Detroit Part 4 : Necessary Leadership and Reality

[First, let me say these are my own suggestions to help the situation. These are the changes I wish to see in the automakers.  I will be doing more fact based writing, fully resourced, in the next few days. I agree with Rachel Maddow (video) that the attack on the UAW and the automakers could begin a time where white collar workers are far more valued than blue-collar workers. The fallacies being used as fact about the UAW, as just one example, taint the debate in all communities whether progressive left, center or  moderate right. We can only deal with the overall situation in the US, and our trade relationships around the world, from a fact-based, reality based perspective. This means digging deeply into the topic and bringing the results to the reader. I do not know, frankly, whether my reseach skills are up to the challenge. I’ll give it a try in the coming days. What follow is from my observations and experience.]

As part of a necessary Federal invesment in the auto industry, (yes I believe it absolutely necessary and potentially far larger than the $26 billion currently under consideration), here are some simple steps that the Big Three can take to show leadership to the nation, the world and their own workers:

  1. Every automaker president, like Lee Iaocca in the 70’s during the successful Federal investment in Chrysler (1.2 billion which was paid back early), should reduce his salary to $1 per year and freeze the issuance of any additional stock options beyond his current portfolio.
  2. Every senior executive, and that’s a tangible definition that I don’t have the skill to make, should take a 25% to 50% cut in salary.
  3. Every remaining executive should take a 10% salary cut. (This assumes that this class has a salary sufficent to allow for a cut. I assume, without data, that it does.)
  4. All efforts at acquistion by a foreign entity, such as being discussed by Renault/Nisson by Chrysler, should cease immediately. The recent glaring failure of the acquisition of Chrysler by Damiler Benz shows the fallacy of thinking that simply having foreign ownership, without regard to culture clashes or economics, is a solution. (Oh, you didn’t know that Nissan had merged with European Renault? They have.)
  5. The UAW President should likewise take a salary cut to $1 per year. The workers, by the way, have renegoitated their contract three times in the last 3 years, while having a valid existing contract, to recognize the reality of their employers situation. I’ll have specific citations for that fact, since I doubt most of the readers will believe me, soon.

What do these essentially symbolic moves do for each of these companies? They show leadership and a committement to seeking a solution while demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice along with their workers, their suppliers and their dealers. Each of these groups, management; factory workers; parts manufacturers and their workers, will all share in the effort necessary to bring renewed efficiency, new models and increased sales to the Big Three.

Did you know that the truck, faced by competition from Toyota, Nissan and Honda, awarded the Green award for being the ‘greenest’ truck currently available, was the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid? Neither did I until last night. It’s a telling reality. Here’s part of the article in the webiste for the Greencar Journal.

According to the EPA’s 2008 estimated fuel economy ratings, Chevrolet’s achievement is even more apparent during city driving where a large percentage of SUVs spend their time every day. In this environment, the 6.0-liter two-mode hybrid Tahoe achieves 50 percent better fuel economy than a Tahoe powered by a standard 5.3-liter V-8. What’s equally eye-opening is that the Tahoe’s 21 mpg city fuel efficiency rating is the same as that of the city EPA rating for the four-cylinder Toyota Camry sedan.

I don’t have the specific numbers of the already increased manufacturing efficency of three automakers. That is one of the statistics I need to find. I don’t have the CAFE standards (fleet mpg) of the Big Three that already show a new effort, begun years ago, to increase the mileage of their products.

We all need more specific data to make a reasoned choice, not the emotionally based Urban Myth or politically correct assumption. I’ll make a sincere effort to bring more tangible data to the discussion.

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