By on July 31, 2008

The man and his legacyBuzz Hargrove doesn't mince his words. As demonstrated in Part 1 of this interview, the outgoing Canadian Auto Workers leader is fully aware of the Detroit domestics' dire financial peril. What's more, Buzz understands the balance between his members' welfare and the health of the automotive industry. Or lack thereof. "My first responsibility is to look after the interests of my members," Buzz admits. "But I tell my boys to look after the industry too. At every meeting." So, how's that going?

Not well. It's evident that Buzz Hargrove has little respect for the men who run the companies that employ his members. "We've made sacrifices. They have no sense of sacrifice."

"[Chrysler CEO] Bob Nardelli's big claim to fame, when he came in, was that he wouldn't need a big salary because of what he made at Home Depot. But today, he still won't disclose his salary." It reminds him of Lee Iacocca's first year as Chrysler chairman. "He came on saying he would only be paid $1/year. What he didn't tell you was next year he picked up $21 million. I'd take $1/year if you paid me $21 million the next year."

It's a credibility gap that irritates Hargrove and offends his political beliefs. "It's the guys at the top looking out for the guys at the top. That's capitalism."

Hargrove characterizes Ford CEO Alan Mulally and GM CEO Rick Wagoner as bright guys who understand the car business but can't get it done; they can't stop their companies' shrinking market shares. Again, Hargrove lets Chrysler's Nardelli have it with both barrels.

"I'm not convinced he's the right guy. It's a very complex industry. [Cerberus boss] Stephen Feinberg told me he hired him over Tommy [Lasorda] because he was the only one who admitted Chrysler was in trouble. That's true, but I'm not sure those are the best credentials to pick someone to run a multi-billion dollar business."

Cerberus itself was a source of controversy for Hargrove. Asked why he originally opposed the takeover and then supported it, Hargrove recounts a meeting with Feinberg. "They assured me they would continue to invest in Canadian operations."

"GM said the same thing," I counter.

Hargrove suggests it's not his fault that he took the auto execs at their word. Equally surprising, he isn't worried about the Canadian auto industry's future. I ask him if Canadian labour costs are scaring away automakers.

"That's completely ridiculous," he declares without hesitation.

"Chrysler just committed to making the new Caravan in Canada, Ford invested in Windsor, and GM committed the Impala. Labour costs are only a component. If it was such a big cost, we wouldn't have had any new investment. They've spent billions here."

You get what you pay for, according to Hargrove, citing Oshawa's quality ratings among the GM family of plants. As to what taxpayers pay for, Hargrove is unrepentant about asking for government bailouts.

"The CAW pays the educational costs for thousands of its members. We are one of the largest tax bases in Canada. When things are going well, we don't ask for taxes back. What we're asking for is our own money. All we want is for [the governments of Canada and Ontario] to respect that."

When I bring up the recent $350m investment announced by Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (and, oddly, current MP for Oshawa-Whitby), Hargrove's composure begins to fray.

"That's peanuts. That won't even open a bicycle plant. This is a billion-dollar industry."

"Flaherty never got it – not when he was at Queen's Park [as an MLA for Mike Harris' provincial government], not now."

 Another political irritant for Hargrove: the current push for free trade. "The old Auto Pact turned an industry around for 20 years. The volume of imports in North America is so high, higher than Europe and Asia."

So high, in fact, that Hargrove rejects all comparisons to the heavily-unionized car industry of 1960s Britain. "It's two different industries completely." Hargrove points out that Europe and Asia didn't open their markets as freely as Canada and the USA, which gives them a huge competitive advantage on the global scale.

"They wanted to push through that free trade deal with Korea. I met with Stephen Harper and with Flaherty, and they could not disagree with me. These are free market guys. It was not a good deal for us."

Hargrove feels vindicated that the deal fell through. But he maintains that the current situation still favours foreign manufacturers.

 All of which suggests Hargrove is leaving a bit of work behind for his eventual successor. Asked about the timing of his departure, Hargrove lays it out. "I've changed it so that retirement is mandatory at 65. It can be tempting to stay on too long. I have to set the example. My credibility is very important to me."  

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49 Comments on “Buzz Hargrove: Still Full of Piss and Vinegar (Part 2)...”


  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    I must say, I earned a lot of respect for Buzz after reading this interview. He seems to be a bright guy who actually gets what is going on.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Maybe GM should just let Buzz take over for Rick.

