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Old 08-18-2010, 08:56 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Exactly. I saw the article and had the same thought.

A quick look at the 03/2010 proxy statement, seen here http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/DPSG/991753964x0xS950123-10-29748/1418135/filing.pdf shows the executive team receiving increasing salary, bonus and stock even as the business results faltered. Seems they have a different view of their own compensation. BTW, BoD members are also getting $300k each. A nice gig if you can get it.

Management always has a different view of their compensation, and thus the need for unions to protect the worker. Its also management's job to convince the worker that they are a wonderful benevolent master who only has the worker's interests at heart and would never do anything to harm them, and also to convince them that unions will break the company and cause their jobs to go away. Many people actually fall for this bullsh@t. But real tune of their falling for it is that when the economy falters, the worker doesn't blame management, they blame unions everywhere.

While I work in another environment than corporate America. Management instituted this Distinguished Employee program. The made a huge deal about it, with pictures and plaques, and special shirts, and special briefcases and even special parking places near the offices and no performance evaluations for 2 years.

It was all a sham that few of the workers saw through. It has several components:

1. In a very short period of time, the people who were not distinguished began to fight and not talk to the people who were distinguished, causing strife in the worker ranks and keeping union activities suppressed.

2. The choice was made by a team of workers and management, but the initial offers went through management and that was confidential, so the choosing team never saw any recommendations for anyone that management didn't want.

3. An unwritten but heavy toll was put upon anyone who was named distinguished. They had to do all kinds of extra work without any extra pay because they were distinguished.

4. One of the perks was that you are expempt from performance evaluations for 2 years after being named distinguished. Workers thought this was a wonderful benefit. The reality is that this was done for management. The head manager of one of the operations realized that if he got enough of his employees named distinguished he would not have to do performance evaluations on hardly anybody, and this is exactly what he did. He also took an operation where everyone worked together tightly and turned it into a hotbed of discontent, and all the while he did less and less work, and then he suddenly retired.

Never believe that management is doing somethign for your own good even if it looks like that on the surface. Its always for their own good, and has nothing good for the worker.

Management bought NEW YORK CITY for some trinkets. The workers there thought they had a great deal, and they didn't even know who was management at the time.
What a management coup!!
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:03 AM   #182
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Exactly. I saw the article and had the same thought.
A quick look at the 03/2010 proxy statement, seen here http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/DPSG/991753964x0xS950123-10-29748/1418135/filing.pdf shows the executive team receiving increasing salary, bonus and stock even as the business results faltered. Seems they have a different view of their own compensation. BTW, BoD members are also getting $300k each. A nice gig if you can get it.
My final thought on the labor/management/government issue is that if the USA government had a business strategy and labor/management/government worked together like in Germany the USA workers would be in much better shape. Maybe that will happen some day in the distant future. Until then we can expect more of the same - downward pressure on labor costs through off-shoring, mgmt reducing pay/benefits and the use of illegal immigrant workers.

Conceptually, I am in favor for the employee to have the free choice to join a union. One reason for its need is due to poor management. The union can help to protect the worker. But, like government, over time unions must justify their existence by getting more for their members in each contract causing some of the problems being discussed.
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:17 AM   #183
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The $70 is bogus. The comparison is faulty. If you want to make a point based on GM worker compensation, first produce a real number.
It is not bogus. It could be an inappropriate metric, depending what you are measuring. If (and I'm not certain we've determined this), the $70 number includes significant $ going to already retired workers, then the $70 is a misleading measure of the total cost of current employees.

OTOH, if we are trying to get a measure of the costs to GM and how their competitiveness is affected, it's not so bad. A % of vehicle cost comparison would be better though.


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After AIG, all the banks, Freddy Mac and Sallie Mae, GM, you choose the UAW to dump on.
Red Herring. That's simply the turn this thread took. I think you will find plenty of posts in other threads bemoaning CEO/BOD pay, Freddie & Fannie, and a host of other 'wrongs'.

I'll toss this one in here- Gumby referred to GM making the 'wrong' kind of cars (large ones when fuel prices went up), but I understand this was also influenced by the high UAW costs. GM couldn't make profits on smaller cars with those costs, so they went big with bigger margins.

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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Exactly. I saw the article and had the same thought.

A quick look at the 03/2010 proxy statement, seen here http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/DPSG/991753964x0xS950123-10-29748/1418135/filing.pdf shows the executive team receiving increasing salary, bonus and stock even as the business results faltered. Seems they have a different view of their own compensation. BTW, BoD members are also getting $300k each. A nice gig if you can get it.
Two wrongs don't make a right.Many of us have said we'd like to see more competition/transparency for CEO/BOD/Executive pay.

