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Throughout The Car Industry

UAW New Hires Make 20% Less Than Average American

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On: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 9:27AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UAW New Hires Make 20% Less Than Average American

In the latest news from Detroit, new union autoworkers are sadly receiving only about $14.00 per hour vs seasoned employees who are getting paid twice that. Statistics in 2006 showed that UAW’s wages were 74% above the average individual’s salary in the United States. Some workers reportedly took home wages in the six figures when their overtime pay was included. Today, that number has decreased to BELOW 20% of the average worker’s income.

In the past, the Federal Reserve kept a close eye on the UAW’s salary rates as a strong indicator of wages in the United States. Long gone are the days when other industries would adopt the UAW pay and benefits in order to compete for new employees they needed to hire—competitors such as "Toyota would match their pay.”

According to Steve Barnas, union bargaining chairman at GM's Enclave plant near Lansing, Michigan, "It's difficult to look across the line at someone getting paid more for doing the same job you're doing,"

Lowering wages and suspending cost of living increases is one of the ways the big three in Detroit have had to compensate for losses incurred during the recession when GM and Chrysler fell into bankruptcy.

According to an Associated Press article written by Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, “Saladin Parm, who worked at the plant for 23 years before becoming a member of its union leadership team, said workers are the angriest he has ever seen. They're saying, 'This is not a high-school job where I want to take my girlfriend out to the movies. I have to support my family on this,' he said.

The web site ProCon.org estimates that union dues (which are mandatory for employees, even the new hires at $14 per hour rate) are currently estimated at $700 at Ford and Chrysler, and as much as $950 at General Motors. For those making $14 an hour, “that's not chump change; it's about 34-46 cents per hour, or about 2.5%–3.3% of base pay.”

Another reason for the apparent resentment of UAW new hires is that there is a possibility that they their pay may never be fully stepped up to full scale, and some experts are saying the two-tier contracts are actually “permanently lower wages.” To top it off, starting wages at Toyota in Georgetown, Kentucky, are currently as high as $18–$25 an hour.

But in this economy many people are grateful just to have a regular paycheck. Such is the story of Bobbie Marsh—who agrees that while she may not be getting paid the high wages her father (whowas also a UAW worker) once earned—after being laid off from her teaching job, stated that “the job at GM has changed her life with a good, consistent paycheck.” Marsh’s pay is $16 per hour, having been at the plant for two years and, at that rate, she makes twice the minimum wage in the state she resides in.

Union negotiators and former UAW President Ron Gettelfinger are saying that they did what they had to do. "I think we did what we had to do to get to tomorrow," Gettelfinger said. "You can have the best contract in the world, but if you don't have a job to go with it, what have you got?"

Bob King, longtime Ford negotiator and newly elected UAW President, stated that he feels optimistic that new auto workers could eventually see a profit-sharing bonus in the future, and that negotiations will have to proceed with caution or automakers may consider a move somewhere else that would ensure even cheaper labor, such as Mexico. King also said that many workers are already resigned to the fact that, for now, “lower wages are here to stay.”


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