The unions have been hung by their own petards..............

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Message 837501 - Posted: 6 Dec 2008, 16:57:08 UTC

From the Los Angeles Times
Opinion
The Big Three's real union problem
If there is hope for the Big Three and for the UAW, it rests in unionizing the foreign automakers' U.S. plants.
By Jonathan Cutler

December 6, 2008

The Big Three are a mess, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Washington lawmakers pondering the bailout for Detroit have been grilling executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler about their role in the crisis. But sitting by their side Thursday on Capitol Hill was Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers.

Even if a deal for a $15-billion to $17-billion preliminary bailout comes together this weekend to keep carmakers afloat into 2009, they will continue to be dogged by their most significant competitive disadvantage: a high-priced, unionized workforce. After all, hasn't it always been the central goal of labor unions to maximize the per capita wage bill -- including medical and retirement benefits -- paid out to its membership? Maybe the UAW is simply too good at what it does.

It seemed clear from the hearings that to OK any larger bailout plan, Congress was going to insist on cutting labor costs. Already, Gettelfinger has coughed up concessions on job security protections and delayed payment to a retiree healthcare trust and is talking about modifying contracts.

And yet there is nothing inherently unsustainable about employing a high-priced, unionized workforce. The crisis of Detroit's wage bill is entirely relative. Specifically, their labor costs far exceed the low-cost, nonunion American workforce at the U.S.-based, foreign-owned plants of competitors Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru.

If the UAW really is to blame at all, then, it is because of the union's utter failure to unionize any of the transplants. What has the UAW been doing all these years? Isn't it the responsibility of any good union to protect union employers from competitive labor disadvantages by organizing wall to wall, throughout the industry? How could it have left these transplants unorganized?

As is now clear, when the UAW exposed the Big Three to insurmountable competitive disadvantages, it cut its own throat.

Perhaps these accusations seem overly harsh. After all, aren't most of the transplants located in the right-to-work states of the Deep South? Some are, but this hardly explains why the UAW failed to organize the first Honda transplant, located not in Alabama but right in Ohio, the heart of the industrial Midwest.

Is transplant management the difference then? According to the prevailing wisdom, Japanese auto companies neither trust nor understand the American notion of labor unionism. Ah, but there's the rub. The very companies that operate as nonunion transplants in the United States have always confronted a unionized workforce at home, organized by the Japanese Automobile Workers Confederation.

The UAW simply never established any sort of alliance with the Japanese Automobile Workers Confederation. And yet the UAW leadership knew plenty about Japan and the Japanese labor movement. The leader of the Japanese Automobile Workers Confederation was Ichiro Shioji. As David Halberstam noted in his 1986 book, "The Reckoning," Shioji spent a year at Harvard in 1960 and then spent a summer at the UAW headquarters in Detroit, befriending all the major UAW leaders, including Walter Reuther, Leonard Woodcock and Douglas Fraser. Shioji was no stranger to the UAW.

Nor were the UAW leaders unfamiliar with Japan. In 1980, for example, UAW President Fraser (fresh off helping Chrysler secure its 1979 bailout) spent a week there talking with major Japanese car companies about building plants in the United States. Just before embarking on his trip, Fraser told a UAW convention that he would demand "that foreign companies that benefit from our markets contribute to them by building products here." In a gesture of bravado that today seems almost suicidal, Fraser declared that "the U.S. market needs the discipline of foreign competition."

In Japan, when companies were contemplating overseas transplants in the early '80s, Shioji held a de facto right to approve or disapprove the plans. He resisted efforts by Nissan to establish transplants in Britain, for instance, and the Financial Times reported how he could scuttle any deal: "Nissan probably could not go ahead in Britain without Shioji's backing [because] the union would have to approve the transfer to the U.K. of key production staff."

In the end, though, Shioji pushed for establishing Japanese transplants in the United States. It is a question for students of Japanese labor to explain why Shioji refused to protect his own union members from the threat of nonunion labor in the United States. But for students of American labor, the urgent question is whether the UAW even once asked its good friend Shioji to use his leverage in solidarity with American workers.

It is not too late to save the Big Three. But the solution is not to tear down the historic and heroic gains won by prior generations of UAW workers. If there is hope long term -- for the unionized Big Three companies and for the UAW -- it rests in dealing with the unfinished business of the 1980s: unionizing the unorganized transplants.

Jonathan Cutler is associate professor of sociology at Wesleyan University. He is the author of "Labor's Time: Shorter Hours, the UAW, and the Struggle for American Unionism."
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Message 837648 - Posted: 7 Dec 2008, 4:14:42 UTC - in response to Message 837501.  
Last modified: 7 Dec 2008, 4:15:36 UTC

From the Los Angeles Times
Opinion
The Big Three's real union problem
If there is hope for the Big Three and for the UAW, it rests in unionizing the foreign automakers' U.S. plants.
By Jonathan Cutler


I'd like to give this Cutler fellow a big kick in his......

