L-R. WAYNE GILLETTE, JOHN LONG, BILL GILLETT, RUSS WILLIAMS, RON CASTLEMAN
TREASURER JIM GILLETT, EDITOR BERNIE LOTHIAN, VICE-CHAIRMAN DAVE LUSTIG, CHAIRMAN MIKE WESTFALL
U.A.W. National C.E.R.P. Chairman
The auto companies are putting up the largest smoke screen in automotive history. They are
feverishly trying to cover up the fact that they are eliminating as many of our jobs as possible through technology, downsizing,
and the World Car.
Industry does not exist for management alone and they are applying technology in an anti-social
way. Top priority for our union is the saving of jobs. C.E.R.P. was designed for this purpose and not at the expense of losing
our competitive edge with international competition. New technology does not mean that our
union must decline, or that its power and influence must diminish, but rather our union can offer a new opportunity to achieve
a better standard of living.
Tuesday, April 28, Dave Lustig and I went to the Society of Manufacturing and Engineering
show at Cobo Hall in Detroit. We saw many of the smart tools that will replace our jobs. They had laser inspection, pick and
place robots, automatic self-feeding drills, and hundreds of other people-replacing computer controlled smart tools.
The main theme of this show was to show all of the auto company big shots how to replace
their blue-collar workers with steel collar workers.
At this show it was disclosed that G.M. has decided to build its own robots. All of the
robot producers are building to capacity and still cannot satisfy G.M.'s appetite for metal collar worker replacements. G.M.
is installing robots in their plants throughout the world for a variety of jobs including welding, painting, machine loading,
die casting, transferring parts, palletizing, inspecting and assembly.
When you start studying robotics and micro-automation you find that there are many areas
that have already been developed fully man-free. We can write off paint and cab shops. In the very near future we will have
a totally man-free paint system including the elimination of our sanders and sealer people in our plants. The paint will be
water base and applied automatically with electrostatic spray systems.
Our cab shops are obsolete. We have what is considered rigid automation. What will soon
replace it is called the Robo gate system. It is a modular flexible type that will eliminate just about all workers in our
Optical robot inspectors are now a reality and they are even developing one with four legs
that will walk. We will soon see the progressive elimination of human inspection in our plant.
High-rise material systems at each plant could be totally man-free. This storage system
could be interfaced with what is called the Car-Trac system. This is a computerized material feeding line running
alongside the assembly line that automatically dumps parts into the bins of each job whatever nuts, bolts, bulbs or material
The dump cars on this feeder line will be computer controlled and automatically return to
the front storage system for automatic refilling for the next job down the line. Our line feeders, cycle workers and drivers
are soon to experience a drastic cut in their numbers.
No one is safe, not even sanitation. There is on the horizon a rolling multi-cubed sweeper
vehicle that glides up and down the well-traveled aisles removing' dirt accumulated during the busy day's activity.
The on-board motion sensors allow the robot to avoid workers or obstacles in its path. As
the robot approaches a wastebasket it will stop, measure, align its body sensors to a pre-programmed position and two metallic
arms will empty the refuse container into the on-board waste storage bin.
With task completed, the internal vacuum re-activates and the robot continues on its
way. When its sensors confirm that its refuse bin is full the robot halts its program, evaluates its present position and
then proceeds to a programmed area where the refuse is transferred to a large stationary bin. These robots do not require
lighting, as they carry their own infrared sensors in their search for floor residue and rely on Sonics to determine
the location of waste containers.
There are hundreds of applications for these different smart tools and if you think
they can't take your job, you are wrong.
The auto companies have little sense of social responsibility, their objective is to make
huge amounts of money, and if it's at the workers expense, then so be it.
Because of the profit motivation of the auto companies, we have come to an uncomfortable
accommodation. Progress cannot be stopped, but workers must not suffer and they should share in the new wealth. We must insist
that any new technology applied in our plants be shaped equally between management and the Union.
If we bargain intelligently, technology has the potential of making gains out of the losses
brought about by the World Car and downsizing. It can be developed in such a way that it eliminates undesirable work, utilizes
the creative energies of workers, shortens the workweek, allows for earlier retirement, and affords normal attrition.
We must resist using technology for speed-ups, breaking of work rules, union busting, and
using it for robot-like control over workers.
How many of you reading this have been laid off beyond call back rights? If you worked in
Japan, Germany, Australia, or many other countries and were replaced by a robot or for any other reason you would not lose
your job. You don't lose your job over technology in these countries.
How many more will get the ax permanently? How many of you will be forced to leave this
state for employment? How will you support your family on five dollars an hour with no benefits when accustomed to ten dollars
an hour plus tremendous benefits? And you older people, what are your children going to do for a job?
We know that G.M. expects to produce 75 cars per hour at its new S-Car plant with only 750
direct labor employees - that's one car produced per hour for every 10 employees. It is logical that G.M. expects the same
comparison manpower ratios in all of its plants.
If you apply these ratios to our existing plants, which run 60 jobs per hour you end up
with only 600 direct labor employees per shift or 1200 workers for two shifts in plants, which now have 3200 workers for two
shifts. While it may take some time for all of this to happen and the total resulting impact is at this time unknown you can
see that the possibilities are shocking.
My committee is dedicated to bringing about drastic changes in our upcoming contracts.
If you do nothing, you will be doing exactly what the companies want you to do. They are out to eliminate your
job and if you don't face that fact you are only deceiving yourself.