Does a car manufacturer HAVE to deal with Unions?

Let’s say I got together with some old friends and between us we were able to design a few simple, efficient and attractive cars. There’s the Fezzik, an SUV incorporating hybrid technology and a viable V4-6-8 engine; the Westly, a 4-door sedan sporting a 2.6 liter supercharged V6 and conservative styling; the Inigo, a sporty 2-door with lines inspired by lotus and powered by a 4 cylinder turbo; and the Vicinni, built for the commute, a lightweight 2-seater station wagon with a high-efficiency 3 cylinder hybrid powerplant and awesome sound system.

It’s been fully 14 months since Chrysler finally joined Ford and GM in writing their last chapter in US Automotive history. My buddies and I have built, tested and crash-tested prototypes and have been given the green light by whomever is giving green lights to commence production. Thanks to a lucky Powerball Lottery ticket we have just completed construction of our manufacturing facilities and blah blah blah…And now we need to hire our work force.

Do we have to include the United Auto Workers union in any of this? Or can we proceed with hiring just any Pat and compensate them in accordance with our own homegrown package?

First of all, it depends where you locate - different states favor unions in different ways. After that, you just hire people - and you’d better treat them nice. That’s essentially what the Japanese auto makers did when they built plants here - none of them have been unionized yet, so far as I know.

And I guess that’s the very crux of my gist. Given what The Big Three had to pay anyway I think you could have a pretty aggressive payroll structure right out of the gate that could head off unionization.

And give me more about how state laws go about officially recognizing labor unions. Seems unAmerican, getting the law involved that deeply in a business’ … uh … business, apart from minimum wage and overtime requirements.

Union recognition is a matter of federal–not state–laws:

Some states are so-called “right-to-work” states:

In these states, “employers and unions may not pressure, coerce or otherwise force workers to join unions or keep their union membership intact as a condition of employment.”

To cite the relevant portion of Gfactor’s post:

So, by federal law, you can hire anyone you want to, but if your employees decide they want to be represented by a union, that’s their right.

None of the Japanese auto makers here in Ontario are Unionized.

The BMW manufacturing plant in South Carolina doesn’t have a union either.

I wish Ohio had adopted something like that. I remember a summer in my college years when I was in desperate need of part-time work (needed to save up some money for a study abroad). I had a connection in my town’s Kroger supermarket, went in to apply (and we all know what an arduous process applying for unskilled positions is these days), was rubber-stamped by the manager and went in for an interview (more along the lines of a friendly chit-chat over coffee). We were completely ready to seal the deal when I learned that just to work at Kroger I’d have to pay what would work out as one month’s salary into the union. They also apparently took offense to the idea that I’d only be working for three months.

Luckily, I managed to score a temp job instead, inspecting and installing seat belts for Honda, which ended up being a much higher-paying job. And the plant where I worked was not unionized. In fact, anymore Honda tends to avoid hiring full-time employees at all, most of their line jobs (at least at that factory) were temp positions. The full-timers were all people who had been there for years.

Kroger will always be my grocer of choice in the US, but their union is ridonkulous.

Here’s an interesting factoid. The Big Three–heavily unionized–pay about $30 more per hourin total hourly compensation than The Next Biggest Three (or, as I like to think of them, The Next Big Three). Stick that in your gist and crux it!

They pay/benifits comparable to union plants to keep from going union. As per the op , there is no need to do that , as the legacy three are gone.


The Nissan plant in TN does not pay their employees nearly as much as the Big Three pay theirs, so as long as you located your facility in a part of the country where wages were lower than what the Big Three offered, you could operate without worrying about the union. The UAW’s tried 3 times to get into the Nissan plant, and each time, they’ve been overwhelmingly voted down. The UAW guys are idiots in this area. When they tried to make a big push recently at getting the UAW into the Nissan plant, they managed to piss off the Nissan employees.

I was actually actually thinking of like Byhalia or Olive Branch, MS. Rural, poor, has rail service and is just a hop away from a major Port city.

$75 an hour, holy Hannah! That’s $156,000 a year!! :shocked:

I assume that figure includes the cost of heallth insurance and pension plans; how much of that is “real” salary?

About half, IIRC. The Big Three pick up the complete tab for worker health insurance. There’s no payroll deduction or doctor copay for employees. Mind you, until recently, you got that when you walked in the door! You didn’t even have to work on the assembly line, even the frickin’ janitors got that!

They’d better hope that insurance covers kwashiorkor and pellagra, the way things are going.

That’s similar as the union I’m in (for a transit agency). Obviously I don’t knock it because I’m getting the long end of the stick as far as health insurance benefits go :cool: but yeah, at my job whether you drive a bus, turn a wrench, cut the grass or unclog the toilets you pretty much get that package.

And OSHA. Is OSHA unAmerican? And building codes. And zoning. And EEOC. And about ten million other laws that were put in place for the protection of workers. And businesses. And the community.

Unionization is a right that workers fought hard for nearly a century to obtain. They won mostly because the country was so fed up with the abuses of workers by businesses. They won because the argument that collective bargaining was a violation of an individual’s right to take any contract a business wanted to shove down a throat no longer could pass the laugh test. They won because a lot of people died along the way.

That was another time and place. The proper role of unions in today’s less industrialized world is certainly a matter for debate.

Having the law involved in business is not. Or haven’t you been reading the papers lately?

$62,000 more per year? The best HMO would be a fraction of that number. I’m wondering if that is averaging in retired workers benefits.

My city was once one of the major suppliers for GM with subsidiaries such as DELCO and Frigidaire. It’s all gone now, as are the companies that supported them. The only people making money from GM are those who get paid to tear down the factories.

There is no excuse for GM to be in this situation. They make cars to sell all over the world and could have swapped SUV production with one of their more efficient models sold elsewhere. Now it’s trading below $3/share. This was a top-down destruction of a company where everybody contributed to it’s demise.

I suppose it is silly to expect today’s sentient citizens to remember or consider the Treaty Of Detroit that marked the end of serious labor unrest in the auto building industry in the early 50s when the Big Three (plus, I think, American Motors and Studebaker) finally cut a deal with the UAW after decades of strikes, walk-outs, lock-outs and general thugery on both sides and the passage of the National Labor Relations Act. The deals cut back then were generous but they bought Detroit labor peace in a period when making and selling cars was immensely profitable and the industry was growing by leaps and bound on the back of post-WWII prosperity. None-the-less, the good wages and good benefits that turned industrial laborers into middle class citizens were fought for long and hard. It seems pretty mean spirited to bitch about them now. They were, after all, fairly bargained for at the time and agreed to by the very same people who are now complaining the loudest.

Also, the $70 or $75 per hour figure is a bit disingenuous. The average wage, I am told, for a presently actively employed auto worker is something like $28 per hour. That is in line with what is payed workers at the John Deere plants in Waterloo and Rock Island. The extra $42 to $47 comes from adding in the medical insurance cost for current and retired workers and fixed benefit pension costs for retired workers. Some might think that the guys on the line are getting $70 per hour. They aren’t. The same sort of thinking would inflate the cost of every soldier now on active duty to an astronomical figure by adding in the cost of pensions paid to retired soldiers and the cost of the VA medical system. Those costs are there and must be paid but it’s hardly fair to suggest that auto workers and soldiers are enjoying bloated, unreasonable and undeserved present income.

Too late, actually. Nissanis already here, Toyota opening soon.

Well, in Mississippi. Land prices are much too high in either of those cities for an auto plant.