Trouble for GM; ArmyGeneral Motors is facing increasing risk of a total shutdown due to a lack of parts from its major supplier, Delphi. The United Auto Workers union wants to authorize a strike against the bankrupt supplier. Case in point: Delphi is advertising for factory workers at its Athens, Alabama steering assembly plant, paying between $10 to $14 per hour. UAW contracts require a minimum wage of $14 per hour. Delphi says it is hedging against the possibility that a large number of its Athens employees will accept a buyout plan designed to trim the work force and expenses, but the UAW sees the move as Delphi girding for a strike by adding non-union workers at the facility. If a strike is authorized against Delphi, it could cause General Motors to hemorrhage millions more dollars every day than it already is.
Given GM’s shaky financial situation, the U.S. Army can’t expect the world’s largest automaker to help subsidize repairs to its Yuma, Arizona proving grounds. The Army’s facility needs substantial upgrades, and any car company willing to chip in can expect a free 50-year lease of the proving grounds and the surrounding desert scrub. But the big benefits, aside from the brutally hot summers and new test tracks, are that the Army controls the surrounding land, which means no spy photographers can snoop on new products, and no developers can build nearby communities which is what’s happening at existing GM, Chrysler, Toyota, and Nissan facilities in the Phoenix metro area.
Not that spy photographer Jim Dunne is complaining: he just sold five acres of desert scrub next to the Chrysler proving grounds for $800,000, generating $670,000 in pocket-busting profit. That oughta buy a heckuva long-range lens for use in Yuma, where land is still, ah, dirt cheap.
Photos by Ron Perry and courtesy of the manufacturers