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872 workers losing jobs at Saturn plant
'Indefinite' layoffs - nearly 75% of work force - start in June
LULADEY B. TADESSE
News Journal - Delawareonline.com
05/21/2004

General Motors Corp. will lay off 872 workers at the Saturn plant near Newport next month, nearly three-quarters of its assembly line work force.

GM said the "permanent reduction" of workers will begin as early as June 7, according to a letter the company filed with the state Department of Labor. On Thursday, GM officials called the layoffs "indefinite" and said they will take place in mid-June.

Some workers could be called back to make the Pontiac Solstice, scheduled for production at the plant next summer, and an unnamed Saturn sports car the following year, said Dan Flores, spokesman for GM Manufacturing. But he did not disclose how many might be called back or when.

David Myers, president of United Auto Workers Local 435, did not return phone calls Thursday.

Laid-off employees receive unemployment benefits and pay equal to 83 percent to 95 percent of their base wages for up to 42 weeks, after which they join the company's jobs bank. Employees in the jobs bank are paid their full salary. The average wage of an assembly line worker at the plant is $26 an hour.

Workers in the jobs bank are eligible for transfer to other GM plants. If an employee refuses four transfer offers, he or she is no longer employed by the company. Workers can remain in the jobs bank until the union contract expires in the fall of 2007.

The layoffs come as GM moves to discontinue the Saturn L-series sedan and wagon this summer, a year earlier than planned. Last year, the plant was shut down for 12 weeks because of weak sales. Also last year, the plant laid off 400 workers as it went to one shift. Some of those workers have since been transferred to other GM plants, including in Baltimore.

The Newport-area plant now employs 1,200 assembly workers and 645 others, including about 500 already in the jobs bank.

"Ultimately, we couldn't justify continuing the product because the market didn't want the product," Flores said.

"We have been left with a strong sense that they are going to bring back workers for the Solstice and more workers for the following model," said Judy McKinney Cherry, of the Delaware Economic Development Office.

Full Article Here: http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjournal/...rkerslosin.html


 

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Did I read that right? The laid off workers are being paid almost all of their salaries for the first 42 weeks, then all of it? At $26 an hour? Wow! No wonder GM has such a hard time with finances... they end up paying their workers when they aren't even working! Can you imagine how much cheaper the MSRP would be and how much more advanced the quality would be if there weren't this gigantic concrete albatross around the company's neck? I mean, I understand wanting to take care of your workers, but when the benefits push the company closer to not being able to offer anything at all due to dire financial straits, then I would hope the UAW would make some concessions to assure the company will be able to remain competitive.
 

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Did I read that right? The laid off workers are being paid almost all of their salaries for the first 42 weeks, then all of it? At $26 an hour? Wow! No wonder GM has such a hard time with finances... they end up paying their workers when they aren't even working! Can you imagine how much cheaper the MSRP would be and how much more advanced the quality would be if there weren't this gigantic concrete albatross around the company's neck? I mean, I understand wanting to take care of your workers, but when the benefits push the company closer to not being able to offer anything at all due to dire financial straits, then I would hope the UAW would make some concessions to assure the company will be able to remain competitive.
Yea, this is a big shocker. I'm in the wrong business. I don't know of any company
that takes care of there workers like autoworkers. I really can't feel that sorry for
them that there being laid-off.
As far as the Saturn L-Series goes, this was a failure from the get-go. It's ugly,
and is a dumbed down version of an Opel. GM might have had better luck leaving
it unchanged and bringing it over as an Opel, and not disguise it as some ugly duckling Saturn.
 

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That is some deal!! I want to be a laid-off auto worker!! Fun in the sun for years to come!!
 

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Yes, a big thank you to the UAW for keeping prices right up there. Imagine how nice the interiors of GM's car and trucks could be if they were not paying people not to work. Thant's as good as paying farmers not to farm! Which the US government does! What a great liberal soceity we live in.
I live in Michigan. One of my neighbors has been employed with GM for 28 years and has only actually worked 18-19 years. He can't understand why the workers in the Japanese plants down south won't sign on with the UAW!
 

