Material (OUT OF) Control

This was the cap which the materials people wore as a protest to the stupidity of turning Japanese. Instead of the stories you read about all the workers pulling together at Buick it was really all smoke and mirrors for the benefit of the men in Detroit. If we had actually had true input at the team meetings and management had truly believed in teamwork, Buick City would still exist. I remember all the hogwash they tried getting us to swallow during the months of Buick City schooling and even then you could see it was not going to work. Whenever you asked a question you were immediately shut down. Just one example I recall: we were in the auditorium at Southwestern Academy and a truck driver questioned the sanity of having no guard rails in Buick City. “This was supposed to open up more space”. The same reply as always was “that’s the way it will be, next question please”. Well the first month back in the revamped factory a water main on the second floor of factory #04 was broken and flooded the first floor (south end of #04). The water also came down the bridge to factory #40 flooding the second and first floor. After that the guard rails went up at an alarming rate. Nearly everything we were taught in school did not work. We were told any time a problem arose on the line a worker could pull his own personal cord (this was called the ANDON system) and stop the line so as to correct said problem. You see just as with the guardrails never being needed they thought repair people in each department were no longer needed. They soon found out that constantly stopping an assembly line may not be the correct way to go, so we now had the repairmen back. We were told that we would only need six repair bays on the repair floor because the cars would be perfect when they came off the line. In the end repair was as large as before Buick City plus it was a 24 hr. operation supporting a usual 16 hr. production schedule. I remember one time we ran out of front fascia’s (bumpers) so the Buick City motto of “Build In Station” was shelved and we ran without them. I could go on and on but you get the point. So if the men at the helm of General Motors continue to just say “teamwork” for the benefit of the media we’re all doomed.
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