By on April 4, 2007

02prodgen2222.jpgNever mind all that “buy American” and “Asian cars are the enemy” rhetoric. The United Auto Workers (UAW) would love to get their hands on the transplants’ southern redoubts. With their numbers dwindling due to Detroit’s plant closures and buyouts, the UAW realizes they have to go trolling in the transplants’ ponds to stay alive. Last Saturday, they tested the waters with a small group of Toyota workers at the brand’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant. The UAW is smacking their lips at the prospect of dining on catfish sushi.

The meeting was the direct result of a major management screw up. In January, Toyota’s leadership discovered that an employee at the plant had unearthed a confidential file on a shared network drive . The document disclosed the fact that ToMoCo's management was discussing "a greater emphasis on variable pay and ways to slow the growth of our labor costs, including the cost of benefits."

The memo recommended that Toyota work to bring its wage structure into closer alignment with other local industries and "not tie ourselves so closely to the U.S. auto industry or other competitors." Translation: Toyota’s higher ups are unhappy that the company’s labor costs (as a percentage of sales) are increasing faster than their profit margins.

Despite Toyota’s attempts at damage control, the press got ahold of the memo. Rather than fess-up and explain their competitive dilemma, Toyota sacrificed a pair of a scapegoats. They fired two Georgetown plant employees for allegedly accessing and distributing the confidential document.

The employees admitted reading the doc (as did several hundred others), but denied sending it to the press. As allowed by Toyota personnel policy, they pleaded their case before a five-member peer review board. The board ruled that they were both innocent. Toyota management overruled the review board’s decision and fired them.

Salting the wounds, Toyota remained silent on any investigations into– or disciplinary actions against– the person or persons who left the confidential document on the company-wide computer network.

As expected, the UAW seized upon this “unpleasantness” to step up their efforts to unionize the Toyota plant, to gain a precious foothold deep in the heart of non-union territory. On Saturday, the UAW hosted a town hall forum entitled “The Human Cost of Toyota’s Success” in Lexington, Kentucky.

About 150 UAW representatives, Toyota employees, members of the press and other interested parties attended the meeting. Even though the Georgetown plant employs almost 7k workers, only five people spoke at the gathering, including the workers who were dismissed over the confidential document. No representatives from Toyota management attended– at least not officially.

The speakers addressed the document’s implications for Toyota’s HR plans. They also aired a number of complaints about the way the Georgetown plant is managed. They asserted that Toyota does not take workplace injuries seriously, that full-time workers have “disappeared” (to be replaced by lower cost temporary workers) and that training opportunities have dwindled to the point of extinction.

Needless to say, it this was music to the UAW’s collective ears. “It’s time for Toyota to sign a contract with us like everyone else they do business with,” Vice President Terry Thurman announced. The man who directs the UAW’s National Organizing department and helped organize the meeting added, “This is all about Toyota workers.”

The sequence of those two statements tells you everything you need to know about the UAW’s priorities. There’s only one reason they’re making a full-court press against Toyota: it’s their only hope for survival. If the UAW has any success organizing Georgetown you can rest assured they’ll start looking for further inroads into the rest of the transplants’ non-union plants.

Even though the UAW stated their Toyota kvetchfest was not an “organizing event,” they now have a foot firmly in Toyota’s door. The UAW and the National Jobs with Justice Campaign plan to capitalize on their success by establishing a Worker’s Rights Board in Kentucky. According to the UAW's press release, this organization “will be available to hear personal stories of Toyota workers and recommend appropriate remedies when necessary.” In other words, they’ll be collecting information they can use to further their attempts to organize the plant.

And they’ll be moving on from there. One worker from the Toyota plant in West Virginia attending the Kentucky meeting asked if the UAW could conduct a similar meeting for workers at his plant. Of course, the union immediately agreed, seizing the chance to get a presence established at a second Toyota location.

Toyota has no one to blame but itself for this perilous state of affairs. Their sloppy record keeping and short sighted damage control could give the UAW the leverage they need to start pulling Toyota into the same rat hole that disappeared Detroit. Meanwhile, even as they seek to organize Toyota, the UAW continues to call the automaker their enemy. And so it is. 

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77 Comments on “Oh What a Feeling! The UAW Targets Toyota...”


  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    This will make for some uncharted territory for Toyota and other automakers without a union contract. If I remember correctly, these companies set up plants in states that had lax laws regarding organized labour (re: anti-union). So if a plant organizes, I wonder what Toyota will do: expand elsewhere, phase out the vehicle lines that the plant manufactures or will they bite the bullet and deal with a resurgent UAW?

    If they do organize, I wonder if the UAW will use Toyota (the one with all the money) as the starting point in future collective negotiations? This would put even more pressure on the domestics and the UAW would be ulitmately less concerned about whether those companies live or die as they’ll have new sugar daddies to use.

  • avatar
    vitek

    I understand the UAW represents workers at the California NUMMI (Toyota) plant. Do those UAW members receive the same benefits/have same contract as the UAW in Detroit? IF so the UAW could cut to the chase and announce Toyota will be the designated strike target during pattern contract negotiations. That will tell the UAW real fast how much the transplant workers want their represaentation.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    If I were Toyota I wouldn’t be too worried yet. First of all, it’s a long way from having a few workers with complaints to a vote to Unionize. A long way, and along that road, Toyota can certainly offer its workers sweet deals on the explicit grounds that they will only be available if the workers reject the union. Seeing other UAW workers idled, bought off, or just booted out as big 2.5 plants close isn’t going to help UAW recruiting either.

    If worse comes to worst (which I doubt would happen absent some catastophic economic downturn) then Toyota’s number crunchers can simply balance the additional cost of the union vs. the import costs and tariffs they’d pay if they made the cars overseas. At some point, it becomes cheaper to import, and Toyota having significant overseas capacity, they could just shift production to those facilities and show their US workers the door – all the while reminding the workers that it was the UAW that put them in this state of affairs.

    Of course, they don’t even have to do the above, merely make a credible threat to do it and the UAW is toast. Unlike the 2.5 UAW workers who seem to regard their high salaries and lavish benefits as an entitlement, workers at non-UAW plants in the South are only too aware of just how ephemeral a seemingly “secure” job can be.

  • avatar
    Schmu

    I can’t stand the idea of contracts. While I agree, getting fired for no reason sucks, I believe people work at the discretion of companies. If someone sucks at their job, or they are no longer needed, some contract should not be the reason the company has to keep dead weight around. I mean, it really offends me. I don’t wnat to work around some slacker, that results in me having to work harder. Why do other union memebers want this? Get another job. I have been trying to get another job for a couple of years now, but you won’t catch me whining about needing a contract. This is the same reason Gm has ridiculous waiting rooms full of un-needed workers getting full pay for years. On the other hand, Toyota does have an attitude. I interviewed at the WV plant here, and my father worked there. There is a high use of contract labor. They seem to be happy though, as well as the full time employees. There are little to no jobs here, so people are happy to have anything. Besides, people shouldn’t be making $30/hr to drive a forklift, or screw on a steering wheel. I am a ibg fan of a nice family supporting wage, but you have to have skills to do that. You don’t need skills to drive a forklift or use a wrench. My 6 year old nephew can do the wrench part, and with a booster seat, could be trained in a couple of weeks to drive a forklift. Oh, I am ranting……

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    The UAW has a very well earned and very well known reputation for protecting the deadbeats in the organization. This is their #1 enemy in organizing the transplants. Everyone gets tired of carrying these slackers.

    It might happen someday, but it will take years.

    And, yes, the fact that Toyota has oodles of money comes into play. Not so much that they can use it to crush Detroit, but that they can break ground for a greenfield plant in Mexico or the Dominican Republic any time. In other words, if the UAW organizes, they have the money to shut a US plant down and open somewhere else. It’s beer money to them at this point. Thats the biggest stick that Toyota carries.

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    This disgusts me. My impression of the UAW organizing a Toyota plant is the death sentence for Toyota in 20 years. I’m all for workers rights, but not the rights that the UAW seems to think they are entitled to. Call me a rat bastard, capitalist, or anything else you may, but the last thing auto workers need long-term is to have somebody telling them that they should get paid huge sums of money and benefits for a job that could, and can be done for 1/4 the price elsewhere. If you want to keep your job, understand where it’s going to go when you get to greedy. How many Fusions are your boys building, Gettelfinger?

