By on April 12, 2013

Nissan workers will get a pay raise without the help of the Union. Or maybe they get a pay raise to help keep the union out. 

Nissan has told its employees it will increase their wages starting in October at its Canton, Miss., and Smyrna, Tenn., assembly plants, as well as its Decherd, Tenn., engine plant. Pay will increase by 55 cents an hour for production employees and 65 cents an hour for maintenance technicians, the Washington Post says.

According to the Post, “the pay raises come as the United Auto Workers try to unionize workers at the Canton and Smyrna plants.“

On top, all workers, including contract workers, will receive what Nissan calls “recognition payments” in June. Those bonus payments were stopped for a time during the recession.

Nissan says production workers in Canton now make an average of $24.47 an hour, while maintenance workers make $28.49, on average. In Smyrna, the company says production workers make $26.47 on average, while maintenance workers make $30.49 on average.

 

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76 Comments on “Nissan Workers Get Pay Hike Without A Union...”


  • avatar

    Interesting. Does anyone have any idea how those wages compare to other factories in the South (MB, BMW, Kia) or GM/Ford plants in Michigan?

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Yeah,they got a pay hike because of the union!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I can’t see how one could reason this now that new UAW workers earn significantly less than these figures.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        The threat of unionization is the only thing that keeps everyone from being paid Walmart wages.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I disagree, if the UAW went away tomorrow I don’t see Nissan or the transplants dropping wages and telling their workers to take a hike if they don’t like it. Even if this was the case, unless all of the Federal labor laws are thrown out a new auto union would emerge and the cycle would eventually repeat.

          If the transplants want to pay 30/cents an hour, there are plenty of third world nations that would be willing to whore their citizens are work-slaves.

          • 0 avatar
            ixim

            How can the UAW organizing attempts [paid for by all UAW members, BTW] NOT be a factor in Nissan’s decision? The irony is that, should the UAW succeed in organizing Nissan’s plants, those workers may very well see a drop in take home pay due to union dues. Apparently, American wages at these levels are no deterrent to auto manufacturing here, as BMW, et. al.’s thriving plants attest.

          • 0 avatar
            Silvy_nonsense

            “I disagree, if the UAW went away tomorrow I don’t see Nissan or the transplants dropping wages and telling their workers to take a hike if they don’t like it.”

            Caterpillar graciously offered their Ontario locomotive employees a 50% pay cut. When the workers declined, Cat closed the plant and moved production to a newly built site in the U.S. Anything could happen.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @ixim & Silvy

            In this instance I agree UAW harassment was the factor in Nissan’s seemingly random wage increase. I would argue generally speaking their continued existence is not what keeps the transplants at their current wage levels. However as Silvy points out it seems Caterpillar did exactly this by offering their employees an impossible ultimatum and then picked up and moved, so perhaps in the absence of union leverage this is exactly what happens. Def an interesting topic.

        • 0 avatar
          Reino

          “The existence of unionization is the only thing that keeps people from buying cars at Walmart prices.”

          Fixed.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            It is better this way because the works get to keep more of their money vs paying union dues.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            Its more like “companies deserve the unions they get”. Walmart is really asking for a union.

          • 0 avatar
            car_guy2010

            @Mandalorian-

            I believe that is a myth. Union dues can be anywhere from a half-percent all the way up to 5-10% of your salary.

            But I just say this as a former member of a small electrician’s union (not an electrician but they also include custodial/housekeeping)>

            The “union” is not an external organization. It is a group of workers who have agreed to unionize. If those same workers agree on a low % of union dues, then they will not see such a drastic drop in take-home pay.

            Sure, those workers in Tenn and Miss may get what seems like a pitiful pay raise but unless the H.R depts at these automakers are adept at addressing the concerns of employees, the workers essentially have NO leverage if management decides to harass them for whatever reason they desire.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          Repeating that mantra endlessly will not make it true.

          The Japanese companies expect workers to take an active role in improving both the production process and the product itself. The companies aren’t going to get workers who can make intelligent suggestions by only paying the minimum wage.

