Being a blue-collar worker, one of the unwashed, I realize I am in the distinct minority of Plastics News' readership. However, I'd like to offer up a few comments concerning Delphi Corp.'s recent troubles. Entertain (or endure) another, yet not totally different, viewpoint. For the record, I am not a Delphi employee.
When Delphi was spun off from General Motors in 1999, and then co-owned by GM and two of the largest parts suppliers around, it had the potential and promise of being in quite an enviable position indeed.
Possessing grandfathered production contracts and current/future almost-guaranteed business that most mom-and-pop molding shops would give up their first-born for, Delphi's possibilities looked endless. The work, it was believed, would come from not only existing automotive customers, but also from new-conquest customers.
The 2000 bust happened. The dot-com bust. Sept. 11, 2001.
Then, there is that labor contract with the United Auto Workers. Granted, $27 an-hour labor to “shoot plastic” is a bit pricey. And, I understand the “legacy” burdens, and the high cost of benefits.
These benefits, though, are benefits that both sides of the corporation enjoy and need.
The most recent manufacturing pie charts I've seen places labor, in general, at about 9-10 percent of total overhead costs. Delphi's recent contract proposal is to reduce wages to about $9.50 an hour for production workers. This places the wage earner at only about $400-$500 dollars above the national poverty level.
We can point back 60 or more years to the multilayered beginnings of all this, on both management's and the workers' side. But the working middle class is in the cross hairs of the beast called extinction, and history has shown that economies or societies without a viable and thriving middle class do not fare well over the long run.
In the midst of these real and understandable business financial realities, I need help in reconciling the publicized sweetening of the severance packages of some of Delphi's recently departing executives by several million dollars (to make said packages “more competitive”), one week before filing for federal bankruptcy protection.
There was a time, and it wasn't that very long ago, when company owners, presidents, chief executive officers and yes, the workers, possessed an ethos of integrity and shared a personal responsibility and sense of ownership in their business. The buck stopped at the top, and both management and workers shared in the rewards (in varying degrees) or losses.
None of us will long survive without the works and abilities of the other, and I only hope it's not too late for the buck to stop with all of us.
Spring Hill, Tenn.