Author Topic: GM and Unions  (Read 5707 times)

Offline Eirchild

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GM and Unions
« on: November 13, 2008, 11:47:28 AM »
I have to disagree with Jack about the reason for GM and others going down the tubes is because they did not pay attention to the trends of making gas-efficient and smaller cars.  If they had gotten on the stick and moved to  those cars,rather than creating gasguzzling dinosaurs, there wouldn't be a problem with what the unions are asking like in the olddayswhen they were making money hand over fist.   I have seen this coming for years when Toyota etc   were  making $$ and they weren' t as Toyota was making what people wanted to buy. I don't feel I need to bail out people for  making lousy business decisions

millerized1

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2008, 12:02:03 PM »
Yes, and yes.
I haven't even heard the show yet but both type of vehicle and unions played a part in todays mess.  More type of vehicle than unions IMO, but unions have taken a huge chunk of the money that should/could have gone into R&D rather than just rebadging the SOS.  Also, having 254 models to buy from, complete assembly lines for each....huge money pot/pit when you could have done a Henry Ford Color Selection : Black or Black.
I'll go listen to the show so I can eat my words later. ;)

kimrpeterson

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2008, 07:35:56 PM »
Sorry, but I totally agree with Jack.  The unions have made it impossible for the US to compete in the global market.  Actually, I wish Jack would have even gone further on the unions.  I'm sure there were good reasons for workers to unionize 50 years+ ago, but now the mafia tactics disgust  me.  It's ridiculous the amount of wages and benefits they demand, and the protections from termination. Employees are given no choice as far as joining the union.  If there is a strike, employees are intimidated and threatened to participate.  As a business owner, I have the right to hire and fire whomever I choose....or at least I should have that right.  The day my warehouse employees decide to unionize is the day I walk away from my business.  What we see happening in the auto industry is just the beginning if we don't stop the unions from controlling businesses in the US.

millerized1

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2008, 07:55:44 PM »
I'm not sticking up for unions, oh, hell no.  I was born into a PA coal mining family, and I've gone to bed hungry more than once growing up cause "we're on strike and there's no money". Welfare Cheese Sandwiches for lunch and supper 3 or 4 days a week.  Been there, done that, never be a part of it. I will never belong to a union shop. They had their place, but welcome to the 21st century. My fathers last days in mining were in a non-union shop, probably the happiest days in his working life.
You are fully correct in your observations. 

BUT, being a company not looking towards the future, hoping the market isn't going to change, isn't how you get ahead in business or make a company strong.  Look forward, find the product that will work for the future.  Hell, I'm sure they had guys that were paid big bucks doing exactly that.  But, unions aside, the business leaders are the ones making the decisions, they made poor ones and someone is going to pay with their companies life.

Unions= problem
Poor Management decisions= problems
problems + problem=trouble...no matter how you try to add it up, the outcome is the same.

Chrysler= Toast.  Probably won't last through next year.
GM= Unless they get the money from us, they won't last through 2010, let alone long enough to pick over Chryslers corpse.
Ford.....maybe, but I'm not betting money on it. Don't think they'll last past 2011.

Foreign makers are going to rule the roost in the coming decade, if not permanently.  They watched the market, they built the cars/trucks that we were asking for, they reacted fastest while the US makers snoozed. Nothing to do now but try to catch up or bail. Boohoo for them, but sorry for your luck.

JMO

Offline Stein

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2008, 08:30:55 PM »
Are the unions at fault?  Absolutely and it looks to only get worse.  The bad side of unions is gaining steam and if they throw out the secret ballot it is all over.

Is there a need for unions?  Absolutely, corporate America is out of control.  More companies than not loot the workers and resources to benefit the few with no thought of providing a living wage and benefit structure.  Unsustainable growth is a requirement in every company I work with or for.  I was just told 40% growth was not good enough, even in this environment - they want more and want it organically (squeeze 40% more output from every employee for those not familiar with the nonsense lingo).  It goes on year after year, a solid, profitable, stable company is not enough.

Is the government at fault.  Of course, they subsidize bad behavior, socialize losses and are bought and paid for by the corporatocracy.

