Lean Manufacturing linked to job security
This tag line was below the headline “Be a team player, DCX boss warns” published in the Windsor Star on Tuesday Jan 10.
This is an obvious natural conclusion for anyone who understands TPS and the philosophical sense of purpose and long-term objectives of lean. Unfortunately this understanding is not yet shared by everyone and headlines like this still make the news. In fact, in Windsor this was front page!
DCX President and CEO Tom LaSorda is making it very clear that big workplace changes will continue on the plant floor at Chrysler, expanding lean manufacturing. He was paraphrased and quoted several times in this article, stating that he expects cooperation from his employees – even those with high seniority who consider a ‘team' based structure a threat to the preferred jobs they have won with their tenure. During contract bargaining last summer, the CAW refused to discuss organizing work into teams as Chrysler has done at it's two Toledo plants.
LaSorda said that if Canadian autoworkers try to block Chrysler's efforts to match Toyota-style manufacturing efficiencies here, they will be endangering their plant's competitiveness and putting their own jobs at risk. Here are some quotes from the article:
“They can call it whatever they want if they don't like the word team,” he said of the few who might oppose the coming changes. “The issue is, people have to work together. We need to move into smart manufacturing and we want to do that in Canada.
“We're already doing it in Mexico,” Chrysler's Mexican assembly plants even exceed Toyota's efficiency levels, he said, which proves the company can match everyone and anyone.
“Everyone's seen what's been done in Mexico — these plants are absolutely competitive with Toyota. They can compete with any Toyota plant in the world. And we want to see the Canadian plants do something similar.”
I'm sure everyone agrees that it's important to build a cooperative relationship with the work force to ensure full support and participation with lean implementation and continuous learning. That being said, it's refreshing to hear LaSorda kick off the next wave of activity with clear, straightly spoken expectations for collaboration and support.