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Hi, guys. I've been lurking around these boards for a while, and when I came across this thread, it really burned me to see what people's opinions are about the UAW (and, to an extent, the CAW).

You wonder why the workers and the union won't accept concessions? It's because upper management and CEO's won't take them. The day the president of General Motors decides to take a cut in pay, then I'm sure the union would consider it for their workers.

What the union has done for the autoworkers is made them part of the company. Long gone are the days when a company would hire a bunch of young guys off the street, work them 'till they break, then dump them for some fresh new young men. Now, the company is committed to those people who are the lifeblood and the backbone of the company. When the company profits, so do the workers.

If you think you'd somehow get better quality if GM used cheap, disposable labour, you're sadly mistaken. History has shown that the only thing they'd use that money for is to fatten their profit margin. The only reason why they budget money for R&D is to stay competitive...they'd get killed if they didn't. Whatever money they'll spend on R&D is going to be the same, no matter how much or little they're spending on their labour force.

There was a time back in the early 80's when the UAW did accept concessions, and it proved to be a big mistake. I suggest you people give Bob White's My Life on the Line a good read to get a more educated view on why concessions don't work to help a company.
 

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Dodge Driver obviously has no idea how the market economy works. How can a company dump savings into its profit margin if its competitors put those savings into lower prices and/or superior products? (hint: they can't).

No, those lazy, overpaid UAW/CAW workers make us all poorer through higher prices and inferior products. NOBODY should be paid full wages to sit on their asses for years when they could be working and actually contributing something to society!

As is the Big Three are being forced to compete on a unlevel basis, and again anyone who knows the first thing about economics will tell you that isn't sustainable. The global automotive industry is actually one of the most effecient, competative, and ever-progressing there is, and nobody's guaranteed a free ride: auto companies lose money nearly as often as they make it.

This is a classic example of stealing from the poor masses to further enrich the lucky few (union workers in this case).
 

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All the more reason to buy an Aveo and make those UAW bosses sweat in negotiations. ;)
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 22 2004, 09:46 PM
Dodge Driver obviously has no idea how the market economy works. How can a company dump savings into its profit margin if its competitors put those savings into lower prices and/or superior products? (hint: they can't).

No, those lazy, overpaid UAW/CAW workers make us all poorer through higher prices and inferior products. NOBODY should be paid full wages to sit on their asses for years when they could be working and actually contributing something to society!

As is the Big Three are being forced to compete on a unlevel basis, and again anyone who knows the first thing about economics will tell you that isn't sustainable. The global automotive industry is actually one of the most effecient, competative, and ever-progressing there is, and nobody's guaranteed a free ride: auto companies lose money nearly as often as they make it.

This is a classic example of stealing from the poor masses to further enrich the lucky few (union workers in this case).
Clearly, you have no idea how the automobile industry works.

When a product (car) fails in the marketplace, is that the fault of the unionized workers? Hardly; they're just building the car as they are directed to. When that same product (car) fails, do the engineers that designed it, or the upper management responsible for the car, get laid off? No they do not. Does the president of General Motors take a pay cut when some of their products are failing? Hardly.

Why should the workers who are the backbone and the bloodline of the company have to take concessions when nobody else is? What the union does is it forces General Motors to remain productive and keep it's workers working. You might notice how those laid-off Saturn workers are going to be recalled to build the new Solstice. As long as GM has to keep paying them, you know they're going to get them back into the plant as soon as possible...and that's good for the workers, the economy, and the company.

Even if all the unionized workers accepted a pay cut by half and didn't get paid while laid off, are you really that naive to think that the money saved would result in lower prices and superior products? Hardly. In fact, the quality of the products is likely to drop, while the company fattens it's coffers. Once again, I suggest you give Bob White's "My life on the line" a read so that perhaps you could produce an educated response next time.

