By on June 13, 2011

It’s not difficult to understand why the UAW has never contemplated agreeing to a wage rate tied to the profitability of its employer firms: simply put, it’s been a long time since big profits were the norm among the union-represented Detroit automakers. But now that Motown is back in the black and handing out record profit-sharing checks, it looks like the UAW could finally tie its own fate to that of the automakers… on certain conditions. UAW boss Bob King tells The WSJ [sub]

It would be an advantage if you can guarantee to the [Detroit] companies certain things on fixed costs so that they would remain competitive. When you’re successful, that’s good. But if you’re sharing more of the risk, you need to have more of the upside


In short, tying the union’s wage to the automakers’ financial performance is only an option if there’s something in it for the UAW. And end to two-tier? More US production? Board seats for the union? Who knows, possibly even a pay increase. With GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky saying things like

there is a big pay-for-performance element going through the company and there is going to be more of it,

one has to assume GM might be willing to play “let’s make a deal” with the union. Girsky’s been on the labor and management side of the equation.. in fact, at the moment he is (apparently) on both sides, as both a Vice Chairman of GM and the UAW VEBA fund’s representative on the Board of Directors. With that kind of connection between labor and management, and with much of the “risk” around Detroit’s performance having been removed by the government bailout, a UAW performance pay deal seems more likely than you might think. Whether it’s a good idea is another, far more complex question that I’ll leave to the comments section.

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72 Comments on “Will The UAW Accept Performance Pay?...”


  • avatar
    Steven02

    I would like to see pay for performance and tie some portion of pay to the companies bottom line. I don’t see it happening though. Union revolt is what would happen. I think it would be tougher to swallow than 2 tier.

  • avatar
    photog02

    No. And in other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I think it’s a very good idea.

    Such a move would help change the tone of the relationship to more of a partnership. Ironically, it would also help get the focus off money issues, and onto other things like working conditions, hiring practices, and production decisions. When both sides rise and fall together on P&L, then any perceived advantage on the money issues disappears.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    This sounds more like profit sharing than it does like performance pay. Actual performance pay is based on individual performance. If people wanted their success as employees to be keyed to showing up every day, doing their jobs well, making process improvement suggestions, and taking responsibility for the quality of their products then they wouldn’t join unions.

    • 0 avatar

      And if corporations could be trusted to treat their employees like human beings and not abuse, maim, or kill them, there would have never been a need for unions. If companies could be trusted to do the right things in regards to accounting, there would be no need for the SEC. If corporations/people could be trusted to not poison the environment in pursuit of profits there would be no need for the EPA.

      What’s your point? If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, it’d be Christmas!

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Corporations don’t show up at highschool and college graduations with thugs and goons to shanghai people into indentured servitude. Corporations provide jobs that people want in addition to the goods and services that consumers want. They are not the enemy. The vast majority are publicly traded too, meaning they’re also owned by thousands of private individuals. If you don’t want to hitch your future to the initiative, capital, and industriousness of others, start your own business. Employ people and treat them however you want. The EPA will be your friend, since you’re so concerned about the environment. All those regulations you love will make business ownership a simple matter of connecting the dots, and you’ll have something you’re sorely lacking today: perspective.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Tater, do you have a job? If so who do you work for that tries to kill you and won’t let you leave? Share please so the rest of us will know who not to work for.

        Grow up, your world view is like somethiing from a bad movie or tv show.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @CJinSD…Its a closed shop. Though I do agree with you it does sound more like expanded “profit sharing”

      I see Mr King is changing to a more concilatory tone these days.

      All union leaders are politicians first,and union leaders second. Mr King is practicing the fine art of walking both sides of the street at the same time.

      Just to repeat an earlier prediction. There will be no labor related UAW work interuption this fall. You can take that to the bank.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Mikey, King hasn’t changed. He’s still a progressive thug, he won’t be happy until he has destroyed the industry.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @MikeAr:

        “King hasn’t changed. He’s still a progressive thug, he won’t be happy until he has destroyed the industry.”

        You’re so right…what better way to keep one’s job than to destroy the industry you’re working in?

        (This, of course, is a head-fake variation on the “Obama wants to destroy the economy so that he can put everyone on welfare” dittohead canard…never mind that if he succeeded, there’s no way he’d ever be re-elected, but I digress…)

    • 0 avatar
      Tommy Boy

      >>”If people wanted their success as employees to be keyed to showing up every day, doing their jobs well, making process improvement suggestions, and taking responsibility for the quality of their products then they wouldn’t join unions.”

      It’s more fun to join the UAW and then drink a six-pack with lunch.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, MikeAR, I do have a job, and it is in a union shop. I still maintain that ‘the only thing worse than having a Union is not having one.’

