2008 December 08 Monday
GM Needs To Escape From United Auto Workers

76 year old GM vice chairman Bob Lutz says what GM needs to do to survive is obvious but not possible.

But with Mr. Wagoner under attack and with the bailout legislation uncertain, the automaker decided to give Mr. Lutz a chance to forcefully defend the company.

“You get these people who say, ‘I know what I’d do if I were C.E.O. of G.M., like close up all the union plants and set up plants down South with non-union labor,’ ” he said. “Well, any idiot can figure that one out. But how conceivably can you get that done?”

Escape from the UAW. The need is obvious. But there's no way the Democrats in the US Congress are going to bail out GM so it can escape from the organization that made the bail-out necessary in the first place.

Roger B. Smith wanted to escape from the UAW with robots. But he was too soon in attempting to go down that path. A lot of the robots didn't work well. Robots advanced enough to replace all human labor on assembly lines still lie somewhere in the future. 10 years? 20 years? The day is coming. But GM has to survive till that day. Not clear that it can.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 December 08 11:15 PM  Economics Transportation

Union Strong in Detroit said at December 8, 2008 11:33 PM:

Two Words: Screw you

UAW FOR EVER ASSHOLE said at December 8, 2008 11:35 PM:

We made Detroit idiot... Deal with it.

....and we'll be here, when they carry your dead body to the damn cemetery.

c23 said at December 9, 2008 7:31 AM:

These UAW guys seem to lack reality contact. Their industry is collapsing, but they still can't see that they'll be lucky to be there when they carry Patrick Swayze's dead body to the damn cemetary.

purenoiz said at December 9, 2008 7:44 PM:

Never underestimate the power of a mob. You only have weekends and evenings free thanks to the union. But then again randall thinks he created the world he inherited, you know the one with a 40hr workweek, weekends, safe working conditions and buildings that don't fall down on you in a minor storm.

winston smith said at December 9, 2008 9:15 PM:

I call bullshit. Here in Canada we have the same situation with the big 3 looking for a bailout. However, the non-unionized workers at the Jap plants make as much or more than their CAW counterparts.

Anyway, if GM breaks the union and it becomes just another shitty mcjob, who cares if they go bankrupt or not?

Randall Parker said at December 9, 2008 9:31 PM:


Lots of skyscrapers were built without union labor back in the 1920s. You can find many houses and other buildings that were built in the 19th century. I grew up down the street from a farm house built in 1756. No union labor involved.

Oh, and assuming the quality mantle for union labor is pretty rich when we are talking about the US auto industry. I never saw them go out on strike demanding 6 sigma quality.

40 hour work week: I work longer than that. I'm part of the economy that has to compete fiercely to keep my job and my employer in business. We can't ask for Congress to bail us out. If we have quality problems our customers will dump us.

winston smith,

Do not confuse hourly rates with total benefits. The retirement benefits are what make UAW labor cost more than non-union Honda workers.


The UAW does not want to admit it is part of the problem. Heck, back in the 70s UAW work rules combined with management idiocy to cause the quality to go into the hopper.

I know a guy who used to work for Ford as a UAW factory worker making seats. He told me in the early 80s he could do his daily work quota in 3-4 hours and then take the rest of the day off.

Bob Badour said at December 10, 2008 3:40 PM:

I grew up in Oshawa. I had a summer job at the fab plant making urethane bumper covers in 1985.

The simpler designs with fewer features had low defect rates and high counts. It always took about 6 hours or so to make the counts unless something went really wrong.

The more ornate designs like the Park Avenue had really low counts because things went wrong more often. But the guys who worked those clamps mastered them within a few weeks. I never saw them work longer than a 3 hour shift. Sometimes, they completed their counts before they stripped the clamp the first time and went home 1.5 hours into the shift.

I worked the midnight shift. Many of the full-timers had day jobs or even their own businesses on top of their big GM paychecks.

I can even remember one of those fucking whiners bitching and complaining at me because I didn't have any tax withheld from my 8 weeks of annual student income. The crybaby had two paychecks because his take-home pay was more than the maximum amount for a GM payroll check, and the tax withheld was more than my whole fucking paycheck. I didn't feel sorry for them then, and I sure as hell don't feel sorry for them now.

john said at December 12, 2008 9:56 AM:

I say move the plants to Mexico or Brazil. Especially Mexico, kills two birds with one stone.

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