          The domestic auto makers used the system set up by Henry Ford I, where the workers were paid for their physical labor and nothing else. The UAW made hay in that system, but hasn’t adapted its message, let alone its outlook, to the new realities of how the transplant operations actually work.

          As long as the UAW keeps thinking it is battling Harry Bennett’s goons at the Ford factory overpass in 1937, or reliving the Flint sit-down strike of 1936-37, it will never organize the transplant operations. The Japanese aren’t stupid – they’ve studied our history and aren’t about to repeat the mistakes Ford and GM made in the 1930s.

          • 0 avatar
            car_guy2010

            @geeber-

            In a perfect world, there would be NO need for unions whatsoever.

            But,Americans live in a system that worships the free markets envisioned by Adam Smith. This will always be in conflict with a desire for workers to have leverage against unfair working conditions, etc.

            I notice that people look at the example of the UAW and then try to apply that to ALL unions. Not all unions are created equal and some have very little, if any political leverage (seeing how that is one of the biggest anti-union complaints).

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            The Japanese transplants are not mistreating or underpaying their employees. They expect employees to take an active part in improving the product and the productin process. That mindset not only influences the type of people they hire, but how they treat and pay them. It also makes it extremely difficult for the union to gain a foothold in the company.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Detroit is a monument to unionization. Murals should plaster every transplant factory.

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          By everyone, do you mean auto workers or all workers?

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    Pay raises are common in non-union industries. Also the salaried workers in unionized factories get raises. Union has nothing to do with that, it is to motivate and retain good workers.

    The only one not getting a raise in a nun-unionized company is the union boss. He has to settle for his $400,000 annual salary.

    the difference is that the raises can get appropriated so that better workers get a higher raise than the slower ones. Also promotions depend on work performance and not seniority.

    If it is just the wages, the company couldn’t care less if it is union or not. they know they have to pay market rate for good workers. It is about the darn work rules, and the inability to get rid of lazy pot smoking workers.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Bob King makes $176k per year.

      http://www.unionfacts.com/employees/united_auto_workers

    • 0 avatar
      marc

      What you are talking about are merit increases. I am not sure if the workers get annual reviews at Nissan or other factories, but I would be willing to be they do. The problem with merit increases is that they often barely keep up with inflation, if at all. So basically the company says, “I value you, so you can make (in real dollars) the same amount as you made last year,” or, “I don’t value you, so you get a pay cut. But this new guy coming in will make more than both of you, because we have to pay what the current market bears.”

      What Nissan is doing is saying that everyone deserves to actually get compsensated for the increased cost of living. This is much more equitable. Ideally a good employee will get a raise on top of this. I’m not sure if Nissan does both. I have been with companies that both recognize you through a review system, but also periodically give increases based on keeping up with inflation. My current company does not, so despite getting “good reviews”, in real dollars I make no more than when I started, and someone coming in new could theoretically make more than I. Yay for non-union, huh.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      Yes, the union honchos get a lot of pay ‘n’ perks, but if the guys on the line get good pay and benefits, that’s OK. I know, IF.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    They’d be taking home less money with union representation.

    Something tells me the union’s motivations are not so altruistic; i.e., the bosses just want to line their pockets with a piece of the Nissan pie. The little guy comes second.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    It would be interesting to contrast the average salary/wage in the city or region vs the $24.47/hr figure.

  • avatar
    RS

    And those workers don’t have to pay UAW dues. What can a union offer workers in 2013 other than a lighter paycheck?

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      Representation for issues regarding favoritism, among other things. Like if a five year employee working the AM shift gets bumped to PM because the supervisor is friends with the other, less senior employee.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Ooooooooooooooooo…a 2-1/2% wage increase that doesn’t even keep up with inflation rate. Lets see, the FICA tax holiday ended and everyone took a 2% pay cut because of it – so really they a 1/2% raise and the FICA holiday back.

