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Aaron Gold

Look out, Toyota: Here comes the UAW

By January 21, 2011

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UAW logoAccording to a Detroit News article, the United Auto Workers has set their sites on non-unionized import automakers with plants in the US (known as transplants) -- and the first target for organization could be Toyota.

Before I give you my take, I should explain that I consider myself a liberal Democrat and pro-union. In situations where corporations don't provide fair compensation and/or healthy working conditions for their employees, it's important for those employees to organize and press their advantage as a group.

But from what I can see, that's not a problem at the transplants -- and I don't think this effort will serve the workers so much as the union itself. Another Detroit News article cites dropping union membership, down to under 400,000, from a high of over 1.5 million in 1979 due largely to downsizing at the Big Three. The article quotes UAW president Bob King as saying, "If we don't organize these transnationals, I don't think there's a long-term future for the UAW."

But do the workers at Toyota's Camry plant in Kentucky (or other foreign plants on US soil) really need the UAW? I know just enough about this to be dangerous, and from what I understand, compensation at these plants does tend to be lower than UAW wages -- but the plant employees don't seem to be leaving in droves to find better-paying work. And the labor-vs-management viewpoint that the UAW fosters doesn't fit in well with the spirit of cooperation that helped the Japanese automakers lead the quality revolution.

We can't fairly say that unionization would harm quality. Corollas and Tacomas were built at a UAW-organized factory in Fremont, California, and quality was not a problem, although when the NUMMI partnership was ended by GM, Toyota was quick to shutter the plant. Labor costs have traditionally been a major handicap for domestic automakers, and if labor costs were to increase due to unionization, one wonders if foreign automakers would reconsider their decision to build cars here. Domestic automakers are closing plants here in the US; it's the Japanese, Koreans and Germans that are building new ones.

Toyota, for their part, maintains that the decision to unionize rests with the employees -- and so far, they have chosen not to. Mr. King says we'll learn which automaker they plan to target in the next ninety days.

What are your thoughts? -- Aaron Gold

January 21, 2011 at 12:32 am
(1) Tom Geraghty says:

You say:

“In situations where corporations don’t provide fair compensation and/or healthy working conditions for their employees, it’s important for those employees to organize and press their advantage as a group. But from what I can see, that’s not a problem at the transplants…”

Of course, it’s not a problem at the transplants precisely because management’s desire to keep out the UAW forces them to offer pay and benefits close enough to the union standards to dull the incentives for their workers to join. So workers at non-union transplants get much of the benefits of union membership without the costs – a classic free-rider problem.

Also, why do you place the blame for antagonistic labor-management relations solely on the UAW? Sure, more cooperative labor relations (like they have in Germany and Japan, where unions are even stronger than they are here and workers have a bigger role in firm decision-making) might improve US automaker quality and efficiency, but management isn’t exactly putting that on the table, are they?

January 21, 2011 at 3:25 am
(2) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

With all due respect, I don’t think that’s a fair argument, Tom. If the transplants pay too much, you can accuse them of taking a free ride. If they pay too little, you can accuse them of taking advantage of the workers. Isn’t it possible that they pay what they pay because they determined that’s the fair market value for the job? That’s how it works in other industries.

To be fair, I don’t blame the antagonistic relationship solely on the UAW; management is at fault too. But I think the UAW fosters an us-vs-them mentality, which, if you think about it, is in the union’s best interests. A 100% trust relationship is in the best interest of a business, but not in the best interest of the union — at least, not when times are good.


January 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm
(3) Tom Geraghty says:

Your comment doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a question of being a “fair” or “unfair” argument. It’s a argument based on logic and evidence.

Yes, firms pay what they pay based on labor market conditions, and part of those market conditions involve the strength of labor unions. There’s plenty of evidence that workers in places and industries where unions are stronger get higher pay, better benefits and better working conditions. This is true even for workers who are not union members. I don’t think you can deny this — it’s pretty well established in labor economics.

It stands to reason, then, that the workers who are not in the union, but are still getting the higher pay, and better benefits are benefitting from union activities without paying the costs (whether dues or the risk that union activitists might lose their jobs).

January 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm
(4) Tom Geraghty says:

“I think the UAW fosters an us-vs-them mentality, which, if you think about it, is in the union’s best interests. A 100% trust relationship is in the best interest of a business, but not in the best interest of the union…”

What evidence is this based on?

The countries that have historically cleaned America’s clock in the auto industry – Germany and Japan – both have stronger labor movements, with more worker input into firm decisions, than we have ever had here.

