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UAW fails again in contented South

Union opposition at Ky. plant leaves effort all but dead
By Brett Clanton / The Detroit News
James Crisp / Associated Press

The UAW's recruitment drive is struggling at car plants in the South. Will the union ultimately prevail?

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Milt Sizemore has had enough of the United Auto Workers union. He’s tired of the annual recruiting drives and all of the promises that come with them. Like hundreds of other workers at Toyota Motor Co.p.’s massive factory here, he just wants to do his job and go home.
He may get his wish.
Late last month, national UAW organizers pulled out of this quiet town in northern Kentucky after yet another failed recruiting drive and made no promises that they would return.
For nearly two decades, the UAW has been trying to organize the 7,100 workers at Toyota’s sprawling Georgetown complex, where the top-selling Camry sedan is built.
And for nearly two decades, a majority of workers have said, “No, thank you.”
The failure to win over Toyota workers — after predicting victory in recent months — is a critical setback for the UAW. The union has endured steep membership declines since the 1980s and needs to gain a foothold in new auto plants in the South to replenish its ranks.
The defeat in Georgetown also threatens to further erode the power and influence of America’s largest industrial union, putting it at risk of becoming irrelevant to a new generation of U.S. auto workers.
“Our company has issues and problems like any other place,” said Sizemore, 39, who works in production control for Toyota. “But I don’t feel like the UAW is going to do any better for us.”
Sizemore’s ambivalence toward the UAW is shared by auto workers in other foreign-owned plants. The UAW has failed to organize workers at plants across the county — from Smyrna, Tenn., to Marysville, Ohio, to Vance, Ala.

UAW
 

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UAW will always fail in attempts to recruit in Southern states and also with Foreign companies. They are no longer relevant to modern manufacturing environments.

Once they served a very critical and needy purpose on behalf of worker safety and interest, now they are only a means of obstacle to corporate objective and self interest. They should die off like dinosaurs within this century, hopefully, but no without a fight. UAW is the last of the "great" workers unions of the 1900's.
 

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I have a long-held belief that, with the exception of public servants like police and firemen, unions have long since outlived their usefulness. After reading this article, I feel no different about it. It's pretty arrogant for the UAW to contend that those Toyota workers "need their protection" and will keep pushing to "get the contract" that will provide it. The fact is, unionizing any new plant only gives the union more clout and revenue and that's where the "hey, we just wanna help" attitude comes from.

On the other hand, maybe I should root for the UAW in those foreign-owned plants because it will put those manufacturers at a disadvantage similar to that of the Big 3. Then Toyota/Honda/Nissan/etc can pay their workers to not build cars, or continue building unpopular ones because they have to pay the union worker whether he's on the line or not. They can also deal with out-of-control pension costs and automatic pay increases to workers who have been there the longest, rather than the ones who work the hardest.

It'a amazing the Big 3 are as successful as they are, considering the huge handicap organized labor represents to them. I remember reading somewhere on this site that the cost of GM being unionized ultimately amounts to a couple thousand dollars per car in increased cost...Costs that are passed on to us. The Big 3 and UAW will have to figure out a better way to coexist if the future of the domestic industry is to be insured.
 

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I hadn't thought about the public servants angle...and that might soften my stand on unions.

For the most part, unions raise wages, reduce productivity, and reduce employment. The main beneficiaries of unions are the union officers. The UAW in particular has done little to help factory workers in the US (and the economy on the whole) in decades.

Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Hyundai have all chosen the sites for their factories to find high unemployment (lowering wages at the factory), trainable workforces, and infrastructure. Bring in the UAW and many of those workers now employed by these factories will lose their jobs because the manufacturers are only going to pay so much for their workforce. With higher wages being paid by the unionized factory, are other companies really going to come in and take up the slack? After that workforce reduction, the remaining workers won't make as many vehicles...ever notice that Toyota's Georgetown and Nissan's Smyrna plants are among the most productive factories in the US? The UAW can't help these workers...and can only hurt them. Fortunately, most of these workers realize that.

The UAW has prevented the Big 3 from being more competitive, but that's another argument.
 

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This is great news...unions face defeat. I agree that the need for unions outside of extremely hazardous occupations has come and gone. Too bad that Ford and GM don't better utilize the South for their production base but I understand that the unions would block this. If I started an auto company, I'd never consider any state other than a right to work state to locate my manufacturing.
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@May 18 2004, 03:50 PM
This is great news...unions face defeat.  I agree that the need for unions outside of extremely hazardous occupations has come and gone.    Too bad that Ford and GM don't better utilize the South for their production base but I understand that the unions would block this.  If I started an auto company, I'd never consider any state other than a right to work state to locate my manufacturing.
Wow. We agree on something. Who would've thunk!
 

