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No. of Recommendations: 77
Look, I'm not their number one fan or anything, but I also like that women don't have to choose between the spikes or burning to death, either.

Do I think pensions are a thing of the past? Yes. Do I think that means we should take away retroactively the compensation those that worked under pension plans have earned all these years? No. Do I think they will have to pay more for healthcare, take less in pension pay and possibly have to work longer? Yes. Can I pretend the work these workers do isn't *skilled* labor? No.

Any idiot that's actually BEEN inside an auto or supplier plant can see these people are skilled labor. This is right in line with plumbing, electrical, etc. workers. Normal, average people can't do this work. Seriously - people quit left and right on their first DAY, the work is so tough.

It can be unsteady work - Dad was laid off many, many times during his career. It's body breaking work - he has had surgery on both shoulders, Little Sis was told her hands were that of a 50 year old (she is 27), and BILs knees kill him. Supervisors put in 16 hour days, 6 to 7 days a week. You don't get the "easy" work - maintenance, forklift, etc. - until you have 30 plus years in, and even then you might have to go back to night shift to get it.

The pay is good. I know people at my job that make the same amount my father does for far less work, so I can't say my dad gets paid too much. He's not uneducated - he has a bachelors in criminal justice. He took classes during the day and worked at night when we were little, Little Sis and I. There are guys with doctorates working the line.

They have a suggestion system - the men and women working the line make suggestions on how it can run better - a screw put in somewhere else, a gun aligned on a different side, a better way to align the dash. At 65 cars an hour, your work area can be very very tight - every little bit helps.

Most guys supplement their income. One guy repairs vehicles on the side. Another does HVAC work, another electrical stuff. They all use each other for these things, cash only.

Most love/hate the union. It's a needed institution that can cause them grief (engine plant strike, anyone?). It keeps guys around that should have been fired, but it also helps get rid of the new punk in salary that can't get over himself long enough to actually run the line.

My dad never missed a day for sickness until after he had 15 years in. They gave him a stupid azz pin for good attendance. He drug himself in near death, and all he got was a stupid pin. He was off 6 weeks with each should surgery. The second he should have stayed out longer - it's still not working like it should. Now he's back on nights running a fork lift - which has brought him back from the brink of death. His auto-immune disorder nearly killed him, working day shift line hours.

Little Sis worked the line (standing on a box sometimes, because she's so short) the whole time she was pregnant. She has scars from glue burns and has had bruises and goose eggs on her head from falling guns or parts. Her back kills her, and her she can hardly feel. She works night and her husband works days - so they don't incur child care costs.

BIL is lucky - he has enough seniority to not only be on days but ALSO run parts between them and the plant. Before that, he had the same ailments.

Mom always worked the opposite shift from Dad, so that one of them was home with us. She's never had a career - just jobs. Just jobs that fit Dad's schedule at the factory, our main source of income. When the schedule changed, so did her job.

I went to the plant a lot when I was little. It hums even when it's not running - the machinery is there, primed - like it's waiting to spring into action at any moment. Like someone pulled the cord for an emergency and no one told the line to take a break - it's just poised to come back. I remember vividly the tape on the floor - and the lines were the tape had previously been - marking the seconds each job was alloted. This gun here, this stack of parts and squeeeeeeeze into the drivers door there. For a few years, Dad was salary supervisor. And he would move the tape on Sundays. Add a second there, have to take it way there. The parts and cars overhead, the paint booths, the long climb up the stairs to the offices. The security guards waving us in, the big trucks going in and out all the time, the used oil collection barrels that were there even in the 80s, even before it was cool to recycle oil. Taking my dad lunch during the summer, and seeing the stream of workers from the doors out into the parking lot to greet spouses and children and either homemade food or the box meals the greasy spoon down the street starting pumping out 15 minutes before lunch time every night. Sitting in the car, windows down, hearing my parents catch up on life in 25 minute intervals.

The transfer - moving from There to Here because There was losing a shift and Here offered lower plant seniority, but retaining all corporate. Going to school the first day and there was snow! On the ground! And there was still school?! And meeting the other GM kids from Canada and Detroit and various Delphi plants. Knowing that we only knew each other because our parents got the same deal - a job for another few years. Hoping each year the transfer to the supplier plant in Oregon would come through, because we loved it there - drove there every year on July shutdown - but then stopping those when it became apparent that plant wouldn't survive, at least not at capacity.

Watching Dad come home my senior year to announce a lay off effective NOW, happening on the same day I had impulsively decided to quit my completely useless job. For a vaild reason, but still. My parents and I just standing in the driveway looking at each other. Neither my dad or I was supposed to be home then, and Mom was leaving for work - and there we all were, standing in the driveway realizing there was one job amongst us. Little Sis upstairs oblivious. Dad mowed the yard. I started looking for a job.

My Dad near tears begging my sister not to follow him. Not to take that damn job at the supplier. Knowing how hard it is to get out once you get in, showing her the scars, reminding her of the layoffs. Finally stopped talking about it when she showed him her $11 an hour starting pay (you start as a temp - you don't get employee status until you prove you won't break under the strain) was *almost* enough for her to quit her second job. The test at a different supplier (different auto maker, "diversify" the family's income). Glad she got the higher paying job, sad that it probably meant she wouldn't leave the work until it broke her back.

I have no idea why I'm posting this. I just think people forget "organized labor" got us safer jobs and overtime pay, but they paid (and continue to pay) for it with their bodies and their job security and all we do is yell at them for striking when they can't do anything but - their shop is shut down because the engine plant went out on strike, and unless they walk the picket line they don't get their strike pay, and they have to eat even if they think the Union is being azzholes.

The bailouts leave a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like the bank bailout, I don't really like the idea of handing them out to the car companies. But I haven't seen a better idea.

I think those voting against it should offer up a better idea. "The market" got us here, it will only get us in deeper - but if you don't want a bailout on principal, for pete's sake come up with another effin idea - don't just beyotch about corporate jets when you just handed some other azzholes 700 billion and a half-million resort "customer outing".

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