jump to example.com

Certain things become parts of our everyday lives; GM was one of those things.  Sure, they made some crappy vehicles — ok, they made a lot of crappy vehicles.  But I completely feel for the folks who’ve already lost their jobs, and for those who know their days are numbered.  I’ve been on the downside of that scenario, and honestly there’s absolutely nothing good about it.  My question is, what did GM think was going to happen?

They were, after all, still a business.  They made cars and trucks — that’s all they did.  If no one can afford or wants to buy the things you make, and you don’t change what you’re doing, then sooner or later you’re going to have a problem.

I know, I know, it’s oversimplifying the issue, and folks much more qualified and smarter than I am are trying to figure this whole mess out as we speak.  But let me ask you this:  If you wanted to go to Congress and ask for a bailout to save your company and the thousands of jobs attached to it, as the first order of business wouldn’t you come up with a badass plan that you thought would work, before you asked for the cash?

Scale that back to a small business, and go ask for heaps of cash to bail yourself out of a problem that you got yourself into by not staying on top of your business, and the first question anyone on the other end of that question will have for you is, “What’s the plan for turning it around?”  GM didn’t even have that prepared.  Even if it was a craptastic idea, they should’ve had something in the chamber to fire back.

As I said, I feel a great pang of sympathy for the folks out there doing their jobs and trying to make ends meet, because we are them.  That could be any one of us, and anyone who doesn’t think so doesn’t understand the situation.  I don’t think it’s cool that GM is going to get to roll out of this by laying off thousands and hosing over debt-holders and stockholders — and I don’t think the emerging Chevy products are still going to be held near and dear to people’s hearts here in the States.

 

35 Responses to Editorial: The Demise Of GM

  1. Ffaelan Condragh says:

    I have felt that in the last ten years the quality and safety of most full size pick up trucks had kind of peeked. It seems that all that was left was brand loyalty. So as a Chevy fan, I am hoping they pull themselves up and get back on track. Sorry of the history buffs, but i don’t want to drive a Ford.

  2. lkajsdf says:

    The “plan for turning it around” is for the UAW to reliably deliver votes to the Democratic Party, at a cost of six figures per vote per year. It’s a realistic plan, since votes are the only thing the UAW’s got that anybody in Michigan will pay them a middle-class salary for. They’ll deliver the votes. Rely on it.

    The really ugly part is that for years or decades to come, GM and Chrysler are going to be soaking up a huge amount of money and labor and producing garbage that nobody wants. Wouldn’t it be nice if that money and labor could be spent producing desirable goods and services instead? Then we’d all be better off: They’d have paying jobs, and when we sent our money to Michigan, we’d do it by our own personal choice, and we’d get something we wanted in return.

    Instead, we’ll have tens of thousands of grown men and women showing up to work and getting paid to turn good parts and raw materials into junk, while the rest of the country is taxed blind to pay for the whole charade. We’d be better off paying them to stay home and play video games.

    Can somebody explain to me why I should be required to carry these clowns on my back until I retire? That’s assuming I ever WILL get to retire.

  3. Barri says:

    If people really knew what GM wasted money on then you would fully understand why they are in the position they are. Wasteing millions on designing touch screens that are behind the steering wheel! Spending millions on the new on-star system when no one uses the original system because of it being so unreliable. Spending billions on the Volt that is still more than a year away and still not one production model in sight for people to review and in one years time will be running on 5 year old tech. Making cars that are unsafe and below par on quality to other brands and expecting to be able to sell them for the same money. Realiability of GM’s whole range. But the above is the same for Chrysler. If they made a vehicle that people wanted and was nice, safe, good quality and well priced then they wouldnt be in this posistion. At least Ford have there heads screwed on and are making stuff people want and it’s better quality than even Toyota and Honda and is priced very well. I Dont under stand these brand loyal people who even after the company goes under and couldnt make a good vehicle to keep them afloat they still want to buy vehicle from them when there’s quality brands about like Ford and Toyota. Let these company fade away and let other companys make stuff people want so we can get these workers back working earning money for their famileys. R.I.P GM&Chrysler

