Posted by: sbarrett | 2008.11.18

My world is crashing

Yes, I do work for the auto industry.  Yes, I feel a tremendous pinch right now.  The thing that really bothers me is the debates that are going on in Washington DC.  The lawmakers are debating on whether to give the automakers a bailout and what would happen if they don’t and what, if any, guarantees would there be on getting paid back.  The big thing going through my head is, Where the HELL were those comments 3.5 TRILLION DOLLARS ago?!?!?!  Yes, I agree, we have many places where we need to cut further.  Yes, we can further change our business and cut more to be competitive.  Yes, we do need some guidelines to be mandated to get us more competitive.  But to sit there and ask what is the guarantee…why should you be given a blank check…  when that is EXACTLY what happened to the financial services industry makes a complete mockery of American governmement and discraces them as servants to the American people.  We have no guarantees of payback, nothing to show how the banks and investment and real estate firms are going to change so this will not happen again.  There is no accountability and transparency of what this taxpayer money is going for!  I realize that the financial markets have a much wider impact to a global economy, however at least we make something real.  We are able to convert a raw material into a sellable product to the globe.  In fact, I would venture to say that there is no other industry that is such a sizeable contributor to the US economy and manufacturing as the auto industry.  If that doesn’t put out a good reason to protect it, nothing does!

As someone who has been in the auto industry for the past 20 years myself, plus my family and my wifes family being supported from the auto industry, I will admit to being biased in my opinions.  After all, it is these jobs that house us, put food on our table and clothe us.  That said, I can say that our lives are far from being over the top.  I don’t work in a paneled office.  My shoes are caked with oil and grinding dust from machines.  My colds last longer from the work environment.  My knees sound like popcorn going up and down 2 flights of stairs and pounding on concrete floors (plus my wonderful auto insurance doesn’t even pay for my shoe inserts to keep my feet from feeling like there are needles in them!)  I have never even come CLOSE to filing a 6 digit income tax return!  I am a manufacturing engineer and have worked for a variety of our divisions in a number of capacities.  I will admit that some of the decisions we make and processes we use make me wonder what the goal is.  But, this is not the same company I worked at 20 years ago.  THOUSANDS of salary employees are gone.  THOUSANDS of hourly employees are gone.  We still make more parts and cars than we did then.  Whe HAVE gained efficiency.  Look at the Harbor reports on plants.  We are right up there.  Our quality is much improved, so much so that we place near or at the tops on many customer satisfaction surveys.  Even Consumer Reports, what seems a long critic of GM products, even has positive press on our cars.  Why, even over the past few years we have gotten some much coveted car and truck of the year awards from press.  Our employees are taking more and more control of our business, getting involved in problem solving, scheduling, project planning, safety reviews and customer contacts.  Our processes are under more control to keep quality under control.  This is not the same GM that everyone thinks of when they think of the auto factory.  Our plants are clean and well lit.  We have many safety controls to multiple levels to keep our employees safe.  We track parameters on parts and machinery to spot problems sooner, so they are not as catastrophic. 

I’m sorry, but I am just getting SICK of the pundits talking like they have worked in the industry for years and know what ails the industry when they have only been sitting behind a microphone and listening to others talk. 

Trade places with me sometime and see what it is llike to have salaries frozen for years at a time.  See what it is like to see health care and insurance costs go up double what inflation goes up.  See what it is like to have ever stiffening government regulations placed on how you can perform work you do.  See what it is like to be under immediate pressure to perform for 10-12 hours a day, every day, with a different set of priorities each hour, scrutinized for each decision and to not be compensated for that time.  See what it is like to  be the source of all the problems in everyones opinion, even though they have never lived in this world.

Any takers?

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