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Old 08-18-2010, 09:20 AM   #184
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My final thought on the labor/management/government issue is that if the USA government had a business strategy and labor/management/government worked together like in Germany the USA workers would be in much better shape. Maybe that will happen some day in the distant future. Until then we can expect more of the same - downward pressure on labor costs through off-shoring, mgmt reducing pay/benefits and the use of illegal immigrant workers.
Well stated. I agree.
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:26 AM   #185
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Management always has a different view of their compensation, and thus the need for unions to protect the worker.
I'd rather take another path on the issue. Because the counter to that is that companies need to create monopolies to protect themselves against unions, and this becomes a circle that all just ends up poorly for the consumer (who companies and workers are supposed to be serving).

If the company has so much market power that they can 'dictate' lower-than-market rates, then I'd rather see the govt step in and do something to make a free-er market. Same holds if the Union gets enough power to 'dictate' higher-than-market rates.

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Old 08-18-2010, 09:27 AM   #186
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My final thought on the labor/management/government issue is that if the USA government had a business strategy and labor/management/government worked together like in Germany the USA workers would be in much better shape. Maybe that will happen some day in the distant future. Until then we can expect more of the same - downward pressure on labor costs through off-shoring, mgmt reducing pay/benefits and the use of illegal immigrant workers.
I think there is a huge and increasing disconnect between the fortunes of Big Business and the fortunes of its workers. I don't believe that all the profits should be socialized to trickle down to the workers, but IMO in a good business environment there should be aligned interests. When the company is consistently earning record profits but it's moving jobs to India and China and not giving its workers raises for years, at some point "at least I still have a job" starts getting old.

Incentive is a better long-term motivator than fear.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:06 AM   #187
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When the company is consistently earning record profits but it's moving jobs to India and China and not giving its workers raises for years, at some point "at least I still have a job" starts getting old.

Incentive is a better long-term motivator than fear.
I agree and that is why I mentioned the Germany (and possibly Japan might fit into that 'working together' idea). This is not a management issue. It is not only a business issue. It is our individual issue. What businesses are doing is what we do on an individual level (see all the frugal threads).

Here are a few examples - similar to what people say businesses should do.
- Individuals should purchase from companies that pay a living wage (this is not the same as minimum wage).
- Individuals should purchase from companies that provide health/retirement/etc benefits for their employees
- Individuals should buy from USA companies
Some people may try to buy based upon the above; most do not.

We distance ourselves from the core issue by framing the issue as a management issue. In reality, business is doing on a large scale what we, the individual, do on a small scale. Individuals are the management of companies. They are no different from us yet we hold them to a different standard then ourselves. We pillory them for the same things we do and probably would do if we were management.

Where did the failing begin? I'd say with a lack of a business policy for the USA decades ago (and now). That policy would have attempted to encourage a diverse business environment and Gov't/mgmt/labor working together.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:14 AM   #188
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Here are a few examples - similar to what people say businesses should do.
- Individuals should purchase from companies that pay a living wage (this is not the same as minimum wage).
- Individuals should purchase from companies that provide health/retirement/etc benefits for their employees
- Individuals should buy from USA companies
Some people may try to buy based upon the above; most do not.
There's a "tragedy of the commons" aspect to this. Some people think about this but decide that they can't make a difference alone, so they don't do it.

Plus, it's often difficult to get all this information at the consumer level. It often takes a lot of "homework" to do this, and not all the information is on the label when the consumer is making the decision.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:18 AM   #189
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Isn't this the second time we bailed out Chrysler?
I can address this. The "first" time, it was a US Gov. guarantee that the private loans arranged would be paid back if Chrysler failed. But Chrysler didn't fail. The Omni/Horizon FWD twins, and the K-car concept were new designs at the right time. The loans were paid off early. No public money was used. Go Lee!

So the recent "bailout" is really the first.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:21 AM   #190
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- Individuals should buy from USA companies
What exactly is a "USA company"?

As an example of my query:

Ford - who builds cars in Mexico/Canada (and up to a few months ago, Sweden/Belgium), but profits go to the "home country" (e.g. USA)?

Toyota - who builds cars in the U.S. but profits go to the "home country" (e.g. Japan)?

And how about WallyWorld; stores/employees are based in the U.S. but sell products mostly globally sourced?

It's tough to determine (IMHO) what a “USA company” is these days....
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:25 AM   #191
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What exactly is a "USA company"?

As an example of my query:

Ford - who builds cars in Mexico/Canada (and up to a few months ago, Sweden/Belgium), but profits go to the "home country" (e.g. USA)?

Toyota - who builds cars in the U.S. but profits go to the "home country" (e.g. Japan)?

