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Unread 09-24-2011, 11:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Last night on the HBO TV series "Real Time With Bill Maher" the lead guitarist with "Rage Against the Machine" was one of the guests. He said that Gibson, Fender, and Ibanez had moved their factories out of Korea to China because the Korean workers were forming unions.

Do any of you know anything about this?
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Unread 09-24-2011, 11:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

would not surprise me. After all, Management and only management are who make a company sucessfull. Workers, especially those who might unionize are just a "Human Resourse", and must be kept in an unorganized state so as to maximize profits enabling dividends for shareholders and ridiculous bonuses for managers and executives.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 12:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

In all my life I have never worked for a business that was a union shop where upper management WASN'T trying to figure out a way to get rid of the union.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 12:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Apparently Cort's operations have had union strife. Whether or not that is what pushed manufacturing to China and Indonesia seems debateable. I imagine lower production costs would have more influence on that decision (although it could be argued that that too is an indirect response to unionization).

However, Morello is so biased that anything he says ought to be double-checked for veracity.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 12:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Well , if I am not mistaken , Gibson moved to Nashville to get rid of the union in the first place.. Fender on the other hand is an employee owned company as far as I know.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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Well , if I am not mistaken , Gibson moved to Nashville to get rid of the union in the first place.. Fender on the other hand is an employee owned company as far as I know.
Tennessee is a 'right to work" state. (and most unions here are a joke anyway, almost powerless, unless you get into the big unions) afaik, Gibson isn't unionized now, why would they move over seas? (but from the horror stories I've heard about the way Gibson treats their employees, maybe they should unionize)
I didn't think Gibson had any plants in Korea, anyway-
I could care less about Fender and Ibanez.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

marvar:

As far as I know, all Gibson BRANDED guitars are made in the USA. But Gibson Epiphone branded guitars are made overseas (mostly MIC now), and that is the matter to which I referred.

And just because a state has "right to work" does not make it totally immune from unionization. If enough employees sign up for union representation (say, 75%) to essentially shut down production by a strike, the union still has some power, don't you think. All"right to work" means is that an employee can't be required to join a union to get a job at a plant in that state. Federal agencies have always been "right to work". But yet enough Federal employes have chosen to join that the unions do have some clout.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Maybe so, but I don't watch Fox news. That raid was about allegations that Gibson imported some wood species in violation of the laws of India (?) WTF? When did we start enforcing laws of other countries?
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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

It was about wood called veneer that was not veneer. This appears (per feds) to be to circumvent having the such was not properly properly ("finished product") within India. Why and who, of course, is the issue.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:47 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolebludger View Post
marvar:

As far as I know, all Gibson BRANDED guitars are made in the USA. But Gibson Epiphone branded guitars are made overseas (mostly MIC now), and that is the matter to which I referred.

And just because a state has "right to work" does not make it totally immune from unionization. If enough employees sign up for union representation (say, 75%) to essentially shut down production by a strike, the union still has some power, don't you think. All"right to work" means is that an employee can't be required to join a union to get a job at a plant in that state. Federal agencies have always been "right to work". But yet enough Federal employes have chosen to join that the unions do have some clout.
True enough .I lived in Nc for 5 years which was a right to work state.Most of the Unions there have no clout and many companies will terminate employees if there is any suspicions of unionizing.But this thread is about overseas anyway.Its no secret that To move overseas means to take advantage of cheap labor.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:48 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

drp:
You are right, and I am right. The basic US law involves specified protected wood species that cannot be imported to the US for environmental reasons. And this law also specifies certain wood species that can be imported ONLY if done so in accord with the laws of the country of origin. Gibson was raided for importing ebony from India which allegedly didn't meet India's legal requirement that the wood be processed in India before being exported to the US.

This is an environmental protection law meant to protect certain species of trees. But the part of it about compliance with the laws of the country of origin is just foul. The ebony tree is cut down and dead, whether it is processed in India or the US. And then there is a jurisdictional issue. What authority does the US have to enforce the laws of India?
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Unread 09-24-2011, 01:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

budg:

FWIW, I am actually anti "right to work" as it has had the effects you mention in many states where it has been adopted. And it always makes unions weaker than they would otherwise be.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 02:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolebludger View Post
marvar:

As far as I know, all Gibson BRANDED guitars are made in the USA. But Gibson Epiphone branded guitars are made overseas (mostly MIC now), and that is the matter to which I referred.

And just because a state has "right to work" does not make it totally immune from unionization. If enough employees sign up for union representation (say, 75%) to essentially shut down production by a strike, the union still has some power, don't you think. All"right to work" means is that an employee can't be required to join a union to get a job at a plant in that state. Federal agencies have always been "right to work". But yet enough Federal employees have chosen to join that the unions do have some clout.
I know that just because a state is right to work doesn't mean unionization can't happen, but as said in another post, it really weakens them.
ie: I worked at a place, since gone under,( the main distribution center for Goodys Family Clothing) that was unionized. It was a joke, in the bylaws, it specifically stated that we could not go out on strike- for ANY reason! And if we did, we would be immediately terminated!The only thing they did was 'bargain' for us, and we always came out on the losing end at that. Besides, what union would represent Gibson employees? I don't know of any luthier unions. I have heard of luthier guilds-

I'm calling BS on the statement of lead player of Rage against the machine (is it Tom Morello?)

As for Epiphone, they've been overseas for a long long time, first Korea, or Viet Nam, or wherever, they are already in China, so I don't see the corrilation, also, in my mind, I only see EPI as a division of Gibson, not Gibson proper. Ibanez has always been made in Asia haven't they? Isn't that where they were made in the first place? Fender SQUIRE has always been made in Asia also, haven't they?
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Unread 09-24-2011, 02:52 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

The unionization drive at the Cort factory started in 1997 or 98. Epi opened up its first Chinese factory in 2005, no? It may have been a factor in the decision, but as pointed out elsewhere, Gibson (and all companies) are going to minimize their costs as much as possible within their desired market placement and corporate mission -- and they have every right to do so.

If Morello is this concerned about their well-being, why doesn't he hire some of them for his guitar company?

Oh, wait.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 02:55 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

I totally agree with SJM. There's gonna be attempts by management to break EVERY union out there. Gibson, if it's true, is no different. But if it isn't true, that just means it hasn't happened yet.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 03:04 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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I totally agree with SJM. There's gonna be attempts by management to break EVERY union out there. Gibson, if it's true, is no different. But if it isn't true, that just means it hasn't happened yet.
China is a communist country, I would be surprised if there were any workers not in a union! They are produced in China because the cost of living is comparatively low, so the pay bill and everything else is a fraction of what they would be elsewhere.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 03:06 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

China is nominally a Communist country, but in reality has a mercantile economy run by those who are, in essence, corporatists. As such, I doubt unions there have any significance other than that of a shop-piece in the window.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 03:08 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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budg:

FWIW, I am actually anti "right to work" as it has had the effects you mention in many states where it has been adopted. And it always makes unions weaker than they would otherwise be.
I agree, I was in a international HVAC company which had pipefitters thru the Union, but since it was a right to work state , even the non union employees had their benefits thru the fitters union.I dont know if it was company policy or required by law , but if you arent a union member , why should you have union benefits?This was in NC.Maybe things have changed.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 03:26 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Naw, that is one of the flaws in "right to work". If a union can get it together despite the hurdles of "right to work", non-dues paying workers get the same benefits as the union workers.

And the nature of the government in China is a big mystery to me. I remember being told that the value of my US stocks was down because our stock market was down -- because the Chinese stock market had crashed. I thought WTF, how can China have a stock market -- it's a communist country. But China does have a stock market. And a stock market is one of the most capitalistic things a country can have. Go figure.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 03:29 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thumpalumpacus View Post
China is nominally a Communist country, but in reality has a mercantile economy run by those who are, in essence, corporatists. As such, I doubt unions there have any significance other than that of a shop-piece in the window.
Looks like your right, they have a workers union but it seems fairly ineffective.

BBC NEWS | Business | Wal-Mart approves unions in China
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Unread 09-24-2011, 04:56 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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In all my life I have never worked for a business that was a union shop where upper management WASN'T trying to figure out a way to get rid of the union.
Where I work, if the management hears you talking of a union with your co workers they (by the company rules) can fire you on the spot. I was told that a union tried to set up here about 20 years ago and the owner of the place told the employees if they wanted a union to look for jobs because he would shut the place down.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 06:38 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

all about friggin ducetts.....the big american corporation man holding them down.......they gotta eat too .....what this Kalamazoo in Korea?


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Unread 09-24-2011, 06:38 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

Well I think we've answered the question of whether Gibson, Fender, and Ibanez have moved their plants to bust unions. Ibanez, no. Fender, probably not. Gibson, maybe, maybe not.

