Union Stifles Modern Auto Innovation

Where is the most innovative, cost effective, and modern auto manufacturing plant in the world? It sure as heck isn’t in the USA. Why isn’t it here, in a country that has traditionally been at the top of the game for innovation?

The one word answer: Unions.

The state-of-the-art auto manufacturing plant in question is in Bahia, Brazil. Sadly, it is a U.S. carmaker that invented and operates the plant. It is a Ford manufacturing facility that is renowned for being one of the “most advanced automobile plants in the world.” According to the Detroit News, “(i)t is more automated than many of Ford’s U.S. factories, and leaner and more flexible than any other Ford facility. It can produce five different vehicle platforms at the same time and on the same line.”

So, why didn’t Ford build it here?

Ford sources said it is the sort of plant the company wants in the United States, were it not for the United Auto Workers, which has historically opposed such extensive supplier integration on the factory floor.

Once again it comes down to unions being the stumbling block to improvement, innovation, modernization, and the future. Unions stifle business and eliminate the ability of a company to be flexible enough to be able to change with the times. Unions have us stuck in 1950, death to a vital business atmosphere.

The work force in Brazil is maintained and trained differently, too. Here we have the problem of workers finding their particular jobs eliminated and the workers having no other skills with which to find new work or to take a different job in the industry. Whether it is putting bolt A into slot B, or affixing a bumper to a car frame, U.S. workers are trained for one job and one job only per union rules. This leaves the worker vulnerable to being phased out leaving him untrained for any other job. In the Bahia plant, however, workers are trained for several jobs.

Unlike many U.S. auto plants, where workers’ responsibilities are strictly limited to specific job classifications, workers like Silva dos Santos are encouraged to learn as many different skills as possible.

This makes the workers there more flexible affording them more skills that are useful to the employer as well as offering more stability for their own employment.

And what is a result of this innovation and hard work in Brazil? An economic boom for the nation.

The land is not the only thing Ford is improving in Bahia, according to the state’s senator and former governor, César Borges. He estimates that some 50,000 jobs have been created in the area because of the Ford plant and says the state’s GDP has almost doubled since it opened.

This is what is being denied to the United States because of unions and government interference.

Despite initial skepticism, even the unions in South America are realizing the boon that this plant gives them.

“In the beginning, we were very concerned about the new plant in Bahia, but now we recognize the importance of that plant in keeping (Ford’s other Brazilian plant) alive,” said union leader José Lopez Feijóo. “The Bahia products were vital to reviving the Ford brand in the country.”

Too bad our unions in America are so destructive, unnecessary and backwards. Too bad our economy is being destroyed in part by union foot dragging.

There once was a time that the USA was a world leader in manufacturing and innovation. Thanks to Democrats and unions that time has long since passed.

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