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    the worse thing that can happen is the pro-union toyota workers strike…toyota lets them strike…and just hires someone else to do the job. for the same if not less then the orignal worker is doing it for.

  • avatar
    troonbop

    I’m just not sure they can get the same leverage going with a transplant.

  • avatar
    rossjk

    I’m not a Toyota fan, but I sure hope they can ensure the UAW is kept out. The UAW has proven itself to be a cancer on what’s left of the Detroit 2.5. Nothing but paper pushers padding their fat sweaty asses.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    Toyota Deathwatch 1

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    i wonder if the UAW could get there foot in the door at Burger King…i would love to make $30/hr to flip burgers

  • avatar
    miked

    format display new the with sense make they that so backwards comments my typing start to have to going i’m guess i gaa

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    as Johnston said, most foreign brands have built plants in right-to-work states
    also don’t forget that the UAW worked on Honda for over 10 years and never even got to the voting stage
    and at Nissan they got to the voting stage and lost bigtime
    what they’re actually hoping for is that the Democrats will pass “card check” and that will facilitate the UAW takeover without a vote

  • avatar
    chris2

    Gotta love it when the UAW cranks up the rhetoric, like “The Human Cost of Toyota’s Success”. How dare Toyota open new plants in the US and create thousands of new jobs in rural areas! And how dare Toyota management try to do things like keep costs in check! If the domestics had any clue on how to do either of those properly they wouldn’t be experiencing many of the problems that have plagued them for decades.

    UAW = tapeworm looking for its next host

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Gah, put the comments back in the proper order and don’t default to only displaying 5 at a time. 20-25 is a much more reasonable number.

    But back on topic, Toyota should take a page from McDonald’s book when it comes to their employees trying to form unions. Fire ‘em all and start over, and don’t re-hire anyone who was fired to work at any Toyota plant, ever. Worked for Mickey-D’s. Yes, it is harsh, but the writing is on the wall for the UAW. If Toyota wants to continue having long-term success, they need to stay far away from the UAW.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    I’m just amazed at ToMoCo… I thought they were smarter than this.

    Some of their employees are probably seeing this as a wake-up-call and are going to start wondering how safe their jobs are.

    I’m sure the UAW will be sure to “inform” them. Unions are only wanted when worker’s feel they’re getting stiffed.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    About two weeks ago, NPR had a series of interviews with Toyota employees about how happy and well trained they are at Georgetown.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Besides, people shouldn’t be making $30/hr to drive a forklift, or screw on a steering wheel. I am a ibg fan of a nice family supporting wage, but you have to have skills to do that. You don’t need skills to drive a forklift or use a wrench. My 6 year old nephew can do the wrench part, and with a booster seat, could be trained in a couple of weeks to drive a forklift. Oh, I am ranting……

    Is it me, or is this the beginning of the age of unappreciation of the blue collar? Granted, a $30/hr forklift operator may seem a bit excessive, but is it really fair to compare auto assembly to unskilled labor, or will automotive quality have to take a step back to 1970’s levels to demonstrate that you have to have a brain to build a piece of complex machinery like an automobile? Why is it that people tend to think that because a job doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree it doesn’t require some skill to perform it? This underappreciation of the hourly wage employee only serves to create an underclass where these workers are seen as expendable, and wrongly so.

  • avatar

    While the unions have been great for Toyota auto workers, (Why do you think the pay doesn’t reflect local rates? It is union defense) actually unionizing would probably end their jobs pretty quick, and they know that.

    Interestingly, the memo if nothing else suggests that Toyota is less worried about the UAW. One supposes they have a plan, should lowered pay rates cause an infestation. Of course Toyota could probably turn a profit even with the UAW. (Most of the 2.5’s problems lie in poor planning, and inadequate saving during good times and underestimation of health care)

  • avatar
    radimus

    While I can agree that the UAW has no entirely had the best interest of the rank and file in mind, before everyone goes off half-cocked on them go back and review American history and understand why they are there in the first place.

    Look back on the days prior to unionization. Employees of factories, coal mines, and other industries were treated like crap and regularly cheated out of their wages. The old song “16 Tons” comes to mind. Go read the lyrics. They refer to a day when coal miners were not paid in real money, only credit for the company store. The prices at these stores were often inflated, and the employess would have to draw on credit get the things they needed for their families. The cycle practically enslaved them to their job because they “owed their soul to the company store.” And regarding workplace safety? What workplace safety? There is a good reason why men were willing to, and did, lay down their own lives for the right to organize.

    Like it or not, it is because of unionization that most of the working population of the US enjoys the wages and benefits that it does. Industries that are not unionized usually enjoy a good standard of living much in part to the fear that doing otherwise will result unionization. If the transplants are smart, they’ll treat their non-union workers well enough that they’ll stay non-union.

    On the flip side of that, the UAW is getting what it deserves. I know of at least one Caterpiller plant that was closed and moved South due to the UAW convincing the workers to strike themselves right out of a job. If they don’t wise up, history will repeat itself at the Big 2.5.

  • avatar
    Schmu

    quasimondo: i have no problem with blue collar at all. I have a problem with blue collar that makes disproportionate wages to his actual job. the forklift refereence was made after i spoke with said forklift driver from Ford. There are pletny of workers that do deserve their wages. Otherwise, I am criticizing the seniority and pay scales that go with the “contracts”. I don’t care how long you work at Ford, if you are doing something that anyone with functioning eye(s) and arm(s) can do, they shouldn’t be making more than the national average. No broad blue collar insult was meant.

  • avatar
    Schmu

    oh yeah, and anyone with a job is expendable. white collar, blue collar, gold collar, whatever. we work while we are needed and productive for our bosses. that is our primary function at said job. just because it inconveniences us personally to be fired is irrelevant. if you want guarantees of great pay and job security IF you warrant neither, then what you seek is socialsm, or communism even. But as another poster just wrote, Unions were once critical to our country’s growth. Now I find that they have just gotten greedy and frivolous. UMWA seems to be the only one i respect anymore. Not that I am fan of hugh corps either. fair is fair though.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    The UAW using the NUMMI plant in California as their next strike target would be all Toyota could dream for! Really!

    It would be the end of the UAW. Toyota (which owns 50% of the NUMMI plant, with GM holding 50%) would simply shift production of their pickup trucks elsewhere (like, run their plant in Mexico on three shifts and expand it – thanks, NAFTA!) and tell GM “tough luck, until the UAW can do the job – no more Pontiac Vibes.”

    Because Toyota can out-last the UAW like GM never dreamed of in it’s wildest imagination.

    The UAW has become a cancer. However, this event will be taken under advisement by Toyota – and I mean all the way to the top.

    Toyota isn’t a company to let lessons be left unlearned, and they will strive to ensure that any changes in pay – from “equivalent pay to prevailing wages in high wage states at UAW plants” on to “better pay than anything available in the area of our plants” is done on a slow and steady basis, and kept under wraps.

    Because, let’s be honest. Anyone with say a high school diploma and maybe a 2 or 4 year degree, and any sense, would rather have a job paying 30% above average for the area they live in – rather than be an unemployed ex-UAW auto worker with no prospects of selling one’s house in order to get out of Michigan, and working at Micky-D’s.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    What about a different union? The UAW has shown itself to be selfish, shortsighted, and rigid, but the behavior of some of the Japanese management in the US clearly shows a need for a union to rein in their excesses. Perhaps the SEIU should step in, or since they are coal country the United Mineworkers could try organizing.

  • avatar
    Joe ShpoilShport

    Ok. I guess I’m a little puzzled. Having read the editorial and the associated comments it is obvious this group is anti-union. Although, more accurately, anti-UAW. And that’s fine, I suppose. I wonder, though, if the “baby with the bathwater” analogy applies here. Do all of you want to see a return of 60 to 80 hour work weeks, continuous, repetitive, life long injury inducing work conditions at your jobs. Do any of you think that Toyota, or whoever, will not take advantage of every opportunity to turn the screws a little tighter?

