Monday, January 30, 2006

Freedom of Choice vs Loyalty to your job.

Last week, there was a report about a Ford Plant manger directing employees who drive non Ford (or partner) Vehicles to park in the lot across the street from the plant, the UAW agreeds.
The reactions I'm reading online and I'm getting from talking to friends are mixed. On some level people disagree, because as they put it " you should have freedom of choice." But what about Loyalty? It's common to hear about Corporate Responsability, in this case, their responsability to employees in the way of wages, benefits and retirement. But doesn't an employee have some responsability towards the company? If you work for a company, you shouldn't leak confidential trade secrects, right? If you derive your livelyhood from that company, you want to work towards it's sucess, right? So tell me, what is the motivation of a Ford/GM/Chrysler employee to buy a vehicle made by a competitor? There was the one employee quoted in the original newspaper article saying he bought a Chrysler because he got a better deal, more "bang for his buck." I find that a difficult one to swallow. It's common knowledge that each manufacturer extends "employee discounts" and I had read recently that UAW employees recieve a voucher worth a further $1,000 towards the purchase of a new car. I'm sure that employees also qualify for better than average financing rates.

You want Freedom of Choice? Go right ahead, drive your Hyundai, Honda, Toyota or whatever to your job at Ford/GM/Chrysler. But when things get bad, and you end up on a picket line, or even worse unemployement line, then don't bitch that the company let you down. You have a responsability to the company, it's a two way street my friend. You let the company down.

If I had my say, any UAW member who drove a car made by non-union plants would be kicked out of the union. Many unions have conditions for "Membership in Good Standing" and this could be one. And any employee (union or not) of my company who bought a competitors car would find himself on the wrong side of the fence. Loyalty counts for something. I would expect employee peer pressure to help keep this in check also. After all, your co-worker who drives the Honda, is taking food off of your table.

And you can delude yourself with words like freedom of choice, and your "right to spend your money," but when the chips fall, it's your ass that's going to be out of work, not mine. Ideals are nice, but reality bites you in the ass. And the reality is if you don't support your company, they don't need to support you.


Shawn said...

There is no "freedom of choice" at your work place. That is why they can impose a dress code. It doesn't matter that you can't afford a suit or a tie, you want to work there, you wear it. If you don't, go somewhere else.

Mike said...

I have to say I disagree. There are many reasons driving why people buy cars, and it's not fair to expect that they could always "support the company". As a simple example, imagine someone who can't afford a GM that meets is needs but finds an inexpensive Hyundai, or some used car.

Peer pressure is fine, and I don't think exiling people to the parking lot across the lot is out of line, but punishing people in other ways (i.e. that affects their ability to work at the job or their compensation) is out of line, in my opinion.

On the flip side, the company should offer a decent enough incentive/discount that most employees can't say no. And they should ask themselves: if even their loyal employees won't buy their cars with large discounts, isn't that a bad sign?

Big Ford Fan said...

Mike, you're free to disagree, but a UAW worker earns on average about $57,000 per year. And a Hyndai is not that much cheaper than a comparable Focus/Cobalt, especially after factoring in employee discounts and preferencial financing rates. And if buying a used car, why not something that your company makes? An off lease near new car or even a private sale. Used Honda Civics demand higher prices and have higher milage than comparable domestic models.

Your point about punishing people in other ways is well taken. I guess I got a little out of sorts there. But the facts are that I am a Union Employee, and when I see a Union Member with a Toyota/Hyundai/Nissan etc... that has a Proud to be Union bumper sticker, I feel he's being disingenuos and false.

The companies do offer a decent incentive/discount, as I have pointed out, they get an employee discount taking the price down to Dealer Cost, then they get preferential finance rates. What more does anyone want? They can buy that car, cheaper than anyone else.

If their "Loyal" employees won't buy their cars, maybe those "Loyal" employees need to work toward the solution. It's well documented, that Ford works with the UAW in taking employee sugestions very seriously, in the way of ways to improve quality and safety of work. And if they don't feel motivated to work toward the solution of problems, or support their company, maybe they should move on to greener pastures. I hear that Toyota is building a new plant in Texas, and Hyundai may build one in Michigan.

Mil said...

Loyalty doesn't come automatically just because someone is paying you. It's nice to think that but both employers and employees in America look out for themselves and sacrifice the other when times are hard or convenient. That is not a reflection on poor American ethics but simple capitalist economics.

I see no reason why an employee should have to suffer for buying a product from a competitor. If Ford/GM/Chrystler made the best product and employees truely felt they had their employer's loyalty, this conversation wouldn't even be happening.

I'm curious what percentage of Toyota/Honda workers own Toyotas/Hondas and why.

Chuck Smith said...

Big Ford fan says: "when I see a Union Member with a Toyota/Hyundai/Nissan etc... that has a Proud to be Union bumper sticker, I feel he's being disingenuos and false."

Good point. I believe that for Ford to get over its present problems, everyone (at Ford) should do what they can to boost their company. First of that is to believe in their company. You can't do that by driving around in a rival company's car.

Big Ford Fan said...

Mil, it is an accetpted fact that domestic brand quality is on par with the Japanese and Europeans. If their cars aren't the most exciting, that's something that will change. But while I can agree with your ideals, my simple answer is this. If you work for Ford/GM/Chrysler, you guy their product as a way of supporting your own job. You also lead by example, if a UAW employee drives a foreign car, their friends and family notice that and may be influenced. And when that UAW employee is out of work, he's contributed to that situation.

Chuck, exactly the point. As I said to Mil, you lead by example. And you protect your job.

Anonymous said...

my father worked at ford for 25 years, now he's at visteon,and he is still loyal to ford, even though he doesn't get discounts on them, and he manages a nissan program.