US Auto makers may become extinct, caused by Unions

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theguy wrote:


ROFL!! Sounds like you need to go inspect your own and find out why your attitude is so foul!
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wrong again miles. i am in management. i am not union. i actually do the internal invvestigations where i work. we have a union workforce and a discipline agreement. i do not find the discipline agreement at all difficult to work with. it simply guarentees the employess a fair process. i have no problem following that. it also means that we have to have a reason to discipline an employee and that the punishment has to fit the offense or if we want to move higher on the disipline chain, we have to show that we are following the doctrine of progressive discipline. i have not found the union to be a problem. what they want is fair. they have not impeded my investigations. i do not see the gaurentee of due process and due cause as an obstacle to effective discipline in any way at all.
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theguy wrote:

State and federal laws already give a means for fair due process. Union agreements do not give much that already isn't in place in other forms.
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theguy wrote:

Your reply is to TBone, not me. I agree with you on your statement above.
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TBone wrote:

Often they run into trouble as a direct result of exhorbant labor costs caused by powerfull unions. Look at the massive rise in health costs companies must pay out. Unions use their power to resist absorbing their share of the rise in costs. It's much easier to just say the owners are greedy and should pay.

Huh? A company makes a product or provides a service for ONE purpose. To make money. A company will change its product or service as the market dictates. Why? To MAKE MONEY. That is why a person starts a company. You really believe it's just to make a product and the money is an incidental benifit of doing so? Too funny.

Just in the USA or the rest of the world? If a union chokes the life out of a company then how does that benifit the workers?
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miles wrote:

No union ever busted a company.
JAM
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If the US Automakers concentrated on making what was good- better, then best, (meaning a vehicle that would have few problems and last longer) they could be top at their game too. Instead they get something that works well and change it to something that is not yet proven.
Considering the cost of new vehicles, A 3 year 36,000 mile is not that good of an included warranty on non-consumable parts. The warranty's on earlier vehicles were 1yr. / 12,000 miles, but the cost of the vehicle was a lot less even with inflation adjustments.
But then if vehicles last longer with less problems, the mentality is that they would sell less vehicles -so I guess there is no point in that.--J
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Message posted via http://www.carkb.com

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I think this thread has gotten away from the original argument. The original argument was Ford and GM's unions. I spoke with a GM executive on Monday. I asked him basically his take on the problems. He told me that GM and Ford were pension heavy. I said do you mean Union workers? He said mostly yes, but not necessarily. I next asked him what his finance department is doing wrong. He looked at me puzzled, and also with a "you got me" look at the same time. This look is hard to explain. I said, "isn't your finance department responsible for investing the pensions?" He said, "Well yes, but we are going to have to look at renegotiating our contracts with our unions, and changing our new hires pension plans." One of my associates chimed in, "I hope social security definately survives then." We left the conversation at that time. When I was younger, I was a union worker. I was under the Railway labor act. I am now on the other side of the fence in an executive position. I am astonished so many times on how clueless other executives and mid level management is as to the plight of the front line worker. Alot of failures are blamed on the front line worker, when in fact; the failure is in leadership. The example of the electrical workers union is a great example. The poster said that the workers and shop stewards were sabotaging work to get down time. The is a failure of leadership. The management allowed the union to lead. Also, maybe the management needs to make the job more imaginative and challenging. Maybe the management needs to learn just exactly what an electrician does. Someone once asked me advice (free advice) on the disatisfaction on Postal workers. I said to them, "Why are you asking me?" "Have you asked the workers?" The answer was no. I got a call from this same person 2 months later, and I was told that they tried to ask the workers questions through questionaires and surveys with no avail. They next finally decided to get up off their rear ends and actually ask the Postal workers one on one what problems were. The responses were overwhelming that the workers felt that supervisors were clueless and extremely lazy. The workers also felt that supervisors were imcompetent in handle problems whether small or large. The workers would try to handle problems on their own as a result, then the supervisors would discipline the workers for handling the problem. I see this go on very often in many industries. I've learned through the military and Union experience, that ultimately responsibilty and accountability falls on leadership. When the chain of command breaks down, and there is no contigency in place; and everyone starts "winging it." the problems begin. So in Ford and GM's case, and other cases make the union the scapegoat if you must, but when you stand back and look at things from a distance and hindsight, ultimately there is a failure in leadership. In Ford and GM's case, I see a failure in the leadership to get on the engineer and design teams about unimaginative design and engineering. Also, a failure to connect with drivers.
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Railroad or airline? Were you vested?

I went through this while employed by Amtrak. They tried the survey approach and found that what was gleaned was unacceptable. So they hired a outside company to come in and do interviews. Think for a second, how does a management team become so far out of touch with it's workforce that they had to hire sombody to find out what the hell was wrong? They didn't or wouldn't believe the folks they hired. End result of years of bs, a congressional investigation brought about by the unions and as a result of the investigations and hearing a GAO study. All that finally brought about change, A almost totally revamped management team.

You make a number of very good points.
Roy
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William Boyd wrote:

I believe this subject is so complicated that no one here (or maybe anywhere) can really provide a complete and true answer. I think we are also looking at world politics that go back a hundred years (or more). I do know one thing....... state politics have helped to kill (or nurture) a lot of business in certain areas of the country. In New York State, for example, Republic Steel once had a Buffalo steel plant. That plant paid more in state/local taxes than all their other steel plants combined. Another nail in that plants coffin was Japanese steel which was subsidized by the Japanese government. (BTW, this Republic plant produced a very high quality steel used in car springs, rifle barrels, etc.). That plant closed its' doors in the early 80's. That closing can't be totally blamed on unions.
Also, FWIW, that plant had just built a new blast furnace considered the most modern of its' kind. After that plant closed up, the furnace was sold to the Chinese, who moved in and took it apart and put it back together in China where it is still in use today. I know this is true because my father-in-law was ass't. supt. eng. and helped design that furnace.
As for my own experience ........ I used to be the application eng. mngr. for an electronic components company. We sold a great deal of components to US auto makers (all 3). I remember one of the 3 wanting a "silent" electromechanical relay to use in their intermittent windshield wipers. Only 1 company in the world made it. I sat in on 1 week of meetings in Japan where the Jap manufacturer tried to convince the US auto maker that this was not the proper relay for this application. The auto maker placed orders anyway (because a new relay would have taken quite a while to make and get required approvals). That move really backfired later on (for the auto maker). The reason the US auto maker had to have this relay so quickly was so ridiculous I don't even want to go into it here (suffice to say it had to do with a board members wife hating the clicking noise in her personal car). I have dozens of idiotic engineering stories like this (wonder why American cars were once perceived as junk ?). Can this sort of thing be blamed on unions ? This sort of thing DID NOT help sell cars!
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