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The UAW and the Big Three Can Learn from Auto Shop Owners


Joe Marconi

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While the United Auto Worker’s strike may be over, this won’t be the last time Detroit will hear from the UAW. As a result of the contract agreement, the Big Three (General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis) will now have to find ways to pay for the increases in wages and benefits, which are estimated that it will add $850 to $900 to each vehicle produced.

Putting politics aside, the effects of this strike are far-reaching, with no clear winner. Here’s a quote from UAW President Shawn Fain, “We wholeheartedly believe that our strike squeezed every last dime out of General Motors.” Can you imagine your technician or service advisor saying that about you after a performance review?

While the UAW is taking a victory lap, the Big Three will not just roll over without making key changes. No doubt, we will all pay more for new cars, and perhaps used vehicles too. Plus, even though many car companies don’t have union workers, the consequences of this contract agreement will impact the entire auto industry.

But, enough about the UAW and The Big Three. Let’s focus on some of the lessons that many large corporations don’t seem to ever learn. At the heart of this strike is the relationship between big corporations and rank-and-file workers. As companies grow, they sometimes lose touch with their employees. All too often, the focus on profits, instead of people, becomes the main driver for decisions, and unfortunately, employees are sometimes used as pawns.

Let’s be clear, I am not supporting the UAW, the union workers or the Big Three. There are problems on all sides. However, we need to understand that the power of the unions can only happen when management moves in a direction that the employees feel is unstainable. Which is a direct result of poor leadership.

Here’s the biggest takeaway; as you grow your company, maintain the culture that has laid the groundwork for where you are today. Never forget about the people who come to work with you each day. Continue to create strong relationships with your employees. Continue to treat them with respect and find ways to pay them the salary you would work for and a benefits package you would want. I know everyone reading this knows all this, and in fact, I have more faith in you as a shop owner and your company’s future than I do in the Big Three.

Perhaps The Big Three should take lessons from Auto Shop Owners!

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