News / USA

Detroit Auto Workers Anticipate Obama Visit

Scene inside an US auto plant
Scene inside an US auto plant
TEXT SIZE - +

President Obama visits two Michigan auto plants on Friday. Over the last two years the administration has been instrumental in propping up the U.S. car industry - by approving billions in government loans after bankruptcies and management changes.

Henry Torgl may be enjoying Detroit baseball and a beer, but questions about a special Friday visitor are on everyone's mind.



Torgl just finished a 13-hour shift at the Detroit Chrysler plant that President Obama will visit on Friday. "Everyone's excited, you know.  Meet the president, chance to see him. I mean, it's exciting," he said.

Torgl says some of his co-workers credit Mr. Obama with saving the auto industry. The President took a personal interest in restructuring Chrysler and General Motors, following two of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history - less than a year after he had proposed billions of dollars in government loans.  "We are appreciative, at least I am, that he gave us the loan.  Remember, it's a loan, we are paying it back, it's not like the banks. But if it wasn't for the taxpayers, I mean, we wouldn't be here," he said.

Torgl's plant makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee, under the supervision of plant manager Pat Walsh.  It's the last urban car plant left in Detroit.  

Last September, this plant shut down for a month for a total transformation.  The idea was to create a World Class Manufacturing facility, like in the 1990s, when car production was high. But no contractors were brought in; no one was laid off.  These workers stayed inside and did the conversion themselves, building loyalty and pride.

"We knew this was our plant.  We could change over our plant to something we could be proud of and really be the first steps to launch the new 2011 Grand Cherokee," said Walsh.

The president's second stop is at the General Motors plant that manufactures the Chevrolet Volt, an electric and gas-powered vehicle that some say might revolutionize the industry.

Ed LeBlanc has worked for GM for 13 years. Last year his wife returned to school to study nursing as a back-up to his salary.

In May, General Motors reported its first quarterly profit in three years, with $865 million in net income. LeBlanc thinks the President's visibility with the Volt will propel GM to more profitability. "I think the Volt is the most technically-advanced machine, car, on the road right now, I just hope the public jumps on the bandwagon," he said.

The public response could be known soon.  On Tuesday, dealers in seven areas began taking orders for the Volt.  

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid