By on July 11, 2011

Earlier this year, UAW President Bob King said that if the union didn’t organize foreign auto plants, “I don’t think there’s a long-term future for the UAW, I really don’t.” Now why would he say such silly things if chances for success on that front are slim to none? Currently an intricate plot unravels. The goal: To lower expectations in the rank & file for big breakthroughs at the Detroit bargaining sessions. After all, the UAW still holds a lot of stock in certain Detroit companies, and they don’t want to shoot themselves in both feet in that regard. But what does that have to do with unionizing the foreigners?

The Freep is peeling a complicated onion of arguments that brings us to tears.

  • Unionizing foreigners is a matter of life and death for the UAW, says King.
  • To do that, the union must go easy in Detroit.
  • “To woo workers at foreign plants, the UAW needs to prove it can win more of what they want.”
  • “And to avoid scaring off management of the foreign companies, which can put up a fierce anti-union front, it needs to reach a deal in Detroit without major conflict, such as a strike.”

Interesting. This Cro-Magnon reporter mistakenly thought that to impress workers down south, the UAW had to win large pay raises up north to show them what they are missing. But I seem to be mistaken.

“The union has to prove it is not a job killer … and that it can get along with management,” said Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research union lobbying arm think tank. “I think a harmonious, noncontentious agreement is what King is looking for organizing purposes.”

According to the Freep, “McAlinden said he thinks the UAW could strengthen its hand at the bargaining table with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler if it were to launch an organizing campaign during contract talks. The union could pressure automakers such as Hyundai or Volkswagen, which have operations in Alabama and Tennessee, to raise wages and benefits.”

In other words, by making the life of the transplants unpleasant, the UAW hopes for brownie points from Detroit.

This sounds more and more like the unions working on behalf of the Detroit 3. As I said, they own chunks of them. Along with the government.

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107 Comments on “Which Side Are You On, UAW? Detroit’s?...”


  • avatar
    hifi

    This is going to be an uphill battle for the UAW. Opponents will point at Detroit as an example of a city that was decimated by the lack of competitiveness and agility, and that that scenario was created in-part by the UAW. Opponents to the UAW will also point out how domestic manufacturers have been going to Mexico and/or Canada, where the UAW stronghold isn’t the same as it is in the US. Meanwhile, foreign manufacturers have been moving to southern US states. It would appear that manufacturers moved to southern states to be as far away as possible from the reach of the UAW, which is largely based in the North. I don’t know if this is true or just conincidence, but it’s safe to assume that no one is going to put a manufacturing facility in a location where there are major labor obstacles.

    Without hearing more about it, I don’t really have an opinion either way. But I do wonder what value the UAW can bring to the workers or the manufacturers during a time when being nimble and competitive in the marketplace is critical for the automotive industry. These are two traits that the UAW is not known for.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    Why do you think CAR is a “union lobbying arm?” Are they to the left of Attila the Hun?

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    The workers are getting a paycheck and work for a company that didn’t go bankrupt. In 2011, that is security ample enough to sit still and take the less-than-Detroit union wage. The UAW is not seen right now as an organization that will make your life better, but one that is willing to risk your job in order to get more dues for itself. In 2011, that isn’t enough security for workers seeing how their unemployed neighbors and relatives lust for their non-union auto manufacturing paycheck.

    Demanding more money which will threaten the Detroit trio will not endear the UAW to those auto workers not represented by the UAW at this time. Having a job is more valued more than having a high wage. Until that changes, the UAW doesn’t have attractive enough bait.

    Which side am I on? Since I do not work for the UAW, nor for one of the Detroit auto makers, I am on the side of the auto workers trying to earn a living during this disasterous economy.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Interesting. This Cro-Magnon reporter mistakenly thought that to impress workers down south, the UAW had to win large pay raises up north to show them what they are missing. But I seem to be mistaken.

    At this point, the union’s strategic position is so badly compromised that they may as well stick to fighting for what little jobs they can manage.

    It’s amazing, because the financial crisis (and subsequent bailouts and cash-hoarding) should have been a gift to organized labour: The muckety-mucks had managed to wreck the economy, gut jobs, and now the middle and lower class needs to accept “austerity” while they get to sit on piles of cash? Where’s the trickle-down of jobs? Benefits? Why aren’t we busting the balls of these kings of the world who take tax dollars (remember, a huge part of the stimulus package was tax cuts!) and ship them overseas?

    Instead, they sat around and whinged about “forn cars”. What a waste of the biggest tactical opportunity—and the best chance to reverse the hollowing out of the conomy—since 1929.

    Now that advantage has been taken by people who have a very anti-Union, pro-business interest. They’re writing the script now. At this point, people in the South who probably would benefit from better jobs could be convinced that getting less money so that rich people can get more is a good thing.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverInfidel

      “At this point, people in the South who probably would benefit from better jobs…”.

      Everyone could benefit from better jobs, but what does that have to do with the UAW? Are you referring to that glut of better jobs Mr. King is offering in Detroit?

      These days the UAW showing up doesn’t result in more jobs or more money for anyone other than the UAW itself.

      Even oft-derided southern factory workers can do the math on this one.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Psar, come south and say that. Don’t speak of what you don’t know.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Mike, northern Ontario is a lot more like the southern US than many people on either side would probably be willing to admit.

        Heck, people are people, and it’s not at all hard to play “ignore the man behind the curtain” once you know the basic rules.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Other than the south thing, I actually agree. There should have been mobs marching on Wall Street and Washington during that time. I’ve been in southern Ontario but never in the north so I’ll have ot take your word for it.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    If I buy a car or truck in the next few years, I’ll be certain to choose one that’s built in the US by non-unionized labor. F–k UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And your reason would be…. what?

      No, seriously, what? I’ve never understood this. What’s so incredibly evil about union labour that draws the kind of ire that’s usually reserved for the kinds of places that use small children because they’re cheap to feed and their little fingers can do more precise work?

      If it’s perfectly okay for rich folk to collectively interact under a coporate charter, why are labour unions “bad”?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        In the real world, I have never encountered anyone who bought a brand-new vehicle based on whether it was made by the UAW. It simply is not a factor.

        I have met people who buy vehicles based on where they are made, the goal being to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. What’s amusing is that many of these people are actually quite conservative in other respects.

        So we have the irony of Rush Limbaugh listeners helping to keep the UAW in business, and the UAW being dependent on a fair number of the people it officially despises. The real world is often funny in that way…

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        In the real world, I have never encountered anyone who bought a brand-new vehicle based on whether it was made by the UAW. It simply is not a factor.

        Interestingly enough, I have, but you really need to live in a factory town for that to happen. That said, the same sentiment is much weaker than it used to be, and it’s more “Buy Local” than “Buy From Your Local”.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        geeber,

        What you are missing is the nationalistic aspect. Conservatives are by nature nationalistic. They want America and therefore American companies to succeed and that means buying a car made by a labor union that they will have political differences with. What is also funny is that the more liberal politically oriented who claim to be for the “working man” will not buy a car made by him, but will instead go to a foreign source. I attribute this to the fact that they are much less nationalistic and more globalist in their outlook and beliefs. Funny indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’m buying a new Ohio built car in the next few weeks, a purchase I would not make if it were UAW assembled. Same as the car I bought new in 2007 though, so I’m not one of the new UAW-avoiders. They exist though. Hang out with wealthy conservatives, and many of them are enjoying their first Toyotas now. As my friend the Marine said, “I’d buy a car from Al Queeda before I’d buy one from the UAW.” The values espoused by organized labor in this country are as morally repugnant as those of any of our external enemies. If the UAW doesn’t have a long term future, maybe they should disband right now and let the healing begin.

      • 0 avatar

        In all honesty, the majority of ‘Conservatives’ I know all drive foreign cars. Actually, 70% of my friends and family) drive foreign cars. Only my immedately famlily are mostly Detroit loyal (Chrysler).
        And they’ve been great cars. Repair free? No, but we keep our cars 8+ years.
        All the Honyotas I’ve known older than 8yrs. have needed repairs here and there also.

        Just sayin…

      • 0 avatar

        Unless you’re looking at a full-size truck, there are perfectly wonderful, non-union-American-built options available from Hyundai, Toyota, Kia and Honda — among others. If you are looking at a full-size truck, the Tundra would be an acceptable compromise for most.

        Avoiding a UAW-built car wasn’t a priority for me in 2006. It absolutely is today, post-bailouts. They’ll never get my money directly again.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob….Great idea, if you want”almost” a real truck.

      • 0 avatar

        Most 1/2-ton buyers are posers anyway, and the Tundra looks convincing enough in the Home Depot parking lot.

        Now, 3/4 and 1-tons are obviously still Detroit’s domain, and that’s probably as it should be. Those are the vehicles used by other union-supported industries, so they are just fine with a union-built product.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob…Two words “Tundra sales”

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        I know a guy who is high up in the conservative world. With the exception of a Ford Explorer to haul his scuba gear, his whole family’s fleet is VW. He hasn’t put a candidate’s bumper sticker on it yet….

    • 0 avatar
      pgcooldad

      Mr Noisewater, would you buy a Mazda or Mitsubishi built in the U.S.?

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        I’ve actually got my eye on the Optima, along with a large proportion of the populace, though I don’t think they build the Hybrid in the US.

        Also, being a diesel buff, I’d like to test the Passat TDI, but it doesn’t have memory seats.. I look at my 300SDL as a benchmark/minimum of gadgetry, and that’s _after_ I installed the bluetooth and TrafficPro GPS..

        Though I reckon I’d really start looking in earnest next year, as I think I can get another year out of the Benz.

        (Actually, I’d prefer to get the K1600GTL first and push the SDL until fluid changes and brake parts can’t keep it going safely: I had the timing chain replaced at 400k and it should be good for another 200k or so)

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    UAW’s sales pitch to southern workers: “Look how we are willing to shaft our existing members so that you will join.”

    Or is it “Look how we are willing to shaft the companies our existing workers work for so that you will join.”

    I don’t see a win here no matter which pitch the UAW goes with.

    The fact is, southern workers have seen that the UAW has pursued both strategies in recent years. These workers are not morons, and understand that they can make almost what the UAW people make (more if we talk UAW lower tier) for no dues and for a company that is stronger than the D3.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark45

      You might want to learn a bit about the southern auto plants before you make a statement like that. I live 10 miles from the Honda plant in Lincoln, Alabama and I know a lot of people working there. True the Honda employees make good money, but when running full production 1/3 of the workers are temps working for a temp agency. They are trained by the State of Alabama with taxpayer money (part of the incentive package) and work beside the Honda employees making less the 2/3 what the Honda employees make. When Honda takes vacation the temps do not receive vacation pay the are signed up for unemployment compensation. They do not get paid medical insurance. When they have to cut production they cut the temps. That’s how they can claim they did not lay anyone off, because that 1/3 of their workforce are not Honda employees. Some say that the temps know going in the terms and they accept them, but when jobs are scarce you take what you can get even though you may not like the terms. That doesn’t make it right. And there are some workers that have been temps for over 3 years. And my complaint is that Honda took hundreds of millions of dollars in incentive with the promise of high paying jobs and now the only way to get a job there is as a temp.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ Mark45….Yeah…I hear ya. The same thing goes on at Honda Alliston, right here in Ontario. Toyota Cambrdge just got a huge tax break and a loan from the Ontario government.

        Dude….don’t tell the anti domestic, UAW haters here,your just wasting key strokes.

      • 0 avatar

        Some say that the temps know going in the terms and they accept them, but when jobs are scarce you take what you can get even though you may not like the terms. That doesn’t make it right.

        Maybe not “right” but it is absolutely, positively and perfectly “correct.” The market has determined a temp worker is sufficient for those jobs, and Honda has shrewdly taken advantage. If the workforce is still there — and they are! — whining about it doesn’t do a bit of good.

        If everyone were so unhappy with such an unfair situation… wouldn’t we be seeing the UAW beating down the door, and the workers eager to let them in? Why do you and mikey think that isn’t happening?

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob….Your right, for now. However treating human beings like crap,or a disposble razor is the sort of fertile ground where unions got thier start.

      • 0 avatar

        On this we agree, mikey. My point is, they obviously aren’t being treated that way, or at least they don’t think they are.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark45

        Well the temps are not Honda employees so they have vote as getting a union. The Honda employees are getting great pay and benefits so they don’t want to risk their jobs.

      • 0 avatar

        Sounds to me like Honda has accurately gauged the situation, then, and responded to it in the company’s best interest. Which is its only obligation to anyone.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark45

        Which I would not have as much of a problem with if they had not gotten hundreds of millions in taxpayer incentives. They are taking advantage of a loophole in the system that needs to closed. Temps should be for a trial basis (3 months) to see if the workers are going to be good employees. They should not have the same temp working for over 3 yrs. If they kept them that long I would assume they are satisfied with their performance.

      • 0 avatar

        Once again, I will not fault Honda for playing the hand it was given. And is there a great outcry — outside this forum — for that loophole to be closed?

      • 0 avatar
        Mark45

        It is starting to grow in this area.

      • 0 avatar

        We’ll see if that gets anywhere, then.

      • 0 avatar
        jadnhm

        @Rob Finfrock:
        I will never understand why it’s so ‘responsible’ for employers to “[play] the hand it was given” despite any questionable side-effects for local economies and/or employees, while unions are expected to act in the best interest of ‘the greater good’ even when it’s not obvious what that might mean. Labour unions are an organizational structure a /lot/ like a corporation with many of the same pros and cons. I don’t know why anyone should expect unions to not work to obtain benefits (in whatever form) for their members.

        When you go to negotiate with your employer do you think you would accept a lower wage or benefit clawback for the good of the company or the local economy? Union contracts do that for their employers all the time.

        Also remember that every single benefit in every union contract has been agreed to by the employer (unless the contract was arbitrated/mediated). I find it pretty incredulous that people make claims along the lines of “GM almost went bankrupt so now I hate the UAW!” because I think it should actually work the other way around. GM has a legal fiduciary responsibility to its owners (shareholders) to protect itself and they FAILED to do that miserably. It’s true that they gave stuff away to the union that they shouldn’t have, but they had every opportunity to decline and instead bowed to the pressure to prevent a strike/etc. The exact same thing would have happened if every employee had individually asked for and received those same benefits – the union only provided the organization that allowed the pressure to be collective. That’s the whole point!

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Why don’t the UAW just get Chairman Obama to forbid non-union southern factories, like he’s doing with Boeing in South Carolina?

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2011/04/unbelievable-obama-nlrb-forces-boeing-to-build-plant-in-washington-not-south-carolina/

    • 0 avatar
      Brad2971

      Erm, NO. All that happened in that case is the NLRB going to an administrative law judge for a request to tell Boeing to apologize for supposedly bad-mouthing its Washington state workforce.

      There is absolutely NO WAY that plant in SC is going to sit idle any longer than it has to.

      • 0 avatar
        Contrarian

        There’s way more to it than that, but anyway since when is it the govt’s job to decide who apologizes for bad-mouthing whom?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I can’t believe I just read that attempt at an explanation of what is going on in Obama’s efforts to drive manufacturing jobs abroad.

      • 0 avatar
        Contrarian

        To suggest that Obama’s NLRB went to all that trouble because someone deserved an apology is laughable. 8^D

      • 0 avatar
        DenverInfidel

        That is just a mind-numbingly absurd attempt to explain reality.

        Let’s assume the NLRB prevails with the admin judge. Then what? Can s/he not order Boeing to keep production in WA?

        If not, what’s the point? Or is it just a shakedown for a fine?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    To win over the non-union autoworkers, they have to show that the new members will receive good value for the dues they pay. They also have to reasonably assure these workers that they won’t be retaliated against if they join the union. If the worker are going to make the same money whether or not they join the union, the UAW has to show that the union delivers value in other ways. This has been a challenge. Traditionally, job security has been the biggest motivator, protection from arbitrary firing. There is a perception that protection from firing without just cause is another word for protecting goldbrickers. It doesn’t have to be so, but that’s the reputation that they are fighting.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    According to the Freep, “McAlinden said he thinks the UAW could strengthen its hand at the bargaining table with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler if it were to launch an organizing campaign during contract talks. The union could pressure automakers such as Hyundai or Volkswagen, which have operations in Alabama and Tennessee, to raise wages and benefits.”

    In other words, by making the life of the transplants unpleasant, the UAW hopes for brownie points from Detroit.

    No, in other words, McAlinden believes that the UAW would gain negotiating leverage with Detroit if it appeared that the union was getting stronger, instead of shrinking as it has been for years.

    That’s a fairly balanced analysis of the tactical options that are available to the union. I doubt that the UAW will be successful with it — its days are numbered — but still, some sort of expansion strategy is most certainly its best option if its goal is to stay in business. (The alternative not mentioned is merging with other unions that aren’t necessarily in the auto industry, but I doubt that the management of the union would want to give up that kind of power.)

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    “Interesting. This Cro-Magnon reporter mistakenly thought that to impress workers down south, the UAW had to win large pay raises up north to show them what they are missing. But I seem to be mistaken.”

    Yes, you are mistaken, as is anyone who believes that the primary function of any union is to secure pay raises for its members irrespective of the effect on businesses and industry that they work for. The primary function of a union should be to ensure the welfare and fair treatment of its members, a significant part of which is keeping on eye on the health of business/industry. While the UAW has not been good at doing this for the last several decades, they have gotten better, and I think that they realize unionizing transplant workers is going to require a new approach to working with mgmt for the betterment of their members.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      It’s really going to take the non-union workers inviting them in, and so far that hasn’t happened. Apparently the transplants are smart enough to see that if they treat the workers fairly and at least agreeably they won’t have to deal with the UAW.

      The unions taught them well. Great job guys!

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Thankfully this is a great big country with lots of opportunity for all. Anyone in a union job at at plant that is springing leaks should start taking steps now to get out. Of course that won’t happen and for some it’s not possible (home sale, bills, lack of skills, etc)
    So maybe the UAW should think twice before rocking any boats and be content with owning a large chunk of two automakers. In a perverse way they succeeded, for they ended up with the keys.
    Whether or not those assets are worth enough remains to be seen. And they have a large stake in that future.
    I think the earthquake in Japan will result in lots of factories in the southeast of the US. Don’t expect to see a UAW sign on the buildings anytime soon.

  • avatar

    This sounds more and more like the unions working on behalf of the Detroit 3. As I said, they own chunks of them. Along with the government.

    Ah, sentence construction… do you mean the UAW owns chunks of the Detroit 2.1, or chunks of the government? Both would be accurate of course.