  • avatar
    tulsa_97sr5

    @ Runfromcheney :

    I must say, I earned a lot of respect for Buzz after reading this interview. He seems to be a bright guy who actually gets what is going on.

    I find myself shocked to say this, but I agree. Maybe he’d like to blog part time in his retirement for TTAC.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Maybe he should be running GM

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    So let me get this straight, Buzz understands that the domestics (his union brothers employers) are in trouble and might go into chapter 11. When the CAW agreements were just recently signed the union was not going to back down on their demands and wanted every last bit they could squeeze out of the manufacturers.

    That seems very short sighted to me, and yet there is a lot of praise for Buzz and condemnation for the big 2.8 CEO’s, is there really that much difference?

  • avatar
    Subifreak

    Exactly what Dynamic88 said ^

  • avatar
    Alcibiades

    Mr. Hargrove has been very instrumental in driving auto manufacturing out of Canada. If that is success, I would hate to see what failure looks like.

  • avatar
    improvement_needed

    hey – how about posting the transcript for the interview?

    or, at least something closely resembling the transcript. would be very informative and provide more insight that these articles!!

  • avatar
    Orian

    I have to agree with him – if the executives can continue to receive exorbitant amounts of money and bonuses while failing, why shouldn’t the line workers profit too? How many employees yearly salary would Wagonner’s 14 mil pay? How about Nardeli’s 21 million bonus?

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    The key to understanding the union stand in this and the fact that they are not conceding much is what Buzz says about the bosses: They have no concept of sacrifice. This is on top of the fact that it’s them (the bosses) who ran the companies to the ground.

    I fully agree with unions, at this point this is not a situation that can be solved without Chapter 11 so why give up anything until the time comes?

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    Well, looky here. Light bulbs going on all over the place.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Well, looky here. Light bulbs going on all over the place.

    Everywhere except the RenCen, Dearborn (well, maybe they see the light a little bit) and Auburn Hills.

  • avatar

    I am reminded of similar situations in the railroad industry, where top management completely misjudged market conditions and coasted on inertia for years to the point of near extinction.

    Maybe the plant workers should buy out the companies and make them employee-owned. It worked for Chicago & North Western.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    The truth of the matter for both the UAW and the CAW is that the cost of their labor has exceeded the value of the work they have performed for GM, Ford, and Chysler for well over the past 30 years!
    When you are the highest paid workers in an industry yet the products you are making are NOT selling something is VERY WRONG!

    The domestics have been screwed since the early 1970s yet the UAW and the CAW have been continuiously willing to keep draining the canteen just like the management of the big3. The price the UAW and CAW have fixed for their labor over the last 30 years has been based on total BS! As the big3 continously lost marketshare and profits the Unions were still ready to ask for MORE! As the products being assembled by the big3 fell behind those of the foriegn competition I do not every recall the Unions expressing any major concern about the competitiveness of the junk that spent 9 to 5 day in and day out building by the millions. As the stuff they, themselves built sat on dealer lots UNSOLD I do not remember seeing the union say “we need to cut production” or heaven forbid our workforce!
    As Americans in ever increasing numbers turned away from Detroit products I cant remember seeing or hearing about the unions making a big deal about the future, THEIR FUTURE!

    In a nutshell when I think of the UAW and CAW I get the impression that the memebers were happy as hell to slap together un-competitive crap as long as they got their big fat pay checks. Many of these members are the same folks that would question another countryman’s patriotism because he refused to buy a POS Chevette, K-car, Escort, Fairmont, Lumina, Neon, Calibur, Cobolt, etc. Nevermind the fact that the UAW/ CAW workers were higher paid than the customers.

    Memebers of the UAW/CAW need to understand that there is very limited sympathy for them amoung the general public in the NA. In many ways your unions look just a foolish as the management of the companies you work for. Management, Unions, and Shareholder have all sat around with their thumbs up their a$$es for over a quarter century riding out the gravey train to the very end. The legacy of these Unions will be that they “eat all the food and left nothing for their children”. The worst part is they were too apathetic to plant any more crops for a future harvest.

    I’m sure that Rich, Bob(s), and the Ford family are all ready to “bust out” the remains of the big3 in the very near future. Considering how few of them there are at the top they will make out like bandits! On the otherhand the thousands upon thousand of unionized auto-workers in the US and Canada are going to be up sh*t’s creek without a paddle.