    Please know that I am not in a union. Have been only once for about three months with no impact. I am NOT advocating UAW unionization of Toyota. I have been in middle management most of my life. But I just don’t get this. I know the UAW has abused their power, just as corporate management has abused theirs. But I’ve been around. Are we gonna leave employee protection to the state? Do we want the working class here to be like the working class in China? Or even Mexico? Don’t we want to bring these nations up to our level and not drag ourselves down to theirs?

    I don’t get it.

  • avatar
    windswords

    I have never been a supporter of the UAW. But I’m not going to castigate them for wanting to organize any plant, especially one where 2 employees are fired after being exonerated by a board that the company itself setup. Remember when working for the Japanese, especially Toyota, meant you were “empowered”? You could stop the line, talk directly to upper management, and everyone was treated fairly. Maybe this still goes on but I’m starting to wonder.

    The real question that has to asked (and needs it’s own editorial, hint, hint) is “what the hell has happened to Toyota?”. They have been the darlings of the auto industry. It seemed liked they could do no wrong – hell they never even got any bad press if they DID do something wrong. Now look at them. Recall after recall, over estimation of Tundra sales potential, pushing back the redesign of the Corolla because it wasn’t ready to go up against the new Civic. Now this. And have you read the TTAC review of the Avalon? It reads like a review of a domestic without the gripes about reliability or cheap plastics. Even on the web I’m seeing complaints in various forums about Lexus.

    Toyota is not ready for any kind of deathwatch, they are perched so high in automotive firmament that it will take years for them to become a mere fallen angel but maybe this is how it started when other companies began their downward slide.

  • avatar

    unions are the result of poor management. If the UAW does succedd it will be due to poor management.

  • avatar
    Schmu

    no one is going back to 80 hour workweeks…unless you’re a doctor. I would quit. The unions represent very little of the workforce anymore…and the ones that aren’t are not working 80 hr weeks. the real reason we don’t work that is because we would refuse to do it. we don’t need a union to do it. we have a large economy, and we would go to a job that doesn’t. the idea that every industry in America would double the workeek at the same time to avoid this career hopping is unlikely as well. The market should determine wages, not blackmail. Toyota is in a good position to keep its nose clean, as long as it keeps their workers happy. in the end, thats what counts: happy workers and happy company. that is a lesson to all companies that want to abuse their employees. What is happening at GM and the others shows what happens on the other end of the spectrum. It is financially better to all involved for everyone to be happy…that way one side doesn’t do something that will start a chain reaction. I have to get back to work before I get fired. I don’t have any contract guaranteeing my job for slacking on the net.

  • avatar
    Luther

    “How many Fusions are your boys building, Gettelfinger?”

    Nuf Said.

    “The UAW has become a cancer. However, this event will be taken under advisement by Toyota – and I mean all the way to the top.”

    Did this stunt kill-off any future expansion plans in the US by Toyota? The Mexicans must be loving this.

    Ive been working 60-80 hour weeks for 15 years now. I have been so unfair to me, I think I will unionize myself.

    With US labor laws, I find it shocking that anybody would hire anybody… Unionized or not.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    ________________________________________________
    Is it me, or is this the beginning of the age of unappreciation of the blue collar? Granted, a $30/hr forklift operator may seem a bit excessive, but is it really fair to compare auto assembly to unskilled labor, or will automotive quality have to take a step back to 1970’s levels to demonstrate that you have to have a brain to build a piece of complex machinery like an automobile?
    ________________________________________________

    No, it isn’t.
    Look at it this way, for example a tech in an auto repair shop has to be computer literate and able to think in order to diagnose complex problems, and makes less then half then a union member that basically just has to be able to show up while breathing and tightens the same nut every day.

    The perception is that unions are means of protecting what amounts to entitlements for the incompetent, and if one goes into the demographics of even more educated people that are under severe wage pressures it would not be unreasonable to think that a good percentage of them would specifically purchase non union made cars.

    It really isn’t relevant whether the perception is correct or not in specific cases with specific individuals, people will act on their perceptions.

    I would wager that if Toyota were unionized, over time there would be a shift to buying something else. The unions may buy a little more time, but they are finished because they went a bridge too far.

  • avatar
    miked

    quasimondo: “Why is it that people tend to think that because a job doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree it doesn’t require some skill to perform it? This underappreciation of the hourly wage employee only serves to create an underclass where these workers are seen as expendable, and wrongly so.”

    I don’t think that if something doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree it’s not a skilled job. However, I do think think that wages should be in line with the scaricity of that skill. e.g. I can’t weld, so if I need something fixed, I’m happy to pay a welder (who likely doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree) $80/hour because his skill is rare. However, not all of the jobs at the auto plants aren’t highly skilled jobs, most of them require turning lugnuts, or pushing a button to tell the robot to do the welding, etc. It’s those jobs that should be getting the lower wages and the jobs that require actual skill (i.e. you have more jobs available than people who can do them) should be the ones getting the big bucks.

  • avatar
    TeeKay

    “UAW = tapeworm looking for its next host”

    Second that.

    The problem I see here is not the UAW or Toyota.

    The UAW does what it’s set-up to do. After killing one host (Big 2.5), it has to seek another host to survive.

    Knowing Toyota, it will not watch this lesson repeat itself. Firing all who strike is one option. (Don’t worry, those jobs will be filled up in a week.) Moving to Mexico, Canada, etc. is another. If the Big 2.5 could do it, surely Toyota can better that.

    The problem IS with the few greedy, short-sighted Toyato workers who probably were fed too much UAW cool-aid and talked to way too many “I’m entitled to a full pension & 150k salary for watching my union buddy screw the Fusion hex” EX-Big 2.5-workers. They foolishly believe that despite their having a decent job (and their Detroit brethren don’t) for a stable company, they can still do better.

    These greedy soon-to-be-ex-Toyota employees will surely have a lot of time to ponder the truth of Gordon Gekko’s infamous saying.

    On the other hand, Toyota is learning the hard lesson that when you succeed in becoming the only one standing at the top, you’ll be viewed as the tyrant.

  • avatar
    Luther

    “On the other hand, Toyota is learning the hard lesson that when you succeed in becoming the only one standing at the top, you’ll be viewed as the tyrant.”

    A victim of thier own success like Microsoft and Walmart… A fat pig for the parasites to feast upon.

    If I were President of Mexico, I would resign…But first I would help the UAW organize all the transplants in the US…..

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    oh yeah, and anyone with a job is expendable. white collar, blue collar, gold collar, whatever. we work while we are needed and productive for our bosses. that is our primary function at said job. just because it inconveniences us personally to be fired is irrelevant.

    That’s a lopsided employer-employee relationship if I’ve ever heard one. It’s not incorrect, but this gives the corporations too much power. They expect you to be productive and help make them lots of money by giving using your talents and skills, but they can’t even offer something like job security in return? This is just giving them the green light to walk all over you. This kind of argument shows why unions aren’t as outdated as you think.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Toyota is in the right to want to limit its expenses they just should be more transparent about it and they handled it with a heavy hand.

    As to the UAW, their time has past. Unions in general time has passed. Take a look at the housing industry. A good carpenter doesn’t make as much as someone who attaches doors to a car? A good teacher probably even less. Why should said door attacher who is only allowed to attach doors by contract be guaranteed a job? It’s ridiculous!

    Who in their right mind could run a company when if you don’t have the work to support all your workers that you couldn’t lay them off? “Sorry we don’t have anything for you to do but we’ll still pay you anyway.” Stupid is as stupid does.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I have nothing against the concept of organized labor – it seems to work for German car makers which have company based unions (rather than industry based). My objection to most American unions is that they are mainly interested in playing power games and not really in representing the long term interests of their workers.

    I’ll give you an example: I was on a business trip in a town in northern Ohio last week which is really suffering from a manufacturing downturn. A ship building company offered to relocate there and offered $30 per hour. The union demanded $35 per hour and the company got scared and went somewhere else. How is it in the workers interest to be unemployed rather then make $30 an hour?

    The week before I was at a unionized business in the same state. The head of one of the unions representing its workers had a personal feud with the owners of the business and swore to put him out of business by demanding the most outrageous restrictive work practices. They doesn’t care that their members will lose their jobs as part of this process, they just want to demonstrate how much power they have – not serve the members.