His attitude and opinion is that rather than the UA F-ing W realizing that they are no longer the only kid on the block, and they are part of a competitive market, they should hijack the free market system and, by unionizing their competition, force everybody else in the country to continue to support them and the ridiculously posh wage and benefit structure they have managed to extort from all of us over the past years via the Big 3.

Don't bail them out at my expense please. Let them reap what they have sown. It may cause additional chaos in our already bad economy....but I am sure the foreign automakers will be happy to ramp up and supply us with more economical cars produced by non-union workers earning a more honest wage.

Like the rest of us in this country who buy automobiles....

UAW.....your free ride is over, get in the back seat and pay the cabbie.
"Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting." Alan Dean Foster

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Message 837733 - Posted: 7 Dec 2008, 14:36:32 UTC - in response to Message 837648.  


UAW.....your free ride is over, get in the back seat and pay the cabbie.


Excellent...........the union leaders over here need to do the same!!!!

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Message 837785 - Posted: 7 Dec 2008, 18:23:10 UTC - in response to Message 837501.  

The unions are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem. Unionizing more industry in the US would lead to more outsourcing and even greater job losses. Furthermore, union shops have very little production flexibility, as evident in Detroit. Honda of America on the other hand has the flexibility of shifting production to meet customers' demands. That is why they have never had a layoff in the US even though sales are way down (down 30% +).

To the Japanese automobile manufacturers, unions are the plague. And the United Auto Workers (UAW) admit to having a tough time getting new union members when they visit Japanese manufacturers' plants (called 'transplants') in the U.S. "People just aren’t interested," said one union organizer.


The Japanese auto makers in the U.S. seem to be winning their battle with the UAW because the people they employ seem convinced that the benefits are good and that the union couldn't do any better. Moreover, these auto makers tend to build plants in the U.S. in areas that have a low average wage for laborers.
Worse, conditions are better in transplants in some areas. An example of a happy plant of workers is in the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. The workers are now being paid more and getting better bonuses than UAW workers average at domestic plants.

Yet the UAW continues to try. It attempted to organize the workers at the Subaru plant in Lafayette at least three times. The result? Nada, nothing. The plant will be producing Camrys (pictured) in a joint venture with Toyota in April.

Our take? The strength of the UAW has ebbed substantially. In 1979 the union had a membership of 1.5 million. By 2005 it had plunged to 600,000. Unless the transplants do something real stupid like slashing wages in half or eliminating medical benefits, we see union membership continue to dwindle.

UAW And Why Honda And Toyota Workers Are Not Interested

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Message 837989 - Posted: 8 Dec 2008, 17:28:01 UTC - in response to Message 837785.  

The unions are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem. Unionizing more industry in the US would lead to more outsourcing and even greater job losses. Furthermore, union shops have very little production flexibility, as evident in Detroit. Honda of America on the other hand has the flexibility of shifting production to meet customers' demands.


I really can't understand how anyone could possibly blame unions for the outsourcing of jobs to third world slave states.
The blame lies with the greed of the corporate elites.

Some union working person, making a decent living with the security of knowing they have healthcare when needed and a pension at the end of their working life cannot possibly be the source of the problem.

Focus your sights on the jerks making $40 million a year before you complain about working people.



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Message 837997 - Posted: 8 Dec 2008, 18:17:36 UTC - in response to Message 837989.  

The unions are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem. Unionizing more industry in the US would lead to more outsourcing and even greater job losses. Furthermore, union shops have very little production flexibility, as evident in Detroit. Honda of America on the other hand has the flexibility of shifting production to meet customers' demands.


I really can't understand how anyone could possibly blame unions for the outsourcing of jobs to third world slave states.
The blame lies with the greed of the corporate elites.

Unions should not get the full blame, but there is plenty of blame to go around. Management is given the task of doing what is best for the stockholders. If that means moving production to a more business friendly environment then that is what they do (for better or worse). If they do not keep in mind the needs of the stockholders, they should be fired.


Some union working person, making a decent living with the security of knowing they have healthcare when needed and a pension at the end of their working life cannot possibly be the source of the problem.

I do not have a problem paying employees a honest wage set by the market. The bigger problem is the fact that unions make it very difficult for a producer to be flexible. This is part of the reason why detroit is in such a mess, they could not switch production from suv's to small cars quickly enough. I admit, this is also a lack of forsight on behalf of management. Snd they continue to sell cars that cannot compete with foreign rivals.

Focus your sights on the jerks making $40 million a year before you complain about working people.

