Here we have it, the end of an era. It is hard to believe these past three months have gone so quickly. As you may have noticed, this blog revolved around the UAW strike that took place at GM factories. Naturally, I learned a lot about the negotiation process between companies and unions. I learned also about the impending paradigm shift in the auto industry. I also learned that General Motors is attempting to make itself more adaptable to the upcoming industry changes. For example, by selling its Lordstown plant to a company that produces electric trucks and gaining an equity stake in the company, GM has shown its awareness of the shift. I think that the increasingly rapid rate at which technology and automation is invading our lives, a company that must negotiate with a union is at a disadvantage.
General Motors’ has locked itself into an agreement with the UAW for the next four years about how much it will pay its employees and even, to a certain extent, how many people the company will employ. I think that the quickly changing landscape of the auto industry will outpace the speed at which GM and the UAW can agree on labor terms. In my opinion, another strike will occur in four years’ time and the next one could become more bitter and last even longer than this year’s strike. For this reason, I find the future at GM to be largely unpredictable and shaky. Therefore, I would not invest in General Motors at this point. (Close readers of my blog will note that this is a change in position from the beginning of the semester) By the same token, although I would love a dynamic work environment in which I am exposed to many challenges, I would not want to work at General Motors anymore. I believe I could find a dynamic and challenging job in a different industry that would not be so rife with uncertainty.
As a final note: I do not wish to seem anti-union. I believe collective bargaining is incredibly important for protecting the rights of workers. I simply think that in these times of change, collective bargaining will hold companies like GM back from being able to capitalize on developments as quickly as other companies that do not rely on unionized labor.
Special thanks to Mike Colias and Nora Naughton of the Wall Street Journal for their continued commitment to journalism and specifically to covering General Motors. This blog would not be possible without their contributions.