News that workers at the plant making batteries for the new Chevy Volt
provoked this wacky, largely uninformed thought:
Why? Because the UAW has basically cut a deal with GM that protects its
members in their
(plus benefits) jobs, but give new, future hires a much worse deal:
. If those new workers are UAW members, they will be able to lobby within the union (and, more significantly, vote) to equalize the pay of the old-timers and newcomers at some intermediate level-- say $22 an hour. Why would existing UAW members want that? Better to
. ... It would almost be as if the existing UAW members had become the profit-seeking
of the company! ...
Could this be one model for the demise of other unions? "Grandfather" (and thereby buy off) the dwindling number of existing members, and finance this by squeezing the maximum from new hires while excluding them from the union (perhaps by hiring them through subcontractors). The union becomes just another quasi-shareholder representing a limited number of old-time members. Eventually, as those members retire and expire, the union ceases to exist. ...
Mickey's Assignment Desk--The Gillette Cycle of Despair: Here's an evergreen story idea I've wanted someone to nail down for decades: Why do Gillette's fancy razors seem to work so well when they are introduced, then gradually get worse and worse until a new, fancier razor is introduced? ... The most recent example: When I first bought a Gillette Fusion five- blade razor, I thought it was absurd (and absurdly expensive). But it was fantastic. Best shave ever, etc. And the blades lasted for months. ... A couple of years later, however--in an all-too-familiar development--I've noticed that the expensive replacement blades for this razor don't seem to cut as smoothly, and they seen to wear out much faster. Experienced Gillette customers intuitively know what this means: the company is about to introduce a newer, more complex, and even more expensive shaving system. ... And sure enough, here it is , the Fusion ProGlide! ... Its blades will cost more than $4 apiece, according to the WSJ . And I'm sure they will be fabulous--at least for the first year or so. Then, if my experience is a guide, ProGlide consumers may notice a puzzling dropoff. ... This cycle has held true with every Gillette product I've ever used, starting with the Techmatic in high school.
My sneaking, completely unproven suspicion, of course, is that the seeming improvement with each newer, fancier, priceier razor has little to do with all the various innovations Gillette advertises (e.g., two blades, three blades, five blades, a "snow plow guard" that prevents hydroplaning, etc.) and a whole lot to do with the quality of the steel that's used in the blades. The investigative mission, should you decide to accept it, would be to somehow prove that Gillette uses high-quality steel when it introduces a new razor, and then gradually lets the blade quality get degraded, saving the company money until it introduces the next innovative shaving system (the main innovation being that it uses the high quality steel again). ... This could all be misguided consumerist paranoia, of course! But if so, it's a paranoia that resonates widely, I've found. ...
P.S.: The equally paranoid corollary is that you should never turn down a promotional razor --e.g. the free-sample kind you get in the mail. They use the good steel in those, to hook you! They last forever, or until the day you go out and buy some replacement blades, whichever comes first.. ... 2:08 A.M.