Who are these jerks? Executives at the big three do not make nearly that much. And if they were, it would be the stockholders' problem. They are the ones footing the bill.

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Message 838009 - Posted: 8 Dec 2008, 19:12:44 UTC

What does your interpretation of flexible include?

The problem comes when the overseers use flexibility to mean sourcing materials and parts made overseas, taking jobs away in North America.

When they say working people have to start working split shifts to cover peak periods, when more people should be hired instead.

When they put employees on call, rather than keep them around full-time.

When they force employees to do extra work on their own time before or after a shift. (paperwork, vehicle pre-trip inspections, maintenance, or having coffee breaks and lunches by the company phone to still take calls... etc)

The fastest growing business segments right now are the "temp" agencies.
Just another way to have disposable employees available.
Very flexible for the company but no security or future for the employees.

I always get nervous when any boss types start throwing that flex word around because it almost always means some crappy deal is in the works for the employees.
I also notice that flexibility goes only one way. The company has it's policies and rules written in stone, with no possible means of exercising flexibility on their own part.

It seems the corporate world is permitted to be like a rock while the workforce must be made even more pliable.
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Message 838032 - Posted: 8 Dec 2008, 21:02:32 UTC - in response to Message 838009.  

What does your interpretation of flexible include?


I interoperate it as the ability of a company to move with the market and to react to an ever changing business climate. A company that cannot be flexible is doomed to fail, just as the big three are going down like a lead balloon. (poor management decisions are mostly to blame)

It is true that in the process many employees are "screwed".



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Message 838041 - Posted: 8 Dec 2008, 21:29:42 UTC - in response to Message 838009.  

The fastest growing business segments right now are the "temp" agencies.
Just another way to have disposable employees available.
Very flexible for the company but no security or future for the employees.



It's only now you're getting around to this? Because of the unions diehardness in their policies, the UK is now well & truly stuffed! "Temp" agencies abound & should you visit here, you will find that many employ immigrants on cheap hourly rates, this in turn destroys any chance a native has of securing a decent job. With National & Local Taxes constantly rising & wages not keeping in touch, it's going to get a lot worse, worldwide.............WWIII anyone?

To get a clearer picture of the situation, just take a look at Fritz Lang's 1926 film "Metropolis" - That says it all!!!


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Message 838078 - Posted: 9 Dec 2008, 0:16:13 UTC - in response to Message 838009.  
Last modified: 9 Dec 2008, 0:16:35 UTC

What does your interpretation of flexible include?


Unions have a contract that cannot be changed.
In a recession all prices go down for goods and services, but union labor costs are fixed at the rate for a booming economy.
Most companies can't pay this high wage cost and benefits, and they normally would go out of business.

Unions should see that forcing a high fixed cost on the company is not job security.
Unions should also make adjustments so they can keep their jobs.

If they force the CEOs out of the auto comapnies, they should also get rid of the union bosses.
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Message 838102 - Posted: 9 Dec 2008, 1:38:38 UTC - in response to Message 838078.  

Unions have a contract that cannot be changed.


Not true....they can be re-negotiated


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Message 838111 - Posted: 9 Dec 2008, 1:50:28 UTC - in response to Message 838102.  

Unions have a contract that cannot be changed.


Not true....they can be re-negotiated


But only if both parties agree to renegotiation. And the UAW hasn't seemed too anxious to do that so far.

And the courts can order it, but that is a last resort.


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Message 838242 - Posted: 9 Dec 2008, 13:32:05 UTC - in response to Message 837648.  

From the Los Angeles Times
Opinion
The Big Three's real union problem
If there is hope for the Big Three and for the UAW, it rests in unionizing the foreign automakers' U.S. plants.
By Jonathan Cutler


I'd like to give this Cutler fellow a big kick in his......

His attitude and opinion is that rather than the UA F-ing W realizing that they are no longer the only kid on the block, and they are part of a competitive market, they should hijack the free market system and, by unionizing their competition, force everybody else in the country to continue to support them and the ridiculously posh wage and benefit structure they have managed to extort from all of us over the past years via the Big 3.

Don't bail them out at my expense please. Let them reap what they have sown. It may cause additional chaos in our already bad economy....but I am sure the foreign automakers will be happy to ramp up and supply us with more economical cars produced by non-union workers earning a more honest wage.

Like the rest of us in this country who buy automobiles....

UAW.....your free ride is over, get in the back seat and pay the cabbie.


OK if its the unions fault that cars dont sell then explain how the japanese vehicles made here and abroad still cost just as much as the American competition. The answer is...Profit. Also Japanese businesses dont pay their executives more than 10 -15X the average workers wages. I'd think if that applied to American automakers the unions would be so very happy making several hundred thousand dollars a year.

