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Any UAW members here? Or any experiences??

Old 10-04-2003, 07:06 PM
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In my area, my company pays it's hourly workers the same or more than any other company. The starting wage is higher than most, and our benefits are on par or better than anyones.

I've been doing some "fishing" this week. I've made inquiries with people who work hard, go the extra mile, try to do the right thing ever day. I've also talked to several people that most people consider "slackers" or "complainers." In nearly EVERY case, the so called slackers were adamant about their want for a union. Job security, we'll get a raise, etc... are what I've heard from them. The "hard workers" were nearly all in favor of keeping our current status. They (we I guess since I'm in this group) don't believe job security will get better, we believe it will in fact get worse. At the other JCI plants that voted in the union, the workers got raises all right, enough to cover the 2 hours wages worth of dues and no more. In one case, everyone was put on a level pay scale and half the workers got pay CUTS instead of a raise. Everyone in that plant makes the same wage. That would SUCK. In my investigations over the last week, I've come to the conclusion that the UAW might work for the auto makers, but for the tier one and two suppliers (like JCI, Magna-Donnely, Lear, etc...) they really just want members and their dues. No tier one's or two's seem to have benifited at all from the unionization of their companies. In fact, several smaller ones and several plants for the larger ones have closed due to what appears to be the UAW's unwillingness to step up and do what the said they would do. The UAW is big business, and dues are what they are after. For me, my yearly dues would be over $420 a year. I sure can use that money more than the big union bosses.

The west Michigan area has never been a big supporter of the UAW. I don't see any reason to change that now.

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Old 10-04-2003, 08:03 PM
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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.

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Old 10-04-2003, 11:33 PM
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Mike, In regards to going union or not, When I worked for employers I've always wanted to be compensated according to my own merit not what some scale dictates. When I was in the union I saw too many people not give effort and were financially rewarded the same as I was.
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Old 10-05-2003, 10:07 AM
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Good story Mcollinstin! Sounds VERY familiar and right in line with my own experiences in manufacturing.

Has anyone yet pointed out what useful purpose that a union holds in today's work environment? The items listed by the pro-union side of this discussion are history facts not current day issues. Is there ANY employer today that does not consider all of those items plus more to keep their business healthy? I don't think so. The bottom line for success is about making money in the safest manner possible while protecting your assests (both human and non-human). I have not seen an employer not consider that in over 20 years. Has anyone else???
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Old 10-05-2003, 10:37 AM
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Vyper340, that is a good question. Does anyone have any positive comments about what the union has done for them? I believe that to truely answer that question you would have to have worked at a non-union facility as well as at a union facility. Or in a plant that was once non-union and is now union.
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Old 10-05-2003, 09:11 PM
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the salary people at JCi are NOT ALLOWED to communicate ANY info regarding the union to the hourly workforce. they cannot even give you a phone number to the union if you ask for one. the response required is " I'm sorry, you will have to find all information regarding pros and cons of the union on your own or through the information you can gather from the union. I am held under the neutrality agreement"

"neutrality" ??????

take heed to this ...... generic statement.......

"team leader"

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Old 10-05-2003, 10:56 PM
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Wow Mike, interesting reading!

We've had unions try to get into our plant a number of times in my 9+ years on the job at HMI. One of the other plants is union and has been for years. They were in fact a union shop when purchased by HMI while the plant I work for is not.
All other HMI plants are non-union.

The union plant's workers get paid less an hour (most cases well over a buck an hour) and do not get nearly as good benefits as all the other HMI workers get. FACT! Plus they still have to pay the dues too!! Now the union is not the UAW, but does nothing for them and I think they are just now figuring out that.
Thats probably why we haven't see a union rep at our shop in quite a few years.

Now back to JCI,
Personally I don't think now would be the time to unionize a shop anyways. I mean what if the union and the company can't agree on terms? Strike?? There are tons of ready and willing people waiting to find a decent job and as we saw in the Wolverine plant, company's are not having a hard time finding replacement workers to replace striking employee's.

Lots of people looking for what we (thankfully) already (or still) have.

Good luck!
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Old 10-06-2003, 06:57 AM
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Most of this discussion has been centered around the UAW. I have a brother who is a UAW member, and from what I've heard, from other people, about that shop, in that particular plant, it has it's faults.
However, I believe that my shop, Pace Local 2-901, is run diligently, correctly, collectively and responsibly.
Yes we have our share of "scrubbs" and yes we have defended them (on many occasions) "successfully". I say successfully because it is arguable what the definition of that word can mean. My job doesn't come down to a part in the wrong place, a screw not tightened or missing. My job comes down to life and death. I work in an oil refinery. My unit is extremely explosive. One wrong turn of a valve and you'll be reading about us in USA Today.
Well Vyper, your question put very simply (what have unions done for the American people lately?)