  4. Ex-Detroiter says:

    I agree with the comments above but I can’t help but wish we can turn back time and do it all over again. I lost my job last December (08) because the government was having second thoughts about the bailout. My client was GM and I lived in Detroit for two years. I could see families pray every single day, hoping for a miracle. They kept pushing and pressuring the company into making good vehicles. GM didn’t listen or perhaps, couldn’t. Every day kids were taken out of school, mortgage payments were missed and people had to move out of their homes. I was one of the many who had to sell all the furniture, say goodbye to all my friends and walk out of the city with a pink slip in my hand. It was painful.

    That being said, its going to stop raining someday. After all the pains and the defeats, the sun will rise again and hopefully, GM will rebuild itself. I am not making any bets here but for the sake of everyone who is still hanging on to hope in Detroit, I will continue to wish GM the best for things to come and things to make.

  5. JKB says:

    They have a plan given to them by the administration. They are going to make small fuel efficient cars no one wants at prices no one will pay. Logic and reality need not apply.

    The question is, with the government and the UAW calling the shots (I know they say they don’t want to but I judge by actions not words) will the new products make the crappy products produced in the past seem like quality and reliability themselves?

  6. Toolaremia says:

    Generalissimo Motors is getting $55 BILLION from us taxpayers. How much are they required to pay back? Less than $7 billion. And that will probably be “forgiven” or negated via accounting tricks before it’s all over. Where does the rest go? Pissed away nationalizing a failure.

    Ford might as well close their doors right now. They are going to get government gang-raped. Two of their biggest competitors are now owned and run by the government, and the government makes the rules. The government will do everything legal, and make legal anything illegal, required to ensure Generalissimo Motors wins. You can’t win the game when your competition can change the rules to suit them.

    Ford knows they are getting screwed. They released this desperate plea on the day GM was nationalized: “We look forward to working with the Obama administration to ensure that the government’s majority ownership of GM will not change the industry’s competitive dynamics and that a level playing field will be maintained.”

    Nationalizing poorly-run, uncompetitive businesses to keep them from failing as they should is going to hurt US workers far more in the long run than letting them fail would have.

  7. paanta says:

    No one is happy about how the administration is handling this, which is a pretty good sign that they’re doing the right thing. There wasn’t a choice here, and there’s nothing the administration could do that would have made anyone happy.

    You’ve got three options:
    1) Do nothing. Sit by and watched 2 million jobs go away at a time when we’re perilously close to something that would make the current recession look fun
    2) Write a blank check and make no demands in return, only to have GM/Chrysler back asking for more next quarter.
    3) Write a big check and make some demands, trying to ease GM into a structured bankruptcy.

    This isn’t about the government helping out the auto industry or giving a big blow job to the UAW; the government has done nothing to help either group in the last 16 years and they’re not starting now. This is about preserving jobs at a time when the economy is in the tank. A hundred or two hundred billion bucks is a drop in the bucket compared to the snowballing effect that a sudden and total collapse of the auto industry could produce.

    It’s easy to blame unions, the corporatocracy, the administration (past and present), etc. GM has made terrible decisions, but they’ve also been hit with a lot of bad luck and overhead costs they have no control over.

    FWIW, I think Ford is sitting pretty right now. Their competitive advantage is that they have money in the bank, have a solid lineup of cars, don’t have to answer to the government, and only have to worry about making a profit.

  8. Toolaremia says:

    Last I read, the UAW is ecstatic with the way the government is handling the nationalization.

    Ford may have money in the bank, but their new competitor has virtually unlimited funds (they own the printing presses) and can use Ford’s own tax dollars against them.

    This may “save” 2 million jobs in the short term, but will cost America millions more in the long-term. You can’t save jobs by subsidizing uncompetitive businesses.

