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Originally posted by stewacide@May 23 2004, 05:13 PM
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!
The money these guys are getting while laid off, they're entitled to it and it's not coming out of GM's profits that they're making today. It's something that the company pays into (a sub fund) while the workers are working (instead of giving all the money the workers are entitled to at once), so it actually works out to the company's advantage to lay off workers once in a while to deplete that sub. To put it another way, this is something the workers have been earning over the past good number of years while they've been at their jobs. The money is already there, regardless of how GM is performing today. It was a negotiated benefit that the Union felt was better than simply another pay raise for socio-economic reasons.

So yes, they are putting money away for hard times. They're just not actively doing it themselves; the money goes to a sub fund for them, thanks to their foreward-thinking union. It's a win-win situation, not just for the workers and GM, but also for the businesses that rely on those workers and their money. If GM wasn't as successful as they are, that money simply wouldn't be there.
 

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The plant workers should be kissing every GM managers behind because in the real world, layoffs while being paid just don't happen. I work in a steel mill that supplies GM their product, and each and every time that I was laid-off, I DIDN'T GET A PENNY. I have worked for 3 different companies due to the declining steel industry in the US, and I cannot remember getting more than one month's severance when a plant closed or layoff was conducted. This is the very reason that GM has problems with supplying good products. They are paying their people regardless of the outcome, offering no incentive to provide a great product. The workers know that they will get paid regardless of the job they do. If they had to fight for their jobs, and by this I mean build a superior product, they deserve to be compensated rightly. However, poor product, in this case the Saturn L series, is not all managements/engineerings fault. They build the product, and if it was built to a higher standard, we would have a success on our hands. That is what the economy is like today. I agree it wasn't always this way, but it is now.

Instead of GM sending good money after bad, cut the losses, pay the severance, and be done with it. Learn for the future. One cannot be competitive with others if most of your money is tied up in salaries instead of the product. It is also why GM has killed cars liked the Camaro and Firebird. These products were good products, but not at the prices charged. Bring the price down, and more people would've bought them. They weren't the most up to date vehicles, so don't price them like they are.

I also agree that management should take pay decreases and take part in blame on a bad product. They seem to distance themselves from the bad and take all the credit for the good. Some serious management changes need to occur within GM before they are actually able to "compete on all levels" with foreign automakers, plain and simple.
 

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Originally posted by Dodge Drivin' Paul@May 23 2004, 02:06 AM
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?
For every Impala there are a dozen Aztecs, L-Series, Oldsmobiles, etc. So the Impala is a good car because it is union built? I don't think so. You are correct in that it has EVERYTHING to do with employees, but does not matter if they are in a union. I have been in unions, and while I agree they do help to organize employees, they usually cause more problems. Again, just my personal opinion.
 

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Originally posted by jfnz24@May 24 2004, 05:07 PM
The plant workers should be kissing every GM managers behind because in the real world, layoffs while being paid just don't happen. I work in a steel mill that supplies GM their product, and each and every time that I was laid-off, I DIDN'T GET A PENNY. I have worked for 3 different companies due to the declining steel industry in the US, and I cannot remember getting more than one month's severance when a plant closed or layoff was conducted. This is the very reason that GM has problems with supplying good products. They are paying their people regardless of the outcome, offering no incentive to provide a great product. The workers know that they will get paid regardless of the job they do. If they had to fight for their jobs, and by this I mean build a superior product, they deserve to be compensated rightly. However, poor product, in this case the Saturn L series, is not all managements/engineerings fault. They build the product, and if it was built to a higher standard, we would have a success on our hands. That is what the economy is like today. I agree it wasn't always this way, but it is now.

Instead of GM sending good money after bad, cut the losses, pay the severance, and be done with it. Learn for the future. One cannot be competitive with others if most of your money is tied up in salaries instead of the product. It is also why GM has killed cars liked the Camaro and Firebird. These products were good products, but not at the prices charged. Bring the price down, and more people would've bought them. They weren't the most up to date vehicles, so don't price them like they are.
You still don't get it, do you? I'll try one more time.

