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Hey guys, so I'm reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and I am doing a group project on labor unions and for my part I'm doing a "then and now" comparison. I'm using the American auto union(s) for my "now" part and I figured some of you could touch on the subject and provide some info. I just need some info on how they affected the later 20th century and early 21st century. Anything is good. Feel free to discuss and voice opinions.

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Labor unions are pretty much null in today's society. Some do a lot more damage than good. *cough*UAW*cough*

With institutions like state labor departments, OSHA, etc, unions aren't really needed since there are laws that protect employees, and people to turn to for help against bad employers.

My opinion, they've lived their usefulness, and we're more purposeful years ago. Now, they're just another corrupt system based on greed.

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' timestamp='1332251410' post='68550']

Labor unions are pretty much null in today's society. Some do a lot more damage than good. *cough*UAW*cough*

With institutions like state labor departments, OSHA, etc, unions aren't really needed since there are laws that protect employees, and people to turn to for help against bad employers.

My opinion, they've lived their usefulness, and we're more purposeful years ago. Now, they're just another corrupt system based on greed.

This. I have never liked unions. In my experience, the union heads have always been the biggest slackers. Not to say I've encountered them a lot :lol:

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Having grown up in Flint, Michigan. Home of the famous Sitdowner strike in 1937-38 that started the UAW, I have a vastly different opinion than Ringo and Chaos. Both my grandfathers were union, my dad and I were/are salary. I would recommend as part of your project to contact the Sloan Museum in Flint. They have a vast collection of information about the Sitdown strike. They can tell who the strikers were (there are still about 15-30 of them still alive BTW), the working conditions in the day, the events during the strike, and corporate America's typical response to union organizing in the day, the Michigan governor's response to the situation, etc. The www.mlive.com / Flint Journal might have a ton of online articles about it too, this year was the 75th anniversary of the strike.

The UAW and unions in general have their pros and cons. What we see today is result of the real hardship and unfair practices of the day and sacrifices people did to fight the unjust things big corporations were allowed to do back in the day. So while we may see benefit and money grubbing union bosses trying to strong arm corporations into submission, it was the exact opposite 80 years ago. Workers could be hired and fired at will, beaten by strong arm bullys for trying to organize, foreced to work sweat shops for low pay, terrible work conditions. I caution anyone who believes the line "HI, I'm from the government, I'm here to help you". Government agencies are always a very late reaction to things done in the private sector. Hell, the Department of Energy was created to wean us off our dependency of foreign oil - over 40 years ago !!!!! They're doing a helluva job right? Beware.

I see both sides of this arguement, and I will say that unions have a place, perhaps not as big as a role they once enjoyed and leave it at that. I can write more if you'd like. Unions are, if nothing else, a sort of check and balance, against corporate dictatorship (to an extent).

Let me ask you a simple question, and I ask that you to research it as part of your paper. Do you think that middle-class America would have grown into what it is today with or without unions and their impact on working conditions, wages, and benefits. Why or why not? Ask your parents and grandparents too. I would be interested in your conclusions.

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I definitely agree that we would definitely not have the good working conditions today and everything but I think they got to the point where they are too powerful.

My Dad has plenty of stories about when he first started working in the hotel industry and their unions plus I have a good example of one at my work. Through what I've heard and experienced I think they're just too powerful and some people take WAY too much advantage of it.

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The UAW destroyed GM's quality factor over the decades. Demanding high pay for such unskilled labor, and more worried over their benefits and pay, versus actually making a good, well made product. GMs from the 80's and 90's suffered horribly in quality, one of GM's bad reputations they're still trying to overturn today. Despite GM making wonderful new cars, people still have the mindset of those horrid cars decades ago, and will not want a domestic.

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I do not think that the unions were the sole reason for lack of quality.

A great deal of the problems were also caused by managers and senior people more interested in the bottom line then that of the quality of the product. When GM had the GMAC financing company there were jokes about GM being a finance company that built cars.

These problems stemmed from to many people worrying about the bottom line and getting my bonus (short term gains) then over all quality and return on investment in the product at hand. Unfortunately, the senior management became slaves to mediocrity and stagnance in the workplace then innovation. The quality standards set forth by the managers and were met by those of the assembly.

Two of the best books that I have ever read about this are from Bob Lutz

Gutless

Car Guys vs The Bean Counters.

Both illustrated that the lack of managers not willing to take risks and turning a blind eye to simple things like body gaps in door panels. Their unwillingness tighten up standards were the precipitators to the problems.

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Overall I think it was just greed that caused the downfall in 80s/90s. I wouldn't fully discredit the unions but I also wouldn't solely put that on the Execs as well.

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I have been a part of management in the military and in civilian world.

I have found that this is the best statement for it.

"Failure of the team is a failure of the Leadership"

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I have been a part of management in the military and in civilian world.

I have found that this is the best statement for it.

"Failure of the team is a failure of the Leadership"

You have no argument here I totally agree if it was a regular work performance issue. When you start dealing with unions it starts getting weird though in my opinion because you start getting people demanding more pay for their work that isn't worth it or doing no work at all but you can't lay them off because the union will be pissed and go on strike thus you lose profits but you lose money by keeping the person employed so what's the bigger loss?

As said the union can outpower the management which in some cases it's fantastic but in others not so much. I think everything snowballed to the point where they nailed each of their coffins shut.