    Good luck getting investment for future manufacturing endeavors. What bondholder is going to risk financing any big manufacturing in the U.S. when their investment can be vaporized in a fit of patriotic “save the jobs” nationalization?

  9. FredB says:

    The French economist Frederic Bastiat wrote about the seen and the unseen. Here that means we see GM and its people and the effort made to save that company and those jobs but, in this world of limited resources, we don’t see the companies and people negatively affected by having the government reallocate the resources. By this meaure, every job saved at GM is a job lost somewhere unseen. Every dollar going to GM is a dollar not invested in some unseen company.

  10. Chevy_Man says:

    Let me play devil’s advocate,

    What happens if the US is involved in a conflict between
    Taiwan and China? And we have no heavy manufacturing capability left in this country. Didn’t Chrysler used to make armoured vehicles?
    What will the US do? Seize Toyota, Honda and Hyundai plants and demand that they build us those vehicles? Or will we call China and say “hey could you build us some military-spec Hummers?” Its beyond stupidity in my opinion. You notice how the Chinese bought Hummer right away and not Pontiac or Saturn? They are thinking ahead, we are not. 🙁

    I hope the US isn’t repeating the history of the Roman empire’s last days…

  11. Barri says:

    The hummer in it’s current form would never be a military vehicle no matter what they did to it. They would be able to contrct the original builders of the original hummer and have them things pumping out in a matter of weeks in the US if need be. Not that they dont have a stupid amount of them left over as it is. I see 3 trains with prob about 400 on each going through the local railyard after they had been worked on. These things pass through the local depots here in the thousands each month so im sure China haveing the right to the hummer name means nothing. Unless they thing a SUV made of 80% plastic and breaks down 3 weeks a month is a good military vehicle.

  12. Chevy_Man says:

    I hope you are right Barri.

    I am tired of seeing all of our critical technology sent over to China only because they do assembly work for a quarter an hour.

    Its a race to the bottom!

    If we the US think we will just be a nation of MBA bean counters, I got news for you… China has 186 MBA schools. They want that piece of the pie too!

  13. KMR says:

    Exactly 30 years ago (1979-1980) the British motor industry (British Leyland comprising of Austin, Jaguar, MG, Rover, Triumph, etc) went through this exact same thing… EXACT same thing.

    The British government attempted bail outs, brands and cars were killed off(MG in 1980), there were “partnerships” with Asian firms (Triumph Acclaim… which was a Honda vehicle), the entire USA dealership network of British Leyland was screwed in exactly the same way. The reason there are some 1981 and 1982 MGBs and Triumph Spitfires is because it took over 18 months for some these cars to sell after BL axed their dealers in the USA. BL plants were “shut down” for weeks and months putting hundreds of thousands of people out of jobs.

    So what happened to the British car industry after that? It is pretty much dead. BMW attempted to revive MG and Rover, but failed. Brits bought back MG and Rover and failed again…. then sold it to the Chinese. The Chinese are now making MGs.

    Who just bought Hummer? The Chinese. Fiat is involved with Chrysler just as Honda was brought in to help out with Triumph.

    This is the collapse of British Leyland all over again but this is America’s version. There are TONS of books on the subject and university papers as well detailing the failings of BL that led to the collapse. Too bad no one at GM / Chrysler / USA Government read any of them!

  14. Tetsubo says:

    I’m one of those workers effected by the GM chaos. I work in a manufacturing plant that supplies GM with parts. My company has just cut us back to 30 hours a week. Until GM starts back up in August, if they ever actually do that. I place the blame for this craptastic situation squarely on the shoulders of the GM executives. They lead their company into the ground like a yard dart. Old school thinking, old school technology, old school management style, old school marketing and no long term planning. I think they are getting off easy with the nationalization. I’m just pissed that I apparently will be going down with them. If I did my job as poorly as these executives did theirs, I would be fired. I want some accountability.

