By on July 14, 2011

Chrysler Auto Workers in Trenton Caught Smoking and Drinking During Lunch Breaks: MyFoxDETROIT.com

Every time Chrysler workers get busted for drinking and smoking pot during their lunch breaks, we tend to get one of two reactions from the B&B: either the lunchtime partying is emblematic of the entitlement of all union workers, or it happens at every plant in the US but Chrysler just got unlucky enough to get caught. But this is the third scandal since last September involving Chrysler workers consuming drugs and alcohol on camera (twice at Jefferson North, now in Trenton), and (as far as I can tell) no other company has suffered similar embarrassment.

So I want the convenient generalizations put aside for a moment: clearly this is not a union problem or an American worker problem or even an auto workers-in-general problem… at this point it’s a Chrysler problem. But why? Does Chrysler have lower morale, worse union locals, insufficient training and accountability, or is the media simply targeting it? Someone’s got to get to the bottom of this before Chrysler becomes a complete laughing stock… so let’s hear your (constructive) thoughts. Oh, and ideas for actually fixing the problem (Chrysler has already announced suspensions) probably wouldn’t hurt either.

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111 Comments on “Ask The Best And Brightest: Why Can’t Chrysler Workers Stop Partying On Their Lunch Break?...”


  • avatar
    friedclams

    3 instances does not a trend make. This is still anecdotal, and not just a Chrysler problem. Drug use is a problem throughout the labor force (and beyond it).

    • 0 avatar

      These guys must be as excited about the new SRT8′s as I am !!!

      And you are right – drug use/abuse is systemic. If Fox Noise wasn’t a bunch of anti-union, corporate shills, perhaps, they’d be investigating drug use among corporate CEO’s.

      I put absolutely no faith in anything they report.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Yep Fox made those poor innocent autoworkers drink and use drugs. Yep that’s the way to spin it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Yep Fox made those poor innocent autoworkers drink and use drugs. Yep that’s the way to spin it.

        That misses the point. There is a problem of selection bias that is inherent to stories like this. Combine that with a lack of context, and that reveals a bit of a problem with this sort of “journalism.”

        Alcohol is a problem throughout America — at some point, about one-third of us will abuse it to some degree. A lot of those abusers will manage to hold down jobs. If that TV affiliate used cameras to follow around its own employees, then it would probably find the same thing.

        That doesn’t excuse the behavior; management should be weeding it out, and the guy in the union office should not be tolerating it, particularly on their property.

        But a similar story could be filmed about just about any large corporation if there were dedicated camera crews to track their behavior. This particular story plays into negative stereotypes that we already hold; if it involved the employees of Walmart or Toys R Us, it wouldn’t generate the same level of vitriol or ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick T.

        Yeh, not good journalism like by Brian Ross at ABC who takes undercover video from a gay advocacy group to do a hit piece on a Republican candidate’s husband. But who wouldn’t touch solid video of ACORN or Planned Parenthood misdeeds.

        Brian Ross, why does that name ring a bell on an automotive web site?

      • 0 avatar
        don1967

        If Fox Noise wasn’t a bunch of anti-union, corporate shills, perhaps, they’d be investigating drug use among corporate CEO’s.
        I put absolutely no faith in anything they report.

        Well, you certainly convinced me not to be judgmental and stereotypical in how I view Chrysler’s lazy-ass pot-smoking union members.

    • 0 avatar

      Statistically you’re right. Perception-wise you couldn’t be more wrong. Chrysler is well on its way to a reputation for this kind of stuff, even though stories like this one aren’t getting any play (even here at TTAC, where we twirl our mustachios and exult the heavens whenever we get the chance to make any Detroit-based company look bad). Perceptions form quickly on the strength of publicity, not statistical accuracy… and they’re murder to undo. Considering where Chrysler’s been and where it wants to be going, this has to be seriously addressed.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        The problem is, well, very similar to the one Audi and Toyota faced with SUA: how do you do handle the situation when you have a slice of the media that’s predisposed towards this kind of story?

        It’s a perception problem, but it’s also trivially easy for the media to make perception, effectively, reality.

        Put it this way: Chrysler could nail these guys to crosses lining the road into Auburn Hills, but Fox doesn’t have to report it, any more than they have to do an in-depth study to put the rate of substance abuse into context. In that situation, what can you do?

      • 0 avatar
        friedclams

        Ed I humbly disagree, Chrysler’s sales have improved since the first of these scandals broke. I suspect this is a non-issue for most buyers. If they hate the UAW they won’t buy the car regardless of the drug abuse.

      • 0 avatar
        don1967

        how do you do handle the situation when you have a slice of the media that’s predisposed towards this kind of story?

        You find images of Toyota employees doing the same thing. Go ahead and try… I dare ya.

        This is not a media issue; it is a valid critique of the union culture.

      • 0 avatar

        Amen, don1967!

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Toyota… line workers are smoking dope, and drinking,every day. Go ahead folks, live in your fantasy world.

        You misinformed, white collar people don’t have a clue what goes on in the blue collar world. Some of your comments,make me want to shake my head, and laugh.

      • 0 avatar

        OK, I’ll bite. Find us a link — reputable sources, please, no union-approved hearsay — and I’ll humbly recant, on behalf of my white collar* brethren. Until then, it would appear some collars are bluer than others, is all.

        *Actually, my primary job is in a very “blue collar” industry. No unions, all employees must prove their worth on their own, and those who don’t are dismissed. The system works.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob….Nothing to bite on. Dude…guys, and girls, toking, having a couple before shift,happens every day.

        With all due respect,my man,its a culture you don’t understand. I’m not saying it’s right, and I’m not trying to justify, it is what it is.

        You can pretend that the transplant folks arn’t doing it. I can tell you, that they are. For sure, the Honda workers are a lot more decrete. Does Honda make them take a urine test? I don’t think so.

        I’ll stand by my comment.

