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unions?
Ms. Kan,
Thank you for sharing this video. The Ford facility in Brazil is trully impressive and the inspiration for this method of manufacturing is what Mr. Henry Ford had in mind. He was the champion behind this streamline manufacturing. I would believe the present economy will allow manufacturers (of all products) to build these types of facilities in the U.S. eventually. The push for alternative fuel vehicles will change the requirements of the assembly line.
Roy, you make a good point, as we power our cars with different methods it will most likely change the ideal production model. I hope with these changing technologies that the US can again create world class automotive production centers.

Roy Rafalski said:
Ms. Kan,
Thank you for sharing this video. The Ford facility in Brazil is trully impressive and the inspiration for this method of manufacturing is what Mr. Henry Ford had in mind. He was the champion behind this streamline manufacturing. I would believe the present economy will allow manufacturers (of all products) to build these types of facilities in the U.S. eventually. The push for alternative fuel vehicles will change the requirements of the assembly line.
It may take more than just changing technologies. As it says at the end of the video, the UAW tends to be adverse to the supplier integration that makes that plant so efficient. It seems that many, if not all of the older, larger unions in the country are still focused on 'protecting jobs,' rather than 'protecting careers.'

If a plant in the US were to automate like that, they would reduce the amount of 'line workers' but increase the amount of technicians/engineers needed. Just to pull numbers out of a hat, say the Acme motor company uses 1,000 workers and 100 technicians/engineers in one plant over three shifts, and by automating to this level, they would halve the number of 'line workers' but double the number of technicians/engineers. The way the Unions look at that is by pure headcount, 500 less union positions, 100 more non-union/other-union positions, and so they are against the 'lost jobs.' However, if they were focused more on 'career preservation,' they would see it as a potential to promote training amongst the 'line worker' pool to qualify 100 'line workers' as technicians, increasing the salary of those 100, (and increasing the dues from those 100 in proportion with the increased salary) and 400 'line workers' that could be trained up to be a ready-made 'technician pool' to staff the next factory that automates.

There still ends up with a number of people without jobs at the old factory, but less unemployment amongst the union members than if the union didn't assist, and much less unemployment amongst the union members than if the union kept fighting the automation plans and Acme ends up closing the plant because a plant in another state or country was able to automate enough to take over the production this plant did.

I've had some experience being a 'line worker' in a union plant (Well, shipping company, but the principle is the same, the components/boxes are assembled to make the product/full trailer), and during my time as a low-level member of the union (since part-time workers had no voice at the meetings) I was left with the impression that the union only cared about maintaining 'power' in the companies it operated in. The safety regulations about maximum lifting weight was spelled out in the union pamphlets not in terms to protect workers from injury, but to protect 'jobs.' (Since the regulation was to have two people working together to lift a package over X lbs in weight, and the pamphlet warned against letting 'managers' assist in the lifting, since the managers were by definition not union members.)

There is no simple answer to bringing this level of automation to the US, since so much of what is done in the union-company relations appears to be done for 'political posturing' than for promoting the welfare of the workers or improving the quality of the product. Then again, living in one of the strongest examples of a 'Union Town'< Chicago, perhaps I'm just too used to assuming some behind-the-scenes political motivation behind anything the unions do.

Pamela Kan said:
Roy, you make a good point, as we power our cars with different methods it will most likely change the ideal production model. I hope with these changing technologies that the US can again create world class automotive production centers.

Roy Rafalski said:
Ms. Kan,
Thank you for sharing this video. The Ford facility in Brazil is trully impressive and the inspiration for this method of manufacturing is what Mr. Henry Ford had in mind. He was the champion behind this streamline manufacturing. I would believe the present economy will allow manufacturers (of all products) to build these types of facilities in the U.S. eventually. The push for alternative fuel vehicles will change the requirements of the assembly line.

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