      CJinSD: I speak of history. Go ahead and get rid of unions and you will soon find the need for them once more. Walmart forcing employees to work ‘off the clock’ where, if they are injured while being forced to work ‘off the clock’ they will receive no workers’ comp. benefits, etc. Regulations are only in place because these ‘corporations’ you hold in such high regard CANNOT be trusted to provide for worker safety or environmental health. Simple regulations can be enacted (such as forcing companies to locate their discharge pipes just upstream from their intake pipes and mandate that they not discharge without taking the same amount of water back in, so that if a company does pollute, they are sucking the poisons back into their own systems and will be forced to eliminate them, one way or another).

      The ‘unrestrained free-market’ you espouse would kill you tomorrow if there was anything in it for them, because the barest of profits are worth more than your life is in their eyes.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Are you kidding me? Do you really believe that garbage? Has your company ever tried to kill you? Don’t they pay you? Grow up, your fantasy world isn’t real. Life and work isn’t like some crappy movie written by a rich socialist. You are a perfect example why unions should be outlawed. If I were your supervisor and heard you spout crap like that you’d be fired on the spot.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @MikeAr:
        Are you kidding me? Do you really believe that garbage? Has your company ever tried to kill you?

        Mine hasn’t, but there are some that have…
        http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18172220

        If you think unsafe work conditions don’t exist, then you’re deluding yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Reading the article, I see no proof that the company tried to “kill” anyone.

        Perhaps someone has proof that the CEO, board of directors and select shareholders set the fire, and then deliberately blocked the exits to make sure that no one could escape?

        There is a difference between an accident and a deliberate act. I seriously doubt that anyone at that company set out to say, “Let’s kill five workers today, for whatever reason.”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Geeber:

        Does it really matter whether the guilty party was trying to kill someone or not? Because of those companies’ lack of commitment to safety, those men are DEAD. There is another case pending here in Colorado of a company that sent its workers in to remodel a hotel without telling them the walls were loaded with asbestos. Then there’s cases like the commuter plane crash in Buffalo, in which 50 people died because the airline failed to train the pilot how to fly the plane properly. A few years back, an Alaska Airlines flight crashed with something like 190 fatalities because the airline decided to save a few bucks on maintenance, causing an equipment failure. Ford decided to not fix the defect on its exploding Pintos because it would be cheaper to pay the lawsuits. Tobacco companies knew for DECADES that smoking was deadly, but advertised their products as safe.

        This kind of thing is just plain evil.

        Corporate negligence has killed untold numbers of people over the years. That’s obvious. Does that mean that corporations are evil entities? Of course not. Most are highly responsible. But there are those that either knowingly or negligently put their workers in harm’s way, and those are the ones that need to be punished – severely. Without unions to push these issues into the spotlight for the authorities, society’s ability to keep workers safe will be diminished…and we don’t want that.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Yes, it DOES matter whether someone tried intentionally kill those workers. You posted this earlier today:

        Are you kidding me? Do you really believe that garbage? Has your company ever tried to kill you?

        Mine hasn’t but there are some that have…

        And then you posted the link to the article, which suggests that this particular company tried to kill these workers. Reading the article, however, I don’t see where the company intentionally tried to kill anybody.

        As of this point there is no proof that those men are dead because of this particular company’s lack of commitment to safety.

        I can assure you that many safety violations are caused by workers ignoring safety rules or procedures because they were inconvenient or bothersome. Of course, when an accident or tragedy happens, it’s the company’s fault.

        As for the Pinto – the memo that supposedly “proved” that Ford weighed the costs and benefits of changing the fuel system on 1971-76 Pinto was misinterpreted by Mother Jones. It was a standard memo on the benefits of regulation that used a cost-versus-lives-saved metric required by the federal government.

        The number of fire-related deaths in Pintos was also overstated by Mother Jones. The fire-related death rate for the Pinto was actually in the middle of the rates for all 1970s subcompacts.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you, MikeAR! “If I were your supervisor and heard you spout crap like that you’d be fired on the spot.”

      You’re providing a beeyootiful example of why we NEED unions in America today. Because *you* feel YOU should have to right to fire anyone YOU wish to because of their PERSONAL beliefs no matter how good of a job they do!

      So I guess I’m gonna stop feeding the troll now. It’s been fun.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        I would fire you because you are a threat to workplace safety. Anyone with your beliefs in my workplace, I’d worry about their mental stability. After firing them, I’d get a restraining order next.

        You won’t answer my questions though, why not? Give me and example of corporations willfully killing employees or customers. They must be doing it cause you wouldn’t just make it up would you? Bring proof or else you’re just a crank progressive. Come on surely you’re employer has tried to kill you at least once. Or maybe they are deliberately pouring poison into the environment. If they are, why haven’t you reported them? Are yo uafraid for your life or maybe you’re just a company man who thinks it’s ok as long as you get paid. I bet you’re the guy who dumps the poison out and kills childen and puppies. Shame on you.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …Corporations don’t show up at highschool and college graduations with thugs and goons to shanghai people into indentured servitude…

