Kaizen or "Greedy"?
Another article about the report that was taken from a Toyota computer, this time focused on Toyota's concerns about rising labor costs. You might call this healthy level of desire for continuous improvement, always striving to get better.
One employee (who supports UAW representation) says:
“Now I can understand if the company is having a hard time,” said Harper, who has been off work for 12 weeks while healing from shoulder surgery after an on-the-job injury. “I'm more than willing to work with that company to keep my job. But when they just take it because they want more, I don't agree with it at all.“
You'd think that the employee would be somewhat thankful that Toyota is trying to make sure they don't end up in the same position as GM is in today because GM gave away unsustainable pay and benefit packages.
In a memo to workers at the plant after the report was circulated, Toyota noted that workers at Georgetown earned $3 an hour more than the U.S. auto industry standard. The Free Press reported last week the workers averaged $30 an hour, including bonuses.
Currently, the median for comparable manufacturing jobs in Kentucky — half earn more, half earn less — is $12.64, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Toyota's strategy resembles what Hyundai Motor Co. uses at its plant in Montgomery, Ala. Assembly workers there make $14 an hour, about half the wages, bonuses and benefits of Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Detroit's automakers. But Hyundai's wages still are considerably higher than for comparable Alabama jobs, which pay $10.79 an hour.
I don't see where Toyota's strategy is like Hyundai's at all. Toyota seems to have purposely “overpaid” in order to attract and keep excellent employees (and to keep the UAW at bay). Hyundai seems to be going for a “cheap as possible” strategy, at least compared to Toyota.
A UAW rep at the Toyota/GM NUMMI plant (which does have UAW representation) put it more bluntly:
UAW Local 2244 President George Nano, who represents members at Fremont, the only plant where Toyota managers must negotiate with the UAW, said Toyota is just being greedy.
I guess that's one potential backlash against Toyota and their success, particularly as they move into the #1 spot… Toyota's nature is to keep pushing for more and more profit, but when will other stakeholders say “enough?” I hope this backlash doesn't lead to Toyota slowing their North American factory expansion.
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