The only viable short term solution is to work for yourself.

kimrpeterson

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2008, 10:00:49 PM »
Hi Stein,
I agree that government and unions are out of control, and many corporations that are approaching the scale of the big unions, and government may be out of control too,
but I take exception to your statement "...More companies than not loot the workers and resources to benefit the few with no thought of providing a living wage and benefit structure. "
I own a small corporation that works every day to do what is right. Right for my employees, right for myself and my family, and most importantly, what is right for the people
that pay the bills- our customers.
The neat thing about a free market is that if we don't serve our customers well, they can go someplace else. If our employees don't feel that their living-wage will cover their car payment, Visa bills and a 4th kid, they can find another job that will.
Where I have a problem with unions, and with government, is that the "The Forgotten Man," (as Amity Shales phrases it), is caught in the middle.
Government has the ultimate power-to tax me and to come to my door with guns if I disagree. Unions have purchased that power, and employees know it.
The idea of a "Living Wage" sounds neat, but when was the last time a measure was passed in support of 'An honest Day's Work?"
 




millerized1

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2008, 05:44:19 AM »
I guess I'm the only one that thinks the companies didn't do their job, and are part of the problem, if not THE problem?

So, in a market of increasing gas prices, costs of living that were outrunning wages, and rampant stupidity with consumer spending.......the "big" 3 were producing and pushing $40K+, 18-20mpg vehicles while Toyota, Honda and Hyundai were producing $20K+, 30-40mpg vehicles, it was the unions fault? ::)

Damn, I'm glad I don't own any stock in any of your companies. :-\ Best of luck to ya.

Offline Tycoon

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2008, 09:44:11 AM »
I think another issue here is let's not get big business confused with small business. I get this a lot as a business owner lately and it's starting to piss me off and the Media and Dems are largely to blame. Don't throw my small business in which I take care of my employees and run an honest ship in the same category with EXXON and GM. It's tough as Kimpeterson said to run an honest business and then have Obama and the media throw me into a category with big business and say he's gonna tax the shit outta me to spread the wealth. Guess what I'm doin in 2009 if this happens folks.... Layin people off. We get grouped into this "Corporate America" category and nobody seems to think about how the nation would not function without small business. Is there a problem with big business..Hell Yes. Does the Govt. need to stop bailing these guys out...Hell Yes. Just don't run over me on the way.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2008, 11:07:31 AM by Tycoon »

millerized1

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2008, 10:46:14 AM »
I think another issue here is let's not get big business confused with small business. I get this a lot as a business owner lately and it's starting to piss me off and the Media and Dems are largely to blame. Don't throw my small business in which I take care of my employees and run an honest ship in the same category with EXXON and GM. It's tough as Kimpeterson said to run an honest business and then have Obama and the media throw me into a category with big business and say he's gonna tax the shit outta me to spread the wealth. Guess what I'm doin in 2009 if this happens folks.... Layin people off. We get grouped into this "Corporate America" category and nobody seems think about how the nation would not function with small business. Is there a problem with big business..Hell Yes. Does the Govt. need to stop bailing these guys out...Hell Yes. Just don't run over me on the way.


There is a huge difference between small business and big business. My intended statement is that if you're running your business the same way as the large companies, then you DESERVE to fail.  I can guarantee you and your business look at trends, and if you spot a changing trend, you modify to try to make it over that change.  One day your Widget is replaced by someone's Wodjet, rarely happens overnight but it does happen.  If you understood the changing environment you're in, and were looking far enough ahead, you'd have already had plans for the Wudjet and be in preproduction. If you didn't, well, then you don't deserve to be in the market....unless you're happy doing what you're doing, and have no intention of selling anything BUT the Widget.  Will there be a Widget market even after the Wudjet hits the streets?  Probably, but unless it's a timeless piece, your market share will eventually decrease til you're laying off folks anyway.

The large companies had to have seen the markets (since they ARE the markets) changing and should have reacted faster. That's not a union thing, that's a management thing.  A good management can change the direction of ANY company if they choose to.  Is it painful? Yes.  Do some folks become unemployed? Yep. Do some factories go under? Definately.  Do the ones that survive quit adjusting once they're through the crisis?....Well, the intelligent ones don't quit.  Unfortunately you DO get lumped in because you're a business. Now you're being tapped to pay for those that should have failed a long time ago, but have kept rolling due to sheer size. Is it fair? Nope.  Will it continue? Yep.  Will you have any say in it? Probably not. Will you survive it? That's entirely up to you.  Will it be painful? That I can guarantee.

