The ongoing walkout of 48,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) employees from 31 General Motors (GM) plants that began last Sunday night has numerous causes. Those include wages, health care benefits, the status of temporary workers, and the job security concerns caused by plant closures affecting five North American sites that were announced last November.
But what has also become clear is that one underlying cause is bad blood between the rank-and-file and the company’s leadership. Errette Dunn, CEO of Rever, Inc., a tech startup developing a Frontline Management software suite focused on driving manufacturing operating improvements (see more about them here), has seen it before. “The GM walkouts highlight the disastrous impact strained relations between employees and management can have on business continuity,” he said. “But most communication breakdowns for manufacturers don't escalate to that point. After spending most of my career serving as a conduit between shop floor employees and management teams implementing lean manufacturing and continuous improvement strategies, I've seen first-hand some causes of discontent. Often, shop floor or frontline employees feel sidelined when they believe their opinions and creativity go unrecognized – and unfortunately, they’re right.”