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So in almost every news article and commentary about whether or not there should be a "bailout" for Big Auto, the current figure thrown around as to how much United Auto Workers make is $70 an hour.

Yup.  $70 an hour for making cars in a factory.  I'll bet you probably think that's what they make, based on all the "news" reports floating around the last week or so.

Heck, I did.  That number kind of jumps out at you.  You remember it.

Well guess what.  It's wrong.  

The truth?

According to the UAW's own website, the base pay for a worker in a UAW plant is $27 an hour.

So.  News media tells the world, and most Americans:  "UAW workers make $70 an hour".

Reality:  They make $27 an hour.  Oh wait, some specialists make $32.


The UAW's own website:

How much are current UAW auto industry wages?

In 2006 a typical UAW-represented assembler at GM earned $27.81 per hour of straight-time labor. A typical UAW-represented skilled-trades worker at GM earned $32.32 per hour of straight-time labor. Between 2003 and 2006, the wages of a typical UAW assembler have grown at about the same rate as wages in the private sector as a whole – roughly 9 percent. Part of that growth is due to cost-of-living adjustments that have helped prevent inflation from eroding the purchasing power of workers’ wages.

What I like about their website is that directly after this they list the CEO's salaries:

What is the compensation for auto industry executives?

The CEOs of Chrysler Group, Ford and GM earned a combined total of $24.5 million in salaries, bonuses and other compensation in 2006.

The next four highest paid executives received average salary and other compensation of $1.3 million at Ford and $1.4 million at GM. These substantial sums do not include the value of stocks and stock options that were also part of executive compensation.

Kind of changes the tenor of the conversation, doesn't it?  When, you know, the FACTS are actually revealed.

Gotta love that Mouthpiece Media.  

Funny thing, in googling for this story, I stumbled across someone who's ahead of me on this, Felix Salmon at

The Return of the $70 Per Hour Meme

You might expect it from right-leaning commentators like Will Wilkinson. You wouldn't expect it from someone like Mark Perry, who lives in Flint, Michigan. And you certainly wouldn't expect to see it in the New York Times, from the likes of Andrew Ross Sorkin. But all of them are perpetuating the meme that the average GM worker costs more than $70 an hour, once you include health and pension costs.

It's not true.

The average GM assembly-line worker makes about $28 per hour in wages, and I can assure you that GM is not paying $42 an hour in health insurance and pension plan contributions. Rather, the $70 per hour figure (or $73 an hour, or whatever) is a ridiculous number obtained by adding up GM's total labor, health, and pension costs, and then dividing by the total number of hours worked. In other words, it includes all the healthcare and retirement costs of retired workers.

Once again, it is painfully revealed who it is that runs the media.

What really bothers me is that I didn't question it until I stumbled across a link to the UAW's site on another forum.  And I usually question everything.

We are being duped constantly by our media.  Constantly.

Here's now Felix ends his piece:

Now that GM's healthcare obligations are being moved to a UAW-run trust, even that fictitious number is going to fall sharply. But anybody who uses it as a rhetorical device suggesting that US car companies are run inefficiently is being disingenuous. As of 2007, the UAW represented 180,681 members at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors; it also represented 419,621 retired members and 120,723 surviving spouses. If you take the costs associated with 721,025 individuals and then divide those costs by the hours worked by 180,681 individuals, you're going to end up with a very large hourly rate. But it won't mean anything, unless you're trying to be deceptive.

UPDATE:  I just have to add this comment below from LeftHandedMan:

The GOP never dreamed it would get to kill a massive part of organized labor and have an entire region of the country completely collapse on the Democratic parties watch to boot, but that is just the opportunity that has arisen for the Limbaugh/Coulter wing of the GOP ....

10 to 12 million jobs lost, boom!, 200 to 1 trillion dollars in emergency social spending to deal with the collapse's impact on the region, the UAW dead and Wal-Mart the biggest employer in the region, Michigan in full economic collapse and millions of voters ripe for being in play in the next round of the Culture War.

The GOP, and the media pundits who are all clamoring for Obama and the Congress to let the auto industry die will be damning us and running against the Democratic Party as the party that 'Let Michigan Die' or 'Let Detroit Die' for a generation if the auto industry is allowed to die.

I think he's got an excellent point that we should definitely not ignore.  We all have to be ready for the massive offensive against the Obama administration and, well, us. They will orchestrate very bad things in order to use the fallout for their own benefit.  We can never forget how just-plain-bad they are.  

Then he adds:

{if we let Big Auto go under}, thats several years added on to the economic crisis that we face.

And probably Bobby Jindal in 2012 running as Ronnie Reagan on a white horse to "save" America.

Originally posted to Inky99 on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 09:59 PM PST.

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