    • 0 avatar

      Intentional ambiguity …

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      The UAW owns the Government? I know they gave some corporate donations, but many organizations/companies do (Goldman Sachs, Lockheed Martin, other unions etc) so what is so bad with them giving donations compared to others? They all expect something in return (remember the bank bailout, but people seem to have forgotten Citi, Bank of America et al)

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        +1.

        You can’t harp on the UAW or AFL-CIO and ignore Goldman et al. Lobbying is either a problem, or it isn’t. It’s disingenuous to be unconcerned about lobbying when it’s being done by and/or done to people on your team.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Psar, who’s on who’s team though? As far as i’m concerned, the UAW, Goldman and the rest are all on the team that’s against me. I’m not represented by any of them and what is good for them is most likely horrible for me. I wish you wouldn’t try and make it to be the old labor vs. capital struggle because it has morphed into something else entirely. It’s become big vs. small, they have money, power and lobbyists, I don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I wish you wouldn’t try and make it to be the old labor vs. capital struggle because it has morphed into something else entirely. It’s become big vs. small, they have money, power and lobbyists, I don’t

        I’m not. Well, not intentionally. Labour is pretty much by default on the small side of your equation. It’s an organization of the small and the less powerful, which is why, if you watch what the Democrats do versus what they’re accused of, you’ll notice that they shovel far more money at bankers than at labour.

        Labour, generally, is intended as a counterbalance. It has numbers, and those numbers (used to) afford it influence on par with capital. You’re right that it’s big versus small, but how exactly is small going to get any traction unless it forms some kind of gestalt like labour?

        That you and others see labour as a problem I find kind of tragic. Mind you, I see labour’s strategic foolishness as worse, but hey, the AFL-CIO was selling out it’s own members to the CIA half a century ago, so I ought not be wholly surprised.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Psar, my nightmare is a great big stew of government, labor and capital. Put all that together and you get something akin to Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany and neither place was good for those people who weren’t in the in crowd. Crony capitalism does include labor too. And by labor, I mean the union leadership. At some point leadership always throws the rank and file over the side. After all leadership always wants a place at the trough and if it means doing something that hurts members, tough luck for them.

        And yes I have noticed who the Democrats bend over backwards to help before any other constituency. After all, they are just helping their biggest donors. We pretty much agree on this though I know that may hurt you some.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark45

        The way I see it the problem is not so much the unions as it is corrupt politicians. The unions are doing what the workers hired them to do. It’s the politicians taking the payoffs that are the problem.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        “That you and others see labour as a problem I find kind of tragic.”

        Not tragic at all. Just the truth. It isn’t the working man or woman that’s the problem, it; s the corrupt union officials. They are no better than the corrupt politicians. They have much more power and influence than you give them credit for. You are right about one thing. The democrats are very much in bed with Wall Street and the banks and they are rewarded handsomely for it too. It would shock a lot of people who think it’s only an adjunct to republicans.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Everybody should read the book, A Savage Factory: An Eyewitness Account of the Auto Industry’s Self Destruction, by Robert Dewar. He worked at the Ford Sharonville transmission plant during the 1970s as a supervisor, and his experiences are both eye-opening and hair-raising.

    What’s interesting is that he was sympathetic to the men working on the line, and very critical of management (both plant management Ford’s executive team in Dearborn). The lineworkers and the union that represents them, however, still manage to come off badly in his book. He simply described their attitudes and actions, without criticism or embellishment.

    Fast forward to 2009, and Mr. Dewar visited the same plant (after reading his book, you’ll be amazed that the plant – let alone the Ford Motor Company – still exists). His article describing that visit appeared on this site. He was astonished at the changes that he found among both management and the UAW members. Attitudes had really changed on both sides, and, even if it wasn’t a management-union love fest, both sides realized that they had better focus on keeping customers happy if they wanted to retain their jobs.

    That tells me that, at the plant level, the union has really changed in some respects. Of course, that is where the rubber meets the road, so “change or die” is more than just a slogan. Mr. King, however, is elected to his position, so some of his job is telling members (i.e., voters) what they want to hear, even if they know, deep in their hearts, that it won’t necessarily come to fruition.

    From what I’ve read, the actual pay offered by the transplants is either very close to that offered in GM, Ford and Chrysler plants, or slightly ahead of it. Given the lower cost of living in the South as compared to the Northeast or industrial Midwest, it’s not as though transplant workers are scrounging to make ends meet. The benefits of unionization are therefore not immediately apparent to the transplant workers, especially since union dues are likely to result in an immediate reduction in pay.

    And the foreign car makers – particularly the Japanese – aren’t dumb enough to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s. This won’t be a replay of Walter Reuther versus the thugs hired by Harry Bennett of Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ And geeber nails one.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      A friend of mine was a production line engineer at Ford. I don’t know exactly when, but based on her age it could have been no earlier than the late ’90s. The conduct she witnessed on a Michigan Ford production line was not consistent with a union that had making good cars or keeping Ford healthy as priorities. She hates to even talk about it, but I did get her to tell me about a shift supervisor that sabotaged the line every day because he hated the following shift supervisor, and that the line couldn’t restart until there was a representative of every individual union trade on hand so work at fixing the line could be performed. It really doesn’t matter what the car companies do. You can’t redeem people that have been corrupted by organized labor.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ CJinSD… I got a little inside info for you dude. With all due respect to your friend, it doesn’t quite work that way.

        A shift superviser sabotaging a line? Instant disnissal,no qestions asked.

        No union rep available?.. They go to back ups, without production or maintenance,being even slightly impacted.

        A whole lot of fresh faced engineers came through the system. Many were succesfull, many were not. In my 36 plus years, I worked with,and for probably 40? of them.

        Some came with an attitude,or a chip on thier shoulder. Some of them displayed a very condescending, aura, all the time. Others were overcome with bitterness, and envy,at our high wages.

        We collectivly ate them, chewed them up, and spit them on the plant floor. Even the lowest and dumbest animals, KNOW when thier being “talked down to”

        “Talking down” to those lower on the socio economic scale is a common mistake of the higher educated.

        That being said, some of my best, and respected supervisers came from the enginering ranks. Those were the ones that had respect,and manners taught as part of thier real education. “People skills” if you will.

        For the most part those people are now, very succesful. Either at GM, or bigger and better things.