      • 0 avatar

        mikey, for starters let me say you don’t strike me as a guy who ever did such things on the job. (And if you did, you were wise enough not to get caught.) I don’t like the company or organization you once worked for, but I know your work ethic is strong.

        Of course these same things occur at Toyota or Honda… but discretion is indeed the better part of valor, here. The fact you never “see” Toyota or Honda transplant workers toking on their lunch hours speaks volumes — to me, anyway — of the respect they hold for the company they work for, if not necessarily for themselves.

        Just like the Fiasler workers above, they know they represent the company they work for at all times. The difference is, the Toyota and Honda people seem to care about that image a lot more than our hapless UAW folks.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        You misinformed, white collar people don’t have a clue what goes on in the blue collar world. Some of your comments,make me want to shake my head, and laugh

        It goes on in the white collar world, too. I’m only 34, and I know it’s not uncommon to knock back a few over lunch if you make the money to allow it. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

        I also know that the substance abuse happens, too. I fired a senior datacentre operator who was stupid/careless/arrogant enough to leave a bag of weed in a rack (and a few small bags of coke in his desk drawer, the idiot) and I know he wasn’t the only night op with a prolem, and I knew more than a few fast-trackers at one of the big four acocunting firms who powdered their noses on the job. But if you do your job (and a good manager can tell) and there’s no risk, your manager will remain intentionally or willfully oblivious. If you don’t, it’s counselling and, if that doesn’t work, HR.

        And then we get to the blessed world of academia. Don’t even get me started.

        Point being, mikey is right that every workplace in North America, blue or white, will have people who abuse substances. The truth of the matter is that that you, the employer, can either cope with the problem through screening, processes and (honestly, this happens a lot in white collar) ignorance.

        It really depends on the workplace. Some professions are screened up the wazoo (pilots, cops), some use process to minimize the chance of human error (auto manufacturing), some look the other way (white collar), some tacitly accept (academia). Do I care if a Fine Arts professor knocks back a few before a lecture? Or if Joe Partner and Toilet, Douche & Tomato is a cokehead? No, nor do I care if an lineworker smokes a doobie over lunch because, honestly, the assembly line is so regimented there’s little chance he/she could affect things either way.

        But do I care if Jane Pilot does? Hell, yes.

        Context matters.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob..Thanks for the compliment. As a shipper reciever I did represent GM,and was proud of it,and still am.

        Substance abuse is manifested in every segment of our society.

        Auto workers union, or non, are not immune.

        These dudes at Chrysler are just not that smart. Watching the whole piece,it looks like thier paying a big price.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The fact you never “see” Toyota or Honda transplant workers toking on their lunch hours speaks volumes

        Are you in the habit of following them around? How would you possibly know, either way?

      • 0 avatar

        Read my comments again, pch. I’m not saying they don’t do it. Toyota and Honda transplant workers have done a masterful job of not doing it in public, under the watchful eye of the media or onlookers.

        And for proof… well, do you have any pics or links to stories similar to this one, but at a Toyota or Honda (or Nissan, or Hyundai) plant?

        No, huh?

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob..You forgot to mention Ford or GM

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Toyota and Honda transplant workers have done a masterful job of not doing it in public

        You really don’t get it. Here you have one network affiliate that has gone to two car plants operated by the same company. The video above is about one of those car plants.

        If you are aware of some massive widespread investigation of activities at every other auto plant in America, then I’d like to hear about it.

        It would be more accurate to say that one network affiliate has done a masterful job of filming a couple of dozen guys who screw off on their lunch breaks. It is not a comprehensive study of the American auto industry or of anything else. You’re seeing things here that you want to see, which say more about you and your own political views than it does about the story itself.

      • 0 avatar

        mikey — No, I didn’t.

        pch — I make no apologies whatsoever for my political views or agenda, nor am I inherently opposed to anything that could potentially hasten the death of the UAW, so long as it’s still the truth. Is anything about the Fiasler stories untrue?

        I will admit you have a point, though. Maybe we’re not seeing these stories at Honda or Toyota because no one is looking for them. Maybe.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I make no apologies whatsoever for my political views or agenda, nor am I inherently opposed to anything that potentially furthers the death of the UAW, so long as it’s still the truth.

        Oh, I’m sure. People who elevate their opinions above data usually do.

        You do what a lot of people on the internet do — you confuse anecdotes with data. If your Impala is great, then they’re all great. If you saw one guy driving over the speed limit who had an accident, then everyone who drives over the limit is having accidents.

        You can’t logically make generalized comments about pools of data unless you sample from the entire pool of data. If the “investigation” focuses on only two plants and catches a small number of people in the act, then the best you can do is say that its findings reflect the activity of a few people at those two places.

        If the tv station went to twenty-five car plants, investigated them all thoroughly, and then found such behavior at only these two, then you would have a point. But they didn’t, so you don’t.

      • 0 avatar

        OK pch, whatever you say.

        As Ed said above, this is about perception. Right now, the perception is growing that those UAW-run Fiasler plants are havens of drug activity, drunkenness and sloth. I’m not much inclined to try to prove that wrong. You are, so fine. We’re both just white noise to each other at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        LOL! There will always be people who shoot the messenger….

        And there will always be people who defend the indefensible.

        It is up to each one of us to accept or reject what we perceive as factual.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        As Ed said above, this is about perception

        That’s true. But for some of you, you had the perception before the story, and then you seek out stories that support your perceptions. Which leads us to…

        I’m not much inclined to try to prove that wrong.

        And that is exactly why Fox News makes stories like this — because people like you will watch them more regularly if they can count on it to provide them with their needed doses of validation. This isn’t really about the alleged news, it’s about you and people like you who want their TV screens to tell them things that they want to hear.