I’d bet the UAW would jump at the chance for a “100% trust relationship” with auto firm management, where workers actually had a say in issues like plant location and choice of technology in return for wage restraint and joint worker-management productivity initiatives. Ain’t happening, obviously. If there’s an adversarial union-management culture is the US, it’s at least as much the fault of firm management as it is of unions. After all, one side is trying to annihiliate the other, and it’s not the unions that are trying to eliminate the firms.

January 21, 2011 at 2:18 am
(5) DFI says:

I believe the unions of the past served a purpose when corporations would oppress their workers and the government offered no protections against such unfair practices. Today between state and federal labor laws, an overwhelming majority of the protections and services a union offers is already provided by the government. Though I’m not familiar with the inner workings of the UAW, I do have family and friends who members of unions in other industries and I’m told that things got worse after unionizing. The so called better wages were gobbled up in union dues and the benefits are still no better than any other non-union shops. The only result is the lowered job satisfaction and the severe decline in job performance from some who take advantage of the union termination protections. I’m not saying all union members are freeloaders, I’m just pointing out that these days the protections of a union tends to breed freeloaders while the honest hard working members don’t gain much.

With the UAW, the domestics are shipping all their jobs to Mexico or Canada so of course the union is now targeting non-union shops like Toyota because, after all, the union itself is a business that is dying. The union managers are fearful for their own jobs and they are scrambling to stay alive. I predict this will go one of two ways, the employees of these non-union shops will stave off the advances of the UAW and things will continue as they are, or the UAW will succeed and Toyota, Honda, and the others will follow Ford and GM’s lead on down to Mexico. Either way, the UAW is not long for this world, I think.

January 21, 2011 at 6:01 am
(6) Smile it's your future says:

I’ve worked at this Georgetown plant for 16 years and granted, things were nice err, nicer back then as far as wages, benefits, etc.. Ever since 2007, when an internal document (that Toyota confirmed as being theirs) was taken out of the plant and given to the local UAW office, detailing their (Toyota) plan to reduce our wages, benefits, etc., it’s all played out exactly how they wanted. Even more so because of the downturn in the economy. Their reason for biting the hand that turns their parts into cars was laid right in their lap and they’ve taken more from their employees than what they had planned back in ’07. Just like yourself, I continue to read people writing about how good these transplants are treating their employees…on the outside, it might seem like things are the same as they ever was. However, on the inside…it is a completely different story. There have been attacks on team members for wearing items that are branded by the UAW. There have been others who, usually on Wednesdays, wear clown outfits that walk around before shifts and during lunches passing out Dum-Dum suckers saying,”If you’re going to get paid like a clown, you might as well dress like one!” There have been incidents between management and team members that ended up those team members filing complaints with the ACLU.

January 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm
(7) RallyX says:

My comment to you is this: evaluate what happened at other auto plants during this same period, and you might find you actually came out ahead. Toyota cut some benefits and wages to avoid layoffs. Toyota didn’t force anyone out due to the economic resession. How many UAW plants accepted wage and benefit cuts, and STILL had layoffs?

January 21, 2011 at 6:03 am
(8) Smile it's your future says:

It’s absolutely absurd inside this plant. To have our plant president stop and talk to me, one-on-one and say that we are looking to find a way to compensate the workers in some other way besides money…I’m completely dumbfounded. At the same time, this president just bought a 1.5 million dollar house in a gated community in Lexington. Bottom line, I work only for money. If you want loyalty…hire a dog. With the heat the UAW is finally generating…I’m anxious to see if they can finally flip this plant after 24 years and give this workforce a voice. There has been more interest than ever about the UAW inside this plant…I’d say they have a really good chance to convert these team members.

January 21, 2011 at 6:16 am
(9) Stephen Williams says:

I was a UAW member at my LAST JOB. When the plant closed all they did was take are money and we had to fight for help from them to get are money from the company. Then still did not get it all. So please thank really hard before you vote for the UAW. Now I am working for Toyota as a temp( VTM ) going on four years now. I would have to say they do treat there full time team members good. But they do take advantage of the temp’s. So if there was a vote for the UAW in the plant I would tell the full time team members to vote no. They heve it really good now.

January 22, 2011 at 4:22 am
(10) Smile it's your future says:

Do you realize what you just said? You’ve been a temporary at this plant for 4 years. When is your hire date? I know when it is…it’s never. Toyota will do to you just like they’re doing to all of the temps and all Subaru team members in Indiana…squeeze as much work out of you as they can at half the price of us full time team members. Toss you aside when you get hurt and replace you with another body that’s not yet broke down. You say Toyota treats their team members good (not sure what exactly you’re referring to) and how do they treat their temps? By asking them to do the same job as everybody else for half the pay. Is that partially what you mean when you said,”but they do take advantage of the temp’s”? Then your ending…you’d tell full time team members to vote “no” because they have it really good now. I’m not sure you’re thinking clearly. This temp beating Toyota is doing is yet another reason we need a union. All temps would work 90 days and after that they would be hired. Wouldn’t you like that better than working for scraps only to be let go or replaced in the end?