Do bear in mind that General Motors is making some of the highest quality products in the world today and are making very healthy products in spite of the union. I cite the Union-built Impala as one of the best cars you can get in it's class for the money. Gee, I wonder why that is?
 

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Originally posted by Ming@May 22 2004, 09:56 PM
All the more reason to buy an Aveo and make those UAW bosses sweat in negotiations. ;)
I have to say, I like the Korean-built Aveo. It's a nice little hatchback, though butt-ugly in sedan form. I should point out that this non-union company called Daewoo with a global market went under while companies supposedly "Hobbled" by a unionized workforce are still thriving today, raking in healthy profits. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
 

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And when the car and company is successful, is that the workers doing too?

The reality is that management, the engineneers, and the marketing people are who make the company successful or not, and they are rewarded accordingly. Those jobs come only with education, hard work, and results. There are no guarantees for anyone (unless, of course, your last name is Ford, Piech, etc. ;))

Line workers deserve the going rate just like everyone else - no more no less. If the company goes under who cares? They can get a job somewhere else. It's better for an uncompetative company to go under and free up resources than to keep it alive as a drag on everyone.

And that's exactly why locking in capacity is a very bad thing. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are forced to produce huge numbers of cars at no profit or even a loss. That's just crazy. If they can't make a profit then they should leave the market to someone who can. If produceing huge numbers of cars nobody wants (and selling that below cost, to fleets, etc.) was such a good idea how 'come the Big Three are constantly losing marketshare while their competitors who only sell cars they can make a profit on are constantly gaining share?
 

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And the US/Canada and South Korea are very different countries! I'm all for union in developing countries where they actually serve to ensure the basic rights of workers where they would otherwise be abused because of weak/no government regulation and a huge oversupply of labour.

Unions in developed countries, except in a few cases (public sector for example), have outlived their usefullness. This is 2004 - not 1904. Labour laws are stricted and enforced. The labour market is well-functioning. Everyone has access to social services. Unions in this case cause far more harm than good, artifically raiseing wages (and costs) to the benefit of a few, leading to higher prices for everyone. They also throw up all kinds of barriers to change and technological progress, which are absolutely crucial in the modern economy.

In fact as SK has becoming richer unions are starting to be a hinderance there as well. One of the handicapes of all the East Asian economies, however, (even the most advanced such as Japan) is that they have weak regulation and a poorly developed social safety net. In those cases less market flexability could be better than the alternative. Thankfully, however, we in North America have strong regulation and very comprehensive social programs (for when transitioning between jobs for instance, or improveing out education), so we can fully take advantage of market flexability and the effeciencies (a.k.a. wealth) it creates.
 

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I'm all for workers rights, but getting 95% of your wage for doing nothing is a load of BS, it constricts a company too much, maybe they should get paid something but not 95%. Either less or do some work for the money.
 

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And they'll get 6 month of unemployment insurance money after GM stops paying them. Kinda kills the incentive to get off of your duff and go find work, doesn't it?
 

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When a car is successful, that has a lot to do with the workers. The reason why cars like the Impala are so successful is because the workers building it are dedicated to quality. When you pay your workers a sub-standard wage and have a revolving door policy, quality suffers as a result. The marketing staff can only do so much; if the car is a piece of crap, all the marketing in the world isn't going to help it. The guys on the line are the ones who can make a difference between a piece of crap and a good car, and GM frequently picks the brains of the line workers and compensates them for their ideas with their "Ideas for excellence" program.

A lot of those line workers are just as committed to the company as the corporate big-wigs...in some cases, even more. The skilled labour force has just as much, if not more, committed to education than the corporate big-wigs. When a big corporate guy wants to make cuts that will affect quality, it's the union worker who steps in and tells them so, without fear of getting canned because of the protection offered by the union.