        Incidentally, I’m not claiming that pointing a camera at a Honda or Toyota plant would produce the same results. (If anything, my gut feeling tells me that they wouldn’t — those companies are better managed, and probably have a better handle on personnel matters.) What I am pointing out is that neither one of us has the facts to know either way, yet it’s apparent that you wouldn’t really be interested if the results contradicted your overriding point of view.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, I see what you tried to do there, pch. I’m hardly a mindless follower of whatever spiel most appeals to me. I’m 35, well-educated and well-spoken, and fairly intelligent. I have good friends on both sides of the political spectrum. I seek out news from a variety of outlets, including the left-leaning organizations. (In fact, I check the HuffPo much more frequently than I do Fox News.)

        You choose to make hay over the fact Fox is running with this story; well, I find it rather curious that CNN and MSNBC, those organizations with closer ties to the current regime, aren’t reporting it. Where’s the b*** there?

        Does this story appeal to my baser hatred of unions? Indeed it does, and I’m greatly enjoying it. Is it an epidemic confined solely to UAW plants? Show me the evidence it’s not.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Reposted because the moderation system ate the first attempt. Hence the gratuitous _’s

        You misinformed, white collar people don’t have a clue what goes on in the blue collar world. Some of your comments,make me want to shake my head, and laugh

        It goes on in the white collar world, too. I’m only 34, and I know it’s not uncommon to knock back a few over lunch if you make the money to allow it. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

        I also know that the substance abuse happens, too. I fired a senior datacentre operator who was st_pid/careless/arrogant enough to leave a bag of weed in a rack (and a few small bags of coke in his desk drawer, the id_ot) and I know he wasn’t the only night op with a prolem, and I knew more than a few fast-trackers at one of the big four acocunting firms who powdered their noses on the job. But if you do your job (and a good manager can tell) and there’s no risk, your manager will remain intentionally or willfully oblivious. If you don’t, it’s counselling and, if that doesn’t work, HR.

        And then we get to the blessed world of academia. Don’t even get me started.

        Point being, mikey is right that every workplace in North America, blue or white, will have people who abuse substances. The truth of the matter is that that you, the employer, can either cope with the problem through screening, processes and (honestly, this happens a lot in white collar) ign_rance.

        It really depends on the workplace. Some professions are screened up the wazoo (pilots, cops), some use process to minimize the chance of human error (auto manufacturing), some look the other way (white collar), some tacitly accept (academia). Do I care if a Fine Arts professor knocks back a few before a lecture? Or if Joe Partner and Toilet, Do_che & Tomato is a c_kehead? No, nor do I care if an lineworker smokes a do_bie over lunch because, honestly, the assembly line is so regimented there’s little chance he/she could affect things either way.

        But do I care if Jane Pilot does? Hell, yes.

        Context matters.

        (now, let’s bee serious: if you’re going to give Jack-freaking-Baruth an audience, you can drop the moderation filter in the comments. It’s not like we haven’t heard the words before)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’m hardly a mindless follower of whatever spiel most appeals to me.

        You’ve just spent the entire thread confusing anecdotes with data. Hardly mindful.

        Is it an epidemic confined solely to UAW plants? Show me the evidence it’s not.

        Again, the logical deficiencies in your arguments.

        The pieces did not reveal an “epidemic”. It revealed two incidents that involved a small number of people.

        The pieces were not part of a comprehensive survey of facilities. They focused on only two plants, and even then did not provide an overview of those plants.

        You assume a lot of “facts” into evidence that haven’t been presented. You assume them because you are predisposed to assume them and want to assume them. Again, not very mindful.

        If these plants suck, they suck. (It’s not as if I’m some wounded Mopar fan; quite the contrary.) But this doesn’t prove that they do. Anecdotes are not data.

  • avatar
    1000songs

    Those are Chrysler workers? Driving Mustangs and Oldsmobuicks? Looks like there are bigger problems around there than workers having a beer at lunch. Jesus – I probably have a beer at lunch 2 or 3 days a week, and I haven’t killed anyone with my keyboard yet. And before you judge, I haven’t had lunch OR beer today. Yet.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Has anyone targeted the other auto makers? Are any investigative reporters hiding in GM, Ford, (to speak of other manufacturers with US plants) Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Toyota looking for workers ‘effing up? Until there are I won’t believe that it’s a “Chrysler/Fiat ONLY” problem.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The TV crew didn’t target Chrysler workers, they received multiple tips from workers in the plants, then followed up.

      • 0 avatar
        don1967

        +1

        Or more accurately, they received multiple tips from fellow union workers who’ve seen enough. Ask any unionized auto worker, firefighter, etc. who has any sense of personal responsibility and you’ll get the same story.

        As much as I’d like to blame Chrysler, it’s not their fault.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      These leeches were getting wasted in a UAW hall parking lot. I don’t think Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, or Toyota workers would be welcome there. They’d also be fired if they showed up for work stinking of weed and booze, not having organized crime to stick up for them.

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    I hear a media axe being ground somewhere in Detroit, to be honest.

    Let’s be honest amongst ourselves.

    Illicit drugs are pandemic in our society.

    Otherwise why would there be a “need” for the mexican drug cartels to do what they do in order to get the stuff across the border into the US?

    I’ve been a Stephen Minister in a church and counselled drug addled people – trust me – we don’t really want to make this legal.

    What we need to do is to figure out why humanity seems to need to “self-medicate” so much, and try to get to the bottom of that.

    But of course, that is not going to happen.

    So perhaps the Libertarians are right – face up to reality, legalize it (in much the same way as it was realized that prohibition of alcohol was not working and simply fostered the criminality which we faintly recall in history books as the beginnings of the mafia).

    My caveat to legalizing it though – is that anyone who wishes to do illicit (though legal) drugs – should not have anyone else help them pay their medical bills but themselves and anyone else foolish enough to spend their own money on idiots.

    Because as I’ve said, I’ve seen the end result and even marijuana is bad news. Any drugs (up to and including alcohol) is bad news.

