U.S. autoworkers face threat as car makers drawn to Mexico
* UAW vows to "bridge the gap" between new hires, veteran workers
* New workers earn up to 44 pct less than "legacy" workers
* More jobs moving to Mexico, where GM is building new factory
* Mexico to produce 26 pct of N.American autos in 6 yrs
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT, March 25 (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union on Wednesday said getting raises for workers at the Detroit automakers will be a top priority in contract talks this summer, but more jobs and production are shifting to U.S. plants without unions and Mexico.
In the next six years, Mexico's auto production will rise to more than a quarter of the North American market, according to industry consultant IHS Inc.
Earlier this week, General Motors Co said it would build a factory in Mexico to assemble a new generation of compact Chevrolet Cruze sedans, although the company said that would not affect a Lordstown, Ohio, plant that builds the same model.
The rise of Mexico as an auto assembly hub is just one factor working against the UAW as it launches contract talks with Ford Motor Co, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles this summer. Another factor is that UAW membership has plummeted by 75 percent since 1979 to just under 400,000 workers, although membership has risen in the last five years as auto sales have recovered. Continuación...