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You have no argument here I totally agree if it was a regular work performance issue. When you start dealing with unions it starts getting weird though in my opinion because you start getting people demanding more pay for their work that isn't worth it or doing no work at all but you can't lay them off because the union will be pissed and go on strike thus you lose profits but you lose money by keeping the person employed so what's the bigger loss?

As said the union can outpower the management which in some cases it's fantastic but in others not so much. I think everything snowballed to the point where they nailed each of their coffins shut.

This is how I feel about the subject with unions. People getting paid more than the worth of their work. I'm all for fair working conditions and FAIR wages. Fair wages is just that, in a blue collar environment, you should get paid for what you do and how well you do it.

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In my opinion the ideal situation is that a union and a company need to be a working marriage. This team needs to strive to be the best for the company and the worker in order to maintain a long term relationship and solvency of a company. The problem is if the worker wants to much and the company caves in then the company goes insolvent. No labour contract will be valid if the company is no longer there. In the 1990s GM caved to the UAW demands without hesitation. (GMs fault) From what I have read this was an initial contract offering from the UAW with hopes of opening talks with GM. They did not expect GM to submit so early and it was caught off guard. Even some of the UAW negotiators expected to have a longer meeting to secure a contract.

Are unions necessary. Depends on the situation. Recently, Catapilar pulled out of London Ontario because the union there did not want to negotiate. It was my way or the highway mentality so they just shut the plant down and moved production. In this case (my opinion) the union did not help its workers by approaching a company that was in mass downturn production for train engines and this site was hemoraging money.

The down side of them is that it hides laziness in some companies. This is also laziness of the Managers not wanting to deal with the Union when they file a greavance.

Unions can be a good thing at the same time but you need the correct leadership on both sides of the table.

Havoc all I can say for your study is Unions were a necessity during their indoctrination. Currently, there are some good and some bad. The bad ones are the ones that are in the news today. These are the ones that need to change their approach from us (worker) and them (management) to an idea of we (management and front line) because in the end if the company shut down no one has a job.

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wait...shouldnt this be in the OT?

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Well it is a question, and it relates to the American automotive industry, its not that OT relative to the website. Plus being in Q&C gives it more priority than just being an OT post.

Oh and guys this is good stuff. Frosty, I'll answer your question after I get my project done, but to touch on it a bit, I do believe that without Unions the middle-class would not have grown to what it is today, maybe it would have, but Unions definitely expedited the process. Without the Unions and workers voicing their opinions, corrupt bosses would have gone unchecked.

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Excellent thesis points Havoc. I agree that the middle class explosion of the late 1940s to 1970s was greatly accerated by the acceptance of unions in big business (it certainly is not the only reason either). I would also suggest if you follow that logic that you set the stage for the business, working, and living conditions that lead to the strike and frame it with the fact that the country was still deep in the Depression when the strike occured. So be sure to frame your discussion with the conditions of the day. Again, I think the Sloan Museum can help you with that information as well. I have a contact at the museum, I will email you her contact info offline.

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Havoc, did you get my contact info for the Sloan museum and did you get in touch with someone on it? Just checking.

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Havoc, did you get my contact info for the Sloan museum and did you get in touch with someone on it? Just checking.

Yes I did and not I did not. I've started my paper, but even if I do not get any information from your contact for my paper, I still plan on emailing her. My interest in this topics isn't just in school and in this project.

I've started off with a compare and contrast going deeper into my view of how the union was then and now. Basically stating how I see the union as a great asset in the beginning for workers that expedited workers rights, but greed can work both ways because the union wanted more than Detroit could give, leading to the slow decline until it reached its recent trough. I'm an not saying that the union was the clear cut cause, but I see it as a contributing factor. Now, you may have a different opinion, and I'll gladly listen because you are much older than I am and your knowledge is very valuable to me as a young adult.

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There was indeed greed, bad and mis-management to be sure....on both sides. The union was only part of GM's and the auto industry's decline. No one took imports seriously until around 1980 when the recession hit and Honda and Toyota had small, economical cars that were cheap. The imports embraced quality/continous improvement methodoligies more quickly than the US auto makers did (Crosby and Deming methods just to name a few). GM and other automakers were lured into "diversification" by Wall St. suits - like buying EDS, Hughes Aircraft, Terex, etc. Federal EPA/mileage/safety requirements resulted in a major re-tooling from RWD to FWD drive. That much change is bound to cause disruptions. So the decline is based on a lot of factors, the union being just one of them.

No one wants wage stagnation or worse stagflation (which occured in the late 60s) when almost all commodity prices (oil, food, clothing,etc) rose significantly faster than real wages.

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:lol2:

41gFhhyM3gL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

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:lol2:

41gFhhyM3gL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

Let be mature and on topic please.

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I submitted my paper online and it flagged it for plagiarism listing "foreverpontiac.com" as the source LOL

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:lol:

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I submitted my paper online and it flagged it for plagiarism listing "foreverpontiac.com" as the source LOL

:lol: I don't know how they flagged it as plagiarism because I highly doubt the bot of that website scanned our website fully.

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The website literally quoted Chris and I

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The website literally quoted Chris and I

Well I'm scared... :willy_nilly:

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How dare you copy my astonishing words of wisdom without proper copyright approvals.

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