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Old 06-11-2007, 12:23 PM   #1
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Toyota plant workers make case for unionization

Toyota plant workers make case for unionization
June 11, 2007

By JEFFREY McMURRAY

ASSOCIATED PRESS

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Current and former workers at Toyota’s Kentucky plant shared stories Sunday about low wages and poor working conditions — rallying points many in the assembly line hope will ultimately lead to unionization.

About 200 people — many of them workers at the Georgetown plant that produces the Camry — attended the meeting of the Kentucky Workers’ Rights Board, a panel of religious and civic leaders pushing for better labor conditions.

Like foreign-owned auto companies across the South, Toyota is nonunion, but the leaders on the board sympathize with the workers, and many contend that should change.

“We are people of community, and part of our community has said to us that things are not exactly the way they need to be in the work situation at Toyota,” said the Rev. John Rausch, coordinator of peace and justice at the Catholic Diocese in Lexington. “We are not trying to tear Toyota down. We are trying to make it better and have a better partner in community.”

Two current employees and two fired ones described what they said were extraordinary steps taken by the company to prevent union organization.

Toyota officials didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

The Workers’ Rights Board, which includes Democratic state Reps. Reginald Meeks and Jim Glenn, has no influence over policy or personnel matters at Toyota.

However, after the hearing, it issued several recommendations — including changes in the peer-review process and a 90-day probation period for temporary workers, who would become permanent after that time.

A major focus of the hearing, which lasted more than two hours, was the company’s use of temporary workers, who some of the employees said were doing the same amount of work as the full-timers for half the pay.

“They’re trying to get a job there,” said Cornelia James, who has worked at Toyota for 19 years. “Full-time employment is dangled in front of them like a carrot, and they’re told, any missteps, and you’re out.”

Noel Riddell, who was fired this year after a decade of service at the plant, said he was disciplined after discussing with coworkers a document he found detailing a plan for wages. He was fired despite being backed by a peer-review process, Riddell said.

“What was my crime? Knowledge,” he said. “I will not go quietly.”
Others discussed alleged incidents of sexual harassment and workers being discharged after on-the-job injuries.

“Today, U.S. autoworkers are analogous to professional athletes,” said William Maloney of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Labor Education and Research. “You’re trading your body for a paycheck, and it’s not right.”

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Old 06-11-2007, 03:50 PM   #2
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As much as I'm against unions (they have outlived their usefulness), and as much as it will give more power to the UAW, I kind of hope it happens...to Toyota and the other foreign car companies...then their costs will go up and the prices of their cars will have to go up.

Then, you will see better competition and much more of the "buy American" attitudes popping up. Good for American auto companies and good for America.
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Old 06-11-2007, 06:51 PM   #3
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I agree. I hate unions. They served their purpose post industrial revolution when people had to work 12 hour days 7 days a week. But I'd damn love to see this happen to Toyota/Honda/Hyundai etc. Plus all the bad press this hopefully bring for the foreign manufacturers. Then all we need is lots of recalls and drops in quality surveys. This will be good for them! Go USA!!
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Old 06-11-2007, 10:28 PM   #4
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Personally, I think Unions still have their place here. Nowhere near as much as they did - but they are still needed i.e. UAW, United teachers association(I think it's called), and a select few others. Toyota can give crappy conditions because there is no large body(union) preventing them. It's time the foriegners learned how America was built - smack them right in the face the filthy, slimy, rats!
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:41 PM   #5
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Then what? They'll move to Canada, Mexico and Australia and build their cars there for sale in the U.S. Just like GM is doing. Everytime you look up, one of the big 3 is closing down a plant while the Japanese and other Asian automakers are opening up plants. Today, it's hard to say what is an "American" car and what isn't.

