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Thread: Union balks and $14B auto bailout dies in Senate

  1. #46
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Of course there are no articles which show the UAW's greed is a direct contributor to the failure in the auto industry is impossible.
    Lest you forget, there is something called investigative journalism. Surprise! It actually still exists in this country. Try looking harder next time.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    The articles at the end of the post paint a picture of just why the UAW is a godsend for its members and a detriment for the industry as a whole, financially speaking. Billions going to UAW-controlled trusts, the contracts being hammered out even as the companies were showing decreasing sales and profits.
    “Billions going to UAW-controlled trusts” It’s called VEBA (Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association). The reason the automakers agreed to VEBA is so that it would relieve the companies from their funding health plans. In other words, to save the automakers money! And you consider this a bad thing?

    The articles at the end don’t prove anything you’re saying.

    Workers wages the straw that broke the automakers' backs - Autoblog It’s just a retelling of the UAW/Senate Republican dispute. There is no wider look at the auto industry in this article.

    The Canadian Press: UAW, General Motors say new pact makes labour costs competitive You’re citing this as your backup? There’s a huge difference between “wages” and “costs.” The article actually mentions the difference. GM is a 100-year old company in this country. Toyota is not. What exactly do you want? To start throwing retirees out into the street? Many UAW retirees only get around $8,000 a year. And yet to you, they’re “greedy!”

    UAW Losing Pay Edge: Foreign Automakers' Bonuses Boost Wages in U.S. Plants as Detroit Car Companies Struggle: aftermarket News Foreign automakers are subsidized by their home countries. The article doesn’t mention this when comparing the two. In fact it’s missing in the Canadian article as well.

    What Americans may not know about the problems of the automotive business seems at least as pertinent as what they have been told so far. The chances are that voters outraged over those mythical $70-an-hour wages have no idea how heavily the livelihood of auto workers in competing countries is subsidized by their governments—starting with health care and moving on to child care, pensions and a host of other benefits that American workers have not begun to imagine.

    Such comparisons tend to be absent from most mainstream analysis of the auto crisis. Equally relevant and usually missing, too, is the news that competitor nations are preparing to provide many billions in aid to their car companies. Right now, the European Union is considering a loan package to the Continent’s auto industries that may exceed $50 billion.

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20081211_dangerous_bias_against_detroit/
    And never mind the fact that the Japanese and Korean cars that many people laud were developed under protectionist trade policies! The Lexus would never have been conceived without those policies. Japan would have found its niche as a cheap car maker and stayed there. Or have been bought by one of the US companies.

    UAW Boss Avoids Question on Health Concessions | workforce.com How exactly does this article support your position? It mentions VEBA, which I’ve already mentioned, and a concession by the UAW. And if you’re gripe is about the job bank, lots of manufacturers do the same thing for workers in downtime including Toyota.

    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Foreign automakers managing to keep their costs lower, yet pay more in wages, and provide acceptable benefits?
    Of course they pay more than the UAW. It’s one of the reasons they give their workers for not unionizing! Even one of your articles says so:
    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.

    UAW Losing Pay Edge: Foreign Automakers' Bonuses Boost Wages in U.S. Plants as Detroit Car Companies Struggle: aftermarket News
    Your own citation doesn’t even support you because the cost of living is LOWER in the South:
    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."
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    If you had been following the auto industry and its trends for more than the last two months, you would know the SUV/truck boom was a temporary upswing and the foreign competitors have been steadily gaining ground for decades.
    I’ve been following it for a good long time. You’re overlooking vast amounts of information in your measurement of foreign companies: foreign brands’ subsidies from their governments and protectionist trade policies. The “SUV/truck boon” went on for several years. That’s far from “temporary.”
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Is it so fucking hard to see the UAW's greed may very well lead to massive layoffs?
    Once again, you neglected to define how they’re “greedy.” Do I need to define hyperbole for you too?
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Is it so fucking hard for you to understand every American taxpayer has a damned right to demand full disclosure if it is our money which will keep these companies afloat?
    Where did I not say there shouldn’t be disclosure? The bill in Congress that GOP Republican Senators voted down had FAR more than was in the one for the financial industry.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    If the pay and perks are seen as excessive and it is our money on the line, taxpayers have every right to support representatives who demand pay cuts and trimming all around. We should not be on the hook because private contracts between UAW and auto companies were the golden egg for the union and the companies who agreed to them can't pay their bills without help.
    “Pay and perks?” Again, could you define what you’re talking about? Are you referring to normal employee benefits or something else? Because “perks” are normally something associated with executives and top management officials, not rank and file employees. “Trimming all around?” A lack of which is not what killed the auto bailout. If there was going to be “trimming all around,” then the Republican Senators would have been looking for cuts for auto suppliers and car dealerships. None of which they (the GOP) talked or complained about. Because, again, labor is only, at most, 10% of the cost of an automobile. There’s another 90% that should be looked at. Yet, here you are complaining about the “private contracts” and “golden egg.” A contract is standard operating procedure between a union and a corporation lest you were not aware. They are NOT necessarily “private.” Many journalists can get a copy. It’s not as if they’re made in secret and never made available to anyone. The UAW isn’t the Illuminati! And the reason the companies are having trouble staying afloat is because we’re in a major economic downturn. It’s affecting everyone worldwide. No business could effectively plan ahead of time for such a large downturn.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    In reference to the article you linked, did you fail to see that Toyota's costs are much less, while their average paid wage is higher than even the mighty union?
    I noticed it. It wasn’t relevant to the point I was making. That “costs” and “wages” are two different things. See above.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Don't for one minute even try to assert the UAW's demands being met doesn't drive up the costs. That is where the problem lies. Thirty dollars an hour for an labor position is steep, regardless of who else pays it.
    The “UAW’s demands?” Such as what? Seeing to it that their members have health care, a pension and a living wage? Is that a problem for you? That these people who do physical work for a living aren’t dirt poor? Is that why you’re referring to it as “an [sic] labor position?” These people don’t deserve to live in anything but poverty like Walmart workers or something? Next time you need your car fixed by a mechanic, a plumber to fix your pipes or have a carpenter work on your house, why don’t you try negotiating with them for a lower bill because they’re just working a “labor position!”
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Americans as a whole are struggling. Again, I have no problem with assisting the auto industry.
    Well I’m glad you realize as much because it’s basically impossible to discern that from most of your posts.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    What I don't want my money going to is perks, bonuses, VEBA, and the like. Take a cut now to get the companies which provide auto jobs on track, then try to siphon them. Don't expect the taxpayer to be as compliant as the Big 3.
    It’s a loan. The Big 3 would HAVE to pay it back. And I still don’t understand why you’re complaining about VEBA. It’s a cost cutting measure for the Big 3. Why you see it as a problem is bizarre.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    I have nothing personal against the UAW, although it seems as if you are personally offended when someone points out that over the years, that union has acquired pay and benefits which far exceed the type of work being done. It is still labor.
    Oh, right, they’re “labor.” These are people we’re talking about, not mules. What is that you think they should be paid? Which would be better for you? If they were paid just minimum wage or if they were paid like sweatshop labor overseas? Basically, you think people like Grimm’s friend, who earns 60,000 a year doing work that gradually damages their bodies, are paid too much. Why should people who work jobs that are “labor” be treated as second class citizens?

    Do you realize that the United States is turning into the land of Dickens due to the income gap in this country? Japan, Canada, Germany, South Korea, Sweden and Italy don’t have this problem. They all rated in the top 30 countries for income equality in 2002.http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0908770.html And they all still rank high. The United States couldn’t even crack the top 50 recently. NationMaster - income equality > UN Gini index (most recent) by country And they’re all auto manufacturing countries where private industry is heavily subsidized by the government through health care, et al. The US currently ranks between Senegal and Ghana for income equality. Morocco, Georgia, Russia and Cambodia have better income equality than the US. (Cambodia is a third-world country in case you've forgotten!) Is that where you want this country to be? Because “labor” that is paid well ensures that we still have a middle class in this country. A middle class that has been diminishing in size over the last twenty plus years. Having strong unions in this country prevent us from going back to the Gilded Age with the robber barons. Unless you belong to the super rich RIS, you benefit by having strong unions because employers will at least match union pay to be competitive. Once unions go away, employers don’t have to be so competitive with their pay. It’s naive to think that you’re just going to get paid well in the US without a strong labor movement. Once automakers don’t have to deal with the unions, they’re not going to keep raising their wages to be competitive. They’re going to start keeping wages low to increase profits. Look at Walmart for a prime example.

    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    See the links below? Read to your heart's content. Don't you dare tell me I didn't read anything and am making this up. I have been following this industry for a long time and those who have saw this coming a lot longer than a year ago.Now you can cease your baseless accusations of lying and hyperbole. Maybe the Toyota reference will eventually swoop down low enough to get caught in your hair. Higher satisfaction, higher wages, lower costs, no union. Maybe Detroit should take notes.
    As I mentioned above, I read them all. They don’t necessarily support your position because they’re not talking about what goes on world-wide in a global industry. And, actually, your post is hyperbole. Because if you were going to base it on facts, then you would have explained how each of your articles was relevant to your position rather than just posting links at the bottom.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    If the Big 3 really want to save the industry, regardless of pleasing the UAW, finding ways of getting rid of the old and coming in with the new, at lower rates, is always an option. In this case, it might be a damn viable one. If government takeover is what is needed to keep the automobile industry alive in this country, even if it means making the UAW a invalid, so be it.
    More like, if Republicans want to save the economy, then they’ll work to save the auto industry. The UAW is only a small part. You seem to be missing that every time you post. Even Sweden is bailing out their auto industry even though its owned by US automakers.

  2. #47
    Elite Member RevellingInSane's Avatar
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    ^^Your response to the first portion of my post illustrates your lack of comprehension. Sarcasm. Dictionary.com is your friend as well.

    You really need to go back and read my posts on this thread and others regarding the "bailout". You would find that I have never supported letting the auto industry fade into oblivion. What I don't support is taxpayer dollars used to keep the industry afloat if there are not immediate changes to lower costs, including lowering of UAW negotiated wages and intense analysis, subsequently leading to restructuring, of the benefits. Your sole focus has been aligning me with those who despise the UAW. I have no problem with the UAW; however, it is quite obvious that union has contributed to the financial turmoil.

    Actually, the article you say doesn't support my stance because the cost of living is lower doesn't support your view. While cost of living is lower in the south, the Toyota plant in Kentucky paid more in wages, when adjusted due to bonuses, than GM paid to its Detroit UAW workers. Again, your point fails. The area with lower cost of living, and no UAW earned more than the area with higher cost of living and UAW support? Shouldn't Toyota have been able to pay seventy-five, or even fifty percent of UAW wages?

    Any entity which is given a loan is required to repay those funds. What happens when that entity fails to earn enough to honor the debt? Hint: Mortgage companies learned the answer the hard way. You are assuming the companies will turn around and will be able to meet their obligations in the future.

    Jobs which do not require higher education or training to obtain are unskilled labor, regardless of how horrible the working conditions are. I am sure anyone flipping burgers would love to have a union and earn twenty dollars per hour in wages with extra benefits. They won't. Yes, the job may be hard, but they are still labor and the wages are high considering that.

    While unions have, overall, kept wages in certain industries competitive, this industry is not an example. Do not assume unions have assisted my income.

    I do not have to do anything, just because you desire it be done that way. This is not a thesis for a college course and what you want means absolutely nothing.

    Just as unions which do their job and protect workers should not be disallowed, any union which has gone beyond protection should be taken down a rung.
    Last edited by RevellingInSane; December 17th, 2008 at 10:42 AM.



  3. #48
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Once again, basic logic is missing from your post.
    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Actually, the article you say doesn't support my stance because the cost of living is lower doesn't support your view. While cost of living is lower in the south, the Toyota plant in Kentucky paid more in wages, when adjusted due to bonuses, than GM paid to its Detroit UAW workers. Again, your point fails. The area with lower cost of living, and no UAW earned more than the area with higher cost of living and UAW support? Shouldn't Toyota have been able to pay seventy-five, or even fifty percent of UAW wages?
    1) You completely missed the fact that Toyota is heavily subsidized by Japan's industrial policy. It's central to their economy so they will subsidize whatever they can to make that industry profitable overseas. Toyota can operate more cheaply in the US than they can in Japan because of that, which makes it easier for them to give bonuses to their workers. 2) As I said in my post above, foreign automakers will pay non-unionized workers slightly more than union wages so they DON'T organize. Fucking duh! As I stated above, your own article says this.

    Quote Originally Posted by RevellingInSane View Post
    Jobs which do not require higher education or training to obtain are unskilled labor, regardless of how horrible the working conditions are. I am sure anyone flipping burgers would love to have a union and earn twenty dollars per hour in wages with extra benefits. They won't. Yes, the job may be hard, but they are still labor and the wages are high considering that.

    While unions have, overall, kept wages in certain industries competitive, this industry is not an example. Do not assume unions have assisted my income.
    I hate to break it to you, but autoworkers are skilled labor. Their work is not the equivalent of flipping burgers or dishwashers. You can't pick someone off the street and expect them to do the job instantaneously.

    From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
    Many jobs in motor vehicle manufacturing have high earnings and good benefits and so are some of the most highly sought after in the country. As a result, standards for entry are high, requiring a strong educational background and the successful completion of tests.

    Faced with technological advances and the continued need to cut costs, manufacturers increasingly emphasize continuing education and cross-train many workers in production and maintenance occupations to do more than one job. This has led to a change in the profile of the industry’s workers. Standards for new hires are higher now than in the past. Employers increasingly require a strong educational background for assembly jobs, sometimes requiring a community college degree, and most motor vehicle manufacturers administer lengthy examinations to candidates for assembler jobs. Manual dexterity continues to be necessary for many production jobs, but employers also look for employees with good communication and math skills and aptitudes for computers, problem solving, and critical thinking. Many plants now emphasize the team approach and employees interact more with coworkers and supervisors to determine the best way to get the job done. They are expected to work with much less supervision than in the past and take responsibility for ensuring that their work conforms to guidelines.

