The United Auto Workers are once again threatenting to hold the struggling American auto industry hostage for a bunch of "benefits" they don't deserve. If they don't get their way they are supposed to walk off the assembly lines at 11:00 today. Name another industry in which you can demand and get absurdly generous retirement packages and health care coverage until you die, exorbitant salaries far above what the labor market would otherwise bear, and no-fault job security? General Motors, and all other U.S. auto makers, have become little more than retirement benefit providers. Here's an exerpt from an article over at National Review about how out of whack the labor union contracts are...
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."
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).
See? Labor unions are disastrous for American car companies. How are our guys supposed to compete when the Japanese, Korean, and others don't have to wrangle with greedy, thug union bosses over guaranteed, absurdly high wages, pensions, and health benefits? In Japan, the labor market functions like any other commodity market. That's why their cars are affordable and their companies are profitable. Our labor unions will surely bankrupt the auto industry as they almost did the airline industry. In order to remain competitive in the global marketplace, we need to free our businesses to compete in a free market.
One last thing: voting for a democrat next November is a vote for a stronger stranglehold for union bosses around the throats of American industry, crippling it still further.