Daily Edition: Apr. 4, 2006

April 3, 2006

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.

Get more on March's sales numbers



CEO Hopes for No Strike

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. steel 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?

What's next in the Delphi Chapter 11 saga?




Soggy Delphi Protest Loses Steam

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.

Inside the 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


Wagoner Optimistic About Delphi

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.

"I don't 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.

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