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Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover

By Rhonda Massari, Vice President, Branch 725


April 15, 2011
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BROOMALL, PA. - My mother always told me "don't judge a book by its cover". I remember the words exactly as my husband told my then 3 year old. Take care of this car and it will be yours when you turn 16. Fast forward 13 years and those words are coming back to haunt us. Yes, it is time to buy a new car. I have been dreading this day. The memory of the decision making process is still fresh in my mind from my last purchase.

*Figure out a price point- check
******************* Figure out what type of vehicle (car vs. SUV)-check
******************************************* Buy American/Union made -check

Unfortunately, this last one is the hardest. Buying an American Union made auto is not as easy as it sounds. Let me explain.

Not being able to decide what to buy, I started my research with one of the Big Three, Ford. I chose Ford because they didn't need or take any bail-out money. I looked at the Ford Fusion. Itís nice and in my price range. Sounds good. Right? Not so fast. The Ford Fusion is made by an American company but it is assembled in Mexico. Yep, thatís right. Assembled by non-union workers in Mexico. HMMMM I was not prepared for this. Now What?

Sticking with Ford, I looked at the Ford Edge. A lot more than I wanted to pay but, it is an American company assembled by Union workers. Too bad that itís assembled in Ontario Canada. Itís assembled by Canadian Union workers. Now, I have nothing against Canadians, but I want to support American families. So, sticking with Ford, I looked at the Explorer. Again, way above my price range but I did find out that it is assembled in Chicago, Ill. Or is it? The trouble is some are and some aren't. Seems you have to look at the VIN number. (WTF is the VIN number)? If the number starts with 1, 4 or 5 you are OK, it was assembled in USA by Union workers. If the number starts with "2" sorry, you are out of luck. Itís assembled in Canada. Geez what do I do now? Do I have to go to every car dealer in the area and check VIN numbers?

There are foreign auto makers whose cars are assembled in the USA. Many are located in right to work states and pay low wages to non-Union workers. Some are assembled in USA by American Union Workers. It seems you really have to do your homework.

This is de ja vu. This is the very same dilemma I faced 13 years ago. Do I........

a) Support an American Company who hires Union Workers in Canada or who may outsource the work to non-union labor in Mexico?
b) Support a foreign company who hires Union labor to assemble their cars in the USA?

13 years ago we decided to buy a Honda Accord. This was a foreign car but, 75% of the parts were made in America and it was assembled in Marysville Ohio by Union workers. (One of which is a friend) It was an agonizing decision. We decided on the lesser of two evils. We decided to support Union workers/families in the USA. I can tell you that I was critized by many Union members about this purchase. I was asked how I could by a foreign car. I was accused of being Un-American. Sure, I'm aware that the profits go outside the USA but, I have never been concerned about supporting a big business, as Big Business in general does not support Unions. I want to support American families who belong to a Union. In turn, I would like to think that this helps the American economy.

Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and things are not always as they appear. UAW workers produce Mazda, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Volvo automobiles. These are all foreign companies but are assembled in the USA by Union workers.

I sure donít have all the answers and the purpose of this article is just to bring these facts to light. I think that many of us were under the impression that if you bought an automobile from an American company that you are supporting American Union families. Just because one buys an automobile with an insignia bearing Ford/General Motors and Chrysler doesnít mean you are supporting Union working families in the USA.

Don't judge a book by its cover and don't judge a car by its insignia. Do your research. The UAW and AFL-CIO websites list autos made by Union workers. The site indicates UAW and CAW distinctions. and Kelly Blue Book also have information on where all cars are assembled. However, this information is not easily found. It is not an easy undertaking. It takes a lot of research. Do your homework.

Oh, and if you find a car in my price range thatís made in America by Union workers with a Vin number that starts with the right number, could you give me a call?