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Sometime this year, it looks like Toyota will pass General Motors as the largest automaker in the world. Toyota Executives say there will be no celebrations at any level —- heads down, stay paranoid, keep moving forward. At the same time, here in the United States, there are as many autoworkers as there were in the early 1990s. The UAW (United Auto Workers Union) is largely sidelined and quiet. Yet, Toyota, Honda, Hundai, and other U.S. workers providing their services to foreign-owned firms seem not to be complaining.

Has a balance been struck between what manufacturers can afford to pay and workers are willing to accept? On the surface at least, workers seem to be preferring a job that will be there tomorrow over one that may be a tad richer in benefits, but whose longevity is in question.

The shock to come for us is when we see Chinese and Indian paper companies make the same moves into North America. For it will surely come -— the formula is just the same, it is only a matter of when. I deliberately left out pulp —- we have already lost virgin pulp to the South Americans. We will have recycled pulp, which is to say we will have South American pulp churned until it is worn out.

Is this scenario bad? No, of course not. The only thing that wins in the long term is to deliver the highest quality goods to the end consumer at the lowest possible price. This is an economic law that endless groups of people have tried to violate to no avail. Get ready to embrace your new employer. Plan on sitting in many meetings where English, even American English, is not the tongue of choice.


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