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1 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment

General Motors Socio-geographic Factor Assignment Janet Soper University of Phoenix June 18, 2012

2 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment

General Motors Class represents the power some people have over the lives of others, and the belief of no control of the situation because of this power. Class is not based on income or lifestyle. Americans look at class differently from other countries and use different measurements to place individuals into a specific class. Middle-class, capitalist, and working class feature different income, status, and lifestyles. There are more factors that separate the classes. Classes unit individuals into groups, and separate these groups based on the interaction of these units when producing goods and services. Separating classes starts in the workplace and flows to the community in the form of political and cultural dynamics. The separation of classes’ show how rules and expectations change, and guide the economy based on the economic power of those in charge (Zweig, 2010). Class does not represent a one-size fits every scenario. Everyone can change the class to which they are born, depending on the work, effort, and want of the individual. Class does not represent caste, a social status acquired at birth from one’s parents and forever stays with the individual for life. Income and status separate the different classes, but the foundation of classes stem from power. Economics represents the major element in a class, not lifestyle (Zweig, 2010). A person with power in one class may not have the same power outside the work environment or other situations. Classes bring about different social power. Class represents power used while producing products. Classes represent the different levels of social power, elements seen, and unseen. The majority of the United States makes up the working class. The capitalist class own and operate the major corporations. They have

3 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment the power to control the work lives of employees, most of whom are working class people (Zweig, 2010). The working class represents individuals with little, or no power, who unit in social structural situations. Employees of the working class continually live with less power or control at work, politically, culturally, and consumer related situations. The working class, 63%, represents the majority of the labor force. The capitalist class, occupy the top two percent, of the working class that control the companies. The middleclass represents the group between the capitalist class and the working class. This class represents 35% of the labor force. The middle-class encompasses Capitalists, and workers, including professional individuals, supervisors, managers, and small business owners. The composition of the community reflects the size and level of the classes. Nonworking spouses typically share the class position of his or her working mate (Walsh, 2004). Typically, children grow-up and stay in the class position of their parents. Retired people keep the class standing they had in their working lives (Walsh, 2004). America represents many levels and separations because of the size and diverse cultures of the citizens. Helping to understand better diversity not only in the workplace but also in society companies have arrived at better understandings of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Understanding the past and working toward the future, many have awareness of diversity and class issues not understood before (Zweig, 2010). General Motors founded in 1902 by William Durant became the world’s largest automaker. Originally founded as a holding company for Buick, Durant acquired Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Oakland, and Elmore within years. In 1908 Durant combined the builders into one company called General Motors. Durant added Chevrolet to GM in

4 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment 1915 (Berg, 2012). General Motors and the United Auto Workers established a labormanagement cooperation process that many observers have viewed as a new kind of worker power. Before the building of the first car in 1909, teams of workers and supervisors designed the factory and the labor relations system. Workers helped make hiring decisions and were part of the product design teams. A union officer sat on the policy committee (Walsh, 2004). In the early years of General Motors those owning vehicles were likely white and middle-class. Only small percentages of minority families owned cars. The late 1920s showed the increase of owned vehicles by the blue-collar workers because of the sale of second-hand purchasing. The blue-collar class purchased his or her vehicle, but understood he or she must stay employed to benefit and enjoy this new mode of transportation. White rural and urban families enjoyed the motor vehicle purchasing and ownership ability. Women started to demand the freedom relating to driving. Men fought this new idea, continuing to believe they had prominence on the driving issues because they were the wage-owners and the head of the household. General Motors realized the importance of pleasing the women and implemented annual styling in 1927. Encouraging two-car families in 1929 with the new turn of appealing to the women brought about further success (Walsh, 2004). General Motors employs more than 202,000 employees in 158 facilities around the world. The employees speak more than 50 languages and work in 23 different time zones (General Motors, 2012). Every employee works for the American Dream, finical security, and a better quality of life. General Motors supports these dreams employing men and women from different nations, races, creed, and sexual orientations.

