Journalists on mock GM factory line produce 25 defects in 20 minutes

Illustration for article titled Journalists on mock GM factory line produce 25 defects in 20 minutes

In a stroke of public relations ingenuity, General Motors and the UAW on Tuesday threw a handful of Detroit-area journalists onto the mock assembly line used for training hourly workers. The result? A renewed appreciation for manual labor.

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The best summation of how well the 15 ersatz shoprats did at their goal of assembling 18 plywood "vehicles" with zero defects is that more than one reporter was driven to recall the "I Love Lucy" candy factory skit. Joann Muller of Forbes was upfront about the challenge:

Safety was also lacking: the journalists recorded 22 safety "incidents" in 20 minutes - including a worker who was hit four times by a car coming down the line. At the end of our first 20-minute shift, we produced only 13 cars (instead of 18, our target), with a total of 25 defects, which meant we would have to return Saturday for unscheduled overtime to fix the faulty cars and meet our production goals.

As WWJ-AM's ace auto reporter Jeffery Gilbert said: "You come away understanding that this is skilled labor." Which is exactly the message GM and the UAW want to send before what may be some bruising contract negotiations and the reality that when GM's Lake Orion, Mich., plant reopens next year, most of the workers will get $14 a hour for work that many college-educated people couldn't do.

DISCUSSION

I doubt the validity of this "demonstration". Its not like the brain trust of assembly line workers could all magically do their jobs perfectly on their first attempts. Give the journalists the same training program that the real workers get and see if the journalists can master it then. I'm guessing they all could.

And $14/hr is pretty good for what they do, skilled or unskilled. Bottom line is they didn't incur any debt going to school for what they do and they don't have any student loans to pay back so I think twice the minimum wage is pretty good. Plus, it's not like living in Michigan is very expensive. The bottom line? Don't expect to get paid a lot for something that literally ANYONE could be trained to do with no outside certification or schooling required. That's why MD's and Lawyers and Engineers make good coin, because it costs time and money to get the training for their jobs, costs which the workers themselves take on. The assembly line workers get on-the-job type training so they're not bringing anything special to the table besides working appendages and the ability to learn repetitive tasks.