  15. Ed says:

    I could care less about GM management, they should get what they deserve. The low level admin and assembly line workers will bear the brunt. I mean after all this is America, if you lose your job or go broke it’s no one’s fault but yours. You didn’t work hard enough, you did not participate in the marketplace of ideas(sarcasm). To heck with GM. let them die. The American auto industry has had over 50 years of lessons from the Germans, Japanese, Italians and Koreans on how to build durable cars worth the money. They chose to ignore the lessons, I say let ’em drown.

  16. I feel bad for the many people who will lose their jobs.

    In my opinion, the UAW needs to be kicked out. I think unions have no right in this country. A union is no better than any other gang. Most of these workers are making too much money which is one reason the cost of vehicles is so high. Factory workers wonder why jobs are sent elsewhere, well it is because of our greed. We want more money, better healthcare, more time off, and have to work less. This is the American way. Companies send their jobs overseas because they don’t have to deal with all this BS.

    Most of these people have no formal education, but get paid as much as someone who does. WTF?

    It is a sad state of affairs. I work in the automotive industry (aftermarket parts) and I see how this has affected the pricing structure over the last few years. Prices just keep going up for no reason. Steel prices are through the roof because of China buying up almost all of our scrap steel. Why? Because they need to build all the crap to send to us. Why? Because companies don’t want to produce it here because of the increased wages and union BS.

  17. Chevy_Man says:

    Do Big 3 workers buy Big 3 vehicles?

    I don’t know for sure, but I have heard reports of Big 3 parking lots filled with quite a few import cars. I would hope that auto employees would be buying their own company’s vehicles. After all, if they don’t believe in the
    quality of their own products, why should they expect the rest of America to?

  18. Chevy_Man says:

    Another observation about domestic vs. import cars.

    Most people who whine about the crappy quality of Big 3 vehicles, more often than not, have never heard of the concept of routine maintanance.
    They expect to drive their Honda or Toyota for 100K miles without routine
    oil changes, etc. Most don’t know how to turn a wrench, let alone own one!
    My in-laws drive Toyotas and always seem to ditch them before they get 100K miles. On one SUV, they waited until 12K to do its first oil change after the factory.

    I also notice I don’t see a lot of fifteen year old imports on the road. I see more GMs on the road. My Chevy is fifteen years old with about 130K on it.
    Granted it had a couple of issues in its life, but the A/C is cold and has never been recharged!

    All I can say is, if I bought a Honda or Toyota I would EXPECT it to last twenty years or 300K miles. If it didn’t, I would be sorely disappointed.

  19. Barri says:

    Your right about that Chevy man. The Parking lots are full of a fair share BMW, Audi, VW, Honda, Toyata, Lexus, Acura Porsche, Lotus and so on. Most are still the brand they work for but there’s 2 reasons for the other brands. 1. These people who work for the big 3 get paid so much money that they can afford a better car than they are building!! 2. They are a better brand of car and if you can afford it thats what your gonna buy. When you see these people on the TV working in factorys like Porsche, ferrari, bentley and so do you think they make enough money to even buy the cars they make let alone something even more expensive. Well this is were the big 3 fail big time. When the people your employing are making enough money to buy a better product than they are building you are heading for a massive FAIL. A lot of them are earning money only me and my wife could dream off and she has been to school studying for over 8 years and i have been doing the same. If i had employe’s who could afford some of the bathrooms and kitchens i install then i must be paying them to much and at some point i will go under. Move along GM and Chrysler.

  20. Chevy_Man says:

    A thought about consumer reports magazine’s new car ratings:

    8 or 9 out of 10 new car recommendations are always Japanese.
    A recent issue stated something like: “If you must buy something American, you could look at the Chevy Malibu”. Didn’t the Malibu win a JD Powers quality award? Doesn’t that count for anything?

    Do the Japanese own Consumers Report Magazine?
    The same folks who don’t own wrenches also tend to only consult this
    magazine’s recommendations. They don’t even bother to test drive domestic vehicles to see.

  21. Barri says:

    Dont ask me how on earth that Malibu won anything. Ford has some great vehicles but it’s still seen as an inferior brand when it is without doubt the best of the big 3 when it comes to design, quality, safty and cost.