    Our country is flat broke. Why should the rest of us pay a huge portion of our income for medical “insurance” (i.e. taxes and premiums) and have a massive percentage of it go towards people who do things on purpose to themselves? We can’t afford that “luxury” any more, to be honest.

  • avatar
    srogers

    News Flash!
    Some industrial workers somewhere in the US have a beer and or reefer during their lunch break.

    This proves that Italians are all either communists or mafia.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Smoking? I’m no expert on the topic, but isn’t the correct term “toking”? I thought “smoking” was for cigarettes…

    Drinking on the otherhand, doesn’t seem to offer the possiblity of differentiating between the composition, or legality, of the different beverages…

    btw, back to topic, I bet that if you hang out at any auto plant long enough, you will find similar idiots, not realizing that they are killing their health and their golden goose…

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Alcoholism is rampant in the US. Why doesn’t Faux news go follow some lawyers or doctors and see what they do on their lunch break.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ Dynamic88… Thanks I’m glad somebody sees it.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        I miss the days of smoking during lunch (and it wasn’t a problem, at lunch probably 4/5 of the place met up, the company liked it b/c if you got hurt, first thing “workmans comp requires drug test….I’ll use my insurance). Drinking on the other hand would get you fired without a 2nd thought, I do not understand why the two are grouped together anymore than weed and coke being grouped together. If DW is correct and the information is coming out of the plant then you know it’s being addressed by the workers themselves, probably a good sign, vs. management storming in.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Why can’t Faux news get with the program! They still insist on reporting on things as they are, and not as they should be perceived!

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        No, it is as mentioned selection bias. The news is accurate in this case as far as it goes -i.e. some people at this plant doing stuff they shouldn`t. The bigger picture is that many others do the same stuff at other companies/professions. Doesn`t excuse these Chrysler employees but does put it in a proper perspective. Context is everything.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Well, perhaps if they hacked into a few more people’s phones, or stole a few more people’s medical records, then thery might get a more accurate picture?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Any selection bias was caused by fellow Chrysler workers, who called the local news station and told them what is happening on company property.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        1. The news is local not Fox. The affiliation is for the national news feed. This is not the Fox News channel which is national like CNN it’s a local news show.
        2. The TV crew didn’t target Chrysler, in both stories they received multiple tips from workers at Trenton and Jefferson North, and the tipsters were Union workers. (As I have said here before, I am anti union but I am pro union worker)
        3. At the end of the story (if you would have taken time to watch it), the reporters (who do not work for the Fox News Channel but for a local TV station affiliated with Fox) said repeatedly that the vast majority of workers at the plant did not act like this and worked very hard to do a good job for their company.
        4. The paper in the UK that Psar refers to has been shut down by the parent company for its actions. Remember when NBC set off the explosive charges to get GM pickups to catch fire? Did anyone shut down NBC? No. And their apology was lukewarm at best (and this not the first time NBC has manufactured news). So which holding company has shown more accountability for the actions of its member companies, News Corp or whatever owns NBC? As Fox News says, you decide.
        5. Some of you don’t like Fox. Too bad. They are the number one cable news and opinion channel in the country. They passed CNN a long time ago (who never admits they do opinion shows just as much as Fox) and it’s very likely that CNN will never be number one again. On some nights Fox has more viewers for its prime time news than ABC, NBC or CBS. No one, not CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, or anyone else has higher rated shows in prime time (PBS is so far back it’s not worth mentioning with the others). Maybe instead of wasting your time with clever phrases like “Faux News” you could watch it and find out why CNN is eating it’s exhaust fumes. You just might learn something. Just don’t be shocked at all the democrats pontificating their viewpoints on Fox. That’s where they hang most of the time now, since that’s where the viewers are.
        6. Chrysler fired the workers (13 of them I believe) that were seen in the previous story. they are still fired and not working for Chrysler anymore

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Windsword – I agree with most of your points. However some background on the News International situation.

        The newspaper in the UK (part of News International – owner of Fox News, WSJ and New York Post) is closed down but two other newspapers the Sun and the Times have also been implicated.
        People have been arrested and one in currently in jail. It is acknowledged fact that murder victims and their parents have had their phone messages listened too and in one case the murder victims account was hacked, messages deleted because it was full and this led the family to believe she was still alive since her voicemail was not full. There is no defence for that.

        Fox News Channel has more viewers. Great, but as a % of the total population it is still small. And since it is appealing primarily to hard-core conservatives I would expect it to do well since they make up 30-40% of the population.
        I have no problem with the news part per se. It is the commentary – such as Hannity, Beck (now gone), Palin, O’Reilly. That is what gives the channel its reputation. No balance there. On MSNBC (who is trying to be more like Fox because of the success Fox has had so far) it has Scarborough on who was a GOP Congressman from Florida – so some balance at least.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        No one, not CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, or anyone else has higher rated shows in prime time

        You may as well be enthralled by the competition in the American car market between Mitsubishi and Mazda.

        Hardly anyone watches any of the cable news networks. The main network primetime newscasts still pull in substantially higher numbers (although they’re dying a slow death.) The cable news stations are narrowcasting to a niche, not broadcasting to the masses.

        CNN has never had massive ratings. Neither has Fox News. Cable news is to television what the Mini is to car sales. Cable viewers are more likely to watch Sponge Bob or reruns of Law and Order than any cable news program, and cable networks get a fraction of the viewers of the broadcast networks (ABC/ CBS/ NBC).

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    Don’t some of the German factories sell beer in their canteens?

    If the Chrysler workers are drunk, that’s one thing but one or two beers (particularly cheap weak US beer) probably ain’t anything to worry about.

    Didn’t prohibition go away in the 30s.

  • avatar
    Ron

    This is a management problem.