January 21, 2011 at 8:31 am
(11) Brian says:

When the UAW tried to organize the plant where I worked, they came in promising the sun, moon and stars. It attracted the attention of the people who didn’t bother to look into UAW’s track record with companies our size and that the promised pay increase wouldn’t be enough to cover the union dues.

January 21, 2011 at 8:56 am
(12) Peter Dejong says:

OH NO. That will be the end of good cars being made in our country. For decent wages. Look what they have done to Chrysler, GM and Ford. The beginning of the end. They are the major reason why our Car Industry went down the drain. UAW had a purpose in the beginning of last century now they are just a bunch of greedy totally irresponsible and we should do everything to avoid that they ever get a foot in the door in non-unionized import automakers. Before we know they will go down the drain too and government (read we the taxpayers) has to bail them out! The worst ever scenario will happen if the UAW will succeed. My company did some consulting work for GM some 7 yrs ago , any progress or improvement that would make production leaner and quality better was always vetoed by UAW. No matter what!!! Or had to be compensated in such a way that the improvement would cost more then leave as is. Really a big big disaster if this will happen. And I feel sad for the counties where those plants are located. Unemployment will rise and recession will come! Stop UAW (the legal version of the mafia) at all time

January 21, 2011 at 9:16 am
(13) Tom says:

Not content to drive GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, the UAW now has it’s sights on bigger fish…

January 21, 2011 at 9:32 am
(14) Agent Mike says:

Union Jobs are still the only jobs I know of where mediocre performance is encouraged and applauded. To this day I have only been told once “Stop working so hard, you make the rest of us look lazy” Yep you guessed it Union Job. Unions look out for only one entity, themselves. Their attempt to weasel their way into transplants car companies are a direct result of the decrease in membership. UAW jobs are leaving this country faster than a prom dress comes off. But not only in the car industry. They have outserved their usefulness, and are dinosaurs in this day and age. And just like dinosaurs, they need to slowly die off.

January 21, 2011 at 10:07 am
(15) Ford Fan says:

- Smile it’s your future
Thanks for showing your true colors:

“…At the same time, this president just bought a 1.5 million dollar house in a gated community in Lexington…”

You are jealous because this guy got an education and can perform a job that very very few can, vs. you decided to get a job that ANYBODY can do. Therefore the only way that you can make more money than your work is worth is to extort it via a union.

January 22, 2011 at 5:05 am
(16) Smile it's your future says:

Thanks, I guess, for showing your ability to focus on the wrong part of the story. You’re obviously under the assumption that I’m like everybody else in the union hating south, under educated like yourself. 1990-1994 UK graduate in Mechanical Engineering. Bachelors in Business. Current business owner along with 16 years at Toyota Motor Mfg., KY. but please don’t focus on that last part, I’m just saying….

Jealous, I am not. Without debt, 401K to the max and no fear of losing this Toyota job…Yes. I’m in a position where I can say and do whatever for other team members who are scared of losing their jobs, just to raise awareness of how these people need a voice.

The hypocrite says, “if you hate you’re job why don’t you quit!?! Go work somewhere else you ungrateful jerk! Do you think we should feel sorry for you?” Then they follow up these comments with, “I’d love to have your job.” There is jealousy on this page somewhere, it’s not coming from my direction. You can have my job, when I’m done with it but when you get it it’s only going to be worth half as much. Again, just saying…

January 21, 2011 at 10:36 am
(17) Carfanworkingman says:

CLOWNS? -Wow, I just read the post about Toyota employees dressing up as clowns, coming into work and passing out dum-dums on their time off, all to protest there pay. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? Do those “clowns” actually think that makes the rest of us hard working Americans feel sorry for them? That they have a high paying ($25 an hour), low skill job and let me guess, free insurance and a retirement. I hope Toyota wises up and gets rid of those clowns. I’d love to have their job.

January 21, 2011 at 10:56 am
(18) Kenneth Rueter says:

As an ex Ford employee, I can now say that the Union was largely responsible for the demise of the US industry. I now drive four vehicles, all from transplant factories here in the US, and enjoy them all.

January 22, 2011 at 5:27 am
(19) Smile it's your future says:

“…I can now say that the Union was largely responsible for the demise of the US industry”

I would give anything if you could halfway explain this to me.

Let’s see, you work(ed) at FORD, you didn’t support your company and by doing so you went out and bought 4 vehicles from transplants and you enjoy them all.