*My union keeps me safe. We have a joint health and safety committee. I know (being on the G&N committee) we talk about safety, hours worked, overtime and of course the standard this person didn't get paid for this or that, etc etc.
*My local continues the ideas and ideals that our forefathers started/fought for.
*Last contract we were able to receive "profit sharing"
*it keeps me on scale with inflation
*it makes sure I get paid the way the contract says I should
*it gives me security that in the event of a layoff, a man with less seniority will go before I do. (yes I know this is where the slackers come from)
*I'm allowed to express my opinion without fear of punishment. I don't have to be a "YES" man.
*I get 26 weeks sick time (TOP THAT!) ps. the last time I was out sick was Jan to April 2000 for major knee reconstruction. Full pay.
*I can refuse to do unsafe work without fear of discipline.
*dental plan
*I don't have to worry about getting blind sided. Meaning I dont come in one morning and get a pink slip out of the blue.
*progressive vacation for years of service. Up to 6 weeks vacation after 20yrs service.

I can go on and on. The point is this. FACT! People who get paid well in non union jobs get paid that way because of unions. PERIOD. You cant legitimately argue with that.
Whether it's because they want to keep the unions out, or if it's just because of the unions of the past that fought for fair wages. Trust me, it's not because (in most cases) of the generosity of the employer.

What have the unions done for the American people lately? They continue to walk the road that has been paved for us in the past. They keep the standards...standard.
Remember, a good union is an informed, educated union that will work with management hand in hand.

Now that Bush wants to take your overtime money away, lets see what happens if that bill passes.

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Old 10-06-2003, 11:36 AM
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Good points Dave! I would however like to offer a counter point to a few of the items that you mentioned for the benefit of everyone reading.

In bullet point one; I believe that OSHA and their requirements on employers do more for site safety and compliance than 99.9% of the "safety committees" out there. In plants that I have run or been involved with (union and non-union) it was the FIRST priority of every supervisor and worker to ensure that the work environment was safe. PERIOD. In EVERY instance an injury occurred it was because a worker circumvented the procedures that kept them safe. The rules on accident investigation are in place to not only ensure that safe practices are in place but to ensure that any and all preventative issues can and are addressed. After all, if we all don't keep the team safe then we cannot win the game and the game is to make money. BTW, I was a naval officer engineer and I too was responsible for life and death performance although mine experience was aboard war ships. Rules were followed and performance was critical or people died. Funny thing is, I don't recall a union being necessary for that organization to achieve fairness and safety for everyone on board. Hmmm. Waterfould, perhaps that is a good model to look at that is older than any labor union in the United States.

Bullet point three; every company I have ever been associated with pays profit sharing and most companies in this country do in one way, shape or form. Profit sharing items to name a few, are: 401k, benefits, stock purchase plans, bonuses, etc..

Bullet point five; is there really an issue of getting paid for what you do? An hour worked is an hour worked and if there are adequate ways to gauge that (time clocks, job sheets or whatever) then it shouldn't be a problem that a contract is needed for. Not to mention the wasted time and effort engaging the union to fight for it... Don't misinterpret that as "oh well, you shouldn't get paid what you are owed" either. I am simply stating that if there was a good process in place then this is a non-issue. After all, how many times and occurrences does this happen that the union helps address?

Bullet point seven; I haven't seen a company in decades that will punish someone for saying what they want as long as it is not demeaning or derogatory towards another. Does that really happen where you work and is the union the solution???

Bullet point eight; I agree that work related injuries should be covered by any employer. Unfortunately this area gets muddied quite a bit by the "scrubbs" as you put it. All too often the "scrubbs" will abuse the system which only hurts the team, but they lose site of that because the only thing they're really focused on is themselves. I have also seen nearly every variation on this point from light duty abuse to taking extended time off. In my opinion, any good HR team combined with government rules will provide any employee with fair and reasonable treatment for time needed off for injuries. Was your injury work related? If not, do you really think that the company should have to pay for it? Some do some don't but a union is not the answer.

Bullet point nine; your first bullet point should have addressed any item here so what's the point?

Bullet point twelve; it's not too often that someone gets "blindsided" as you put it. If they fail to heed the signs of the disciplinary actions for work or attendance performance then I guess anyone can get "blindsided". I personally have never seen or been party to anyone getting "blindsided" or if they were dismissed with little or no notice it was because of something they did. In my plants all you would have to do is violate a safety rule and I can assure you that the person doing so will be "blindsided" with a pink slip, union or not!