    Toyota best change its tune as letting the UAW into their business is like giving in to organized crime – their demands know no reason or limits and they don’t care if Toyota or their own members lose their livelihood because of it.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    These are cars we’re talking about, not some piece of Ikea furniture. Show me a car that can be built by anybody with six fingers and one eye and I’ll show you a 1986 Hyundai Excel.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Lets see Toyota wants to be number one,nothing wrong with that.Toyota wants to set up assembly plants north american wide,no down side to that. Oh yeah Toyota wants the consumer to believe,that thier product is somehow superior to the competition, fair enough. Toyota would have you believe that the contribute as much as the domestic car companys do to the N/A economy. What? Toyota doesn't want the UAW and all the baggage that comes with it.Why not? Well it seems the UAW wants fair wages, seniority agreements, pensions and safe working conditions. Oh no! says Toyota we don't want to take on the "crap" that the big 2.5 has to deal with.We just want to sell cars make a bucket full of money,and take it back to Japan.We don't want to marry our employees,and have them contribute to the rest of the economy, like those nasty UAW types.We don't want a level playing field, we want to kick the ass of the big 2.5.without pesky"legacy costs"The american tax payer can pick up that,down the road. GO GET EM UAW!

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    I live in a community where Toyota has a major impact and soon to open another plant in the area. I know a number of employees who work for them and have never heard them complain over the wage they earn despiste the fact they do work damn hard and long to get it. I believe that Toyota has a right to try and lower their costs in any manner as does the UAW the right to try and organize. Having said that I feel it would be shortsighted for employees of any company to follow the mandates of a union that has a track record of forcing employers to find new locations because their greedy demands. Far better said employees attempt to work with management on compromises and negotiation through an in-plant association than to rely on sending there hard earned dollars to an orgainization who has at best a tawdry reputation and a track record that reeks of graft and inner corruption in it's history. In comparison Toyota comes off squeeky clean and this transgression though leaked should be no shock to any person who follows corportate business. The handling of said incident tragically was poorly conducted by the company and perhaps the PR dept should be the people dismissed over the poor outcome. Happy Motoring colinpolyps

  • avatar
    jaje

    Toyota gets an infection through their own actions and ignorance and UAW/Cancer moves in to kill the host!

  • avatar
    Schmu

    "Well it seems the UAW wants fair wages, seniority agreements, pensions and safe working conditions." As we have stated, they want Above Fair Wages. Seniority is irrelevant, you get a raise if you deserve one, or a new position if you deserve one, not just becasue you have been punching your time card longer than the better guy standing next to you. Pensions are up to all of us with 401k's and whatnot…if a company contributes, choose that over a company that doesn't. Traditional retirement is over. Personally, I can't even get a 401k. SAfe working conditions are the responsibility of OSHA. You have a problem, report it to them. Unions are responsible for that creation (thank you) now the union does not need to carry that flag anymore. Granted, some politicians want to erode that OSHA protection, in which case striking for safety may be viable again someday. How many strikes do you see for safety anymore? All i see is medical coverage and benefits. Really, who doesn't have to contribute to their own healthcare anymore? BCBS raises our company's insurance premiums 26% each year, yet the politicians complain about a national average of 12%, and the unions complain about $20. We can't afford another 26% increase this year, so we will lose some coverage. Its not always about greedy corporations, sometimes its a matter of company survival. Toyota has its first ripple in the water from this, but the 2.5 have a Tsunami coming in fast. Uh, what was the original point?

  • avatar
    Orian

    Mike,

    Seniority agreements and pensions have no place in the current business world.

    I don’t care if person x has worked for the company for 10 years and person y for one. If person y has more qualifications and has demonstrated they are the better qualified for a new position that is open internally, they should get it. I’ve seen too many seniority based things go horribly wrong because it is entitlement based. Just because you show up to work each day like the rest of your co-workers does not mean you are entitled to anything. Entitlement also flies in the face capitalism and our economy as we know it.

    We’ve also seen where pensions get companies.

    I wonder where people get off thinking these two things specifically are what is necessary to do a job.

  • avatar
    Spanish guy

    They expect you to be productive and help make them lots of money by giving using your talents and skills, but they can’t even offer something like job security in return? This is just giving them the green light to walk all over you.

    Create your own job (i.e., risk your own money creating your own job) and see what funny it is.

    Employers can be placed out of business anytime due to market forces. To ask them job security is a surefire recipe for making prospective capitalists to invest their money elsewhere.

  • avatar

    Comparing the UAW to a tapeworm is an insult to the tapeworm. 

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Spanishguy, I think we can appreciate the difference between a workforce reduction because times on the company are tough and they have too many mouths to feed, and what a company like Circuit City is doing by laying off experienced workers so they can hire cheaper replacements.

    It may be car stereo installers and wharehouse workers today, but what’s to say your job won’t go byebye because the bosses think they’re paying you too much, even though you’re one of their top employees?

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    quasimondo,
    I see absolutely no problem with that. Circuit City is a dumb company to begin with, so if they feel like $2/hour is not worth the experience, more power to them. If you’re really that skilled, Best Buy will be all over you.

    It’s the grim grin of capitalism. Everyone’s for himself. Selling is every bit as important as doing, so you have to know how to sell yourself well.

    Some people still can’t cope with the fact that they have to have the skills to sell themselves, so they get picked up by contractors. Which is not bad at all – way better than unions, because contractors are much more interested in the long-term financial success of their host client. And they often even charge less. Capitalism at its best.

    … And when you try to mess with capitalism, the commies come out of the bushes. Which is not so bad, cause first thing they’ll do is they’ll shoot all the lawyers :)

  • avatar
    hltguy

    If the Toyota work environment is so bad, why do thousands of Americans stand in line to fill out applications to work there when a new plant is built? Or why are there hundreds of applicants waiting for a chance to be interviewed to work there? A person has a choice where they work, if they do not like it, leave. There is always a group of workers who whine, complain, want to get a union involved when they don't get their crybaby way. Sort of like buying a house next to an existing airport and then complaining about the noise, these employees knew it was non-union when they went to work there. Toyota probably could have handled it better, but again the employees payroll checks are clearing the bank, they are getting what was promised them by their employer, if they don't like it, go get a different job, or God forbid, start their own company and see how tough it is. I wonder how many of the UAW members over the past many years took the time to go to college, and increase their skill level or education, while working for the 2.5? so they could prepared for the layoffs/buyouts. I would guess not many. My guess is if Toyota or any other car make that is non-union is put in a position to unionized, they will head out of the U.S.. Wake up people!

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    God…this kills me. for the past 12 years I've worked 50-60 hours a week in various jobs (without even considering time spent traveling for work) and can't complain. The idea of a 40 hour work week is so foreign to me it's hard to even imagine. Even in college, I was studying and in class for more than 50 hours a week. What would you do with the extra time…sit in traffic? Maybe it's years of being in sales that has brought me to the point that I can't identify with the whining of hourly workers. Try waking up every day with no guarantee that putting in 9-10 hours of hard work will net you a dime. And I like what I do, otherwise I would find something better.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    Idealistic, naive, and somewhat hypocritical.

    The only thing more powerful in the world today than a multinational corporation is a (actually, only some) governments. And that’s only because governments have guns. Yet many here suggest we all throw our fates to the benevolent whims of a corporation . . . every man for himself, against the behemoth. Good luck. Oh . . . those who scream at the thought of government-sponsored healthcare are now suggesting that OHSA is our savior to insure a safe workplace. Again, good luck.

    The corporation is legally mandated to crush you if it means more profit. The government simply wants to treat you like property. By yourself, you have pretty much zero leverage against either. In the face of this, the idea of banding together to try and face off against the giants almost sounds quaint. But the popular opinion here seems to be that instead, this is evil.

