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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

No time for gloating for Detroit 3, UAW

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No time for gloating for Detroit 3, UAW

BY TOM WALSH

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

It's a whole new ballgame for Detroit's auto companies.

After surrendering 55% of U.S. car and truck sales to foreign competitors in recent decades, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have suddenly regained their collective footing, erasing a long-standing quality gap and slashing costs via bankruptcies and new labor contracts.

Led by Ford, the Detroit Three surpassed the foreign brands in J.D. Power and Associates' overall initial quality rankings issued Thursday, prompting newly elected UAW President Bob King to say, "That's just great verification of all the hard work we've been doing."

It's no time to gloat, though. The quality gap closed in part because Toyota stumbled with a spate of poorly handled product recalls. Don't count on that continuing.

And pressure will mount on King to win back concessions granted to keep the Detroit Three alive.

The trick will be to make sure workers share in gains from a revival while not saddling the companies again with rigid work rules and big fixed-cost burdens.

link:

http://www.freep.com/article/20100618/COL06/6180472/1331/BUSINESS01/No-gloating-for-Detroit-3-UAW

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