The Union was responsible for the demise…

Could it possibly be because you funneled American dollars into transnational auto companies for their products instead of keeping that money here. Or is it because the foreign automakers build a superior vehicle? Then if that’s true then domestics are junk. If they’re junk, people won’t buy them. Could this senario possibly lead to domestic automakers having to close their doors? No, that wouldn’t lead to plant closings or lay-offs. No you’re right, the union did it. Alex, what are, “Things a child says?”

“It wasn’t me…the UNION did it!”

The “union” designed an inferior vehicle and it didn’t sell because it was junk. Ok, yea, I think we all got it now. Thanks. NEXT

September 2, 2011 at 5:36 pm
(20) Kenneth Rueter says:

Correction, I moved into the transplants long after I left Ford to begin a teaching career. All the while at Ford, I drove Ford vehicles.

January 21, 2011 at 11:43 am
(21) DFI says:

I am seeing a pattern here of posts from former UAW members all saying nay. I’d trust the opinion of one who has been there first hand. Hopefully the Toyota employees will listen to their former UAW colleagues and realize the union’s grass certainly isn’t greener.

I am also wondering if the pro-union comments of Mr. Geraghty are coming from THE Tom Geraghty, General Secretary of the Public Service Executive Union of Ireland. I realize the name is pretty common but wow, what a coincidence, huh?

January 21, 2011 at 11:59 am
(22) Bill says:

Car companies and the UAW are no different from each other. They both want to perpetuate their existence and grow.

January 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm
(23) DB says:

How nice, the UAW want’s to do for Toyota what it has done for GM, Chrysler and Ford.

January 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm
(24) Hawaiian Don says:

Recent times have seen severe attacks on unions from the conservative right. They see unions as a threat to American productivity and competitiveness. The same proponents are also against the minimum wage law, social security, medicare…
I see the unions as the only realistic way to make gains toward a fair living wage in this country. Without them, who will fight to set a fair price for labor? Not the government. Take away the unions and minimum wage laws will disappear as well. That will be followed by a free fall in wages nationwide in this recession. That will be followed by further erosion of American consumerism, upon which our economy is built. As wages fall, home prices collapse so will what’s left of our economy.
In a few short years we will be competing against third world countries with reduced wages and life style. Corporate profits will skyrocket and the American Dream will become a nightmare fraught with corporate greed, a massive brain drain, social upheaval and collapse.
Track on a chart America’s economic success and demise these past hundred years and you’ll see a corresponding curve of union growth and decline. It is remarkable!!!

January 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm
(25) Stuart says:

Basically a union today is in business to make money from employees. The US government has already taken care of many of the original issues that gave rise to unions. We are now paid time and a half for working over 40 hours, have FMLA, vacation time, and sick time. OSHA has been created for safety. Most employers with any size to them have medical and retirement benefits.

I have worked in several manufacturing facilities. Two of which have been unionized 4 have not. The two unionized plants have by far had the most disengaged work force, and been much slower to respond to change and business conditions.

What is the point of a union in todays world?

January 22, 2011 at 5:36 am
(26) Smile it's your future says:

“What is the point of a union in todays world?”

It’s called a “contract”, Stu. This “work-at-will” thing isn’t working out. Do you have a contract right now, Stu?

No? Your employer can fire you at any time for no reason and there’s nothing you can do about it. Doesn’t that sound secure?

January 22, 2011 at 9:19 am
(27) Ingsoc says:

Pardon me but you come off as a complete rube. First I must say I highly doubt your education credentials. The way you’ve interacted with people in this conversation suggests a high school diploma at best. Second, most of your arguments are circular canards with logic as deep as a puddle. You do understand that one of the central critiques of the union mentality IS the contract that breeds lazy inefficiency and the us vs. Them attitude. Pro-union folks tend to be angry and entitled people that feel they get less than they deserve. You come across as no exception. Look around dummy, the common denominator in the collapse of the US Auto industry is the UAW.

January 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm
(28) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

Smile, I’ve always worked at-will, up until my job here at About.com (which is basically as a contract employee, so I’m still at will). Even with at-will employment, a company has to build up a good case for firing an employee to avoid wrongful termination lawsuits. Getting canned isn’t as easy as some people might think.


February 1, 2011 at 6:53 pm
(29) Robert Miller says:

I grew up in a Union family (IAofM, Local 68) When my Dad, who would never even look at a non-union job when he was unemployed, much less work at a non-union shop, died at age 52 we went down to the Union to collect on his “Life Insurance” policy for over 30 years of Union service. My Mom was handed a check for exactly $1000, and asked to sign a release paper and leave. Big Deal. As a result I vowed to never belong to a Union and, now after 50 years of work, ranging from being a production machinist to being a Director I have suceeded in doing just that, and never once did I suffer for that decision. I earned my wages & salaries and was always treated as a human being, without a union.
Proud, Happy and Retired

January 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm
(30) DB says:

“What is the point of a union in todays world?”

