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For those of you who do not know what the "job bank" program for the UAW is let me give you a crash course:
After heavy layoffs of union workers in the 1970’s, and the threat of automation cutting more factory jobs, the UAW and the big 3 negotiated an agreement. It was clear that the big 3 would (and should) continue building automated factories where robots completed much of the labor to increase quality and decrease costs; as a result fewer factory workers were needed. As automation increased, so would the layoffs. Rather than reward the Big 3 for the ingenuity, and despite the quality enhancements and the cost savings, the UAW demanded that the factory workers still get paid even if they didn’t have a job. The result of the union negotiation was the "Job Bank."
The job bank is an account, funded by the Big 3 that pays factory workers up to 95% of their prior wages if they have been laid off due to restructuring or automation. According to the source I read they can receive payments until they either retire or get a job at another factory! This program guarantees obsolete factory workers pay and has been a weight on the shoulders of the big 3 since the contract was put in pace in the 80’s!
Now, call me crazy, but lets say you are a sales manager making 100k per year and the market drops so the dealer reduces his staff from 3 sales managers to 2. You are laid off. Are you entitled to receive 95% of your pay until another dealership agrees to pay you 100 grand? How about if some software tool came out that did your job so you were no longer needed at the dealership and thus you were laid off. Would you get $95k until you retire? No way! We know that our task is to do our job as best as possible, and if we are ever replaced its up to us to go find other means of making a living. If you are rewarded (paid) regardless of the job you have, or if you even have a job, than what would be the motivation to get better or to create opportunities?
Isn’t capitalism about the opportunity to create our own destiny? The ability for the strong to flourish, while the weak rebuild to come back stronger? The American dream is based on freedom to do what we want to do. This freedom blesses us with tremendous opportunities, but it comes at a cost. That cost is that another force in our free market may replace us with something better; thus our main task is to constantly transform ourselves into better to keep us on top. America isn’t about guarantees; it’s about opportunities, and the constant cycle of everyone trying to out do one another is what keeps innovation and our economy moving.
Its sad to see the big 3 under such weight that they cant stand on their own. Its sad to see what was once designed to protect workers, now be one of the causes bringing down the companies who employ these workers. I know the UAW has good intentions, and I believe that workers must be treated fairly, but in trying to defy the constraints of the market the UAW has strangled, or assisted in strangling, the golden goose.
an old but good article on the job bank from Detroit News: http://www.steveharryforstaterep.org/JOBSarticle.htm