These two stories sound contradictory:
1. "Some of Toyota's U.S. plants are now more than 20 years old, and a growing number of its workers are paid the top wage of about $25 an hour. That's less than Detroit's veteran union hands make now, but a contract inked last fall will enable U.S. automakers to replace many highly paid employees with cheaper workers. By 2011, Toyota's cost advantage over Detroit could disappear."
Source: What Could Dull Toyota's Edge, Business Week (Thanks to MR).
2. "But there’s an enigma to the Toyota Production System: although the system has been widely copied, Toyota has kept its edge over its competitors. ... Toyota implements a million new ideas a year, and most of them come from ordinary workers. (Japanese companies get a hundred times as many suggestions from their workers as U.S. companies do.) Most of these ideas are small—making parts on a shelf easier to reach, say—and not all of them work. But cumulatively, every day, Toyota knows a little more, and does things a little better, than it did the day before."
Source: The Open Secret of Success by James Surowiecki in the New Yorker.