These workers are being payed out of a SUB fund. This fund was paid into by General Motors while these workers were working their butts off, building good cars and making the company very good profits. It's a negotiated benefit; instead of just getting a pay raise, some of that money they otherwise should've been earning goes into SUB. So the money they're getting today while laid off isn't coming out of the money GM is making today; it's money they've already earned a long time ago. It's the same concept as putting money away in case of hard times, except it's automatically done for them for socio-economic reasons.

The plant managers should be kissing the line worker's asses, because it's those workers that actually build the product that sells and pays them their salary. The workers can thank their foreward-looking union for coming up with something as innovative as SUB unemployment.

You want to know what the incentive is to get off their butts and get to work? As soon as GM has work for them to do, they have to come in and start producing again...running that 45 second cycle time...or else they won't get anything. Even if they have to relocate to another city to work in another plant. And then the SUB fund is replenished once again.

Now, repeat after me...the workers aren't being paid out of the company's own pockets, they're being paid out of a SUB fund to which they're entitled to. I hope this clears things up.

You over-simplify the problems with the Camaro and Firebird. People just weren't buying them like they used to. Insurance cost far too much, they weren't exactly economical, and they aren't very practical to own for most people. When a company sells fewer products, the cost of each product goes up...such is the way things work in mass production. This is why sports cars from other companies tend to share platforms, so something like an Acura Integra Type R costs less because it's based on the same platform as other Acura Integra's, which themselves share the same platform as the Civic. The Camaro and Firebird didn't share platforms with a mass-produced counterpart. That's why they died, and if they ever come back, they'll be on a shared platform with some other car.

As for Azteks, they are well-built automobiles. It's too bad the styling is too advanced for most people to accept.
 

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Originally posted by Dodge Drivin' Paul@May 24 2004, 01:55 PM
You still don't get it, do you? I'll try one more time.

These workers are being payed out of a SUB fund. This fund was paid into by General Motors...

Now, repeat after me...the workers aren't being paid out of the company's own pockets, they're being paid out of a SUB fund to which they're entitled to. I hope this clears things up.
This hardly clears ANYTHING up. You say that GM pays into a fund...then you say that the money doesn't come out of GM's pockets? If GM pays into the fund, it comes out of their pockets.

And if this money didn't go into this fund, would GM hire MORE workers when times are good? Would GM have provided the existing workers better raises? Could the workers have invested the money from this fund for themselves for bad times...retirement...college funds? I don't really see how the union has made their jobs much better in the past couple of decades. The union has, however, hampered progress by preventing factories from using newer techniques (which might have used fewer workers or provided better quality) that could have made the products more competitive thus generating more "good times" and fewer "bad times" at the factory.
 

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Exactly. It's not even the huge hourly wages that are strangleing the Big Three (the Europeans and Japanese pay similar wages without unions), but rather the insane benefit programs. Getting paid to sit on your *** for years at a time is simply unjustifiable - case closed. No matter how you slice it that money is coming out of GMs bank account, whether the workers "earned" it or not.

Even more insane are the healthcare benefits provided at MASSIVE expense. In fact I'm pretty sure the #1 component cost of every Big Three automobile is retiree healthcare!!! The Big Three in fact have lately been calling for national single-payer healthcare as the only solution if the US is to stay competative (healthcare cost inflation is running at insane levels in the US, and has been for many years, and it will only get worse as the baby boomers start to retire and get sick).

Big Business in the US can simply no longer keep subsidizing extravagent living and especially extravagent healthcare spending, and now the government is having to help out. Look at the MASSIVE US federal and state defecits, the MASSIVE US trade defecit, and the MASSIVE personal debt. The US standard of living is simply not sustainable. If I was an investor or the CEO of a multinational I wouldn't invest a cent in the US untill they get their problems sorted out.
 

