[NYT] Strides Towards Cooperation between GM and the UAW at Lordstown, OH

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mkrishnan, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #1
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/business/06uaw.html?hpw

    I thought it was a neat article... in the late 90's and early 2000s, in the industry, the idea that North Americans could make very high quality vehicles at greenfield sites that didn't start with all the baggage of existing plants, including union discord and low morale, was well established, and plants such as one of Ford's plants in Mexico, as well of course as numerous transplant sites in the South, were often hailed as examples. NUMMI was the counter-example where an old dog had a lot of trouble learning new tricks.

    It's interesting to me, in any event, to see a positive example of change at a UAW plant. Good on and good on the UAW.
     
  2. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #2
    I say too little too late. Management failures were only half the reason the industry collapsed, and the UAW and workers like those mentioned (even though the live in OH) here deserve equal blame for the struggles of the both the industry and the state of MI.

    Frankly, if GM leadership had kicked the plant to the curb after the problems with the Vegas and moved elsewhere, I don't think they would be having the problems they are having today. Of course, the type of folks that would have done that are the type of folks that would have thought to look to the future rather than the present.
     
  3. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    Perhaps, but all that is in the past, not the present. Complaining about what GM should have done 15 years ago is hardly being future minded.

    GM hasn't quite demonstrated itself to be doomed, yet. And certainly, if the UAW deserves equal blame, they deserve some credit for Ford posting 33% gains in the month of December, a (very slightly) larger boost than even Toyota.

    EDIT: Also, Lordstown, OH is not in Michigan. ;)
     
  4. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    Certainly. It appears that the UAW is going to try and shift from competition to cooperation. And while they will make gains, it will take more than that for GM to recover. We can't go back and fix what happened 30 years ago, and this turn around is a credit to the possibility that unions could do what the media industry is struggling and adapt to a new world order to regain relevance.

    Can I? I don't know how the UAW contracts with GM/Chrysler/Ford differ, but under the presumption that they are similar, the difference I see between F's profit and GM's loss is good management, non-unionized employees, and inspired engineering. Even GM's pseudo-bankruptcy played a role in their losses - a total restructuring without interference would have yielded better results than what they are posting. Certainly the UAW's willingness to adapt has been a factor in how much F gained, but how much of that adaptation was voluntary?

    I almost didn't catch that, but that was why I made sure to pin culpability on the UAW as a whole as well as the plant employees (trickle up economics - when plants elsewhere help kill brand reputation, headquarters will suffer as well)
     
  5. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #5
    At a contractual level, they're almost identical. What the UAW traditionally does is to pick a "strike target," (I think maybe, they use a better term nowadays), which is the lead company with whom they negotiate. They pick one of Ford, GM, and Chrysler, and they negotiate a reference contract, and then the others traditionally come fairly close to rubber-stamping it, aside from some minor details.

    On the other hand, the level of morale and the relationship between the UAW and the corporate entity really does vary widely both between and within companies. In Ford's case, I think they actually have been doing some healing with the UAW for a while now, which is part of what's paying off. Now part of that healing is the fact that they have a reasonable game plan, which takes both employee needs and the company's future into account. I would suspect that, on average, the union morale is the worst at Chrysler plants purely because the company has no idea what it's doing.

    But the whole point of the Lordstown example is that, while Lordstown might be representative of what is to come across GM, it is not where all GM plants are today. There actually is a lot of variance between plants, with many of them lacking this kind of cohesion.
     
  6. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    #6
    They bit the teet off and now they need to put it back on before they can start biting again. I would have moved production to whatever areas/states that don't see unions as a good thing, if that means going out of country, so be it.

    I hope the US government doesn't dump anymore money into this ******** company.
     
  7. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #7
    Maybe to Germany where the auto unions have very close and healthy relationships with management? Sure there are disagreements, but Germany's auto industry is the strongest in the world right now and they didn't get there by treating the unions like dreck.
     
  8. mkrishnan thread starter Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #8
    Is the German auto industry really stronger than the Korean auto industry, out of curiosity?

    That being said, Japan too has unionized laborers with a strong tradition of collaboration with the OEM.
     

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