Now let's really talk about an issue that most of us lose site of, Value Added (VA) versus Non-Value Added (NVA). The definition of Value Added is any activity or process that translates into something that a customer will pay for, NVA is everything else. An efficient system or business strives to reduce or eliminate NVA to strengthen themselves and permit the business to make more profit. Can you tell me which items, if any, that a union (or any of the items you listed) offers to the Value Added side of the equation? Every item you listed not only takes time and money to resolve but it does absolutely nothing for the customer. Either the company has to raise prices to pay for the waste or lose money. How long do you think that any entrepenuer or business will take losing money before they move or close it? If we all spent more time trying to make it better than picking sides then the whole business and your pay would benefit. The next time that anyone thinks about a situation at work try thinking about it from the position of the company being yours (you are the owner). Would you spend or waste that time and money?

DaveF - you have pointed the finger at the "greed" of companies and the need of a union to protect the worker but remember these few points:
1. businesses exist to make money (profit) by providing a service or product to those who require it.
2. businesses do not exist to pay salaries, benefits, profit sharing, etc. to any employee, union or non-union, salaried or non-salaried.
3. businesses do not exist to struggle with employees and unions over fair practices but instead must provide them to achieve objective number 1.

If we all remember these points and put ourselves in the place of the owner then it may be more clear to see a better way to achieve objective 1 to the benefit of everyone involved, union or not!

Good luck Waterfoul with JCI's issue at hand. I hope that it works out to the benefit of everyone involved!

Last edited by Vyper340; 10-06-2003 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 10-06-2003, 01:43 PM
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Vyper340 - Great job on your last post! My sentiment mirrors yours. The wonderful thing about facts is that they don't lie and are not clouded with opinion which can be biased.

I do not wish to bash any union member, but sometimes I feel like they are being misled to feel like they are being 'jilted' by their employer 'all the time'. This means that total worker job satisfaction never really materializes, and the employer is always defending their actions, which translates to less attention to the growth of the company and the support of the customer. Everytime a contract comes up for renewal, the union leaders always seem to work their membership into a frenzy to support thier demands. This is interesting, because prior to the contract renewals, there is usually very little discontent.

One thing that has changed the workforce is our global economy. The incentive for companies to provide COMPETITIVE compensation and work environments may have been fueled in the past by the fear of a union coming in and running the show. Nowadays, the union could evaporate and the incentive would still be there because the companies would still need to compete globally. All of the government controlled programs (i.e. OSHA, FICA, MEDICARE, etc.) provide a BASE requirement for companies to compete from. If you want skilled workers who will be long term employees, you must offer attractive, 'additional' compensation packages to retain them - lest they go elsewhere. The real way that a company becomes successful is the proper guidance of management and the workforce's ability to carry out the tasks. If any of these actions are not successful, the company will falter.

Remember Eastern Airlines? The interesting thing about that, was when it got itself in financial trouble (due to the recession), it looked to the well established unions to help it make ends meet and stay afloat (i.e. givebacks, salary cuts, etc.). The flight attendant's union, and pilot's union agreed to the request. However, the machinist's union would not budge! They even had the ball$ to ask for additional compensation! Eastern wanted to find a way to stay afloat and retain it's skilled employees, however, the machinist's union's stance proved to be the death blow to Eastern's financial stability. The end of the story resulted in EVERYONE losing their job at Eastern! Now everyone suffered due to the self-serving nature of one key union. Nobody can tell me that a union helped anyone in this situation.

Sometimes, when I hear union folks going on strike for one reason or another, I can't help but think that a good percentage of the rank-and-file members are just fine with the way things are. And if they had the choice, I am sure they would continue to work. But, intimidation, fear, and personal safety are always areas where unions go to control the masses. Look at what unions do to replacement workers that cross the picket line! If you are picketing, you are led to believe that those who cross are bashing you and looking to steal your job. However, I can make a good arguement that those people are looking to keep the company afloat, and make sure there is a company to go back to when the dispute is settled. A different kind of job security. The concept is simple. If a company can't produce product, it loses money. If it loses money, it can't pay it's workers - it goes out of business.

It sorta reminds me of how masses can be controlled to the extent of someone doing something they wouldn't do on their own, and seem to have no problem letting someone else guide thier life for them. But that's another discussion for another time...

This is just my general opinion. I am NOT bashing any union member here personally!!

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