    Thank you corporate overlords! Thank you! Hooray!!!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      FICA is interesting because it is the only Federal income tax (to my knowledge, and I not a tax professional) which is actually paid in full each year by all workers (as in no deductions or credits etc). So whether you love, hate, or could tolerate Romney (not trying to start a Romney/Obama thing here) he was right in pointing out 47% of the populace were dependent on the gov’t and effectively didn’t pay a Federal income tax but they did however pay FICA (assuming they worked in the first place). I wonder if the income tax were actually enforced as-is, if cost wise there would be a need for a separate FICA tax.

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      The interesting thing about this is that some of us with allegedly “white collar” salaried professionals make drastically less per hour than those line workers, once you factor in the 15-20 hours a week of mandatory unpaid overtime. Frankly, it just reinforces my belief that I’ve made some bad choices.

      • 0 avatar
        challenger2012

        So true. I worked at GE J-port in Houston, TX from 1998 to 2000. I hired in and was informed that all engineers worked 1 hour of OT a day. It was called casual OT. 45 hours a week, 20 hours OT every month. 240 hours free OT each year, plus all the other OT I worked. It would have been nice to get paid for the hours I worked.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      The Army is in line to get .5 to .8 percent this year from our Government overlords so I could deal with 2-2.5 any day.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    According to wikipedia the median household income in Canton is 24K/yr, so the average wage of 49-59K/year would seem to be pretty good, especially if you’re in a dual-income situation. Smyrna appears to have a median household income of 44K/yr vs the 53-61K/yr average wage for the Nissan workers.

    Of course, someone who actually lives there could tell us if this is a decent wage or not.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The point is moot. A 2-1/2% wage increase does not even keep up with inflation rate. I was in the grocery store the other day and saw four ears of fresh corn pre-packed for the SALE price of $5.99 – 18 ounces of fresh blueberries, on sale $9.99 and hearts of romaine for just $2.99 a head – and this wasn’t Whole Foods – think Kroger (and no not organic either). Red potatoes – $3.99 a POUND. No I don’t live in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, or some remote location where bringing this stuff in is expensive.

      I walked out thinking to myself, “how on earth does a poor person eat healthy”

      American wages have been flat for twenty years for the bottom 92% (when you adjust for inflation) and have declined, when adjusted for inflation about 6% in the last decade. Our economy cannot sustain the continue nut squeezing the average citizen is going through.

      Oh I get it, not the company’s problem, be grateful you have a job, there is no free ride. But if our CONSUMER drive economy isn’t supporting those who, oh I don’t know, consume, then the wheels are going to fall off at some point – and then it will all be a big crap sandwich that we’re all going to have to take a bite out of.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Your food price thoughts mirror my own, rich or poor how does anyone eat well at a reasonable cost? Other than the ubiquitous EBT card (if your qualify), much like other commodities you have no choice but to pay it. They could run bread to $10/loaf what can you do? Eat less? Give the kids one less meal?

        The real solution truly involves significant social upheaval.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Food stamps is really corporate welfare. The recipients in the middle are just that, the person in the middle.

          41% of food stamp recipients work and file income tax returns. 25% are children 17 and under. 21% are 100% disabled and only have SSI as income. The concept of the “dead beat” sit on your butt recipient is about 6% (the data is available from the USDA, look it up).

          So how is this corporate welfare.

          a) person a works 40 hours a week, gives 110%, shows up dutifully and performs well (mostly out of fear of losing their crappy job) and gets paid minimum wage. Despite working an honest days work – they qualify for Food Stamps because they don’t make enough money.

          b) Company b however is making a profit from the work give by employee a. Employee a has their pay “supplemented” on the backs of the average American taxpayer because they only pay at minimum wage. Shareholders are happy with profits, employees aren’t starving in the streets thanks to the generosity of the US taxpayer.

          c) Employee a has their EBT card loaded – time to go shopping to eat. So they go – to where they work – and spend those EBT dollars there providing a second profit boost to their employer, who not only gets a free ride on compensation, but gets the money transferred to them on the backs of taxpayers.

          We’re getting screwed – and it isn’t the “lazy” recipient reaping the benefits. Follow the money.

          We’re so doomed.

          Ugh – I thought this site was about cars.

          Lets see, cars and Nissan, cars and Nissan.

          How about that huge airbag recall!!!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Excellent stuff as usual
            APaGttH. Incidentally there is an excellent blog out of Australian called Follow the Money who reports on alot of the shadowy stuff going on if you would be so inclined.

            So you think they’ll eventually drop Maxima since Altima is already 80% of the car?

            I also saw the new Z the other day, looks the previous gen had a drunken one night stand with a Juke and the current gen was the result. Yuck.

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            This describes all the low income people i know who use these services. Getting screwed over by their employer everyday while they work harder then i would for the crap they deal with.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Well, people eat less – or what they do is buy a 79 cent box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Top Ramen and accelerate their deaths with a high fat, high simple carb, nutritionally void diet.

          I refuse to be conditioned to think that what I use to pick by the gallon for free out of the woods behind my house as a child, is a good deal at $9.99 for an 18 ounce package of flavorless industrially raised crap.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “or what they do is buy a 79 cent box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Top Ramen and accelerate their deaths with a high fat”

            Looks like the puzzle is starting to come together.

          • 0 avatar
            oldyak

            where can I buy a box of Kraft mac an cheese for $.79???
            Its $1.00 a box at Kroger!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Stumpaster

        Off topic but if poor had the discipline to cook, they would eat well. Beans, chick peas, veggies, olive oil, eggs, milk, that is not expensive. If you cook yourself. But, as you may have seen, food stamps are spent on canned beans, sweets, cheese, mayo, spam, and other junk. Back to cars…

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        Remember, your government doesn’t use food and energy prices when calculating inflation so perhaps you should contact the G.A.O. and see about remedying this. Companies would be less likely to get away with this practice if we had a true picture of inflation. As it is though, the official position of our Government is that there is no inflation.

    • 0 avatar
      beefmalone

      I don’t live in Canton, but I live nearby. Canton is one of those small towns that used to be well kept but gradually went to pot (literally and figuratively). $50k/year is a damn good wage for the area especially considering the much lower cost of living compared to other parts of the country. You can buy a very nice 3/2 house in a good neighborhood for $100k or so.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    We better keep it to cars or I’m gonna bring Monsanto into the mix! It’s worse than you think.

  • avatar
    skor

    Margaret Thatcher died this week. When Thatcher became PM, the UK had a large domestic auto industry, and unionized auto workers. One of the first things Thatcher did was destroy the UK auto unions. Today the UK no longer has a strong auto worker union……it also doesn’t have a domestic auto industry.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      I googled this and found it in about 10 seconds:

      Manufacturing
      The UK is home to:
      Seven volume car manufacturers.
      Seven commercial vehicle manufacturers.
      10 bus and coach manufacturers.
      Eight major premium and sports car producers, and over 100 specialist brands.
      Eight Formula One teams.
      Strong premium brands – second only to Germany in global market share.
      Over one million vehicles and two million engines are produced in the UK each year.
      Automotive manufacturing levels are set grow to pre-recession levels by 2014.
      More than 75% of vehicles manufactured in the UK are exported.

      Supply chain
      At present, about 80% of all component types required for vehicle assembly operations can be procured from UK suppliers.
      The UK automotive supply chain typically generates £4.5 – £5bn of added value annually.
      Around 2,350 UK companies regard themselves as ‘automotive’ suppliers, employing around 82,000 people (42% tier one, 19% tier two, 34% tier one and two).
      It is estimated that every job in UK vehicle assembly supports 7.5 elsewhere in the economy.
      Of all UK suppliers, over 70% manufacture their products in the UK.

      As stated by:
      The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) exists to support and promote the interests of the UK automotive industry at home and abroad. Working closely with member companies, SMMT acts as the voice of the motor industry, promoting its position to government, stakeholders and the media.
      https://www.smmt.co.uk/industry-topics/uk-automotive-sector/

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        And how many of those are actually British owned companies? Almost all of that is now foreign owned. The foreign owners still send the work to the UK because the UK is now a low wage nation, like Romania.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The UK has a about 2.3 times the per capita GDP of Romania and a higher level of income equality than the US. UK labor unions and UK management were both worthless.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      British Leyland was on the ropes – after receiving direct injections of government cash – BEFORE Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in 1979.

      British Leyland was a basket case by the mid-1970s, and the militant unions did play a role in bringing it to its knees (although they were not the main reason the company was headed for bankruptcy). The Rootes Group (the British subsidiary of Chrysler Corporation) needed a government bailout in the mid-1970s to continue operations. The parent company of Rolls-Royce had gone bankrupt in 1971

      The British auto industry, aside from Ford and Vauxhall, was the “English Patient” long before Margaret Thatcher became prime minister. The British Leyland of the 1970s makes the GM and Chrysler of 2007 look like Toyota. She eventually decided that the government wasn’t going to pour any more money into “saving” hopelessly mismanaged companies.

      Given the amount of money the government had already poured into British Leyland and other companies, and the condition of those companies by 1979, one can hardly blame her. Pouring more taxpayer money into those companies was the equivalent of bailing out the Titanic with a bucket.

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      Based on what transpired throughout the 70s, blaming Thatcher for the demise of the British auto industry is beyond absurd.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Management and the assembly workers are to blame…Half ass designs put together in a half assed manner. Thatcher just quit having the UK taxpayers subsidize all the half assary.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Average car has about 30 hours of assembly labor in it, so with benefits added to the $25 per hour wage described, this is a whopping $1,000 or so of assembly labor per car.

    Its just amazing how the plutocrats can still whip up rage over the UAW and their “crushing wage demands” from about 1978 to 2013 without missing a beat. Judging from the posts here, a lot of people are conditioned to thoughtlessly regurgitate the propaganda.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      You do realize that even a $100 difference in the cost of building a vehicle – particularly compared to its direct competitors – can have an important impact on a company’s profitability?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      But how many people on the line interact with that car per hour spent on it? A better gauge would be how many cars clear point A in an hour, and how many people are on the line of point A in that time.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Oh, what a surprise. More anti-union rhetoric from Bertel on an auto enthusiast site.

    The threat of unionization ended up improving the standard of living for the employees at Nissan. This is an example of how unions benefit the workforce. It’s really that simple.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      I’m inclined to agree with the view that the existence of unions in certain industries put upward pressure on wages in those industries; actually, it’s common sense. Publicly traded companies are all about profit for shareholders, and will fight to keep wages low and profits high – but they have to acknowledge the “going labor rate” in a particular industry, and keep close to it.
      Of course, they can do this because they’ve done their best to increase the amount of automation at their plants, so that wage increases minimize the impact on vehicle prices. They also rely increasingly on the “lowest-bid” suppliers, who are increasingly smaller “non-union” operations.

      Still, the vast majority of jobs these days are of a low enough wage that both parents have to work to maintain a reasonable standard of living, while corporate profits across the board are higher than ever – and they can pick-and-choose from legions of desperate workers willing to work hard as hell for historically low wages.

      And for all of this, we get to invest our money (via 401(k) plans) into this Ponzi Scheme that only benefits the wealthy investors (who wallow in our investment cash) and the corporations (who spend billions advertising why we couldn’t possibly prosper as a country without them), while the Government is portrayed as an evil enemy of this perfect capitalism.

      I’d say that capitalism may very well be the “best” system, but only when it’s balanced by a strong government that truly represents the people, essentially becoming the “conscience” of capitalism.

      Edit: Oh, and I’m certainly not a student of Marx (never really interested) of the other anti-capitalists, my view has been formed entirely by what I’ve observed in the last 20 or so years.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      That argument only holds water if Nissan had never granted any sort of pay raise prior to this latest organizing attempt.

      The Nissan plant has been operating since the mid-1980s. The UAW has been trying to (unsuccessfully) organize it ever since. Perhaps the workers do not see the need for union representation, because Nissan actually treats them fairly and they like the working conditions?

      While pay is an important part of a job, it’s not the ONLY part. I could make more money by leaving my current job, but there are other factors that discourage me from leaving at this time.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Standard of living? Hat’s some big talk right there. Like they gonna buy a new house and move to a different neighborhood. No, they are just. Not going to be as behind on some of the bills.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        They make more per hour than I do, and I live in So Cal. If they arent complete fiscal idiots they should be able to live pretty comfortably on $25/hr

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Lemme whip out my good ol’googoe kalkulatur…55 cents times 2000 hrs…yup, momma, we gunna bring 1100 more per year before taxes. I am elated.

  • avatar
    Guildenstern

    Geez, you only get $4/hr more for actually knowing how to fix things Vs. just knowing how to put tab A into slot B? That sucks.

  • avatar
    skor

    How many of you work/ed in an auto assembly plant? I had relatives who worked at Ford Mahwah and Ford Edison Assembly….all gone to their maker now….the relatives and the factories.. I’m guessing that most of you wouldn’t have lasted a week on the line.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      All of our forebears worked jobs that would trash our wimpy 21st century asses. Mine were coal miners and farmers until they became skilled tradesmen and small business owners.

      And all our forebears sought out those nasty jobs to escape from worse situations, especially my central European progenitors.

      Und zo, Mein Herr hass a point?

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        American companies give up north of $2000 in the cost of a car because our competitors have national healthcare back in their homelands but the anti-union crowds bemoans even $100 increase in the price of a car because of wages. Id love to see many of these anti-union armchair CEO’s work a swing shift assembly line for even a couple months.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          A red herring argument. The Germans, Japanese and South Koreans are setting up factories HERE, in the United States, and are offering their employees health care coverage. And they are still making money while charging competitive prices for their vehicles.

          The North American operations of Honda, for example, are more successful than its Japanese operations.

          The United States DOES offer health care coverage for retirees. It’s called Medicare. If nationalized health care is so great, why didn’t the UAW simply allow all retirees to be covered by Medicare? That would have saved the companies a ton of money. The UAW would never hear of it.

          The companies could have improved their competitive position if they had crafted their retiree benefits package to reflect longer life spans and the increased cost of health care. But the UAW refused to hear of it, until it was too late.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Nobody disputes that, being part of a machine is a miserable experience.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @skor…A week? I’ve witneseed grown men not make through an hour. I was a trainer/groupleader during the eighties. GM was hiring older workers at the time. The theory was the older more stable guys,woudn’t abuse the benifit plans. That, and absentism would magicaly go away.

      35 year olds were chucking thier low paying white collar jobs, to make the big union bucks. Some had never set foot in a factory in thier life.
      In fairness,some of them made it. Put thier 30 years in and are now retiring. Others…. were figurtivly crying for the Momma.
      This example sticks in my mind. If the new guy was between five foot seven,and five eleven,and not too wide,he went into the pit. Tall guys hit thier head,short guys couldn’t reach,and fat guys simply didn’t fit.
      So we get this new guy, he fits the criteria and down the pit he goes. The pit is five foot deep, four feet wide. It was dirty, greasy, you needed a ladder to get out. The transmission, engine and rear diff,were all full. Except for the odd one that leaked. The first, and worst job was gas tank install.Two man job. The rookies all went to the gas tanks job.
      The guy up top puts the tank on the track {flat top},right behind the t right rear wheel The first tank man grabs the straps,and threads the rear bolts and starts the nuts. The other tank man grabs the tank neck,and swings it around. his partner grabs the right hand strap ,with his right hand ,then the two of them position the tank. Now the number two man grabs a high tourqe air tool, loads the bolt into the socket,and secures the first strap to the car body. The air tool has a steel bar at a right angle. If you don’t hold onto that bar with your left hand,one of two thing will happen. You will break your wrist,and or, you will get cranked in the forehead. I’ve seen both,not pretty. The other guy takes a lower tourqe air tool and holding wrench,then secures the rear bolts. You rotate with your partner every hour. At 60 jobs per hour you,and you partner have 60 seconds to complete. 480 times a day.
      My job was to orient the new guy,and show him his new job. Now there is four of us in a very small place,and of course the line is moving at 60 JPH. I leave the rookie to be trained by the highest senoirity tank man. High man is the one going to the better job. Probably still in the pit,however anything is better than tanks.
      So 20 minutes later I get a call to go pit gas tank install. I can see the other guys,and the guys uptop all kinda chuckling.
      “Mikey” {it is my name} a guy yells out “the new guys wants to ask you something” Okay whats up? Then the new guy says “are we the only people installing gas tanks”? “Yeah” says I. One of the smart a$$es uptop starts to laugh.
      I know there is something up.
      So then the rookie asks me asks me if he needs to install a tank on every car that comes down the line. I nod, yeah you do. He tells me “if thats the case,then I want another job” “Okay let me get the boss” was my reply
      The foreman was about six two 250+ pounds. His white shirt was always spotless,shoes shined,nice crease in his pants. He took great pride in his personal apearance. He hated going into the pit.
      Well that day he went into the pit. Less then a minute later, out he come. The new guy was right behind him. The boss give the “you got the group, till I get back” look.
      We never saw the rookie again. The new guy got less than 1 hours pay.

