I grew up in Michigan and worked early in my career in the auto factories (before I got my engineering degree). It was obvious that the UAW called the tune through strikes and manipulation of the work rules. All that extra cost got passed to the consumer. The big three were ripe for the japanese and the japanese took it to them. Truthfully, they have never recovered.
CAT saw this and when the UAW decided that they were going to run them like the big three, CAT shut down their plants before they would let it happen. Today, on international construction sites you see CAT but no other US company. Just recently the CAW decided they were going to run the Canadian operations and CAT shut them down rather than let that happen. And, now, they have smacked the UAW again. Good for them - they will survive.
Hey Toothy, there you go again (that was a great Reagan quote). You've never worked in a 150 degree factory and no one else ever has either. At 150 degrees you are officially medium rare. Your skin is literally cooked off your body and you are very dead. Core body temp above 108 F you're dead. Your body can't sweat off a 42 delta T. Sorry dead, dead, dead.
Japs took it to the Big 3 because of a number of factors.
1) Poor auto designs and quality that did not keep up with customer demands.
2) Lack of investment in new factory technology.
3) High labor costs relative to competitors primarily due to excessive union contracts.
4) Japanese brands were allowed to co-locate with existing US dealers and did not have to pay to set up dealerships. Europe did not make this mistakes.