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Originally posted by Hudson@May 24 2004, 07:30 PM
This hardly clears ANYTHING up. You say that GM pays into a fund...then you say that the money doesn't come out of GM's pockets? If GM pays into the fund, it comes out of their pockets.

And if this money didn't go into this fund, would GM hire MORE workers when times are good? Would GM have provided the existing workers better raises? Could the workers have invested the money from this fund for themselves for bad times...retirement...college funds? I don't really see how the union has made their jobs much better in the past couple of decades. The union has, however, hampered progress by preventing factories from using newer techniques (which might have used fewer workers or provided better quality) that could have made the products more competitive thus generating more "good times" and fewer "bad times" at the factory.
Guess where the money comes from that pays into that fund? That's right, the sale of the cars that the workers build...and they built and sold a LOT of Saturns. It could've gone straight into their salary, but for some reason, the Union and the company feel it's better to have a SUB fund. Who are you to say the workers shouldn't be entitled to this benefit? On what do you base this presumption?

I'll bet you'd like to see GM plunder the worker's retirement benefits as well, wouldn't you? Because that's about the same thing as saying they should be able to plunder or eliminate the SUB fund. Funny thing is, a lot of workers do go back to school while collecting SUB and unemployment. Often, those workers study a skilled trade and come back to GM as a skilled tradesman. Do you think they'd do this if it wasn't for the SUB fund?

You guys don't get it that there's more to life than corporate profits and boosting company stock for the shareholders. The funny thing is, what do you think happens to that SUB money during good times? It's making interest. Just like a retirement fund. It's the worker's fair share for doing their part, yet the company makes a lot just from the interest on that money alone year after year they don't need to use it.

If you think that letting GM plunder the SUB and retirement funds of it's workers will lead to more workers getting hired and better vehicles, you are very naive. History has shown us that that money will simply go to their own bottom line. GM doesn't spend money unless it has to. Recent developments in it's product line as well as records showing it's profits (that's money the company earns after it's paid all the workers and their benefits) demonstrates how successful General Motors really is. The fact that their board members are getting multi-million dollar salaries is further proof that these programs like SUB and retirement aren't exactly hurting this company. They have the money and resources to further improve their products, but they'll only do so if it's absolutely necessary to sell a car.

The Union-built products GM is building today are all very competitive. As far as quality is concerned, they're giving the likes of Toyota a run for their money. Each car in it's class tends to be the best price and is laden with features...giving consumers a tremendous bang for their buck. You get the best fuel economy in a GM car where it counts (minivans and family sedans), and the power these cars deliver is more than enough. If they were allowed to rip off the assembly line workers by robbing them of SUB, then maybe you'll see bigger corporate jets or corporate yachts...but you aren't going to see any significant change in the cars they build.

The secret to their recent successes is they've learned to work with the union instead of against them. They've come to realize that the Union is simply a representative of the workers as a collective. Treat your workers like one of your shareholders, and the results...well, I think products like the Grand Prix and Impala speak for themselves. You have to spend thousands more to get the performance of a Grand Prix GTP in it's class.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 24 2004, 08:11 PM
Exactly. It's not even the huge hourly wages that are strangleing the Big Three (the Europeans and Japanese pay similar wages without unions), but rather the insane benefit programs. Getting paid to sit on your *** for years at a time is simply unjustifiable - case closed. No matter how you slice it that money is coming out of GMs bank account, whether the workers "earned" it or not.

Even more insane are the healthcare benefits provided at MASSIVE expense. In fact I'm pretty sure the #1 component cost of every Big Three automobile is retiree healthcare!!! The Big Three in fact have lately been calling for national single-payer healthcare as the only solution if the US is to stay competative (healthcare cost inflation is running at insane levels in the US, and has been for many years, and it will only get worse as the baby boomers start to retire and get sick).