The potential threat of a company being unionized causes them to treat their employees better.

The UAW has gone to far, but unions and the threat of unions are still needed.

January 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm
(31) Smile it's your future says:

This is what is told to team members who are either on the fence or against the union…The job that you do today earns you $70,000. Would you do the same job for $60,000? They say, “sure”. Would you do the same job for $50,000? Again, they agree they would. Would you do the same job for $40,000? They say,”well…I don’t know…” Everybody has a line drawn in the sand the bad part is that they’re in different spots. Some of us “wake up” before the others. Eventually, everyone will wake up to these big transnational companies coming over here to the USA, running the working man into the ground, give them a backward pay scale and help eliminate the middle class…the very people who buy their products!
The over looked difference between the Big 3 and companies like Toyota is domestics blow extreme amounts of cash where very conservative companies (Toyota) are so incredibly efficient in saving and making money, it’s truly mind-blowing to see first hand. Why else is Toyota sitting on $80 BILLION in cash with no debt? Is it luck…no? They’re good at what they do.

January 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm
(32) Smile it's your future says:

A unionized Toyota in short would only mean that Toyota wouldn’t make as much profit as they have been for the past 50 years in America. It wouldn’t hurt them and they’d easily overcome it.
Why else is it that Toyota is superior to Detroit and sells more vehicles and only closes 1 plant in the US? Toyota sells vehicles that, for the most part, doesn’t need an engine change at 80k miles…they sell quality. There are so many facets of why Toyota needs to be unionized and you can say we’re lazy or greedy but until you realize the Toyota I worked for back in the ’90s and the company I work for now and the difference between the 2…you won’t ever understand.
Not to point out the obvious, the UAW is in the business to make money just as is Toyota. I’m in the business to earn money and if there’s something I can use to earn more and protect my job, I’m going to use it.
Answer me this. What other area of Toyota’s business do they do any business without a contract? The plants’ food service, cleaning company, temporaries…management. Nope, only their hourly employees. Excuse me, but I’d like to have a contract also. I think we deserve that.

January 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm
(33) Jeff says:

Smiles: you just proved what a jealous clown you really are with your fanatical union trash, which is totally exaggerated by the way. I’ll bet there are less than a handful of the selfish gimmee gimmee crowd like you at that plant.

Being a teamster for 20 years, I dont have a problem with unions. What I have a problem with is the selfish me me me attitude of the select group (almost always liberal democrats by the way) of union members. They, at one time 50 years ago, were an important entity to have to make sure everyone got treated fairly. Now they have made themselves useless relics (Smiles it’s your future) who are a disgrace to the union members who actually “earn” their wage. You’re the same group that will try to mobilize a walkout just because they don’t have your brand of candybar in the breakroom vending machines that you have demanded. And dont get me started with those who have moved on to the union leadership who now have cushy lifestyles at the members expense.

Now “they” want to take over the very shops that have remained (comparitively speaking) open and competitive in this horrible market.

January 22, 2011 at 6:12 am
(34) Smile it's your future says:

Again with the jealousy thing….

“your fanatical union trash, which is totally exaggerated by the way.” Like I stated earlier, if you’re not on the inside, you have no idea what you’re talking about. “(almost always liberal democrats by the way)” I can only relate Jeff to a blind man trying to guess my weight…I’m registered Republican and I’m fairly conservative but let’s move along….”at one time 50 years ago, were an important entity to have to make sure everyone got treated fairly.” So, you’re saying that being treated fairly is a thing of the past and that we should allow ourselves to be used as meat puppets at the expense of lining our employers pockets with obscene amounts of profit. Damn me straight to hell for daring to lift my head to utter a word of ungratefulness. No Sir, I will not roll over and allow this giant to use me up and discard me. I will fight this until it is over. You have no self-worth and that’s fine, that’s you. The Anti’s will either wake up and fight with us or we’ll drag them, kicking and screaming.

The candybar referrence thing…I hope that wasn’t something you regret now. Somehow trying to turn a life-lesson of yours into a prediction into my future. Dude, it was just a candybar…you got mad, made some poor decisions, some people were hurt but now, you just want to tell everybody that you’re sorry, so….go ahead, you can do it. “Hi, my name is Jeff. I want to let everybody know that I’m sorry about flipping out over not being about to get my favourite candybar that one day. I’m sorry espcially to Don and Jack for hitting y’all with that table I flipped over. Karen, forgive me for kicking in your car door while we were protesting outside. I know that you’re in charge of stocking that machine and I told you a million times, “the one without the peanuts because I have an allergy” but maybe you didn’t understand me…I’m very disgruntled and I have a problem expressing myself. Sorry y’all.”

