UAW to address possible China-made Buick import

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

The UAW said Tuesday it plans to address during contract negotiations the speculation that General Motors Co. is considering importing a Buick SUV to the U.S. from China.

“After the sacrifices made by U.S. taxpayers and the U.S. workforce to make General Motors the profitable quality company it is today, UAW members are disappointed with the tone-deaf speculation that the Envision would be imported from China,” UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said in a statement. “This product discussion is especially alarming in light of the current (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade language debate. GM should stand by its declaration that it will build where it sells.

“The Envision should be made in the U.S. by the workforce that saved GM in its darkest time and UAW members intend to address this issue in contract talks.”

The UAW response follows an Automotive News story Monday that indicated GM is expected to bring the Envision SUV to the U.S. next year, citing industry forecasters. The story also said that if the Envision is added it “would almost certainly be imported here from China.”

A Buick spokesman said stories regarding the Envision are speculative.

“We have not announced the Envision for any markets other than China, where it has been extremely successful to date,” Buick spokesman Nick Richards said in an email.

Volvo Car Corp. this year began exporting a Chinese-made vehicle, the S60 Inscription sedan, to the U.S. But no American automaker has done so.

Buick introduced the midsize Envision SUV in China in fall 2014 and it’s been a strong seller. The luxury brand currently has five vehicles — two SUVs and three sedans — in its U.S. lineup, and will add the Cascada convertible — built in Europe — early next year. The Envision would slot between the subcompact Encore and large Enclave SUV.

The UAW is in contract negotiations with GM, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on four-year contracts for hourly workers, including nearly 51,000 at GM. The current contract expires in mid-September.

The union opposes TPP, a possible partnership between the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada and eight other countries that would create a massive free trade zone. The union is concerned about the future of U.S. auto manufacturing under the possible trade pact.

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