Big Business in the US can simply no longer keep subsidizing extravagent living and especially extravagent healthcare spending, and now the government is having to help out. Look at the MASSIVE US federal and state defecits, the MASSIVE US trade defecit, and the MASSIVE personal debt. The US standard of living is simply not sustainable. If I was an investor or the CEO of a multinational I wouldn't invest a cent in the US untill they get their problems sorted out.
Using your logic then, the workers also shouldn't have a retirement benefit plan, right? And never mind that the worker's health was probably compromised from working the past 30 years breathing in fumes from the welders and the painting process, might as well yank the healthcare benefits as well, right? Forget about corporate responsibility, it's all about maximizing profits, people are just another disposable resource, eh? When the workers break, just replace 'em and keep on pumping out flashy cars for the masses. I guess the workers have no right to share in the success of the company as far as you're concerned.

You seem to conveniently overlook the fact that the money going into GM's bank account comes directly from the products these workers are building, and as such are entitled to these benefits no matter what uneducated opinion you may have.
 

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Workers should be free to save all the money they want, but this "SUB fund" sounds completely open-ended and not tied to the income a worker deffers (do instead of making $40 an hour they're making $35 with $5 going to some fund? Yeah, that makes it more reasonable :rolleyes:).

And the problem with retiree healthcare benefits is that they're also completely open-ended. When they were promised nobody anticipated how expensive healthcare would be in the 21st century. There's no incentive not to use as much as possible.

And since when were workers entitled to a share? That's called communism, and it doesn't work because the incentives are all screwed up. Correctly companies should work for their shareholders only and should have only one motive: profit. It's advances in effeciency because of cut-throat competition which is responsible for our ever-advanceing standard of living. If you're not making the pie bigger you're not doing anything. The unions, however, actually make the wealth pie SMALLER in many cases by lowering effeciency, all the while cutting themselves a bigger slice at everyone else's expense.

It's not my logic, it's the logic of every competent economist alive.
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 24 2004, 10:46 PM
Workers should be free to save all the money they want, but this "SUB fund" sounds completely open-ended and not tied to the income a worker deffers (do instead of making $40 an hour they're making $35 with $5 going to some fund? Yeah, that makes it more reasonable :rolleyes:).

And the problem with retiree healthcare benefits is that they're also completely open-ended. When they were promised nobody anticipated how expensive healthcare would be in the 21st century. There's no incentive not to use as much as possible.

And since when were workers entitled to a share? That's called communism, and it doesn't work because the incentives are all screwed up. Correctly companies should work for their shareholders only and should have only one motive: profit. It's advances in effeciency because of cut-throat competition which is responsible for our ever-advanceing standard of living. If you're not making the pie bigger you're not doing anything. The unions, however, actually make the wealth pie SMALLER in many cases by lowering effeciency, all the while cutting themselves a bigger slice at everyone else's expense.

It's not my logic, it's the logic of every competent economist alive.
But you see, Stewie, that's the thing about benefits. They're always open-ended. When you have a dental plan, some people are going to have more cavities and need more dental work; others will have perfectly fine teeth and not need to use it as much. When you have an optical plan, some people will need heavy-duty eye glasses, others have perfect 20/20 vision and don't need it. What you're saying is there's no incentive to not ruin your eyesight or wreck your teeth to take full advantage of a benefit, which is absurd.

The problem with your line of thinking is it's pure capitalism. A pure capitalist will rape the land, exploit the people, and leave destruction in his (or her) path, all for the sakes of profit. People become a disposable commodity as the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer. There's no accountability. Whole communities end up drinking poisoned water and breathing poisoned air, and young men are worked into cripples while still at a relatively young age. Companies are free to lay off their workforce and hire them back at half the rate and no benefits, but there's no good economic reason for them to lower their prices or spend that money on making the products better. Advances in efficiency translates to cutting corners as products become cheaper so that the new working poor can afford it. Eventually, all the manufacturing jobs get moved offshore to countries where they can have children build their products for pennies a day. If you want a good example of the end result of pure capitalism, the great depression of the 1930's is a good example. Pure capitalism is simply not sustainable in the long run, because hardly anyone will be able to afford that standard of living you speak of.

