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An appropriate Labor Day question Did the union help to kill Studebaker?

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  • #16
    That was a great newspaper article. I was in the eighth grade when Studebaker closed South Bend. My dad's family owned Studebaker and this cause for great concern as I remember it. A year later I bought my first car, a 1952 Commander four door.


    • #17
      I was coming in at a 4. The Churchill interview and the Tribune article by Phil Ault were very informative. THAT was journalism!

      1 or 2.
      62 GT


      • #18
        Did the union HELP kill Studebaker? Yes, I believe it helped kill Studebaker just as unions helped to bankrupt Chrysler and General Motors and helped to nearly bankrupt Ford in recent years. I'm not saying that the unions are the only ones to blame, but it is an uneven playing field when one company pays it's employees far more than it's competitors do.
        I believe the union, Studebaker management, company diversification and antiquated manufacturing facilities all deserve a 10 for helping to kill Studebaker automobile production.
        In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.


        • #19
          As a former union member at a large aircraft plant, and as a former business owner with multiple employees - I can tell you emphatically, it's ALWAYS managements fault if a business fails.

          The union members do not have control over the purse strings of the business, and they can't make decisions for the company in policy. Only management can make the stupid calls that truly harm a business, and Studebaker management made plenty of stupid calls down through the decades.

          Crucial mistakes were made by Fred Fish in the early years, Albert Russel Erskine during the depression, and James Nance in the 50's. There were other mistakes, too. Labor didn't make those decisions.

          I should add that labor is not completely blameless. Where I worked the laziest bums in the shop were the same guys who were always screaming loudest about management, spending time in the union office filing useless complaints, hollering about not enough over-time, and then turning it down, or sitting on their butts after clocking in.

          They didn't like guys like me who worked hard, wasn't afraid to talk to the bosses like human beings about problems, kept my promises, and didn't squawk about striking every time a contract was up.
          Last edited by Chris Pile; 09-02-2013, 04:35 AM.
          The only difference between death and taxes is that death does not grow worse every time Congress convenes. - Will Rogers


          • #20
            As BP correctly stated here, timing was everything! http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.c...light=pensions



            • #21
              Unions have there place and are great at checks and balances. SN's comments are on target concerning this. However, there is the other side of the coin so to speak. Studebaker would probably never had made it on there own for much longer but that last strike absolutely killed the auto segment of the company. They needed money to continue and no bank would loan money to a company that had a labor force that was so well endowed and unreasonable. The ironic thing about the last strike was that a very small percentage of the work force even came out to vote yes or no, only the militant side showed its face.
              So, at the end, I would say the union was pretty close to fully responsible for the closing in December of 63. Had they not gone out on strike, maybe they could have lasted a little longer. In this respect give it a score of 9.


              • #22
       his original post, Richard cautioned us that this could get "emotional."....Ya think!?

                Like anything or concept mankind is susceptible to perversion, diversion, and corruption.
                Unions are no exception. With good leadership, they certainly can be beneficial. However, too often, they seem to fall into the hands of low characters. Self serving thugs who lack business acumen but understand bully tactics in the ways of organized crime protection rackets.

                You can take that old saying..."Hi, I'm from the GOVERNMENT, and I'm here to help you." that everyone fears so much and substitute the word "MANAGEMENT" or the word "UNION" and the statement is still just as terrifying.
                It reminds me of one of those wildlife documentary films you see about predator kills on National Geographic. Once the kill is made...all the so-called predators become scavengers...fighting for their share.

                I've said it in posts before...Studebaker had lost its most elusive intangible element. To me, that was a visionary, passionate, individual in the manner of the original group of Studebaker brothers, to keep the corporation in the auto manufacturing business. Someone like Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes, Henry Ford, Donald Trump, or any other talented eccentric you can name. Toward the end, seems to me that investor scavengers, management scavengers, and yes...UNION scavengers...were darting in, grabbing what they could.

                The only "Visionary" around the Studebaker carcass was a certain Mr. Harry Barnes, who came upon the scene and saw the potential for a little organization called the Studebaker Drivers Club. Thanks to his vision, many of us have spent a lifetime collecting and enjoying the artifacts of the debris field that was once an important and majestic corporate entity.
                John Clary
                Greer, SC

                SDC member since 1975


                • #23
                  Originally posted by studefan View Post
                  Wasn't there but from all I have read and from hearing other labor union stories, I would say high at an 8.
                  'Stories' make good reading......and not much else!


