GM Slides, Toyota Rises in March Sales
Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz posted
record sales in March, while General Motors sales dropped sharply and its market
share continued to fall under the pressure from the import brands. While General
Motors Corp. reported its sales dropped 14 percent and Ford fell by 5 percent,
several brands - including Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki, Audi, Kia, Hyundai, and
BMW-all reported sales increases. Chrysler Group sales increased two percent,
while Mercedes-Benz sales increased 18 percent as its new lineup seemed to be
striking a responsive chord with buyers.
more on March's sales numbers
Delphi CEO Hopes for No
Delphi Corp. believes it can restructure and reduce the
wages of its workers without a nasty strike, says the company's top executive,
Robert "Steve" Miller. Miller also said it was too soon to write off the
domestic auto industry as a failed enterprise and predicted it will emerge
from its troubles a stronger and healthier one just like the U.S.
industry did earlier in the decade. However, he also stressed that Delphi needs
a competitive wages and benefits package from its unions and insisted that he is
not asking for anything that the UAW and other unions haven't given other
suppliers in the U.S. with whom Delphi now competes, he said. But will the
union back down from its strike talk?
next in the Delphi Chapter 11 saga?
Soggy Delphi Protest
What had threatened
to be a sizable protest during an appearance by Delphi CEO Steve Miller fizzled
under a blanket of cold rain and strong winds on Monday. Organizers had hoped to
draw at least 100 protesters for the gathering outside Detroit's Masonic
Auditorium, where Miller addressed the Detroit Economic Club. Ultimately, there
were less than two dozen men and women, drawn from various Delphi and General
Motors plants around the MotorCity.
John Martinez, a
member of the United Auto Workers from GM's Poletown assembly plant, said the
weather wasn't going to keep him away.
"We should shut down
the entire industry," he said, in order to prevent companies like Delphi from cutting workers' wages and benefits. "We can't
support out families with what they propose," he added, in reference to the
massive reductions proposed by Delphi.
auditorium, Miller acknowledged the protesters, saying "I can't blame them for
being mad." But referring to the economics of globalization, he insisted, "we
have to face reality together."
Marching back and
forth along a small strip cordoned off by Detroit police, the protesters tried to make up
in volume for their small numbers, banging drums, chanting slogans, and waving
placards. One referred to the dollar-a-year salary Miller had accepted from
Delphi, proclaiming, "Miller isn't worth a
buck." Apparently, joked, the supplier CEO, "that must've been a typo." -TCC Team
Any kind of strike
by workers at the bankrupt Delphi Corp. would pose a serious problem for the
giant auto supplier's largest customer, General Motors. But GM CEO Rick Wagoner
stressed cautious confidence Delphi and its
unions will ultimately avoid a confrontation.
underestimate the basic challenges the UAW faces," said Wagoner, referring to
demands for massive cuts in pay and benefits.
In bankruptcy court,
last Friday, Delphi CEO Steve Miller requested that the company's current labor
contracts be voided, while also asking permission to close plants and cut
thousands of jobs. The UAW has threatened to strike if the request is
implemented, and industry analysts warn that a walkout would starve GM of parts,
quickly shutting down its U.S. assembly lines. The cost could
run into the billions of dollars, with some observers fearing GM itself could
plunge into Chapter 11. The automaker had hoped to forestall a confrontation
with a proposal to buy out thousands of Delphi
workers, while letting others move over to GM plants at current pay rates.