        The others are still bitter, and willing to whine and point to the nasty union people, because THEY couldn’t hack it.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob..”both sides need to pay”….Oh we paid.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Your description has little to do with my friend. I’ve never seen her talk down to anyone, whether they’re a gardener or an incompetent waitress. She also doesn’t want to whine or talk about useless union people. I had to pry to get anything out of her. She’s been reasonably successful in her career since fleeing the auto industry, not that I particularly care for what she’s doing. She’s one of those people making a fortune off implementing job-killing environmental legislation now, and sitting on a board for an energy scam. She does it all with a smile though, even when other people involved in her venture are pretty flaky.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Considering what the UAW has done to the US auto industry I cannot understand why anyone would want to have the UAW do their bargaining for them. How many former UAW members would prefer to be working today, before the UAW bargained them out of their jobs?

      Even in America, the quality of workmanship delivered by UAW members was inferior and sloppy when compared to the quality of workmanship delivered by non-union members in the right-to-work states. There is a decades-long track record of this that is well-documented and legend in the automotive-manufacturing history of the US.

      What the non-unionized employees decide to do about unionization in their plants is their business but they really need to look at what kind of track record the UAW has. The current Government-mandated rules and regulations concerning treatment of employees leave very little that any union can do for its members. All the rules and regulations are stacked in favor of the workers.

      Just look at the recent discrimination case that Wal-Mart won. The flip-side of that is the Boeing case in SC that the NLRB is going to win, because of political manipulation. In that case Boeing should pull the plug on that project and build their stuff outside of the US. If we can have the new San Fran bridge built in China, we can build airplanes and airplane parts there too.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @highdesertcat….This “well-documented” track record you mentioned. Do you have a link to some of these legends? Any of them?

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @highdesertcat…..Yeah…About what I figured.

      • 0 avatar

        Really mikey? Do we need to go down the road of tales of beer cans and trash hidden in the door panels (if memory serves, you substantiated some of those tales in earlier posts) or, more recently, the fine UAWers at Fiasler caught drinking and toking on the job?

        Are you seriously saying UAW/CAW grunts have never performed acts of outright sabotage to vehicles they built, if they were mad enough at their “oppressors” in management?

        Yes or no. Simple as that.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob..outright sabotage?…Yeah I’ve seen it, maybe twice. Most of the time it was dealt with severly. We can give peer preasure, a whole new meaning.If you get my drift. Thats as far as I’m going, there.

        Drinking and toking? Yup… every day. What! you don’t think it goes on in the non-union plants?

        Right..I’ll take some of what your smoking, my friend.

        How many white collars have a liqiud lunch,or snort a couple of lines? Ten percent maybe?

        Lets see, a GM assembly group of 50. You might get two pot heads and three heavy drinkers.

        Do the math Rob.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s a “yes,” then. (And what kind of organization allows such incidents of sabotage to be dealt with only “most” of the time?)

        If the white-collar types drink and snort on their lunches, that matters to me only when/if that activity negatively impacts me, which is really seldom the case. There’s a far greater chance of a stoned UAWer failing to tighten a bolt vital to holding, say, the steering wheel on, and that resulting in an accident. Now multiply that effect by however many cars pass down the line in front of our inebriated friend.

        There’s the math.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Most of the “sabotage” has come in the form of bad design, cheap parts, second-rate engineering, and cost/ benefit analysis that rationalized poor quality and an overall lack of interest in the desires of the customer. Guys with ties are responsible for that.

        That isn’t to say that the UAW has made fantastic contributions to what ends up on the road, but the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of management. Blaming the grunt worker instead of management is akin to blaming the hot dog vendor instead of the coach when the team losses the game.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob.. Are you trying to tell me that in every industry everywhere the “perp” gets caught.

        A$$ holes are everywhere,and in every buisness. Sometimes they don’t get caught.

        Yes… we had our share of idiots. Notice the word “had” The modern UAW/CAW plants are no different than any other workplace.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s a chicken vs egg situation, pch. Would management have needed to cut costs so much if the unions weren’t getting such outlandish payouts, by threatening strike action at every turn?

        Both sides were complicit, and both sides need to pay for that.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Rob…In the modern assembly process, its almost impossible for a car to go down the line poorly assembled.

        If you stood in the middle of a Honda or Toyota plant,or a GM plant you would not be able to tell the difference. Everthing is tourqe monitored,computer controlled. Work cells, and robots and programble logic computers rule the plant.

        They don’t get drunk, or high,or pay union dues.

        All the companies use the same equipment.

        The UAW “work rules’ you hear about, don’t exsist any more.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark45

        @Rob… There was another factor, you had foreign companies shipping in cars built with extremely cheap labor.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Would management have needed to cut costs so much if the unions weren’t getting such outlandish payouts, by threatening strike action at every turn?

        Before going into bankruptcy, GM had lower costs per unit than Toyota.

        What did GM do with the money it saved? It bought FIAT, and Saab, and Isuzu, and Subaru, and Daewoo, and Hughes.

        Auto production is one of those few industries in which parts costs are substantially higher than labor costs. Labor costs are a small fraction of the overall cost of manufacturing.

        You’re turning a molehill into a mountain, while ignoring that the dirt got dumped into bad acquisitions and bad design.

        I have a recommendation to those who like to cite such “factoids” — go back and read the financial statements prior to commenting. The facts don’t support your business argument, even if they make for a nice feelgood political argument.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ pch101…So glad your back.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        @mikey: “In the modern assembly process, its almost impossible for a car to go down the line poorly assembled.”

        And that’s why my Mustang still wears its UAW “Built with Pride” sticker in the back window. As much as I outright despise UAW management, (most) of the workers aren’t the problem with the union. Or with the cars. The bad paint, the joke of a transmission and rattle-plagued interior, that’s the fault of the Ford engineers and bean counters that cheaped out on the design and manufacturing process.

        A big reason why Detroit cars used to be built like crap was because they were designed like crap and engineered to be built like crap. The union workers can only build the car as good as it’s designed. And Big Three management, for decades, was simply too arrogant to care how the cars turned out. Moreover, regardless industry, a person’s only going to work as hard as they absolutely have to – management didn’t really care about that either.

        Today, Detroit has learned a lot about improving the manufacturing process, and it’s to the point where it’s essentially foolproof, just like any other factory. But tolerances and such are only as good as the employee who specified them. So if my Mustang’s paint is blotchy and the panel gaps are uneven…who’s fault is that?

