The Christian Science Monitor: Marick Masters on auto job cuts, union negotiations going forward

After a near-death in the Great Recession that required government bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler, the U.S. auto industry has been on a tear. Sales rose steadily through 2016. Since then, sales have softened a little. Now, the industry faces a host of looming political, technological, and consumer challenges, which signal tougher times ahead. One of the biggest challenges is political. A trade war – levied either against Europe or China or both – could be devastating for the U.S. industry. The administration hopes to convince foreign companies to build cars in the U.S., but it would take a few years for the factories to be built and auto jobs created. Until then, however, the tariffs are likely to reduce auto jobs. The 25 percent duty on autos and auto parts would raise car prices by an average $2,450, reduce annual sales by 1.2 million, and cut U.S. auto-related employment by nearly 200,000, according to the Center for Automotive Research. Such massive job cuts would complicate the industry’s negotiations with the United Autoworkers, whose contract expires next September. “The concern going into the 2019 negotiations will be largely maintaining jobs,” says Marick Masters, a labor expert at Wayne State University. “With the whole restructuring of the companies … the union is going to be very concerned about product placement, investments in plants in the U.S., and also how they might take advantage of the move toward electrification and ensure that their workforce is trained to perform those types of jobs.”

Full story in The Christian Science Monitor