    I’m really curious as to the economic/career status of some of the hardcore posters here. I mean, come on . . . how many people can *really* just choose to quit their job if the boss demands too much? All the folks suggesting that must really be some golden boys. I actually did it, once . . . and ended up forced into moving to a new city, taking a loss on my house, and dropping about 20% in my salary. And frankly I’m no slouch .. . MS in engineering, MBA from a top-10 school, 15 years experience with some good companies. At the time I was lucky because my kid wasn’t in school yet, so it didn’t mean ripping her from friends. Now it’s be worse. Constantly harping on that particular chestnut is rather annoying, frankly.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    dkulmacz: "The corporation is legally mandated to crush you if it means more profit", just who do you think makes up the corporation? The mentality of the corporation always being the bad guy is simply not true. Yes,some corporations do bad things (sometimes very bad, like Enron), but many have also provided a standard of living in this country unsurpassed in world history. I too sir have gone to college and earned college degrees, while working full time, it can be done. Most people in this country work for or own small businesses, those who work for large corporations can choose to do so if they wish. I always shake my head when I hear people complain about Wal-Mart, and all the supposed wrongs they do, yet there would be no Wal-Mart if people did not choose to shop there, or work there. I know people in unions who shop at Wal-Mart, and those same people complain about the diminishing role of the unions in this country. The posters on this site who take the UAW to task do so for good reason, it is not simply people banding together and fighting a great evil, the UAW has come to stand for self-serving greed that is as bad as the mistakes the 2.5 have made. It is one thing to protect's someone's safety and employer promises, but quite another to demand full pay for not working, endless and unlimited medical care, and huge buyouts. I agree with you that national healthcare is folly. I prefer not to think of it as "everyman for himself" but freedom to choose the path one can take in life, and one does not like that path, then change it. I own two companies, started from working from my home and grown since then. Again, if the employees hate their situation, and complain, like in Detroit, band together, get the financing and start your own car company, see how long they would last as business owners.

  • avatar
    powerglide

    dkulmacz,

    Point taken about the drop in pay.

    Yes, if you decide you must change jobs, quite possibly you’ll have to convince a new employer of your general excellence. Or not. Depends on the situation, location…

    But it’s difficult to be rewarded for your individual excellence if it’s averaged with others, if you’re “banded together” with your coworkers, as you recommend, chained together like prisoners, in “collective bargaining,” based on a concept of group rights.

    Normally individuals who want to opt out of the collective, make their own decisions, as befitting free citizens, are attacked as “scabs.”

    Then it gets ugly: all the intimidation, threats, slashed tires, smashed windshields, industrial “accidents”, violence, etc.

    Plus political coercion: unions have tried, and succeeded in many places, through legislation, to damage the legal standing of right-to-work provisions in favor of closed shops.

    In fact, ALL states are “right-to-work states.”

    Only, some states violate this right…

  • avatar
    rtz

    If Wal-Mart can manage to consistently ward off the Union; I don’t see how Toyota won’t be able too also. No means no right?

  • avatar
    slouch

    The simple problem here is that there are two organizations, Toyota and the UAW, that want two diametrically opposed things. Toyota wants to make more profit the UAW wants to make Toyota pay more for labor. It really is that simple. The mere existence of the UAW and the union shops associated is sufficient to change the market for labor. If the union shops are guaranteed to pay x then all other employers need to match x if unless they want to constantly lose their best to said union. As such Toyota will offer competitive salaries as long as the unions exist. If they cease to exist I would imagine that Toyota would freeze salary growth thereafter or even lower salaries.

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    Late to the party, as usual…
    There are several mechanisms in today’s society that protect the worker. The first is the Union. Unions collectivize the workers so that it’s not just the worker against the company, but all the workers against the company when problems occur. Historically, unions have been extremely beneficial to the labor force in the US – safer working conditions, better treatment, etc. So no responses that I’m anti-union, please.
    Next is the efficiency of the economy – basic supply and demand – if there are only so many guys around that can drive a forklift, and Toyota is only paying you $10/hr, Home Depot might be willing to pay you $15 per hour – voila – the market has just protected you from getting screwed by ToMoCo.
    3rd – Your government – OSHA and all the other worker protection agencies are not something any corporation wants to mess with – if OSHA gets enough complaints, they will investigate, and the corporation will hurt, and they know this.
    4th – Civil litigation – in this day and age, lawyers are out there begging for someone to be injured by a large corporation, because that means a big pay day for all concerned. Corporations know this, and know that screwing their employees safety has the potential to cost them big bucks.
    So, I see a lot of alternatives to Unions that protect the workers – alternatives that allow for fairness in wages and benefits. I believe that these alternatives were not as fully developed earlier in the 20th century when the UAW really took hold.

    The last word on the evil of corporations is that the UAW is itself a corporation, battling other corporations, when perhaps a more concerted effort might have been better for the collective. Is there an economics student reading? GM & UAW compose the classic 2 sided prisoners dilema – both sides have incentive to screw the other, when both sides would be collectively better off if they could collaborate.

    Finally, on the 80hour week that someone else mentioned – this has been a major boon to surgery residents – most were working over a hundred hours per week before that. The average general surgeon (fully licensed), for the record, works 65-70 hours per week, and does not get weekends and holidays off. So, like someone else said, if you don’t like the job, you find something else to do.

  • avatar
    wsn

    For those who said Toyota doesn’t have a union, know that Toyota (and Honda) does have a union in Japan. And GM does not have a real union in China. The unions in China are controlled by the state, and will help the management against any worker uprise as long as the state is still in love with the company.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Toyota has no one to blame but itself to blame for this perilous state of affairs. Their sloppy record keeping and short sighted damage control could give the UAW the leverage they need to start pulling Toyota into the same rat hole that disappeared Detroit. Meanwhile, even as they seek to organize Toyota, the UAW continues to call the automaker their enemy. And so it is.

    I think you’re jumping to conclusions here.

    Sloppy record keeping and short sighted damage control? Sounds like GM not Toyota. Refresh my memory … which company again is being investigated by the SEC?

    Regardless of this incident, Toyota’s record keeping and damage control both are very good.

    The amount of Toyota workers that showed up to this meeting I can count on one hand. Out of the thousands of workers at the Georgetown plant, not more than 5 showed up. Doesn’t that tell you something?

    I dunno, like perhaps Toyota employees have no reason to join the UAW because they are happy with their jobs? Last year, Toyota employees on average got paid more than the average UAW worker. But let’s not argue about statistics shall we?

    The UAW tried before to organize a meeting at Georgetown, and then just as now, almost nobody from the Toyota plant showed up.

    Officially, only *one* Toyota executive is worried about the labour costs, which is Sudo who happens to be an accountant. No other Toyota execs have officially stated they are worried about US labor costs. Let us not forget that most of Toyota’s senior management are in fact engineers, not accountants.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Johnson makes an interesting point. If Toyota is mostly run by engineers, how about the 2.5?

  • avatar
    jurisb

    michael Phelps listens to Eminem, does it make his records less astounding? does 2 dimensional paperwork in toyota make their 3 dimensional steel achievements less tasty? i guess not.

  • avatar
    Spanish guy

    Historically, unions have been extremely beneficial to the labor force in the US – safer working conditions, better treatment, etc.

    You are wrong. Please read http://jim.com/econ/chap20p1.html

    Increased productivity is the key to better work conditions, and Unions decrease productivity.

    Yet many here suggest we all throw our fates to the benevolent whims of a corporation . . . every man for himself, against the behemoth.

    Look at the history of corporations, from Ford to Apple to Amazon.com. All corporations start as some individual(s) endeavour in a garage or a kitchen. Try it yourself. If you can. Good luck.

    …and please do not forget that the “behemots” eventually fall. Take a look a this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Defunct_companies_by_country …you can spend several days taking lessons from the articles linked here.

    I’m really curious as to the economic/career status of some of the posters here.

    I am self-employed (with no PITA employees). I own my own small business: I work 50-60 hours a week, no holidays, some Saturdays working here and happy as a lark.

    The funniest day to work is May 1st. I am working while I hear the Unions freelunchers “celebrating” the “day of the work” at the street…

    Spanishguy, I think we can appreciate the difference between a workforce reduction because times on the company are tough and they have too many mouths to feed, and what a company like Circuit City is doing by laying off experienced workers so they can hire cheaper replacements….

