I have a good, incredibly talented and intelligent friend who has been a contract industrial engineer for Saturn corp for a good many years. His job involves time studies and throughput and efficiency studies. The different categories of analysis are staggering and a single report is usually over 200 pages of charts and dialogue.
One of his tasks is to chart Saturn's performance data against Non-union Toyota and Honda plants. This information is provided only to a few top brass on a "need to know" basis. These charts are not available to the individual managers (who are non union for the most part). The only charts that are available to the individual managers are the ones that compare the plant performance to other unionized domestic facilities.
His own words are that domestic union auto makers can only strive for a "reasonable fraction" of the throughput of the non union Honda and Toyota competitors, and he makes it very clear that is has nothing to do with Saturn's assembly techniques or anything to do with the parts needing further engineering, etc..
Just relayed this as an "FYI"...
An interesting sidenote is that when Saturn opened their plant in Tennessee (or when there was a resolution to a union squabble, I can't really remember), to celebrate this all employees from the entire location took a few days to paint an incredibly long wood fence that went around the entire property.
One of the tasks was to wash down the wood with a TSP solution, then to put a prime coat on the bare wood, followed by 2 coats of exterior paint.
The sections of fence that were painted by the management look fine today. The remainder of the fencing is marked by large sections where paint is peeling off of unprimed wood, and thin single-coat portions are weathering away. This has been relayed to me by my friend, and by two people who are suppliers to the plant. I have no way to verify this, other than to tell you that my friend is trustworthy and has no reason to be a union-basher. In fact, it would make his job much easier if the union were a benefit to the plant.
Oh, and my friend no longer works for Saturn. His position was important to the plant, but they had some other GM locations up north that were staffed by union employees and those plants were closing down. There was too much red tape for GM in doing away with a union employee, so they gave his position to a relocated union employee. Joe was called by an engineering company and asked to go to work for them as an IE to supervise some of the production activity at a local automaker. Joe assumed that it would be the Nissan plant. He took the job. They sent him to Saturn to assist the guy who had replaced him. Joe said he is a nice enough guy but isn't properly qualified for the work. The new guy collects data and Joe writes the reports. Odd.