I have experience with a different union & different industry than autos.
American industry is between a rock and a hard place. The union situation
(can't be fired) adds to it but it's not the only problem. Our relatively
lavish lifestyles in the US-- and the union salaries that enable it*-- that
can't be sustained by the planet is the biggest problem. Everyone in the US
wants more -- expects more -- demands more -- but in the big picture it
isn't affordable, at least not the way we're doing it now. This breeds
corruption, dishonesty, etc., in the big picture as well as in the small
picture. The small picture, at the local factory, is union employees who
slow down, break things, etc., to make sure overtime continues even in the
face of declining production schedules and product pricing pressure. Gotta
pay for that new boat, motorcycle, 2500 sq.ft. house, big SUV, etc. If they
could be fired, the problem would be less frequent. Because it's nearly
impossible to fire anyone, the problem only becomes a further push to move
production to or outsource from low-cost countries.
Personally, I am repulsed by these people, who expect the very best in
material goods, believe they have a right to have these goods as they
please, and aren't even willing to turn in a good day's work, to give their
best in return. But I need a job too so I keep going back there.
I don't begrudge anyone a decent salary. I am grateful for mine, and I work
hard for it in return. We should all be so fortunate. We will NEVER get
there by taking the money and in return needlessly causing trouble, wrecking
equipment, making scrap. We will NEVER get there by simply using up the
planet faster, either. The small picture and the big both need changing.
*(Not to excuse overpaid management, and other rich folks helping themselves
to huge tax breaks while, for example, poor folks can't afford to buy a
doctor's appointment to help with easily treatable medical problems, while
the future viability of the dollar and world banking system is put at risk
by gargantuan budget and trade deficits, etc.)
Ok, after that vent I feel better and can reconsider. Productivity is
improving some, thanks to strong effort by management to measure people's
output, and to the response from better workers to monitor themselves and
put out a fair or even a hard day's work. And, a very few, the very laziest
and careless people have been fired. This has helped a great deal in the
place I work. I stand by the rest -- We're still using up the planet faster
than we fix or create as individuals and as a people, and this fact is
partly at the root of the present debate.
And so is your stereotypical *story*. So ridiculous, in fact, as to be
happening "every day". Nobody "just happens" to be in a UAW plant or any
other plant with any type of security.
As far as your *story* is concerned, at my UAW plant, when something breaks
that could or does cause a line stoppage, whichever trades are necessary are
sent to the site and NONE of them leave until the problem is rectified. Also
their supervisor is right there with them in case he is needed. Line
stoppages are a big deal and even incompetant managers won't allow a 20
minute job to take 10 hours.
If you are going to lie to us, at least make it believable.
I am not anti-Union, but I do think some Union work rules are
counter-productive. Many years ago I worked for a big company in Michigan. I
decided I wanted my filing cabinet moved, so I did it. A few minutes later, my
manager called me into his office. He bluntly told me to never move furniture
again. He said I was lucky that the shop steward did not see me move the
cabinet. If I had been seen, he assured me he would have filed a grievance
against me. To me this seem like total BS. That is until we needed to have a
phone added. I saw an amazing demonstration of union power. Step one, the phone
man comes. He determines we need to move a desk to install the phone. Phone man
sits down, movers are called. Movers come (2 guys and a desk caddy), move desk,
phone man swings into action. Movers sit down and wait. Phone man determines we
need an electrician for something (a box maybe or the need to supply power?).
Phone man sits, movers are still sitting. Electrician is called in. Electrician
arrives and does his thing. Electrician leaves. Phone man installs some wires.
Apparently a co-worker was down in the phone room somewhere else. They
communicate, phone is working. Phone man leaves. Movers reposition desk. Movers
leave. BTW, since it was my desk they were moving, I had to sit in the corner
out of the construction zone and read. I think it took something like 2 man days
to install this one phone. At one point there were four people sitting around
watching the electrician (including me). Hopefully the rules have changed in th
last 25 years.
Japanese engineering? Don't make me laugh. The Japanese build fine cars,
but the number of inovations that are "Japanese" is tiny. The biggest
advantage that Japaneese engineers have is a commitment from their
production people to consuistently build parts to close tolerances.
How about 4-wheel steering (1988 Honda Prelude and Mazda MX-6)? Active
suspensions (1990 Q45)? The first CVT (1983 Subaru Justy)? Being the first
ones to make valve timing work, and the ONLY ones to make the rotary engine
work, where GM and others have failed? HYBRIDS (auto catch phrase of the decade
and the likely future basis of all cars)? Laugh that.
Wrong-- Try Mercedes Benz in 1903
Try mid 80's Cadillac with the air ride system. Or even
earlier with the Lincolns built in the 30's
Based on a COMET Snowmobile clutch, yep high tech there. How
about this type of transmission was patented in the U.S. by
Adiel Y. Dodge in 1935, patent number 2,164,504. Lots of
them around on snowmobiles and that started in the US real
Valve timing was developed in the 1800's on early engines,
If you mean VVT then Honda is the first to offer it on a
showroom vehicle BUT it was developed by Ford back in the
late 80's they just didn't need it at the time. As for
Wankel engines they were developed in GERMANY in 1873 and in
1951 Wankel helped with the design. They wer first offered
by NSU in motorcycles long before Japan got involved.