        Also, RE: fresh faced engineers on the shop floor. In college, I was an engineering co-op who spent some time around a union machine shop. The old timers hated it whenever I needed them to mock something up for them and I don’t blame them. I was a 20 year old kid who didn’t know a fraction of what they did, yet I was telling them what to do. I’d hate me to. And it’s an idiotic move on management’s part to create such a situation, because no one benefits.

      • 0 avatar
        Aqua225

        Mikey,

        I used to work with a guy who had worked with a company who GM contracted out to for automated testing, and this is the story he told me:

        His company was contracted to produce a test rig that would plug into a pickup’s truck wiring at the end of the assembly line and evaluate the status of the vehicle’s electrical system. They had been having a high rate of failure in the field, and mgt. on this particular line were hell bent on cleaning up the problem.

        So his company deliver’s their test product, and the industrial engineers (guys who design the assembly lines and implement them, and keep them tuned) had started working the problems, and the tester had helped them eliminate a number of error prone areas in the workflow. The truck bodies were passing the tester at >90% success rate, and had dramatically reduced failures in the field.

        Problem was, the guy who used to do this testing by hand was about to be moved off that line and elsewhere. The union kicked in, and suddenly, and inexplicably the quality rate suddenly fell dramatically in the factory. It became so bad that mgt. was pinned by the union, they gave in and removed test rig, and just lived with the high rate of field failures.

        You can hem and haw all you want how this is anecdotal, but I have heard stories about similar unionized labor issues in shipyards as well. Labor unions to me are just like that. They create a level protection that non-unionized professionals do not have, and they throw that weight around as often as possible, and it breeds a culture of inadequacy to particular tasks.

      • 0 avatar

        Thank you, Aqua225. Those are the kinds of stories the UAW apologists around here conveniently forget about.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        aqua225

        Yeah…I won’t dispute your friends story. Its probably fairly accurate.

        High tech electical testing has been around for at least 10 years. So we would be talking early 90s maybe.

        I can asure you, that story would have a whole different ending today.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mikey, if the fact that the UAW bargained their members out of their jobs and bargained GM and the company formerly known as Chrysler into the grave isn’t enough for you, then nothing will be.

        But let me also say that until 2008 all we drove was UAW-made Detroit cars and trucks. All of them had issues that required dealer intervention to correct. Most of them assembly issues like misalignment or parts falling off, missing nuts and bolts, etc. Once the warranty period ran out, I was on my own.

        Now the good part: since we bought a Highlander in 2008 and my 2011 Tundra 5.7, I haven’t been back to the Toyota dealer for anything. I like that. I hope it stays that way.

        Another thing: I am only sporadically on ttac. Although I am not employed I do spend much of my waking hours doing meaningful things. If I don’t respond to your question immediately it does not mean that I am ignoring you or that it implies that I do not have a timely comeback. It means that I am busy.

        Today I spent most of the day helping my neighbor clear his drains with both of the snakes that I have for my own use. After that he and I fought big red and black ants the remainder of the afternoon in 102-degree heat. After that I grilled a couple of steaks and BBQ beans for dinner so the wife would have a hot meal when she came home from showing real estate all day. Right now it is time for bed but I wanted to check email and read ttac comments before turning in. Such is life in the desert.

        If you read the comments on this thread made by others, I think you’ll get the picture (maybe). I could not have said any better what these guys have said, on both sides of the issue.

        I’m cool with the fact that you will defend Detroit and the UAW until they pry your union card from your cold, dead hand. But after 2008, 2009, 2010 and carmageddon, I no longer care to support the UAW. Made in Mexico? Yes. Made in Canada? Maybe. UAW-made? No way. And there are a lot of Americans who have evolved to feel the same way.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @desertcat & Rob…..I too am comfortble with your position. That being said, you have to understand mine.

        I’m a three year retired, GM Canada former UAW and CAW member. My non indexed, frozen pension depends on the success of GM Canada.

        Thanks to a little forward planning, and some good luck, I prepared for a life without GM.

        Many others, put thier 30, or 40 years in,giving no thought to the fact that GM might not be there,for them.

        Yeah,they blew thier cash on kids educations, morgages,whatever. Oh yeah,and a few blew it on garbage,and a garage full of bling.

        I get a little PO ed, when were all painted as a bunch of fat drunks, with a warped sense of entitlement. I’m not saying nobody fits that description. However they would be the exception,not the rule.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        But let me also say that until 2008 all we drove was UAW-made Detroit cars and trucks. All of them had issues that required dealer intervention to correct. Most of them assembly issues like misalignment or parts falling off, missing nuts and bolts, etc. Once the warranty period ran out, I was on my own.

        Now the good part: since we bought a Highlander in 2008 and my 2011 Tundra 5.7, I haven’t been back to the Toyota dealer for anything. I like that. I hope it stays that way.

        The key difference between lean production (the Toyota Production System) and traditional mass production (what Ford introduced to car building) is the quality control process. The team building method is more likely to catch product problems earlier, and JIT production increases the likelihood that bad batches of parts will be kept off of the line.

        That’s a process issue. The plant should be designed so that mistakes are caught and less likely to be made in the first place. Process is managed by management. An assembly line that is heavily dependent upon worker initiative and “heroes” on the line is a badly managed assembly line.

        This is like blaming the cashier at McDonald’s for the fact that Big Macs taste lousy. The ingredients aren’t very good, and the worker has nothing to do with that. Firing the workers and cutting their wages won’t make a Big Mac taste any better.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        It might interest you guys to know (this is anecdotal) that my dad was a union man for many years, until he got a Wage Grade job with the Air Force where union membership was optional, and eventually moved up to a GS-12 Management slot in civil service.

        My dad was with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers through much of the fifties and into the early sixties. But even he could see that at his union jobs the union had negotiated an environment of “a man for every job”. Not conducive to a streamlined operation.

        In short, this meant that electricians could not clean up after themselves at a site because someone else needed to be summoned to do the clean up. Because of this provision there were numerous times when the electricians could not start the next job because the site was still waiting for someone to clean it up. A most inefficient way to do business, causing undue delays.

        Mikey, I said I was cool with your beliefs about the CAW/UAW. I understand everyone has to earn a living the best way they can with the tools or means that are available to them. Had my circumstances been different I may have belonged to a union.

