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Robert Hennecke
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Crash development program to develop a unique bio-diesel reactor starting in December 2013. I intend to apply for a patent on the process and machine. No technical or financial assistance has been given nor ever to be asked for. Nothing intended to be imported from the PR China. Ultrasonic... More
My company:
Falconlake Ultrasonics
My blog:
Modernized Craft Guilds - worker owned cooperatives
  • How Ford Motor Can Salvage Their European Operations And Gain A Global Marketing Bonanza 3 comments
    Mar 15, 2013 1:29 AM | about stocks: F

    If I were an exec at Ford which obviously I'm not, I would try to enable worker owned co-operatives be setup as an auto assembly guild whereby the workers themselves owned the facilities and voted on their methods to work. Sounds crazy ? The Mondragon worker owned co-operative makes engine blocks for Mercedes Benz and another of Mondragon's co-operatives beat out Siemens for an automation upgrade for BMW's Dresden plant. Indeed, one of Mondragon's units produces buses. The Mondragon worker owned co-operative started with 4 members in 1956 by a cleric who had been directed to improve the fate of his people in the Basque region of Spain rather than rising as a member of the Vatican. He reluctantly took on this task but rose to the challenge and ultimately came up with a viable plan that was neither corporatist nor communist and tapped into the inherent desire of people to do good work. They currently have 120 000 members making on average 60 000 euros/yr and having average equity of 50 000 euros. They have their own heatlh network and have their own technical university that is run as a co-operative with no fees. A worker owned assembly operation would be about the infrastructure costs being spread out and when there are big gains the workers themselves could gain those. It would mean that this guild/co-operative could bid on assembly projects for any and all auto companies thus enabling companies to have a presence in the market without having to maintain a massive presence so that when demand goes into freefall, they would not have high fixed costs in a place like Europe whereby rigid labour rules prevent agile manouevering by entities such as Ford. Some day, ideas such as this which in the past would be thought of as very much on the fringe will be considered as the only way forward for the sake of survival. The same plant, with clever engineering, can be used to produce vehicles from totally different brands and thus keep the same plant going 24/7--365 days a year and maintaining the same workforce assembling vehicles of whoever needs to have vehicles made. If such a worker owned Auto Assembly Guild were provided with say a five year non profit status by their respective governments and instead of practically giving away a building of a mothballed plant as is typical, then when there is a shutdown would instead be given to such an Auto Assembly Guild, then there would be a global goodwill towards whatever company that was so forward thinking for society as well as themselves that they would reap great rewards overall as well as provide a greater measure of control over the futures of these communities and their workers to those former employees. They would not be getting permanently let go but be getting setup to be a guild which could then bid on assembly projects to whatever company has a need which shifts from time to time. Ford has lost 1,75 billion in 2011 in Europe, 2 billion in 2012 and will lose likely 2,5 billion in Europe for 2013 with a possible profitability returning by 2015 if all goes well. Part of the costs are the costs of severance packages of 150 000 euros each. The buildings will likely be sold at a steep discount if not given away for 1 $ as is typical. I state that this is bass ackwards as I would give the workers 1/3 of their severance package, provide a guild with the building and facility for free provided that they give reasonable assembly quotes and facilitate their setting up auto assembly guilds that would bid on auto assembly of whoever needed it. That would mean Genk (Belgium) and Dagenham (UK) NOT being shut down but being turned over to what I refer to as and AUTO assembly Guild / Worker owned Co-operative. The costs benefits to Ford would be substantial as they would vastly reduce their fixed costs and only have to deal with the variable costs that would come about when they have assmebly to be done. The would retain ownership of the tooling but the Guild would retain ownership of the infrastructure and on site machinery. This would also drastically cut the costs of the downsizing and restructuring as well as vastly improve PR on the continent if not globally by dealing with the former workers as partners in effect rather than the typical top down corporate dictatorial setup. The downsizing is not going well as some Ford Executives have been held against their will and there have been all manner of disruptions. I make this suggestion as it approaches the situation from a completely different perspective. The Ford corporate approach is to simply stop the bleeding, the viewpoint of the workers is maintain more than jsut income but a way of life. This is the difficult to grasp aspect of work that eludes many white collar types as they see workers often as extensions of machinery that need to be used to get products mfd. The perspective of the man on the floor up to and including the engineer is one of overcoming a challenge and achieving and objective namely a quality job that is done right and quickly to everyone's satisfaction. The shutting of a factory such as an auto plant is very dislocating on a social level as well as economic in that the large number of workers creates a social network whereby an important aspect of the workers identities are tied up. This is why on a philsophical, spiritual and economic levels this could resonate very well with these people and it can even be economical if correctly packaaged and pitched. The potential for a truly massive win win situation is at hand but it requires thinking on an entirely different plane. The facilities can then be used to assemble Toyota vehicles and or Hyundai's etc.... The same facilities can be used by the Guild to assemble windmills when there is a long multi month downtime. The towns themselves could organize these operations. The reality is that it is too difficult and costly for even car companies to maintain anindependent presence in Europe due to the rigid labour regulations and high fixed costs.