  • avatar
    John The Accountant

    whatdoiknow1 hit it right on the money in my opinion for the most part…I don’t agree about the POS Corvette comment (I plan to buy a 2002-2003 Z06 when I pay my Civic off), as that is probably the only true exciting vehicle left in Chevy’s armada (save the 2010 Camaro).

    Anyways, wasn’t the purpose of Unions to protect workers from corrupt execs? That was needed back in the 1930s and maybe 1940s, but things have changed. These unions are no longer needed. They have had the golden standard in health care, and pay for tightening lug nuts or assembling doors, but its time for basic economics to sort this issue out. Lets face it, do you think its fair for workers to get paid $70,000+/yr to do something that probably is worth maybe $30,000/yr?

  • avatar
    John B

    “Mr. Hargrove has been very instrumental in driving auto manufacturing out of Canada. If that is success, I would hate to see what failure looks like.”

    Really? During Buzz’s tenure there was tremendous investment by the N.American auto manufacturers in Ontario. This was mainly due to the cost advantages of public health care and a low Canadian dollar. It’s only the recent appreciation of the Canadian dollar, coupled with high gas prices, a potential U.S. recession and UAW health care concessions that hit the Ontario auto industry.

    Regarding the comments concerning leadership of the auto companies and lack of sacrifice – I recently attended a meeting where Don Carty was the guest speaker. Mr. Carty was the former CEO of American Airlines which I believe was the only one of the big legacy airlines that didn’t go into bankruptcy during the last recession. Carty recounted how he got the necessary concessions from the unions to help save the company. He didn’t even think of approaching the unions until he had wrung every cost saving measure possible out of management. He then met every local one-on-one to discuss what needed to be done.

  • avatar
    cleek

    Great interview. Tight questions with straight to the point answers. Congrats to both Samir and Buzz for the interesting exchange.

    I had to chuckle about the quote “It’s the guys at the top looking out for the guys at the top. That’s capitalism.”. No Buzz ,that’s called “cronyism”. It is akin to a “closed shop”. Surely even Buzz can appreciate the irony.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    POS CHEVETTE, definitely NOT the Corvette!

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Buz Hargrove needs to explain to us what was the CAW counter-plan once the transplants became TOTALLY SUCCESSFUL in NA NOT using unionized labor to build their products?

    The situation was a 800lb Gorilla in the room for the NA auto-unions!

    WTF is wrong with the UAW/ CAW anyway? Unions are NEVER in partnership with management or shareholders. They by design are in an adverserial relationship with those that control the purse stings of the company that is employing its memebers. IF Rich and Bob are raiding the GM coffers for thier own personal enrichment it is the Unions job to take action to stop this practice. In other words the exec pay themselves so much because the union allows it! As long as they throw a few scraps the Unions way the union leadership is willing to play along.

    A coupe of “work actions” by the union(s) and Rich and Bod would be making $1 a year until a turn around or they would be gone! The problem is the union sold out its soul for such things like Job Banks and full pay for half work.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Whoa! I guess I got to step in here.Not one line worker ever slapped together uncompetitive crap.

    We did what we were TOLD to do.Line workers have ZERO input.A line worker is handed tools,material and instructions to build to the supervisers standards PERIOD!

    Page number 0ne of the master agreement states in very clear language.The company and only the company make the decisions.Management manages,
    workers work.

    The unions mandate is to get the best possible deal that can be achieved, without a strike.
    And no matter how you cut it thats what Ron Gettlefinger and Buzz did!Yeah they did the job they were elected to do,what a FU—N concept.

    Auto workers arn’t getting a whole lot of sympathy.Really who da thunk?Most of the crap comes from people that have never set foot inside a manufacturing facility,much less spent any time on an assembly line.

    Actually I don’t think its a lack of sympathy,more like burning envy.

    Working on the line is mind numbing,soul destroying,back breaking work and we are worth every fucken cent were getting paid.

  • avatar
    John B

    “IF Rich and Bob are raiding the GM coffers for thier own personal enrichment it is the Unions job to take action to stop this practice.”

    Well no, it isn’t. It’s the job of shareholders through the board of directors. Just like it’s the shareholders who will see their equity vanish if the companies go under.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    You go, Mikey!

    Have you ever (maybe you have and I missed it) considered an editorial here? Perhaps without the “colorful metaphors”?