And how about WallyWorld; stores/employees are based in the U.S. but sell products mostly globally sourced?

It's tough to determine (IMHO) what a “USA company” is these days....
True. Personally I care more where the workers are than where the executives are. I'm a lot more concerned about middle class American jobs than where a few suits meet for board meetings.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:27 AM   #192
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We distance ourselves from the core issue by framing the issue as a management issue. In reality, business is doing on a large scale what we, the individual, do on a small scale. ... We pillory them for the same things we do and probably would do if we were management.

Exactly. Some here are wailing about any company that makes a higher profit and does not raise employee wages. Yet, how many of them, if they had a good year (say a big capital gains - remember those?, or a rising dividend), would decide to just pay more for the things they buy? I bet they still look for sales, and pay no more than they need. I guess that's different?

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Where did the failing begin? I'd say with a lack of a business policy for the USA decades ago (and now). That policy would have attempted to encourage a diverse business environment and Gov't/mgmt/labor working together.
Maybe it should be another thread, but do you have any thoughts/examples on what these govt policies would be? I'm not against all govt involvement, it's a good thing in some cases. It's possible that what we've had is an anti-business policy, and maybe just 'less policy' would be 'better policy'? Or are there actionable items that you would want to see?

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Incentive is a better long-term motivator than fear.
OK. But I think each individual business should be free to decide that and accept the consequences - good or bad. And employees have the choice of looking for an employer with those qualities. And if there aren't enough of them, what is the alternative - we should have the govt regulate whether a business wants to take a long term or short term approach to their employees? No thanks.

A quick example - some people prefer to work as contractors. They get a higher hourly wage and maybe prefer the flexibility, the learning options that come from having some ability to pick and choose projects, but they give up some long term benefits. Shouldn't they have that choice? Like -wise, I may be in a position to take a short term job, and I don't care about the long term prospects of the company or benefit. I'm going to go for the highest $/hr. My choice, right?

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Old 08-18-2010, 10:35 AM   #193
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OK. But I think each individual business should be free to decide that and accept the consequences - good or bad. And employees have the choice of looking for an employer with those qualities. And if there aren't enough of them, what is the alternative - we should have the govt regulate whether a business wants to take a long term or short term approach to their employees? No thanks.
The problem is that we live in an era where corporate power and influence has infected government -- and in both parties. They are buying legislation and regulations that kill smaller competition, allow the concentration of wealth and encourage the exporting of jobs. They *love* 17% real unemployment as it allows them to depress wages and benefits even as profits surge to record levels. And they create such malaise in the job market that you hear things like "they froze my pension and I haven't had a raise in five years, but at least I still have a job."

That's what they WANT. "At least I still have a job." That's a mentality that says you can cut my pay, slash my benefits and make me work 60 hour weeks instead of 50 hour weeks -- just don't fire me. That's the mentality that allows them to offer a job for 25% less than it used to pay and have 50 applicants for every job opening. And if I thought that was *only* the "free market" working I'd accept it as an unfortunate consequence. But it's not, IMO -- it is resulting from the corporate takeover of our government.

I suspect most of corporate America would love to have double digit unemployment forever. At some point "at least I still have a job" can no longer be enough. If that's all we aspire for, we're doomed.
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Old 08-18-2010, 11:21 AM   #194
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My final thoughts on this thread.

Retirement is going to be hard for lots of boomers in the US. It doesn’t look like there are many options, and working to a later age is not the alternative it once was (or appeared to be). Boomers face an unwilling but unavoidable decline in standard of living.

The era of increasing US prosperity has ended. Reinvestment has been displaced by profit-taking as individuals and businesses attribute to themselves what is really the product of decades of investment in physical and social infrastructure and then cash out.

Aggregate wealth is not being increased and there are systematic efforts to redistribute in lieu of growth. Business looks increasingly to Washington for advantage. This does not make them more competitive and, like inbreeding, may even weaken them over time. Solutions to new increased prosperity are neither ideological nor partisan, but many barriers are.

There is no reason my children cannot look forward to improving their standard of living. The US still has an impressive structural and social advantage but it requires continued investment. Real, sustained and widely felt prosperity is not likely unless there is a greater amount of cooperation between business and labor with less emphasis on individual reward and greater recognition of the role of and need for infrastructure. Individual prosperity is still possible but it won’t be so easy to achieve.

This forum has members that are more financially responsible than Washington and more ethical than business, with great insight and tremendous experience. We could solve all the problems discussed in this thread – if we weren’t retired, intending to retire, or committed to the thought.
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:13 PM   #195
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There's a "tragedy of the commons" aspect to this. Some people think about this but decide that they can't make a difference alone, so they don't do it.

