Thursday, December 01, 2005

My final thoughts on UAW and unions in the auto industry

I'm expecting a lot of hate mail over this, but maybe I'll get luck and either they won't read it or they'll see the truth like I did. I am a Union worker and proud to be one. I am as patriotic as the next man, fly my flag at home, and vote on election day. I do my best to reflect both aspects of my life and they are not in conflict. I buy American, Union made cars and trucks.

In recent posts, I showed my support of Ford, Unions and Buying American. I was not surprised when I got comments that were not supportive of the UAW or unions in general. I had heard about the Job Bank, and read on other blogs about unreasonably high wages for "unskilled" auto workers. Now I thought most of this was the usual union bashing, you get on the internet. So I decided to do a little Googling and see what I could find out about the situation.

And my final word? The UAW needs to kiss the ground and be greatful they have any jobs at all. The "Job Bank" needs to be eliminated, it no longer is realistic. It's a concept, that I belive is unique to the auto industry. I can't imagine that I could be paid to do volunteer work or sit on my ass. Another thing that doesn't jibe with my own union experience is the concpet that the guy who cuts the grass or cleans the toilets gets the same pay as the one assembling cars. We are a trade union, and you get paid according to position, meaning skill level. Have a seperate contract for janitorial and groundskeeping duties.

I'm Union and I'm proud, but I'm not so stupid as to believe that if I get laid off, I'm going to be paid to volunteer or watch videos in a hiring hall.


Shawn said...

Joe, I have no problems with Unions. First of all, everyone is out to make as much money as they can.

However, unions are drowning themselves. At a certain point, when you're not even loyal to your own products, can you expect to have work tomorrow?

What does American auto worker offer that the foreign workers doesn't? Is it more skill? Is it better quality? Is it faster production time?

The Auto Prophet said...

Unions are not bad inherently. But in the US, I think they are a bit more powerful than they should be. They have too many legal advantages.

Without unions, management would screw unskilled workers. I have no doubt of this, just look at how they work folks in Mexico.

Without management, unions would bankrupt any company the ran.

There needs to be a balance, like foxes and chickens. When things get out of balance, then we have messes like we are seeing now.

Anonymous said...

Bob from Cars! Cars! Cars! (I can't my freakin blogger password dealie):

Shawn and The Auto Prophet are right on the money. Unions get corrupt just like upper management gets corrupt but at least unions are looking out for what I consider to be the regular folks among us.

But it's all negotiations. I would imagine that Detroit's PR people could embarrass UAW into giving up the mostly crazy job banks and any other piece that is pretty out of whack in today's world. As far as the grasscutters go... I am not sure why that keeps coming up... I mean, how many people are we talking about, 5? And tell me you don't know a few overpaid people in the circle of people you know?

Go Grasscutters!

Big Ford Fan said...

Shawn I think the biggest problem facing Unions is perception in the public eye. Most union people are highly motivated, hard working people who contribute to their field.

What does the American worker offer, that foreigners don't? Simple, they are here contributing to our community and part of our econommy, while foreign workers don't buy at the local hardware store.

AutoProphet, glad to see you back.
I can see your point, in the case of the UAW. Love them or hate them, there is a place for unions.

Bob, always a pleasure to hear from you too. The Job Bank has to go. There's no way that the UAW can argue for that. Somethings have to change if we want to save the American Auto Industry. If it can be saved. I'm glad you're here to champion the grasscutters, because I don't see it, no matter how few there are, they shouldn't be on the same pay scale as assemblers or machinists.

Shawn said...

Joe, I guess what I was getting at is this...There's a perceptive that American cars are not as good as Japanese cars. I think there is a quality gap. (Hence union workers driving Hondas).

I'm curious what your perspecitve on the inside is on the problem. Is the quality problem a labor issue or management issue. If Honda start building the same car, would they do a better job and why?

Big Ford Fan said...

Shawn, my perspective, would not be one from the "inside." I don't work in the Auto Industry or even a related field. But as a union worker, I've asked people over the years why they drive foreign vehicles. And the answers I get are the same regardless of union membership. People buy Japanese cars because of the perception of quality.

My honey bought a new Honda this year. We went shopping together, and drove a Chevy Cobalt and Honda Civic. The Chevy, we both agreed, had more power, a higher level of content for the price, and drove better. But with this, why did the Honda win? I asked, and the answer was; "The Honda will last longer."

The perception of consumers, regardless of union affiliation is that Japanese cars are higher quality. Never mind the recalls, and ocassional problems. Don't even consider the quality ratings released each year that show American cars to be narrowing the gap and in some cases, beating foreign competitors. It's a long held opinion. And the American manufacturers don't do enough to challenge that perception.

The Korean cars are even easier to explain, the low cost and higher warranty make them a desirable option. And if it is a lemon, so what it's under warranty.

To answer your question (I hope) I don't think it's a labor problem. I think it's partially a management problem. But in reality, it's the past haunting the big three. Consumers won't forget the dismal quality of the 80's and early 90's. Hell, how many "foreign" vehicles are built here in the US? You don't hear about poor quality issues relative to Hondas built in Ohio? Do you?

The Conservative UAW Guy said...

Great post.
Stop by my site some time, if you wish. I'm a union guy myself.

Big Ford Fan said...

JimmyB (Cons UAW Guy) thanks for reading. I did check out your blog, and found it interesting and well written. I consider myself to be Conservative, but with Major Liberal tendancies. I think Michele Malkin is one of the best journalists out there, and love here website also.

I tend to stay away from polotics and haven't written much about the Union situation since this piece. I've continued MyFordDreams at MyFordDreams2

I'll keep checking your blog, and maybe comment. Although I do tend to stay away from hot button issues like Religion.

Thanks again for stopping by,