UAW cuts hourly rate to minimum wage!

You'll believe anything!

But they did agree in negotiations with Ford to reduce it to $55 per hour with benefits.

This reminds me of a few months back when lots of Lehman Brothers software developers hit the streets and really believed they were worth the $200K+ base they were earning; when sussed out, it was clear that skill-wise they might be worthy of $100K here in NYC.

For so long the major unions have held unrealistic expectations of worth; there is no question that holding firm to compensation and benefit demands is going to severely hurt any chance of automotive industry recovery. From a point of pattern bargaining, this news is good news for the sector; once there's a new agreed upon practice, others will follow.

I'd like to see some of this positive energy flow into other areas (like K-12 and college education) to develop a more realistic relationship that has the needs of the consumer/user/etc. as a primary goal.

Have to start somewhere.

Views: 187

Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on March 11, 2009 at 4:45pm
The laborers shouldn't have to take a hit for Ford's financial mismanagement. Expecting a decent working wage and benefits for a high-risk, unstable job isn't unreasonable. Expecting six-digits to strategize a large manufacturing company into a toilet, however, is unreasonable. It will be interesting to see the metamorphisis of a new industry standard. Cool article.
Comment by Steve Levy on March 11, 2009 at 4:51pm
See_Jane_Make_Broadbrush_Assumptions_About_Management... all sides created this mess; this isn't Andrew Carnegie, Amalgamated, and the Pinkertons anymore.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on March 11, 2009 at 5:01pm
I just think it's crap that laborers are expected to lower their salaries. I am sure they work long, unstable hours, the work is hard and dangerous and they deserve to be well paid. That is for whoever is left standing to work on the line. I'm sure plenty of people were cut without severence packages. The line workers aren't the ones pumping undesirable, overpriced car model ideas or overspending on corporate jets and luxurious CEO getaways. If all sides make the mess then all sides should have equal consequences.
Comment by Gino Conti on March 12, 2009 at 9:07am
Steve - thanks for the good laugh. I was almost in tears as soon as I saw the title of your post alone!

Jane - I hate to say it, but having lived in metro Detroit my entire life, being related to or very close friends with dozens of auto workers (non-union and union alike), and working for an OEM myself now, I have to admit I wholeheartedly agree with cuts to the union payscale. Without turning this into a rant, it is absolutely ridiculous how they pay their people not only while at work, but off of work as well! I have a very close family friend who spent a total of 15 weeks of last year laid off while still earning 90% of his normal pay during those periods. If I were to get laid off, even temporarily, I wouldn't see a penny unless I collected unemployment.

It is difficult for me to say anything else without really getting onto a soapbox, but trust me, the high wages are not necessary. Using Nissan as an example, we have three plants in the US, non of which employ union workers. Our employees earn very fair wages that afford them a comfortable lifestyle, but happen to be less than their union counterparts. Despite these lower wages we still turn out products that have quality ratings which are just as good (if not better) than our domestic competitors who have union workers.

I fear I've already gone into rant territory, and I'm not trying to stir the pot. Simply adding some perspective from somebody who works in the industry in question.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on March 12, 2009 at 9:12am
RE: UAW Job Banks... union work is not the same as non-union work. These people have a trade, a profession like you and me but rather than being on salary or payroll, they get paid by the job. If there is no work should they starve? They could do side jobs outside of the union but the idea is that the union protects the rights of the workers. They ensure decent wages, hours, and now most unions provide a portion of health benefits. Not to mention in certain trades there is not enough work to go around unless you want to revert to carpetbagging! Even then it's a challenge. These unionized men and women also pay thousands of dollars a year in union dues and in order to keep their union cards they have to work a certain amout and make a certain amount. It's not like they sit on the couch for 11 months out of the year.

And if you want UAW job bank research, here it is: http://www.mlive.com/grpress/business/index.ssf/2008/12/uaw_agreement_to_kill_jobs_ban.html
Maybe some of you should do your own research.
Comment by Gino Conti on March 12, 2009 at 9:35am
It may be getting nixed now, but it did have a pretty long life spanning a couple decades in which they paid out a pretty handsome sum of money for people to not perform any work for the company. You have to keep in mind, though, the entire automotive industry is cyclical and very job-centric. There are literally thousands of engineers industry wide who get hired on when a project is busy and get laid off once it slows down again. Those people don't get any pay when they are laid off. True, they don't pay union dues for protection, but that is the risk of having a profession in which the duties are highly cyclical. I look at other professions such as construction, plumbing, carpentry, electrical...all union professions which suffer perhaps even more harsh consequences of inconsistent work yet those folks don't get paid for layoffs.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on March 12, 2009 at 9:59am
No, that's not exactly true. As far as I know most union workers can collect unemployment when they are not working or not getting enough work. Really most labor work is cyclical. I know a lot of guys in different unions and winters are hard for all of them but they get by on unemployment. The automotive industry union has to be the way it is because it's not like they have a lot of options when work runs dry. It's not like there's another car manufacturing plant across the street that has a need for a machinist or something. They would have to go out of town or out of state to get a job to keep working in their trade. These people know their worth. If they didn't have the job bank then how many weeks out of the year would they have no income? How would they survive? It's a necessary part of their union.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on March 12, 2009 at 10:17am
Gino, that's so weird...I didn't see the first comment you left about living in Detroit your whole life. My response is: not all laborer need to be unionized! If Nissan can staff laborers who are healthy and happy then that's great! Bravo to Nissan! However, my best guess is that Nissan laborers do not come in and work M-F 9a-5p but they are still on salary, right? So then when they are not working they are still being paid, which is just like Ford's union people getting paid when they are not working. Car manufacturers have to meet the demands of the customer and that's not a 9-5 job. Unions were created because people were working long, crazy hours doing hard labor in hazardous conditions and their employers (companies like Ford) were not treating them fairly and these people knew they had invaluable skills and work ethic that companies needed--so they demanded their fair share. I know there are unions out there who have exploited the trades over the years but if you think it's not fair that your cousin works only 37 weeks out of the year but gets paid for 52 weeks, then why not get on the line yourself? Work a 12 hour day for 5 days a week in a shop and then tell me if you think what your cousin is earning still isn't fair.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I really do appreciate all of the opinions laid out here. I think a lot of people have made good points and this is an interesting discussion. Not everyone likes unions. I get that. However, unions have helped build this country and I think they deserve a little credit.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on March 12, 2009 at 10:19am
Geez, Steve. I think you awoke a sleeping animal!
Comment by Gino Conti on March 12, 2009 at 10:20am
So if these other union workers get by on unemployment and find a way to survive why is it that we can't expect union workers in the auto industry to do the same? Perhaps we are underestimating them. Chances are these guys and gals are capable of doing more than watching a pneumatic press punch rivets into sheet metal all day, so perhaps a layoff is the time to learn a new trade and expand horizons. If they can't learn a new trade then perhaps they have to move to find a new job. That isn't exactly uncommon in any industry. If a person can't find a job locally they either do something different or move to where the work is. If it was easy for people to find work right across the street every time they needed a new job recruiters probably wouldn't have much to do.

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