By Sally Klingel, Ann M. Martin

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Additional info for A Fighting Chance: New Strategies to Save Jobs and Reduce Costs

Example text

When management announced in 1986 that the wire harness department was again no longer competitive, the reaction among the employees was one of shock and disappointment. The original wire harness CST had been benchmarked against United States competitors and had succeeded in beating their costs. This time, management had found a Mexican vendor that was 43 percent cheaper than Xerox. The contractual agreement calling for the formation of a CST in such a situation was activated, and the work force was told that a study team was necessary.

In each crisis, the union has had to react by mobilizing a CST to prevent further long-term job loss. It was not until the 1986 agreement on bidding for new work that the union could be proactive in securing new employment at the plant. Through CSTs, the union has gained more influence over management's operational decisions, specifically by negotiating over the cost-saving proposals of the team. More involvement by hourlies in monitoring internal costs and the costs of vendors has given the union more input into the decision to outsource.

Management called in a consulting firm in the early 1980s to study operations and advise the company on strategies for the future. The report proposed that Trico reduce its exclusive dependence on windshield wipers and become a general manufacturer of auto parts. Trico was strong in engineering and design capability, but to expand its product line would require the use of CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) in pro- 54 Trico Produas and the UA W duction. Under this system, the toolroom, where machine tools and dies for operations are made and repaired, would be an important link between CAD and CAM.

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