An October 2005 article in the Detroit News helps explain in graphic terms just how the unions have helped destroy U.S. automakers — namely, by forcing automakers to pay people for literally doing nothing:
Ken Pool is making good money. On weekdays, he shows up at 7 a.m. at Ford Motor Co.’s Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, signs in, and then starts working — on a crossword puzzle. Pool hates the monotony, but the pay is good: more than $31 an hour, plus benefits.
“We just go in and play crossword puzzles, watch videos that someone brings in or read the newspaper,” he says. “Otherwise, I’ve just sat.”
Pool is one of more than 12,000 American autoworkers who, instead of installing windshields or bending sheet metal, spend their days counting the hours in a jobs bank set up by Detroit automakers and Delphi Corp. as part of an extraordinary job security agreement with the United Auto Workers union.
Luckily, as taxpayers brace themselves to get soaked to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, the UAW is considering “scaling back” the program as part of a range of concessions. Why, they might even “suspend” it.
“Scaling back”? “Suspending”? Jeez, at least the overpaid CEOs flying in their private jets are working. They might be screwing everything up, sure . . . but they’re working.
As of November, there were 1000 union workers in the “jobs bank,” getting paid up to 95% of their salary to do nothing. Three years ago, there were 12,000.
Even when the numbers in the “jobs bank” are low, its very existence distorts the marketplace. Because nobody likes paying people not to work, automakers have put many of these people to work producing cars even when they were already meeting the market’s demand. This meant that supply outstripped demand, which forced automakers to take a bath on pricing the cars for consumers.
When unions distort business decisions like that, the company pays — meaning, eventually, everybody pays.
Now we see the UAW running sad ads saying, essentially: since Wall Street got theirs, we should get ours. Well, guess what? You people are a significant part of why we’re in this crisis.
Take the money you’re using for these ads and use it for something productive. If I were king, you wouldn’t be getting one red cent.
Naturally, over at the L.A. Times, David Lazarus is upset . . . that the UAW is making any concessions at all. But that’s par for the course, at a paper where the most well-known auto industry writer, Dan Neil, is seriously proposing that the federal government buy General Motors.
We ate dinner tonight with someone who grew up in the Soviet Union. She says this country is steadily heading towards being the country she grew up in.
Paying people not to work, and nationalizing major industries, sounds like a nice start down the pathway towards communism.