I have not been to Detroit, but I have been to a GM plant in Indiana. It was still running but at 25% capacity. It was miserable. The place seemed dead, they were using only one out of every three lights which made the place seem like something out of a scary movie. There were entire sections not being used and they were not cleaned after usage stopped so there was crap just laying around everywhere. The mood was made doubly sad by the cloudy weather and it did made me think of pictures and movies about Russia.
The people I to work with were all union and I was warned by my coworkers to keep my conservative mouth shut. A coworker had been punched or shoved over a table because he got sick of waiting, after three hours, and plugged the power cord to the tool into the wall. This pissed off the union electrician whose job it was to plug the plug in. The dirty lib also told me that when he was there, he was confronted by a union member that asked him, "Do you think your better than me?". Well I am not sure what that even means, but it is not a nice greating.
So, I went, because its my job, and prepared for the worst. I did not experience any of the activities above and instead found a group of people willing to work and eager to get the tool running. Why you ask? Because every single person there was afraid of losing there job if the plant completely closed. They were down to 1 person per trade plus engineers and operators.
I was told that I would be in more of a supervisory role and I was to tell the guys what to do to repair the tool. I thought it was a sweet gig, but somethings are better shown than told. A couple of time I jumped in with out thinking and no one said anything. A few days later I was working with a new guy that told me he was the electrician. We were replacing a part that has four bolts, two electrical sensors, and pneumatic lines attached to it. When I said we had to remove the part he hummed and hawwed and then said okay. The then told me that a year ago it would have taken three people to remove this part, an electrician trade to unplug the sensors, a plumber trade to unplug the pnuematics, and an equipement (wtf???) trade to unbolt the bolts. Three skilled people to remove a part that any child could remove. Fortunately, these guys were wiser and because they were working with so few people, they agreed it would be okay for an electrician to do plumbing work, the equipment trade to do electrical work, etc.
It seemed to me that these guys were getting IT, IT being that three people to do one easy job was not good, I just wonder if it will stay with them. I still saw union stickers on everyones tool boxes, hard hats, and bumpers. If there is a recovery for them, will they go back to the status quo?