NPR—The End Of The Line For GM-Toyota Joint Venture

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By 1982, GM had had enough and put the Fremont factory out of its misery, Two years later, GM and Toyota reopened the factory with — incredibly — most of the same workforce.

But first, they sent some of them to Japan to learn the Toyota way.

The key to the Toyota Production System was a principle so basic, it sounds like an empty management slogan: Teamwork.

At Toyota, people were divided into teams of just four or five and they switched jobs every few hours to relieve the monotony. A team leader would step in to help when anything went wrong.

At the old GM plant in Fremont, Calif., the system had been totally different and there was one cardinal rule that everyone knew: the assembly line could never stop.

"You just didn't see the line stop," Madrid said. "I saw a guy fall in the pit and they didn't stop the line."

This is just a fabulous story. Don't miss the image of a single bolt. read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaJapan

Posted March 28, 2010 at 4:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

My ‘new’ Toyota is an ‘02 Tacoma built in that plant. Well over 100,000 and I think it’s finally broken in. Sorry to see it close. American labor isn’t the problem ... unions are.  My old Toyota is a 1990 pickup, with just under 630,000. I owned a Pontiac sedan and a Chevy pickup in the late 1970s. Never again.

Chances the next vehicle I buy will be built by unionized American workers?—absolutely zero. Fit and finish remains terrible, and quite frankly, nothing these days would please me more than to see labor unions completely crushed, for they have become quite simply a system for extorting far-higher-than-market-clearing wages from manufacturers.

You think I don’t like union labor in manufacturing? Ask me about SEIU, and their 45% income premium over those of us who work our kiesters off to pay their wages.

March 28, 8:53 pm | [comment link]
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