Saturday, September 10, 2005

Publish Day - Ink Blog - Dead domestic automakers

Today's Ink Blog column focuses on something that touches many communities in the U.S. and Canada, namely the declining viability of the automakers that underpin their communities. We've got a relatively old Ford plant just south of town, and it bugged me when the head of the union representing its workers said job guarantees are the right of all workers.

Gee, I wish I could have the same cushy guarantees. But the world doesn't work that way any more. I wrote this as a reinforcement of this:

Ford plant fight makes little sense

Published Saturday, September 9, 2005

The London Free Press

The sad state of affairs at Ford’s Talbotville assembly plant should serve as a warning sign to union leaders pressing Ford to keep the plant open indefinitely: times have changed.

Customers no longer want the factory’s aging, inefficient cars. The Canadian Auto Workers Union, which represents the plant’s assembly workers, wants Ford to convert the facility to a more modern “flex” architecture to allow the company to change product lines to meet fluctuating demand.

Union officials who are trying to negotiate a new contract with the automaker want Ford to guarantee job security. That’s where they lose my vote.

Like all car companies, Ford has been closing its less-efficient factories as it struggles to compete – and survive – in an increasingly cutthroat market. As much as CAW leadership demands an open plant and guaranteed jobs, market realities make this a bit of a pipe dream.

Having a job is no longer an inalienable right, and guarantees simply make no sense. Union leaders and their members might wish to rethink their career management strategies in light of this harsh new economic reality.


Update: After publishing this, I bumped into an acquaintance who happens to work on the line at this plant. I expected him to haul me outside and let me have it. Instead, he said he understood my perspective. He wished he had more career options, but in the meantime it made sense for him to hold onto a job that offered him so much in terms of standard of living and benefits. I can't say I'd be any different if I were in his shoes.

Once again, I was amazed at how much of an impact mere words on a page can have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

why is it when most of the workers at ford talbotville except the aging minority are willing to take a pay decrease and benifit decrease to keep the plant open but the union has said none of this to ford