  22. Chevy_Man says:

    Barri: Yes, I won’t mind making $150K total compensation either.
    The Job Banks program needs to be scrapped. Workers getting paid 80% or their salary to not work while lines retool is nonsense!
    I too went to school for many years; I can see why college educationed folks are upset that they don’t make six figures a year. That is why they don’t have a problem driving imports.

  23. pruitt says:

    I’m conflicted in my own feelings and lack of knowledge for a better solution.

    However, this may seem trite, but it’s heart-felt. As i read the comments above, I’m struck by the quality of people who read this blog. Even when disagreeing and approaching from entirely different perspectives, you guys are some of the most hospitable on the internet.

  24. russ says:

    It is kind of odd reading these posts. It brings back memories.

    My dad lost his job from Olds and Chrysler back in the 70s. He told me of a man turning a wrench everyday making more money than he did with more benefits and overtime if worked. At least my father had a degree in accounting which he could pursue other jobs-that did come in handy. He told me of an executive’s comments about the parking lot also – the imports – and someone made a similar comment said here already like I’m glad this isn’t Porshe.

    I switched to Japanese in ’92 and haven’t looked back. 2 cars in 17 years (one was bought used) and it is still going. I bought my dad’s truck, Chevy S10 before he died as it was my only way of getting a truck will my wifes okay. I have put at least 3-4k in it so far in repairs alone and it has the same mileage as my car-122k. Yes, I do those periodic maintenances but if it isn’t one thing it is another. I will say the Vetec V6 in the S10 is a good engine – that is the only thing that hasn’t gone by the wayside. Will my truck last 300k? Yes but by that time I will be on the 4th or 5th part of everything.
    I guess things still haven’t changed. Buy American and you will get to know your mechanic more than you want to. That’s why I call American cars ‘shop cars’ because they are always in the shop. NOt as bad as British Leyland where you need to be a mechanic if you own one. I could have taken the extra money spent on repairs and bought a Tacoma.

    I feel sorry for the kids of the parents that worked for the big 3. I know what they are going through.

    Whose fault is it? Remember the Japanese products use to mean cheaply made. They knew the only way to get ahead in the American market was with quality and they surpassed their counterparts with better quality and types of vehicles people wanted to buy. American Executive management and labor unions are next to blame for not being competitive with the Japanese. They talked about it alot and said they were doing things but I didn’t see it except in the prices going up every year. I think you can look at other things like government regulations. That was a complaint from Tesla Motors out in California. Too much regulation costs a lot per car. Some costs they add on others they take out I guess.

    I just wonder how the UAW will negotiate their contracts with Ford now that they will have a big wad of money at stake in the other 2 companies.

  25. Ken says:

    Well, here’s the stuff I’ve seen:

    GM made bad to mediocre quality cars. they charged an arm and a leg. they gave you extras with the cars that nobody wanted, and then charged extra for them. the workers unions had all sorts of problems with low productivity (except for the womens union, which had a problem with morale). any way you look at it this ship was going to sink, no matter what. so I don’t think anybody should be surprised, as people have said.

    What I think would be interesting to see now would be a lot of production-capable people migrating out of that part of the world, possibly for warmer climes? If you’re really skilled in what you do and there’s a demand for it, you can make money doing it anywhere, so I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts about moving to, say, China and working for a company such as Norinco (who many of you probably already know make guns and tanks, but they also make cars and do engineering works abroad, such as subways and dams). or you could work in India, although you’d be competing with a lot of very clever people. or there are a number of options for work in the middle east, particularly Dubai- if you can deal with no alcohol (or else can build a basic still yourself) that might be an option. Or you can go for the growing economies in places like Vietnam, Thailand (where I am), Malaysia, Indonesia, or Singapore.