January 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm
(35) Bruno says:

Too bad unions are trying to waste more manufacturers in the US.
Im from Brazil, my dad is chevy retired here after 33 years of work.
We are afraid the unions is doing doing here what they”ve done in the US. For the last few years there is no plant investment or new car to be produced in the region(southeast brazil), because the union requires such a higher rights and wages for employees, that makes it prohibitive or any investment or job creation in the area(so they make new plants abroad in south america for cheaper)
There are even some employees filing sue against their union, trying to negotiate individually rather than collective(as mandatory by the union)
Anyways, it end-ip being a stupid loose-loose realationship between company and employees, with cars getting outdated and obsolete, plus the chinese cars are comming CHEAP and almost as good to finish the mess…

January 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm
(36) Toyoworker says:

Smile it’s your future:
Everything you said about Toyota and how they operate and treat their employees is absolutely true. I too work for Toyota Motor Corporation but at it’s Cambridge plant in Ontario Canada. Toyota definately isn’t the same company it was even 4 years ago. The ambition and desire to go above and beyond has largely been driven out of its employees due to the company nickle and diming them to death. Ho hum, just another boring job. Another day in the big steel box.

January 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm
(37) Insider View says:

As an insider of the now defunct NUMMI plant, I have seen the inefficiences Union 2244 brought to NUMMI’s operations. The inconsistency, favortism, and blatent disrespect to the entire membership was obvious. The union was supposed to represent its union members but the unfortunte reality is they only represented their own self serving interests. Case in point: when the union members received their final pay/severence check, guess who extracted its membership dues? Yes, members paid for dues for the following year for which they will receive ZERO representation. Does the union have any respect for these team members that will no longer have a job?

Toyota was smart to close the NUMMI plant down. If Toyota continued the NUMMI operations, NUMMI would become its own wholly owned subsidiary. That would have clearly spelled disaster. It meant the union disease would have an opportunity to infect all the other Toyota plants. Eliminate the existing Union disease, cut off the infected limb. That’s what Toyota did with the NUMMI plant.

January 22, 2011 at 6:27 am
(38) Smile it's your future says:

We’ve received a few of your Group Leaders and higher members of management from NUMMI at our plant. I keep looking for team members to show up…I haven’t seen one as of yet. Could it be Toyota is making sure their salaried people are employed because they have a contract with them? Who on here said something about salaried management not trying to become unionized…are you dumb? Salaried employees are Agents of the Company. Let me state it another way so you can see what you just said…Toyota wants the UAW to represent them. Anyway….moving on. “inconsistency, favortism, and blatent disrespect to the entire membership was obvious.” These are the very things we’re saying now about Toyota, weird.

January 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(39) Frowns says:


Where in the company does Toyota do business without a contract? To name one obvious area: salaried workers.

Do you ever see salaried team members UNIONIZE in an autoplant?

Unions represent a serious inefficiency. The reason why people like working at a Toyota plant is that they eliminate waste and provide a no layoff policy (until the end) so workers can have the peace of mind of continuous employment. I would even go so far as to say if NUMMI did not have a union, it would probably be in operation today. However, the union would not do anything to alleviate the cost differences in labor.

January 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm
(40) Carfanworkingman says:

Sounds like at least some toyota workers want a union but the UAW isnt a good option. Cant the workers vote for a different union at toyota? The UAW isnt the only option is it? The workers get to pick the union, not Bob King and Not the COMPANY…Am I missing somthing here?

January 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm
(41) oldwino says:

Smile it’s your future,

Hey brother, it’s a free country(still) and you’re able to go anywhere you want if you don’t like Toyota anymore. Maybe Ford’s hiring in Louisville. It’s only an hour drive from here. I drove further than that when I started here at Toyota. Having worked in 2 union shops, I personally have no desire for the UAW to do for Toyota what they did for the Big 3 and I certainly don’t want my hard earned money going to pay for Big 3 retirees, union bosses pockets and political support of candidates that don’t represent me. There is no perfect job or company and the UAW can’t produce one either. Let the UAW come here and try again. My money’s on them retreating again with their tail between their legs, not because the company opposes them, but because the workers won’t buy the snakeoil they’re selling. Just my $.02 worth.

