Saturday, May 30, 2009

UAW ratifies concessions- about damn time!

With GM teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, the UAW ratifies concessions to help alleviate some of the labor costs for the ailing auto maker. About damn time! I have said for years that the "big three" have been paying so much in labor costs that they can't afford to make a quality automobile anymore. I am not a genius, don't tell my wife she thinks I am, but even I can figure out that if you continue to make an inferior product for 30 years, your competition will catch up with you and eat you for lunch. GM has been watching foreign auto makers catch up in their rear view mirror for 30 years and have been in "cruise control" the whole time. It's like they were never even worried that anyone else could catch them. Now that they have had their doors blown off, they're saying "what happened"? Now, I know that volumes can be written about all the problems GM has, labor being only one of them. However, I do say to the UAW, too little too late. I do believe that everyone deserves to make a good living wage, but I don't believe that anyone deserves to make over $30 an hour putting wheels on Cadillacs. I know the history of unions, and I know they have had their place and purpose, but it is my humble opinion that they have become a corrupt and greedy organization who cares more about money than protecting the rights of workers. The sad part is the workers have become just as greedy. It has become "us against them" instead of "we". As it is becoming painfully clear that a house divided cannot stand, they are trying to piss on a forest fire.

I hate to see what has happened to the auto industry in America. There was a time when owning a Ford, Chevy, or Chrystler came with pride in ownership. Now, if you buy American, you wonder if you should have bought a Toyota, Hyundai, or Kia. I was disguted when I saw a Ford commercial and heard "we're as good as Toyota". Shame, shame, shame. I truly hope and pray that there is a bright future for the big three. God help us! We can't seem to help ourselves.


Blogger Auto Journalist said...

The media has done a fantastic job of making this mess sound like it's ALL the fault of the UAW and the "Detroit Three" being nothing but asinine bungling idiots.

This is the same media that insists at every turn that companies like Toyota can do no wrong whatsoever.

While there is some truth in the first part of it -- ever since the Federal government forced Detroit to play nice with the unions after WWII, which created the middle class in this country -- more recent history has presented Detroit with some monstrous challenges. Legacy costs (retiree pension and health care) are hurting our automakers. Union wages - while VERY close to what the "transplants" from Japan, Germany, and Korea pay their own - contain quite a bit of overhead that need to be trimmed.


No auto company has LOST MORE MONEY in the past year than... (survey says???) Toyota. That's right. The shiny happy Green Jeans company that loves trees and can do no wrong? They over-invested in building 13-MPG Tundras and Sequoias, just like Detroit did. They're more diversified - they build economical cars like the Corolla and Camry, while Chrysler doesn't build anything smaller than the Caliber. And even though Toyota builds such "feel good GREEN" cars like the Prius, they're still burning through cash like crazy.

Without unions. Without legacy costs. They're IN THE HOLE.

Toyota also leads the way in terms of the increase in RECALLS over the last four years. Their unprecedented growth has, apparently, come at the expense of some of that "legendary" Toyota quality.

Yes, during the '70s, '80s, and even the '90s, Detroit build some absolute rubbish -- cars as recent as the Pontiac Aztek in 2001 are evidence of that.

Now, forget the miserable failure that was the Aztek, and take a look at the new Chevy Malibu: The absolute best mid-size car on the market in its class. It looks great, is built in the US by Americans, and most importantly the profits from that car STAY HERE. The money stays in the US a lot more than it does if you buy, say, a Kentucky-built Toyota Camry (whose profits go to Tokyo).

The best damn midsize Hybrid car on the market in 2009? Ford Fusion Hybrid. No kidding, at all. Go check one out, and then go check out a Camry hybrid. Then, just LOOK at the two! One looks well-built, well-designed, like a real car. The other one... has a circular 'T' on the hood, and costs $3000 more.

Where GM has failed the most has nothing to do with how they build cars or how much they pay their workers. Where GM is failing most is in communicating to Americans: "Look, our cars are as good as anyone's. Come test drive them! Buy one! Hell, buy two! Don't just shop us based on price, shop us because we're DAMN GOOD."GM has lost the Public Relations war, with lots of help from a media that loves Toyota. There is no way to discount that.

I will say, even though Ford isn't on the government tit like GM and Chrysler, the future still looks very rough for ALL of the manufacturers. Yes, that includes Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Porsche... pretty much everyone but Ferrari, I think. Unless economic conditions improve worldwide, we're gonna' see a lot more hurt.

6:49 PM  

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