        No, instead they create the GM goon squad that went after Ralph Nader. Or corporate union busting thugs at Ford’s River Rouge plant. SexCpotatoes may have simplified it a bit but the historical record is clear. Unions came into being because of abusive behavior by corporations. You can have a lot of reasons for not like unions, and some may even be valid. But the simple fact is that the historical record is loaded with examples of fat cats abusing working people. To argue otherwise is pure folly. A far more compelling argument would be is unionism still needed today, what with laws to protect workers. Unfortunately the answer is still yes. One may point to the auto transplants as a classic example of why unions are not needed. Yet, remove the threat of organization by the collapse of the UAW and transplant wages will stagnate. His point about why regulations exist is also spot-on. If business did the right thing there would be no need for regulations. If it is cheaper to drain a tankload of PCB contaminated materials over a 5 hour drive at night in the rain, there will always be some profiteer willing to do so. That is why massive profit killing penalties must be part of the equation. One way or another you must make the risk not worth the reward.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        A. Nader was a self-promoting, opportunist liar. There was no reaction from the industries he attacked that would have been too strong.

        B. You’ve been brainwashed to think as a redistributionist. Your value in a free society is spent. The proper way to police intentional destructive acts is through criminal prosecution. Every halfwit entitlement parasite in this country thinks that smarter people are all pinatas full of toys and prizes.

  • avatar
    geo

    The UAW would never go for this. If an automaker posts a loss, the mob would say that the overpaid executives are hiding their massive profit so they don’t have to share their money. If the automaker earns money, their share would never be enough (and besides, the executives made more than they did).

    Mobs of any sort can never be counted on to be reasonable, whether they’re organized or not. I’d like to think that the UAW would demand more U.S. production, but I’m not convinced that they care about this . . . as long as they have cradle-to-grave security for themselves, they’re happy.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    So it sounds like Bob is offering to give money back when the companies lose money. Sounds like a great idea to me, nice of him to offer that.

    Scumbag, if it were up to me the best outcome he could hope for would be life in prison.

  • avatar
    probert

    Luckily it isn’t up to you.

  • avatar
    probert

    And does management take responsibility for its poor decisions. Oh my – so sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Has a union ever held management responsible for bad product decisions? They’ve certainly compounded them. They’ve provided arguments for uncompetitive cost cutting. They’ve hurt products through sabotage. They’ve motivated management to keep badly conceived products in production. Can you name a time they’ve influenced management to make good decisions or held them accountable for bad ones?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’ll buy the sabotage thing. That has certainly happened in UAW factories. But how does the union have any input for bad business decisions? The union does not select crappy plastics or poor quality subassemblies. They convince management to keep poor products in production? Wow, that’s pretty impressive for what you like to call a “tumor”…how do you expect labor to be able to hold their boss accountable for bad decisions? Like they’d listen anyway…maybe in Fantasyland.

        Management and labor both have an incentive to work as a unit, not as us vs them. Unless that mindset changes, the company as a whole will suffer.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Were job banks a good business decision? Did management want to pay junkies not to even pretend to work? Via the sunk costs of programs like job banks, management has been slow to kill lines that were uncompetitive.

        As for the fantasyland of unions holding management accountable for bad decisions, that was an inference from probert’s effort at defending the indefensible(the UAW if you’re not paying attention). The car companies are no longer the only victims of union corruption of markets. The rest of us are on the hook now no matter how blameless we are, and the unions must be eradicated.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        If the union insists on retaining uncompetitive work rules, very expensive health care plans and the Jobs Bank – all of which leave the company unable to invest more in the product – then, yes, it is partially reponsible for the “bad business decisions” that result.

        How are bosses held responsible for bad decisions? For starters, bad decisions can make a company go bankrupt (until it receives a government bailout – usually supported by those who wail about corporate welfare in other instances) or lose lots of market share. Those two events tend to be powerful incentives, if not for management, then at least for the shareholders.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJinSD:
        “Has a union ever held management responsible for bad product decisions?”

        Oh, spare me…as if employees can hold management responsible for making bad decisions…

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      @geeber

      I think if you read the history of corporate rules pertaining to management you will find this concept of meritocracy utterly bankrupt.

      Most every car you buy – from chevy to mercedes is made by union labor – the unions have given up a lot during the recent domestic crisis. Regarding expensive health care etc, – these were agreed to during contract negotiations. If – like every other industrial nation on the planet we call earth- the US had a national healthcare system – this wouldn’t be an issue.

      The general stance that workers shouldn’t earn living wages and retired workers shouldn’t have health care seems strangely backwards and cruel. No one hates Americans more than their fellow countrymen.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “Most every car you buy – from chevy to mercedes is made by union labor”

        That seems like a defeatist approach. I make a point of not buying union products, and there are excellent cars made right here in the US by honest, hardworking people. Even certain Mercedes are included. Sure, there are bound to be union suppliers, leading to issues like rusty Toyota truck frames, but one can at least find a car where most of its value is produced without organized crime profiting.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Sure, there are bound to be union suppliers, leading to issues like rusty Toyota truck frames, but one can at least find a car where most of its value is produced without organized crime profiting.

