UAW Desk Workers Forced To Actually Work

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
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uaw desk workers forced to actually work

You know if The Freep acknowledges that union local desk jobs were “an icon of labor patronage, in which jobs were handed to friends of elected UAW officials,” it’s probably true. Now, over 400 UAW workers are being moved from these low-stress jobs to the factory floor, where their union bretheren will welcome hem back to the real world of auto assembly. “These people had cushy jobs,” says one worker at Chrysler’s Warren Truck Plant. “Some of them could use a taste of life on the floor to remind them we still make trucks around here.” Credit for cutting these “cushy jobs” goes to the PTFOA, which has been putting pressure on the UAW to reduce its costs and complexity. “The UAW had little choice but to agree,” explains a GM spokesperson. The savings from cutting these positions aren’t expected to be large, but the PTFOA and GM seem to agree that the symbolism is important. Certainly the UAW members who were already working the line agree. The only downside? Without the ability to hand out do-nothing desk jobs, being elected President of the local may become more difficult.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Rudiger Rudiger on Jul 16, 2009
    indi500fan: "The other dirty little secret was the patronage. These were generally “appointed” positions by the winner of the local union election. IOW the shop chairman got to appoint his brother-in-law, nephews, and drinking buddies to some very well paying and low effort positions. They generally became his “eyes and ears” on the shop floor, working hard for his re-election, and at some locations a “goon squad” for the union leadership to suppress dissidents."While it might be more prevalent and obvious, I rather doubt that unions have a monopoly on cronyism.
  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jul 16, 2009
    This friend was working on a dormant robot during the 3rd shift, surrounded by orange cones in an idle section of the plant. A UAW member rode by on a golf cart. This guy’s sole job was to ride around and make sure people are being safe. This kind of thing happens at every large company that has caught the, to quote a former manager of mine "It's not product, it's the process" disease. Union or not, when people start valuing the organization over the enterprise, this is what happens. That said, there are often good reasons for a lot of the administrativia. If you've ever, say, worked IT in a bank or other major financial institution you'll appreciate why the change management process is so fantastically anal once you come to understand what the repercussions are (eg, when you apply a patch and break a system that costs millions of dollars per minute). Similarly, in an environment where the machinery is so powerful and prevalent that a misstep could kill you quite easily and with nothing more than a little ignorance on your part, the procedures are going to be overbearing and overzealous because the risk is so great. An outside contractor or new hire brought in to work on equipment or facilities in an auto plant full of machines that can bend metal six ways from Sunday in seconds is in the middle of what amounts to a well-documented minefield. That golf cart guy might be the reaction to some poor kid getting his torso crushed some years ago. The problem is that the line between "understandable paranoia" and "cronyism" is not easy for outsiders to see. Heck, it's not easy for insiders to see.
  • TonyJZX TonyJZX on Jul 16, 2009

    i have to agree that this the most ridiculous monument i've ever seen in any part of the world it even beats the french who threaten terrorist acts in their auto industry what possesses people to make a monument to a STRIKE where the workers are sitting on their asses on a couch in some kind of lazy passive resistance

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