The reality is, when a company isn't doing well with the cars it's making, does the president take a pay cut? Do any of the corporate VIP's or CEO's take cuts in their HUGE salaries? No they do not. Then why do they expect that of their workforce, which is the backbone of the company? Politicians, doctors, lawyers...examples of others who won't take concessions. The union only wants its members to be treated fairly. As long as the president of General Motors is making a ridiculously large salary and not taking concessions, nobody should expect anything different from the people actually building the cars. And those workers are entitled to share in the company's success because they're the ones that are producing that high-quality product like the Impala, Grand Prix, and the Regal.

What GM has done in response is very smart. They treat their labour force as an investment. They never over-hire so they can lay off later; instead, they hire what they need, and keep new designs like the Solstice coming so they can keep their labour investment working.

Anyone who thinks that unions have outlived their usefulness in developed countries aren't tuned in to the realities that labour faces today and are truly naive. We need unions today more than any other time. You have companies like Wal-Mart raking in record profits, yet they still continue to pay their work force a sub-standard wage. A lot of non-union places turn into sweat shops, where people are expected to work overtime without compensation...and if you're not willing to work the overtime, they'll lay you off and hire someone who will. Then you have places like the domestic Honda factories, which does pay it's workers a decent wage and treat them right...but that's because they can hear the union knocking at the door. All the workers at GM, Ford and Chrysler are effectively paying the union dues for the workers in the Honda and Nissan plants.

I've been there and seen it first hand. In the IT industry, I worked for a company that was non-union (most are non-union). The company had just increased what they charge for their services, citing the increased cost of doing business. The customers were still getting the same service, but paying more. When I went in for a raise, citing the increased cost of living, my boss laughed and said, "What do you think this is, General Motors?" They expected me to give them more, even though they expected their customers to pay more for the same. Eventually, I won and got my raise...which was eaten up by courses I had to take. The following year, I was laid off indefinitely with some Russian immigrant taking my place making half of what they paid me. Of course, quality suffered badly because he didn't have near the experience that I had. I was glad to be out, though...the place really was turning into a sweat shop, with salaried workers putting in long hours and taking their work home with them to make big profits for the people not doing nearly the same amount of work.

I have to say, I am amazed at the level of uneducated opinion that goes with the anti-union sentiment here. It must be all about corporate profits to you people. Clearly, the benefits the union has on the local economy is lost on you guys...you'd rather corporations be allowed to lock up their money while whole communities slip into states of depression, allowing those companies to hire people back, desparate to work, at a substandard rate...the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, we're back to the 1930's and the great depression again.
 

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Originally posted by Ming@May 23 2004, 01:00 PM
And they'll get 6 month of unemployment insurance money after GM stops paying them. Kinda kills the incentive to get off of your duff and go find work, doesn't it?
Yeah, why not just cut them off and drive whole communities into a state of depression? :rolleyes:
 

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Having experienced, dedicated workers and low turnover is indeed an advantage, and something smart companies will ensure by paying decent wages regardless. They don't need unions to tell them this.

However locking in employees through unions and promoteing and retaining on seniority alone doesn't make any allowances for how good a worker is.

And if companies are forceing workers to work unpaid overtime or are otherwise brakeing labour laws call the labour board! They will be all over their ***. Being a student and knowing many people who also work low wage, entry-level jobs we all are very wel aware of our rights under the law and won't let employers get away with ignoreing them.

Fundamentally the unions have served their purpose. In the late-1800s and early-1900s they were the ones largely who pushed for worker protection under the law and for a strong social safety net. Now that we have both those things haven't the unions outlived their purpose?
 

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Originally posted by Dodge Drivin' Paul+May 23 2004, 01:45 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Dodge Drivin' Paul @ May 23 2004, 01:45 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Ming@May 23 2004, 01:00 PM
And they'll get 6 month of unemployment insurance money after GM stops paying them.  Kinda kills the incentive to get off of your duff and go find work, doesn't it?
Yeah, why not just cut them off and drive whole communities into a state of depression? :rolleyes: [/b][/quote]
Are these workers not entitles to standard unemployment insurance and benefits just like everyone else? Are they not able to put money aside for hard times? (especially at their crazy wages!) Are they incapable ot finding/createing new jobs for themselves?