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Originally posted by laserwizard@May 18 2004, 03:50 PM
This is great news...unions face defeat.  I agree that the need for unions outside of extremely hazardous occupations has come and gone.    Too bad that Ford and GM don't better utilize the South for their production base but I understand that the unions would block this.  If I started an auto company, I'd never consider any state other than a right to work state to locate my manufacturing.
Its not so much that the Union would block it, its just any new plant would automatically be unionized because of the national contract. I think this is starting a new era in manufacturing. Sure, the union was needed way back in the day for safety and equal pay, but the success of the Asian companies in the South has shown that the UAW is no longer needed. Can you imagine what GM would do with all the extra cash it would have if it didn't have the union expenses? We might really start seeing some crazy, unique (i.e. specific sheet metal/interior/powertrains) niche cars and trucks!
 

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Yes...the Big 3 can't open a US-based or Canada-based plant without the plant being unionized. DaimlerChrysler is in a unique position having UAW/CAW plants from before the merger as well as non-union plants from before 1998.

GM has a plant in Georgia, Ford has a plant in Georgia...both are UAW.
 

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Is there any way GM can get out the UAW?
 

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Are any of the Japanese plants in the US that are unionized?
Maybe they keep there employees happier, therefore
the workers don't feel there is a need for the UAW.
 

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Originally posted by Mikkoo@May 19 2004, 01:41 PM
Are any of the Japanese plants in the US that are unionized?
Maybe they keep there employees happier, therefore
the workers don't feel there is a need for the UAW.
Yes...there are. Mitsubishi Motors (formerly Diamond Star Motors, a joint-venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler) in Normal, Illinois; NUMMI (joint-venture between Toyota and GM) in Fremont, California; and AutoAlliance (joint-venture between Mazda and Ford) are all under UAW contracts. It's probable than CAMI (joint-venture between Suzuki and GM) in Ingersoll, Ontario, is under contract with CAW, but I'm not sure.
 

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If GM didn't have the UAW, there would probably still be a Camaro. The UAW has long outlived its usefulness, as already said. A lot of unions have. Some still make sense for more dangerous occupations and especially in public service. But the UAW costs GM and Ford a lot of money each year, which conversely puts more jobs at risk than it saves.
 

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CAMI is unionized by CAW. I don't like the UAW/CAW either but it will be interesting to see when (if) any of Toyota/Honda/Nissan plants require massive layoffs and how the workers are treated. I do feel the non-unionized environment makes for more gratefull and motivated individuals (provided the pay matches the industry). Workers know that if they play by the rules then they will get treated very well, whereas in a union situation many individuals choose to play cat & mouse using the union as their get out of jail free card, something that has given all UAW workers a bad rep.
 

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The UAW represents an outmoded way of thinking that needs to be shed. Unfortunately, the only way that this will ever happen is through top down political action... but the corruption that has nested in the upper ranks of the union is part of a much larger social disease.
 

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Buzz Hargrove and the CAW are really staring to scare me. Last year they were prepared to see the Navistar/International factory in my town pack off for Mexico rather than give in on their outrageous wages and benefits (it was only kept open with a huge government handout). Now he's threatening to sink Air Canada after ALL the other unions agreed to painful cuts to keep it flying. Thankfully the government has already ruled out coming to AC's aid.

In case you can't tell I agree with the general sentiment that except for public sector unions (which are up against a monopoly in the government, and therefore should be able to form a monopoly of their own) unions in advanced economies no longer make sense. Labour laws didn't matter in 1904 - they do in 2004.
 

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This thread has gone stupid. Sometimes it is good to have unions around. Sometimes it is bad to have unions around. It not always bad to have a union. It is not always good to have a union. How come everyone decides there can be only one way? You guys watch Highlander a lot?

The Toyota workers in this article benefit directly because there are unions trying to get in. To avoid this happening they offer wages and benefits competitive with the union's. So in this case, yay union. The balance of Union shops vs. non-union shops is the key. If everyone was union, wages would go up too fast. If no one was union, wages would go up too slowly.

It's like having a congress of all liberals or a congress of all conservatives. Neither one is really very good, and leads to an awful lot of instability.
 

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Of course the Toyota plant won't join the UAW. Why should they? The workers at Ford, Chrysler, and GM plants are already paying their dues for them. The company hears the UAW knocking at their door, and makes sure to pay their workers a decent wage with decent benefits to keep the UAW on the other side of that door. You know darned well that if it wasn't for the UAW, all those workers in the Toyota plant would be paid minimum wage with no benefits.

The things that the UAW (and the CAW) do for workers everywhere is felt, even if their presence isn't there.
 

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Oh, and those of you who think the union is outdated or outmoded really should learn about the history of the union. It's too easy to criticize things you really know nothing about. Unions will always be here...companies like Wal-Mart will make sure of it. :rolleyes:
 
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