    For example, GM closed its Fremont California plant in 1982. Employees drank on the job, took drugs, were frequently absent (enough so that the production line couldn’t be started), and even committed petty acts of sabotage. At the time, this was common at most auto assembly plants. There was a reason why foremen stayed in offices with doors that automatically locked and kept a baseball bat next to their desks.

    In 1984, Toyota took over management of the plant (rechristened New United Motors). Most of the GM workforce was rehired, with some sent to Japan to learn the Toyota Production System. Within a year NUMMI was producing cars with as few defects as those produced in Japan and vans taking workers to bars were no longer idling outside of the gates. Long-time GM workers said that the emphasis on quality and teamwork by Toyota management was what motivated the change in work ethic.

    • 0 avatar
      sfbiker

      http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/403/nummi

      I was going to relate the exact same story, but you beat me to it. Here’s the link to the radio show about NUMMI, its early problems and its shakeup and reemergence. Strange how entrenched union members and management are willing to lock themselves into a bad situation rather than reorganize.

    • 0 avatar

      Clearly, Japan is better.

      Probably a lot of people at Chrysler factories do feel a little off, with all this weird Italian influence, post ward of the state mentality (maybe), maybe feeling recent product improvements are a little forced, and shameful in their needing to have come at all.

      Probably about the same percentage at any similar (even vaguely similar) workplace would be inclined to get buzzed during the day.

      I think they actually do it at Chrysler (and the media is not just only spying on Chrysler) because it feels more ok there.

      Perhaps it’s easier to deal with off-base plant management.

  • avatar
    The Wedding DJ

    Keep something in mind before typing the obligatory jab at “Faux News” – this is not a Fox News report. This is from WJBK-TV in Detroit, which happens to be owned by Fox.

    When I saw this last night, all I could say was “Oh no, not again!” As scarce as jobs are, especially here, these guys are (OK, were) very fortunate to be working, especially for a livable wage.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      It says “My Fox” right on the video, so the Faux News jab seems appropriate.

      Yes, the guys are lucky to be working, especially at a livable wage.

      I’m not making excuses for them, I’m just pointing out that there is probably just as much drinking at lunch among other professions – it’s just that it’s harder to set up a camera and catch a CEO having his third martini, or catch a lawyer drinking from the bottle he keeps in his desk drawer.

      As for illegal drugs (I’m assuming these guys were not smoking tobacco) I’d hope that it’s less common among doctors/lawyers/CPAs. But the level of prescription drug abuse might be surprising.

      These guys at the Chrysler plant can’t drink or toke in the factory (presumably) so they do it in the parking lot. Again, not making excuses for bad behavior, but the real question is this – is drug/alcohol use at Chrysler statistically any greater than many other workplaces? Or are we seeing this piece of “investigative” journalism because it’s easy to capture these guys on film?

      • 0 avatar
        The Wedding DJ

        Somebody in the comments section at the Freep stated that the guys in the orange vests, which comprised the majority of the folks in the report, were not Chrysler employees, but outside contractors, and they don’t build engines. Cannot confirm nor deny.

        The news crew went there because other employees tipped them off.

      • 0 avatar

        Dynamic88: You make an interesting point well, but it doesn’t answer the “why Chrysler?” question. Why aren’t we seeing this everywhere, at Ford, GM, and the transplants? Does Ford still have Harry Bennett types enforcing worker character and lifestyle quality? Do people not like to drink in the South?

        Something must be terribly wrong in the management/union relationship at Chrysler, and here’s why: workers are complaining about other workers… to the media. If they’re complaining to the bosses and union reps, it’s falling on deaf ears. Or, Chrysler workers are deliberately sabotaging a firm that their union owns 40%+ of by going to the media instead of management or union leadership. Either way, blaming Fox completely misses the point because the call is coming from inside the plant.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynamic88

        @Ed

        Working from the bottom of your post up –

        I’m not blaming fox. Rather I was accusing them of selection bias, which PCH101 detailed more eloquently than I could.

        What’s happening in the parking lot at Chrysler is real, and ongoing. Drug/alcohol addiction is like that. Bet you it’s happened every single day since years before it was first reported. Bet it’s happened every day since. Bet it will happen tomorrow. Set up the cameras again and see.

        As to what should be done – it’s not my worry. I’m not Chrysler management, and I’m not UAW. Chrysler is a corporate person, and it’s up to them to solve the problem.

        I don’t know whether there is a management/union problem or not. I’m not close enough to the situation to say yeah or nay. Maybe the workers reporting this to Fox (note, I did not say Faux this time) feel they are endangered by these guys. Maybe they’ve already gone to management and/or the union and got no results. Seems likely to me this is a concerted attempt to get rid of these guys.

        Why aren’t we seeing this at Ford, GM, and the Transplants? Have we looked? As far as I can tell, this is one TV station in Detroit looking at a few nearby Chryco plants. If other TV stations would make the effort, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we could find the same thing, in about the same proportion, at many other plants. I’d even be willing to bet it happens at non-union manufacturing places too.

        Keep in mind though, that there has to be a vantage point from which to film. Not every plant is going to be easy to film from a nearby location. (I’m assuming the TV station was not invited onto Chrysler/UAW property to film) The fact that there is no sound suggests they filmed from across the way.

        I will reiterate my prior point. If it were possible to follow Doctors/Lawyers/CPAs/CEOs of auto companies, etc. around and film their lunch activities, I suspect we’d see at least as much alcohol consumption, though I suspect less use of illicit drugs. The abuse of self prescribed Oxycontin is anyone’s guess. Problem is, not all doctors, lawyers, et al take lunch at a prescribed time, at a designated place, or work en mass with thousands of others. So it’s just harder to make it seem like an important story.

        I’ll ask again – Is drug/alcohol use, at Chrysler, any greater than in other workplaces? I don’t know the answer. I don’t think we can determine it from a half dozen guys outside a huge plant.

        P.S.