Can you imagine if everyone was entitled to these kind of insane benefit programs? Nobody would have any incentive to work!
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 23 2004, 04:43 PM
Having experienced, dedicated workers and low turnover is indeed an advantage, and something smart companies will ensure by paying decent wages regardless. They don't need unions to tell them this.

However locking in employees through unions and promoteing and retaining on seniority alone doesn't make any allowances for how good a worker is.

And if companies are forceing workers to work unpaid overtime or are otherwise brakeing labour laws call the labour board! They will be all over their ***. Being a student and knowing many people who also work low wage, entry-level jobs we all are very wel aware of our rights under the law and won't let employers get away with ignoreing them.

Fundamentally the unions have served their purpose. In the late-1800s and early-1900s they were the ones largely who pushed for worker protection under the law and for a strong social safety net. Now that we have both those things haven't the unions outlived their purpose?
Having seniority means that the more time of your life you've committed to the company, the more choices you have in the jobs you can do. Granted, if you're not capable of performing a certain job, you won't be doing it...but seniority, especially in the unskilled labour force, is a great incentive. You know you won't get stuck on the same job for the next 30 years; you get to move up, get some variety, and get a better understanding how the process works.

Unpaid overtime happens all the time with salaried employees, and there's nothing the labour board can do about it. It's rampant in the Information Technology industry, where people are expected to take their work home with them, come in extra early and stay a little late. If you don't, you get laid off and they'll hire someone who can.

Go and ask your typical Wal-Mart employee if unions are a thing of the past and have outlived their purpose. I'm sure some will agree with you, but the ones sick and tired of getting a sub-standard rate of pay while their company is posting record profits year after year will tell you they can't wait until they get organized.

The sad fact of the matter is, most large corporations are driven purely by profit and will do everything possible to maximize those profits, even if it means making only a penny more. The long-term advantage to having experienced, dedicated workers is lost on board members who are only interested in maximizing the quarterly reports and maximizing the return on investment for their shareholders. They soon forget about the people who are making those profits possible. What the union does is say, "Excuse me, but while you're celebrating and buying corporate jets and such, our guys and girls are looking for an extra couple of bucks so they can afford to keep paying for gas to drive to work." Without a union, the complaining employees are told to get stuffed and are easily replaced...but with a union, the workers can stand together and demand their fair share or else the profit-making machine gets shut down. The union effectively levels the playing field a little better.

This means that what the guys at GM are getting in benefits were negotiated, they're part of the worker's fair share of GM's success over the years. And make no mistake about it; in spite of the loss in market share during the late 70's and early 80's, GM has been and continues to be a very successful and profitable business. What you see the guys at Saturn getting now comes from the many years of hard work that they put in. Most people working in an office today woudn't be able to keep pace with what an assembly line worker has to do. Consider a 45 second cycle time with a job loaded up so you're basically on your feet running around all day long. Imagine loading up 4 or 5 stations with razor-sharp metal in under 45 seconds, for 8 hours a day, and no air conditioning. That's what many of them have to do for years before they can move up to a better job. GM runs it's operations very lean as it is, as each worker's job gets loaded up with more and more work. They certainly have earned the paid time off they'll get with the layoff, and it won't even put a dent in GM's profits. Paying 872 workers while they're laid off is a pittance for this corporate giant who'll get it back out of them when they have them building the Solstice.

Without a union, a company like GM is going to be controlled by the shareholders. Shareholders that are only interested in maximizing profits with no regards for the social implecations of their choices. You can bet it's in their best interest to get the union out, and to brainwash people into believing that unions are a thing of the past. One thing is certain; eliminate the unions, and you can expect another great depression as the workers get laid off, companies lock down their profits, and then hire everyone back at a fraction of the wage they used to pay. It would turn America back into a 3rd world country, and the workers - those most entitled to share in the profits - will get screwed out of their share again and again.
 
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