  • avatar
    mikey

    The auto execs make so much cause the union allows it?whatdoiknow: do you really believe that?

    If Buzz or Ron ever even implied such a thought.We would be on strike forever.Do you relly believe the management of any company would give up thier right,to run the company as they see fit?

    Never!

  • avatar
    cleek

    Mikey -

    I agree that you and your brethren deserve to get whatever was agreed upon.

    But page one of that master agreement sums up the fundamental problem with North American auto mfg culture. Anything that rigid makes innovation and change almost impossible for all involved.

  • avatar
    Ronin317

    Allow me to play Devil’s Advocate here – because I kinda have a problem choosing between 2 sides of an argument that are both responsible for the current issues.

    If, say, Mulally was to step down, and provide a similar interview but from the opposite side of the coin, how many of you would be praising him, nay wishing he would write for TTAC? As refreshing as Buzz’s honesty is, and for as much as an interesting read it creates, it doesn’t absolve him from being part of the problem (to an extent).

    That said, well done by Samir and all at TTAC for producing this piece.

  • avatar
    tms1999

    Lets face it, do you think its fair for workers to get paid $70,000+/yr to do something that probably is worth maybe $30,000/yr?

    The concept of fairness is definitely in the realm of point of view. Ask anyone if they would rather do their current job for $30k/y or $70k/y. You know the answer to that.

    One of the consequence of the lock-in of wages imposed by the union is not that the workers are overpaid, it is that the competitors, not employing union workforce, are allowed to pay their worker less than union ones: they have a competitive advantage.

    However, you can’t blame the unions for doing their job. Fairness is not an issue. Even I would pick the $70K+ salary.

    As for the line workers, indeed, they probably have no input in the design/standard/quality of the products they put together. Blame the designers/engineers/accountants/committees that participate in the creation of the products, not the people who tighten the bolts, in a, as Mikey told us so eloquently, mind numbing, soul destroying, back breaking way.

  • avatar
    Samir

    improvement_needed :
    July 31st, 2008 at 10:03 am

    hey – how about posting the transcript for the interview?

    Sorry buddy… TTAC is not the place for Q&A.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Are you sure you didn’t left one part 3 around in your computer?

    I want more of this interview.

  • avatar

    Very interesting. Buzz is a smarter my man than I had initially though. He seems to know exactly what is going on – this outburst of blunt honesty is shocking given how that he didn’t step down too long ago.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    The fundamental point is that the management runs the company and makes all, repeat, all, decisions relevant to the company direction. When the company is going down because of these decisions the workers are asked to sacrifice while the management doesn’t even understand the concept of sacrifice as Buzz says. Who in his right mind would sacrifice? Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi but who else?

  • avatar
    mykeliam

    I have said this since I was in high school and my parents worked at the VW plant here in PA “Why doesn’t the union tie it’s pay to the pay of the executives?” Like if we have a down turn, the union people will take as much of a cut in pay as the CEO, or we’ll take the same bonus as the top 5% of the company.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Mikey,

    My point is that no one is going to look out for your best interest IF you are willing to do so yourself.
    The UAW/ CAW needs to do some real soul searching and honesty ask themselves what is in the best interest of their members and enact policies that work towards achiving those goal.

    Setting a price for labor that is uncompetitive with that which the competition is paying is a sure-fire way to market your memebers out of their jobs.

    All of that talk about “well management does not give a damn” is a moot point when the rank and file union memebers are on the ropes. Yes management does NOT care about the workers, when have they ever? Those are the the guys that will be jumping from the plane with golden parachutes while the UAW/ CAW are setting themselves up to crash and burn. Unionand their memebers ARE major stake holders in this game. The UAW/ CAW were always willing to threaten the automakers with “work actions” when they demanded an increase in pay and beneifits, with that siad they had the same power the threaten the big3 over the lack of quality and popularity of the stuff they put their own “Union Rep” behind.

    What the UAW/ CAW has failed to do is properly place the blame at the feet of management. Rather than play the role of Domestic Fanboys the UAW/ CAW should have been one of the loudest complainers about the lack of quality in the products they were being “forced” to build. Bad products DO NOT save union jobs in the face of non-union competition (THAT ARE ACTUALLY BUILDER BETTER PRODUCTS).
    What the unions did do over the past 30 years is join into the stupid camp that blamed the consumers and competitiors for the lack of AMERICAN interest in the products that paid for the food on their tables.