        The issue in discussion is if we are for or against unions. My position is that, for the life of me, if the non-union shops have a choice of becoming union or remaining non-union, why on earth would they become unionized if all they have to do is to look at history and see for themselves what the UAW has bargained for their union brethern?

        It is not like the transplants are mistreating their American employees. God forbid the transplants should piss off their American workers and have them turn on their foreign masters. That would kill off whatever quality advantage the foreigners have, in no time. We saw this with the QC shortfalls that Ford and GM are so infamous and renown for, and which I have experienced first hand over decades.

        It is bad enough, according to some comments I have read, that the quality of the foreign brands plummeted when they set up shop in America, using American labor and American part suppliers, in many cases the same suppliers that supplied the domestic brands. Another anecdote: my wife’s Highlander built in Japan has had no recalls – the Highlanders owned by her sisters which were made in America have had numerous recalls.

        What everyone has noticed is that when Ford and GM moved assembly to Mexico, the quality skyrocketed along with the profits. And that’s why I am a staunch proponent of moving all transplants, like Mazda, to Mexico.

        That would stem the complaints from the UAW and other unions, and it would create jobs in Mexico, keeping Mexicans at home instead of coming over here illegally and drain our economic and social resources.

        That’s where I stand on the issue. What the folks at the transplants do is their business. What Americans choose to buy is theirs. Americans who support the UAW should buy UAW-made goods. Those who do not support the UAW should buy something else.

        I chose to buy something else, specifically because I can no longer support the UAW due largely to how their bargaining has the destroyed the US auto industry. Let’s not forget that Ford is overdue to feel the wrath of the UAW held in reserve for their next bargaining fest, which is coming up soon.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a real conundrum for me. I’m generally pro-union, but I remember vividly following the last strike with GM. All the nastiness, the volatile language and physical attacks on office-folks’ car entering the plants.
      One article in the DetNews (hope I saved it) depicted a union rep, waiting for the “strike” order, and he had a bottle of Jameson on his desk. AT A GM PLANT. The bottle was for celebrating when the strike order eventually came through.
      WTF! This was supposed to be the 21st century.

      I had a friend work as a low lever super in a plant. He said it was the best of times and worst of times. 90% of the line workers were wonderful people, helpful, team players, had pride in their work. But there was another 5-10% that were very bitter, hated anyone in khaki pants and would often take multiple hour lunch breaks.
      He said in their contract they had something like a week of “absence with permission” days and 5 “no work” days meaning you could just not show up.
      That group, would never cut it in the “real world.” They’re living in a cushy UAW fantasy land….which is quickly coming to an end.
      And being pro-union, that part of it can’t end fast enough.
      Lose the attitude. You work for the company. It’s by their grace you have that job. That job does not belong to YOU. You have to earn it.
      I agree fully that if the company is really screwing their workers, they need to rise up and say NO. But….end this entitlement crap. Nobody owes you nothing but respect and a clean, fair work environment…if they need you.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      “The plant should be designed so that mistakes are caught and less likely to be made in the first place.”

      Which requires money. Ford is more profitable than Toyota even though they sell 3 million less vehicles, employ 2-3 times more (in the US) with bigger pay and executive salaries that are teh highest in the industry. Care to guess what department they might scrimp? Don’t tell me it’s metallurgics?

    • 0 avatar
      jadnhm

      @geeber:
      and just think what would happen at those same southern transplant plants if there were no unions threatening to organize their workforce! While I don’t think the non-unionized transplant workers would be willing to admit it, the UAW benefits them greatly merely by existing, not to mention setting the yardstick by which their employers measure the deal they offer their employees. Those workers would not be nearly as well off if it weren’t for the constant threat of organizing.

  • avatar
    George B

    The UAW has some unionized plants in right to work states. That’s probably a better model than the Detroit model. I read somewhere that the GM Arlington, TX plant was kept open and the Ypsilanti, MI plant was closed because the Texas UAW members were much more flexible on work rules and job classification. Less “that’s not my job” push back and more willingness to work.

    One barrier to UAW organizing success is every Japanese transplant facility seems to be built somewhere way out in the country where its inconvenient to bus in the urban rent-a-mob crowd. The divide appears to be as much urban vs. rural as North vs. South.

  • avatar
    buckchaser77

    Let me clarify for you people… I work in one of those “forin car” plants in Alabama, and have for 9+ years now. Our wages- when compared to cost of living- are step for step or even better when compared to that of any of the Big 3. My family has a long history of auto manufacturing, with my grandfather, and three uncles all working for GM so I have a bit of background on that. Now, I’m not the smartest man in the world (or else I wouldn’t be working on an assembly line for a living) but I know that my $25/hour job, coupled with my retirement, added to my nearly-free complete health insurance, PLUS my company-match 401K nets me around $110K/year. I don’t give a damn who you are, that’s not chump change. The folks in my plant are used to making $12/14/hr on the high end, so we are completely happy with what we have. The management treats us well, has an open-door policy, and gives us a load of vacation time each year. Now you tell me what the fu**ing UAW can do for me that I haven’t gotten on my own- for free- just by showing up to work for the last 9 years and building some of the best vehicles on the road. I promise you, the UAW will not get into this plant. And if the Germans and the Koreans that are close by us are smart, they won’t let them in either. Oh, and by the way, 96% of our parts are manufactured right here in the good ‘ol USofA….more than some models of Ford and GM….and built by me and thousands like me so all those folks out there that like to scream “Buy American” can kiss my backwards, inbred, country redneck a$$!

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    The biggest losers here are the workers. The UAW (the organization, not the workers per se) is a disgusting leach that exists only to extort political influence via union dues extorted from its members. But Detroit, being the spineless, arrogant joke that it’s always been, has allowed the union to continue practically unchecked for decades. Bankruptcy should have been the way out, but once again it was the workers who had to take another beating while the UAW grabs even more power.

    The transplants probably aren’t dumb enough to make the same mistake, but who knows. Even if they do unionize, the manufacturer will just pass on the cost to someone else. Again, it’ll be the employees that ultimately pay the price for false promises.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    While the Japanese manufacturers will swear up and down it’s not one of their criteria, they tend to locate their factories in counties that have a high Caucasian population.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Somehow, I don’t think that’s true for Toyota at least, Bexar County (San Antonio) is most likely a high percentage Hispanic. Unless you consider Hispanic as Caucasian.