So let me close by identifying the REAL "bad guy" in the employment situation in the US, and perhaps elsewhere. It is a legal doctrine in place in most states called "employment at will". This means that (without a contract, union or otherwise), your boss can reassign, demote, or fire you at any time for any reason or no reason. Employers love this law, and will actually lose their own money shutting down factories they can't sell just to keep a union (or anything else) from their interfering with their sacred right to be arbitrary assholes to their employees. You depend on your job for your life. Your employer won't be hurt at all by your absence, and will just replace you. Is this fair? Not for me to say. Decide for yourself. And this subject isn't relative to a board about guitars and gear except that workers kept in constant fear of what their boss may do to them don't make very good quality products. and some of those products are guitars.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 06:49 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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Where I work, if the management hears you talking of a union with your co workers they (by the company rules) can fire you on the spot. I was told that a union tried to set up here about 20 years ago and the owner of the place told the employees if they wanted a union to look for jobs because he would shut the place down.
Yep! I worked in just such a place and the owner did in fact fire a couple of employees for suggestions of unionizing.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 07:18 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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Well I think we've answered the question of whether Gibson, Fender, and Ibanez have moved their plants to bust unions. Ibanez, no. Fender, probably not. Gibson, maybe, maybe not.

So let me close by identifying the REAL "bad guy" in the employment situation in the US, and perhaps elsewhere. It is a legal doctrine in place in most states called "employment at will". This means that (without a contract, union or otherwise), your boss can reassign, demote, or fire you at any time for any reason or no reason. Employers love this law, and will actually lose their own money shutting down factories they can't sell just to keep a union (or anything else) from their interfering with their sacred right to be arbitrary assholes to their employees. You depend on your job for your life. Your employer won't be hurt at all by your absence, and will just replace you. Is this fair? Not for me to say. Decide for yourself. And this subject isn't relative to a board about guitars and gear except that workers kept in constant fear of what their boss may do to them don't make very good quality products. and some of those products are guitars.
I don't see why a man who signs paychecks cannot lay some conditions down on receiving his money. "Employment-at-will" means that slackers won't be taking up jobs while good, hard-working people go unemployed.

A job is not a social promise. There are certain laws employers must obey. Outside of that, I think it's fine to let the worker earn his money.

As far as owners being "arbitrary assholes" to their employees, that is not a good leadership policy. It exacerbates turnover, engenders apathy, and results in awful word -of-mouth in both the applicant pool and the customer base; all of these things add to the cost of an item. Let the market regulate such idiotic owners. For examples of what happens when unions regulate such matters, I refer you to the American steel and automobile industries.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 09:00 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

I'm sorry but the crap that Morello spews from his mouth makes me want to take is pedal board and ram it straight down his throat. I've heard him say some stupid crap that makes no sense.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 09:25 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

As a couple of people already mentioned; One of the main reasons why Gibson chose to move to TN was, because it is pretty much non-unionized state. I mean, what exactly would be the point? Not many other manufacturing places to work in TN, so no chances of people quiting, because they want higher pay/better benefits anyway. The only other options would be retail, or the coal mines.

In MI, it was different. At the time Gibson was at it's peak, the automotive industry was booming, so anyone not happy at Gibson could have just as easily got a union job at Ford, so the chances of unionizing was extremely higher. Luckily, just about everyone who worked for Gibson back then was "happy to work for them".

Another reason was that TN has a steadier climate than we do, here in MI. We are the state of the "5 minute weather change", and it wreaks havoc on anything made of wood and/or finishes, especially lacquer.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 10:16 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

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Originally Posted by rockstar232007 View Post
As a couple of people already mentioned; One of the main reasons why Gibson chose to move to TN was, because it is pretty much non-unionized state. I mean, what exactly would be the point? Not many other manufacturing places to work in TN, so no chances of people quiting, because they want higher pay/better benefits anyway. The only other options would be retail, or the coal mines.

In MI, it was different. At the time Gibson was at it's peak, the automotive industry was booming, so anyone not happy at Gibson could have just as easily got a union job at Ford, so the chances of unionizing was extremely higher. Luckily, just about everyone who worked for Gibson back then was "happy to work for them".

Another reason was that TN has a steadier climate than we do, here in MI. We are the state of the "5 minute weather change", and it wreaks havoc on anything made of wood and/or finishes, especially lacquer.
I bet Henry had a piece in Nashville and was tired of flying to get himself some.
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Unread 09-24-2011, 10:22 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Is Gibson a "union buster?"

what is union?? sounds mean...
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