        When I served in the national guard, we often went out for long wet lunches. I don’t remember any “news” organizations following us around.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The news station didn’t set up a camera near a random Chrysler plant, hope to catch someone in the act of drinking and doing drugs, and then get lucky. Workers INSIDE THE PLANT specifically tipped off the local news station, it followed up on the tip, and hit the jackpot.

        If this is so common, then why aren’t employees of Ford, GM and the transplants calling their local stations to complain? There are at Ford facilities in the Detroit area (Wayne and the River Rouge plant). I believe that there is still a GM plant in the Poletown section. The workers in those facilities are UAW members, too, so catching them in the act would give those evil Fox News honchos the chance to really give the union a black eye.

        Do the workers in those facilities not care what happens in the parking lot during the lunch hour? Is EVERYONE at those plants enjoying a joint and some beers over the lunch hour, and they don’t want to ruin their party? Or are Ford and GM better at managing their facilities to prevent this sort of thing? Do they have better substance abuse treatment programs? Do the UAW locals work with plant management to prevent this from happening?

      • 0 avatar

        If someone uses the phrase Faux News or Faux Noise, they aren’t a serious person and their comments aren’t worth reading. Their debating skills are at bumper sticker level.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      “Keep something in mind before typing the obligatory jab at “Faux News” – this is not a Fox News report. This is from WJBK-TV in Detroit, which happens to be owned by Fox.”

      Well, that’s completely different!

      • 0 avatar
        The Wedding DJ

        Well, it is. Channel 2 doesn’t have a reputation for having a right-wing slant to their coverage. Their newscast is pretty much like any other network affiliate’s. It’s quite possible, however, that Fox News could run the story.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Bad news:
    - Workers at the plant that may be assembling my next car are drinking during work hours.

    Good news:
    - Their coworkers got tired of their behavior and turned them in (to the news station)

    Bad news:
    - Apparently, workers at the plant don’t feel Chrysler would take (enough) action if they reported this internally (anonymously)

    - Union officials (they were drinking next to the union hall) clearly don’t see this as a problem.

    What does it all mean? For me personally, it may just be enough to nudge me away from a Dodge as my next new vehicle.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    why would you want to be stoned at work? Do you want the work day to take longer to go by?

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    The workforce at any business will only be as good as those who apply. Yet there may be a culture of laxity or tolerance of mild drug use or alcoholism. Sounds to me like Chrysler needs to review their HR department, and how the lower level managers deal with employees under the influence on the job, or who are using controlled substances off the job.

  • avatar
    StevenJJ

    ‘Terry’ clearly needs help and rehabilitation for an acute illness; not mocking and parading round on national television.

  • avatar
    SecretAznMan

    One theory is that it’s endemic to Chrysler. A former boss said, “A managers hire A employees. B managers hire sh!t.” Don’t get into how B managers get there in the first place and what happens to the sh!t employee.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The excuses being offered are as unintentionally hilarious as a screening of Showgirls or Plan Nine from Outer Space. Do people really believe what they are typing?

    Let me say that I do agree that it is possible to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine (that’s ONE beer or glass of wine) over lunch without a negative effect on job performance. Companies in many European countries allow this. But these workers appear to mixing alcohol with drugs, which is a whole ‘nuther ballgame.

    I’m missing the part where Fox News forced these people to smoke marijuana over their lunch break. Given that this type of activity at Chrysler facilities has previously attracted a great deal of negative attention, one would think that workers would be extra careful in indulging over their lunch hour. This tells me that they expect to be protected by someone – a union rep, or even a friend or relative in plant management. Chrysler vehicles are hardly examples of stellar quality, and the last thing the company needs is publicity suggesting that workers are contributing to this problem.

    Somehow, though, I guess I should comfort myself with the insinuation that this is really the fault of Fox News and buy a Dodge anyway.

    Indulging in marijuana is completely different from having a beer in its effects on the smoker, let alone mixing the two. (And this is completely different from the debate over the legalization of marijuana – even if marijuana were to be legalized, companies aren’t going to let you partake of it during work hours. Companies are banning TOBACCO use on their property and trying to discourage employees from using it all, for crying out loud.)

    If anyone doubts that, trying getting behind the wheel after smoking a joint versus doing so after having a beer.

    As for policies affecting CEOs or management – every company I’ve worked for had very strict policies covering what a person could do over lunch. The last company I worked for – a major Fortune 500 company – forbid the consumption of alcohol by anyone on company property at any time. Forget about smoking pot in the parking lot!

    If ANYONE came back from lunch stoned or drunk, he or she would have been disciplined and offered the chance for a substance-abuse program. Refusal to do so would have resulted in termination. That went for top management, too. I know one top-ranking attorney at this company who ended up being fired because she refused to undergo counseling for her very serious drinking problem.

    Anyone who justifies this behavior by suggesting that CEOs and other top management are getting away with this sort of thing all the time needs to find a better excuse.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The excuses being offered are as unintentionally hilarious as a screening of Showgirls or Plan Nine from Outer Space.

      I didn’t see anyone excuse it. The question is one of whether the story is being hyped or otherwise taken out of context.

      The reporter can deny it, but the story was shot in order to convey a specific message. The workers get jumped in gotcha moments, which of course make them look bad. The union is portrayed as an enabler of the behavior (and one with bad fashion sense, no less.)

      Yet the manager, who presumably manages the people in the facility, is allowed to vent his shock and outrage, while being given no responsibility for what happened on his watch. He gets a pass — no grilling about the acceptance of bailout dollars, no questions about his talents as a manager of people, just the voice of concern in an organization victimized by its workers.

      This is agenda-driven reporting. In this case, I would say that the agenda is ratings. A balanced analysis of drug abuse in the workplace would be rather boring and turgid, and wouldn’t provide all of the visceral benefits that we get here of the white collar looking down at the blue.

      None of that is an excuse for drinking on the job. It’s a critique of sensationalist reporting.

      every company I’ve worked for had very strict policies covering what a person could do over lunch.

      I’m sure that Chrysler does, too. But that doesn’t mean that those policies are enforced.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Other posters are attempting to excuse this with everything from other workers enjoying a joint over lunch (even though these workers were mixing alcohol and drugs, which is far more serious) to there must be a CEO somewhere doing this, too.

        The policies may be written down, but, in this type of environment, enforcement is usually a joint responsbility of the union and management. My mother is a member of a union (not an industrial one), and my wife is a member of the local teacher’s union. Other friends are union members as well. They certainly have no love for management. Their number-one complaint? Their respective unions waste precious time and energy defending workers who engage in this type of activity (and others) from being fired or effectively disciplined. They get tired of picking up the work of slackers.

      • 0 avatar
        william442

        GM sure enforced the no drinking at lunch rule. Fire these people, and hire people who really want to work.

      • 0 avatar

        +100

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Other posters are attempting to excuse this with everything from other workers enjoying a joint over lunch (even though these workers were mixing alcohol and drugs, which is far more serious) to there must be a CEO somewhere doing this, too.

        Again, I don’t see much effort to justify intoxication in the workplace. The issue at hand is the double standard of reporting.

        Let’s face it — the real message here is that Your Bailout Dollars Help Drunks. It isn’t meant to be a balanced assessment of drug usage in the workplace generally; it is, in Murdoch’s tabloid style, selling both a message and a style of hype. You aren’t going to find much, er, sober reporting from most of Murdoch’s outlets.

        The other message caters to the inaccurate belief that the product quality of cars is primarily determined by the individuals who work on the line. The reality is that quality is primarily determined by the process, the engineering and the parts quality, and worker initiative has very little to do with it.

        If Fox or someone else wants to make the story meaningful, then show us how these workers negatively impact product quality, instead of indulging in unsubstantiated innuendos to that effect. If some industrialized engineers were consulted, I think that you would find that short of completely malicious behavior, such as deliberate sabotage, that a well-run line with a well-managed process and QC effort should prevent such things from happening in virtually all instances.

        If a line is really so vulnerable to ineptitude that a couple of guys can turn a great car into a bad one, then I would remind you that this is a process and management problem more than it is anything else. A well run plant should catch those errors and those who are making them in pretty short order, and their individual contributions should be small enough that they don’t matter much, anyway.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Typical UAW nonsense. They’ll get away with it because it’s almost impossible for management to fire a union worker (unless the company goes broke, but even then the taxpayer will bail you out)

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s actually very easy to fire someone for substance abuse in a union shop. I’ve seen it done. Hell, I’ve worked on the database that contained the termination records.

      Many managers, though, are cowards about disciplining people, let alone firing them. That there’s a huge number of self-help books about how to terminate people should tell you something.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    Amen Kkop, I have no beef personally with what happens at lunch, but I’ll be damned if this contributes in any way to inferior quality products or if it impacts the company’s medical contribution, because in such cases, I am indirectly paying for this crap.

    Needless to say, I had a couple of Dodges, but you are right, twice bit, thrice shy, sorry Sergio and Carlos.

  • avatar
    heywood220

    There is a bar inside the parking lot of the old GM plant in Janesville, WI, and people wonder why it was shut down.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I can’t speak about, Europe or, Asia. I can tell you that if you own a car that was built in North America, somebody, somewhere in the manufactoring process was under the influence of booze or drugs,or both.

    In my 12 years as a dock tech at GM I estimate that I talked to thousand of truck drivers. With so many common suppliers, the truckers visit all the plants. Plants in the United States,and Canada, transplants,domestics and suppliers.

    Now B&B here’s a question. If you worked on the plant floor with hundreds of others,where could one descretly smoke a joint? The washroom? Naa, I heard a rumour that burning pot stinks. There certainly isn’t anywhere on the floor. Too much management.

    How about the loading dock? With 53 foot trailers to block the wind.
    Big stinky diesels to mask the smell. Oh..you might run into truck driver. For the most part truckers are a MYOB bunch. However safety,and not crushing a doper,are real high on thier priority list.

    So before they back in,or pull out, truckers take a real good look around.

    I’ve had hundreds, of truckers tell me its the same thing at every plant they visit. Only the faces change. They smoke dope at Honda and they smoke dope at Ford.

    Truckers have told me of Toyota guys pouring beer into coffee cups.

    It goes on everyday, in every work place, by a slim minority of the workers.

    Get over it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I can’t speak about, Europe or, Asia. I can tell you that if you own a car that was built in North America, somebody, somewhere in the manufactoring process was under the influence of booze or drugs,or both.

      A further tip: if your books were audited by an accounting firm, they were probably audited by someone under the influence. Your kids were probably educated by someone under the influence. Your garbage might have been schlepped, mail delivered, food served, goods shipped, inseam groped, etc, etc.

      Agreed, this all seems rather sanctimonious and sensationalist.

    • 0 avatar
      R.Fortier1796

      Mikey Sez: It goes on everyday, in every work place, by a slim minority of the workers.

      Get over it.

      I sez: Or you could, ya know, not do weed at work.

      Or would that be part of something that I don’t understand by not being a blue collar worker? Is following laws something only us white collar workers get?

      Generalizations are fun!

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    One man’s party is another man’s coping skill.

    /Whycan’tChryslerworkersstoppartyingontheirlunchbreak?

    Oh, and many of these coping skills are passed down father to son, as is the career in the assembly plant.

    If you’ve never talked to the old timers about what went on inside the plants in the 70s and 80s, try it sometime. Nothing new in this story, and not unique to ChryCo. Still not right, but not new.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I think that everyone can agree that behavior that affects the quality, productivity, safety and so on of the workplace (and its products) shouldn’t be excused, and I think we can also agree that reports such as this (and this is not specific to Fox News) do not express any kind of scientifically sound, statistically significant problem that is peculiar to Chrysler workers (though that remains a live possibility nonetheless). After all, most news reports nowadays are not aimed at the uncovering or discovering the truth (whatever that means), but are oriented primarily around selling stories that attract readers (and the more sensationalist, generally speaking, the better).

