UAW losing pay edge

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UAW losing pay edge http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070131/BUSINESS01/701310410/1014
The UAW is losing its edge in pay compared with nonunionized U.S. assembly
plant workers for foreign companies, even as Detroit automakers aim for deeper benefit cuts to trim their losses.
In at least one case last year, workers for a foreign automaker for the first time averaged more in base pay and bonuses than UAW members working for domestic automakers, according to an economist for the Center for Automotive Research and figures supplied to the Free Press by auto companies.
In that instance, Toyota Motor Corp. gave workers at its largest U.S. plant bonuses of $6,000 to $8,000, boosting the average pay at the Georgetown, Ky., plant to the equivalent of $30 an hour. That compares with a $27 hourly average for UAW workers, most of whom did not receive profit-sharing checks last year. Toyota would not provide a U.S. average, but said its 7,000-worker Georgetown plant is representative of its U.S. operations.
Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are not far behind Toyota and UAW pay levels. Comparable wages have long been one way foreign companies fight off UAW organizing efforts.
But Toyota workers' pay topping that of UAW members comes as the union faces contract negotiations this year with struggling Detroit companies that will seek billions in concessions, partly because they face higher costs for retiree health care and pensions than their foreign-owned competitors.
Who's to blame?
UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel said if Toyota workers were paid more than union workers last year, the blame lies with Detroit's auto executives. The companies have lost market share because of past mistakes, which have translated into fewer bonuses for workers, said Casteel, who is on the union's executive board.
"Our profit-sharing formula, I know, is better than theirs -- if our vehicles are selling," Casteel said.
Ron Lare, a 59-year-old Ford employee on preretirement leave, said Toyota workers shouldn't get too excited about their wages because bonuses fluctuate. The only thing consistent, Lare said, is union protection.
"The floor beneath their feet is basically what the UAW has won," said Lare of Detroit, who has worked at Ford for 28 1/2 years. "If the UAW gets beaten down, their pay is going to come down. You let there be a real recession in the auto industry -- that bonus won't be there for Toyota, either."
Union perks vs. nonunion perks
The pay comparisons reflect the relative profitability of the foreign and domestic companies more than shortcomings of the UAW. But the situation chips at the argument that workers united in solidarity can get better wages, benefits and job security -- especially as the UAW shrinks and growing foreign companies continue to ward off organizing efforts.
"How do you convince someone you're better off with the protection of a union when they're making more money than the union employee?" asked Alfred McLean, a 66-year-old hourly UAW member at General Motors Corp.'s Warren Tech Center. He has 28 years of experience.
Workers for foreign automakers don't pay union dues, but they do share the costs of insurance and retirement plans. UAW-represented autoworkers get health insurance and a full pension after 30 years -- valuable perks they will fight to keep during contract negotiations this year.
But even accounting for Toyota employees' health care spending -- $700 per year on average, according to the company -- the Georgetown workers still made more in 2006.
General Motors Corp., which lost $10.6 billion in 2005 and didn't issue profit-sharing checks last year, paid its production workers an average of $27 an hour, GM spokesman Daniel Flores said. That would be a base of about $54,000 a year, based on a 2,000-hour work year. The $30 average at Toyota's Georgetown plant, which includes a bonus, equals $60,000 a year.
Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group representatives said GM's base pay figures are similar to theirs. Only Chrysler, which had a 2005 profit, paid a bonus last year. The $650 bonus was not enough to surpass Toyota's pay.
Unknown in the calculation is overtime, which boosts UAW workers' pay. The auto companies would not release overtime data.
Lack of overtime hurts
Ron Harbour, president of Harbour Consulting and the publisher of a respected ranking of plant efficiency, said domestic overtime is dropping because of improved quality and recent production cuts.
"Because there was so much overtime for so many years, they got used to that level of pay," Harbour said. "And it built the economy around here that's collapsed so much -- second homes, boats, snowmobiles and all of that."
Toyota's bonuses are comparable to the record profit-sharing checks earned by Chrysler and Ford workers in the late 1990s. That puts the pay of Toyota's workers ahead of that of UAW workers for the first time, said Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.
But when massive profits rolled in, Detroit executives squandered them, he said.
"There were certainly years back then at the profit peak of the truck boom when we could gaily march out the door and buy Volvo, or Jaguar, or Saab -- brilliant moves -- with our truck profits, rather than invest in hybrids," McAlinden quipped about GM's and Ford's spending decisions.
GM's aim is to resume profit-sharing, Flores said.
"When profit is generated in the U.S., employees share in the profit," he said.
When asked about salaried workers earning bonuses because of UAW sacrifices last week, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said that all employees must be compensated competitively.
The 'union threat effect'
Harley Shaiken, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in labor issues, said Toyota's high wages are somewhat expected.
"Toyota pays high wages in part to avoid the UAW," Shaiken said, adding that economists would refer to Toyota's high wages as the "union threat effect," meaning companies pay union-comparable wages to fend off organizing efforts and the risk of a strike.
"But what Toyota inadvertently shows," he added, "is that you can compete paying higher wages."
Assembly workers for Detroit automakers last year remained a bit ahead of Honda's U.S. hourly workers, who made an average $24.25 an hour, or $26.20 with the $4,485 bonus they received. In November, Honda paid bonuses for the 21st consecutive year, the longest streak in U.S. auto history, said Ed Miller, Honda spokesman.
Nissan workers are paid $24 an hour in Mississippi and $26 an hour in Tennessee, but company officials would not disclose employee bonuses.
Hyundai Motor Co. pays its U.S. production workers less than other automakers. Wages at its Alabama plant start at $14 an hour and grow to $21 an hour after two years on the job, according to a January 2004 company release. Hyundai declined to say whether those wages have increased since then.
But the UAW's Casteel, who is working to organize autoworkers in southern states, said the UAW's recruiting strategy of comparing union and nonunion checks doesn't work in less-developed parts of the South. In Alabama and Mississippi, for instance, the U.S. Department of Labor says wages average less than $11 an hour.
"If you start looking at where they put these plants, they go out to the most desolate places you've ever been in your life," Casteel, an Alabama native, said of foreign automakers. "And they make sure there are no other competitive wages with any other industry. You'll drive through these piney woods for an hour and all of a sudden you run upon this major manufacturing facility."
-- Recruit: A person just good enough to hinder the retreat made necessary by their presence
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http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070131/BUSINESS01/701310410/1014 <copyrighted material deleted>
One thing the article didn't figure in is the value of the retirement package at the US makes. That can easily be $10-15k per year. Of the auto makers go under, the value of the package will be less, but the pensioners will still get some money.
Jeff
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I guess it depends on who is doing the counting, you or the boss, and what they included as wages. If you work in a Japanese plant you earn between $5 and $8 less per hour. That is $10,400 to 16,940 a year less straight time. UAW workers do not pay into their defined pension plan. Japanese plant workers must pay half of the cost of their 401K pension, at whatever rate they chose up to a limited percentage, at which the company matches. Most workers do not put a higher percentage into their 401K pension plans until they start to get older, resulting in a pension that averages half that of Union workers. To opt for a heath plan that matches the UAW plan a Japanese worker needs to spend up to $500 a month to cover himself or $700 to cover his family It would take a lot more than an $8,000 bonus to get even close to what a UAW worker takes home. That is before one figures in the UAW workers two extra weeks vacation.
What Toyota did not reveal in the statement that is 'representative of its U.S. operations' is that it included its workers in the GM/Toyota California plant that are represented by the UAW who receive much higher wages and benefits than any of it other plants LOL
mike