      • 0 avatar
        Kavan

        Mikey, what kind of training program drops a rookie into the hardest, nastiest job in the team? Or are these new guys people who’ve already gone through a training program that would prepare them for working on a assembly line?

        I am an engineer (yes, doing white-collar work) and I usually start off a newcomer to my team (experienced or recent college grad, doesn’t matter) in a smaller, manageable task and then ramp them up. I’ve never done assembly line work, but couldn’t the same principle be used to bring the rookies up to speed?

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          You aren’t training each new hire to hate the company so he’ll always be a good union man.

          I was a Teamster in college, working for UPS. Everyone starts by unloading trailers. There is a way of doing it that involves getting all the packages onto the conveyer with their labels up without having heavy trailer floor sections fall on your head. Once you achieve competence, you can work fast enough that the line shuts down so the sorters can keep up with your output. This has the benefit of creating time for you to take a breather. It’s hard, physical work that fills your lungs with dust. Fortunately, you aren’t supposed to do it long by design. If all goes to plan, you spend one week mastering the task. You spend the next week training your replacement. Then you move on to sorting, which is far less physically demanding. Lots of people don’t last a week though, which halts the progress of whoever is responsible for training them.

          • 0 avatar
            Kavan

            >>You aren’t training each new hire to hate the company so he’ll always be a good union man.<<

            Thanks, that's an interesting perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          Its just the way it is.If you join the Army, you go to boot camp some guys don’t make it and get weeded out.
          Read CJ’s comment. Seniority rules in the UAW world.

          In the chassis plant final assembly you went to tanks, or wheels. I did both. I am ’5 10″ I weighed 145 lbs and barely passed the medical,in 1972. I toughed it out. In my Dads world it was go to school,or go to work. No grey area.
          My life long regret,was that I made the wrong choice.
          I made a great pay check, raised family,and put two kids through university.Today I draw a pension.
          I earned every cent of it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            What do you regret? Sounds like you were pretty successful Mikey, although perhaps it took alot of hard work.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      I’m not pro union, but I have spent a couple of years in the worlds crap holes driving around looking for bombs beside the road having them find me more often than not for 18 or so hours at a time so I think I could manage a week on an assembly line. I will grant you, it is not a fun job but lets not pretend modern assembly lines are in any way comparable to those your forefathers worked on.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It seems the title of this article is about a payrise.

    Supply and demand will increase wages more than any union involvement.

    Look at Australia, when you have nearly full employment competition for workers increase. Wages and salaries go up across the board.

    Then like the US a bubble bursts jobs disappear and pay drops.

    Simple economics. As a country the worker don’t deserve more pay until they are competitive and are an asset.

    Unions used to be very good about 150 years ago when child labour etc was stopped. But now they will destroy economies and countries because of their ideals.

    Most OECD governments have quite comprehensive work regulations now. Some are over the top and created by unions.


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