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U.S. Automakers to Add 36,000 Workers, CAR’s McAlinden Says

Ford Auto Workers
Bill Brokenshire, left, and Dave Brooks work on new 2012 Ford Focus vehicles during the launch of the small car at the Ford Motor Co. Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Michigan. Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

U.S. automakers will hire about 36,000 hourly and salaried workers by 2015 to meet rising demand, Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research, said today.

Employment at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC will rise to about 137,000 in 2015, McAlinden said in a speech at Wayne State University in Detroit.

“Employment will rise soon because productivity levels are still high,” McAlinden said. “We’re at such record productivity that any additional production requires new hiring.”

The United Auto Workers union’s membership rose 6 percent to 376,612 last year, the first gain in six years as U.S. automakers began hiring amid a recovery in sales.

The union will negotiate new contracts with GM, Ford and Chrysler this year. UAW President Bob King has said workers must be rewarded for the $7,000 to $30,000 in concessions they each made since 2005 to help the automakers survive. The pacts expire in September.

Workers gave up raises, bonuses and cost-of-living adjustments, and the UAW agreed to a two-tier wage system in which new hires earn about $14 an hour, half the amount paid to senior production workers. The concessions helped lower the cost of wages and benefits at the U.S. automakers to about $57 an hour, close to what Toyota Motor Corp. pays its U.S. workers.

“We did what we had to do to save the companies,” King said March 22 at the union’s bargaining convention in Detroit. “It will take time to win back what we’ve given up.”

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