Week in Review
Cities and governments have long loved big industry. Unions, too. Because they’re big. And are difficult to move. Such as an automobile assembly plant. They take a lot of real estate. Require a lot of specialized production and assembly equipment. And a lot of infrastructure to support them. Making them very difficult to move. But not impossible (see Chrysler spurns government money, Windsor to build minivans posted 3/4/2014 on CBC News Windsor).
Chrysler will continue to build its popular minivan in Windsor, Ont., and has withdrawn all requests for government financial assistance in relation to the redevelopment of its assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton…
At the Detroit auto show seven weeks ago, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said that changes at the Windsor plant alone would cost at least $2 billion, and that Chrysler needed government help to finance the project.
Chrysler said in a media release Tuesday it will now “fund out of its own resources whatever capital requirements the Canadian operations require.”
Industry Minister James Moore said the government’s commitment to the auto industry is strong and he was surprised by Chrysler’s decision.
Essex Conservative MP Jeff Watson, whose riding is just south of Windsor, said he believed talks were going well.
“We were prepared to invest in exchange for guarantees for Canadian production and a Canadian supply chain,” Watson said.
Money from the government doesn’t come without strings. And the string here was a guarantee that Chrysler wouldn’t leave. No matter how costly the government or union contracts made it to stay in Windsor. Costs that Chrysler has to recover in the sales price of their cars. Which can’t be so high as to price them out of the market. So Chrysler chose to spend their own money. So they didn’t get stuck in an adverse economic situation when trying to compete in a global market.
“It is clear to us that our projects are now being used as a political football, a process that, in our view, apart from being unnecessary and ill-advised, will ultimately not be to the benefit of Chrysler,” the company said in a news release.
“As a result, Chrysler will deal in an unfettered fashion with its strategic alternatives regarding product development and allocation, and will fund out of its own resources whatever capital requirements the Canadian operations require.”
The government wanted what was best for them. Economic activity they could tax. While Chrysler wanted what was best for them. Being able to sell cars at market prices. And leaving their options open in the future. Should it become too costly to continue to build cars in Canada. Due to the cost of labor. Or new regulatory policies. Or higher taxes to fund a welfare state struggling under the costs of an aging population. Governments are desperate for new tax revenue. And will make almost any promise to get it. Making long-term deals with governments risky.
According to the Ontario government, the auto sector employs 94,000 Ontarians, and supports as many as 500,000 families through indirect jobs…
Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo, who represents hourly employees in Windsor, said he wasn’t completely surprised by Marchionne’s announcement…
Chiodo said Tuesday’s announcement is short of the $2-billion retooling and flexible manufacturing line employees were looking for in Windsor…
Chiodo said a $2.3-billion investment would secure three generations of minivans, which could secure jobs for decades…
Marchionne also wants union concessions.
Yes, they love the jobs these corporations create. And all that economic activity those jobs create. Economic activity they can’t create. But they still hate corporations. That’s why they tax them. Regulate them. Call them greedy. Exploiters of labor. And that the only way they can get them to do something decent is by making deals with them that favor them and not these evil corporations. But sometimes these evil corporations don’t enter agreements that may harm them in the long run. And when they do governments and unions panic. As they fear they may have let a cash piñata slip through their fingers. Which is a problem for them. For they can’t create a single job those evil corporations can.