Friday, March 02, 2007

The UAW is Pitching in to Help Ford

In today's Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey McCracken has a page one article about how the United Auto Workers union (UAW) is trying to keep the golden goose alive at Ford.

For years, Jerry Sullivan, the head of the largest United Auto Workers local at Ford Motor Co., fought for higher pay, job protections and limits on the work his members had to do.

But in the past year, as Ford teetered financially, the 59-year-old Vietnam veteran has changed course. These days he has urged his members to accept the outsourcing of company factory jobs to lower-paid workers, and to work new shifts without the tens of thousands of dollars in overtime they formerly would have earned.

"Ford is in a desperate situation," sighs the burly, bearded Mr. Sullivan, who has spent 36 years at Ford, the last 10 as president of UAW Local 600 in suburban Dearborn. "If this company goes down, I want to be able to look in the mirror and say I did everything I could."
Emphasis mine. What an attitude. The guy gets it. Elsewhere in the article, there is a graphic showing that US labor costs are over $1,000 per car more than their Japanese competitors'.

It's not all posturing by UAW leadership, either.

In past local negotiations, union leaders rarely gave any ground, and talks often stalled over such matters as getting microwaves installed for employees' use. But this time, recognizing their precarious position, Dearborn members agreed that non-Ford workers earning half their pay could take jobs in the plant such as shuttling car components across the factory floor. Thousands of UAW members accepted changing to four-day, 10-hour shifts that can include weekend days, without collecting overtime. At an engine plant in Lima, Ohio, some union workers have volunteered to manage their brethren, for a 50-cent-an-hour bump in pay. Elsewhere, long-honored seniority rules have been waived and job definitions have been broadened.
The article goes on to say that the unions and the company still have a long way to go, but it's definitely a big move in the right direction to have them both realize how desperate their situation is.

Contrast this to the labor unions in Europe and Airbus. Airbus is getting crushed by Boeing due to massive problems in the development of their new aircraft. Despite government intervention across Europe, Airbus is losing money hand over fist. Their unions, steeped in socialism, refuse to help out as the company tries to cut costs and remain competitive.

Airbus said the changes would reduce the time it took to develop new planes from seven-and-a-half years to six years, improve customer service and aircraft reliability.

Union officials, who were informed of the proposals earlier on Wednesday, expressed anger at the scale of the cuts.

"We totally oppose the closure of any site and we won't accept any firings," said European Metalworkers Federation head Peter Scherrer.

French workers earlier downed tools in protest at the firm's plans to review the future of two of its sites.
Our College of Cardinals has more.

Thank God we've got the UAW and not these idiots.


Ashutosh Kumar said...

Great Company with excellent history and current performance .By the way i like to drive ford car .Thanks for giving a job hints at ford .

concerned said...

I cannot help but ask where was all this willingness to assist the health of the industry over the past 30 years? It seems like the UAW is very late in realizing that the isn't an endless flow of money for the taking from these companies. What happened to hard work and an honest days pay for an honest days work? It feels like the UAW was more about "limiting" work for their members. Great. And we wonder why the imports are taking over leading market share?

The UAW is a dinosaur and it's realizing way too late what should have been done a minimum of 25 years ago.

Kelly the little black dog said...

In all fairness its necessary to point out that Ford isn't playing on a level field. A few points;

1. Japan manipulates its currency to keep it cheap against the dollar, to keep the price of Japanese autos below comparable U.S. models.
2.Tokyo maintains a lock on its home market by imposing a value added tax on auto imports from America, and rebating that tax on autos and parts exported to America. This double-subsidy can give a Japanese car a 15 percent price advantage over a Ford or GM car in both markets.
3. Japanese auto companies setting up plants here are free of “legacy costs” of pensions and health insurance for retired U.S. workers, for Japanese companies have almost no retired American workers. Legacy costs at GM, Ford and Chrysler must be factored into the price of every car.
4. The venerable practice of “transfer pricing.” Japanese auto parts manufacturers overcharge U.S subsidiaries for parts. This cuts the profits of their U.S subsidiaries and thus reduces their U.S. corporate taxes. Profits are repatriated, virtually untaxed, to Japan.

So while the unions certainly didn't help the health of the big three, they were just one of a death of a thousand cuts.