On Dec. 20, 1936, workers at a GM plant in Flint, Mich., had enough--and sat down. Many consider that sit-down strike in 1936 as the impetus for the modern labor movement. That made yesterday’s news more poignant--when Gov. Rick Snyder’s signature made Michigan a right-to-work state.
People can debate endlessly about the pros and cons of unions, but the issue isn’t simple. A decade ago I recall talking to a few lean manufacturing consultants who told me they wouldn’t work with a union shop, because of the work rules in place. In a high-product-mix situation, workers need to adapt, cross train, and work when and where needed to meet ship dates.
I still hear complaints, but not as often as I used to. Some unions are great to work with, while others adhere to the old, inflexible-work-rule stereotypes.