Cars.com has released its Top American-Made Cars Index and the results are interesting: Four of the top five cars are Japanese brands (#1 Toyota Camry, #3 Honda Accord, #4 Toyota Sienna and #5 Hona Pilot).
On the surface, it seems difficult to decide how to feel about this. Why are Japanese brands dominating the American market? But ultimately, does it really matter what brand the cars are so long as they are built with American hands? There isn’t a single car company CEO who is part of the 99%, or even the 3% for that matter, so it’s not about rooting for the boss. What’s worse, some American brands can’t pass the sniff test when it comes to American assembly. They’ve given in to “globalization” more than global brands:
Five years ago, Ford had 20 models with 75 percent or higher domestic parts content. For the 2012 model year, that figure fell to three. Yet the same strategy has helped to bring Ford into the black with 11 straight quarterly profits.
“They have one of the highest content vehicles, the old Escape, and one of the lowest content vehicles, the Transit,” said Kristin Dziczek, who directs the Labor and Industry group at Michigan’s Center for Automotive Research. “There’s a global supply chain for most things, and that ebbs and flows with currency, with trade and free-trade agreements. It ebbs and flows with union agreements with capturing outsourced work.”
Ford isn’t alone. Cars.com surveyed domestic parts content for the top 113 models on the market, which make up 89 percent of all the cars sold through May. More than 80 percent of those cars — the vast majority of what shoppers are buying — have domestic parts content below 75 percent or are assembled in Canada, Mexico or abroad.
So there is cause for celebration when we discover that the the #1 American-made car, the Toyota Camry, was assembled in Georgetown, Kentucky at a plant that was built under a Project Labor Agreement (PLA). In fact, last year Toyota’s President Tetsuo Agata wrote a letter to former Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers marking the 25th anniversary of Toyota’s first North American plant. Agata’s adoration for PLAs is clear from his writing and demonstrates exemplary owner behavior with respect to labor:
Large-scale construction projects pose unique challenges for corporations such as ours that maintain the highest standards of safety, efficiency and productivity. To address these challenges, Toyota has consistently employed Project Labor Agreements for our major construction projects, and we could not have been more pleased with the results.