Workers are entitled to their fare share of a company's success when they demand it. No, they don't have the money to invest into the company like the shareholders do...they invest something worth more: their lives. When a company is successful, that success is built on the backs of their labour force. The union is the voice of that labour force demanding their fair share. When the workers organize, they can collectively demonstrate just how important they are to the company's success.

Any competent economist knows that what you really need for a sustainable democratic economy is a balance between capitalism and socialism (what you confuse with communism). The Union is the socialist balance to the General's capitalist's ways. Companies either become smart and share their successes with their workers to keep the union out, or the workers eventually organize and demand it.
 

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I'm not a "pure capitalist" or a anarco-capitalist or a libertarian of any sort. Captialism and the market exonomy are just tools of self-organization, and only work when groundrules are set and enforced. In this day and age however it's the government duty to set those groundrules, and they're perfectly capable of doing this.

If you don't want corporations to "rape the land" then pass and enforce environmental laws. If you don't want them to exploit people pass labour laws, etc. What's so hard about that? Critically that way everyone is playing by the same rules, not some businesses being handicapped by unions and some not.

And most private insurance plans are not completely open ended. People have to justify their spending to the insurance company, and in agregate premiums to the insurer should equal or exceed payouts. Neither of these are the case with UAW pension and health benefits.

And workers certainly do have the money to invest in companies! Why do you think owns them? The few super-rich investors only own a tiny percent of stocks and securities - the vast, vast majority are owned by normal people through their private, corporate, and government retirement savings. If you suck corporations dry how will people save and retire?

And again I'm all for a healthy mix of capitalism and socialism. One simply can't work without the other. Welfare, healthcare, and eduation guarantees are critical to a well-functioning economy and society. What do unions have to do with that? Unions aren't looking out for the best interest of society, nor are they meant to: they look out for the best interests of their members and their members only.
 

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If the economy falls apart without unions how 'come wages are constantly falling in the union sector, while they're constantly rising in the non-union sector? The difference is even larger in terms of productivity.

The great depression was caused by speculation and an almost complete lack of regulation, neither of which are a great danger today (I'm very much opposed to movements to let business self-regulate - to think they can be trusted to look out for the public interest displays a complete misunderstanding of the rule of corporations).
 

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Nevertheless, the bottom line is that...the bottom line. GM is still reporting very healthy profits year after year, which is contrary to your contention that the Union is sucking the company dry. Of course, it's not in the union's best interest to kill a company, only to make sure that their members are treated and paid fairly.

And so, we come back to the Saturn layoffs and the contention that this is the fault of the Union. The workers are laid off because people aren't buying the Saturn like they used to. I wonder why that is? Is the presence of the union hindering advances in the technology in the Saturn line? They're being constructed out of a dent-resistent high-tech polymer that has the car looking just as good 10 years old as it does new, whereas even some of the most advanced imported cars are still using old fashioned sheet metal. These Saturns come with a very sophisticated twin cam, all-aluminum 2.2L engine in the base models, and the pricing is competitive with cars in it's class. Clearly, these Saturns are sophisticated, modern automobiles...so why aren't people buying them as much? Quite simply because people don't buy station wagons that much these days. That's right, the L300 wagon is the one that's being discontinued, simply because the market demand for this kind of vehicle just isn't there. It has nothing to do with the union or worker benefits.

So now, the workers are getting SUB, money built up from a day when these Saturns were more popular. They basically get a little vacation and well-deserved time off the line until GM places them in another plant...and if they don't go, they no longer receive this benefit. Seems fair enough to me.

Maybe you're just jealous that GM workers seem to have it better than you; I see no other logical reason why you would be so set against the workers receiving negotiated benefits they are entitled to while GM is reporting very healthy profits and producing very competitive products.
 

