Updated noon Monday, Jan. 13
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon joined Ford officials in Detroit on Monday to highlight the automaker’s production in Missouri, most notably its 2015 Ford F-150, which will be built at the company’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo.
On Sunday, the governor had done the same thing: He appeared with General Motors officials at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to promote the auto manufacturer’s new mid-size truck, the 2015 GMC Canyon, which is to be built in Wentzville.
The governor's actions likely weren't aimed at solely at the new trucks. Rather, he also was sending a supportive message to the thousands of Missouri workers who build them.
Among other things, the governor’s visit to Detroit highlights his generally good relationship with labor unions. His trip also underscores -- without Nixon mentioning it -- his opposition to the plans of some Republican legislative leaders this session to bring up right-to-work legislation, which labor strongly opposes.
At Sunday's news conference, the governor focused on the good-paying auto jobs that will be protected or preserved by the new truck production in Wentzville.
“This next-generation pickup is another example of how the future of America’s auto industry is being built in Missouri,” Nixon said in a statement. “On my very first full day in office, I committed to making sure Missouri led the rebirth of American auto manufacturing – and that is exactly what we’ve done. I applaud the hardworking men and women at the GM plant in Wentzville for the outstanding quality of their work, and for demonstrating that a strong workforce builds a strong economy for Missouri families.”
At Monday's Ford event, he offered similar words. “Missouri’s highly skilled workforce, low taxes and smart investments continue to bring new jobs and new opportunities to the Show-Me State,” Nixon said. “This next-generation Ford pickup is another example of how the Missouri auto industry is leading the nation in innovation and excellence, and driving our economy in the right direction.”
Nixon, who is in his second term, emphasized at both events that one of his first actions after taking office five years ago was to set up the “Automotive Jobs Task Force” to focus on ways to attract more auto production in Missouri.
That effort hasn’t been entirely successful. Chrysler shut down its two plants in Fenton, eliminating thousands of jobs. However, GM has expanded operations in Wentzville and Nixon persuaded the General Assembly to come up with an incentive package to entice Ford to retain its Claycomo plant outside Kansas City.
Auto production jobs, along with the aircraft-related jobs at Boeing’s plant near Lambert Field, are among the highest paid manufacturing jobs in Missouri. For decades, they also have been union jobs.