How about this hybrid a 1913 Oldsmobile, it had a small gas
engine running a generator that powered the electric motors
at the wheels with large batteries that were also kept
charged by regenerative braking as well as the generator.
If that's true, why aren't they around now? Cadillac also invented the V8-6-4,
which let the engine run on 6 or 4 cylinders, and it was so reliable that it
sometimes ran on none at all.
"Didn't need it"? Yeah right. It's useful and it's techno, so if they could
have made it work, they would have. Certainly by now. Like I said, the rotary
wasn't invented by Japan, but only Mazda has made it work properly. I don't
know if you guys are overlooking the fact that the Western world got into this
car thing a half-century earlier. So of course the discoveries will go to them,
but isn't mastery more important?
So how come they're having so much trouble developing hybrids now? Their first
systems, which are about to come out on their trucks (8 years after the Prius'
debut), will reportedly be much less effective.
Air suspension or not, they don't seem to execute it very well. Lincoln and
Cadillac are both criticized for offering a both an inferior ride and inferior
handling (on the models you mentioned, as well as on the LS and CTS), especially
compared to Lexus and BMW, if not all luxury imports.
No one said anyone needed a rotary; we're just talking about technical
achievements here, and how Mazda has been the only one to make it work. I read
a report once how GM spent $50 million on it and gave up because they failed.
In any case, rotaries are useful, in sports cars. The downsides are crappy gas
mileage and mandatory meticulous maintenance. The upsides are smoothness, an
exciting "feel", a reputation of reliability (if maintained properly), and light
weight. The RX-8 scales in at just under 3,000 pounds, compared to a 3,300+
fatass like Nissan's 350Z. Then again, there's the also-light S2000, but that's
Why are you getting into business relations? If you think BUYING successful car
companies is a bigger achievement than being one, then your sources of pride
amuse me. Your facts are also faulty: Honda and Toyota are completely
independent. Nissan is about 40% owned by Renault (sound American to you?).
Mitsubishi is 1/3rd Chrysler, Mazda is 1/3rd Ford, Subaru is 20% GM. Isuzu and
Suzuki are parly GM too but those companies are lame so who cares.
Nobody? Try looking at sales figures for the Civic Hybrid and the Prius. And
check back in a year, when the tally is available for the 2004 Prius, which is
now a mid-size car at the exact same price point as the last one. It's like
buying a 4-cylinder Camry and getting a hybrid for free.
And if nobody wants the damn things, why are Ford and GM suddenly scrambling to
rush hybrids to market?
Well this one has an easy answer - GM and Ford and whoever are building hybrids
exactly the same reason that every company that get slap four wheels on a frame
now building SUVs - because they think people will buy them. It has nothing to do
with whether hybrids are actually beneficial. It has everything to do with people
thinking they are beneficial and wanting one. Which is exactly the same reason
people buy SUVs.
Nobody wanted the crap that Ford and GM tested but they were too arrogant
that grasp that their shitty engineering was the cause. Now that they have a
Polish blueprint in the form of the Prius and Civic Hybrid to work from,
it's no surprise they're scrambling to get on onboard.
By fine diesel design, do you mean the slow, noisy, black smoke cloud emitting
300SD? Or maybe the 240D? If so, it hard to imagine GM making anything more
pathetic. I still remember my office mate giving me a ride in his MB diesel. He
was actually proud that the battery cost $120. The thing was a joke. They might
have made good taxi's in Europe, but they were horrid cars for the US. It did
nice seats which were quite enjoyable until he started up the clatterbox of an
engine. I have diesel farm tractors that were quieter than that piece of junk.
Oldsmobile diesel may have put a wooden spike through the US market for diesels,
but the MB diesel certainly didn't help it any. And then there were the awesome
Rabbit diesels - have you ever seen one consume it own oil supply and self
destruct? I've seen it three times - which is pretty incredible considering the
few that were sold in the US. Oh yeah, lets not forget the Peugeot diesels that
were sold here......GM didn't really need much help killing diesels. Diesels are
successful in Europe because of the distorted fuel taxes in Europe. Until we have
something like that here, diesels will remain a niche market vehicle. However, as
far as I can tell the current VW TDIs are not offensive. I even considered buying
one, until I remembered they were a VW product. My family has had enough
experience with VWs so that I know better (1 Audi Coupe, 1 Jettta, 1 Passat).
Who owns Toyota? It has stockholders just like GM, but I doubt most of them
are Americans. Heck, I am not even sure most GM stockholders are American
anyomore. See http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=TM
From http://www.toyota.com/about/shareholder/services/faq.html :
How many Toyota Motor Corporation shareholders are there globally?
As of March 31, 2002, there were approximately 276,449 shareholders of
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