Tuesday, November 01, 2005


The truth always hurts for those who hide from it. The US auto industry is the best business example I can think of that has been afflicted with group denial. This article sums it up rather well.

I have known people who've worked on auto assembly lines and I've never known a single one who was underpaid. In fact, every one of them used to joke about how little they actually worked and how they aspired to becoming a supervisor. I remember one acquaintance whose only job was gluing vinyl roof coverings on Fords (remember those?). He said the supervisors would come to work in the morning, stand or sit around and drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and read the newspaper for an hour or so, followed by walking around their area for 10-15 minutes, followed by standing or sitting around and drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, etc., etc. For this, they got paid a lot of money by the standards of the 1960's and 1970's.

Most of us who grew up in the midwest have some relative or acquaintance who worked for an auto manufacturer or supplier, so you know who you are and you know that no one had to work very hard and, in fact, the goal was not to work at all, yet still get paid. The biggest goal of all was early retirement. It was only when the Japanese began to clean Detroit's clock from a quality standpoint that work levels actually began to increase in tempo, but the reality is that decades of being overcompensated is an addictive "drug" that the auto industry is only now beginning to address.


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