Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Delphi Automotive Parts Crisis - why did it happen?
Delphi is the amalgamation of former GM parts disions: Delco, Harrison, Inland and quite a few others, including the former Frigidaire Automotive line.
It recently filed for reorganization under bankruptcy... leading many to fear tens of thousands of high wage jobs lost.

This may seem to some a little bit of a surprise but, to those of us with close ties, it's been forewarned a long time.

* If GM hadnt started the benefits package to attract scarce labor after WWII, in order to meet pent-up consuner demand we wouldnt be having a lot of these problems

* If GM and Ford hadnt been shortsighted and knuckled under too easily to easily to the unions, they wouldnt be going slowly bankrupt... it's not a matter of 'if' but 'when'

* if Unions had tended to their knitting and acted more like a guild than a labor agent, we wouldnt have a lot of this mess.
The charter of any union should be to protect their interests, thus the membership, by providing a quality product at a reasonable price. Doing so involves weeding out rejects.

My whole family is GM/Harrison/Delphi... my dad and brothers retired from Dayton plants; fortunately they saw this coming and, having a choice during the spin-off, opted for GM retirement over Delphi.
- A no-brainer, you say? Uh, no... strangely some likened the spin-off to the forced divestiture of ATT. They thought that, freed of the GM shackles, like the Baby Bells - Delphi would take off and fly. Not EVEN close!

EVERY family dinner involved a 'preaching to the choir' litany about the waste and corruption in the assembly lines. The unions were self-centered and corrupt when I worked there in the sixties and it only got worse.
Just from MY experience:
- Had two grievances filed on me when I was on the line for attempting to streamline my job, incidently increasing quality
- On overtime assignments, I was repeatedly bumped into the worst job on the line by a union committeeman, who had a total on 1.5 years on the job, 1 less than me. That stopped when my foreman suggested I file a grievance against the committeeman.

My Father in Law, OTOH, was ALSO a retired 30 year GM employee, but he was notorious for complaining that auto prices were too high for him to afford a new car (he'd have had to cut down on his VFW bar tab) and, in the same breath, brag about how he didnt do anything the whole shift.

The locals in Dayton were, and presumably are, more concerned with appealing the cases of their members caught dealing drugs than helping Delphi find a way to keep the plants open.

And NO, my family WASNT management they were line workers.. and my brothers both were foremen at one time then gave it up because upper plant management didnt care about trying to eliminate waste and low productivity, only about 'making the shift quota'... much of which ended up in the rework bin, because it couldnt pass the final quality check.

Now all that doesnt seem remarkable on the face of it... but do we remember WHY Japanese cars got their market in the US?

Bottom Line for Unions: They would rather have permanent layoffs, and protect the high wages and benefits of the remaining workers

Bottom Line for automotive middle management: "Dont rock the boat, all that matters is short term numbers"

Bottom line for US corporations? "Pay it now AND pay it later."

Summary for ALL of us: The shift from corporate pension to independent retirement funds, IRA and 401K, came 30 years too late.

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