        [citation needed]

        I’m sorry, are you really attributing rusting truck frames to union labour? Really? You have some sort of proof that it was union labour, and not, eg, a design flaw made by non-union engineers, or a sourcing decision by Purchasing, that was singularly responsible for that frame rust issue?

        Exactly what is your problem with collective bargaining? Did a group of shop stewards run over your dog? Geeze…

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The frames as delivered by the union supplier did not meet the specifications of the contract relating to rust prevention.

        I was a Teamster in college. I managed union electricians as an independent contractor in NYC. I worked in management as a contractor at UPS before and after the strike of 1997. I know unions and the harm they’re doing to our country very well.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        probett: I think if you read the history of corporate rules pertaining to management you will find this concept of meritocracy utterly bankrupt.

        How, exactly, to corporate rules regarding management negate the fact that bad decisions will cause a company to lose market share and possibly go bankrupt?

        We’ve seen it in operation firsthand with GM – or would have seen it, except for the bailout cheered on by those who wail about corporate welfare in other instances.

        If the company board of directors is dumb enough to pay the CEO lots of money while he or she is making bad decisions…this is the company’s problem, not mine.

        probert: Most every car you buy – from chevy to mercedes is made by union labor – the unions have given up a lot during the recent domestic crisis.

        The U.S.-based transplant operations of BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes, Nissan and Toyota do not use union labor. That encompasses a fair amount of the vehicles sold in this country.

        Daimler-Benz, in particular, fought very hard to keep the UAW out of its Alabama plant when it owned Chrysler. So the view of German firms on unions is decidedly mixed.

        When I was in Germany during the summer of 2004, the big news in the local media was that Daimler-Benz was demanding concessions from the autoworkers’ union, and VW was threatening to move production of a key model to low-cost Portugal if it didn’t receive concessions from the union. So all is not sunshine and roses in Germany.

        The unions in Japanese plants are nothing like the UAW. They are essentially company unions, which have outlawed by the Wagner Act in this country. Nissan broke the militant faction of the Japanese autoworkers’ union in a strike during the early 1950s.

        The South Korean autoworkers’ union is much more militant than the UAW, that is true.

        The UAW gave up token concessions – the equivalent of a 500-pound man agreeing to give up chocolate three days a week.

        probert: Regarding expensive health care etc, – these were agreed to during contract negotiations.

        Very true. But, even when it was apparent that these costs were a major handicap to the competitive position of the parent company, the UAW for many years refused to budge on the issue. It did agree to the VEBA when it was basically too late.

        probert: If – like every other industrial nation on the planet we call earth- the US had a national healthcare system – this wouldn’t be an issue.

        This is not true, for three reasons.

        One, we already have a national healtchare system for the elderly. It’s called Medicare. If the UAW really believed in nationalized health care, it would have allowed retirees to be covered solely by Medicare. This would have saved GM, Ford and Chrysler a considerable sum of money.

        The UAW refused to budge on this issue, even though retiree health care costs were seriously hurting the domestics. Why? Because Medicare isn’t nearly as generous as the UAW negotiated plan. Any national health care plan is going to more closely resemble Medicare than the current UAW plan.

        Two, the UAW was among the groups demanding exceptions for its plan during the debate over the national health care plan championed by President Obama.

        The simple fact is that, if we had passed a national health care plan, the UAW would have demanded that its existing coverage either be “grandfathered”, or that companies be allowed to offer plans that were more generous than the national plan. In its negotiations with the auto companies, it would have demanded that the companies “bridge” the gap between the new national plan and the more generous private plans.

        So the cost differential would have remained, although possibly with a smaller overall amount.

        Three, all of the German, Japanese and South Korean companies that built plants in the U.S. came from countries with a national health care program. Yet they built plants here, and are providing workers at those plants with health insurance coverage on their own, and are still making money.

        probert: The general stance that workers shouldn’t earn living wages and retired workers shouldn’t have health care seems strangely backwards and cruel. No one hates Americans more than their fellow countrymen.

        Most people advocate that the total compensation package be competitive with what the transplant operations pay their workers.

        If I recall correctly, the actual WAGES paid by the transplants have been either the same as those paid to UAW members, or even slightly higher. Given this fact, no one that I know is advocating that autoworkers be paid starvation level wages. Last time I checked, workers at the North American Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota factories aren’t dropping over from starvation.

        (Even before the union was formed, the pay at the auto companies was higher than the pay at other industrial companies. The chief objections were the conditions in the factory, the relentless pace of production, and the seasonal nature of the work, as auto sales used to peak in the spring and summer, and collapse in the winter months. Workers were dismissed without any unemployment pay or severance pay when sales dropped.)

        The problem has been with outdated work rules (ironically enough, invented by management and now staunchly defended by the UAW!) and uncompetitive health care plans. The transplants are paying living wages; claiming that the choice is between UAW-level wages and the minimum wage in a factory out of a Dickens novel is hyperbole at best.

