I do not exactly agree with the example of the EL employees. Yes parts were abandoned on 1 April 1976, but so were parts of the other lines too. The point is that the senior men were able to keep their pay scales, but may have had to transfer to other locations. The junior guys got screwed, but that is seniority. The senior men are the ones who put in the long years on the spare board, in order to hold good jobs. I used to work on a class one in a largely agricultural area. If someone complained about his seniority, he was told, "You should have come off the farm sooner."
Some of the guys had other options. Here on the D&H, we have many men from the EL, LV, RDG, and PRR. We needed these guys because of the forced expansion. These men were already qualified on the territory.
One engineer, just senior to me was a trackman for PC/CR. He said that he kept getting cut off, so he had the option to go to Metro North. He finally quit them, and went to transportation on the D&H. Like his case, the newly formed commuter agencies needed help too.
Back to the parallel with the auto makers. They need a reorganization too. I agree that GM, Ford, and Chrysler have made cars to fill the market's needs. If someone wants, and can afford a SUV, then make them SUVs. I agree with the last post about all the hippies who want lawn mower engine skateboards. I drive a big Chevy K2500HD pickup. I need it for my property. I often haul top soil, paving stone, lumber, etc. (I also have a 2 mile commute,so the mileage does not hurt too bad, at 15mpg.) One day I was filling up my 30 gallon tank. Next to me was an ex hipppie filling up his Prius, while looking at me with disdain. He also made some comment, but I told him that it was my choice, and I am happy with it. Who cares. I can afford this truck, it fits my needs, and I can't carry 2 yards of dirt in a Prius.
My only gripe is that the US manufacturers seem to not engineer the cars that well, compared to the Japanese. I have had my share of nickel and dime repairs. Some of these, GM knows about, but does not spent to fix. This is why they are in trouble. If Toyota or Nissan made a 3/4, or 1 ton truck, I would consider it.
It took Conrail, even though some of the tactics were questionable (like abandoning lines so that some other carrier could not get them) to streamline the railroads.They instituted new ways. I think that something has to be done to make the big 3 to make honest products. Maybe letting them go bust might be the kick they need, inorder to see that they need to change their business practices.