                  • #24
                    Interesting topic.
                    I find it humorous to see the sides taken.
                    The union member (retired or not) take the union side and scoff at any union participation in the demise.
                    The capitalists blaming the unions.
                    The stockholders blaming management and the unions.
                    But, in the end, it all boils down to excessive greed.
                    Management abuses of workers over time created the unions, who banded workers together to improve safety and wage levels.
                    Unions took that group power and did just that.
                    But when the unions go too far, bad things happen.
                    But when management goes too far, bad things happen.

                    The current state of affairs, and a look back in history, shows a common parallel.
                    Both the unions, and corporate management have bought off political parties to gain an edge through government intervention or legislation.
                    This has caused massive instability and destruction of the manufacturing environment and job market.

                    Labor can take things too far, and make demands that cannot be paid off at market level prices of sold products.
                    Management can go too far by moving manufacturing offshore to avoid labor demands.
                    Management can also go too far by pillaging corporations of assets, and abusing the workers (ie: Hostess).

                    My opinion is that the government intervention in any area other than safety is detrimental to the business environment.

                    No single source can be blamed. All sources share in the blame.
                    Just an opinion.....
                    HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


                    Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

                    Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)


                    • #25
                      SN-60, maybe it's just a definition thing. As noted, I have read articles and heard stories. As far as I know, no one who has posted thus far actually worked at Studebaker in South Bend prior to Dec 63. So, everything in the thread, except post 11, are the stories from individuals who share personal experiences and opinions. No need to be concerned, your "story" is respected and is as important as the rest of ours.


                      • #26
                        I feel that there's enough blame to go around. First, the union was threatening to strike if they didn't get what they wanted and second, company management gave in to the union. Management agreed to a contract that immediately put Studebaker at an economic disadvantage, by granting pay above the competition. Studebaker could ill-afford to do that. So, with that, I give it a 5.
                        '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
                        Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club


                        • #27
                          Unions came about due to bad management. If all management was good and effective then unions would only be useful as a social organization and a bowling league. Combine self-serving militant union management and bad corporate management and you have the recipe for financial disaster. Add to the mix pandering government and we're where we are today.

                          Unions can ask (or demand) whatever they want. Management can pay or give as little as they can get away with. Somewhere in the middle, honest negotiations should come to a compromise for the benefit of all. As technologies and economic realities change, those agreements and partnerships between management and labor need to change as well to reflect modern realities. If either side or neither side recognizes that then again financial disaster occurs. And again...add pandering government and we're at where we are today.

                          It seems we never learn the lessons of the past as they keep getting repeated on ever larger scales.
                          Poet...Mystic...Soldier of Fortune. As always...self-absorbed, adversarial, cocky and in general a malcontent.


                          • #28
                            Maybe we should ask Jimmy Hoffa?
                            Bez Auto Alchemy

                            "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Chris Pile View Post
                              As a former union member at a large aircraft plant, and as a former business owner with multiple employees - I can tell you emphatically, it's ALWAYS managements fault if a business fails.
                              As a manager for over 20 years with the Postal Service, I once heard the same quote that "failure is ALWAYS management's fault". I believed it then and still believe it now. Blaming the unions is a cop out for not doing whatever it is that needs to be done to be successful. Perhaps Studebaker's leaders were simply more interested in making money than building cars. They had some mighty powerful forces that wanted them out of the competition. I think the big three knew how cool studebakers were and were even more so determined to put them out of business. JMHO
                              Jon Stalnaker
                              Karel Staple Chapter SDC


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Sdude View Post
                                I think the big three knew how cool studebakers were and were even more so determined to put them out of business. JMHO
                                At least Studebaker didn't SUE the US Govt. for bombing one of it's plants in Germany during a WAR!!! (like GM certainly DID with Opel). ITT also sued and if I read it right they both won!!
                                Last edited by bezhawk; 09-02-2013, 09:18 AM.
                                Bez Auto Alchemy

                                "Don't believe every internet quote" Abe Lincoln