September 12, 2013 – Thursday
Listening to the Workers
Es ist unglaublich! (It is unbelievable!) Bob Corker, United States Senator from Tennessee, has said that Volkswagen would become a “laughingstock” if it allows the United Auto Workers to represent workers at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. Volkswagen wants to form work councils at its Chattanooga plant just as it has done in all its other plants worldwide. What a “laughingstock” idea; using successful manufacturing techniques in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Laughingstock” translates to “lachen stock” or “gespott” in German. The next campaign bumper stickers may well say either “Laughingstock Bob” or “Gespott Corker”.
If Volkswagen does become the laughingstock it will be because the company made such an egregious error in choosing Chattanooga, Tennessee as a plant location. Guess what they found to their surprise; a racist, backward, highly intolerant, ignorant, insular community that does not deserve the good fortune of having a progressive, internationally respected company like Volkswagen. And they seemed so nice with all that fake southern hospitality. Now the real Chattanooga stands up.
The oddest part of the story is also the saddest part. The manufacturing techniques successfully employed by both German and Japanese manufacturers were imported from the good old USA. With both economies in the toilet after their defeats in World War II, we sent experts from our own country to rebuild the industries in these devastated countries. One of the main ingredients of the successful American manufacturing process was the constant contact with working employees and feedback from the workers. This is the great manufacturing secret that made the USA the world champion in manufacturing; listening to the workers.
While Germany and Japan were using our manufacturing techniques, American managers were deciding that they were the geniuses that made the world-go-round and they did not want input from American workers. American business leaders made conscious decisions to forget about workers and focus on their own bonuses and profits to the exclusion of all else.
Meanwhile, back to Laughingstock Bob; I remember an interview Senator Corker gave on MSNBC about five years ago when the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse. He said that it was all the fault of the heavy-handed Union bosses. He totally forgot to mention the management geniuses that signed the contracts with their workers while proclaiming that they could make a profit with these agreements. Naturally, management bore no responsibility for the bankruptcy of General Motors in the eyes of Gespott Corker.
Tennessee is a “gespott” for electing the likes of Bob Corker.