Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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December 19, 2012

Schedule changes flawed

Now seven months into the Abominable Work Schedule, Chrysler LLC’s cost per unit for the 62TE transmission have risen 25 percent. Overtime cost has increased over 30 percent. Wasn’t this schedule supposed to reduce overtime?

Brian Harlow was quoted in May saying that “we have been treating our employees pretty badly ...” — working them 50 and 60 hours a week.

Apparently Brian meant that he was concerned about restricting employee access to overtime. Groups A and B have people working seven days per week. Some 20 hours a day. Several work 24 hours on Sunday, paid 48 hours in overtime.

We used to be restricted to no more than 12-hour shifts. Something about “health and safety” issues.

Oddly enough, those in C Group are restricted by their schedule to working six days. The two available days for overtime coincide with the two more heavily staffed regular scheduled work days, which further restrict overtime opportunity. Yet, on C crew scheduled days, there are usually more A and B in the factory than are assigned to C. Being excluded from Sunday overtime has alone cost C Group nearly 700 hours in overtime pay. Wasn’t the point of joining an union to be treated equally with other employees? I guess we are allowed to pay the same dues.  

For those Chrysler new hires, perhaps the best advice I can give is to not join the UAW. Take full advantage of Indiana’s right-to-work law. You receive the same benefits and representation as active members, while only paying that portion of dues that apply directly to collective bargaining. You do not have to support union organization drives, political activity, nor charities not of your choice.

But Chrysler management is composed of highly educated individuals. Surely they recognize there are problems with the schedule, and that it is not working? Comprehension seems to be, at best, problematic. Management comments approach the surreal.  

“Had Chrysler been working AWS prior to 2008, they would not have gone into bankruptcy.” Really? Well, I guess if you discount Robert Eaton’s falsely represented sale of Chrysler to Daimler, which company then confiscated Chrysler’s $7.5 billion cash reserve, and diverted revenue from Chrysler Financial to their own accounts. Let’s not forget Tom LaSorda canceling production of the Neon (Chrysler’s only vehicle getting 30-plus mpg) just as gasoline prices pass $3 a gallon.

“Even if KTP returns to eight-hour shifts in the 62TE area, the 8-speed and 9-speed areas will remain on AWS because the machinery was purchased and position based upon a 10-hour work schedule.” Guess that explains why the 62TE area has had such problems. Must be completely different ergonomic issues for eight-hour and 10-hour shifts.

Rumors abound that the transmission plants will be returning to the tried and true eight-hour schedule. I wish that I could believe as well, however bloated egos find it more important to save face than to do what is right. Losses are more easily blamed upon labor than accepting responsibility for poor decisions. There is sufficient evidence that change is coming, but I don’t expect it will be for the better. After all common sense and consideration for employee welfare have already been removed from discussion.

Terry L Tidler is a Russiaville resident.

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