The Bach workers are still out on strike in Indiana, they have been since April 1. I haven’t written about it in a while, but saw another article.
It really does sound like an issue of respect and, if you believe the stories, bad manufacturing management. Definitely a lack of respect from workers to management.
When the company, which is a division of Steinway Musical Instruments Inc., began negotiations with United Auto Workers Local 364 early this year, it demanded about $3.5 million in wage and benefit concessions, or about $8 per hour per worker, said Local President Jerry Stayton.”They also told us monkeys could do our jobs,” he said.That didn’t sit well with the union’s 234 workers, many of whom have worked for Conn-Selmer and its predecessor companies for 20, 30, 40 years or more.
Hmmm, I hope that comment was made in the heat of an argument, if it was made at all. Does management just care about the short-term numbers more than quality or the employees?
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but we are craftsmen. We have learned our trade over a lot of years,” said Dale McDowell, who has worked for the musical instrument manufacturer for 44 years.The Vincent Bach plant makes some of the world’s best-known and most prized trumpets and other brass instruments. Workers also were concerned that some of the changes in work rules and processes proposed by Steinway negotiators would hurt the quality and durability of the instruments they produce.
It sounds like a traditional old manufacturing company, with a sense of pride and purpose, has been turned into a “money machine” by new management. This seems far too common, someone gets into the business solely for financial reasons and clashes with the pride and sense of purpose that exists in a company.
Union members said the Conn and Selmer companies were good places to work until just a few years ago. Managers were often promoted from within the union ranks. They knew the ins and outs of production and they respected the workers’ skills, Stayton said. Members of the management team that has been in place for the last three years don’t have a background in the musical instrument business, Stayton said. They told workers the company could save $7 million a year by moving the production of the less expensive student instruments to China, which has become a major manufacturer of musical instruments.
You have to have more respect for your employees. You have to value your value-adding employees, particularly craftsmen. A bunch of managers, their MBA’s, and a bunch of monkeys. Good luck with that. Fine, move to China. Good luck with that. There’s something to be said about managers who are comfortable on the shopfloor (the “gemba”) and actually know something about the process and the business. Isn’t this what Deming called “profound knowledge?” A bunch of professional managers can’t necessarily jump into any company and expect to run it without respecting those who have been there before.
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