    Three cheers for globalization. I really think that, even though this stuff is painful, a lot of good is going to come out of it. And, us being Americans and all, we’ve already been through the ‘cultural development’ and ‘celebrate diversity’ crap and most of us know how to ignore it and get a job done. Strange as this sounds, it’s a useful job skill in places with different working cultures (such as here).

  26. Chevy_Man says:

    Yes, its a complicated mess. I don’t like seeing our last manufacturing base eroding away to nothing. I don’t know what will be left for our kids to pursue as careers. Not everyone is cut out to be an MD, lawyer or MBA.
    If they like the trades, I would suggest something that can’t be outsourced
    easily like HVAC installation/servicing coupled with a BA in Business should be a stable career. Maybe learn Chinese as a second language?

  27. Ed says:

    Wow, blaming unions for GM’s troubles. That is a stretch. One has to assume that when GM and the UAW talked contracts that the reps from GM were awake and sober and lucid. I have never heard about a contract session where the UAW pulled a gun on GM and forced them to do something they did not want to do. Unions are not destroying this country. That job has already been taken care of by the banks and the rest of the corporate state. GM has merely fallen victim to it’s own greed and short-sightedness. DO NOT RIP GM.

  28. PutnamEco says:

    Re:
    Vincent Wright Says:
    I think unions have no right in this country. A union is no better than any other gang.
    ———-

    If you like
    An 8 hour workday
    A five day work week
    Paid sick days, vacation days, and holidays
    Family and medical leave
    Pensions
    Safe and healthy working conditions
    Proper job training

    Thank a union Member. (From http://www.jeffersonhills.us/jeffersonhills/Labor Unions.pdf)

    If business and property owners can collaborate they better be able to be balanced out by their workers being able to collaborate. Otherwise, we are nothing more than serf, slave, or master

    If we didn’t have “gangs” like corporations, the people would not have to organize into unions

    Real freedom is impossible without equality.

  29. Mr. T says:

    Re Chevy_Man’s comments:

    Chrysler Defense made the M1 Abrams tank and various other armored vehicles. Chrysler sold its defense division to General Dynamics, who renamed it GD Land Systems; it didn’t go away, it changed names. The same thing happened with Cadillac-Gage, which made tanks and armored vehicles.

    As far as the Chinese buying “Hummer”, I’m not terribly worried. The military’s Humvees are (and always have been) manufactured by AM General, which sold the “Hummer” name to GM several years ago. China is buying Hummer, a division of GM, not AM General, the creator and manufacturer of the military Humvee. Further, the Humvee is slated to be replaced in the next 5-10 years by the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), for which several different US defense and automotive companies are building prototypes.

  30. Mr. T says:

    To add an extra tidbit to my comment above: AM General (maker of the Humvee) and GDLS (which used to be Chrysler Defense) are submitting a joint bid to replace the Humvee.

  31. bob says:

    Teamsters, Local 396, (off the rolls, retired).

  32. Ken says:

    @Chevy_Man

    chinese is a tough second language, for a lot of reasons- not necessarily just the language itself. I’ve seen a few people start studying it and then stop because the get fed up with, eg, how arrogant of a language it is. the chinese language literally refers to every language but chinese as ‘barbarian noise’ or ‘ghost noise’, except for the japanese language, which is referred to as ‘childish noise’. there are one or two other exceptions that escape my memory (I remember they were obscure, and that they were there, but nothing else). or you could look at how they refer to foreigners as either barbarians (sub-humans), ghosts, animals, or children (again, japan). and if this weren’t enough, the entire language, when you speak it, makes you feel like your mouth is full of rocks and so you can only use the tip of your tongue and your lips to make sounds. the tones are a bit strange too, but I won’t go into too much more detail or I’m gonna take up another page of off topic ranting.

    anyway, about unions vs corporations:

    here’s the problem with both. without restrictions in place on both, both will seek to take advantage of the other in any way they can to ‘keep the other one from doing it to us first’. I can understand setting limits on what an employer can tell you to do, but if we keep supporting unions when we’ve got an unproductive workforce, we’re going to end up like france- riots everywhere, illegal to work during lunch. france, as an industrial economy, isn’t even really on the map anymore. Anybody bought a peugot lately? Any of you shooters ever had a FAMAS in your hand, ever?