5 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment General Motors operates the headquarters from Detroit, Michigan. Many employees and positions fall into different classifications, including blue, and whitecollar. Management and line workers face different challenges. Management faces the task of implementing rules and regulations to see the production of products safely and efficiently, to different socio-economic personnel. Operating business in different countries brings forth social differences among the employees. Many countries continue thriving on the social classification based on income, power, and prestige. “Despite being developed nations,” the United States, and Canada have not eliminated social inequality- disparities in income, power, and prestige (Kottak & Kozaitis, 2003, pg. 22). Factors leading to this separation of classification refer to capitalism and industrialization of the countries. The position of the socioclassification brings about the change to further oneself and for his or her quality of life. Social classification also helps in the how one acts and performs at this persons function and work level. The more diverse and educate a person is the, higher classification becomes. Race, creed, and sexual orientation have no bearing on the classification when involving education. Many employees relocate to Detroit for the specific purpose of working in the autoworker environment. General Motors uses the available resources, including metal, electronics, and transportation of finished products, to continue developing, and manufacturing vehicles. Employees working at the plant live in or near Detroit for the sole purpose of economic factors relating to the company, providing for one’s family through the benefits of General Motors. Labor fosters less mobility as companies requiring jobs fill positions mainly with local candidates within one or two geographic

6 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment areas within a country. Detroit is the center for American cars because of the location to transportation, steel, and labor not because anyone wants to live in Detroit (Zweig, 2010). Despite the success of General Motors, times, and economic factors have forced the company to cut positions in both white and blue-collar areas. In 2009, General Motors released 160 employees in the engineering operations, the goal to cut a total of 47,000 facilities wide. 18,000 more blue-collar positions required dismissing because of the closing of nine assembly, parts stamping, and powertrain factories with another five closings in the upcoming years (Agencies, 2009). White males fill many white-collar positions. These employees expected and received benefits, retirement, and career growth. The blue-collar workers, under the protection of the United Auto Workers (UAW) also received benefits but are always the first laid off. The UAW does pay for unemployment insurance and benefits (Lazonick, 2012). The mass layoffs help the company boost profits. Management or white-collar positions make decisions based on profit and earnings to help increase General Motors stock prices. No longer does the company run the company to help increase the wealth of everyone who works for General Motors, but only think of increasing shareholder value (Lazonick, 2012). To help increase the value the white-collar positions have no qualms laying off the blue-collar workers. The productivity or increasing knowledge of the blue-collar employee has no bearing on decisions. The bottom-line outweighs every decision. Middle –class positions continually disappear because of competition with Japanese and Korean competitors. Young, skilled workers with knowledge of microelectronics surpass the workers of yesteryear with many years dedicated to the company. Because of the new mindset, taxpayers, and blue-collar workers face the

7 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment biggest lost, whereas the top one percent of white-collar employees gain (Lazonick, 2012). The top white-collar executives reward themselves with multimillion compensation packages whereas the blue-collar employees suffer. No longer does General Motor aligned itself with the broader society (Lazonick, 2012). Those in the white-collar positions vision their position with General Motors as lifetime careers. Those in blue-collar position continue to face massive layoffs. The employees in blue-collar positions and non-union white-collar positions recently received bonuses of $4,000 or greater each thanks to the restricting of General Motors after the bailout of 2009 and the increase of sales because of new product-lines (General Motors, 2012). General Motors operates as a smaller, leaner, company than in past years, offering a more competitive product to the consumer (General Motors, 2012). General Motors understands, accepts, and promotes diversity to everyone involved with the company, including employees, dealers, suppliers, customers, and the community in which the facility presides. General Motors strives in making every stakeholder believe he or she is appreciated and respected. General Motors supports diversity both domestically and internationally (General Motors, 2012). General Motors expects every employee, no matter what classification to accept accountability for one’s position and work ethic. Excellence is job one with General Motors, no matter what classification (General Motors, 2012). Blue and white-collar work is normally delineated by formal education. Blue-collar workers normally train for positions by non-classroom experience, whereas white-collar workers book learn. White-

