Got… a clue?

First, we hear that GM is having problems and cutting back. Now, about a month later, we hear the same or worse news from Ford. Huge cuts and changes affecting tens to hundreds of thousands of employees.

I feel very bad for these folks. While in my field, IS/IT, jobs can be had just about anywhere, the same is not true for auto workers. Many towns literally revolve around the plants located in or near them. This will ultimately affect more than just those who work at the plants getting shut down. They might even take whole towns down with them. NPR had a worker on who was just moved from one state where a plant closed, now he is facing the same thing again… even IF he could get moved to a plant in yet another state.

One has to ask how this could happen. Sure, the American auto makers are competing on a global scale now. But, many of these companies now own some of the foreign car makers, or have partnerships on many of the models. The problem is much deeper than that.

I typically am not a big fan of unions. My story on this goes back to personal experience within my family while growing up, watching how the union interacted with my father’s work situations. Then, I had more direct interaction with a couple of the large national unions on a project I worked on later in life. They have become very self-interested entities that I believe are out of control in many ways. Yet, even the UAW hit it square on the head on NPR today. Ford had simply not kept up with the times on what people want to buy. BINGO!

I still come back to the question of, how and why??? If just about every person in the country can figure it out… and has had it figured out for several years… how can highly paid people who have for their primary job watching the industry mess up so badly? I just can’t fathom the stupidity of it. Sorry I can’t be more diplomatic about it…. but it is just that, stupidity!

How long have gas prices been going up? How long have we known people were beginning to become more aware of the environment? How long have other companies like Honda and Toyota had hybrid models? How long has flack been growing against the popularity of SUVs?

I suppose SUV sales haven’t drastically declined until the super high gas prices of the last year or two. But, couldn’t they see this coming? Again, I just don’t understand. If I were the share holders of these companies, I’d clean house of all the upper management. You could hardly pick worse people to run things. Heck, just go randomly pick folks walking down the street and they are likely to have better judgment for what the market wants and needs.

I really hope one day the American car companies ‘get it’. America is a country that seems to be able to be on top of technology in any area that we put our minds to it. The auto industry should be no exception. American autos have come a long way on build quality, and the workers should be proud of that. But the workers and unions can’t do a lot about poor design, market research, and planning. This time, the fault falls squarely on the management… shame on them!