Choosing the “Manufacturing’s Winner and Loser of the Week” was a little bit more challenging this week. There were a few contenders for each position, however, after careful consideration AM General and U.S. Steel were dubbed the “Winner” and “Loser,” respectively.
AM General is a military and commercial vehicle maker that this week, secured a multi-year contract with Mercedes-Benz this week to manufacture the German automaker’s R-Class SUV. This contract will not only create profit and jobs for AM General, but they are also the first U.S. contract manufacturer ever chosen to work with Mercedes.
AM General will transfer the production of the SUV away from the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa to their own commercial vehicle plant in Mishawaka, Indiana. This transition will make room for the production of the GLE Coupe to begin and the Tuscaloosa plant. According to Jason Hoff, President and CEO of Mercedes manufacturing in the U.S., the move will be extremely helpful as "Plant Tuscaloosa needs all available production capacities for this segment."
In regards to job growth, this contract is expected to create several hundreds of jobs at the Mishawaka plant. The plant is currently making MV-1 wheelchair-accessible vans, but has the capability of producing 70,000 vehicles per year.
As stated, the Manufacturing’s loser title goes to U.S. Steel this week. Over the last seven days they have announced that they may be laying off up to 1,600 workers in Alabama and Texas. This is in addition to layoffs and shut downs reported in earlier weeks by the company.
Though U.S. Steel is asserting that the layoffs are temporary, it does not detract from fear and unsettling nature of such announcements. According to John Armstrong, a spokesperson for U.S. Steel, the layoffs are coming as a result of "a downturn in business conditions and overall economy, specifically a drop in our orders of tubular products that we produce for companies in the energy industry. The layoffs will be phased in by shutting down different lines."