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070131/BUSINESS01/701310410/1014
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Do you always get it wrong? You seem to like to comment on things of which you have limited knowledge. Their 401K IS their only 'retirement plan. If you will re-read what I said was they match the employee contribution up to a SET limit. .
mike

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You can infer whatever you chose, just as you can chose to believe whatever you chose, no matter how convoluted your choice may be LOL
mike

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I'm going to add this article to my list or reasons to point and laugh at the UAW.
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Unions breed laziness and poor products. The non union USA made cars are still reliable compared to union made cars. Those benefits cause companies to buy cheaper components

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Sometimes, union rules do not enable one to make the best effort. Like waiting for an electrician to change a light bulb.
Unions protect workers from abuse and help workers get their rights.
Unions are far from perfect.
Whether a car is good has nothing to do with unions.
Benefits do not cause companies to buy cheaper components.
Jeff
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UAW workers still get paid when laid off.Benefits/pensions cost money. Ford, GM etc may pay $10 per alternator while Toyoya pays $15. Toyota parts last longer.

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Can you please document that Ford and GM pay more for their components? And that Toyota parts last longer?
Or is just your opinion?
Jeff
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Common misconception but it is NOT union rules that prevent just any employee, except one who is qualified to do that job, from doing any particular job.
Article one of every union contract list Management at the one that determine all aspects of production including work assignment. Management determines, by job classifications, whom is trained to work on electrical equipment (I E. various 12V, 115V, 250V, AC/DC lighting systems,) or any other equipment, not the union. Article two simply grants the particular Union the authority to represent the non-exempt workers. They only authority the Union has over management it to require management to abide by the contract language, which includes work assignments. Lack of union protection is one of the reasons the accident rates at non-union job sites are generally greater. (Before you ask the source, search US government statistics)
If one work in a unionized plant and can not change a light bulb, ask management to train you in the proper and safe way to do so and have him add 'light bulb changing' to your job description WBMA.
mike

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Semantics, technically Article ONE of the Agreement is the definitions of respective terms used in the agreement. When it come to the responsibilities of the parties to the agreement, Management Functions come before the Union designation as the employees representatives for the terms of the agreement which thus grants the Union the 'authorization' to file grievances etc.. In other words as I said management implements the contracts defined work rules, the Union can not implement work rules, they can only force management to abide by them through the proper grievance procedure and under the labor laws.
I negotiated several contracts with the Machinists Union for the techs working in my fleet service business. Our contracts were as I stated. You on the other hand are free to believe whatever you chose.
Apparently you are not aware of the fact there are lamp bubs, that look exactly like those in you home, that are made for service in 12V and 250V lamps. .
mike

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How about a bulb in an explosion-proof fixture inside a flammable fluids storage area? Or a bulb in a waterproof fixture located inside a machine? Doing either one wrong can have serious consequences.

In my 40 years as an electrician, I never saw a machine that "plugged in". They're fed with 460V 3-phase, with main fuse ratings from 20 to 400 amps. If you want to play with that without training, be my guest.
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For that, you will have someone with real training, either someone who is an electrician or a paramedic or coroner.
But to have an electrician come to change a regular 115 V light bulb in a regular is a waste of time for the electrician and worker waiting for the bulb to be changed.
Jeff

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Who told you that, your boss at McDonalds? LOL
mike
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