January 22, 2011 at 6:50 am
(42) Smile it's your future says:

“….youíre able to go anywhere you want if you donít like Toyota anymore.” When have I said 1 time on this page that I don’t like Toyota anymore? Anyway….”I certainly donít want my hard earned money going to pay for Big 3 retirees, union bosses pockets and political support of candidates” What you’re saying is instead of paying union dues, you’d rather let Toyota take from you. I can see where 2 hours of pay a month is more than losing about $20,000 a year. The amount of pay Toyota has taken away from me in 3 years, I could’ve paid a lifetime of union dues. But, it’s a typical trait of an Anti to be focused on the “NOW” with no regard to the future and the fear Toyota instills in you on a daily basis doesn’t help much either. ” I personally have no desire for the UAW to do for Toyota what they did for the Big 3″….Again, you’ve got it all wrong. If it wasn’t for the Big 3 and the UAW, Toyota would never be paying what they’re paying now.

UAW and the Big 3, thank you for all the trailblazing and hard work you’ve done to get my pay where it is today. Maybe if we had the UAW supporting us back in ’07, our pay would still be where it was back then (which, by the way, was higher then than it is now).

January 22, 2011 at 9:34 am
(43) Ingsoc says:

Well said. I wouldn’t be surprised if this “smile” guy is a uaw whore. People have to remember they have an Obama funded 800 million dollar war chest to go after these plants. There is a ton of irony in them going to a worker at Toyota and trying to sell the on what they’ve done for workers at the big 3 when over half of there membership is simply gone in part thanks to them.

January 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm
(44) Agent Mike says:

Ingsoc, Well said. Hit the nail on the head.

January 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm
(45) Geet says:

there goes the nieghborhood

January 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm
(46) jdk says:

Just watch how fast Toyota finds another area in the U.s. to build cars. That’s what I would be doing. Unions had their place in the early 1900′s – not now. Government employee unions should be abolished for raking taxpayers over the coals.

January 23, 2011 at 12:39 am
(47) JJ says:

>>but the plant employees don’t seem to be leaving in droves to find better-paying work<<

Strange statement, in an economy where there are four people looking for and needing jobs for every job available!

January 23, 2011 at 2:15 am
(48) Hawaiian Don says:

What really needs to be done is a total revamp of The Big Three’s management, which is apparently well under way. Also a new union needs to be created in place of the old UAW. Old Big 3 Management and the UAW developed a cozy relationship that only worked when they had 90+% market share.
A new union with a new understanding of today’s automotive workings will succeed on the behalf of their workers and ensure corporate profitability for management.

January 23, 2011 at 11:24 am
(49) Bob99 says:

Union dues eating up pay raises????? I am a retired Teamster. When I retired in 1996 my dues were only $36 a month. I’m sure pay raises have certainly been more than a quarter of a cent per hour. If the UAW ever folds up you can expect wages for automakers, union and non-union, to be drastically reduced. Countries with the best economies have strong company-union relationships. Our economy is driven by greed by doing such things as sending our work overseas. When American workers don’t have jobs how can they support the economy?

February 1, 2011 at 7:12 pm
(50) Bob Miller says:

That is proof that, thanks to Union Contracts, you DON’T have to be smarter than a 4th grader to become a teamster. Most 4th graders can quickly figure out that $36 a month is about $.21 an hour, not the $.0025 an hour suggested by a highly skilled union member

January 25, 2011 at 9:31 am
(51) Yale/ Kellman says:

A prudent person must wonder how anyone, in their right mind, could still be a liberal Democrat? Haven’t you seen the devastating effects of Oblunder’s policies?

Based on your poor political choices, I will have to strongly reconsider ever reading your column again!

January 25, 2011 at 9:34 am
(52) Tom says:

The unions are necessary to keep companies from taking unfair advantage of workers, however, unions need to do a better job of advertising thier benefits and helping employers to improve products. The union can and sometimes does help management to manage employees and also improve products,provide training to improve employees and help workers to increase thier paychecks. It is reasonable to pay people in order they can purchase the products they make. I remember when Americans took pride in our products as well as pride in our union membership. We can become great again with unions and management working together, and instilling pride in our workers.

February 7, 2011 at 7:40 pm
(53) Mike in Minn says:

No Bob, it’s just that they are working 14800 hours a month.

That works out to 477 hours per day 7 days a week.

No wonder there are labor laws and unions. I bet they used to have to put in like 800 hour days. That would have sucked ya know? Sucked bad. :)

February 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm
(54) Mike in Minn says:

14,400 hours actually….oops. Me and my !@#$% 4th grade ejukashun.

August 16, 2011 at 6:57 am
(55) eredy says:

any one here of nafta or gat this down turn of the big 3 happened not of unions but out sourcing. ive worked at a lot of furniture plants close moved over sea they WERE NOT UNION. its a plan to make the middle class gone has nothing to do with unions even thow uaw is a joke you need some kind of union and these car plants could use the steel workers union they dont have to have uaw .