        And, as I’ve said above, we do have a nationalized health care program for retirees – it’s called Medicare. It’s not good enough for the UAW, even though it’s already under serious financial strain.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        geeber,

        There is another hole in the healthcare argument. The unions have asked for, and been granted, exemptions from Obamacare. They don’t care about universal healthcare. They care about what is good for them, which is understandable. They also believe in a zero sum game though, which explains their aggressiveness in the face of reason.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The frames as delivered by the union supplier did not meet the specifications of the contract relating to rust prevention.

        And that was the union members’ fault? You can prove that? You know that it was the union guys on the shop floor who decided to make the frame out of spec, and not the management at the supplier who decided to cheapen out on materials or design? Or the management who didn’t do any QA?

        I’ve also worked in union shops, and I find the supposition that union workers have that kind of affect to be barely credible, or indicative of a shop that’s very badly managed.

        I know unions and the harm they’re doing to our country very well.

        Yes, and they’re way, way back in the line of “people who are harming the country. Other nations’ industries are more highly unionized and aren’t nearly in the same straights.

        Or, in another way, I’ll accept a little criticism of the union when someone puts the screws to the banks, financial services firms and incenstuous corporate interlock that have caused hard at levels the unions could only dream of.

        Your argument is very much post hoc ergo propter hoc: you see unionized industry having problems in America and assume it’s the union at fault, where it could just as easily be the industry or America part of that phrase, and more likely a complex result of all three.

        Personally, I wish unions had the power you seem to think they have.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I could tell you stories about union ‘workers’ using their union status to ruin workplace productivity until we both have bleeding ulcers. I know that ‘anecdotal evidence doesn’t matter’ though, so I won’t waste either of our times. That you’d say it is an America problem just goes to the core of the issue, which is that unions are the arch enemy of a free country. Freedom is about the individual. Unions seek to destroy the identity of the individual. QA is important in a union shop, as union members will do whatever they think they can get away with to maximize their compensation for a given unit of production, especially when it is getting paid to do the same job twice because they aren’t accountable for intentionally doing it wrong the first time.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …I managed union electricians as an independent contractor in NYC…

        Well, I guess I can begin to feel why you developed hatred for organized labor. I ran a Local 3 crew for two years. Nothing could make a Local 3 electrician move faster than the “medium” speed. They also poked their nose into aspects of the job, and my operation of the building that had nothing to do with them. That said, the people were absolutely punctual, never arrived drugged as you often state, were polite, and professional. The workmanship was nothing short of excellent. No cop out use of Erricsons, just quality pipe bending, superbly documented panels, junction boxes identified with all circuits numbered, and a well documented set of as-builts at the end of the job. Yeah, I think the speed could have been kicked up a notch, but I was willing (not that I had a choice) to accept that for such beautiful craftsmanship. Two hundred feet of pendant mounted fluorescent lights and you could sight down the run and the alignment was flawless.

        The fact that says you intentionally seek out non-union made items says that you have let your hatred of labor cloud your judgement. In my comments posted a way up the chain you chose to badmouth me instead of counter my statements. So, again I’ll say: The historical record is littered with countless cases of management trampling all over labor unless a vehicle is in place to prevent it, whether that is organized labor, or state/federal rules. These things would not be needed if there was a spirit of cooperation. Aside from that small percentage of workers that always try to do as little as possible, most people will rise to the occasion if you empower them to do so and reward them for it instead of selfishly taking all the profit for yourself. Nobody is asking for handouts. The best way to eliminate a union is to make the working environment desirable so the workers have no interest in the baggage that comes with representation. The transplants have done just that, though that may change as time goes by.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        regarding non union auto manufacturing in the US:

        One way to look at this is a sign that the US is slowly descending to “emerging nation” status. There is no other industrial nation that would tolerate this excepting China.

        The white collar middle class is eroding and the blue collar middle class is nearly gone. Sadly, in the scramble for what is left (The upper 3% of the population controls 95% of the wealth) both these groups vote against their own interests.

        To quote Laurel (or Hardy): another fine mass you’ve gotten us into.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The US having something in common with China is the most encouraging item I’ve seen here from the left.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Workers are expendable. Ford better pay its R&D division better.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    even the CEO will fall on their sword every once in a while

    i think the UAW want all the upside but none of the downside

    when things are booming let me have performance pay

    but when things are down they wanna be sure they aren’t exposed

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Which is why CJinSD is correct — it’s profit-sharing, not pay for performance. And even profit-sharing is a bit too much like the businessman’s version of misplaced guilt for my tastes.

      When I started my latest biz, one of my two partners was a life-long PhD student with zero real-world experience. But he’d made a few wise investments and had the money to pitch in. I thought he’d be a silent partner that we’d buy out in a couple years, but he has become my main partner (and it turns out I bought out the other guy earlier this year). His life in academia left him well prepared to push for some type of perfect-fantasy business model with profit sharing plans from day one, employees that would vote on everything, etc. — not actual unions but largely the same surrender of control that unions seek to extort from a business owner.