    Somehow UAW/ CAW memebers did not see a major problem when they were being pay 2x and 3x the amount of the workers that were actually building the better and/ or more popular automobiles. Do not the non-union autoworker share the same type of burden that the union workers do? IS it any less stressful to assembly a Camry in Kentucy than a Impala in Oshawa? HOw do you justify the UAW/ CAW pay when the products you build are NOT selling and there is NO PROFIT being made?

    To claim that a rank and file worker in a underperforming and unprofitable “PRIVATE” venture deserves to make $70,000 just because they work hard is simply a bad arguement that does NOT carry much weight in the real world. This outward sense of entitlement was born in a very unique era of our history that WILL NOT be repeated again and is no longer valid and has not been for 30 years.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    For a figure of $70,000 a year to be valid for a factory line worker they need to be working with the latest and greatest of technology.
    Meaning the $70,000 dollar figure would be vaild today IF the US automakers had been on a gang-buster mission over the last 30 years to have build up the the most efficent/ advanced plants that required a minimum of high skilled workers.

    The problem is that many UAW/ CAW worker are still building cars using yesterdays technology. BOF chassis, OHV engines, etc. This is legacy engineering that has been or should have been perfected decades ago. Other than the parts being heavier I can believe that it is more difficult to assembly a Tahoe than a much smaller, with far less tolerance Accord. Needless to say I bet there are many more parts in a VTEC 24v V6 than a ohv v8.

    Personally I have worked under the hood of RWD v8 powered traditional American cars and a few accords. You can easily reach just about anything under the hood of RWD car yet I can barely fit my fingers in between parts on a Honda. NOw I know building and repairing cars are two different animals but I think you get my point.

  • avatar
    kkt

    Lets face it, do you think its fair for workers to get paid $70,000+/yr to do something that probably is worth maybe $30,000/yr?

    Maybe not, but that unfairness pales in comparison to executives pulling down eight figure salaries for doing things that are worth less than nothing to the company.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    John the Accountant wrote: “Anyways, wasn’t the purpose of Unions to protect workers from corrupt execs? That was needed back in the 1930s and maybe 1940s, but things have changed.”

    Enron. Have I made myself clear?

    whatdoiknow wrote: “The truth of the matter for both the UAW and the CAW is that the cost of their labor has exceeded the value of the work they have performed for GM, Ford, and Chysler for well over the past 30 years!”

    It’s not the UAW’s or CAW’s choice to build cars that suck.

    GM puts something like 20 hours of labor into each car. If we assume that’s the princely sum of $100/hour, that’s $2K per vehicle… not a crushing burden, even if Toyota’s cost is merely $1K in labor per vehicle (I don’t know what it is). Home Field Advantage for the domestics is that 40% of buyers STILL will not consider an Asian car (study cited on TTAC a few months back). In the market, this translates into a price premium for the domestic car… if the cars are otherwise perceived as equivalent.

    There’s the rub. The cars aren’t perceived as equal. Over the past 20 years, 25% of buyers have decided that they will no longer consider a domestic car (same TTAC article) because the cars are not equal. If GM was building cars just as good and reliable as Toyota or Honda’s are perceived to be (and really are, if you ask me), GM would be happily making money.

    This situation has much, much less to do with union labor than with the effort and direction set by GM management. Do they have a quality focus? Do they have a commitment to giving the customer solid value? Do they discipline their dealers when necessary? Do they offer the right car in the right market at the right time? Do they work with suppliers to ensure excellent logistics and a supply of excellent parts? Do they have excellent design and engineering practices? Do they have flexible manufacturing facilities?

    Toyota’s and Honda’s advantages aren’t in labor costs… they’re in the way management focusses the company on doing the job right and delivering a car that will please the customer even after the warranty runs out.

  • avatar
    netrun

    @whatdoiknow1: Your entire argument hinges around the assumption that:
    1) If Domestic Automakers paid union workers $40k less they’d have more profit
    2) With higher profits Domestic Automakers would take that profit and spend it on product

    It’s this assumption that I find galling. The Domestics have proven time and time again that making huge profits does nothing for the downturn that’s inevitably coming. They don’t plan ahead. They don’t spend the money that’s necessary to make good product. And they don’t really want to improve anything, they just want to create the appearance that things have improved.

