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January 26, 2009

UAW President Predicts No Concessions on Wages; Furthermore Claims Toyota Pays American Workers $2 Per Hour More, When Bonuses are Included

Kaus makes the obvious point -- but Toyota isn't going bankrupt and is not asking for billions in federal subsidies.

Here are some other points:

The UAW is only looking at actual per-hour take-home wages, not pension plans and health benefits and other compensation which also should included. And his silly number neatly avoids the major problem of Detroit's huge outstanding obligations to past workers, too.

A company making money can afford to offer bonuses. A company losing money with every car can't. What does this have to do with Detroit? Nothing. They can't, it seems, make cars that both compete in terms of quality and price at current wage levels. Toyota can pay more (assuming he's not just making these numbers up) because they can. This has nothing to do with Detroit's problem. It's like a recovering alcoholic complaining that his non-alcoholic friend is allowed to drink.

Third: If the Japanese plants in America are actually paying workers more without unions, um, precisely what the fuck is the point of the UAW?

And, while Kaus mentions this too, it's worth repeating: Like The Surge, it's not just about numbers. It's about the rules of engagement. The UAW deliberately promulgates work rules to make their plants far less efficient than possible. That's the whole point of such rules -- efficiency means more production for fewer man-hours, and the UAW wants as many man-hours paid as possible. But this model is sinking the industry.

If the UAW would review/revise/replace the bulk of its intentionally anti-efficiency work-rules, perhaps Detroit wouldn't be in such dire straits, and perhaps UAW workers wouldn't have to give up as much in hourly compensation. But the UAW won't-- so the workers do have to give something to make up for how ludicrously anti-competitive the unions have made their factories.

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posted by Ace at 03:47 PM

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