Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rand Simberg on the UAW

It isn't just the compensation packages UAW workers get that has made GM, Ford and Chrysler less profitable than their non-unionized competitors: it's the thousands of union work rules that have dragged down productivity. Like what? Check this out, from Rand Simberg's own time working in AC Sparkplug and Fisher Body plants:
A breaker might trip on the robot. A gate might jam, causing the reservoir to fill and the parts line to be depleted, making the workers below unable to complete the assembly of an oil filter. And when these things happened, what was I supposed to do? If a breaker tripped, I was supposed to put in a repair ticket for an electrician. If a gate jammed, I was supposed to put in a ticket for a pipefitter — it may even have been a special subclassification for an assembly-line upper-level pipefitter. If a belt jammed, I was supposed to requisition a machinist, any of whom might be busy on other jobs. Or outside, taking a nap in their van. While waiting for them to arrive, assembly lines, perhaps even the entire plant, would be shut down, costing thousands of dollars a minute with workers sitting around unable to assemble the product.
They'll get to it, when they get to it. Rand also shares a couple of anecdotes from a former supervisor. Lest you think management has no role in this:
...but when I tried to make them increase production ever so slightly they sabotaged my ability to make even the current production levels by hiding stock, calling in sick, feigning equipment problems, and even once, as a show of force, used a fork lift truck and pallets and racks to create a car part prison where they trapped me while I was conducting inventory. The reaction of upper management to my request to boost production was that I should “not be naive.”
Sounds like management had long since given up on trying. You can, as they say, read the whole thing.

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