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by the webmaster of what used to be the chryslertakeover site (now gone)
(In response to comments about janitorial staff earning $30 per hour as an example of union abuses).
First of all, realize that the idea of $30/hour toilet cleaner is an extreme end of the anti-union argument. Yes, the janitorial staff could be considered overpaid, but in reality no one walks into the plant and just picks-up an easy job.
Those who "clean toilets" are often older, or injured workers who simply cannot handle the physical labor of climbing in and under the dashboard of a moving vehicle 60-65 times an hour (or running a stamping press, machining gears, pouring molten metal in a foundry). And, yes you do get injured on these jobs whether immediately, or over time. This is no different than putting a cop who has been shot in the leg on desk-duty. So yes, to a certain extent "we take care of our own".
At the other end of the scale you have the lazy worker who just doesn't give a damn, and deserves no "sympathy". But where do you assign the blame that allows such a worker to keep his/her job? I've worked with MANY of these types of people and VERY RARELY have I seen management follow through on the established discipline procedures. So who's the lazy one in the example?
Management likes to grumble about how hard the union makes it to fire people, and then does nothing. Well, it isn't a case of "hard", it's a case of doing the job you agreed to (and get paid for) as a supervisor.
You might think of the union (at the shop-floor level) as defense attorneys. To return to the example if the police; if the cops/prosecution do their jobs correctly, even the best lawyer won't set you free. If management does their job right, you can fire a bad worker.
The UAW at the international (HQ) level, is much closer to corporate management than they'll ever admit. Joint union-corporate "training" funds have turned the UAW rotten to the core. CEOs and union leaders now play golf together, and have a good laugh about the workers who pay the dues. But this is a separate argument.
...Unless you've ever worked in an assembly plant -- I did, in both the "jungle" and the paint line at Belvedere and couldn't stand working there more than 18 months -- you really don't know what these people go through each day and why they get the wages they do. Remember, the company agreed to pay them the wages, so Management must understand and agree that the wages they are paying out are justified! Because Management doesn't do anything it doesn't want to!
If it were not for unions, everyone in America would be working for less than minimum wage -- because minimum wage laws would not exist. Everyone would also be working 7 days a week -- "24/7" the new mantra for business -- because no "seventh day of rest provisions" would exist in labor law! You also would not have any holidays, vacations, health insurance or retirement benefits -- all union pushed ideas. So please, lay off the unions and focus on saving American jobs before it is too late!
With regard to wage-scales, I'd have to rank labor costs at the bottom of things to be concerned about. The average production worker makes under $50,000 without overtime, while DCX VPs cash-in to the tune of tens-of-millions, whether they do a good job or not. And for the last 30-years, auto execs have done run the domestic industry pretty poorly.
I don't want to hear industry execs making excuses about labor costs, unions, overcapacity, etc.! Start designing cars that people want to buy, build a good reputation, and image, and the public will beat-down the door and keep those factories running at full-capacity. Toyota pays its workers nearly the same wage as GM/Ford/DCX.
Don't turn out a boring product like the current Concorde, market it poorly, watch it fail, do nothing to "tweak" sales or keep it fresh and then put it into competition with a car like the Toyota Camry. When the car gets slaughtered in the market, don't try and blame the workers who build it. WE didn't keep it the same since 1998! WE didn't make it look like a beached whale! WE didn't drag our feet for years on a warranty program! And most of all, WE THE WORKERS didn't turn a successful company upside down for personal gain, as did Robert Eaton, Dennis Pawley, Jim Donlon, and yes even the sainted Robert Lutz. This is Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing without the high-tech dazzle.
When our domestic industry buys a clue, and begins trying to sell more cars, rather than figuring out ways to shave .50 cents off the price of an ever-shrinking number of sales; I'll entertain arguments about labor costs.
We can either argue amongst ourselves about the relative "crumbs" of a few bucks an hour, OR WE CAN WAKE UP AND GET WISE THAT A SELECT FEW WOULD TURN THE U.S. INTO A THIRD-WORLD NATION FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL GAIN. In the big picture, this is what we're fighting against.
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