Will they get what's coming to them? Probably, yes, definately.  The big 3 have seen declining sales for how many years? Sure as hell is more than one, or just 2008 as the media would have you believe. Gas has been rising since, oh, say.....2000 (hypothetically making a point)  Has the average MPG been going up or down on all of the big 3's models?  The trucks, SUV's and XUV's haven't gotten much more than 20MPG (if that) since the 80's.  Hell, even the cars they've produced haven't gotten much more than 23-27mpg.  What do all of the imports seem to have in common right now? (Besides increasing quality, mpg and, for some higher resale value)  PEOPLE WANT THEM. There was a dealer in the US that had a "Buy one, get one free" sale on his stock of US MADE SUV's, you can't give them away.  Try to find a Honda Accord on the used market.  If you do today, it won't be there tomorrow.

Did the unions have anything to do with the market condition? Sure, by soaking the companies who made it up by soaking the consumer in the end. But, the automakers, by offering 10 different models of 1 car when 1 would have sold well, by not increasing MPG to match the competition or looking forward to trends and consumables prices, and a whole slew of other things that "shoulda, coulda, woulda"....Sorry guys, you lose.  If you can't patch it up and make something someone wants to buy, then move over for someone that will.

I hope to hell that as a small business owner/manager YOU DO last forever.  M&P's, small and family owned businesses built this country.  It's clear that the current and next administration has no use for anything other than large corporations and their plans don't include you.  I hope you can find a way to hang on through this.  Unfortunatly, it's going to be the small business that bears the brunt of it. Hopefully, you suvive it, and can rise from the ashes on the other side. When you DO come through, look far enough forward that what's happening to them will never happen to you.

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2008, 10:56:33 AM »
Have the US automakers come out with some crappy cars, yes.

Have they gone into the bad loan market on property and cars, (GMAC Financing), yes.

Have they had damage due to those, yes.

Is the Union issue bigger and worse and cutting into profits where they all are burdened at a 2-to-1 or higher rate PER VEHICLE with all the importers, YES!

The Union issue is the biggest problem the others are bad but it is the one that can't go away with out a Chapter 11.  Additionally Millerized is right about the R&D side in other words how much more advanced would the big threes offerings be with more money into R&D.

What many don't get is Union retired workers from these plants often have the same benifits they did in 1985 when they retired.  Right down to 5 dollar co pay health insurance while the active worker has the same crappy insurance we all do.  The point is there is a LIMIT to what a company can pay in wages, benifits and retirement and the Unions in the auto industry have driven right past it.  The money is gone, no more, empty.

Anyone want to lay some Vegas action with me on at least two going "Bankrupt" just to restructure and get out of this mess before 2009 comes to an end?  ;)


millerized1

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2008, 11:12:16 AM »
Anyone want to lay some Vegas action with me on at least two going "Bankrupt" just to restructure and get out of this mess before 2009 comes to an end?  ;)
1 OZ of silver it's going to happen.  Period.  ;) You'd have to be a fool to think they'd last past 2009, even I won't take those odds.

Date?  If this were August, I'd say this year.  Since it's November, 2009 is a guarantee for 2 of the 3.   2010 for the straggler...if they can hold out that long.
But 95%+ is a go for next year for 2. Personally, no later than July.

(just questions, not challenges):
Do you really think they'll get out from under the unions by filing? If they're that tied into the gov't as tight as you say, they'll never make it to that point. I don't see them coming out from under this mess at all....with or without .gov help.

Offline ejsandstrom

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2008, 12:43:06 PM »
I haven't got to the show yet, so all of my comments are based in my opinion of the situation.

I believe a MAJOR part of the problems is the unions. If I had to break it down I would say 80% union, 10% management, 10% economy. For how many years have we been hearing about the big 3 having problems. Sure its not to this extent but hearing about a bad quarter is almost a several time a year thing. I had heard that something like 8K of every car goes just to union benefits, just benefits, not wages. How can a union justify paying a guy $25/hr to spin lug nuts? Then tag on a few extra bucks for health care, retirement, etc, etc. 

To say that they are failing is because they are not coming out with high milage cars would be silly. Look at the success of cars like the Challengers and Mustang. People (led by the baby boomers)are buying them because they are cool, and remind them of a better time in automotive history. Nobody covets a Honda accord. How many here would kill for a cherry '79 Trans Am? How many would want a dotson pick up? Yugo made very fuel efficient cars, but yet where are they? I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee and get a whopping 15mpg. You don't drive it because of fuel milage. You drive it because you need to possible pull a trailer out of the back 40 or when there is 20 inches of snow on the ground and you want to go to the movies, you can. I will give up milage for utility. Some will give up millage for looks, others for speed. Let me see you tow you boat with a prius. Now if you only drive back and fourth to work then 40mpg is great.

Sure if you could do all of the above in a Jeep that got 40mpg, that would be great but then again the time that happens is about the same time that the patent for the engine that runs on water expires.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2008, 12:44:51 PM by ejsandstrom »

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2008, 01:44:30 PM »

(just questions, not challenges):
Do you really think they'll get out from under the unions by filing? If they're that tied into the gov't as tight as you say, they'll never make it to that point. I don't see them coming out from under this mess at all....with or without .gov help.

I think they are really worried that it won't work or they would have done it already.  The scary part is GM is going deep into China with some things right now.  If we don't sort this out (we being the US) we may very well turn GM into GM-China and Ford into Ford-Japan and Chrysler into Chrysler-Korea or more likely it will be GM-Chrysler-China!

This is a real threat the Unions in this industry better wake up because there is NO MORE MONEY LEFT, it just isn't there and isn't gonna be there.  So they can keep insisting on "getting what they have coming" and if they do no one is going to get anything. 

I am not "anti union" as a whole but in the auto and airline industries in particular they are killing their own companies.  I just don't understand how so many people do not understand that there is a finite amount of money in any company.   Ford, GM and Chrysler are at a 50-70% disadvantage on across the board labor costs with the "foreign companies" even though they are mostly building in the US now.  Why?  Toyota workers in Tennessee aren't in a Union. 

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2008, 01:51:20 PM »

To say that they are failing is because they are not coming out with high milage cars would be silly. Look at the success of cars like the Challengers and Mustang. People (led by the baby boomers)are buying them because they are cool, and remind them of a better time in automotive history. Nobody covets a Honda accord. How many here would kill for a cherry '79 Trans Am? How many would want a dotson pick up?

That is SO TRUE and it does also show that the car companies get SOME of the blame as well.  How?

The Mustang is a perfect example!  The new Mustang is stunning it is a blend of the 1969-1972 Boss and the technology and style of 2008.  For years in my youth I blew money and Ford could have sold me a Mustang like that in a heart beat.  Now I am older and more practical and they missed their window with me and others.  How, 1975ish on till the new model they just could not get that feel and look that said "American Muscle Car" the 80s models were a disgrace!

Chargers and Challengers the same deal, good God it took forever to figure out that American drives loved the look and feel of cars built from 1966-1972ish!  How all they had to do was ask us!  The Trans Am of Smokey and the Bandit as well, yea!

So I give the blame yes to the Unions but damn how hard is this stuff to figure out, American's like muscle cars, DUH!

nate49080

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2008, 09:26:59 AM »
i would have to agree with jack. the current unions have destroyed america. look at the big 3, airlines, and teachers unions. they are all suffering becase of greed. unions were ok when health hazards were rampent but they are no longer needed right now. it is hard for a company to be efficant with a union.

Offline archer

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2008, 10:59:04 AM »
Unions are a thing of the past. They were useful, but are no longer. They need to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Offline Beetle

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2008, 11:09:49 AM »
Hey I'm in a union and like it......

Offline ModernSurvival

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2008, 11:14:49 AM »
Hey I'm in a union and like it......

Nothing wrong with that per se.  The issue is though that in many industries that unions have destroyed their own industries.  What good will all the wages, perks, benifits do the UAW when Ford, GM and Chrysler fold?  When they all get nothing.  If things stay the way they are it is going to be the result.  Most unions have failed to evolve with the times.

John Q Public

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2008, 09:37:47 PM »
I don't want to turn this into a collective labor bashing thread, but let me give you a real world example of how a union can destroy a business and its own members....

Years ago, I was an operations manager for a very large telecommunication's company. My responsibility was to lead a 400+ associate call center. One of our mandates from corporate was to increase sales of X, Y, and Z products XX%. OK, sounds simple right? After all, customers were calling us. How hard could it be?

Well, after designing and implementing a training program that required the call center representatives to follow a specifically structured script, we rolled out the new program. This was done in conjunction with the local union representatives in the spirit of open communication. We ended up making it a huge promotion with food, drinks, and prizes just to get the ball rolling. We invited the union President and her associates in and it was a huge party.