      It’s rather amusing that after less than two years of risk and struggle and suffering (all with his own pot of money at stake, a real motivator, that), he is now a ruthless real-world entrepreneur, focused on the bottom line and making it work, and with a much clearer picture of the distinction between a job-creator and a job-filler.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “It’s not difficult to understand why the UAW has never contemplated agreeing to a wage rate tied to the profitability of its employer firms:”

    Uh, wait a minute. Just this past January Ford announced that they were distributing $5,000 profit sharing payouts to their US hourly workers. That fact seems to be in conflict with this posting’s opening lines.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/business/13auto.html?_r=1

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      That is a bonus paid in addition to the regular wages, which are set by the contract, and do not vary with the financial condition of the company.

      Even if the company had lost money, the workers would have received their regular wages.

      This article is talking about a base wage rate tied to the firm’s profitability. To the best of my knowledge, no firm – not GM, Ford or Chrysler, nor any of the transplant operations – ties regular wages to profitability.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        To the best of my knowledge, no firm – not GM, Ford or Chrysler, nor any of the transplant operations – ties regular wages to profitability.

        Very few companies do because it would be essentially pointless.

        If you pay someone $25-50K/year to do a rote job, there’s not a lot of space in there without seriously inconveniencing them (it’s a lot of money for low-wage people) and, notably, most at that level aren’t empowered to make changes that could increase (or decrease) profitability. You’d be rewarding (or punishing) them for something that is, and, unless you’re suicidally insane, should be out of their control.

        The lineworker really has very little say in the strategic performance of a company, and profit-sharing is probably the best they can expect.** Heck, even allowing them to “work extra hard” could, in a large organization, cause enough personnel management headaches (injury, burnout, timekeeping, etc) to not be worth it.

        You really, really do not want to have a labour situation where individuals at the front line have significant effect over output.

        Performance-tied payment works well for senior leadership and per-project contractors. It’s not effective where people are, essentially, cogwheels.

        This whole argument, really, is a red herring. No, it’s worse, it’s sabre-rattling to make anti- and pro-union people get their backs up. Any VP of HR/Personnel that even suggests the idea of full P4P at the lineworker level needs his/her head examined.

        Pay for performance at this level is, frankly, stupid; a better question would be “Why aren’t these companies using pay-for-performance at the executive level?”, and especially “Why aren’t they using a pay-for-performance system that incentivizes long-term success (eg, deferred bonuses paid at the three to five year mark)?”

        ** and even I will question the usefulness of profit-sharing rules, especially at the “cogwheel” level.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Back in the early 80’s, I was a young kid working at a factory near my home in NC. It was unique in that it was the only union company that was around. I ran a huge drill press and worked second shift. Ther were two types of workers, the white guys that moved down from Michigan and the local black guys that had lived here all their lives. I never heard as much bitchin and moaning about a job as I heard from the MI people, they complained about everything. Me? I started eating lunch with the black dudes, they accepted me and we talked about local stuff and had a good time. They were grateful to have a job and yeah, we use to talk about some of the others like they were always on the rag or something. I left after a while and later on the plant closed, I guess they couldn’t compete anymore. But that experience taught me all I needed to know about a union, I don’t need one, my work speaks for itself. I’ve been employed with the same company now for over 28 years and never worried that I would be hosed by management. Unions have had their run, it’s time to cut the cord and with it the corruption and expense.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I think CJinSD and MikeAR should get themselves a hunk of land somewhere, declare independence from everyone else, and make decisions based on their broad and unimpeachable right wing bias. Populate it with like-minded individuals, rule them with an iron fist, never permit a contrary view, and I bet the first election would see them reduced to has-beens. The real world has more give and take which seems to have escaped them entirely.

    I’ve been in industry for over 45 years on both sides of the coin, and find their lop-sided approach to everything OTT. Plus, I must admit, I’m fed up reading TTAC and finding these cuckoos lying in wait with weapons at the ready to lash out at anyone who might disagree with their obviously well-thought out view of the world. Everyone else are apparently just dopes and stooges for having the temerity to disagree with them.

    Bias police, where are you? Why does TTAC permit their snarling “you’re a fool” style? Hmm? It’s gotten far too old and frequent for me. I want to read about cars and the industry without some twit yelling at me from the sidelines, thanks all the same. I’m sure they inhibit more normal folk from commenting.

    Autosport technical forums have disagreements on politics as well, but seem to have far more even-tempered individuals commenting. Perhaps because they actually work in industry and realize everything is not black and white.

    If TTAC sides with them by not cutting back their more egregious demagogic remarks, I see little point hanging around this blog. I’ve already cut back a great deal, and I bet there’s more like me. Extremism never works.

    • 0 avatar

      wmba: You’ve been around for a while, and your comments are always worth noting. I agree that CJ and MikeAR have become increasingly OTT in their comments, and I hope they’ll adjust their tones to avoid alienating longtime commenters. After all, it doesn’t matter how right you are if you’re turning people against you with your delivery.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        @ Edward “After all, it doesn’t matter how right you are if you’re turning people against you with your delivery.”