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Originally posted by Dodge Drivin' Paul@May 25 2004, 08:47 PM
They basically get a little vacation and well-deserved time off the line until GM places them in another plant...and if they don't go, they no longer receive this benefit. Seems fair enough to me.
i don't know about anyone else... but you had me up to "well-deserved"! why do they 'deserve' this time off? if the L-series was selling like crazy and the plant was running full steam, would you say they should stop because they all deserve a break? these workers make a very good wage building cars, and i'll assume have vacation time in their agreement. otherwise i can understand what you're saying... but "well-deserved" doesn't sit right.
 

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Originally posted by paul8488+May 25 2004, 08:59 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (paul8488 @ May 25 2004, 08:59 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-Dodge Drivin' Paul@May 25 2004, 08:47 PM
They basically get a little vacation and well-deserved time off the line until GM places them in another plant...and if they don't go, they no longer receive this benefit.  Seems fair enough to me.
i don't know about anyone else... but you had me up to "well-deserved"! why do they 'deserve' this time off? if the L-series was selling like crazy and the plant was running full steam, would you say they should stop because they all deserve a break? these workers make a very good wage building cars, and i'll assume have vacation time in their agreement. otherwise i can understand what you're saying... but "well-deserved" doesn't sit right. [/b][/quote]
Clearly, you are ignorant to what these people have to do 8 hours a day, 5 days a week; otherwise, you would not make such an asinine comment. It sure ain't sitting at a desk posing to internet forums all day. :rolleyes:
 

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Originally posted by stewacide@May 25 2004, 11:49 PM
Since when was 8 hours a day, 5 days a week a big deal? It's called a FULL TIME JOB!
It's what they do in that time. Like I mentioned, they don't exactly have time to post to internet forums while they're on the job...they don't even have time to stop and scratch their butts. Never judge another man until you've walked a mile in his shoes...which should take less than an hour for a typical assembly line job in a GM factory.
 

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Originally posted by Dodge Drivin' Paul+May 26 2004, 12:42 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Dodge Drivin' Paul @ May 26 2004, 12:42 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-stewacide@May 25 2004, 11:49 PM
Since when was 8 hours a day, 5 days a week a big deal? It's called a FULL TIME JOB!
It's what they do in that time. Like I mentioned, they don't exactly have time to post to internet forums while they're on the job...they don't even have time to stop and scratch their butts. Never judge another man until you've walked a mile in his shoes...which should take less than an hour for a typical assembly line job in a GM factory. [/b][/quote]
I've done HORRIBLE jobs in my short life. This summe, like every summer, I'll be working in the fields breaking my back 10 hour a day 7 days a week weather provideing.

I also know MANY people who work assembly line jobs and everyone knows they're kush.

They get no sympathy from me. If their job is so bad they can go to school and get a better one - unlike me they can afford it <_<
 

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Originally posted by Dodge Drivin' Paul@May 26 2004, 12:42 AM
It's what they do in that time. Like I mentioned, they don't exactly have time to post to internet forums while they're on the job...they don't even have time to stop and scratch their butts. Never judge another man until you've walked a mile in his shoes...which should take less than an hour for a typical assembly line job in a GM factory.
well i'm glad you've got me all figured out! did ya take a nice stroll in my shoes? i didn't say these people don't do anything or don't deserve their pay or any vacation. i said i don't see how they DESERVE this extra time off. i think automotive line workers are paid well for what they do. i wouldn't wanna do that job. but i didn't choose to.

asinine comment? re-read what i said. i think perhaps you assumed that it was another GMi rant (they're everywhere). it wasn't. it was me expressing my view that being paid while not working does not make sense to me. i applaud anyone who works on an assembly line (or works at all, for that matter). but if your logic holds, every plant should then shut down and allow these poor souls off work for several months a year, because of what they have to do when they're at work.

well, back to work. i have lots to do today!
 
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