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Why Detroit can’t compete

Posted by Richard on January 6, 2009

Mark J. Perry posted pictures of Ford's 1941 and 2007 UAW union contracts. A picture is worth a thousand words, so go check them out. But here are the key stats:

1941: 24 pages (3.5 x 5 inches).

2007: 2,215 pages (8.5 x 11 inches), weighing 22 pounds.

But that's not the only problem. The other day, Perry linked to this Stop the ACLU post. It described a Detroit TV station's exposé of how union officials abuse what are laughably called the "work rules" in that 22-pound contract: 

One of the bosses, Ron Seroka, a union job security officer, takes off half a day nearly everyday to go home to lounge around the house while he is on the clock. Seroka punches in at the plant at 6AM every single day and is home by 11:30 AM for some nice leisure time at home. Yet he gets a steady 10 hours pay every single day despite the fact that he is rarely at work.

Seroka’s union boss is even worse. Union chairman Jim Modzelewski buys beer on a daily basis while on the clock and clocks himself in for overtime pay hours before he even wakes up to go into the plant. TV 4 found that after he punches in, he typically leaves for a beer run mere hours later. Again, all this is on a daily basis. He is also paid overtime pay on a daily basis as he sits home drinking his daily beer. With over 2,500 hours of overtime, Modzelewski made a six-figure salary last year.

The problem isn't just a few corrupt union officials (emphasis added):

The TV news also briefly interviewed an auto business expert that says in the last ten years one in three American union auto workers would not show up to work on any given day while foreign auto plants would see 98 out of 100 of their workers dutifully show up for work. Makes it a bit hard to plan on a work force in the US with unions in control, doesn’t it?

Thanks to the Democratic Congress and the "compassionate conservative" in the White House, it's now your tax dollars (and your children's, and grandchildren's…) that are paying these louts. Think about that as you're dutifully showing up for work in the morning. 

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2 Responses to “Why Detroit can’t compete”

  1. Hathor said

    33% percent of people not showing up everyday, I don’t believe that and anecdote does not make a statistic. This is one instance that I believe in the human spirit. For many people, work defines part of who we are. Ask yourself, if you could, would you stay away from work a that much.

  2. rgcombs said

    He may be exaggerating, or misquoted, or relying on data I couldn’t find. A bit of Googling turned up several sources citing 10% for the auto industry overall (here are three, from 2004, 2005, and 2007).

    But that would include the foreign-owned, non-union plants in the South. This 2004 article said the problem was twice as bad as the industry average at some of the Big Three / UAW plants:

    ”Absenteeism among hourly workers in the

    automotive industry runs about 10 percent

    annually, about three times higher than in

    other industries, according to a study

    published this year by the Automotive

    Supplier Action Committee, a trade group.

    At some Big Three plants, absenteeism runs

    as high as 20 percent.”

    Would I stay away from work that much? I might, if I worked in a mind-numbing, rigidly controlled environment where every move I made was governed by 2000 pages of work rules, and where I saw every day that standing out, working hard, and showing initiative were punished instead of rewarded.

    I’d like to think, however, that I’d eventually leave.

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