According to the Indianapolis Star:
Base wages average about $28 an hour. GM officials say the average reaches $39.68 an hour, including base pay, cost-of-living adjustments, night-shift premiums, overtime, holiday and vacation pay. Health-care, pension and other benefits average another $33.58 an hour, GM says. - September 26, 2007 UNITED AUTO WORKERS OFF THE JOB, Striking back at globalization. By Ted Evanoff
According to the National Review:
Massive job cuts at General Motors, America's largest carmaker — coupled with the bankruptcy of Delphi, America's biggest autoparts maker — have provoked predictable handwringing from liberal pundits who worry that America is "losing its manufacturing base." But the wrenching change now buffeting the auto industry defies the usual press formulas. Just listen to Steve Miller a turnaround specialist who is steering Delphi's restructuring process. He exploded the myth of America's "endangered" union manufacturing jobs at his October press conference announcing Delphi's move into Chapter 11: "We cannot continue to pay $65 an hour for someone to cut the grass and remain competitive."
Take grass cutting. As defined by the current United Auto Worker contract negotiated with the "Big Five" (GM, Ford, Chrysler, and top parts makers Delphi and Visteon), an auto "production worker" is a job description that covers anything from mowing grass to cleaning the toilets. In the real world, these jobs would be outsourced to $8 an hour, no-benefit wage earners, but on Planet Big Five, these jobs get the same wages as any auto line-worker: an average $26 an hour ($60,000 a year) plus benefits that bring the company's total cost per worker to a staggering $65 an hour.
But at least the grass cutters are working for their pay. The UAW contract also guarantees that 12,000 autoworkers get full wage for doing nothing. On the heels of Miller's straight-talk, the Detroit News reported that "12,000 American autoworkers, instead of bending sheet metal, spend their days counting the hours in a jobs bank." These aren't jobs. And they certainly aren't being "lost" to China.
"We just go in (to Ford's Michigan Truck Plant) and play crossword puzzles, watch videos that someone brings in or read the newspaper," The News quoted one UAW worker as saying. "Otherwise, I've just sat."
The coming months will be painful for many American autoworkers. Accustomed to a certain lifestyle, they will see their wages cut in half, jeopardizing second homes, college tuitions, and car payments. One blue-collar Delphi worker interviewed by the Detroit News makes $103,000 a year operating a forklift and fears the consequences if his pay is drastically reduced. But many Americans will ask how a forklift operator felt entitled to a six-figure income in the first place (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average forklift operator wage in the U.S. is $26,000).
It is an opportune time for political leadership to step to the plate and speak with candor, but the signs are not encouraging.
- November 29, 2005, Labor Pains, Detroit needs to play by market rules. By Henry Payne
The Indianapolis Star and the National Review