March 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm
(56) rail roader says:

well you can all thank big business fat cats, government , and unions for the corruption. The priests are not guilty here unless there is a boy in the audience.
seriously people, I buy american made products to support blue collar workers, weather they may be union or not. I would never purchase a chevy truck made in mexico. ” fuck you GM”
we all need to start over. spend your money at yard sales. buy used help the economy. boycott foreign made products.

I am a member of the IAMAW. Let me tell you this is one piss poor lame ass union. every time i aproach my local chairman with a problem. he simply says ” BE GLAD YOU GOTTA JOB!”

May 28, 2012 at 11:00 am
(57) double j says:

I do work at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana. It is not the same company it was 10 years ago!!! They treat us a lot different now. A lot less respect.

July 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm
(58) Big dog says:

Toyota Indiana is out of control. I hear everyday about how we need a UNION

July 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm
(59) Big dog says:

Please help us at Toyota Indiana. UAW where are you

September 6, 2012 at 1:44 am
(60) exunionsupporter says:

the unions are not interested in taking care of the workers all they want is power and they don’t care who the rip off or step on to get it. I once supported the unions until I remove the union wool off my eyes and saw what they really are. We need more non union shops!!!!!!

September 6, 2012 at 1:51 am
(61) out of work says:

I have been out of work for 4 years has the union helped me no and they won’t because I don’t pay dues anymore because my plant closed all they want is your money to pay for their high payed paper pushers at their headquarters. I say yes buy made in America that is why I will buy a Toyota when I can afford one support NON union Jobs here in the USA

February 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm
(62) Jane says:

I have lived and worked in Automotive in or around Detroit since i was 16 years old. I have seen how the UAW treats management, other workers, property and their own corporations. They take what they want, they turn their chairs around and face the back of the room when they are forced to go to site wide meetings. They throw the computers on the desk and don’t care if they break them. If someone gets tired of waiting for the union to do a job and tries to do their job they file a complaint. They swear and yell at anyone they want, they take what ever they want off peoples desk and out of the plants. They show up for work , check in and then go to bowling or to bars, they when they want more money they strike and hit people’s cars when they are trying to get to work and don’t care if they make young girls (like me at the time) cry. They have a strong disrespect for any type of management and other people who are willing to work hard. I say this from a purely personal experience that I have seen and developed over time.

February 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm
(63) Joe Perfer says:

What makes you think that a UNION (the Most disrespectful of all Disrespectful organizations in the world) will be your savior? I will give them props for education- Teaching disrespect and disdain! That they excel in!!

March 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm
(64) toyota employee says:

I have worked for toyota for thirteen miserable years! The way they treat injured employees and with record profits we keep losing money! They hire and fire temporary workers like they are trash! The average toyoa worker in japan will recieve 22k in bonuses this year we will be around three grand. They are union we are not! Enough said! classic trickle down economics; IT WONT WORK!

July 24, 2013 at 10:15 pm
(65) Gman says:

The Union has the love or hate relationship within American culture, By by many looking in, and also the ones that are looking out, or have never been in a union, The UAW in particular gets a very deserving black eye.

Why can’t the union reorganize and loose all the lousy old ways of doing business. Corruption, miss management of funds, and just plain greed has brought the UAW, and the word “UNION” to be a dirty word here in America.

If anything, they need to take a trip to Japan or German and see how a real organized union runs. All plants in Japan are part of the union and they get paid fairly well, even with wages falling. They recently had a very nice quarter and got rewarded with a significant bonus. The workers here in those Nonunion plants didn’t get that nice extravagant bonus. It seems the J3 and other manufacturers are stinking up the place setting up in the deep south where they received huge tax subsidizes and incentives. I am not to say the workers are not happy, for most those jobs are needed and paid fairly well. Meanwhile, the D3 are coming back. Building very demanding cars and trucks while the quality awards are stacking up. They lead in certain areas that I would have never thought. Ford had a record quarter and gave out some very attractive bonuses to those workers under the UAW.

I guess my point is, the UAW needs a clean slate. They helped establish a growing middle class and that is what American prosperity is all about. As the union has dwindled, so has the middle class. They need to limit the unions power and get rid of the miss management, especially the pension funds, along with the corruption.

September 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm
(66) Say No To UAW says:

As I have worked for GM, I would never ever support UAW. So called Skilled trade workers don’t know what they are doing on the plant floor(or don’t bother to learn new things). But they know very well how to read newspapers, watch even movies while at work. Would you believe that they don’t show up on time(They can get to any corner in the plant in less than 5 minutes as they have their bicycles provided by management) when someone asks them for their help. Simply unbelievable. That company can only survive through ‘Tax-Payers’ money.

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