UAW protests Mexico production of Blazer

The Detroit News
The rear hatch of the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer on the General Motors Design Center patio in Warren, Michigan on June 15, 2018.

General Motors Co. will build its second-coming of the Chevrolet Blazer in Mexico, and the United Auto Workers is not happy about it.

Within minutes of the release of the official news Thursday night that GM would bring back the Blazer SUV for the 2019 model year, the labor union issued a statement from Terry Dittes, UAW vice president and director to the UAW-GM department.

“This news that the iconic Blazer nameplate will be built in Mexico is disappointing to UAW families and communities across this country," Dittes said. "GM employs over 15,000 production workers in Mexico, pays the workers less than $3 per hour and exports over 80 percent of the vehicles to the U.S. to sell here. This is all happening while UAW-GM workers here in the U.S are laid off and unemployed. We in the UAW have always supported products manufactured and produced in the U.S. and will continue to do so as a part of the fabric of our union.”

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Production of the 2019 Blazer begins later this year at GM's plant in Ramos, Mexico. The mid-size crossover will hit U.S. dealerships early next year.

A GM spokeswoman said that when the decision was made on where to manufacture the Blazer, the facilities in the U.S. capable of building a midsize SUV were running three shifts and were at full capacity.

The announcement that GM will build the Blazer in Mexico comes as President Donald Trump's administration pushes to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. The president, who in the past has railed about car production in Mexico, has repeatedly called NAFTA a "bad deal." In the past week, the president has threatened to place tariffs as high as 25 percent on auto imports to the United States, including vehicles from neighboring countries to the north and south.

The Blazer last was sold in the U.S. 14 years ago.

The 2019 model will bear little semblance to the original SUV. The new vehicle is a two-row crossover that's more car than SUV. Built on the same unibody platform as the GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5, GM is positioning the 2019 Blazer, which is larger than the Chevy Equinox and smaller than the Chevy Traverse, to compete with the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano and Jeep Grand Cherokee.