        I hope this was a hypothetical. Otherwise you would might be committed to agreeing with some very questionable claims. (Equating organized labour and collective bargaining with organized crime? Claiming that “Unions seek to destroy the identity of the individual”? Suggesting that the only “honest and hardworking” people are those who aren’t part of a union? Claiming that if you “think as a redistributionist. Your value in a free society is spent”?)

    • 0 avatar
      kenzter

      wmba: Correct, there are more like you. I enjoy reading about cars, not endless UAW/GM/Obama/Democrat or whatever the “I’m right, you’re an idiot” arguement du jour is.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Was the headline too confusing? Perhaps you thought this thread would be a discussion of the available graphics packages on the Mini Clubman.

        Just to clarify, if you don’t want to read a discussion of the realities of the UAW then don’t read the comments following an article titled ‘Will the UAW Accept Performance Pay.’ This isn’t a thread about a specific car. If this complaint and effort at censoring people you disagree with is indicative of the general level of thoughtfulness of your contributions here, I’m not surprised you find the replies of those you disagree with condescending.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJ:

        “Just to clarify, if you don’t want to read a discussion of the realities of the UAW then don’t read the comments following an article titled ‘Will the UAW Accept Performance Pay.’”

        And that’s the problem: here we have you and MikeAR spreading ridiculous rhetoric like “the UAW is organized crime” and “the UAW boss should go to jail for life”…therefore, you’re NOT discussing the “realities of the UAW.”

        Physician, heal thyself.

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        “Was the headline too confusing?”
        Thanks for proving my point.

        What part of my “I’m right, you’re an idiot” statement do you not get? We can discuss the UAW, GM, Obama and Democrats all day long in an intelligent, calm, adult manner (as it pertains to an article).

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Ideally, you should be secure enough not to be too troubled by my pointing out that you said you wanted to discuss cars, not the UAW in a thread under an article about the UAW. Obviously you’re not, which explains why you need to censor opinions you don’t agree with. What reply were you looking for? Should I have asked Ed to silence you instead?

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    I long for the good old days– kick em off

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Nice left wing approach to free speach. If you don’t have an answer, kill the messenger. Pathetic.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJ:
        “Nice left wing approach to free speach. If you don’t have an answer, kill the messenger. Pathetic.”

        No, that’s a property-rights approach to free speech, to wit: the site is privately owned and has every right to decide who can and can’t post on it.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Do any of the crybabies above own the site? They’re playing squeaky wheel to the detriment of the site’s usefulness as an open forum. If Ed wants to cultivate the Kelloggs coalition here, that is his prerogative. Calling for people to be removed for disagreeing with one ill-informed and destructive perspective of the realities framing the American auto industry is behavior I never see from conservatives. Could it be because we know our views can bear examination? I’m sorry I can’t fully comprehend your views, but I never learned how to not think and avoid facts.

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        “but I never learned how to not think and avoid facts.”

        Really?

        “The frames as delivered by the union supplier did not meet the specifications of the contract relating to rust prevention.”

        Ah huh, that is the union’s fault for sure!

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @CJ:

        As this is written, an of Birkenstock-clad liberals heading for your front yard. They will congregate there together, and sing “We Shall Overcome” on your front lawn.

        I trust your commitment to the First Amendment will preclude any thought on your part of kicking them off your property.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        That sounds like an improvement over the juvenile delinquents from accross the street peeing on the palm trees in broad daylight!

  • avatar

    This is fun to watch.

    It humors me as an individual — but discourages and saddens me to no end as an American — to watch the left-leaning elements work CJ and MikeAR into a lather. Even though those two are far closer to my own political — make that moral — POV than anyone who attempts to justify the continued existence of labor unions in this country today.

    So, in one more stab of measured futility, here are the facts:

    -Unions are well-known throughout history as being in cahoots with crime, organized and otherwise. Does that mean the UAW is complicit? Not necessarily. Does that make Bob King a crime lord? Hardly… though in physical stature, lack of social charisma, and the size of the obvious chip on his shoulder, he does resemble the Unabomber a little. Just saying.

    -Unions were necessary 100 years ago, and they were necessary in developing the litany of workplace protections that exist today. However, it isn’t “The Jungle” out there anymore. Employers simply can’t abuse workers to that extent today — if for no other reason than there are far too many cell phone cameras and investigative “journalists” out there, eager to pounce on an easy public interest story on a deadline. And…

    -If you don’t like your pay or your working conditions, you are entitled to make your case individually for better circumstances. You are also free to leave, in search of a better life somewhere else.

    That is where workers’ general rights should begin, and end. Period.