    what it seems needs to happen is something like, say Winco foods, or SRC industries in the 80’s. instead of having a union of all the workers in a particular company, the better option would be to have the workers be part-owners in the company. why? simple. because even a person who only has ten shares of stock is going to be interested in seeing those stock prices rise. when you have something like this happen, it’s a beautiful thing because everybody’s working with everybody else for a goal that everybody wants to happen (the company to make money), and everybody has some level of motivation and, in the case of SRC, they had a good system of accountability in an open book account system, so everybody could see exactly how much they were costing the company in overhead and how much their work was making for the company. and, in SRC’s case, the stock price increased by over 1000%.

    just my two cents.

  33. ambush says:

    Why not just add a 6% tariff on imported automobiles, with the exception of NAFTA countries of course. That would make domestic cars more competitive and bring in revenue. I suppose the downside is other countries might follow, hurting the export market, but I know for a fact we buy way more Japanese and Korean crap than they buy from us.

  34. Adam R says:

    @ ambush,

    that was tried decades ago. That is why there is little sales volume in Spain or Italy along with several other large markets in Western Europe.

    ***Warning Political Science Discussion***

    Tariffs generally hurt the economy of the company that imposes them. They are an artificial barrier to protect a market from its own inefficiencies. Sugar in the US is a prime example. There is a tariff on imported sugar to protect American producers. If that tariff was not in place, sugar producers would have to make improvements to their production lines or find other ways to innovate. One form of innovation that could be undertaken would be to use sugar beets and sugar cane to produce ethanol. That is what Brazil does.

  35. Lancelot1953 says:

    In the eighties, an engineering student, I did an internship at Ford in the summer. My dream was to design great cars with other engineers who would love their jobs like me. I was assigned to “watch” and help workers as needed. Most workers adopted me as their pet (I was a student – not union) others were tough with me, seeing me as a future “foreman”.
    Out unit assembled engine heads where rocker studs were pressed in the pedestals. One head fell on the floor bending some of the studs. A senior union worker who appeared as the spoke person (jokingly since “he had the bigger arms”), put the head back on the line. Other workers disagreed but were silenced when the leader said – “they (the other assembly line) will fix it”. As an intern who was supposed to learn from my experience, I asked if the bent studs could fail in the future. The workers argued an answer. The leader said – “If it does, that’s why the dealers have a warranty”. Some laughed, others did not.
    I met some great conscientious workers who would refer to assembly manuals when in doubt, I would have requested on my team anytime. Sadly enough, too many guys (and they appeared to be the more vocal) would just hammer parts in with what they referred to as the “No 4 Masher”. Interestingly, these same individuals would endlessly complain about the company which was not appreciated by the more conscientious workers. For me, an outsider, it was depressing to hear bad things about the company I desired so much to work for.
    Ten years later, as a Naval Officer, I visited two Japanese plants (Honda motorcycles & Toyota cars). I was surprised by the cleanliness, politeness and seriousness of the workers. To my astonishment, a few spoke some English. I did not hear any, I mean any complaints about the companies; actually, some workers believing I had a problem with their product offered to help. Their salaries appeared slightly above ours compared to their buying power but lodging was much smaller than ours. Why is it that the Japanese worker had better education, pride, and respect for his company (and fellow workers) than what I experienced in America?
    I believe unions have a place to represent workers but a union local should be led by the brightest and best workers, not by the baddest and loudest (like the case above). These leaders should have a vested interest in the success of the company together with company executives. One more thing, on the assembly line, it became obvious that some workers had problems reading, let alone following assembly manual instructions. Our work force must be educated; we cannot compete when part of a plant is a kindergarten.
    America can do it but would require a major clean-up. I believe in America.
    Signed: Retired Disabled Veteran (Iraq 2004)
    PS: Ken, good remarks, thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *