to believe that we just have to let the markets work and we’ll have a strong manufacturing base in America,” Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D) tells The Times.
The alternative raises questions. What is the federal government’s new role in spurring industry? What’s its responsibility in ushering a transition to a knowledge-based economy? And, as The Times asks in its provocative headline, does America need manufacturing?
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: Manufacturing Activity Rises Across Region, Ohio Ponders Turnpike Lease
August 29th, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Manufacturing index rises. Economic conditions across the Midwest improved in July, according to a report issued Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The Fed’s manufacturing index rose 0.5 percent in the month to a seasonally adjusted level of 84.8. Overall, regional output rose 6.2 percent year-over-year. The auto industry, buoyed by continued recovery from the Japanese catastrophes, showed growth of 1.4 percent following a 0.6 percent decrease in June.
2. Survey analyzes Michigan unions. Fifty-six percent of Michigan’s local government leaders say that unions have had a negative impact on their municipalities’ fiscal health. Meanwhile, 60 percent of respondents said their jurisdiction had either “good” or “excellent” relationships with union officials in the past 12 months. The findings come from a survey conducted by the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan, which received responses from 360 of approximately 520 local governments, according to our partner station Michigan Radio.
3. Ohio ponders turnpike lease. Gov. John Kasich and his administration are still exploring the possibility of privatizing the Ohio Turnpike in a deal that could net the Buckeye State approximately $2.5 billion dollars, according to our partner station Ideastream. The prospect of a deal comes at a time when the Ohio Department of Transportation projects a $1.5 billion deficit between now and 2017.
August 26th, 2011
Financial analysts have expressed skepticism over Groupon’s business model and some of its accounting practices in recent weeks, as the Chicago-based company’s prepares for an upcoming initial public offering.
Groupon CEO Andrew Mason has taken umbrage at the criticism. This week, he labeled it “insane” and “hilarious” in a three-page memo distributed to employees Thursday.
“We’ve bitten our tongues and allowed insane accusations … to go unchallenged publicly, it’s important to me that you have the context necessary to brush this stuff off,” Mason wrote in the memo, first reported by Reuters.
He defended the use of the controversial accounting tactic ACSOI, a measure that does not include online marketing expenses, stock-based compensation and other items, even as the company reported in its latest IPO filing that it had stopped using it.
Mason said U.S. revenue should rise 12 percent in August from the previous month and that marketing expenses would decline 20 percent.
The Chicago business community is closely watching the run-up to the Groupon IPO. Local investors and others in the city’s tech community see a successful Groupon as a potential anchor for a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, startups and tech companies.
August 26th, 2011
Rahm Emanuel reached the 100-day milestone of his tenure as mayor of Chicago earlier this week. All week, our partner station WBEZ has examined the early accomplishments and shortfalls of the Emanuel administration. Using his own 72-page transition report as a checklist, WBEZ graded his progress. Here are some highlights:
- Goal: Structural changes totaling $75 million savings in 2011 budget. Progress: Complete. Emanuel cut $75 million from the budget on his first day in office.
- Goal: End revolving door between government service and lobbying. Progress: Complete. Emanuel signed an executive order banning mayoral appointees from lobbying former colleagues for two years.
- Goal: Develop data-collection plan regarding gun usage and crime, develop plan for use and dissemination of data. Progress: Partially achieved. On day 99, Emanuel announced completion of a gun report that includes data for guns recovered by Chicago Police Department, but has not provided copies of the report.
- Goal: Develop plan for retaining and recruiting high-performing school principles. Progress: In August, Emanuel announced creation of a strategic plan and establishment of financial pool for merit raises and report cards for Chicago Public School principles.
How has Emanuel done so far? WBEZ asked his competitors for the job.
- Miguel Del Valle, a former city clerk and mayoral candidate doesn’t like the concept of a 100-day evaluation. “I don’t think it’s a benchmark that should be used at all,” he said. “It takes time.”
- “He has surpassed by expectations,” said Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, another mayoral candidate. “I did not expect him to get out in the neighborhoods like he has, and talk to the people, because he shied away from all the forums.”