By on August 4, 2008

Smyrna: still union-free.Transplant firms pride themselves on running NA operations differently than the D2.8, but the body-on-frame tailspin has no interest in pride or strategy. Automotive News [sub] reports that Nissan, which has never laid off a North American worker, will buy out about 1200 employees from its Tennessee plants. Workers at Smyrna Assembly and the Decherd powertrain plant will be offered up to $125k to leave over the next three years, saving Nissan 18 percent of its TN payroll and shutting the night truck production shift. By Detroit standards, this measure is almost not worth reporting on. But for Nissan and its employees, the stakes are considerably higher. At least that's what the UAW wants us to think; they're playing the told-ya-so card to Nissan's worried Tennessee employees with more than a little schadenfreude. "As a union member, contractually, I know what my rights are," says Mike O'Rourke, whose UAW Local 1853 has twice failed to unionize Smyrna. "Unfortunately, at Nissan, they don't know what the bottom is. And they're afraid… In their employee meeting, one of the employees said, 'If we don't go, are you going to reduce our wages?' And management wouldn't answer," says the UAW honcho. "I think you and I both know the answer to that question." Except that, absent any actual examples of transplants screwing workers, the evidence points rather away from O'Rourke's scaremongering suggestion. For example, rather than abandon or otherwise its employees at Tundra/Sequoia plants, Toyota is keeping employees busy (and paid) by training them and improving operations. While UAW shops are cut and shut left and right. Funny how that works.

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12 Comments on “Nissan Offers Buyouts, Fends Off UAW...”


  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Yeah its kind of odd that if Nissan workers are vulnerable to being crushed by the management that they are getting bought out, instead of getting laid off.

    Hmmm.

    Also, you know, must be nice working for companies that aren’t going bankrupt. That’s some nice job security too.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    All the transplant workers need to do is look what the UAW has done for their brothers and sisters at GM, Ford and Chrysler.

  • avatar
    netrun

    Unions are allowed to make whatever promises they want to non-unionized plants. They are protected by the law in this regard. Meanwhile, management is forbidden from trying to sell workers on a real alternative because the law, again, protects the unions from this “selling” tactic.

    Basically, unions can promise all sorts of unrealistic crap and management can only hope that the workers realize they are being fed garbage. It’s a lousy system that doesn’t get the workers what they need nor does it help a business work better when times are tough.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Well the UAW is looking down a barrel.

    Their numbers have dropped by what? 75% since their peak and they are on a very leaky ship. Look for them to double up on trying to unionize the healthy can manufacturers.

  • avatar

    While I don’t care for unions at all (especially the UAW) you know that Nissan wouldn’t be offering floor employees their own “kinda golden but mostly bronze” parachutes when leaving if the UAW didn’t force this behavior for so long. I have seen other non-unionized industries doing this, and I can’t it being all that attractive to them either. So, no union dues but a very union-like cash buyout, all while working at a company that can make money all by itself. Fancy that.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    It’ll be interesting to see how the transplants manage this. I don’t think they’ll have UAW problems – they vet their employees too well.

    Then again, union-friendly Dems may get their way in the next election. A Soprano’s style card-check organizing law could get the UAW into some transplants. Most workers’ dislike of unions is overshadowed by their fondness for functional kneecaps.

  • avatar
    66Nova

    For those of you outside of the Detroit area, here’s a link to an article in yesterday’s Free Press, in which the author states that the main reason that VW didn’t build its new plant in Michigan was the labor climate.
    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080803/COL06/808030573/1014/BUSINESS01

    And for those of us Michiganders, note the statement that VW wouldn’t have even LOOKED at Michigan except for the persistence of the governor. We blame Jenny for a lot, and believe me she deserves about 95% of it, but in this case she made a hell of an effort. There isn’t much a governor can do about the UAW.

    The UAW leadership is like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, riding the rocket gleefully down to their doom. Unfortunately they will take US-based manufacturing down with it.

  • avatar
    pman

    Do UAW members know what their rights are when their employer goes Chapter 11? That’s the trump card for the Big 2.8! Unions do no good when they slowly and continuously drive the company to go the nuclear option.

  • avatar
    RobertSD

    Quote: For example, rather than abandon or otherwise its employees at Tundra/Sequoia plants, Toyota is keeping employees busy (and paid) by training them and improving operations. While UAW shops are cut and shut left and right. Funny how that works.

    The situation is not exactly analagous. UAW shops being cut are also the result of the Detroit makers having WAY too much capacity. For example, just two years ago when Ford started seriously shutting plants, they had capacity to build 3.4 million in the U.S. and the labor to support that and more. With some production in Canada in Mexico and total FLM sales of 2.46 million last year, Ford had to ditch a lot of their labor force. Ditto GM and Chrysler.

    Toyota’s only real glut of capacity is at the San Antonio plant and the Indiana plant (where it just so happens trucks are made). Everywhere else is relatively balanced or running on all cylinders. So, in the short run, it makes sense to hold the workers and see if demand recovers enough to justify their existence. If, however, Toyota’s sales drop more significantly than expected for a protracted period, you can bet everyone of those workers will be looking for new jobs.

    Most Detroit factories are at this point as well, the biggest exception being GM’s network which can still shed a factory or two (hence the announcements of their closing). Any additional buyouts that they are looking for are to hit the two-tier wage levels in the short term. Ford’s current buyout offers aren’t targeted to pull capacity in the long-run, but to allow hiring of lower tier wage earnings in the near future. However, you can bet that if sales don’t increase, they won’t be hiring anyone.

    Importantly – and this is a change from the past – UAW-driven companies like Ford are actually using their unproductive truck/SUV workers to add third shifts at car plants. In Ford’s case, Wayne and Kansas City where the Focus and Escape are made. GM is trying to make similar moves with its factories. (Chrysler? – who knows) The workers go through training and start helping with production where demand is outstripping supply.

    Again, credit where credit is due. And truth where it can be found, please.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Those greedy non-union people. If I were to get laid off, Im sure I wouldn’t be seeing $125K.

  • avatar
    capeplates

    Unions were the death of the motoring industry in the UK. During a financial downturn some harsh decisions must be made and to bury your head in the sand as most union officials do is a recipe for disaster

  • avatar

    Strange the cars made in Japan and Germany are made by unionized workers. Maybe it was the bad decisions made by management in England as well as the US that led to their decline.

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