Monday, April 7, 2008

The Future Should Be No Surprise

Here is a sad story about a 47 year old family man who is lamenting the fact that his autoworker job has been eliminated and he will have to move in order to find another job in his industry. He's lived in his hometown and has worked for Chrysler for 29 1/2 years.

His wife Sanaa greets him with great news. His son has been accepted to the University of Delaware, and that means he’ll have two children attending the school come this fall.

While he’s proud his kids will be getting the college education he never was able to, the moment was bittersweet.

After putting in 29½ years as an autoworker at Chrysler he needs to keep working in order to pay for his children’s college education.

But he faces a major dilemma.

The plant is slated to close next year, part of cutbacks sweeping the nation’s ailing auto industry. Unsure if he’ll be able to find a job in the area that pays the $50,000 he now gets at the automaker, plus benefits, he is considering moving to Detroit to work at a Chrysler plant there.

This is a great example of how the auto unions have harmed their members, failing to prepare them for the fact that our economy is evolving. That our automotive manufacturing industry, in no small part because of the unions, has become non-competitive, steadily losing market share and resorting to the outsourcing of manufacturing to Canada and Mexico or completely abandoning certain product segments.

Once a dominant force among labor, the United Auto Workers now rank 12th among U.S. unions with about 500,000 members, and its ranks keep dwindling.

It's a sad story that the media loves to tell. Blame Bush for outsourcing, not the unions. Blame Chrysler for harming its employees instead of vice versa. Blame Americans for not buying American despite inferior quality, design and engineering, instead of blaming the unions for inflating labor costs to the extent that domestic automakers were forced to slash quality to stay competitive with foreign competitors at given price points.

For this man, however, the future should be no surprise. Domestic automakers have been suffering, closing plants and laying off workers for years. If not his union, his common sense should have been telling him for some time now that if he wants to maintain his family's standard of living, he should have been making proactive moves to retool, retrain and reinvent himself.

"Unfortunately, there’s a perfect storm working against the domestic auto industry," says Patrick Heraty, professor of business administration at Hilbert College. Faltering U.S. vehicle sales have pushed automakers to eliminate more and more workers to cut costs.

But, Heraty adds, "for the vast majority of auto workers there is no substitute and no place to go where they can get a comparable salary and benefits."

While other industries go begging for manufacturing workers at similar pay and benefits, franchise opportunities and many other entrepreneurial opportunities exist that offer financing and formulas for success, this man would rather move his family across the country to find another dead-end job in the auto industry.

So why did he not see this coming? Why did he not make changes; start looking for other opportunities; take corrective action? He's only 47 years old, and his industry has been suffering for years now.

I can't speak for Chuck Madarani, but I can take a wild guess.

He didn't because he has been indoctrinated by his union and his liberal politicians that he deserves a living as an autoworker. That autoworkers deserve to make $70,000 a year. That if the automakers won't pay this, we will strike. That if our job is eliminated, the government will save us. He's given 29 1/2 years. They owe him, notwithstanding 29 1/2 years of cashed paychecks.

Robert Rose, who for 14 years worked as a supervisor at a General Motors plant and then as a rank-and-file worker at a GM contractor, was laid off in late 2006. It took him months to land a job, but he’s now working for Daewoo International as a warehouse supervisor.

He got the job through Adecco, a staffing agency that actually pays his salary and benefits. He was making about $70,000 in his previous auto job but is now making only $40,000 a year.
Rose says he’s close to getting hired outright by Daewoo and expects his salary will go up.
But he is also pondering a total exit from the auto industry and seriously considering going back to school at night to become a nurse, especially if he doesn’t get a heftier paycheck from Daewoo.

America has never been about entitlements. It is about opportunity. Our government doesn't guarantee our happiness, only the freedom to pursue it. America is the land of opportunity, not the land of secure jobs. Immigrants come here and laugh at us "fat, dumb, Americans" and the way we come out of high school or college looking for a "secure" job while our legal immigrant counterparts, often times with less education and resources, start business, create wealth, and end up employing their own "fat, dumb, Americans."

In lulling them into a false sense of security and entitlement, liberal politicians and their unions have extinguished the American Dream for many millions of Americans. The very Americans that they purport to count among their constituents. The very Americans for whom their hearts bleed for.

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