8 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment collar work is readily transferable between companies and industries; blue-collar work is much less so. Though the concept of acceptance and excellence looks good in writing, General Motors has faced sit-down strike among the workers demanding more money and job security. In early years, blue-collar workers believed his or her position were dangerous and lacking proper benefits. Some situations resulted in violence with the company calling in the National Guard (Pelfrey, 2006). White-collar employees make decisions based on production yield, cost, and compliance. Staying within the production schedule means more than quality of the material. The concept of assembly lines requires the smooth flow of production and keeping up with the demand. Blue-collar employees, those working the assembly line continually question the concept of quality versus bottom line (Harry, 2012). General Motors blue-collar employees once consisted of mainly non-Caucasian men. The job on the assembly line referred the position as rite of passage for many of these employees. Generations of families worked the assembly line featuring nepotism prominently. If one has no connection to an employee, one found the hiring process difficult or non-existing. Many of the employees under age 40 had positions because of family members already working at the facility (Mahler, 2009). Many employees try to advance in the company with no success. If one started on the assembly line, this position holds for the duration (Mahler, 2009). For the few employees who do move off the line learn the much about the functions of the company. These employees bring to the forefront ways to improving the assembly line or other blue-collar functions that benefits both the company and the employees (Rose, 2012).

9 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment General Motors benefits, includes medical, dental, investment options, retirement, vacations, and paid holidays to every employee (General Motors, 2012). General Motors offers and promotes many clubs and organization for employees of every race, creed, and sexual orientation to join. The Employee Resource Group promotes diversity not only at work but also in the community. GM Women offers the Affinity Group for Women helps promote the managing of female employee’s careers and personal development. Mentoring programs seminars and networking opportunities help single moms and their families. Asian Indian Affinity Group helps the General Motors employees from Indian countries. The group promotes culture, beliefs, and values held by these employees. Speakers hold seminars as educational tools and resources for the employees. The Chinese affinity group helps promote the cultural awareness and social interactions of the employees. The African Ancestry Network helps growth and professionalism with mentoring and professional development programs. The Hispanic Initiative Team offers mentoring and support tools for the employees. The Jump Start program helps new employees adjust, understand, and develop professionally at the company. GM Plus helps those of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and transgender feel safe, respected, valued, and supported in his or her work environment. Native American Cultural Network provides education and information to every employee creating a better awareness for everyone at the company (General Motors, 2012). Other groups and organization include Middle-East and South Asian Affinity Group, People with Disabilities, Veterans Affinity, and Vietnamese Affinity Group each promoting understand and acceptance relating to the specific organization (General Motors, 2012).

10 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment General Motors understands, accepts, and promotes fairness and unity among the employees of the many facilities located around the world. Socio-economic factors play an important part in the structure of the company. General Motors takes into account the diverse workforce, by providing tools and resources to help promote and expand the many cultural aspects of the company and the many countries facilities operate. The efforts by General Motors for a respectful and fair workplace show in the continual adjustment by management throughout the years.

11 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment References GM to pay factory workers record bonuses, June 7, 2012, Retrieved June 12, 2012, from Business Today: General Motors, (2012). General Motors. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from General Motors: textImages Agencies., March 24, 2009, GM announces 160 whit-collar layoffs. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from The Economic Times: Kottak & Kozaitis, (2003), Chapter 2 - On Being Different: Diversity and Multiculturalism in the North American Mainstream (2nd ed). New York: McGraw-Hill. Lazonick, W., June 7, 2012, How American Corporations transformed from producers to predators. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from AlterNet: Lazonick, W., April 2, 2012, The Predator Corporation:How it has come to dominate the economy. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from Public Theology: Mahler, J., June 28, 2009, GM, Detroit and the fall of the Black Middle Class. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from The New York Times:

12 Running Head: General Motors – Socio-Geographic Assignment Pilfrey, W., March 27, 2006. GMC History Lesson. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from GM Heritage Center: Rose, M. ,2012, Blue-collar Brilliance. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from The American Scholar: http://the Walsh, M., 2004, Gender and the Automobile in the United States . Retrieved June 14, 2012, from Automobile in American Life and Society: Zweig, M., 2010, THE WORKING CLASS MAJORITY. Retrieved June 12, 2012, from DSA-Atlanta: