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Ford eyeing bathroom breaks

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Ford eyeing bathroom breaks

Old 10-27-05, 10:53 AM
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Ford eyeing bathroom breaks

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Ford Motor Co. management reportedly is trying to stop the company's financial outlook from going down the toilet.

The Detroit News reported Thursday that management at the company's Michigan Truck plant in Wayne, Mich., issued a memo in which it said too many of the factory's 3,500 hourly workers are spending more than the 48 minutes allotted per shift to use the bathroom.

The extra-long breaks are slowing production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles that are built there, the company said.

"In today's competitive environment, it is important that Michigan Truck plant immediately address this concern to avoid the risks associated with safety, quality, delivery, cost and morale," the memo said, according to the paper's report.

The paper reported that the memo also warns that Ford supervisors will begin collecting weekly data on the amount of time workers spend on bathroom breaks and "respond appropriately."

Workers interviewed by the paper said that management is trying to divert attention from broader problems at the nation's No. 2 automaker, including soft sales of the large SUV's made at the plant following this year's run-up on gasoline prices.

"It's an excuse by upper management to gloss over some of the real problems we have out here," Jody Caruana, a worker at the plant and a committee member for United Auto Workers union Local 900, told the paper. "This might be an issue in one zone or another. But is this causing a quality or productivity problem? No."

Ford spokeswoman Anne Marie Gattari told the paper the 48-minute bathroom break limit is spelled out in the UAW contract that covers local plant rules.

"We are managing our business according to the local agreement," Gattari said.

Ford reported a third quarter loss of $191 million, or 10 cents a share, a bigger loss than expected by analysts, and it warned that its full-year earnings would be a the low end of its earlier guidance. Despite strong summer sales spurred by "employee pricing" discounts, Ford's U.S. sales are down 1 percent over the first nine months of the year as it continues to lose market share. Sales of the Expedition are down nearly 25 percent year-to-date, while sales of the Navigator fell 21.5 percent.

Some efficiency consultants told the paper that Ford will gain little from monitoring bathroom breaks.

"It's a giant throwback to the bad old days of the '70's and '80's, when you squeezed the guy at the bottom of the heap any way you could," Sandy Munro of Munro & Associates told the News. "That only causes lots of discontent."
Old 10-27-05, 10:55 AM
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48 minutes in the bathroom? What the hell are they doing in there?
Old 10-27-05, 10:56 AM
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No wonder... Ford gives me the shits too.
Old 10-27-05, 11:04 AM
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Live by the union contract, die by the union contract.
Old 10-27-05, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by BigDaddy
The extra-long breaks are slowing production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles that are built there, the company said.

Awww, what a shame.... Aren't sales of big SUV's going down the gutter anyway?
Old 10-27-05, 11:16 AM
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How long is their shift.

And how many breaks are they allowed.

In a retail atmosphere this might be long, but in an office or typical professional setting, 48-mins away from your desk is actually quite conservative.

Of course come to think of it, how many smokers in retail chains take breaks every goddamn hour for 5-10 mins.
Old 10-27-05, 11:19 AM
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It's a nice compliment to their $48 an hour fork lift jobs.
Old 10-27-05, 11:28 AM
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I would be nice to know how long their shifts are, and what amount of time they get for lunch, and if there are other breaks.
Old 10-27-05, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Mopower
It's a nice compliment to their $48 an hour fork lift jobs.
But sometimes they get laid off and they don't go into work. And still get a paycheck.

So there's that.
Old 10-27-05, 11:39 AM
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This is really about smoke breaks, no?



And the irony will be all the DVDTalkers posting during the day about these "slacker union employees".
Old 10-27-05, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Y2K Falcon
This is really about smoke breaks, no?



And the irony will be all the DVDTalkers posting during the day about these "slacker union employees".

I DID NOT POST THIS IN THE BATHROOM.
Old 10-27-05, 11:49 AM
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No doubt the extra time in the restroom is spent trying to comply with the stringent hand-washing regulations that management recently issued.
Old 10-27-05, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Mopower
Awww, what a shame.... Aren't sales of big SUV's going down the gutter anyway?
Wait, gas is down 10 cents. Time to buy a SUV!
Old 10-27-05, 11:51 AM
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They can just piss in the gas tanks as the cars come down the line. Well, at least the men can.
Old 10-27-05, 12:14 PM
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This reminds me of something funny. My husband is an uber-responsible very hard-working employee type. But one day he surprised me as he was leaving for work he mentioned that he need to go to the bathroom (#2). He said instead of going now though, that he would wait until he got to the office so that he could "poop on the clock".

Still cracks me up to this day!
Old 10-27-05, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia


This reminds me of something funny. My husband is an uber-responsible very hard-working employee type. But one day he surprised me as he was leaving for work he mentioned that he need to go to the bathroom (#2). He said instead of going now though, that he would wait until he got to the office so that he could "poop on the clock".

Still cracks me up to this day!

That's amazing.
Old 10-27-05, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Mopower
That's amazing.
Hmmm, shades of my husband.
Old 10-27-05, 01:35 PM
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I seriously doubt this has anything to do with smoke breaks. As far as I know, it's the norm for manufacturing plants to allow people to smoke at their workstations, as they work. After a quick bit of googling, I'm pretty sure this is the case at the Ford plant in question.