    If those “cheaper replacements” can do the same job that the “experienced workers” are doing, that business is doing the right thing, just as you (I suppose) look for the best price when you go shopping. Wage is only a special kind of price: The price for labour. Do you compare prices when you go shopping?. Employers do, if they want to be employers in the future.

    but what’s to say your job won’t go byebye because the bosses think they’re paying you too much, even though you’re one of their top employees?

    I am self employed, I have no boss: I am my boss in my own small business, and what a merciless boss you are to yourself when the ship you are helming is your own property.

    And yes, my job can go byebye anytime: Uncertainty is the price of being alive. The difference being my own boss is that I am the one deciding if I have to pull the plug.

    I own two companies, started from working from my home and grown since then. Again, if the employees their situation, and complain, like in Detroit, band together, get the financing and start your own car company, see how long they would last as business owners.

    I agree with you 100%. And congratulations for your successful business career: More men like you are needed in this planet.

    if you don’t like the job, you find something else to do.

    If the Toyota work environment is so bad, why do thousands of Americans stand in line to fill out applications to work there when a new plant is built?

    A person has a choice where they work, if they do not like it, leave.

    This postings show the key of the issue: Free choice.

    The idea of a 40 hour work week is so foreign to me it’s hard to even imagine.

    Uh. Here in Europe the freelunchers are asking for 35 hours a week (with no wage reduction!!!)

    http://www.google.es/search?hl=es&q=%22por+las+35+horas%22&btnG=Buscar+con+Google&meta=,

    Some public servants (damn on them) are actually getting this sinecure…and the fools moan and groan when miriads (and I said miriads) of factories relocate from Spain to Eastern Europe, Morocco or Asia. Fools.

    Some SEAT production had been moved outside Spain. Catalonian workers are overpaid, and Union rules make the work conditions too rigid. The result: VW moved some SEAT production to Eslovaquia (our own Mexico: Eslovaquian wages are a fifth of Catalonian wages)
    http://www.lavanguardia.es/premium/publica/publica?COMPID=51256675367&ID_PAGINA=22780&ID_FORMATO=9&PARTICION=91&SUBORDRE=3

    http://motor.terra.es/motor/articulo/html/mot12801.htm

    My message to Toyota: If the UAW cancer metastasizes to any Toyota facality, apply surgery, merciless, fast and irreversible surgery: Cut wood on sight, before the whole tree is rotten.

  • avatar

    Landcrusher: Johnson makes an interesting point. If Toyota is mostly run by engineers, how about the 2.5? Rick Wagoner (GM): Bachelor's degree in economics from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard Business School; has worked exclusively for GM in their financial offices before becoming CFO, then CEO. Alan Mulally (Ford): Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Kansas, and a Master's degree in Management (S.M.) as a Sloan Fellow from the MIT Sloan School of Management; worked as an engineer and project manager at Boeing and worked his way up to Executive VP before moving to Ford. Tommy LaSorda (Chrysler Group): Dual degree (Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce) and MBA from the University of Windsor; began with GM, working chiefly in manufacturing, before moving to Chrysler Group as Senior VP; became COO in 2004 and CEO in 2006.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Its a shame really. According to most of the posts here, companies are free to work you as long and as hard as they want, and then fire you at whim, and you are supposed to grin and bare it. Seems so uncivilized at the very least.

    I worked at a union shop as “management”, even tho i was doing alot of the work that the trades were supposed to be doing. Except that the trades would not do it because it was too dangerous for them to do, so I got to do it. I could not complain, I had no recourse because I was not in the union; no one would stand up for me. If i had been in the union, I might still be working there. Pity. I contacted OSHA to complain about it, when my boss found out that I did that, he fired me. The End. God bless the Sacred Company!

    In most other civilized countries, people actually work to live, not live to work, as apparently most of the other posters here do. I will not work 80 – 90 hours a week, work ethic be damned. I HAVE a life, and it is not my job. I actually like other things as well.

    The large problem with at-will employment is that it treats the employees like cattle. Employees are not encouraged to do their best, if it can be shown that it apparently does not matter, as the fired employees found out. It is unfair that they got fired, it is morally wrong. If Toyota does not know that, its no better then sending Irish immigrants in to the mines before the miners, to see it was safe. If they came back alive, it was safe to send the real employees down there.

    The reason that Toyota built the plants where they are, is they are historically very poor areas, therefore the locals would not complain much if the company mistreated them. Now the company is mistreating them, a few brave souls are coming forward to tell their pieces. The reason that there are a lot of job applicants at these plants is because the areas are still underserved. That does not give the employer carte blanche to mistreat the employees.

    I am especially saddened by those here who think that the company should be able to do whatever they want to, and the employees must simply put up with it. Instead of standing up for the plight of the employees, they proudly wear the malicious grin of the company. Sigh.

    Will Toyota then move elsewhere if people complain about them? Is it our place to baby face these monstrous corporate entities, tickle their little bellies and try to keep them happy? They will move if they want to – there is pity little manufacturing here anyway. And its NOT because of the unions – it’s because Americans simply cannot live on the wages that make starving pacific rim islanders happy.

    SO what do we do? Go back to pre Dickinsonian England, every man for himself? Should we exploit our children? Others exploit theirs! I suppose, if the company says they want do, posters here will willingly drag their kids there, saying “Buck up, ya little snot. The company says it’s OK, and I believe them”.

  • avatar
    Spanish guy

    I am especially saddened by those here who think that the company should be able to do whatever they want to, and the employees must simply put up with it.

    The individuals managing a company (not “the Company”, which is a fictitious entity) should be able to offer work conditions to prospective employees, and the prospective employees should be free to accept or reject those conditions. No more , no less.

    I HAVE a life, and it is not my job. I actually like other things as well.

    Sir: I am very happy you have such a rich life, full of different interests and things to do.

    …but you are not going to be self-employed with that kind of thinking, so you depend on other person´s capital for your work, and those persons owe you nothing: They will make you an offer, you are free to accept or to decline the offer.

    …and those other persons want a fair return for the capital they are risking creating your job. If they do not get that fair return, they will invest somewhere else (v.gr. in China), or, simply, they will spend their money (i.e., they will destroy their capital on those “other things” you cited).

    The reason that there are a lot of job applicants at these plants is because the areas are still underserved.

    “Underserved” by other persons´capital. Other persons (in this case, Toyota Managers) choose those locations to invest their capital because there were no Unions on sight.

    Add the Unions to the equation and maybe they will opt to move production to Mexico. It´s their property, they have a right to do so.

    It is unfair that they got fired, it is morally wrong.

    What is unfair and morally wrong is to limit the use of other person´s property.

    With all due respect, let me ask you some questions: Is it unfair if you stop going to a restaurant?. If you stop shopping in a given mall?. If you stop going to this or that chiropractor or dentist?. If you stop buying this or that brand of cars?.

    You “fired” those business when you stopped using their services. You are and you should be free to do so. The same with employers.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    The chances of an effective UAW organizing drive at any of the transplant factories is zero.

    One of the brilliant things about the US is that people are free to live anywhere they like without the need to ask permission. If you live in an impoverished area with few job opportunities you are free to pull up stakes and go where the work is. The vast majority of the inhabitants of the USofA owe their current location to this fact. Either you moved where you are by choice or your ancestors did.

    Unions count of the victim mentality of members to keep their charade going. Refuse to think of yourself as a victim and suddenly you will want nothing to do with union membership.

    In the 1950s Toyota had a major showdown with the Japanese unions. Basically the company won and has been growing like gangbusters ever since. GM and the UAW had a showdown in the 1970s. The UAW won that one and GM has been loosing ground ever since. You cannot grow a business when the labor side of the equation is committed to reduced productivity. Labor productivity is defined as the ratio of work completed to man hours paid for. The UAW has been committed to the lowest productivity they can get away with forever. The ultimate foolishness is the jobs bank, where by definition productivity = ZERO. Toyota will never let itself be held hostage by a labor group which is fundamentally committed to lower productivity than would be possible without them involved. Just isn’t going to happen. There are plenty of places Toyota can build cars, and the car buying public of the US isn’t going to vote for congresscritters who try to take away their now beloved Toyotas & Hondas. Just try to slap duties or quotas on automobile imports and see how far you get. Heck, the environmentalists alone would put any such effort into the grave. In the 1970s when auto pollution standards started getting serious every US based maker went to Washington and said that the proposed rules would put them out of business and cost the consumer a fortune. Honda pissed everyone off by saying, no problem, we can do it. Detroit has had negative credibility with the environmental activist community ever since while Honda remains the darling. Toyota’s Prius single handedly got them into the Green Good Guys club as well. GM gets no credibility for it’s massive spending on alternative vehicles because the really cool stuff is always just around the next corner, but never in hand.

    The Democrats strongholds in the midwest and New England might go for sanctions against imported vehicles, but California never will and the Democrats can’t win anything on a national scale without California. Even that California teachers union members mostly drive Japanese nameplate vehicles. Solidarity, eh ? Californians gave the 2.5 up for dead years ago, at least for cars. Trucks are a different story, but the truck fad is over and the truck market is shrinking rapidly back to those who really need them, which is about 1/2 of what it was at the peak.

  • avatar
    Luther

    “Unions count of the victim mentality of members to keep their charade going. Refuse to think of yourself as a victim and suddenly you will want nothing to do with union membership.”

    Yes indeed.

    Another area where people make errors is in thinking that money is wealth. Money is just a claim ticket on produced wealth. Money can be viewed two ways:

    1. A tool of production.
    2. A tool of consumption.

    Some people “destroy” capital with consumption and end up with nothing…State Lottery winners.

    Some people create wealth with their capital and end up very rich…Warren Buffet.

    Before we just parrot the Public School/Politician/Labor Union/TV/Newspaper party line of “Corporations are bad” and “employers are evil”, become self-employed and discover for yourself how difficult it is to grow a business…And good luck with hiring “employees”…You will need it. One error in judgement in hiring people with “adult/virtuous character” could destroy you financially and you may even end up in a Governement’s rape cage for the crime of, um, child abuse :)

    Here is a good read on the subject of wealth production. You start to appreciate evil corporations.

    http://www.theadvocates.org/freeman/9605read.html

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Landcrusher, the majority of senior execs who work for the Detroit 3 are in fact MBAs and accountants. Thanks Frank for that little synopsis.

    Compare that to Japanese makers, where there are lots of engineers within the exec ranks. This is especially true of Honda, which is almost entirely run by engineers, and Toyota. Nissan used to be run by engineers, but ever since the Renault tie-up, bean counters (cost cutters) have reigned supreme.

    It’s interesting then that of all the Big 3 CEOs, Mulally seems to have the greatest urgency. I also truly believe he has the best chance to turn around the company he is running.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    The Corporation is not a ‘fictitious’ entity . . . it is in fact a ‘legal’ entity. Just like you or me. Only if we break the law, we have physical butt that can be thrown in jail, whereas a corporation does not. Only a board of directors and a management team, who will only go into the can if it’s shown that they personally broke the law.

    It has been upheld in US courts that shareholders can sue a corporation if it’s shown that they are not acting in a way as to maximize profits. Corporations are legally prevented from doing ‘altruistic’ things (such as being ‘green’) if it is not in the financial interests of the shareholders. Any ‘green’ company, or any company that uses its resources to support AIDS research, or any type of charitable idea only does so because of the goodwill they generate, i.e., the positive publicity that will ultimately contribute to the bottom line.

    Thus I reiterate my statement . . . they are legally obligated to crush you if it means a bigger profit.

    If you own a small business, you are not so obligated. You can do as you please. Think of your business if you had a large loan from the local mob, and they called the shots for you . . . whatever let you pay the vig was mandatory. That’s a better picture of a corporation.

    And please don’t start with the fawning over those godly folks who risk their ‘capital’. Again, I say that’s all well and good if you are an altruist. But in reality, most of these people really ‘risk’ nothing . . . a net worth of $2BN versus $1.5BN is not really a ‘risk’, in my opinion.

    We live in a wonderful age where in reality many if not most people could contribute enough to society to live a comfortable life without breaking their backs or dropping dead by 50. But instead, we’ve decided it’s better to concentrate just about all of the benefits on a very slim few who are lucky enough to have either accumulated a huge amount of capital, or risen to the absolute top of a corporation. Screw the rest, they’re expendible.

    And yes, I meant to say ‘lucky’.

  • avatar
    Spanish guy

    The Corporation is not a ‘fictitious’ entity . . . it is in fact a ‘legal’ entity. Just like you or me.

    Well, you are right, sir. I meant that Corporations do not have a will of their own, just as cars do not choose destinations or have s: Only drivers.

    Corporations are legally prevented from doing ‘altruistic’ things (such as being ‘green’) if it is not in the financial interests of the shareholders.

    And this is a good thing to protect shareholders´ interests. Plase read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_v._Ford_Motor_Company for a 1919 precedent for that rule. Old Henry Ford tried to be “altruistic” selling cars. Michigan Supreme Court said No.

    Thus I reiterate my statement . . . they are legally obligated to crush you if it means a bigger profit.

    You are wrong. If they really would try to (really) “crush” you you could go for a job elsewhere. AFAIK there´s no slavery in the USA.

    And please don’t start with the fawning over those godly folks who risk their ‘capital’.

    Why not?. The “fawning” you are talking about is the truth.

    Again, I say that’s all well and good if you are an altruist.

    Thanks to Ayn Rand and to my own efforts I am not: I am a (proud) Rational Egoist.

    But in reality, most of these people really ‘risk’ nothing . . . a net worth of $2BN versus $1.5BN is not really a ‘risk’, in my opinion.

    You are wrong: Please inform yourself about, lets say, the history of Nash-Kelvinator, PanAm, Pullman, American Motors and RCA.

    Corporations fall, especially mismanaged corporations.

  • avatar
    OctaVentiConPanna

    You should get an guarantee of a good wage. You did the work and you are ENTITLED to that pay. If a company is trying to “cut costs” by cutting your wage or salary, they are ripping you off. The company is stealing your time and labor. Your labor whether it be your brains or brawn is something that has been given to the company and adequate compensation for that work done should be made.

    A union allows workers to collectively bargain for a good wage for their work done and if that contract is broken, they can collectively take that labor away from the company with a strike. The company should serve the people and not solely be making profits for itself, a non human entity.

    The only cancer around here is the anti-union mentality which holds onto myths that serve as the intellectual foundation for eliminating unions eventually and widen the already increasing gap between rich and poor in the U.S.

    MYTH: “Lazy worker”
    There’s no way you can be lazy when the assembly line is moving. You have to finish the car within the alloted amount of time because the next car is coming. How do you suppose they make so many cars? By being lazy?

    MYTH: “Easy job that pays very well”
    Auto assembly is a very difficult job. Out of 700 people who apply for the job of auto assembly, usually only 30 or so gets hired. There are several tests that prospective workers must pass if they want to work inside of an auto plant. If you fail any of them, they will not hire you. And once you’re hired, the hell begins. You’ll be working faster than you thought was humanly possible. The first month, you WILL lose weight because of the constant work. If you’re stuck doing the more difficult jobs, your heartrate is firmly within the aerobic zone. Imagine doing aerobics for 8-9 hours a day 5-6 days a week. Every part of your body hurts. Your hands swell up and you have to ice them down. If its bad enough, you can barely grab a cup. Eventually, some people’s hands just lock up. And you’re eating food constantly so you’re having a bowel movement 4 times a day; yet, you still lose weight. Over time, the repetitive work wears out joints and virtually all of the workers will eventually be injured permanently. Even though it it hurts, the bolts have to still be torqued correctly, paint lookin’ perfect and enough cars built to meet the demand. Many of you reading this would not qualify to do the job and a small percentage will literally die from a heart attack from the constant and heavy workload. And for all that work you expect people to put up with being paid a little more than minimum wage?

    And no, the workers do not have a huge wage and lavish benefits. the workers in the UAW Toyota plant in California make the median income in that area of the country. If one is a single income household, that family will not be able to afford to buy a home in that area of the country. Their income is far from lavish and they struggle to save and make it.

