Our editorial team has been preparing for the K show, set for Oct. 24-31 in Dusseldorf, Germany, and, as always, it's a really big project. How can six reporters and editors divide up a show that has more than 3,000 exhibitors, not to mention more than 200,000 attendees - many of whom have interesting news to share and stories to tell?
Fortunately, we have an experienced staff of sharp news reporters who know industry trends better than anyone in the business. Our travel team includes senior reporters Bill Bregar and Frank Esposito, staff reporter and Asia specialist Nina Ying Sun, Hong Kong-based correspondent Steve Toloken, editor Robert Grace and myself. All but Nina are K show veterans.
On top of that, this year we'll have help from our new colleagues at Plastics & Rubber Weekly and European Plastics News. Those publications are sending a five-man reporting team, too, and we'll share scoops and coverage during and after the show.
So it's safe to say we'll have K covered - even though the thought of walking the 2.7 million square feet of space at the fairgrounds is a little intimidating.
Our show preparation this year has a new twist that has us very excited. We'll be doing video news reports from the show - Webcasts, for those of you familiar with the term - that will be updated twice a day, every day, in English - plus twice a day in Chinese, too. They'll be featured on our Web site, and you'll be able to sign up for an e-mail alert every time we post a fresh video.
I think this will be the next best thing to being at the show. In fact, it probably will be even better - after all, we'll have 11 people scouring the show floor for news. We'll be sure to find some things that you won't get a chance to see yourself.
So relax with an Altbier and a bratwurst and get ready to enjoy the show.
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By the time you read this, last week's short United Auto Workers strike against General Motors Corp. will be a distant memory. The company will be churning out cars again, and most of its suppliers will feel little impact from the work stoppage.
But what about the big picture? Will this strike, and the apparently major changes in the tentative contract agreement, have any long-term effect on the North American auto industry?
The potential is there. There are signs the deal could make GM's costs more competitive. According to one report, GM will have the ability to buy out as many as 24,000 UAW workers and replace them with lower-paid new hires who will be on a second-tier wage ladder.
These new workers will be paid half as much or less than the $70-$75 per-hour wage and benefit package of current UAW members. They'll also get 401(k) plans instead of traditional pensions.
More important, perhaps, is the creation of the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, a union-run trust fund that will be responsible for UAW members' health-care benefits.
Will these changes make GM competitive with the rest of the world's automakers? I hope so, because undoubtedly the plan will be copied by other U.S. companies, including auto suppliers.
Don Loepp is managing editor of Plastics News.