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Chevrolet Volt
GM isn't going to let a little thing like a lack of money prevent the Volt from coming to market in 2010

General Motors has been in a downward spiral all year with lagging sales and losses in the billions. GM and its cross town rival, Chrysler, asked Congress for monetary assistance to stave off bankruptcy by the end of the year. In the end, the Senate failed to hand over even $14 billion USD to the two struggling Detroit giants.

Now as the White House mulls what plan it will present to help GM and Chrysler stay in business during 2009, GM is stating that it will bring the Chevrolet Volt to market no matter what. This confidence in the Volt program comes despite that fact that GM announced yesterday that it would halt the production on a new engine assembly plant which will produce the 1.4-liter gasoline engine/generator for the vehicle.

Despite the setback with the engine assembly plant, billions of dollars in losses, and a production schedule that leaves little room for error, GM is still committed to bring the Volt -- and the Chevrolet Cruze -- to market by the end of 2010 as it has always stated.

If the engine assembly plant is unable to be completed in time to get the production Chevrolet Volt and Cruze out the door in 2010, GM will be forced to rely on one of its overseas facilities to produce the engine according to the Wall Street Journal. Interestingly enough, the Chevrolet Cruze is already available in overseas markets like South Korea albeit with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine -- two years ahead of the car’s North American launch.

"Everything that involves heavy cash outlays obviously is under review," said GM spokeswoman Sharon Basel on Wednesday. "Our intent is to still go forward with a new facility bringing that engine to Flint, Michigan."

"Although we are temporarily absolutely stopping all work on everything, the Volt will be out as originally scheduled," added one GM executive.

GM is banking on the Volt to bring it some of the same positive press that has been bestowed upon the Toyota Prius. However, the Prius and its rival, the Honda Insight, have base prices below the $24,000 mark. The Volt, however, will be priced near or will surpass the $40,000 mark before a $7,500 tax credit.

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RE: Price
By foolsgambit11 on 12/18/2008 7:03:58 PM , Rating: 2
Many, if not most, of the UAW's jobs are considered skilled labor. Uneducated? Maybe. Unmotivated? Who knows - let's see some productivity figures. But unskilled? No. Unless by unskilled, you mean to say 'unwhite-collar'.

I agree, unions for jobs like doormen and hotel cleaners seem a little odd. From where do they get their negotiating position? They don't really have skills the average person couldn't pick up in a day. But machinists, welders, and many other workers in auto factories are highly skilled and constantly training to advance their craft.

And now I'll reemphasize my initial point. Would you rather have a contract negotiated between two willing parties, or would you prefer the government get involved? Because that's what unions boil down to. They are a way for the 'disadvantaged' in the employer-employee relationship to assert their strength without the government stepping in to protect them. And so, between the two, I'd prefer unions.

RE: Price
By Ringold on 12/18/2008 8:10:44 PM , Rating: 5
We might have two definitions of skilled labor. I was thinking college graduates; engineers, accountants, financiers, etc. Post-industrial age jobs. I know machining and a lot of those types of jobs involve two year technical degrees, they are productive than just high school grads, but I wonder how many of those there even are, particularly among the older demographic which is really the one that costs GM and the others the most money. Another problem with unions; they reward seniority, and not so much productivity.

or would you prefer the government get involved? Because that's what unions boil down to. They are a way for the 'disadvantaged' in the employer-employee relationship to assert their strength without the government stepping in to protect them.

Not sure what you mean. The unions give hundreds of millions to political campaigns, and everyone knows the Democrat party is the party of union support. The government doesn't have to step in on each and every contract discussion because the Democrats insure that support for unions is systemic.

RE: Price
By Nfarce on 12/18/2008 8:47:43 PM , Rating: 5
Another problem with unions; they reward seniority, and not so much productivity.

Don't forget about:

o Making it all but impossible for a company to fire based on poor performance, especially in government unions.

o Forcing people to become a union member when he/she doesn't want to be a part of one.

o Mandatorily taking month or annual dues from paychecks (see above).

o The new "open vote" unionization proposal floating around out there that basically intimidates people into voting for unionization because their vote will be public instead of private (Democrats support this).

o Unions (UAW) not making concessions to save the Big Three.

And other things that you don't hear about much. My airline pilot buddy friend is none too happy about having to shell out $2,500 annually to his pilot's union. He sees zero benefits other than the fat cat union goons living it up like CEOs.

But you never hear about that nor hear Obama request that unions make concessions, do you? Unions were great back when we had no federal labor laws. They are outdated, and have been for quite some time. And I come from a family of union tradespeople (plumbers).

RE: Price
By foolsgambit11 on 12/18/2008 8:53:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, I was using the definition of skilled labor. Like I said, you must have meant to say 'white collar' where you said 'skilled'.

If you refer to my original post, I'm talking 'in principle'. I know the union system is pretty screwy currently. So talking about union contributions to political parties is irrelevant. Even so, I would argue:

1. That political support for unions is similar in principle to political support for faith-based outreach programs - they do a job so government doesn't have to.

2. That employers support many politicians on both sides of the aisle, at least in equal measure to unions (though probably not as such a unified block).

Also, it's not the unions that give money to politicians, it's the unions' political action committees - those dollars are contributed separate from union dues, by the individual worker's choice. It's how you get your voice heard - you can start an anti-union PAC if you want, and donate even more money than the unions to Democrats, if you think it will work. It won't though, because Democratic support for unions stems not from their contributions, but rather from their own ideology. They both (Dems & unions) have similar objectives.

On the other hand, I can't see where Republican antipathy to unions comes from. Is it misguided vestigial Cold War association with Communism? Is it financial campaign support from corporate interests? Is it bourgeois contempt for the average worker? It certainly can't be free market principles, since the free market would allow unions to amass a labor pool just as much as it would allow an oil company to amass oil reserves. It allows individuals to pool their labor together for greater returns the same way it allows mutual fund or hedge fund investors to pool their assets together for greater returns. Labor is a valuable commodity, and those who have it should leverage it to the greatest extent they can.

Sorry, I think this post has turned into a rant. I didn't mean it to. Apologies.

RE: Price
By Ringold on 12/18/2008 9:33:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure if labor unions is really so easily compatible with free market philosophy. When workers combine and lean on the company for which they work, they can end up acting similar to a lawless mob. Note in history how many times a firm has tried to fire the entire union, the union would seize the firm's facilities, and vicious gun battles would ensue as owners try to repulse the intruders from their properties. Labor becomes a coercive monopoly.

In free markets, people should be able to accept or reject business proposals freely with little consequence. A union, on the other hand, raises the stakes and can easily play a black mail card. If you've studied labor economics, you know in the end it comes down to the amount of labor needed of a certain skill, the amount of labor that exists, and wage ends up being some equilibrium amount. Free markets would prefer, it would seem to me, labor to negotiate freely and individually, thus allowing markets to clear rather than trying to force some other wage level. It also allows wages to more easily track individual productivity, rather than protecting laggards in the herd.

RE: Price
By cokbun on 12/18/2008 9:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
and what exactly are these " skills? " dont car companies have job trainings and all? are toyotas made by unskilled workers?

RE: Price
By mindless1 on 12/20/2008 4:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
It's not about skills, it's about the same old excuse as always that someone claims their "skills" should entitle them to sit on their bum and earn more than people doing real work. Why? Oh, because they sat on their bum for several years at higher education while their counterpart was doing what? Something already benefitting society.

I'm not suggesting someone with valuable skills shouldn't be paid well, rather than anyone who does an honest day's work should not be working for peanuts, if anything the worse the job is the more it should pay. I'm saying that besides enough money to pay back college loans, the local garbage man should make as much as a lawyer because picking up garbage all day would be terrible. The lawer has more skills, but who really thinks someone given the opportunity wouldn't take the later before the former? Truth is, even in the so-called land of opportunity it is not just what one chooses to do, it's still random circumstance that decides skilled or unskilled labor and the pay should be based on the work, not on some overly conceptualized idea about skill.

Someone is bound to come along and challenge that this leaves no incentive for people to learn the advanced skills. Quite the contrary, the average high school kid wants to loaf around and party at college then have the prestige of the higher skilled job, easier job, either way.

What is needed to make auto workers even better at their jobs? Make the job more desirable so there is more competition for it, so the best candidates possible pursue the jobs. That increases productivity and quality.

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