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Michael Moore On General Motors

I would disagree both that auto assembly work is unskilled and that the Japanese pay any lower labor costs. It certainly is something a large portion of the population can be trained in, but the training is long and expensive and so it is in the interests of the company to pay salaries and benefits that will retain workers. Even non-union shops realize this and still pay very high wages-- there’s not that much of a salary difference between union and non-union shops, all things being equal.

The Japanese companies operating in the US, union or not, also pay similar wages and salaries, but they’ve only been operating here for about 20 years tops so they don’t have to pay retirement and healthcare for workers who might have started off in the 1940’s and retired decades ago. Detroit’s problems certainly go deeper than that, but I think they ought to pool the retirement benefits of all US autoworkers into one fund that all the carmakers have to pay into equally, maybe on some sort of per-car tax. This would at least help level the playing field a little with regards to these legacy costs.

What about the ideas presented in his finest film, Canadian Bacon?

OBVIOUSLY you completely missed his point.

Excellent article Tester…

As an ex-GM fan…I’m very very sorry to see the giant fall…I’m a firm believer that if the company was managed properly it would not only still be around…but instead of a 19% North American market share…it would have a 70% market share…Management screwed up.

Of course, I misspoke, and I intended to use the film maker’s correct name, Michael Moore. As always, I readily acknowledge a mistake in my postings.

The Roger to whom I referred was Roger Smith, the CEO who sowed the seeds of GM’s eventual demise as a major auto maker, and in the process of posting, I apparently became communication impaired by using Smith’s first name for Mr. Moore.

“Michael Moore is a useless bag of pus.”

As opposed to bags of pus that are useful?


The average UAW salary is $28/hr.

That is what they are EARNING. This $50 you hear about is the added cost of benefits paid to retirees and health benefits. The UAW worker does NOT make $50/hr. 8-10 years ago GM had the opportunity to shore up the retirement and health benefits when they were making RECORD PROFITS…That $20-$30/hr inflated wage would be non-existent…and GM would be profitable…This is just one example of STUPID STUPID management decisions. What do they care…they made their MILLIONS. So they have to retire early…They and their decadents for generations have more then enough money to live in Luxury while the peoples lives they RUINED will feel the pains for generations. What do they care…they got theirs.

You have to undergo training to work at McDonalds too but that doesn’t qualify it as skilled labor by most people’s standards. Training does not equal skilled IMO.

I agree with the second part. I heard GM has something like 140k active workers but 600k retirees they have to maintain. That’s a recipe for disaster.

No, I have trouble with someone who puts their intellectual revenge above the practical need to keep people at work. Of course GM made mistakes, but I don’t think taking joy in current executive’s problems (which they were trying to solve, not create) helps anything. And to put GM’s problems at the feet only of management, and ignore the major contribution of the unions, is incorrect.

Well Encaca has been making money the past 5 years or so…He’s NOT running a profitable company into the ground and taking million dollar bonuses while laying people off and closing plants. The board of a large corporation usually will never complain if the company is profitable…GM hasn’t been profitable for 5+ years. They’ve been on the verge of bankruptcy for the past 3 years…and during that time the CEO gets a 64% INCREASE in pay and benefits.

And to put GM’s problems at the feet only of management, and ignore the major contribution of the unions, is incorrect.

You haven’t a clue.

Illuminate me…

#1. What did GM do with it’s RECORD PROFITS it made 10 years ago?? Why didn’t they shore up the problems with the retirement benefits and health care costs then?? No - instead they paid out over $100m in bonuses…and over $1B to share holders.

#2 GM has been on the edge of bankruptcy for almost 5 years. It’s the only company I know of that still pays out MILLIONS of dollars in bonuses while the company is on life-support.

#3 A good portion of an Executives (VP or higher) pay is based on how much money their department makes/saves in the next QUARTER. There is 0 incentive for the executives to make long-term strategic decisions that would help the future of the company if it’ll mean they won’t see a bonus for years to come…Especially when by the time bonuses are rewarded they’ll have moved on and they won’t benefit from those bonuses.

#4 GM has not consistently made quality vehicles in decades. They knowingly and willingly made stupid decisions that drastically decreased the long-term quality of their cars for the sake of short term profit. Take a look at their intake manifold problem…it effected MILLIONS of vehicles for OVER 10 YEARS. They knew about it years ago, but REFUSED to make any change because the problem their customers were having usually wasn’t a problem until the warranty was over…thus no longer their problem. Great for the short term…but bad for the long term.