In 1968, you could buy a brand new Camaro, fully loaded for around $2800 and some change. Can't do that today. Unions are played out and force the price of the automobile sky-high. IMO
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Old 06-11-2007, 11:44 PM   #6
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I can tell what's american, and what's not. DESIGN. GM designed the camaro, and all their other cars. MOST of their parts are built here, and MOST, if not all profits come back to their Hq in detroit. Regardless of where it's built, it's american still - what the future holds, well....
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:37 AM   #7
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“We are not trying to tear Toyota down. We are trying to make it better and have a better partner in community.”
NOOOOO!!!! TEAR IT DOWN!!!!
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Old 06-12-2007, 10:52 AM   #8
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NOOOOO!!!! TEAR IT DOWN!!!!
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:37 PM   #9
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Then what? They'll move to Canada, Mexico and Australia and build their cars there for sale in the U.S. Just like GM is doing. Everytime you look up, one of the big 3 is closing down a plant while the Japanese and other Asian automakers are opening up plants. Today, it's hard to say what is an "American" car and what isn't.

In 1968, you could buy a brand new Camaro, fully loaded for around $2800 and some change. Can't do that today. Unions are played out and force the price of the automobile sky-high. IMO
GM has been in Canada for a very long time! As a matter of fact, GM is made up of many Canadian car companies that were amalgamated to form GM. If you are confused as to what is American as in "North American", then I suggest you look at total North American content of the vehicle in order to establish it. Content made in North America and not just brought in and assembled here.
Back in 1968, people were lucky to be making $80.00 per week! If you compare the ratio of then and now, I bet they are pretty close!
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:43 PM   #10
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I agree. I hate unions. They served their purpose post industrial revolution when people had to work 12 hour days 7 days a week. But I'd damn love to see this happen to Toyota/Honda/Hyundai etc. Plus all the bad press this hopefully bring for the foreign manufacturers. Then all we need is lots of recalls and drops in quality surveys. This will be good for them! Go USA!!

I hate non unions! See how silly that sounds.
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Old 06-12-2007, 05:25 PM   #11
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GM has been in Canada for a very long time! As a matter of fact, GM is made up of many Canadian car companies that were amalgamated to form GM. If you are confused as to what is American as in "North American", then I suggest you look at total North American content of the vehicle in order to establish it. Content made in North America and not just brought in and assembled here.
Relax. I'm not hating on Canada. GO CANADA! woot! woot! <--(see)

So as long as the product's "content" is, let's say... more than 50% made in America, it's North American! Or nothing less than 80%... maybe that'll do it? Or perhaps it doesn't have anything to do with "content", rather "citizenship". If you're an American that owns a company with a product, you could "outsource" the whole darn thing to be produced in another country and it would still be "American", just foreign made. Just ask some American businessmen coming back from China.

"Made in America" or "Assembled in America"... I guess it matters who's pockets its lining.
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:43 PM   #12
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Relax. I'm not hating on Canada. GO CANADA! woot! woot! <--(see)

So as long as the product's "content" is, let's say... more than 50% made in America, it's North American! Or nothing less than 80%... maybe that'll do it? Or perhaps it doesn't have anything to do with "content", rather "citizenship". If you're an American that owns a company with a product, you could "outsource" the whole darn thing to be produced in another country and it would still be "American", just foreign made. Just ask some American businessmen coming back from China.

"Made in America" or "Assembled in America"... I guess it matters who's pockets its lining.
"Made in America" or "Assembled in America"... I guess it matters who's pockets its lining.
I would venture to guess that it is safe to say, if it is assembled in North America, then the money is going elsewhere, out of the country.
Sorry if I came on too strong, but I do get more than a little defensive when talking about GM.
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Old 06-12-2007, 09:37 PM   #13
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3whiterag, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I wasn't trying to offend you. I don't think your comment sounded silly. If I were in a union, I probably would be pro-union. From the outside looking in, it's pretty easy to see that unions helped put GM in the situation they are in now. From the inside looking out, you have obvious biases.

Yes, unions served a purpose and at one point were critical to establishing worker's rights, rights that even I as a non-union worker enjoy. However, unions got greedy. How else can you explain people who empty garbage cans and sweep floors for $20.00/hr? Or assembly quotas where people can get paid for 8 hours, but only work 4 hours and play cards the rest of the night? Right here at Delphi in Rochester, NY. Of course they sold the plant here given their lack of profitability.

I know people in unions, in fact I know people who currently work for GM.
I could share plenty of stories. But you don't need me to tell them to you, I'm sure you see them first hand.

Nothing personal man, but we both know that if they established unions at the Toyota plants it would be bad for Toyota, which would be good for GM, so I guess when it comes to them, I'm pro-union. Maybe I don't hate unions after all.

I think I'm going to have some apple pie and drive one of my Chevrolets. Two of which were assembled in our great neighbor to the North. Nothing sarcastic about Canada, how can't you love a place that has great hockey, beer and the best strip clubs in the world?

Have a good night! Oh and I do like your car collection by the way. Nice job!
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Old 06-12-2007, 10:28 PM   #14
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However, unions got greedy. How else can you explain people who empty garbage cans and sweep floors for $20.00/hr? Or assembly quotas where people can get paid for 8 hours, but only work 4 hours and play cards the rest of the night?
Haha! I used to work 3rd shift in the chip cellars for Anheuser Busch @ $22.01 p/hr. When I read that comment you just made I thought, "we used to do that!". I'd work for only 4 hours and the rest of the night, I'd be down in the cafe sleeping and/or playing dominoes along with the rest of the shift!!! Ahhh, good times!.... good times...

The thing with unions is it helps and it hurts. Sure they get you more money on the hour and better benefits along with more friggin' respect from your employer. But if you're paying your employees more, then naturally you have to charge more for your product. Then you have union dues and lets not forget about the strikers. If they strike, you strike, despite your bills & debts.

It's a double edged sword...
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Old 06-13-2007, 01:19 AM   #15
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... If I were in a union, I probably would be pro-union. From the outside looking in, it's pretty easy to see that unions helped put GM in the situation they are in now. From the inside looking out, you have obvious biases.

I'd call ouside looking in, without having experienced the "in" firsthand, a bias too! Not a bad thing, it's just human nature - we can't help it. By the way - it sound like I'm defending Unions whole-heartedly, but to be honest, I have mixed opinions. I'm becoming a technology teacher, and my Father was in a Union, but I don't quite trust them...

Yes, unions served a purpose and at one point were critical to establishing worker's rights, rights that even I as a non-union worker enjoy. However, unions got greedy. How else can you explain people who empty garbage cans and sweep floors for $20.00/hr? Or assembly quotas where people can get paid for 8 hours, but only work 4 hours and play cards the rest of the night? Right here at Delphi in Rochester, NY. Of course they sold the plant here given their lack of profitability.

True, true, and true.
I agree with you on the garbage-man thing
The problem is that most people in the US want things for cheap, but they are unwilling to spend a little more for a much better product. As far as I'm concerned - if you can afford it, and you want it, then buy it! but don't complain about what you paid for it, or your lack of ability to pay.
But nobody can tell me with a striaght face that over time, if Unions just disappeared, Corporations wouldn't get greedy, and start treating workers like Toyota treats theirs - shit.

Nothing personal man, but we both know that if they established unions at the Toyota plants it would be bad for Toyota, which would be good for GM, so I guess when it comes to them, I'm pro-union. Maybe I don't hate unions after all.
Doesn't mean anything about unions to you in this case, pro or con. You just want to see toyota burn. Which - to me - would be better then 10 years worth of Independance day fireworks in one night!

I think I'm going to have some apple pie and drive one of my Chevrolets. Two of which were assembled in our great neighbor to the North. Nothing sarcastic about Canada, how can't you love a place that has great hockey, beer and the best strip clubs in the world?
I'll take a shot at Canada here -I love the place, but can't resist - we could dance our military into Canada and annex the whole Country in a years time...not saying I'd want to though...so to me Canada is as much US as we are.

I apologise for my candid remarks above, but I needed to put in my two cents...
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Old 06-13-2007, 01:31 AM   #16
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Ah, we could dance our military into any country and annex it if we REALLY wanted to. But lets get back to the subject, WHEN IS THAT CAMARO COMMING OUT, I CAN"T WAITE ANY LONGER!!!!!
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Old 06-13-2007, 01:35 AM   #17
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That's not the subject. The toyota plant is... sorry - I had too!
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Old 06-13-2007, 01:36 PM   #18
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The Union I am part of would be the perfect poster child for why most people dislike unions. It’s a 95% to 5% union, that is, 95% of the time they are fighting for the wrong reason and 5% of the time the union is fighting to benefit everyone as a whole… I’m sorry, but most unions have out lived their purpose… I would rather be “Company” any day; actually have a better chance of being treated fairly…
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Old 06-13-2007, 10:20 PM   #19
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I believe Ford got top quality award this year over chrysler, GM, and toyota. lol, facts, an unkown quality of chevy fans.


By Katie Merx
June 1, 2007

General Motors Corp., once the symbol of big, slow corporate America, virtually matched Toyota Motor Corp., the icon of lean manufacturing, in North American assembly plant productivity last year for the first time since it has been measured, industry research group Harbour Consulting reported Thursday.

Toyota logged 22.05 hours of plant labor per vehicle assembled, while GM reported 22.15 hours, a difference of one-tenth of an hour, or just 6 minutes per vehicle.

"General Motors essentially caught Toyota in vehicle assembly productivity," consultancy President Ron Harbour said.

The results come at a turbulent time for Detroit's signature industry and at an interesting crossroads in the GM-Toyota relationship that hinges on their manufacturing partnership in California, among other projects.

Toyota seized the global sales title from GM in the first three months of the year. But at the same time, GM is working to leapfrog Toyota's fuel-efficient hybrid technology with its Volt series hybrid and fuel-cell concepts.

And now GM is nipping at Toyota's heels in vehicle assembly – long a key to Toyota's success.

Among Detroit automakers, GM had the most productive assembly plants in the Harbour Report, and scored best overall, including in stamping parts and building engines and transmissions.

The results come as GM and other Detroit automakers prepare to begin formal contract negotiations with the UAW.

Automakers' plant-floor efficiency has direct effects on bottom-line profits and allows automakers to charge consumers less or put more content, such as air bags or electronics, into vehicles.

GM said its latest Harbour Report results tell a story of its continuing improvement, with GM closing the productivity gap with Toyota by nearly 85 percent since 1998 and capturing bragging rights as the first automaker to have its plants capture top productivity honors in three of Harbour's four award categories. GM won in vehicle assembly, engine-making and transmission manufacturing. It did not win in stamping.

"GM's leadership in three of the four manufacturing categories demonstrates we are transforming the company for sustainable, long-term success," Gary Cowger, GM group vice president of global manufacturing and labor relations, said in a statement. "This success is a result of our people being involved in the business like never before."

Analysts said the marked improvement in productivity is important, but is just one of many things GM needs to accomplish and continually improve as it fights to return to profitability and restore its reputation as a quality manufacturer and battles Toyota for the dominant spot in the global auto industry. Those things are all important to avoid further North American losses and job cuts at the company.

Harbour said GM's improved productivity is impressive because it came amid production cuts of about 5 percent last year and before the company fully realized the benefits of cutting its hourly workforce by 34,410 through a buyout and early retirement program.

"Improving productivity in the face of lower production is a huge accomplishment, but none of the domestic manufacturers can afford to let up," Harbour said. "Toyota is not going to slow down."

Toyota took Harbour Report honors again this year for leading the six largest North American automakers in total manufacturing productivity, using 29.93 hours of labor for every vehicle produced. That was slightly higher than 29.40 hours the year earlier, which Harbour attributed to the automaker's launch of new plants and several new vehicles.

But GM plants took top honors in three Harbour categories, and its vehicle assembly productivity trailed Toyota by just 6 minutes.

"We are virtually deadlocked," said GM spokesman Dan Flores, adding that GM – like Toyota – is focused on continuous improvement.

The Oshawa, Ontario, plant that assembles the Pontiac Grand Prix, Buick LaCrosse and Buick Allure led assembly plants for the most efficient productivity, with 15.68 hours per vehicle, followed closely by the adjoining Oshawa plant that produces the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo.

GM's Spring Hill, Tenn., four-cylinder engine plant turned in the best performance of any engine plant, at 2.27 hours per engine, edging out Toyota's Buffalo, W. Va., plant by just more than 1 minute, with 2.29 hours per engine.

And GM's Toledo transmission plant took top honors, with 2.54 hours per transmission. Toyota and Honda transmissions were absent from the top transmission lists because none of the Japanese automakers had a full transmission plant at the time of the survey, Harbour said, adding that that will change.

"It's all very encouraging for GM, but it is just one aspect of making your company profitable," said auto analyst Erich Merkle of IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids. "There's the jobs bank, health care costs, legacy costs, all those issues are also weighing on General Motors. It's not enough for GM, given the position they're in, to match Toyota. They've got to beat them."
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:38 AM   #20
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To the person commenting about Ford taking quality awards over GM and Toyota....

The Mustang was the only Ford that won a quality award over it's competition....which is.....oh, wait, there really isn't any other car in the Mustang's category, so good job Mustang for taking 1st place out of 1 competitor...way to go (you know, Mustangs can win on the streets/strips too....when Camaros aren't there).

The fact that the Mazda MX-5 Miata won an award shouldn't count for Ford anyway...seeing as Ford only has a 33.3% stake in Mazda...sorry, majority rules, that's a Mazda, not a Ford.

The other 3 winners (the Mercury Milan, the Lincoln MKZ, and the Lincoln Mark LT) are somewhat misleading. Sure they are made by Ford companies, but they aren't made by the same guys/gals making the Ford 500 (then the Mercury Montego would have won, not the Milan) or the Explorers, Escapes, Expeditions, etc. Like I said, misleading. Does anyone really believe that the same workers that build the POS Escapes and 500's were the ones building the Jaguar XK's and Aston Martin Vanquish?

So what actual Ford products were tops in quality awards? The Mustang....that's it...and, as mentioned, that win, has an asterisk beside it.
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:43 AM   #21
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To the person commenting about Ford taking quality awards over GM and Toyota....

The Mustang was the only Ford that won a quality award over it's competition....which is.....oh, wait, there really isn't any other car in the Mustang's category, so good job Mustang for taking 1st place out of 1 competitor...way to go (you know, Mustangs can win on the streets/strips too....when Camaros aren't there).

The fact that the Mazda MX-5 Miata won an award shouldn't count for Ford anyway...seeing as Ford only has a 33.3% stake in Mazda...sorry, majority rules, that's a Mazda, not a Ford.

The other 3 winners (the Mercury Milan, the Lincoln MKZ, and the Lincoln Mark LT) are somewhat misleading. Sure they are made by Ford companies, but they aren't made by the same guys/gals making the Ford 500 (then the Mercury Montego would have won, not the Milan) or the Explorers, Escapes, Expeditions, etc. Like I said, misleading. Does anyone really believe that the same workers that build the POS Escapes and 500's were the ones building the Jaguar XK's and Aston Martin Vanquish?

So what actual Ford products were tops in quality awards? The Mustang....that's it...and, as mentioned, that win, has an asterisk beside it.

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Old 06-14-2007, 04:07 PM   #22
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Nice!
You know, I saw a Mustang commercial the other day, and the bastards took a shot at Camaro and Challenger(IMO).
And I quote: "Since Mustang doesn't have any competition, we just had to out-do ourselves this year."
I almost threw My shoe at the TV!
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Old 06-14-2007, 06:17 PM   #23
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Pleeease.... If I pulled up next to a Mustang in a Charger SRT8, I bet Ford would have some competition.
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Old 06-14-2007, 06:25 PM   #24
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Eisenhower...sure, there are actually quite a few cars out there that can beat a Mustang, and a whole other group that can compete. Ford can get away with saying it though since there really isn't a direct competitor to the Mustang right now.

The Charger gets put in a different category because it's a "family sedan"...yes, even the sweeeet SRT8 version.

The Cherokee SRT8 will smoke a Mustang too, but it doesn't count as competition either.
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Old 06-14-2007, 07:16 PM   #25
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Ah yes, sorry... 4-door= family sedan. That's cool, we all know Ford's days are numbered
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