During the early 1980’s the economy was suffering from recession, and GM seized this as an opportunity to modernize vehicle assembly plants using robotics and other computer automation. It was also about this time that GM partnered with Toyota to build an economical vehicle, and over the next decade they churned out over a million of these cheap cars. Soon after, GM partnered with Isuzu and Honda to expand these outsourcing opportunities for other core components of their vehicles.
There was a lot of concern amongst the United Auto Workers (UAW) membership that between modernization and outsourcing that the domestic automobile industry would dwindle. As a result, the UAW convinced GM that attempts to modernize automobile manufacturing should not displace auto workers here in the US. This was the impetus for the GM Job Bank, where displaced GM workers will continue to earn a fulltime salary even though they are no longer building cars.
This is absurd, if technology can do your job then the company has no obligation to prolong your employment. What kind of protections did stagecoach drivers have when new modes of transportation put them out of work?
GM should have an opportunity to modernize in order for the company to remain competitive. While the unionization of labor has provided autoworkers a great deal of protection, it has been to the detriment of GM. There are certainly significant problems facing General Motors, but they should be allowed to make their own future. If they choose to downsize their workforce and pay their top executives incredible sums of money, then that is their prerogative.