In an incident that says much about the current work climate at General Motors, the automaker was forced to remove a vehicle on display at Comerica Park in Detroit, because it was assembled in Mexico.
For the past decade, the automaker has displayed two models above centerfield next to a public installation called the Chevrolet Fountain. They generally stay on their perch for a year.
This year, to mark the beginning of the 2019 baseball season, GM chose to install the Chevrolet Silverado and the new Chevrolet Blazer.
The second of those models ended up being controversial. Why? The Blazer is assembled not in the U.S. but at GM’s plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.
Displaying this model at the largest ballpark in the state of Michigan put GM in the crosshairs of a number of its employees. The fuss raised was such that the company decided to remove the Blazer and replace it with a Chevrolet Traverse.
It was logical for GM to want to promote a brand-new model just entering the market. The visibility provided by the display at Comerica stadium is hard to beat, with 81 home games worth of visitors and large TV audiences providing unbeatable exposure for the SUV.
Last week GM tried to defend its actions by explaining that American workers provided the bulk of the contribution to the assembly of the Blazer:
“American workers contribute more to the Chevy Blazer than anyone else. It pumps more than $500 billion into the U.S. manufacturing economy and supports thousands of U.S. jobs.”
- Jim Cain, GM spokesperson
For example, two of the engines used to power the Blazer are made in the U.S.; the 2.L engine is made in GM’s Tonowanda factory in Buffalo, New York, while the 3.6L bloc is manufactured in GM’s plant in Romulus, Michigan. As well, the engineers and designers who worked on the vehicle are based in Detroit, and over half of the SUV’s components are sourced within the United States or from Canada (with only 20% of components coming from Mexico).
That didn’t prevent many employees from taking offense to the presence of the Blazer at Tigers’ home games. For them the foreign-built vehicle served a constant reminder of the many factories closed and jobs lost in North America.
"We want people to enjoy baseball without distractions, so we are going to replace the Chevrolet Blazer with a Chevrolet Traverse.”
- Jim Cain, GM
On the union front, there has been no official comment, mainly because talks continue with GM regarding the renewal of a work contract that expires on September 13.