    • 0 avatar
      buckchaser77

      Hate to tell you, but our plant is 60/40 black to white… I’m white and I don’t have a problem with it. We ALL work hard there.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’m not sure about that, but I do recall Toyota noting that their Ontario plants bootstrapped far faster and exhibit better quality than any of their American operations did.

      So maybe not so much white as Canadian. :)

      • 0 avatar
        buckchaser77

        All depends on what model is built there…some models in a manufacturers lineup are far easier to build than others.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        In this case, the RAV, some Corollas and Matrixes, and the Lexus RX versus the Camry, Tundra, Tacoma, Sienna, Venza, Avalon and such. Not huge differences in complexity, and Canada does build the only Lexus.

        That said, it shouldn’t be more or less difficult to build these cars (if it is, you have a production problem) and this is Toyota’s own internal training report. Interesting read.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I’m on the side of Union Labor. Even our CR-V was union made, in Swindon, UK.

  • avatar
    namelocbob

    These days having the UAW in your workplace doesn’t result in equal pay for equal work, It doesn’t prevent favoritism or nepotism, It doesn’t protect against abuse from management but is actually the one committing the offenses on its own members. It also does not add more money for anyone other than the UAW Leaders themselves. Unfortunately, the UAW of yesteryear is long gone, Solidarity House has shown its members that the UAW only exists for the welfare of the occupants downtown that make six figure incomes! http://detnews.com/article/20110609/OPINION01/106090336/1008/opinion01/Forced-unionism-bad-for-labor–Michigan

  • avatar
    eldard

    Not a job killer? If an employer pays 100 employees 20 bucks an hour and they unionize and demand 40, what do you think will happen? Non-business minded folks/simpletons/socialists/greenies need not comment.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      If an employer pays 100 employees 20 bucks an hour and they unionize and demand 40, what do you think will happen

      For one thing, they’ll most likely get something far less than $40 per hour. (It would be rare if they could double the wage.) Your example is a bit extreme, i.e. a straw man.

      For another, a union is probably most interested in some sort of job security and benefits package, as opposed to a considerably higher wage than the norm. Of course, the cost of those benefits has been a problem for everyone as of late — health care costs have been outpacing inflation severalfold for all of us, which makes those benefits expensive to those companies who promised to provide them.

      But that money is ultimately going to insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and pharma companies, not to the workers. You can’t blame the blue collar guy who pounds rivets for making heart attacks expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        In all fairness, heart attacks used to be a lot cheaper, because most people died from them. The main expense was the funeral, and they don’t cost THAT much.

        Now we can not only successfully treat the heart attack, we can often prevent it with drugs, too. All of which cost money. And the person who survives the heart attack may live to experience another (expensive) disease or condition.

        It’s the same with cancer. A cancer diagnosis was once a death sentence. Now, it can be treated in many cases…but at a staggering cost.

    • 0 avatar
      eldard

      That still won’t prevent companies from taking action. In an ideal world, healthcare is a right. In reality, it is a privilege. Sad but true.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In an ideal world, healthcare is a right. In reality, it is a privilege.

    But the union probably negotiated the contract so that the cost increases get absorbed by the employer. I frankly think that it’s petty that people point fingers at the union for that.

    I have my own business. My health insurance premiums have tripled — yes, increased by 300% — over the last five years. What am I supposed to do about this, fire myself?

    In all fairness, heart attacks used to be a lot cheaper, because most people died from them. The main expense was the funeral, and they don’t cost THAT much.

    That’s part of the reason. Healthcare is a lot more effective than it used to be.

    However, much of the reason is that our privatized system has produced the highest paid doctors in the world, and unlike much of the rest of the world, we don’t use governmental power to control costs. Because we’re willing to spend more, we do.

    The irony is that on a website like this, people will complain endlessly about the compensation received by auto workers, even though their pay is a fairly low percentage of revenue. This is quite the reverse of healthcare, where most of the costs of the system come from what is paid to labor.

    We’ve conditioned ourselves to have more respect for those who work in offices than we do for guys who get their hands dirty. That doesn’t speak well of us.

  • avatar
    geeber

    There is nothing wrong with the UAW going after everything it could in each session of contract negotiations – including health insurance with minimal or no copayments. But when those benefits begin to imperil the competitiveness of the parent company, the union needs to face reality and accept that the company can no longer afford paying for the benefit at this level. Part of union leadership’s job is to explain these cold, hard financial facts of life to membership.

    I don’t care how much UAW members make. If the company can afford it, I don’t care if they make $400,000 a year with four-day work weeks. But, it would seem to me that union leadership needs to continually educate members on the fact that they have a job because the CUSTOMER is willing to part with hard-earned cash to buy a vehicle that they have made.

    Lineworkers don’t have a job because of the union; they have it because customers want the product.

    Reading Solidarity, I used to get the impression that the UAW felt that we had some sort of obligation to buy a Chevy instead of a Honda, just to ensure that no union member ever lost his or her job.

    The entitlement mentality was alive and well…and, interestingly, it matched what was coming out of the executive suite. Union and management aren’t all that different, in the end.

    Just as I don’t avoid UAW-made vehicles, I don’t go out of my way to buy one with the union label, either. It just doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. What matters is the final product.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      when those benefits begin to imperil the competitiveness of the parent company, the union needs to face reality and accept that the company can no longer afford paying for the benefit at this level.

      The health care costs are an issue, but competitiveness hasn’t been harmed by them. Bad products and service inflicted the damage by lowering their transaction prices, reducing their sales volumes and harming their brands. With good products, they could have hurdled those costs with higher revenues (although their margins may have been compromised).

      But, it would seem to me that union leadership needs to continually educate members on the fact that they have a job because the CUSTOMER is willing to part with hard-earned cash to buy a vehicle that they have made.

      That’s really the problem that both labor and management have in common — a lack of interest in the customer. The union thought that it was doing its job by negotiating an agreement, while forgetting that the agreement doesn’t mean squat if there aren’t satisfied consumers to keep the money rolling in the door. Like management, they stubbornly refused to accept collective responsibility for the company’s need to please its customers.

      Then again, that’s ultimately a management decision. Detroit management borrowed from the Henry Ford model of production and management, which meant taking a top-heavy approach and using a command-and-control structure. They did not want to share power with their workers or see everyone as being in it together, so they got the unions that they deserved. With less bureaucracy more of a team attitude coming from the top, they may have gotten a better union and earned it.


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