• Jul 18, 2009
In an action that is symbolic of the changes America's auto industry is undergoing, the cushy "union desk job" is reportedly about to disappear for many. According to The Detroit Free Press, UAW bosses at post-bankrupt Chrysler and General Motors plants are informing hundreds of elected and appointed colleagues that their desk jobs are being sent back to the factory floor.

The Detroit 3 have always paid for union workers at each plant to support labor-management initiatives, conduct union elections, and handle grievances. Most of these "desk jobs" were not at the plant, and they were reportedly enved by those required to do labor-intensive work in the factories. As such, the news is welcomed by those on the assembly line. "These people had cushy jobs," said Zeigler Johnson, a worker at Chrysler's Warren Truck plant. "Some of them could use a taste of life on the floor to remind them we still make trucks around here."

All told, the UAW is eliminating about 300 positions at Chrysler, while GM expects the change to impact less than 500 workers. The new positions are expected to take effect within the next 60 days.

[Source: The Detroit Free Press | Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I remember the Detroit news story on two Ford union heads that they followed for a week. The one could hardly walk because of his weight went to work at the plant in the morning and would returned home 2.5 hours later, all week. The other would leave the factory after 3 to 4 hours, P/U a six pack and head home. Both these guys time cards would somehow be punched as if they worked the whole day. Not only that, they both somehow managed to amass 2000 to 2500 hrs of overtime. Google the report, it will make you sick.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'll do it for $25/hr without the chair! :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry - the comment was for Marshall above
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thats great and all...but the cost to do business would dramatically increase if we started paying these labor intensive jobs $30/hr across the board. Your $30/hr would soon be 'worth' less than the $12-$15/hr currently being paid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      tuxclown,
      I have little doubt that there are issues with repetitive motions that could be addressed by hiring someone smart enough to learn a couple of different jobs and rotating monthly.

      And I have absolute 0 doubt that earning $10-12/hour standing, sorting, and loading UPS or Fedex trucks is a lot harder, demanding, and painful on the back than doing the assembly line work sitting in a chair for $30+/hr.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Tony, what's the title of the story?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a sign of the times. Although the desk jobs are necessary and benefit union-management relations, they'll have to be cut. And there will be issues with longer processing times for union complaints, etc., as a result. The change will clearly involve the unions paying for the work that Chryco and GM and Ford (wait till THAT shoe hits the floor....) had been paying for. Which will drive up union dues, etc., etc.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They shouldn't have to raise their dues, they will just have to cut back on their political contributions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I guess this shows some effort on the part of the UAW, but does anyone else find it puzzling that this is happening a whole YEAR after the bubble burst and things started going downhill? GM and and Chrysler have already filed for bankruptcy! ...too little, too late.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That photo is great!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Monte,
        dont hate the country, hate the ones who take advantage of the liberties offered us, and hate the ones who want to punish your ability to work hard, work smart, and get ahead.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Not everybody can sit in a seat and put a door hinge bolt in with an electric drill, one-handed. This is the type of job that really does deserve $30/hr and a union to keep you from being taken advantage of.

        I hate this country sometimes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That chair is probably the result of ergonomics studies. It probably prevents back injury from having to bend over to perform whatever task the man in the picture is performing, which, BTW nobody really knows for sure what he is doing since we aren't seeing him in action. If you have ever done something like this 500 times a day, five to six days a week, then you may be able to comment intelligently. But if you have never done this, you have no idea what you are talking about. I have worked on a production line before and I can guarantee you it is no picnic. That picture was probably taken just to promote more anti-autoworker propaganda.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ha! Ha!! That's a Sebring he's working on, No wonder.

        Note: Idiotic creases in hood.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The true cost isn't even just the $20-30 dollar/hr, or the high healthcare/benefit costs. It's also all the time spent on labor negotiations, labor arbitrations, laywers to handle arbitrations, etc. Of course, you'd need to hire executives that know how to talk to unions, so you may hire a person who's a savy negotiator but not quite as good as management of the company.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Those slider arms like that are often used for people who have to do something inside the car, not just at the jamb. Climbing in and out of a moving car 4000 times a week leads to a lot of (slight) injuries. And injured workers aren't efficient. The arm puts the person into the car in the same spot every time and without error.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Please....... thats a highly skilled man working :=)
        His knowledge on how to put that bolt on takes years to get that skill and worth all the money the car industry pays him ( sarcasm )
        • 5 Years Ago
        well, an apt pictorial of the 'labor intensive' work on the factory floor. good to see those robot arms put to work with a seat and an a$$ on the end of it
      • 5 Years Ago
      "These people had cushy jobs," said Zeigler Johnson, a worker at Chrysler's Warren Truck plant. "Some of them could use a taste of life on the floor to remind them we still make trucks around here."

      Love that union mentality. Always worry about the other guy - at least the ones that have it better than you. They preach about lifting up the common man but all they really want is to pull everyone down to their level.
        • 5 Years Ago
        AMEN.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The problem is that those bosses usually have no clue what it's like. Heck, a lot of people in this world have no clue what factory life is like. I know I don't and I don't think I ever want to experience it. I happen to live in Metro Detroit so I know quite a few people who either work or worked for the Big 3 in a factory and the stories they have told me just makes me glad I'm fortunate enough not to be stuck on the line.

        I work with a guy who worked for Detroit Diesel and he told he never understood how people could do that kind of work for 20 -30 years. He said it ain't what it used to be but it still sucks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      for all the crying back and forth, it's good to see that the unions have done the one thing that all the naysayers have been complaining they'd never do- cut their administrative expenses. for most industries and institution, its the best way to cope with financial hardship, but since no person in a position of power would willingly cut their power, it rarely ever comes to pass- hence all of our bloated institutions.

      people need to stop crying about it, both those who are pro-union and anti-union. this is a sign that -in light of a true crisis in an American industry- people have done the right thing at all levels, including both at the union and government levels, which most folks seemed to be entirely jaded about. when the story of the American auto industry's restructuring is looked at in retrospective, and compared with how this unfolded in the European auto sector, people will have less cause to be so caustic in their criticism.
      Marshall Davidoff
      • 5 Years Ago
      Previous comment says they dont work as hard as a Fed Ex worker. I agree the Fed Ex worker should be paid at least $30 an hour also
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't begrudge the union for guys that actually work directly on the line. Anyone else, there's no need for them to be in the union.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A guy I work with worked at Detroit Diesel for three or four years and he said it sucked. He doesn't understand how people could do it for 20-30 years. He said it was difficult.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The pieces are on WDIV New 4 Detroit.
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