    Mikey has it right. Workers work, management makes decisions, and workers are stuck with whatever happens. If things go badly, those that make the decisions can change the rules and save themselves. Workers can’t.

    Even if the workers made $30k, they’d still be out of a job because the Cdn dollar still is higher than the US dollar, gas prices have risen, and the US is in recession.

    The real question is, why didn’t the domestics spend MORE money on their workers so that they could become more valuable and help make bigger improvements in quality and efficiency year on year? My answer? They were just interested in pocketing the money and letting tomorrow take care of tomorrow.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    SkiD666 :

    So let me get this straight, Buzz understands that the domestics (his union brothers employers) are in trouble and might go into chapter 11. When the CAW agreements were just recently signed the union was not going to back down on their demands and wanted every last bit they could squeeze out of the manufacturers.

    That seems very short sighted to me, and yet there is a lot of praise for Buzz and condemnation for the big 2.8 CEO’s, is there really that much difference?

    I totally agree, and I wouldn’t trust any union boss to make the correct change for my coffee at a 7-Eleven store.

    Just because he’s saying the words that so many others here want to hear…that’s no reason to suddenly develop respect for him.

  • avatar
    oldguy

    We all seem ready to celebrate and say “what a smart guy” because he answers questions reasonably (tells us what we want to hear) and isn’t spewing the usual bombastic rhetoric? Buzz has been around the industry forever, and didn’t get “elected” just on good looks. It’s just that usually when we see Buzz in Canada on TV he is blaming all of the auto industry problems on the fact that: A. The government is not kicking in with enough taxpayer cash, or, B. We don’t outlaw all foreign auto imports,or at least export a domestic product to Japan or Korea for every one imported. Like Korean’s are begging for a Caliber or a Compass. I don’t agree with Buzz’s philosophy, but acknowledge the fact that he has performed his role in difficult times.

  • avatar
    PowerPro01

    Funny. Buzz didn’t have one scintilla of empathy for GM and the longterm future of his “brothers and sisters” in the late-’90′s when, with their backs to a wall that in retrospect was soooo much cushier than the current crap-covered version they lean on now, GM locked the CAW out to try and get those much-needed concessions. The results? 50 days of “the other guys” eating GM’s lunch AND market share, zero concessions, and unsustainable monumental losses…and 10 more years of Buzz buzzing with false bravado. He showed ‘em…
    Retirement, to show by example his “integrity”? To show exactly WHAT? His pension may be smaller than Wagoner’s, but it IS going to be paid to him while the getting is still good. However, his “cause and effect” is at least as great, in Canada, as Wagoner’s…I’m just sorry that “greatness” is, like GM’s, on a very steep downward angle…
    If Buzz ‘n the Boyz are such a good Clan to join, why haven’t Toyota-Cambridge and Honda-Alliston signed up?! Huh? “Employer scare tactics”? Or, simply the truth…
    “Greed is good”, said the movie. Sure doesn’t seem to have helped Oshawa, Ontario, or Canada, for that matter…or at least it won’t by the time the dust settles in, oh, 2012… Ste. Therese was bulldozed on Buzz’s watch, the then-lowest cost/best quality ratio plant in GM-N/A. How come, if Buzz walks on water? More examples of GM “stupidity”? Or…?
    Buzz has always had a reputation as a “straight shooter and a tough talker”. In good times, it doesn’t matter, content or veracity, just as long as the deal is done…
    In rough times, running down your “adversaries” who are in actuality your “partners” is, like the man from Glace Bay himself, kinda “backwater”…
    The water he walks on, at the end of Colonel Sam Drive, only happens at sustained temperatures below 32 degrees F…

  • avatar
    Bozoer Rebbe

    Some questions I would have asked:

    What role does the UAW and its work rules have to do with the decline of the Big 3?

    What is your annual pension and post retirement benefits from the CAW? (If asking GM execs about their pensions is fair game…)

    Why are the Asian and European transplant assy facilities located for the most part in right to work states in the US south, not Canada?

  • avatar
    gsp

    Man, if you guys really knew how socialist Buzz is, you wouldn’t think him so with it. This is not the Buzz that I have read in newspapers up here in Canada for decades.

