Car sales drop in November

Sales and new cars and trucks in Chattanooga fell last month to the lowest monthly level since the pandemic shut down most car dealers in April 2020.

A total of 878 new cars and trucks were titled last month in Hamilton County, or 9.7% below the same month a year ago, according to the Hamilton County Clerk's Office.

Nationwide, Cox Automotive reported that last's sales month pace of approximately 13 million was "significantly lower" than November 2020's pace of 15.9 million sales due to computer chip shortages reducing the production of many new models. Computer chip shortages and other supply problems limited production and sales of new vehicles in November.

Ford Motor Co. claimed it was the best-selling automaker in the U.S. for the third consecutive month in November, a streak it hasn't achieved since 1974, as it reported a 5.9% year-over-year sales boost for the month. Ford sold 158,793 vehicles in the U.S. last month, with gains across its key segments. Truck sales were up 4.6%, SUV sales grew 20.8% and sales of Ford's burgeoning lineup of all-electric and hybrid vehicles increased 153.6% over last November.


Rally lifts stocks in volatile market

Stocks rose broadly on Wall Street Thursday as investors continue to monitor the spread of the new coronavirus variant as well as measures that governments are taking to restrain it.

The S&P 500 rose 1.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.8%. The Nasdaq rose 0.8%. The tech-heavy index was held back by a loss in Apple after news outlets reported that the company was seeing weaker demand for its iPhone 13.

Small-company stocks outpaced the rest of the market. Crude oil prices rose after OPEC stuck to its plans to boost output via steady, modest monthly increases.


UAW union elections change after scandals

Members of the United Auto Workers union have overwhelmingly approved picking their leaders by direct ballot elections.

In doing so they have rejected a system that many blamed for corruption in the union's top ranks. The so-called "one member, one vote" measure got nearly 64% of 140,586 valid ballots that were received by Monday's mail-in deadline. About 36% favored the current system of leadership picked by delegates to a convention.

The election of the union's 13-member International Executive Board is likely to take place next summer or fall.


Mexico says subsidies violate free trade pact

The Mexican government threatened legal action Thursday over provisions of U.S. President Joe Biden's Build Back Better Act that would give subsidies of up to $12,500 for purchases of union-made, American-made electric vehicles.

Tatiana Clouthier, Mexico's secretary of the economy, said the bill currently before the U.S. Senate would violate non-discrimination clauses of the U.S.- Mexico-Canada free trade pact.

Clouthier said the measure would discriminate against potential exports of Mexican-built electrical vehicles and favor domestic producers, something she said is forbidden under the USMCA pact.

"We would apply trade reprisals," Clouthier said, apparently referring to possible tariffs. "This bill is not consistent with the U.S. obligations under the TMC and the rules of World Trade Organization."

Mexico's auto industry, made up of plants run by most of the U.S., European and Asian automakers, has been battered by the worldwide chip shortage and the coronavirus pandemic.

Clouthier said the Senate bill could cost Mexico jobs and "could generate additional pressures for migration."


Starbucks fights expanding unionization effort at its stores

Starbucks is fighting an expanded effort to unionize its stores, even as a union vote proceeds at three of the coffee-chain's locations in Buffalo, New York.

Union organizers from three additional Buffalo- area stores appeared before the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday, asking to hold union votes at each of their stores. The workers say they want more input on pay and store operations and they're seeking representation by Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

Starbucks' attorney at the hearing reiterated the company's request to conduct one vote with all 20 stores in the Buffalo area. The labor board hearing is expected to last for several days.

In late October, the labor board in the Buffalo region approved union votes at three separate Buffalo- area stores. Starbucks has appealed that ruling to the full labor board in Washington, but voting began last month despite that appeal.

The labor board could count those votes as early as Dec. 9.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner