By on February 7, 2011

Chrysler’s extended Super Bowl ad for its 200 sedan is making waves in the American auto business, for “bringing back the pride” in America’s automakers and the city that hosts them. But, as with most things Detroitean, there’s a cruel irony lurking just below the veneer of pride reborn. The Detroit News reports

Three workers from Chrysler Group LLC’s Jefferson North plant were arrested recently for alleged drug use during their lunch break after police were tipped off by the automaker.

The workers were arrested on Jan. 24 but have not been formally charged, said Det. Lt. Robert Honey, of the Michigan State Police’s County of Macomb Enforcement Team.

This is the second time in the last six months that workers at Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant have been caught indulging in overly celebratory lunch breaks. Despite all the feel-good Chrysler advertisements about Detroit Pride and quality craftsmanship, workers assembling the new much-lauded Grand Cherokee can’t seem to build the thing while sober. But there’s more to this than sheer irony: we don’t have details on the latest round of arrests, but a Chrysler-employed TTAC commenter has told us that the previous round of arrests came after second-tier workers turned in union brothers out of apparent resentment of the fact that their colleagues were making twice their second-tier wage while drinking and smoking their way through the work day. Which raises an interesting question: if Chrysler didn’t have a two-tier wage system, would Jefferson North’s 24 hour party people have been caught? Is it possible that the shop-floor tensions brought on by two-tier wages actually help curb UAW worker excesses?

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22 Comments on ““This Is The Motor City. This Is What We Do.”...”

  • avatar

    Drinking and smoking weed on break from work bad…but drinking and smoking weed on your off time I don’t mind.

  • avatar

    Keep in mind depending on production volume there are 2500-3000 employees in that plant. Large plants have always been a micro organism of society in general.

  • avatar

    Who cares if it’s in their time off work? As long as it doesn’t affect their performance, I don’t. This is ridiculous like that story of the teacher getting fired for having a picture of her drinking wine on holiday!

  • avatar

    It’s hard to really know what’s going on here, but it is certainly possible that these kinds of actions may signal the beginnings of a change in the past ‘culture’ of these workplaces. Whether the two-tier system is the primary vehicle of these changes, or if there could be other considerations and ‘attitude-shifts’ going on as well is difficult to say.

    Deep change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and effort to undo the effects of old habits and ‘accepted’ ways of doing things. Who knows, maybe there is a change brewing here…

  • avatar

    Love all the “Holier than thou” crowd that think this is a big deal. America is the worlds biggest consumer of illegal drugs so of course there are drunks and dopers at Jefferson Assembly.
    Just like plants run by GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Boeing, General Dynamics, etc…etc….
    Anyone that has worked where there are thousands of employees knows this to be true.

    If this FOX “News” afiliate had a close look at its parent they would find plenty of the same.

    • 0 avatar

      The difference being that, if you are caught doing this over the lunch break at a transplant operation, you quickly become acquainted with the concept of unemployment.

    • 0 avatar

      Just like the last bunch from Jefferson.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks to the local media – I believe it was a local affiliate of that awful Fox News – reporting exactly what they were doing over lunch. In the “good old days,” this would have been swept under the rug at Chrysler (and GM and Ford), and everyone would have kept their jobs. Not so much at the transplants.  

  • avatar

    Hey, this may blend in perfectly with their Italian brothers in the world wide workforce.  and so far as the big boy Faux News is concerned, they’re all on crack.  I guess the affiliates are a case by case, dope by dope basis.  I thought the Chrysler 200 ad was greatness.

    • 0 avatar

      I thought the 200 add was extremely powerful. It is gritty and hard, yet hopeful and inspiring. It doesn’t overplay the sentiment of past or lost glory, but is forward-looking in a way that reminds one of the promise of something better, but something that has to be made better through concerted effort and lessons learned. I liked it.

    • 0 avatar

      @geeber…..Yes sir…if the workers at the tranplants get “CAUGHT” they will most certainly get canned. I can assure you it goes on everyday at the tranplants. The transplant folks are just a little more decrete.

       I retired before the affects of the two tiered culture could be felt. Of the many things I learned as an 18 year GM rookie , the number one comandment was “Thou shalt not rat” In my first 30 years it was rare to see that one violated. In my last six, it wasn’t that uncommon.
      Another “rule” was “If you show up with a new car, it better be GM” even a new Ford or Chrysler was frowned on. I picked up my buddy the other day and I coudn’t believe all of the new  Hyundai and VWs I saw in the employee lot.

      If you tell people enough times that they are considered second class employees,WTF does the union expect.

  • avatar

    Used to really, truly love TTAC…but this article on it’s own seems terribly one-sided, biased one completely out of context.  Look, is it bad that employees at Chrysler were found (allegedly) to be consuming drugs while at work?  Absolutely.  Should they be dealt with?  I’m sure they are.  Does this mean that Chrysler, and Chrysler only is being staffed with a bunch of drug-taking losers?  Give me a break.  This could be written about any industry or organization in this (or any number of other) countries.  Sure, it doesn’t make it right, but to single out Chrylser at the expense of anybody else is foolish and dangerous.  And it does nothing to lend credibility to this site.  I do applaud the rank and file if they are really policing each other and lowering the excess and waste that has been seen across the board. 
    As for the ad…great stuff.  More of this is needed, and I sincerely (truly) hope that the product follows the passion and determination shown in the ad.  If Chrysler can do that, then there is true hope that they can turn things around beyond just the new Jeep GC.  A refreshed Sebring cum 200 isn’t quite it yet, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Look, Chrysler’s marketing has been beating the patriotic and “craftsmanship” drums for a while now, with lines like the title of this post and “the things we make make us.” As I see it, that’s what really makes these stories relevant.
      Are all ChryCo employees on drugs? Of course not. Does this happen in other industries? Sure. But nobody has more invested in building pride in the American worker than ChryCo… and its own employees have now, for the second time, embarrassed that message. Meanwhile, the possible role of two-tier tensions in this story makes it all the more attention-worthy. This isn’t about passing sweeping judgments… it’s about holding the rhetoric up to reality and trying to find where the truth lies.

    • 0 avatar

      I have to agree with Ed on this. Point being, anytime an individual, organization or corporation makes public a stand on some issue, whether it be moral or otherwise, that organization and/or individual is up to public scrutiny to examination if it practices what it preaches, or means what it is purposed to be or not. Of course, no one and no organization is perfect, but you put yourself on a pedestal when you make such a declaration, thereby indirectly judging others as inferior to you. Back when Chevy declared itself as “The Heartbeat of America”, was it true? Perhaps by sales numbers alone, but by the mid 80’s, many Japanese cars were so much better vehicles than most of what Chevy and GM were offering, not to mention Ford and Chrysler. That ad may have been true on the sales level alone. Chrysler seems to be taking some sort of a moral high ground about their supposed higher-quality workforce with their recent ad campaigns and they are being rightfully scrutinized as being no better nor any worse than anyone else. Sometimes, the “Truth” hurts.

    • 0 avatar

      “…it’s about holding the rhetoric up to reality and trying to find where the truth lies.”

      +1 Mr. Niedermeyer. It baffles me how quick some are to rationalize this behavior.

      Here’s the simple truth: if you don’t want someone to think you’re nothing more than a witless, moronic UAW thug with a false sense of entitlement and worse sense of judgment… don’t act like one.

      Otherwise, these clowns are living up to every stereotype out there of union workers, and no one should get their panties in a bunch when they’re called out for it.

  • avatar

    Send them home. Permanently. Great time to be looking for decent work I hear. Shouldn’t take more than 6-9 months.

  • avatar

    I find it interesting that Chrysler called the police to arrest these employees rather than simply fire them when they learned of the lunch time partaaay.  I’m assuming that is because they would have had a real hard time firing them just because a supervisor and presumably at elast one other employee reported what was going on during lunch.  Apparently, the easiest route was to have the employees arrested then suspend without pay pending a trial for the felony arrest or possibly terminate.  I can’t imagien that Chrysler wants this kind of press; therefore, I’m guessing that they felt it was worth the chance of bad press just to have an opportunity to fire these employees.

  • avatar

    biggest drug bust I ever had the pleasure of seeing (only one actually) was in a factory building passenger jets.

    that explains why tools, lunch box, coffee thermos, cups foods were rattling inside wings or places where sun dont shine.

  • avatar

    Reckless drug abuse from factory-working schulbs: indicative of union excesses.  Disband the unions and put the American worker back in his place.
    Reckless drug abuse and prostitution ring patronage at Wall Street investment houses, where the most sophisticated compleat incompetents needed $2 trillion of taxpayer monies to keep their personal charade alive: give them a smaller bonus for a year or two, hold a cursory hearing or two, then everything’s back to normal.
    Glad to see our priorities are in order.

  • avatar

    Just do the “bunny hop” at lunch amid copious giggles and make your cohorts just believe you are stoned.
    All the fun without the threat of ramifications from imbibing.

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