Improving Union Relations at GM? It’s an Ongoing Management Struggle

You don’t hear a lot about the auto industry bailout right now, not with the focus on health care reform, or the big Gulf oil spill, or any number of other issues coming out of Washington. But, the bailout of General Motors is STILL a huge workplace issue that sends ripples through a lot of other industries as well.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author Paul Ingrassia talked about the GM bailout recently with Edmunds Auto Observer , and what grabbed me was his observation (in this video I have included here after the jump) that despite a 65 percent reduction in the absentee rate at Ford over the last decade, it’s still six (6) times higher at Ford plants than at Honda plants.

“The former Detroit bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal expressed concern that the automakers’ future success will require a vast improvement in union-management relations,” Edmunds says, and he points to the union attacking Ford products in public as evidence of what needs to change if both GM and the union are to successfully bring the auto giant back to sustained profitability again.

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This Edmunds Auto Observer video is well worth watching if you deal with unions in your workplace, or, as a cautionary tale about what you might get if your workforce ever opts for union representation.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.