Reality check time here. American executives across the board in virtually every business make vastly more(100X or more) than the average worker. This is a poor business model. it robs the workers and the share holders. Remember one thing. The guys making the product should be well compensated because... well they make the damn stuff you are trying to market. poorly paid people tend to not perform well at their job



In a rich man's house there is no place to spit but his face.
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Message 838485 - Posted: 10 Dec 2008, 13:55:16 UTC - in response to Message 838242.  


Reality check time here. American executives across the board in virtually every business make vastly more(100X or more) than the average worker. This is a poor business model. it robs the workers and the share holders. Remember one thing. The guys making the product should be well compensated because... well they make the damn stuff you are trying to market. poorly paid people tend to not perform well at their job


Well stated. Include UK executives as well - as far as I'm concerned these T***'s are nothing but parasites.

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Message 838521 - Posted: 10 Dec 2008, 15:42:53 UTC - in response to Message 838485.  


Reality check time here. American executives across the board in virtually every business make vastly more(100X or more) than the average worker. This is a poor business model. it robs the workers and the share holders. Remember one thing. The guys making the product should be well compensated because... well they make the damn stuff you are trying to market. poorly paid people tend to not perform well at their job


Well stated. Include UK executives as well - as far as I'm concerned these T***'s are nothing but parasites.
Oh, I agree there.....
Just because I have stated my case against the unions, do not think that I have any compassion for the execs and their insane salaries either....
But I still hold that the root cause of the current problems with the big 3 and their current financial status and inability to compete lies squarely on the shoulders of the UAW and what they have forced all of us to pay them in wages and benefits over the years, starting years ago when they had little or no competition to reign them in.

"Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting." Alan Dean Foster

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Message 838555 - Posted: 10 Dec 2008, 16:56:11 UTC
Last modified: 10 Dec 2008, 17:11:01 UTC

Slightly ot, but still a good quote:

"Time and money spent in helping men do more for themselves is far better than mere giving." --Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Jay Leno:
What a difference a couple of weeks makes. Remember last month, the three auto company heads flew to Washington in private jets looking for their bailout? Remember they own the private jets? Well, this time, the three CEOs drove in their own hybrid cars; 520 miles they drove in their own hybrid cars. See, you know what I think the government should have done here? Make it like "The Amazing Race." You drop these guys off, no money, no transportation, give them some tools, they have to build a car. First one to Washington, they get the bailout.

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Message 838562 - Posted: 10 Dec 2008, 17:18:01 UTC - in response to Message 838555.  
Last modified: 10 Dec 2008, 17:18:48 UTC

A little history reading on Henry Ford during a study I did for school, revealed that offering double normal wage reduced costs for the business, via a reduction in staff turnover & accidents, and resulted in acquisition of the best available workforce from across the country, along with the invention of corporate family welfare and schooling.

If modern business practice were to follow this logical cost reduction method, I see no reason for the existence of unions whatsoever.
"Living by the wisdom of computer science doesn't sound so bad after all. And unlike most advice, it's backed up by proofs." -- Algorithms to live by: The computer science of human decisions.
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Message 838609 - Posted: 10 Dec 2008, 20:18:10 UTC - in response to Message 838562.  

A little history reading on Henry Ford during a study I did for school, revealed that offering double normal wage reduced costs for the business, via a reduction in staff turnover & accidents, and resulted in acquisition of the best available workforce from across the country, along with the invention of corporate family welfare and schooling.

If modern business practice were to follow this logical cost reduction method, I see no reason for the existence of unions whatsoever.


Fantastic statement!!!!!!!!!!! Brings to mind what happened to London Underground back in the 70's...................

Ken Livingston, at that time, head of the GLC(Greater London council) came up with a brilliant idea - after peak hour travel was over, allow commuters to travel for £0.50p for one zone. As a LU trainman, I personally saw the massive increase of commuters using the system throughout the day, whereas before, after the peak hour rush, the trains were practically empty.

Unfortunately, this did not last long as the fatcat bankers & lawyers forced him to back down through the courts. then as now, greed showed it's slimy head........& a**** !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Message 838663 - Posted: 11 Dec 2008, 0:02:04 UTC

was it union fault, no, i didn´t think so
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Message 838697 - Posted: 11 Dec 2008, 2:03:43 UTC - in response to Message 838663.  

was it union fault, no, i didn´t think so



Yes it was!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was an ASLEF steward for my depot & the majority of our members wanted this to remain. my reasoning was that with increased revenue, our wage claims every year could benefit. On taking this further up the union line, it was knocked down as not in the union's interest!!!! says who? WE WERE THE B***** UNION!!!!!!

FATCATS,LAWYERS,BANKERS,UNION HEADS,CORRUPT POLITIANS & look at the state of the world's economy at this moment in time.................THE WORKER's FAULT MAYBE?
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