#5 Hanging on to old designs long after the public gave up interest. It’s far more profitable to keep a old design that’s only selling 150k cars a year then a brand new model that’s selling 300k cars a year. The design and re-tooling costs eat too much into profits to even think about changing a model until every possible dime is made from that model.

None of those have ANYTHING to do with the UAW.

As I said, it’s a combined problem. The UAW’s ability to get contracts paying more in wages and benefits than any comparable industry also contributed to the problems. The benefits obligations of GM are staggering, unlike any other industry, thanks to the very lucrative contracts obtained by the UAW. To state that GM’s labor obligations are not an issue is nonsense. They are part of the problem. Not the whole problem, by any means. Great failures were made on the part of management, certainly.

Why did sales slip? And when sales slipped, why couldn’t GM scale down ops to reduce costs? There is never one reason, but usually 2-3 interesting combinations of reasons with a final death blow reasonthat makes recovery impossible even after the 2-3 reasons are addressed.

Was it quality that did in GM? No. Cars costing thousands more sell just fine, despite horrible quality ratings. Reference Consumer Report, Consumer Digest, JD Powers et al.

Was it performance, style, etc? No. Many GM models have performance specifications that far outweigh the needs and wants of consumers. GM’s diverse brands offered styling that fit everyone’s needs. No one ever saw GM as lacking in design and performance to any degree, other than ocassional criticism of a particular model.

Labor costs: GM couldn’t scale back ops, because union deals forced them to pay people who didn’t work. They couldn’t avoid the number one cost of doing business!

GM had/has an serious image problem, some of which is rooted in truth, and some of which is rooted in a cultural disdain for American Corporations. Michael Moore manages to accomplish in great public view an outwardly noticeable symptom of the disease that is an unfounded hatred of anything that is a big American Corporation. Moore is the unchallenged poster boy of propaganda. What people never realize is how powerful propoganda is. His reaction to this business tragedy is joy. This affirms his message was propaganda.

For about 25 years, a propoganda war has been waged on American business, with GM, Ford, Chrysler and any oil company taking the beating. The ‘evil U.S. Corporation’ them permeates movies, television and magaizines. It is now part of the culture to see these words as somehow bad: American Corporation or Capitalism.

Don’t bother to challenge the power that can be unleashed by propaganda. In the 1930’s, with access to nothing more than some printing presses and an ocassional radio adress, German leadership convinced a nation that they could take over the world, and instilled enough fear and hatred of the very people they lived with that it was deemed necessary to eliminate an entire race of people. Propaganda destroyed Germany from the inside out in an historic twist of irony.

So, the propaganda machine that has been in existence for the past 25 years is unrivaled in human history. Nothing even comes close to it.

GM never had a chance. It might have led itself down a path, but nothing was going to enable it to overcome the greatest propaganda machine in history.

Before American industry, and before people worked for corporations, businesses and large conglomerates, life was filled with starvation, disease and misery. People moved up in the world when they began to work for American Corporations.

Sure, most business models drift over time, and they need to be revisited, but GM is 200 thousand workers and maybe 200 thousand more supporting the suppliers, so what abstract thing does Moore hate? He should have longed and yearned for their success. He should have promoted anything good thing they did, drive up sales whenever it was for a hybrid or innovative design, or should have said, “Let me be a spokesperson for the Chevy Volt”.

He’s an ass.

The UAW’s ability to get contracts paying more in wages and benefits than any comparable industry also contributed to the problems.

I’ll agree…CONTRIBUTED to the problem…but NOT THEE problem.

The benefits obligations of GM are staggering

Reported by Wall Street 2 years ago…GM had the CASH on hand 10 years when they made record profits to take of this…and they DIDN’T. They choose instead to award HUGE bonuses…and HUGE dividends to share holders.

To state that GM’s labor obligations are not an issue is nonsense.

Argue against something I said…I NEVER said it wasn’t an issue…It’s NOT THEE issue.

Great failures were made on the part of management, certainly.

Labor is a SMALL part of the problem…Management is the MAJOR player here…They made mistake after mistake.

All these posts just to address the comments of the world’s biggest egomaniacal bag of wind…

I understand that you may not like Michael Moore’s politics, but to hate him (or call him names) says more about you than him. You don’t like him? Okay. You think he is full of it? Fine. To hate him, though, suggests you actually know him personally.

You’re right, name calling is not my usual style. I don’t hate him, however I simply have no respect for him. On the other hand, he shows no respect for anybody who disagrees with him, so I guess my statement was fair.

And why is that? Because “we need to keep him and others like him…” a quote from the banking industry on why they keep the people in charge who got them into this mess in the first place. Isn’t that dumb?"?