On April 26, 1995, a plane flying over the Cincinnati Reds opening day baseball game against the Chicago Cubs at Riverfront Stadium towed a banner that said, ""Owners and Players: To Hell With All of You". This was a fairly widespread reaction to the baseball strike that began in mid-season the year before and resulted in the cancellation of the World Series – something even World War II had not done.
That fan's sentiment reflected popular disgust at a bunch of millionaire players fighting with a gang of billionaire owners over how they were going to split up the $100+ it cost the average Joe to take his kid to a big league ballgame to watch an increasingly boring game played by increasingly apathetic players. The fans, when faced with a choice between siding with the owners and siding with the players opted for (C) None of the above. They opted for the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and NASCAR.
The State of Michigan should take heed and learn from this. Every post and every article concerning GM is met with a cacophony from Michigan based UAW sympathizers and GM management backers pointing fingers of blame at each other. They haven't heard the message and we need that guy from Cincinnati to haul his banner out of mothballs and fly it over downtown Detroit.
GM management demands union concessions, blames retired worker legacy costs, still cries over unfair Japanese trade practices… and still pays ridiculous salaries to itself and churns through 16,000 company cars a year to keep management riding in style.
The UAW won't concede a dime. Only under duress did they finally agree to wind down the jobs bank – the deal that had UAW members on full pay sitting around and doing nothing. The hourly pay for a UAW member is obscene compared to the rest of American manufacturing.
But GM management and the UAW do agree on a couple of things. First they jointly hammered us with years of attacking our patriotism. We should continue to buy their products because "Buy American" was our patriotic duty. That line doesn't cut it any more, so next we heard that the future of the American economy depends on keeping them going. And now they have taken the tack of simply forcing us to keep their miserable ship afloat through force of law.
If the customers won't give them money any more, then they will get it from the government and take it from us through taxation. And if Americans won't join labor unions any more of their own volition, they will ram through the absurd "card check" system that will empower the unions to try to strong arm potential members into joining in whatever dark alley they can find them.
American's are no longer interested in hearing from either side. They overwhelminglyy opt for (C) 'None of the above' in the never ending bickering between old school management and outdated unions. For 80 years GM and the UAW have fought over how to split up the big juicy profit pie they baked by abusing American car buyers. The bickering should come to an end. You have killed the goose that has been laying an endless stream of golden eggs. Americans are sending you no more pie and no more eggs.
As Shakespeare put it, "A plague on both your houses."
The guy from Cincinnati was even more direct: "To hell with all of you".
Toyota and Honda did not just give us a set of factory floor techniques. They have demonstrated that the old bi-polar model of business being a massive struggle between capital and labor is false. Lean demonstrates the business model that has everyone engaged in baking an ever-bigger pie. The sooner all of us disengage from the old model the better we all are.