The United Automobile Workers (UAW) union is unhappy with the decision.
GM just revealed the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer to the public last night in Atlanta, Georgia. While the midsize crossover represents the return of an iconic American name, Chevrolet won’t actually build it in the U.S. Instead, GM elected to build the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer at their Ramos Arizpe plant in northern Mexico.
That decision doesn’t come lightly, as The Detroit News reports the United Auto Workers union (UAW) issued a statement expressing their disapproval. “The news that the iconic Blazer nameplate will be built in Mexico is disappointing to UAW families and communities across the country.” Terry Dittes, UAW vice president, asserts GM made the decision due to cheaper labor costs in Mexico, while U.S. workers are either laid off or unemployed. “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.”
According to the Detroit News report, a GM spokeswoman said the company is producing the Blazer there due to capacity, not labor costs. She explained that, when GM made the decision, facilities in the U.S. that could build a midsize SUV were already running at full capacity. Previous generation Blazers, built until 2005, were primarily produced at U.S. or Canadian plants.
Uncertainty as policy shifts against imported cars
American automakers have long produced cars in Mexico. What is significant, however, is GM’s decision to build the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer in Mexico against the backdrop of recent trade shakeups. The current U.S. administration seeks to renegotiate elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement – or NAFTA. The agreement currently allows the free movement of vehicles and parts across the U.S. border from Mexico and Canada. The U.S. has also threatened Mexico and Canada, two of its largest trading partners, with 25-percent tariffs on imported automobiles. If the tariffs come to pass, it may seriously affect the new Blazer’s introduction into the U.S. market.
If GM moves forward with the decision, the company may have to deal with unions seeking to bring jobs to American workers, as well as draw the ire of President Donald Trump. Wherever GM builds it, the 2019 Chevrolet Blazer sits between the smaller Equinox and larger Traverse in Chevrolet’s U.S. model range.