UAW's Gettelfinger on ToMoCo: "I Live in a Dream World"
I'm paraphrasing, of course, but it's hard to believe that anyone believes that the United Auto Workers (UAW) is on the cusp of organizing Toyota's Lexington, Kentucky factory. Least of all UAW boss Big Ron Gettelfinger. Or The Detroit Free Press. And yet the paper reports Gettelfinger's comments without any hint that the man is full of you-know-what. "'We don't have the people to cover all the calls we get,' Gettelfinger said of activity among UAW organizers based here [Lexington, KY]." Nah, C'mon. Really? "'It is amazing the number of workers who want to join the union,' he said in an interview… 'They may be having activity you don't know about.'" And… they may not. In fact, the only credible– the only interesting part of this story are the comments underneath. "All a worker at the Toyota plants would have to look at is how 'successful' the UAW represented plants are," opines commentator gonefromthemess. "They are already making similar wages and benefits, they build a much more reliable product and they are poised to become the largest selling auto company. And besides, who in those plants wants to pay extortion money to UAW "reps" to get them what they already have? Good luck Get. It ain't happening." Thank [s]Al Gore[/s] [s]DARPA[/s] God for the Internet.
Of course the Georgetown plant is really many plants; not just the assembly operation. But even that by itself is huge and far too big to walk away from. Of course Toyota would prefer the plant to remain union-free, but they will manage that if it happens. I did read a few days ago a comment purportedly from a Toyota mouthpiece that they would be looking to reduce wages. No surprise since the Big 3 UAW workers have taken hits, thus Toyota can lower their bar and still offer an advantage. With inflation taking off, lowering wages can happen with just smaller increases.
Anyway, Katie: Toyota only treats its workers "right" because it can. If the bottom line were ever threatened they'd close aforementioned and any other deficietary plants in a heartbeat. Don't give them any special kudos, they are what they are: A corporation looking to make a buck. OTH, if I were in KY, I'd surely be fighting unionozation exactly 'cause Toyota's doing so well right now.
From Brazil, “Anyway, Katie: Toyota only treats its workers “right” because it can. If the bottom line were ever threatened they’d close aforementioned and any other deficietary plants in a heartbeat. Don’t give them any special kudos, they are what they are: A corporation looking to make a buck.” How does anyone know? The only thing we have to go on is past actions, I don’t recall any pattern of Toyota systematically screwing over anyone simply because they could. Has Toyota ever unilaterally slashed wages or closed plants in the past?
Nummi is an interesting bargaining chip. Toyota has no need of a joint-venture relationship with GM today, and given the complete lack of a manufacturing infrastructure in the SF Bay Area any more combined with high taxes and a high cost of living there could be plenty of reasons to wind down Nummi. GM has NEVER done it's part of marketing 50% of the production and right now only has the Vibe in the plant. Toyota builds Corollas and Tacomas there. Both vehicles are also produced elsewhere while the Vibe is a Nummi only product. Toyota could send a loud message to the UAW by scalling back Nummi production if any threat of other plants being organized got serious. But, it isn't going to come to that, and if it did, I bet that Nummi workers would vote to kick the UAW out. Nummi doesn't conform to any of the rest of the UAW pattern bargaining and is rather an odd duck. Nummi's best upside right now is that the Corolla is hot and with the dollar weak it is cheaper to build them in almost any US factory than it would be in Japan or Canada.