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A white Chevrolet Traverse is placed on a lift Saturday March 30, 2019, to be exhibited by General Motors at Comerica Park in Detroit, replacing the controversial red blazer seen in front of the Traverse.

In a discreet motion Saturday, General Motors lowered its new 2019 red Chevrolet Blazer SUV down from its perch over the midfield at Comerica Park and replaced it with a US-made white Chevrolet Traverse SUV.

Some UAW workers had considered Blazer a horror to them given that GM is building SUV in Mexico. Traverse is built in GM's Lansing Delta Township plant in Lansing.

"It's very taster for people," said a UAW worker at a GM plant in the Detroit area. He asked not to use his name because he is not authorized to speak for the UAW. "We have made excursions to the Tigers game. I don't know if it will change or not be based on the product that is on the marque. We have a lot of pride."

GM has put its cars on top of the Chevrolet Fountain for 10 years in operation. But choosing one that is built abroad was worrying for unions, they said, as the association holds a new contract and struggles to keep GM from closing four US factories.

GM's Choice

26. March raised GM a red 2019 Chevy Blazer SUV and a silver 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup on top of the Chevrolet Fountain, replacing last year's Colorado ZR2 and Traverse SUV.

Silverado is as American as apple pie, built in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Saturday, GM replaced the silver pick for a red, said GM spokesman Jim Cain, to complement the Traverse, which is white. GM gathers the new Blazer at the factory in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico – a bad place for the UAW, who had been pushing to get the vehicle to a US factory.

"It's an interesting choice," said work expert Kristin Dziczek, of GM's decision to mount Blazer on Comerica. "It's a new vehicle, and GM is trying to get a lot of exposure to it."

GM defended its movement last week and said, "American workers are contributing more to Chevy Blazer than anyone else," Cain said. "It pumps over $ 500 billion into the US manufacturing economy and supports thousands of US jobs."

And Comerica offers Chevrolet a lot of exposure with a baseball season starting April 4 and going through September, said Dziczek, vice president of industry, work and finance at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

" Comerica means that Blazer will be on television every time the tigers are on television, "said Dziczek. "But it's a very polarizing vehicle with UAW and Canadian car dealers. It's just marketing, employment, and strategy that doesn't really interfere – everything happens at a very interesting time."

Poor Timing

As it happens, the baseball season this year overlaps with the negotiation negotiations between Detroit 3 car manufacturers and UAW. The current four-year union contract expires at midnight on September 13, 2019.

With Blazer threatening over the Comerica crowd, which often includes UAW workers, it would have been a reminder of Mexican production and US factory shutters on the screen, some say. It is partly why GM chose to replace it.

"We want people to enjoy baseball without interference, so we will replace the Chevrolet Blazer with a Chevrolet Traverse at the Comerica Fountain," Cain said in a statement. "American workers contribute significantly to the success of the Chevrolet Blazer. Blazer generates more than half a billion dollars in the US manufacturing economy every year, helping to support thousands of good paying US jobs."

In November 2018, GM said it will operate five factories in North America this year and early next year, affecting about 6,200 jobs. GM has said the cuts are part of the restructuring – which also involved cutting 8,000 jobs – and will save $ 2.5 billion this year. The idle plants mostly build sedans, which have seen the sales weight that consumers shift to buying SUVs and pickups.

Two of these plants are in Michigan: Detroit-Hamtramck, set to stop production in January 2020, and Warren Transmission, slated to idle this year. Another is Oshawa in Ontario, which built the outgoing model of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS.

"In Detroit and Windsor, this Blazer exposure cannot be so positive," Dziczek said. "I don't think GM did it to be antagonistic. It's a new vehicle they're trying to sell."

GM's strategy

GM's Cain said the various engines in the Blazer were made at US factories.

The 2.5 liter engine is made in GM's Tonawanda facility in Buffalo, NY and the 3.6-liter V-6 engine is made at GM's Romulus Powertrain plant. A total of 2,700 people work in the three plants.

GM has three factories in Mexico, with about 2800 employees employed Ramos Arizpe plant. But Cain said Blazer actually supports several US jobs when he counts GM's purchase of parts from US suppliers and designers and engineers working at Detroit's Blazer.

"More than half of Blazer's parts are taken from the United States and Canada, coming over 20 percent from Mexico," Cain said. "We have 168 US suppliers, 70 of whom are in Michigan. The total amount we buy from these vendors is $ 500 million for Blazer."

The decision to build Blazer in Mexico was made three or four years ago, Cain said, because American factories were being overwritten by cars at that time.

"The capacity of the factory in Mexico opened because we moved the production of the Cadillac SRX SUV to Spring Hill, Tenn. In 2016," Cain said. Cadillac XT5 replaced SRX in 2017 and is still gathered at GM's Spring Hill facility.

Blazer, starting at $ 28,800, is on sale now in a limited amount as GM hits up production. GM will report "a few thousand of those who sold" for the first quarter, Cain said.

It's complicated

The official position of the unions about Blazer's presence in Comerica Park is scary and complicated.

A spokesman for Canada's union, Unifor, refused to comment on the Comerica Park display saying Unifor does not issue public comments to GM while talking about the future of the Oshawa facility.

UAW did not have a prepared comment on GM's screen when asked about it last week. An inquiry Saturday seeking comment was not answered by press time.

Last year, GM made Blazer in 2005. The new looks completely different and is aimed at a younger audience. It's bigger than an Equinox, but even smaller than a Traverse.

In June 2018, GM said it would build this hot new SUV in Mexico. There are payroll costs well below those in the US, and GM's Ramos plant is already building the Chevrolet Equinox SUV, making it the tool for the larger vehicles.

But it is complicated for UAW to take an attitude because some of Blazer's parts are collected by unions in the United States at GM's engine plant. UAW's leadership has taken a more difficult line than before. In July, GM's decision to build Blazer in Mexico blew up when US workers at car factories were unemployed.

More: GM faces fiscal considerations considering plants

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"GM employs over 15,000 production workers in Mexico, pays workers less than $ 3 an hour and export over 80 percent of the vehicles to the US to sell here, said GM Terry Dittes Vice President in July. "This is all happening while UAW-GM workers in the US are disbanded."

GM insisted that Blazer was the right car to adorn Comerica Park's Chevrolet Fountain.

"When you look at how many Well-paying American jobs are related to building this vehicle, I think most people who possess all the facts would understand that this is an important vehicle for the US economy, and the Chevrolet Fountain is a great platform to show it. Cain. "If the Chevy Blazer is as successful as we think it will be, everyone wins."

Contact Jamie L. LaReau at 313-222-2149 or jlareau@freepress.com . Follow her on Twitter @ jlareauan . Read more at General Motors and sign up for our newsletter .

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