Posted: November 17, 2008 in Cars & Driving
Someone recently pointed me to this HuffPost article, in which the author's dad kinda sorts blames the current state of General Motors on the UAW.
Funny how all right-wingers instantly blame the Unions for the fact that GM isn't building cars that people want to buy. I'll tell you what. When someone decides to buy a Toyota, they don't do it because of what their workers make per hour. They buy it because Toyota makes a product that appeals to them.
Last time I went to the Mini dealer for service, guess how many Minis they had on the new car lot. ZERO. Guess how many they had on the used car lot. ZERO. I asked one of the salespersons, and he said, "Yeah, with the gas prices like this, it's crazy. Our next three shipments (i.e. freighters from England) are completely spoken for. All we have right now are five cars - one copy of each version - for test-drives that we're not allowed to sell."
The BMW half of the dealership however, was facing tough times and I guarantee you that BMW doesn't have any different of a union arrangement than Mini. Mini just has the products that people want, and BMW doesn't.
Paying workers less will not fix anything if no one is buying your product. It just makes the hole in the side of the ship a bit smaller, so the ship takes longer to sink. But it'll still sink. Companies like GM are always quick to blame the unions, because if they didn't have to pay workers a fair wage, all those corporate CEOs would have more money to siphon. What's worse, a company that goes under after taking care of its employees, or a company that goes under and screws its employees but gives it's corporate brass billion-dollar golden parachutes? We've seen the latter quite a bit lately, eh?
On a side-note, I used to be a GM person. I bought GM cars even though they were for the most part garbage. But my last GM car was my LAST GM car, forever. They screwed me over by not honoring the warranty on my car. For the entire warranty period, things would break (things that were clearly warranty items) and I would bring the car in, the dealer would fix it, I'd go pick it up, and they'd try to bill me. And every time I would have to argue with the service manager and threaten legal action to get them to honor the warranty. Later one of the service techs admitted to me that GM gave the dealer "financial incentive" to keep the number of warranty claims low. Sorry, but if the cars break, they break, and the warranty needs to be honored.
One of my major problems with the car was oil somehow migrating into the antifreeze. This was a huge problem because over time motor oil destroys things like radiator hoses. So I would be sitting at a traffic light and WHOOSH! Split hose. And I'd have to get a tow (on my dime). Several times they said they fixed it, but it kept coming back. Each time it was supposedly something different - a seal, a gasket, but they were never really sure exactly what caused the oil problem.
Eventually, my extended warranty ran out, and the next time I brought the car in to have the pre-existing problem fixed, they said, "Well, we know exactly what's causing that. It's a crack in the block..." Funny how they didn't know the exact cause of the problem until the warranty was over and they were able to quote me a $6000 price to repair the car.
I tried to claim that since the problem started 20,000 miles ago, during the warranty period, that it should be covered. I called GMPP (the warranty division) but they refused to cover it. I told them that if the warranty wasn't honored, I'd never but another GM again. The response: "Your future purchasing decisions are not relevant to this case". Translation: "We don't care if you ever buy another GM again."
So I flushed the antifreeze, put new hoses on it, and traded it on another car. Problem solved. But I'm taking that rep's advice, and not ever buying another GM again, ever. And I'm supposed to believe it's the union's fault for their failure? Yeah, right.
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