Plus, it's often difficult to get all this information at the consumer level. It often takes a lot of "homework" to do this, and not all the information is on the label when the consumer is making the decision.
Those reasons could also be applied to the manager of a company.
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:18 PM   #196
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What exactly is a "USA company"?
Since much of this thread is about companies and USA employees; it would companies that produce their product in the USA.
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:27 PM   #197
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The problem is that we live in an era where corporate power and influence has infected government -- and in both parties. They are buying legislation and regulations that kill smaller competition, allow the concentration of wealth and encourage the exporting of jobs.
That may well be the case (not so sure about 'encouraging exports of job's though). To the extent that corps gain power, we have unions rise to offset them, and it becomes a battle with only losers.

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They *love* 17% real unemployment as it allows them to depress wages and benefits even as profits surge to record levels.
Not sure I'm buying that. No doubt that high unemployment will trigger them to lower/freeze compensation, that is to be expected. But there are fewer buyers for their product when unemployment is high. I suspect that most corps would prefer some balance here, closer towards fuller employment.

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I suspect most of corporate America would love to have double digit unemployment forever.
Well, there is a part of me (the part that has to shop and pay for goods & services) that 'loves' high unemployment. I'm still having trouble getting reasonable service from people who should be jumping through hoops for my money. I'd hate to think how much worse this will be when people aren't so hungry for jobs.

And of course the other part of me sees friends and family facing troubles. And I fear rising crime.

I can't really do anything about unemployment, but I can benefit personally in some small way from it when I shop, so I will. And I'm not going to feel guilty about it, it is what it is. When unemployment was low, I stood in line at the checkout counters well aware that the store was having trouble hiring people. You deal the cards that are dealt.

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Old 08-18-2010, 12:44 PM   #198
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Those reasons could also be applied to the manager of a company.
Absolutely true. They have to move jobs to China and India because their competitors are and they can't let them have a huge cost advantage. But when and how does that hamster wheel stop? "Once we and the average Chinese worker are on equal economic footing" so it no longer makes economic sense for the company to export jobs is not an acceptable answer to most folks, I suspect.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:15 PM   #199
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I truly don't know why there have been some heated discussions here.

Reading through this thread, I see that nobody fails to recognize that rising global competition is a big factor in the declining earning power of the American middle-class and the lower workers. Add to that our longer lifespan and the rising cost of medical care, those myriad expensive treatments that offer diminishing returns, yet we all demand them (as long as the insurance or the gummint has to pay for them), and people like myself who want to retire early, why is there a surprise that "Houston, we have a problem"?

On one hand, we have unions insisting on generous benefits that the corporation can no longer afford, and on the other hand disgusting management and BoD who gouge the company whichever way they can. Oh, Scotty, beam me out of here!

What is sorely needed is "enlightened self-interest", something I have brought up before. Even among my own family members and siblings, I find it difficult to discuss economics and politics anymore. Nobody wants to give an inch, and just wants to point the finger at someone else. People complain about job export, but do not want to pay higher prices for goods or services. Manufacturing jobs are looked down upon, while people all want to go work in an air-conditioned office, pushing papers. We clamor to get these new-fangled iSomethings, but does anyone want to have a domestic electronic manufacturing plant that can generate a lot of pollution? Isn't it better to have the Chinese bend over backwards to make all our cheap electronic toys, using their cheap labor, and polluting their own land in the process?

How is it all going to end? I am as selfish as anyone else, but a hypocrite is someone I try to avoid becoming.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:15 PM   #200
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Absolutely true. They have to move jobs to China and India because their competitors are and they can't let them have a huge cost advantage. But when and how does that hamster wheel stop? "Once we and the average Chinese worker are on equal economic footing" so it no longer makes economic sense for the company to export jobs is not an acceptable answer to most folks, I suspect.
I think you hit upon the answer - we don't know how this all ends. There should be a level of equilibrium but I do not know what that looks like. In modern history jobs have followed the path from Europe to USA to Japan to S. Korea to China/India. Where do they go from there? Nor can I incorporate world population growth into the issue.

I try not to classify things as good or bad but to see it for what it is and what I can learn from it.

Generally, I think the reference point of large USA middle class of the '50s - 80's ('90s? pick a point) was an historical abnormality. And, as many have written about, wealth is becoming more concentrated. From, my perspective, it is reverting to the historical norm.

I think the first half of the baby boomers ('47-55) will be viewed as the 'Golden Generation' (wealthiest) by historians.

Overpopulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
According to projections, the world population will continue to grow until at least 2050, with the population reaching 9 billion in 2040,[32][33] and some predictions putting the population in 2050 as high as 11 billion.[
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