    In summation, I believe that a radical approach to the situation from both sides can enable an entirely new structure that would be far more efficient and yet maintain the possibility of mfg in Europe rather than the inevitable dislocation to the PR China etc.... My economic philosophy.

    (click to enlarge)

    Disclosure: I am long FORD.

    Additional disclosure: I have been a shareholder of Ford Motor off and on for roughly 4 years. Ford has been losing money in Europe for roughly a decade and it is unlikely to improve. I believe this radical solution could work and even the competition of Ford would likely see the benefit of outsourcing their assembly to a Modernized Guild.

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Comments (3)
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  • Andy21
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    I agree completely. Worker cooperatives are the way to go. Why can't we do this in Detroit? Chicago? Oakland? Hakensack?
    30 Sep 2013, 12:53 PM Reply Like
  • Robert Hennecke
    , contributor
    Comments (632) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » I had created a blog whose link is above directed precisely over the issue of Detroit. My idea would be that instead of destroying houses and buildings...provide them to worker owned co-ops provided they do SOMETHING. Just the renovation activity alone could provide economic activity. Cleveland has an innovative economic development program called the Evergreen co-operative whereby anchor institutions that aren't going anywhere such as hospitals and universities etc... have their laundry done and other services by the Evergreen worker owned co-operative. They have expanded into alternative energy installation services such as installing windmills and solar panels etc.... They use the Mondragon model.
    4 Oct 2013, 03:58 PM Reply Like
  • Robert Hennecke
    , contributor
    Comments (632) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Modernized craft guilds as a way to revive Detroit and help first Nations develop economically. New comment on Modernized Craft guilds to revive Detroit and help....Sunday, November 3, 2013 4:48 AM


    message From: "Poplawski Slawomir" -noreply To:


    Slawomir has left a new comment on your post "Modernized Craft guilds to revive Detroit and help...":


    I really like this Mr. Robert Hennecke’s description from over 3 years ago about: "The problem facing western societies is that the current existence of offshore labour on a truly massive scale". Today his words are easier to understand/accept, because described by him mechanisms as the changes are real and 100% confirmed. For example, in comparison to 2010 it is much more difficult to find job in Montreal and offered are minimum rates $10-12/h. People go today to Alberta to work in dirty oil industry and tomorrow will go to the North for exploiting our natural resources. It means that we are becoming modern Africa only 'respected' as having some natural resources that are also taken from us in its raw form instead of ... .
    This proposed "Craft guilds" example sounds good, but it needs for successful realization more convinced and confident people driven by deeper motivations. It can be theoretically achieved by good presentation of such project for the masses with the assumption that later it will be religiously respected/implemented what is difficult in practice. It can only work well with people who have already experienced strong regime as prosecutions as it is much easier for them is to become involved/mobilized. It worked for Basques and now for long time oppressed Chinese people who think that a few dollars, or sorry yuans, will give them freedom. It can also work in Canada, but only after 10-15 years when we will be forced to work for $5/h for 10h/day until the age 70 or dying earlier. My approach assumes using more self-assured/mature people and the question/issue is how to accelerate such processes. I hope to tell more about it after about a few months. The above comment was not possible for me to publish as Google has prevented me from editing my own blog a few seconds ago
    4 Nov 2013, 05:57 AM Reply Like
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