    So the real issue, I guess, is to try and get a better understanding of the conditions that might contribute to the development of this kind of ‘culture’ (whether it is peculiar to Chrysler or not–because as it stands we seem to have no good way of establishing that as a well-documented fact), and drawing upon such improved understanding as a means of reforming or improving such ‘cultures’ in general.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    After spending my entire career working under American management, I can see why someone would want to get stoned at work. I’s sure like to sometimes. I guess with Fiat ownership, the Chryslurr workers will be sipping vino.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    Chrysler is a complete laughing stock, their cars suck.

  • avatar

    Ask the workers what’s wrong, and fix it.

  • avatar

    Oh, yes! Who, if not Fox News (by Murdoch, the savior of true values), has the right to shed tears about “bad behavior”.

    Look at their busy, bloated appearances! It’s almost funny, wouldn’t there be an even more stupid audience, taking this crap for serious.

    I’d sentence them for hard labor at Chrysler, just to keep them off the screen.

  • avatar
    petervisor

    I worked on the assembly line for 17 years and only once saw someone smoking a joint at break time. The job was so hard, and we had to work so fast that I don’t think I could have done the job buzzed.
    To help keep us clean, the company would pay us for lunch, then dock our pay if we left the factory at lunch time.

  • avatar
    probert

    It could be a recruitment drive.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Because they are Italians, silly! :)

  • avatar
    sushytom

    If the build quality is objectively good, why should I care whether the people who built my car were drunk or high? I only care about results.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    In the late 18th century, in the North River shipyards it was reckoned that it took a gallon of rum to make a ton of ship. 200 yrs later, it was still going in the ship yards.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    You are blaming Fox News? CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC and CNN are left of the lunatic fringe.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Wow, there’s some distorted thinking there.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Really? They are? As an actual leftist, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed CNN calling for collective ownership of property, the abolishment of employment or statues of Lenin hailing a taxicab on every corner.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Come on, just because they agree with you doesn’t mean they are unbiased, everyone has some bias.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        CNN’s bias is towards sensationalistic bullshit, which leads liberals to decry the news channel as right-wing and conservatives to shout that the “C” is for “communist”. It isn’t either; it’s just the journalistic equivalent of trolling.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I’m not saying they aren’t biased—because they are—I’m saying that calling CNN, ABC, NBC or such “left of the lunatic fringe” demonstrates a complete lack of perspective, unless the “lunatic fringe” in question is the right-wing one.

        I know what the “lunatic left” is because I used to be part of it. The mainstream American media, Fox excepted, is “the lunatic left”? Really? I must have missed Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper are calling for the end of private property while sporting berets and Guevara T-shirts.

  • avatar
    kitzler

    I too have heard that Couric and Cooper are both commmunist sympathizers.

  • avatar
    vcficus

    Is the lead screen shot a late 80s Pontiac 6000 A-body? It doesn’t look too bad and I bet it was built by some buzzed UAW brethren… man, it’s hard to kill those sedans.

    On the story itself… sad, not surprising, and although I believe it’s a lot better than it was in the past I don’t see it ever going away for good. Read Ben Hamper’s ‘Rivethead’ or Solange De Santis ‘Life On The Line’ for an insight in how some blue collar and white collar (Solange before she started on the line) workers get through the day.

    A roofer friend once told me if I see more than 2 empties but less than 6 per roofer in a day you’ve got a good roof.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    If an executive, lawyer, accountant or other professional drinks at lunch the only thing affected may be their judgement. They’re not using heavy equipment with which to endanger others or themselves. They’re not performing a process in which poor quality will at best diminish the value of the product and at worst endanger the safety of the user.

    If it is true the the process is so automated that even a drunk/high employee can do it correctly, then these people are truly overpaid.

    Now that it’s been so well documented there should also be unmarked Michigan State Police checkpoints set up to snag these fools as they race back to work.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynamic88

      Oh I don’t know – what about a doctor? And what about a lawyer’s judgment? Someone could go to jail, or pay a lot of money for that lapse in judgment.

      But I think you’re right about the danger of working around machinery, and I suspect that is why the TV station was called.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    I don’t see what the big deal is. As long as they’re not drunk or baked and are still capable of performing their jobs well enough, I don’t see the harm.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      This is just my opinion, but it becomes a “big deal” when one of them gets mangled or mangles another worker while operating heavy machinery, and my tax dollars go toward their healthcare and disability benefits, and death benefits for their children.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Hey, those are the guys that designed the Sebring!!! Keep it up !! :)

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Those are the guys that built the Sebring.

      The guys that designed it probably drank even more heavily to drown their sorrows, while the guys who pushed for it and greenlighted it were doing lines off the abdominals of their mistresses using rolled up hundred-Euro bills.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Having worked in cell manufacturing and moved on to cubicle work, I don’t think most production work suffers, assuming good quality control practices that include employee accountability, if the average worker has a joint or drink at lunch.
    Look at historic alcohol consumption rates; the US was a nation of sodden drunkards during the Guilded Age. Today, Canada is a strong manufacturer and resource producer where drug testing (outside of the transport sector) is severely restricted. Therefore, fogging your mind (a little bit) at work is not the huge problem that many scolds assume it is.

    That said, toking up in your employer’s parking lot shows horrible judgment. And yes, there IS a reason you don’t see such behavior at transplant factories. It’s NOT a Fox News conspiracy. The leftists at 60 Minutes would be all over a Transplant drug story. Transplant workers, who are just as likely to be baked or drunk during non-work hours outside of the workplace, are on a much shorter (and more disciplined) leash at work. It’s reflected in their productivity, work rules, and attendance policies.


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