More likely than not, it's just laziness on the part of some workers. Anecdotally, I tutored in an adult literacy program for a while. One of my students worked at the GM plant here in Indy and used to brag to us that even though he couldn't read, he had a sweet, sweet job. He was a really nice guy, but I could never really respect him. According to him, he worked 3rd shift and would finish his nightly quota in about 3 hours, then nap the rest of the shift on a cot he had set up in his work area. Oh yeah, and he bragged about clearing $120k/year (he'd worked there for over 30 years.) And we wonder why companies are choosing to manufacture their products overseas...
Old 10-27-05, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I would be nice to know how long their shifts are, and what amount of time they get for lunch, and if there are other breaks.
This is an assembly plant (parts plants can be different). If the line is running, it must be manned.

The line is stopped for lunch break, and usually a short mid-morning and mid-afternoon break. At any other time, to leave the line, the worker must signal for a relief worker, and wait for the relief worker to pick up his job before he can leave the line.

The 48 minutes would not include lunch break, but I don't know whether it includes the two scheduled stoppages. The more unscheduled breaks a worker takes, the more relief workers are required for coverage (and they have to know enough jobs to cover every position in a zone). I suspect the 48 minutes is partially the two scheduled breaks, and the balance an allowance for relief workers to replace you on the line, like 2 30-minute breaks and a max of 18 minutes unscheduled relief.

Normal shift is 8 hours, plus 30 minute lunch break. I'm not sure if break time comes out of the work shift or not. The shift can be longer if the plant is on overtime. Assembly plants usually work two full shifts, and a short, lightly-staffed maintenance shift. (Given the 30 minute pad for lunch, you can't work three full shifts. I thought 9 hours was allocated per shift, but that doesn't quite add up, unless the 48 minutes is part of the shift; two 9 hour shifts, leaving up to 6 for maint.) Individual plants may have different arrangements.
Old 10-27-05, 02:48 PM
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The memo is on the Detroit News website. The 48 minutes is part of the 8 hour shift, lunch is not (and is 30 min in "Ford world"). They are expected to work 8 hours, less 48 minutes, but are in the plant 8.5 hours counting lunch break.

So workers taking excessive break are working less than 7 hours, 12 minutes, while being paid for eight hours. And Ford management is probably all over the Plant Manager's ass about excessive labor hours.
Old 10-27-05, 03:06 PM
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Unless you're violently ill (or using these 'breaks' for other things -- coffee, smoking), I can't think of any logical reason you'd need 48 minutes worth of bathroom time during a 8.5 hour period. Assuming that I make use of the facilities at some point during my 30-minute lunch, I don't think I'd need 6 minutes a day -- let alone 6 minutes every hour.

I can't believe that these workers have such a generous break system and yet are taking even *more*. But, of course, I also can't imagine that 'monitoring' these breaks is going to be very productive for management. Maybe I'm missing something.
Old 10-27-05, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia


This reminds me of something funny. My husband is an uber-responsible very hard-working employee type. But one day he surprised me as he was leaving for work he mentioned that he need to go to the bathroom (#2). He said instead of going now though, that he would wait until he got to the office so that he could "poop on the clock".

Still cracks me up to this day!
I do my best shitting "on the clock". In fact, this past week, I worked Sunday (double-time)...now that was a goooood shit!
Old 10-27-05, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jadzia
He said instead of going now though, that he would wait until he got to the office so that he could "poop on the clock".
Was this a desk clock, or a wall-mounted one? Man's got some major agility if it's the latter.
Old 10-27-05, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by djbrown
Was this a desk clock, or a wall-mounted one? Man's got some major agility if it's the latter.
And don't think she doesn't take advantage of that!
Old 10-27-05, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by maxfisher
I seriously doubt this has anything to do with smoke breaks. As far as I know, it's the norm for manufacturing plants to allow people to smoke at their workstations, as they work. After a quick bit of googling, I'm pretty sure this is the case at the Ford plant in question.

More likely than not, it's just laziness on the part of some workers. Anecdotally, I tutored in an adult literacy program for a while. One of my students worked at the GM plant here in Indy and used to brag to us that even though he couldn't read, he had a sweet, sweet job. He was a really nice guy, but I could never really respect him. According to him, he worked 3rd shift and would finish his nightly quota in about 3 hours, then nap the rest of the shift on a cot he had set up in his work area. Oh yeah, and he bragged about clearing $120k/year (he'd worked there for over 30 years.) And we wonder why companies are choosing to manufacture their products overseas...
Correct me if I'm wrong, but he worked there for 30 years. How much was he making in the first 10 years. He probably wasn't clearing $120K until the very last part of his career.

The man deserves every bit of that money. This is America, not a goddamn slave labor nation like other countries. We are the most productive people on the planet. But companies these days don't care. They would rather build cheap shit and sell it as fast as they can, rather than have a good reputation for quality product.

Unions are a very very small reason for outsourcing in the US, if any reason at all. You make it sound like your reason for acknowledging outsourcing is because of this one single man who made a shitload of money for working at a company for over 30 years. That's pretty uninformed about the outsourcing situation and you might want to look into just who is being outsourced.

Most jobs outsourced don't have a union representing them.

What's the excuse now.

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