Firestone Tires: Scabs Killed Motorists

Tom Lehman TLehman at
Tue Aug 22 19:13:44 PDT 2000

Here are a couple of steel industry websites that give you an idea of what's happening:


Marco Anglesio wrote:

> On Mon, 14 Aug 2000, Doug Henwood wrote:
> > Is steel really lots better today than it was 50 years ago? How?
> Doug,
> In fact, you have a few questions in there. Steel is an alloy of iron,
> carbon, molybdenum, and chromium, plus traces of other elements, if I
> recall correctly. Its properties vary considerably depending on the
> manufacturing method - hot rolled, cold rolled, plate, rod, wire, etc. So
> we have both composition and manufacturing process which affect the
> properties of the product.
> First, there is a greater number of standard alloys which were just not
> present fifty years ago. The ASM/ASTM red books (my monitor's being held
> up by vol. 8 - materials testing) define the properties of these alloys
> and the manner in which they are to be produced and tested. In this sense,
> when Ford's or GM's engineers order a certain steel alloy, they order a
> material with better-defined and better-constrained properties than their
> forebears did fifty years ago.
> Second, there is the matter of quality control. Most steel plants use
> Japanese-style methods (that is, Demingist or Juranist methods - american
> by way of Japan) to implement quality control in their manufacturing
> process. As such, there is much less variance within and between lots of
> steel. So the steel itself is of better consistency, even if it were the
> exact same steel.
> (Sidebar: In Demingist or Juranist quality methods, the process, not the
> product, is addressed and fixed. Very few products are tested at the end
> of a production line any more: it's too expensive and unnecessary.)
> Quality control also improves process efficiency, which is why many
> long-term contracts with big automakers actually get cheaper over time,
> typically a decrease of 1 to 2.5 percent per annum after the first three
> years. They assume that the influx of cash from these big orders has let
> the plant get their lines in order and realize efficiencies over time.
> Third, manufacturing proper is much improved. No doubt the Firestone plant
> had a QA/QC program, which, with the departure of their union staff, went
> out the window. It's actually very important to minimize turnover in order
> to implement a philosophy such as kaizen (continuous self-improvement). I
> daresay they made token efforts to hold the line on quality, not improve
> it but just try to hold it steady, and hoped that nothing really bad would
> happen.
> No doubt Firestone made money in the short term by reducing salaries -
> they used scab labour and management to run their lines, after all.
> However, I doubt that they made a dime once the costs of recall are
> factored in. They probably lost a mint, and no doubt they've lost all
> their hard-won goodwill with Ford as well.
> Finally, if you get the chance to tour a modern steel mill, do go. It's a
> fascinating experience.
> Marco
> ,--------------------------------------------------------------------------.
> > | Now if you think it strange that <
> > | mice should elect a government made <
> > Marco Anglesio | up of cats, you just look at the <
> > mpa at | history of Canada for the last 90 years <
> > | and maybe you'll see that they weren't <
> > | any stupider than we are. <
> > | --Tommy Douglas <
> `--------------------------------------------------------------------------'

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