• Bighorn
    Your reading comprehension and logic is beyond repair.
    I never preached support the unions or buy American...I definitely do not support rewarding bad behavior ,such as producing low MPG cars....The argument was the auto industry so tax abatements to foreign automakers is not the same thing as one for Wal-Mart..That's what they call a straw-man argument.

    December 16, 2008 at 9:58 a.m.

  • Your own personal choices expose the hypocrisy of your  thinking. "Do as I say, not as I do" mentality at it's worse.
    If the American Auto Industry is dead, the American consumer killed it by voting with their dollars. Some of us value American workers, taxpayers, and tax paying US companies more than others in appears.
    Tax abatements to allow foriegn manufacturers to more cheaply build plants caused this problem? So tax abatements to say, Wal Mart, to build a distribution center in New Braunfels caused what?
    Despite San Antonians building Toyotas in my beloved state, I will continue to drive my F-150 built in Flint, Michigan by the UAW.

    December 15, 2008 at 6:25 p.m.

  • A quick example.
    NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – If sky-high executive pay at publicly traded companies gives you vertigo, you might want to read this sitting down.

    In 2004, the ratio of average CEO pay to the average pay of a production (i.e., non-management) worker was 431-to-1, up from 301-to-1 in 2003, according to "Executive Excess," an annual report released Tuesday by the liberal research groups United for a Fair Economy and the Institute for Policy Studies.

    That's not the highest ever. In 2001, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay hit a peak of 525-to-1.


    Still, it's quite a leap year over year, and it ranks on the high end historically. In 1990, for instance, CEOs made about 107 times more than the average worker, while in 1982, the average CEO made only 42 times more.

    The cumulative pay of the top 10 highest paid CEOs in the past 15 years totaled $11.7 billion.

    December 15, 2008 at 11:14 a.m.

  • Hold on Rollinstone
    Scroll down and you will see, I am just repeating Bighorn’s words in a mocking fashion.
    Corporations and consumers are interconnected….. One cannot succeed without the other.
    The corporations of the past used to take better care of their employees with benefits, pensions, and good pay…. Those benefits and pay have gone to the CEOs who who reduced them for the employees. Hence, the CEO to employee wage has skyrocketed in the last 12 years.

    December 15, 2008 at 11:11 a.m.

  • "Too bad Americas dont record the labors of their fellow countrymen more highly."
    How can you say that ???  You are the one knocking American corporations - too wit they are all corrupt and greedy, trickle down economics, etc. and etc.
    Without them we are dead, finished.  What we will have left is government handouts to depend on - I'll not go there peacefully.

    December 15, 2008 at 10:48 a.m.

  • The answers I received on this blog is the main reason I've tried to stay away from personal stories….. Posters then try to make the situation about about me rather than the topic at hand.
    It's like the global warming skeptics cannot get past Al Gore in making their case.
    I agree Rollinstone; it's about being able to compete… That's the headline I chose, can we compete? Two years ago the big three brought their healthcare issues to Washington and they were promptly shown the door. Healthcare is front and center, especially since its foreign competitor’s price does not have that component.
    Your attempt to blame me and others that bought foreign automobiles is ludicrous…. I was playing devils advocate to dohbama’s one-sided argument against the union. I have repeatedly said I never worked for union nor do I agree with all their demands.. I saw through this charade as being just another union busting attempt by the Republican Party. Dick Cheney told the senators that if they voted against bailout, it would be Herbert Hoover all over again.. This gave the GOP the cover they need, because they knew the White House would step in. So, I did not say taxpayer-funding is hypocritical…. I didn't have to…. a $700 billion to the financial markets with no questions being asked, and then union busting as a concession is hypocrisy.
    Too bad Americas dont regard the labors of their fellow countrymen more highly.
    Before you wrap yourself up in the flag, perhaps you should give a shout out to the Southern states that gave tax abatements (taxpayer money) to foreign car manufactures. How about the designers and the CEOs lack of vision?….. I don't recall rewarding bad behavior being at an American virtue.. Neither is being a blind loyalist.

    December 15, 2008 at 9:54 a.m.

  • I've owned a Toyota, I had a lot of trouble with it and it was difficult and time consuming to get repairs.   The quality of the Big (?) Three cars has improved considerably.  Ford's quality is as good as as any foreign car and in my opinion it's better. 
    Finally it's not about being compassionate, liberal or conservative.  It's about being able to compete and stay in business.  Because if country can't compete and companies can stay in business, then health insurance and that other junk will be the very least of our worries.
    And BTW their health and retirement benefits are gold plated benefits.  They need to be made what can be afforded not what they want.

    December 15, 2008 at 8:08 a.m.

  • Of course, if all Americans purchased auto built by US Companies manufacturing auto in the US by the UAW, then a bailout would not be needed.
    To act otherwise and then preach for taxpayer funding now is hypocritical. If we cared so much about unions and their members we should also do well to vote with our purchasing power, not taxpayer funds. Right, Mike?
    Too bad Americans don't regard the labors of their fellow countrymen more highly.

    December 14, 2008 at 3:44 p.m.

  • Dohbama
    My last post was directed in your direction for all the reasons you stated…. In summary I meant to say that 67% of the people do not buy your socialist definition. Like I’ve said many times ;all industrial nations have so socialist component to it e.g. so Social Security & Medicare.
    I know several that worked for Wal-Mart and H-E-B that did not have benefits, if they were not full time employees. It is well known that those companies expect a higher turnover than other companies with the same amount of revenues.
    I do not disregard the full amount of wages when coming to the bargaining table but an exaggerated stance should be given full detail. We're the perks and the exact amounts of executive pay brought to the table? How about the contract between the automakers and the dealerships?
    No company should be found guilty of sexual harassment or preferences; no matter what the size. It is a built-in excuse for inappropriate behavior and workplace hiring, retaining, and promoting discrepancies. Wal-Mart is known for having one of its employees hit by machinery crippling them for life, and suing that very person for their lawsuit awards. When the press exposed them, they recanted. When the media exposed them for sexual discriminatory promotion practices, they first denied it, and didn't take steps to correct the situation.
    Not a matter of Democrats or Republicans when it comes the unions and slackers. If the Republicans were more worker friendly; the unions would throw their weight behind them.
    When I purchased my Toyota Prius ;I had to put up with a three-week wait and a higher cost but it was well worth it because of its features and quality. It's not always about subtracting wages from automobile price. Quality, reputation, and features are something I will pay more for. Honda and Toyota car sales have been trending up now for over 10 years, and the American cars in the opposite direction, not because of cost…. IMO.
    The main purpose of my blog was to point out the hypocrisy of this issue, and to ask if we will retain a manufacturing base for the American automobile; not to hash out union versus nonunion.
    Is the fight between UAW and the Republican Party just a sideshow? Will the automakers see that making the next green car that the world wants is the only way out of this mess? Sure management, UAW, and dealerships must all make sacrifices and concessions, but unless the consumer wants what they're buying; it's a moot point.
    I continue to say that our country needs to sacrifice, bite the bullet, and make the conditions favorable for green innovations. Making decisions favoring fossil fuels is  not a good example.
    BTW... I thought I would pass this on....If the conservatives do not want government to provide health care and  UAW should eliminate it from their contracts, should you now subtract those from the hourly wages and add that to the emergency room care.?...It's a economic cycle conservatives have trouble explaning...How does pulling your self up by your boot straps apply ;if you don't have any boot straps or your boots have been taken away?

    December 14, 2008 at 2:15 p.m.

  • Mike,  I'm not sure but I think your last post was directed at me. I also don't know what there was in my post to disagree with. It was posted as anecdotal reasons I'm not pro-union. Just because non-firing happens in other business for other reasons doesn't lessen the examples I gave that unions went to bat for workers, regardless of the infraction, to get them back on the job and paying those union dues. Just because Mr. Obama was elected even though he has strong socialist leanings doesn't mean that my statement isn't true. Unions, socialism, and communism do reward slackers. It wasn't a political statement, just a fact. You did answer my question, to which I already knew the answer. The difference is your spin would be different from mine. I would have simply said democrats cater to the slackers, promising them reward regardless of productivity or contribution to society. I worked for H-E-B while in college and I had benefits, my daughter worked for Wal-Mart and had benefits. Wal-Mart and H-E-B are large companies so of course they are going to have lawsuits. You make it sound as if union shops never have lawsuits. Finally, I heard just last night that GM and Toyota sold the same amount of cars last year. However, Toyota showed a profit and GM lost money. Granted a lot of that is due to the other problems you mentioned, CEO salaries and perks. However, how can you attempt to throw out the full amount per hour that a worker cost a company when discussing wages? It is not the simple gross income that a worker sees on the paycheck but the full cost of wages and benefits that affects the bottom line; profitability. I thought that was the main thrust of the discussion.

    December 14, 2008 at 12:14 p.m.

  • We get back to reality because I completely disagree with your last post.
    1. Why do unions vote for Democrats? Conservative republicans always favor big business…e.g. conservative Supreme Court judges ruled against all 7 anti-trust arguments in favor of big business.
    2. The GOP votes against minimum wage hikes and equal pay for equal work act.
    3. Wal-Mart & H-E-B are good examples of nonunion business that does not pay benefits, has been in court many times for discriminating against female and minorities for equal pay and promotion.
    Using the word socialism did not work in the election because the voters like social security and Medicare.
    I worked for a nonunion corporation that would not fire because of public relations and threat of a lawsuit, so that is not always a valid argument.
    It has been revealed that union wages amount to 1%-2% of cost, and GM is already has a $56 billion debt (they will not pay)…What’s that for? Perhaps golden parachutes, pensions, condos private jets, and CEO perks?

    December 14, 2008 at 10:54 a.m.

  • And your point is ????

    December 14, 2008 at 10:48 a.m.

  • Rollingstone
    Jonathan Cohn explained today that the conservative talking points are "wildly misleading."

    Let's start with the fact that it's not $70 per hour in wages. According to Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automative Research -- who was my primary source for the figures you are about to read -- average wages for workers at Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors were just $28 per hour as of 2007. That works out to a little less than $60,000 a year in gross income -- hardly outrageous, particularly when you consider the physical demands of automobile assembly work and the skills most workers must acquire over the course of their careers. [...]
    [T]hen what's the source of that $70 hourly figure? It didn't come out of thin air. Analysts came up with it by including the cost of all employer-provided benefits -- namely, health insurance and pensions -- and then dividing by the number of workers. The result, they found, was that benefits for Big Three cost about $42 per hour, per employee. Add that to the wages -- again, $24 per hour -- and you get the $70 figure. Voila.

    December 14, 2008 at 10:40 a.m.

  • While the discussion of per hour wages is interesting it also brings to light and is a real time lesson on the real issue between union and non-union workers. It is not the per hour wage that makes the difference it is the productivity of those workers, the bottom line bang for your buck, metric. When you treat everyone equal, regardless of productivity, as unions do, it does not promote achievement. It has been noted elsewhere; either here or on the discussion forum, I don't remember which, the difference in productivity between union and non-union workers. I have seen this comparison side by side, much to the annoyance of the union workers, for almost 12 years. Management knows that they receive about 3 hours of productivity for an 8-hour shift from union workers, as opposed to 7-hours of productivity from non-union workers for the same 8-hour shift. In addition, from what I have seen, it is almost impossible to fire a union worker. I know of several occasions that union workers were fired for, safety violations- sexual harassment- insubordination- absenteeism, only to appeal their case to the union and  be rehired. True, they may be moved to a different department but then management is forced to retrain them, which we know is a huge cost in dollars and productivity. I know this is anecdotal but it is one of the reasons I am soured on unions. I believe there was a time in this country that unions were useful and did protect the worker. I also believe that time has gone and unions have way over-reached their usefulness and have contributed to lowering of standards. In a global economy, our workforce cannot tolerate any further lowering of standards. Anytime unnatural, forced manipulation, "equalization of the playing field" occurs, which is a big part of what unions do whether intentional or not, it tends to lower the standard of the players. This is also a big part of my disdain, maybe even fear for the supremacy of our country, of further socialization.  It is not possible to reward slackers without punishing producers. Unions, socialism, communism and political correctness reward slackers.
    The question should be asked; why do unions contribute so heavily to the democrat party.
    GM, the leader of the big three in fuel efficient automobiles has proven that hybrids don't have to be ugly but is still struggling, if the truth was known GM maybe even the most problematic of the big three. We have to question why that is the case if we believe that producing fuel efficient vehicles is the answer. I do believe we have to diversify fuel for our automobiles but any single source, putting all our eggs in one  basket, only puts us in the same boat we are currently in at some future date. IMHO ethanol is useless as an alternative fuel.

    December 13, 2008 at 1:50 p.m.

  • Mike, the $14 per hour is what the UAW agreed to for new hires not the current employees.   GM is trying to lay people off not make new hires.  That concession is meaningless.  
    The $73 per hour I obtained from the Wall Street Journal.  They went on to add that union works rules where jobs are narrowly defined also increases their costs.  Costs the non-union plants don't have.
    And one last thing, what do you think is going to happen to gasoline prices when the demand goes down because of fuel efficient cars or the use of ethanol. 

    December 13, 2008 at 11:04 a.m.

  • .
    The issue of auto worker wages is generating a lot of conflicting information in the comments.
    For what it's worth, here is an excerpt from today's Detroit newspaper: One would hope that Motor City's hometown paper would feel an obligation to print reliable numbers since their own survival is as much at stake as the autoworkers'.

    December 13, 2008
    Big 3 rescue wins rivals' support
    Foreign-based carmakers fear backlash collapse of Detroit's auto industry would have on supply chain.
    Christine Tierney / The Detroit News
    ...Executives at the Japanese manufacturers have been surprised to hear lawmakers assert that their workers earn far less than workers employed by Detroit's automakers. One executive who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed UAW President Ron Gettelfinger's remarks Friday that team members, or line workers, at Toyota's largest North American assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky., earned more than the average UAW worker.

    According to Gettelfinger, a UAW worker earns wages of just over $28 an hour, on average, compared with $30.45 an hour for Georgetown's non-union workers. That includes profit-sharing bonuses that are likely to decline for the current year.

    Wages at Nissan Motor Co. and Honda sites average between $25 and $29 an hour and tend to rise faster than pay at UAW plants.

    Including benefits and other compensation, the gap widens, with UAW workers costing $55 an hour on average, compared with an hourly cost of around $45 at the transplants...

    December 13, 2008 at 10:23 a.m.

  • Rollinstone
    We don’t always agree but IMO you do know economics ,which leads to believe you know that $71 an hour is bogus….That’s a figure they come up with by including health care for the retirees . They actually make $14 an hour (excluding benefits) down from $28…last night Senator Coker (R-TN) said his GOP colleagues are using this opportunity to do a little union busting.
    I pretty much agree with the rest of your post.
    Keep in mind, gasoline prices will go up because our refineries are not making a profit at these prices .They are starting to layoff and OPEC is cutting back….dohBama gets it ,now is the perfect time to go for alternative energy and small cars.

    December 12, 2008 at 10:11 p.m.

  • dohbama
    Must be the night chill but I agree with all of your informative      Thanks for the input.

    December 12, 2008 at 9:51 p.m.

  • First Point: The auto workers in Detroit make about $73 per hour when the wages and all the benefits are accounted for. By comparison the non-Detroit producers average about $44 per hour.
    Second point: The CAFÉ standards require Detroit to produce small fuel efficient cars to “average out” the mileages of the SUV’s and pickup trucks they produce. But, because of their high labor costs, Detroit cannot make much if any profit on these small cars. The only way they can turn a profit is to produce big, costly, gas guzzlers, which their customers want, or at least they did.
    Third point: GM has already said they will probably not be able to sell a lot of small fuel efficient cars with gas under $2.00 per gallon. The volatility of gasoline makes it very difficult to make sound investment decisions. Even now I have heard that the demand for SUV’s and trucks has increased somewhat because of low gasoline prices.
    Detroit has been painted into a corner and the only way out is to gain major concessions from the UAW – otherwise the only thing they will be able to say to Congress is, “I’ll be back” over and over.
    And yeah, before I forget they need to fire all their managers, drag them out on the street and beat the crap out of them – that should satisfy those who resent high priced CEO’s and their trickle down economics.

    December 12, 2008 at 9:27 p.m.

  • 1. Depends on what you mean by "survive". As is-no. With restructuring-yes.
    2. No, But I believe GM should consolidate. By running all their brand names- Chevrolet, Cadillac, Pontiac, GMC, Buick, Hummer, Saab, Saturn they could reduce redundant cost. I believe there is now some discussion toward that goal. Now is probably ten years too late. Had they done this earlier they would have been more able to sustain the losses of consumer re-education and market share re-acquisition. Chrysler should at least make an effort toward fuel-efficient cars. It is important to note that the 80% shareholder of Chrysler, Cerberus Capital, won't inject any capital into Chrysler LLC. Ford, the healthiest of the three, might also completely consolidate the Mercury brand. It has already been pointed out that there are a lot more than three automakers. Maybe the better question is; do we really need these three? But that question might be moot if we realize that no bailout does not mean the company will "go away" any more than yes bailout does not mean the company will survive. No one is gullible enough to believe 14 billion is going to do anything beyond getting us to mid-January.
    3. I'm not sure about this question.
    Anything that reduces our dependence on foreign oil and oil in general is a good thing. We have seen what a little conservation and lower demand, though it was forced, can do to prices. I'm not sure electric cars are the only answer certainly they can be a part of it. Investment toward improving the infrastructure for CNG would also be a huge boost to the economy.

    December 12, 2008 at 8:19 p.m.

  • Ernie
    When comparing sections of the country I don't think it's necessary to use welfare as a gage.
    For example Chicago has a great transit system ,the south does not....Taxpayers have to pay for for the good roads and transportation.
    I have noticed the good highways in California,Illinois,Texas and noticed the bad ones in Louisiana,Mississippi,Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

    December 12, 2008 at 5:33 p.m.

  • Allow me to be more specific Ernie.
    Do we really need three automakers?
    Accountants and CEOs are projecting their future as we speak. I was not asking about the future of the UAW but the idea of all three automakers being in dire need of restructuring in order to compete. Do we really need 40 models? I don't believe the Chevrolet Impala has been upgraded in several years due to cost. The Toyota and GM joint venture are making smaller cars for the future.
    Would they tell us?
    The fact that Chrysler was going bankrupt was well-known months ago but pretty much kept a secret. Will the GAO actually tell us if the companies will fail no matter how much money we give them? Globally ,American automobiles are doing quite well.
    Understand what you are talking about, because I remember reading about Chicago keeping Wal-Mart out of the downtown area because they would not pay minimum wage of $10 an hour. The standard of living in the Midwest is so much greater than the South. When I was on vacation in California, my friend said his house was worth about $165,000 there, but it would only be worth about $65,000 in Victoria Texas…. Having said that the welding robots, buildings that are paid for, and workers are in abundant in Michigan.
    I think this economic mess leaves us no choice but for our government to abandon the old quit spending and printing advice for a while until we get this economy stabilized…. I read an article in Business Week that stated that this will be an ideal time for Obama’s economic stimulus plan, because since the world is in a financial crisis; the American dollar remains strong (because of past performance and trust) so inflation would not hit us as hard. As for individuals tightening their belts and controlling their spending, those values should still be kept.

    December 12, 2008 at 5:25 p.m.

  • You're confusing me, Mike.
    1. Can the big three automakers actually survive?

    I believe the answer is a qualified "yes." But if they are you likely won't be able to identify them in light of what they've been and done in the past.
    It seems to me, though, that your post is rather asking if the UAW can survive. Who cares?

    2. Do we really need three automakers?

    Do "we," the US, actually need three automakers or do "we," the planet, need three automakers? The answers are, respectively, no and yes. It's a global marketplace these days remember. The global economy needs more than one monopolistic automaker to promote competition and fair pricing but it's not particularly necessary for all of them to be located or at least based in the US. If the US automakers can't compete globally, c'est la vie.

    3. If the answer is no, would anyone really tell us?
    Tell us what?
    Your ersatz argument about paying "southern wages of $8/hr" only goes so far. You mentioned in your last blog (I think it was) that there's an auto manufacturing plant in CA that's profitable. Is CA subsidizing its automakers with comprehensive health care for employees and retirees? (If so, isn't it telling that CA governor Schwarzenegger was trying to get CA to the head of the bailout line when that whole fiasco started?)
    Look at the relative costs of living in the areas you mention. I'll stick to two places I know something about: my home here will soon be going on the market for $150-160K. If I had the same home in, say, Seattle, it would be going for around a quarter million yet my standard of living here is much higher than it would be in WA if our current household income were unchanged.
    Minimum wage in TX is $5.65/hr while in WA the same standard is $8/hr. yet nearly twice the percentage of the population in WA are on welfare as in TX. The entitlement numbers aren't the *cause* of the difference, it's indicative of the result.
    The question here is one of survival; not that of the auto industry but of our economic infrastructure and perhaps even society as we know it. The simple bottom line is we either buck up and take our lumps now - because it's going to be mighty lumpy getting through this - or the US is done. Period. Finito. Caput.

    Either this country quits printing and spending money it does not have or it's Hasta la vista, Baby....

    December 12, 2008 at 4:46 p.m.

  • It’s all the Democrats fault, and wait until Obama gets in office is a vague answer…. It does not answer the three basic questions like what, where, and when.
    This is the action of 110th Congress and possibly George Bush’s Treasury Secretary.
    I cannot wait for the 111th Congress and President Obama to start making decisions they will be held accountable for.
    It is not about principal that the Republican senators voted against in this bailout ,because at least 20 of them voted for the financial bailout of Wall Street.
    BTW Barck Obama has a 67% approval right now, and 46% of Americans are for a auto bailout with 42% against and then there is 14% who honestly don't know.

    December 12, 2008 at 4:20 p.m.

  • It is all the democrats fault! Just wait until Obama gets in there. You think its bad now, just give it awhile.

    December 12, 2008 at 4:01 p.m.