    Opportunities for training and advancement vary considerably by occupation, plant size, and sector. Training programs in larger auto and light truck assembly plants usually are more extensive than those in smaller parts, truck trailer, and motor home factories. Production workers receive most of their training on the job or through more formal apprenticeship programs. Training normally takes from a few days to several months and may combine classroom with on-the-job training under the guidance of more experienced workers. Attaining the highest level of skill in some production jobs requires several years, however. Training often includes courses in health and safety, teamwork, and quality control. With advanced training and experience, production workers can advance to inspector jobs or to more skilled production, craft, operator, or repair jobs.

    Skilled production and maintenance workers—such as tool and die makers, industrial machinery mechanics, millwrights, machinists, pipefitters, and electricians—normally are hired on the basis of previous experience, education, and a good score on a competitive examination. Alternatively, the company may train inexperienced workers in apprenticeship programs that combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Typical courses include mechanical drawing, tool designing and programming, blueprint reading, shop mathematics, hydraulics, and electronics. Training also includes courses on health and safety, teamwork, quality control, computers, and diagnostic equipment. With training and experience, workers who excel can advance to become supervisors or managers.

    Motor Vehicle and Parts Manufacturing

  4. #49
    Elite Member Little Wombat's Avatar
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    And Fluffy wins! Okay, just kidding.

    I would like to say that I, as a reader to this thread, appreciate everyone's passion and contributions, no matter what the opinion. It was a lot of reading, but I made it through! ALL of it.

    Hopefully, Bush will do one right thing at the end of his term and give a loan to the automakers. It's the least he could do on his way out.

    Also, I wanted to point out one thing regarding the wages at the non-UAW plants. This may help people understand why Toyota still pays such high wages even though they're non-unionized. There's an economic concept called "free rider":
    In the context of labor unions, a free rider is an employee who pays no union dues or agency shop fees, but nonetheless receives the same benefits of union representation as dues-payers. Free rider problem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Granted, these employees are at a completely different plant and company, but, in a sense, they are benefiting from a combination of managment's fear of unions and free ridership. If the UAW disappears with the Big 3, the real wages at these foreign auto plants will likely decrease over time.

  5. #50
    Silver Member betagrl's Avatar
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    This was posted at Dailykos and I thought it was appropriate for this discussion.

    Fake Profits, Fat Bonuses

    by Devilstower

    Thu Dec 18, 2008 at 01:15:04 PM PST

    A seasoned trader at Merrill Lynch collects a salary of about $350,000 a year. That's a lot of money when your company has been shellacked to the tune of several billion dollars, and a fresh million Americans have been tossed out of their jobs. But hey, starting salaries on Wall Street are pretty high, and besides, that number is for 2006, a good year on the street that ended with the market at near record highs. For a top guy to be taking "only" $350,000 is really quite thrifty in three piece suit land.
    Only that's not what they really took home.
    For Dow Kim, 2006 was a very good year. While his salary at Merrill Lynch was $350,000, his total compensation was 100 times that — $35 million.
    That's only a tiny part of the total Wall Street payout. The five largest firms on the street handed out $120 billion in bonuses over a five year period -- more than the GDP of 150 nations.
    Still, we are talking 2006. Those were the fat years, right?
    In all, Merrill handed out $5 billion to $6 billion in bonuses that year. A 20-something analyst with a base salary of $130,000 collected a bonus of $250,000. And a 30-something trader with a $180,000 salary got $5 million.
    But Merrill’s record earnings in 2006 — $7.5 billion — turned out to be a mirage. The company has since lost three times that amount, largely because the mortgage investments that supposedly had powered some of those profits plunged in value.
    Unlike the earnings, however, the bonuses have not been reversed.
    First, how astounding is it that an investment firm handed out $6 billion in bonuses on $7.5 billion in profits? It certainly shows where their priorities lay. And of course the "profit" was generated by enormously overvaluing derivatives, swaps, and bundled securities that were worth more in their fevered imaginations that in the real world. In other words, the reputable companies on Wall Street inflated their values ridiculously, paid themselves insane levels of bonuses based on the numbers they generated, left taxpayers holding the bag, and cried all the way to their multimillion dollar second or third homes.

    The difference between what Bernard Madoff did and what the rest of Wall Street has done is little more than a question of semantics. Heck, at least most of Madoff's squandered billions went to paying off investors in his schemes.

    Funny that the Republicans didn't stage a protest over the investment firms handing out enough bonuses that they could have covered most of the mortgages in foreclosure. But then, it's not like these guys were in a union and hauling down those fat $23 an hour paychecks.

  6. #51
    Elite Member B.C.'s Avatar
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    Funny that the Republicans didn't stage a protest over the investment firms handing out enough bonuses that they could have covered most of the mortgages in foreclosure. But then, it's not like these guys were in a union and hauling down those fat $23 an hour paychecks.

    They're getting paid for their skills, which apparently is riping off the taxpapers.

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