Friday, November 07, 2008

Bad News from Motor City

Thanks for all the calls and emails asking if Sean still has a job. As far as I know he does. Of course, he hasn’t called in a few hours so I’m not certain...

The news out of Detroit is bleak. The Big Three automakers are bleeding cash and are again slashing jobs. Lansing alone will lose 700 hourly jobs at the start of 2009 and is looking to cut even more salaried folks above the 20% reduction already announced.

Yes, those cuts sound dire for the auto industry, and, to be sure, they are. But to put it in big-picture perspective: one auto industry job supports 10 other jobs. And we’re not talking just the McDonald’s worker or gas station attendant but local doctors and insurance agents and dentists. This is bad, bad news for Lansing.

There’s plenty of blame to throw at all participants. As I’ve written before, the company blew it big time in the 70’s, building crap, then wondering why Americans didn’t want to buy from them in the 80’s. I also blame the execs for not handling the UAW more strongly. Sean will tell me the company has to give them what they want because they’ll walk out and cause the company to lose millions, if not billions, of dollars. That is the ultimate example of cutting off your nose to spite your face and who would be stupid enough to do that? Oh, that’s right - mechanics at Eastern Airlines (remember them?). The mechanics put the company out of business. And I do believe, after watching a strike at Sean’s plant, that the UAW would be stupid enough to do that to GM.

(Side note: If you’re a UAW member working at Sean’s plant, please don’t get mad at him. He’s not the one writing this. And, hey, while you’re at it, could you please get your head out of your butt and realize your union is helping kill the company that provides your job? Thanks a bunch.)

What’s the solution? I don’t know (newsflash, I’m sure) but as long as the UAW is involved I don’t see a good way out. Really, how does a company expect to get ahead when its work force is more adversary than ally? The union workers think they work for the Union. Here’s another newsflash – all those union workers at Sean’s plant won’t be working if GM ceases to exist. Beating a dead horse one more time: if you’re in the UAW at a GM plant you work for GM, not the UAW!

Okay, that horse is off to the glue factory.

I’ve wondered if Sean would be better off getting a job elsewhere, perhaps as a teacher. And when we discuss the option he toys with the idea for a few moments, then comes back to the same conclusion: He loves GM. He loves building cars. He loves producing something in America. He wants to be a part of the GM recovery plan.

He’ll get nothing but support from me. Support, some budget-tightening and blog posts, of course.