Don't worry, these skilled tradesmen will go into the famous JOBS Bank and receive almost full pay for doing nothing (something I've written about a lot on this blog).
It *IS* necessary for Chrysler to reduce the number of skilled trades categories. The old UAW classifications forced factories to keep an artificially high number of tradesmen employed and created much waste that companies can't afford when they're competing against Toyota. One of the first things Toyota did when they took over NUMMI from GM was to reduce the number of trades classifications.
Let me give an example the waste rom when I worked at GM. Let's say we were doing a Saturday maintenance project that was mainly electrical in nature. If the project required someone to turn a wrench at the start of the project and at the end of the project, the electrician was not allowed to do that work. We had to bring in a Pipefitter, who would get the minimum four hours of overtime for doing maybe one minute of “value added” work. The rest of time was spent smoking, eating, and/or sleeping. Nice gig if you can get it.
Now, I'm on the record as being opposed to layoffs as a result of lean. What if Chrysler took these folks and had them work on continuous improvement projects? Why the hell not, you're paying them almost 100% pay anyway. You might as well potentially get some value out of them and let them feel like they are accomplishing something. Ah, I'm a bit far removed from the auto industry. I almost forgot most of these guys have a long-standing grudge against management and the company and wouldn't want to help the company improve anyway. Sad.
Another trip down memory lane for me…. go to the article and click on the picture of the memo from the UAW. I can't believe, in the year 2006, they STILL TYPE THEIR MEMOS IN ALL CAPS! :-) I should create a website with all of the funny memos I have from my GM/UAW days.
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