Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Civil unions

Today's a fine day to bitch about something.

Out of the millions of possible topics, my choice is the United Auto Workers strike at General Motors plants.

I am all for unions. I wish there were more unions. They look out for the rights of workers and happy workers who are safe on the job and well compensated make better products and take pride in their work. Their higher earnings contribute more in the way of spending and, in turn, support the American economy. If only there were American-made goods in retail stores to purchase.

In an era, though, where unions have been demonized and crushed, those former well-paying jobs have been outsourced to countries where low wages and poor workmanship are the norm.

I feel that the UAW employees have every right to demand a sense of job security but they must also pare down their benefits slightly to compete with the likes of Toyota and Honda. There is a reason why my wife drives a Toyota. There is a reason, too, why my next car won't be from the big three auto makers. The problem with the big three auto makers is that they relied for far too long on the fact that Americans would feel shame if they were seen driving a Honda or Toyota. The management relied on tried and true practices and design techniques. They have failed to innovate. The gas mileage factor is now a huge deciding factor. Huh, just under 20 grand for a smallish Chevy Cobalt that gets 30 MPG or a forward-looking Toyota Prius that gets 50-60 MPG.

The workers are doing their part in a rather indirect way to point out to their managers and CEOs that the endless profit taking and huge CEO salaries under the umbrella of plummeting sales and yearly losses must stop. Employees need to feel safe to produce well and they are typically happier making an innovative and cutting-edge product. They aren't (if I speed-read through the story correctly) asking for wage increases because if they are on top of their already extremely healthy wages, they can just keep on picketing.

Job security. Not having it truly grinds my gears.


Larry said...

Job security is the main issue along with GM trying to eliminate the healthcare for Retirees.

Millions of U.S jobs are being sent to China and India every year, while the U.S workers falls farther into the lower economic class.

Something has to be done, I support the UAW strike.

Brendan said...

A good post, Sornie. Matches my own complicated feelings about unions.

Brendan said...

Also meant to say: Nice headline. I love teh wordplay.

pissed off patricia said...

From the title I thought we were going in a whole different direction on a whole different subject.

Corporate greed plays a big part in this and yes, there are other sorts of greed too.

The Future Was Yesterday said...

I'm a retired GM employee.....

"they must also pare down their benefits slightly to compete with the likes of Toyota and Honda."
We have. You have no idea how much we've given back already, active worker and retired. Enough will never be enough until our benefits = 0.

And I start bouncing off the walls and talking to myself when I hear people saying ".....to match Toyota, etc." Is there something so globally destructive about forcing Toyota to match US? I hear that all the time. "You still have more than...." We used to measure how far up from the bottom of the barrel America had came. Now we're measuring how far from the bottom we are, and looking down. Why?

"There is a reason why my wife drives a Toyota."
I drive one as well. It's because GM service has sucked since time immortal, it's dealers are the biggest collection of liars in the world...But most important of all: The majority of GM profits now come from overseas cars sold HERE. Those cars are sold for the exact same price as the union made cars, yet GM pays 3-5 dollars a DAY to the workers who build them. Where are the savings differences?

I decided if my money was going overseas, then I sure wasn't putting up with GM's bullshit anymore. I have a document in my retirement papers, signed by a GM official, which says, and I quote: "Your medical benefits will remain the same as was in effect the last day you worked, for life." Even tho my retirement papers are considered a legal contract, the courts recently wouldn't even look at that document, much less breach of contract.

If you wish to support dragging Americans benefits down until they match some banana republic, may I suggest you drag your ass over there right now for two reasons. One, I am tired of living with a President and others, who longs to see the bottom of the barrel for all Americans, and Two, you don't know what the hell you're talking about. We already have one Bush. We don't need you.

Hill said...

I support all Unions.

If it were not for Unions, you and your wife would be working 16-hour shifts for COMPANY SCRIP, living in COMPANY HOUSING, shopping at the COMPANY STORE. And so would any children you either have now or might have one day. And yes, they would be going to work at the age of 12.

My husband's grandfather worked in a quarry in East Texas. When he was 12 and ON THE JOB, there was an accident at the quarry and his leg was severed. He was given $25 and told, "See ya! Now git your ass out of here."

There was no union to protect him.


Sornie said...

Future, I agree with multiple points you made. THe fact that America is now in a race to the bottom is beyond sad. I, for one, don't know what it was like to have an employer who had decent benefits. I have a decade of employment under my belt and each year sees less in the way of pay and benefits than the year before. At least the majority of Toyotas and Hondas are built within the USA and the employees are honest Americans. Would it kill the CEOs (Those making $300K+?) to take even a 10% cut in pay to take care of the workers who make their jobs somewhat justified?

Hill, your story hurts me to read. I have to ask when this was and I hope to hell that conditions have drastically changed because this equates to slave labor in the form of pay and treatment and simple lack of compassion.

Patricia, I love twisted titles, it builds interest.

Brendan, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts on unions.

Larry, you say something must be done but I'd love to hear what your ideas are to keep American jobs within our borders.

Adam said...

i'll probably get crucified for this but i once heard someone make a pretty decent point. who ever said that an employer had to supply workers with benefits? it used to be that one would purchase health insurance or any other insurance with the WAGE that was received. Luckily I work for a company that does provide fairly good coverage for myself and I sign up for it- it is not automatic. Unions are a touchy subject. Personally if someone said i would have to pay dues in my current job i'd tell them to blow me and i'd find something else. you can say what you want about "evil" corporations but i've seen too many out of work union members fall back on said corporations for employment when their union failed them. there really is too much on this topic to properly discuss here i suppose. i'm not really for or against- i kind of don't care. i can see both sides of the fence but i thought i'd at least try to point out the other one from what most here are leaning towards...take care everybody.