    I used to view unions as corrupt entities, filled with mindless thugs. That’s changed over the months, though. I now consider union members to simply be weak-willed, either unwilling to stand up for themselves… or self-aware enough to realize they wouldn’t get very far if they had to do fend for themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Personally, I don’t get worked into a lather over ideological differences. The intent of wmba and various clones to have me censored is offensive though. Vile even. Ironically, I’ve been posting on Autosport’s technical forum under a different screen name for a dozen years. I’m soooo flattered that he approves of my writing there. Too bad for him that the creator of Atlas F1(now Autosport) has traveled thousands of miles to have a beer with me in the past. I’d hate to see him get banned from his haven of (ir)rational thought!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If you don’t like your pay or your working conditions, you are entitled to make your case individually for better circumstances.

      You’re also allowed to make your case collectively, otherwise you’re basically promoting one of the pillars of classical fascism.

      If you want to outlaw that, then you need to, reciprocally, outlaw both corporate personhood and severely restrict the influence of money in government**. I’d actually accept your points, but if your problem is collectivism then surely, if you’re going to be ideologically consistent, you agree that collectivism of the rich and powerful is equally odious?

      ** I’m not saying how you’d do this this, mostly because it’s impossible

      • 0 avatar

        psar, I guess it comes down to whether a particular person has a problem with someone being rich. I have no problem with the concept, but a lot of people do… and that’s the fundamental drive behind any kind of collective or union.

        “I want what they have, so let’s take it from them!” Right there is the basic mantra for the UAW, the IAM, the SEIU… almost all unions. It’s not about the common good. It’s about leveling the playing field through taking what someone believes to be theirs from someone else.

        I have a fundamental problem with any group or organization that attempts, through coercion and extortion, to take from someone else. Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.

        No one is entitled to anything. We all must make our own luck. If you’re not able to make your own way without relying on an organization like a union to fight your battles for you, then you probably shouldn’t be on the playing field in the first place.

        One of the reasons the US is in the mess we’re in right now, is because we’ve tried for too long to help those who couldn’t (or, more often, simply aren’t willing to) help themselves. We can’t afford it anymore, and we can’t afford to support union largesse.

        It’s time to realize everyone is in this for themselves… and if you can’t survive in that environment, well…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        If you’re not able to make your own way without relying on an organization like a union to fight your battles for you, then you probably shouldn’t be on the playing field in the first place.

        And this, in a nutshell, is why the corporation exists: because the executive, as people, don’t want to fight battles on their own. If you, as a director or manager, can stand on your own, why are you hiding behind the (government-granted) corporate veil?

        But that’s often overlooked, even though is a far more ubiquitous form of collectivism, and one with far more money and power behind it.

        No one is entitled to anything. We all must make our own luck

        What you are stating here is impossible. Everyone, rich or poor, leverages their social connections to their own advantage. The rich can use money, and the money of their colleagues, to do this better. The poor don’t have the resources, but they do have numbers.

        What makes the latter a problem but the former ok? Both are “making their own luck” using the assets available to them. Your logic implies that being rich and leveraging money and the money of your colleagues is somehow morally superior to the poor leveraging their numbers.

        People are social animals. You cannot draw an arbitrary line between “making your own luck” and “leveraging your relations to others”.

        We can’t afford it anymore, and we can’t afford to support union largesse.

        Sure, but can we support robber-baron capitalism? No, we can’t. So why are we silent on that point?

        I don’t believe you’ve fully thought through your objections to trade unionism because those very same objections apply to corporate personhood and interlock.

        Contrary to popular belief, I don’t begrudge the rich their wealth—no, really!—but I don’t think that outlawing collective bargaining is realistic because it’s pretty much the only counterbalance the poor have when dealing with the wealthy. If you could assure me that there was a way we could prevent the rich from abusing their power (and revoking corporate personhood would be a great start!) then I’d be ok with union busting. Ask me if I think that will happen.

        I feel the same way about EV subisides or healthcare: yes, I’d rather we not be socializing someone’s enterprise, but since we’re already socializing things other people support (oil, property rights, contract law) then we should be balancing the scales where possible.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        Viewed along Darwinian lines, natural selection usually favors social tendencies over selfish ones in most species and over most environments. Cooperative, social, and even altruistic tendencies would have been been more widely selected for among human beings than selfish tendencies precisely because individuals with those social traits would have enormous advantages over those with more purely selfish tendencies. For example, those with social tendencies would be able, generally speaking, to trust and rely upon their neighbor to help them accomplish things they would not otherwise have been able to do if left to their own selfish devices and individual abilities. I could go on…

        My point is that the idea that all individuals are ultimately on their own and must fend for themselves is based on the capitalistic myth that we are selfish, atomistic individuals at heart. The main problem with this picture is that it doesn’t conform to the facts (including the widely accepted evolutionary accounts of our ‘nature’ as social beings).

        As I’ve said many times before, we are as much social being as we are individuals, and to try and claim that life is every individual for him or herself is an extremely one-sided view of the facts.

        ps. Of course, more Nietzschean-types who believe that this ‘social’ picture is the inversion of all true values (and so favor the more authoritarian rule of the overmen and their master morality) will object to this claim, but I would counter this by simply pointing to a host of other sources that cast serious doubt on this Nietzschean-styled position (which, having studied all of Nietzsche’s texts over many years, I know quite well).


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