After the first few days, the numbers had not moved. After the first few weeks, we realized that we had a problem. So, we instituted a round of recordings to listen to how the script was being used and what changes might need to be made. Guess what??? No one was using the scripting. Why you ask? Because the union said they did not have to.

So, we talked about it with the union and they said that using the script was not part of their assigned job duties and they instructed their members NOT to use it. We ended up making it a minimum requirement thanks to that nicely crafted comment at the end of every job description that reads "and any other duties assigned to me."

After re-training the entire group we advised them that they had to follow the script -- no if, ands or buts.

Wouldn't you know that we ended up with the same results. No one used it because the union said they didn't have to.

So Performance Management time. I had a 10 manager team listening full time to the live calls. Whenever a representative did not follow the script we pulled them off line asked them why not with a show steward present. After 3 verbal warnings, they received a written warning, after 3 written warnings, they received a 3 day suspension without pay. After that, failure to follow the script meant a 5 day suspension without pay. After that, termination.  You literally had to be told 9 times to do something before failure to do so meant losing your job.

Guess what. We had people who were suspended inside of 2 weeks. A month into it and I actually had to let someone go.

The union grieved the whole thing and lost every time in arbitration. Their response was to tell their members to go out on FMLA for a stress disability. They said "we have a doctor that will take care of you." At one point, 60% of the office was out on stress disability thanks to the union's encouragement. What they never told the employees was that they had to go before a review board for the disability to be approved. If it was not approved, they would be terminated for failure to come to work.

I ended up letting go over half of the staff because of faked disability claims.

In the end, we were bought by a larger telecommunications company and shut down the office thanks to all of the problems.

400 union represented employees all without job now.....By the way, most of them had only high school diplomas but were making between $18 and $35 an hour thanks to their negotiated contract. For answering the freaking telephone!

Absolute tragedy.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that unions had their time and place. I grew up in the steel belt just south of Pittsburgh. I know what the coal miners and steelworkers had to endure -- my father worked in a steel plant for 30+ years. Additionally, all of my uncles and both grandfathers retired from steel plants.  However, nowadays unions are nothing but a cancer.

Offline meancoyote

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2008, 07:42:57 PM »
I feel unions are good and bad, I have worked both union and non-union in the same industry. Union pay and heath benefits are allways better. I think blaming only a union for a company failing is wrong, a company should never agree to something they can not afford. I think the auto industry would fail with or without unions, bad management led to bad contracts with the union. If only unions are to blame, then why are other union companys doing great?

kimrpeterson

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2008, 09:29:31 PM »
Is it fair that unions don't give employees a choice whether to join or not?  How about the strong arm tactics of intimidation if an employee decides they don't want to strike and wants to work by crossing a picket line.  These union thugs should be arrested when they threaten and bully those who don't agree. 
When I was a child, my dad worked for a trucking company as a salesman.  When the truckers went on strike he had to cross the picket line to work.  The union creeps threatened his life and threw a brick through his vehicle window. I'll never forget how frieightened I was as a child thinking they would hurt my dad.  Unions are the equivalent of the mafia.  If employees want to join together and walk out or "strike" they have every right to do that.  I, as an employer should have the right to fire every one of them. 

jeremya

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2008, 10:16:31 PM »
i would have to agree with jack. the current unions have destroyed america. look at the big 3, airlines, and teachers unions. they are all suffering becase of greed. unions were ok when health hazards were rampent but they are no longer needed right now. it is hard for a company to be efficant with a union.

Having been in a Union (International Alliance Theatrical Stage Employees) where health hazard issues are a day to day concern if there was no union the employers wouldn't care less about the safety of the stage hands. So from a safety stand point I think unions are still relevant, but I also saw the other side of Unions where the members want more so they negotiate higher wages and in the case of the local I was the result is less employers as they decide to go non-union. Of course the Big 3 can't just decide to go non-union and the eventual result will be the UAW negotiation themselves out of work as the automakers go bankrupt.

The average salary for a UAW member is something like $75.... I grew up in Michigan... this is unskilled labor.... I know guys with Engineering degrees that don't make $75 an hour.

-- Jeremy

Offline meancoyote

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Re: GM and Unions
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2008, 06:08:14 PM »
I don't like the idea of a open ballot. In Nevada a employee is free to not join the union and still stay at a union job, I feel that is a very good thing, it makes the union work harder to prove themselves. I don't want any law that that will force me to join a union, I also don't want any law keeping me from forming one. The only part of government that should be involved with union issues is the civil courts, when ether side breaks the contract.