    Buzz is obviously coming out now telling us that he knew what was going on all along. But to make the above lucid points he must also accept more blame for the problems his overpaid workers have created. He also must get with the picture on the corporate welfare that auto companies are addicted to here in Canada. As a taxpayer that has paid hundreds of thousands in personal and business taxes over the years, I get sick when I hear that the GM/FORD/CRY want more handouts. WTF, does money grow on trees? Why don’t we subsidize an industry that has a hope?
    And by the way, who gives a crap if the execs make a lot of money. Every industry has this problem right now, why should the auto sector be different?

  • avatar
    frenchy

    I thought the point of unions was that they would make a fair wage in proportion to what the companies made. In that respect, when GM was making “money” and not cars who cares about paying the unions full-time for part time? After all that was never going to happen right?
    As far as I’m concerned, management has messed it up beyond belief while never sacrificing anything. Why in God’s name would the union give up there pay when management won’t sacrifice anything.
    Fact of the matter is, if the big 3 were better managed the labor costs would not be an issue. With all three of the domestic auto companies staring down the barrel of bankruptcy why would you, as a member of the union, willingly give up your pay when management is fucking it up so bad? It looks like it will all be over in a couple years so the union might as well get paid before it’s all over.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    Buzz always falls back on the Autopact excuse.
    Canada sells about 1.7 million vehicles per year and was recently building almost 3 million. They still build more vehicles in Canada than they sell in Canada. Canada is a net exporter of vehicles.

    Lasorda has known Buzz since he was a kid. The CAW hammered out a lot of the CAW breakup from the UAW in Lasorda’s dad’s basement.

  • avatar
    canuck

    Just a point about wages for auto workers.

    A supplier for the new Toyota plant in Woodstock, Ontario is Toyota Boshoku. They make seats and some other stuff.

    They had a job fair for a possible 330 jobs.

    They had 1000 people show up. Apparently, the Toyota name made people think the job paid in the “auto worker” range of 28-30 dollars an hour.

    When they announced they would be paying 16 dollars an hour for 2 years and then raising it to 18 dollars an hour, people started filing out.

    With not enough interested workers from the 1000 from the job fair, the company started advertising for workers.

    After months of advertising, they are still looking for employees.

    Some people have already quit. Others aren’t interested in going through the series of job interviews, and a lot of people aren’t interested in quitting their job and “hoping” to make the transition from temp worker to full time.

    The company has lowered it’s hiring standards to “some high school” now, as anyone with an education isn’t interested.

    So, anyone who thinks people will line up for auto worker jobs that pay 30,000 per year, are sadly mistaken.

    Why should people work in a hot, difficult, tenuous, mind numbing job for 16 dollars an hour, when they can work in an air conditioned mall for roughly the same money?

  • avatar
    capeplates

    If you pay nuts you get monkeys – decent wages attract decent employs. Low wages never attracted loyal workers, they only induce greater employee turnover.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Canuck— what mall you working at?

    I think Toyota workers make on average 60,000 US a year.

    That ain’t chump change where those plants are located.

  • avatar
    gsp

    $16 per hour might not be enough for employees, but $25-$30 union money does not get you a better worker and it certainly does not get you higher workmanship. i would suggest that around cdn$18-20 Toyota will get good long term workers. Woodstock is a cheap place to live, houses are like 25% of the cost of the Toronto area. also, feeder plants always pay less and the formula has worked for Asian manufacturers in Ontario for a long time. The key is to locate in small town Canada. Honda Alliston, Ontario has a feeder plant in Elora, Ontario and they don’t pay much either.

    And frankly, If I had 1000 people show up for a job fair, I would start the wages low too!

  • avatar
    Daft Punk

    canuck said: Why should people work in a hot, difficult, tenuous, mind numbing job for 16 dollars an hour, when they can work in an air conditioned mall for roughly the same money?

    Ha! So these rivetheads are going to manage an Old Navy store instead? Gimme a break. Even at $16 (and you have no source to back up your story) it attracts plenty of employees… what documented tales of worker shortages have you heard coming out of Toyota or Honda plants?

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    A little Googling gave me confirmation of the plant’s existance and the number of jobs and a partial confirmation as to the salary. Remember, this is a parts plant, and low-tech parts (seats for the new RAV4 plant in Ontario) at that. It is not a Toyota assembly plant; Toyota Boshoku is not Toyota, and a Toyota Boshoku employee will make less than a Toyota employee will make. $16-18 an hour would be about the going rate for a non-union, low-tech, auto part plant. And, if they can’t find enough people, they will have to raise their salary, won’t they? Labor is a product subject to supply/demand forces like everything else.


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