    MYTH: “auto workers should make wages in line with other jobs”
    No. There will always be downward pressure on wages from corporations simply because labor on the income statement is simply an “expense”….. an “expense” to be minimized. If a grade school teacher is not making as much as an auto worker, then the teachers union should bargain for a better contract. If the Starbucks barista is not making a living wage doing skilled work, they should organize a union and negotiate a contract that will give them better pay for their hard work. Lower paid workers should RAISE they pay to the level of a UAW auto worker, not the other way around.

    MYTH: “non union workers don’t complain”
    Of course they don’t. they don’t have a contract so if they do complain, they will get fired, so they just shut the hell up and when management asks them to bend over, they smile & ask “how far?”

    MYTH: “If there’s a safety problem, you don’t need the UAW cuz you got OSHA”
    In reality, they’ll just fire you if you report a safety hazard. That way, the others will shut up knowing they can get fired too.

    MYTH: “Profits should be held above all else cuz everything will work itself out”
    Corporate entities are only there to make a profit and the workers are all expenses on the income statement meant to be minimized. Workers need protection from the corporations’ need to constantly minimize or eliminate the cost of labor.

    MYTH: “There is no slave labor in the U.S.”
    As a matter of fact, there IS slave labor in Florida with farm workers being paid $20 a week and being kept from quitting their job with threats to their lives.

    MYTH: “Unions lower productivity”
    Riddle me this?…. how does the Toyota plant in California crank out the best selling Corolla and Tacoma year after year with UAW labor and with the best in reliability??

    LIE: “If you don’t like it you can leave”
    Wrong. When people leave jobs and they don’t have proper skills, they won;’t necessarily have the money to further their education and will have to accept the first thing that they find so they can put food on the table. They don’t really have a choice. It takes 1 month for every $10k in yearly salary to find a job. During that time, you are not making an income and losing out. It is not profitable to quit and look for another job. For many, it is devastating in this age of high housing prices. The job market is not an efficient market as their is always downward pressure on wages from corporations seeking to ELIMINATE their labor costs.

  • avatar

    It is considered a lavish benefit to have full healthcare benefits after retirement. That is the back breaker for the companies not the pay and benefits of the current workers

  • avatar

    OctaVentiConPanna regardless whether your points about myths are true or false, unless the costs are reduced for the domestic automakers they will go out of business or they will outsource all of their labor.

  • avatar
    Spanish guy

    MYTH: “There is no slave labor in the U.S.”
    As a matter of fact, there IS slave labor in Florida with farm workers being paid $20 a week and being kept from quitting their job with threats to their lives.

    This is BIG news. Could you please provide an external source for that?. I though that slavery was abolished in the USA in the 1860s…

    LIE: “If you don’t like it you can leave”
    Wrong. When people leave jobs and they don’t have proper skills…[]…is not profitable to quit and look for another job. For many, it is devastating in this age of high housing prices.

    OK, Sir. It is “financially devastating” and “unprofitable” to leave a job, but it can be done.

    If it is unprofitable to leave a job, that worker is in the best job for him, so he has nothing to complaint about, just as me in me 50-60 hours a week, no holidays, no health care benefits (happy) self-employment.

    And Toyota has no blame on the housing market.

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    Him…these tests that you must pass to be hired at an auto plant; what do they consist of? This thread is a bit of a dead horse, but I’m curious as to what kind testing is required of an 18 year old kid who wants to join the line. Could somebody describe the requirements?

  • avatar
    mikey

    Murphysamber tests? I don’t know, they never had em in my day.The real test comes on your first day,the first of thousands of days.
    OctaVentiConPama above, describes it as only one that has been there, could.
    Myself and all the other thousands of autoworkers are worth every penny we are paid.
    Trust me within 10 years ALL of the transplants will be UAW/CAW,or at the very least paying the same pay and benifits

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    I'm sorry Mikey, but I'm a firm believer that in 10 years, the union will not exist in the remaining US auto plants. You can not argue against the fact that there are Chinese workers that will do your job for pennies on the dollar without complaint. How many stereos and TV's do you own that are american made? And if the Chinese get unhappy about their wage, India has a billion people too, and i'm sure there are a couple million that wouldn't mind fighting for a steady income at a far lower wage than you want. When's the last time you called a help line on your Chinese (Taiwanese) built something or other and didn't speak to the polite, well educated, and eager to work citizens of New Dehli? A Global economy is the end of the UAW.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Murphy if your right and I,m wrong[wich might be the case]and the big unions vanish along with big wages.We in North America better change our thinking real fast.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    I too was enthralled with Ayn Rand when I first discovered her writing. I’ve outgrown it, though. She fits perfectly my definition of an idealist . . . her ideas sound great in theory, but frankly they simply ignore many of the practicalities of real life. Remember, she was writing from the perspective of a former citizen of communist USSR, in the thick of the cold war. It’s entirely possible that a thinking person such as herself might write some entirely different books now if she were raised in the immoral disparity to be found in today’s America. I doubt she would find many Roarke or Galt-like heros in any of todays CEOs, that’s for sure.

    I think it is implicit in many of the writings here that a lot of the posters somehow feel that they are immune to the march of Globalization. Either that, or they’re true idealists who don’t find any problem in the fact that they may be destined to be priced out of a job by someone in India or China . . . willing to elevate the principals of Capitalism even above their own well being. Not me, man.

    Unless you’re a plumber or a truck driver, I’m afraid you are not immune at all. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, consultants, journalists . . . ANY job — knowledge based or otherwise — can be done more cheaply (and perhaps better) by someone, somewhere. So why do you glorify and exhalt the unavoidable march downward? Why glorify the fact that the typical US citizen is being pulled down to the level of the masses in ‘Third World’ countries?

    Let’s face it . . . most people in this country are or at least begin as ‘wage slaves’. The story of a poor man with nothing who bootstraps himself into a success from the get-go is becoming more and more mythological. Where do you get the capital to start that small business? Not from thin air, I’m sure. You either get it as a legacy/inheritance, or you borrow it, or you earn it via other means (i.e., a wage-paying job). Many here are arguing to essentially eliminate the third option, since even earning a living wage will become less and less possible . . . let alone saving to start a small business.

    So we’re back to feudal state where the genetically lucky inherit wealth and can continue to make more wealth, and the rest of the world are serfs. At the mercy of the royalty of the monied class, or the money-lenders (basically the same, I would say).

    How is that good?

    If you got your start via legacy, and plan to pass that on to your children, then lucky you. But if you got your start by working for a wage (or by lunching off the wages made by your parents), then why suddenly is it right to deny that opportunity to the children of others?

    I’m afraid I see a common theme run through the typical commentaries posted in the threads here . . . essentially all can be boiled down to the belief in self above all others.

    “the other guy makes too much money for what he does . . . ”
    “what they need to do is dump the pension and health care liabilities . . .”
    “choice B is better than choice A, so I’m buying it . . . I don’t care who suffers from collateral damage . . .”
    “I had a bad experience so I hope they go out of business . . . that’ll show’em . . .”
    “if ‘the man’ is screwing you, you’re free to take a walk . . . hope you have a big enough bank account to pay the mortgage for a while . . .”

    It’s sad, really .. .

  • avatar
    Jim H

    Having read only about 1/2 the comments…I’m drawn back to the original memo that leaked out. This is about record profits to share holders (the rich) while removing benefits and pay from the workers (the poor). Where is the balance between a communistic and slave/endentured servant society? I don’t honestly know, but it appears that Toyota is moving the pendulum towards the rich and it’s share holders…and exploiting it’s workers.

    While I agree we are all employed at the discretion of our employers, hard work still cuts into profits. If I give 29 years and 350 days of my life to a company where I work my butt off…isn’t it a sad thing to know that they can lay me off to screw me out of retirement? My loyalty means very, very little to number crunchers (aka bean counters). Bad press is the only weapon many employees have.

    Did you all read about the employees at Toyota being laid off after being injured on the job? How’s that for company commitment? I really shouldn’t blame Toyota though…if that’s what our government does to injured soldiers (or non-combat military), why should I hold the bar higher for Toyota? Oh yeah…the company makes millions of dollars in profits.

    Why is it that share holders demand 20% return on their investment each year? This is called greed. Some of the things the UAW has done is downright idiotic. Good intentions, perhaps. Horrible implementation.

    The more our society and business revolves around generating money for shareholders, the more we’ll see employees get screwed over. Period.


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