They Say They Can't Take A Pay Cut
by James Glaser
December 15, 2008

Almost everyone I talk to seems upset that the United Auto Worker's Union refuses to take a pay cut to keep their jobs with the three major American car companies. I know the three top CEOs have said they are going to work for a dollar a year until things straighten out, but that is pretty phony. Their other benefits and stock options cost their companies a lot more than their take home pay.

Remember, one of those CEOs lives on the West Coast and every Friday the company jet flies him home, only to return him Monday morning. These three guys are chauffeur driven around, and I'll bet their offices are bigger than most worker's homes. So the dollar a year pay is really a red herring to keep us from looking at what they really cost their companies.

The workers though say they are in another boat. Who knows what they really make an hour. Some say they get $73 an hour while others put it at less than $50. Let's just say for sake of argument that they get fifty dollars an hour take home. Well, like any other American, these auto workers live on what they make and spend their money. So, they will tell you that they can't take a pay cut and still keep their standard of living.

Hey, I was in the Carpenters Union for years. and like auto workers, I too spent all the money I made. It is true, I never had to face what the auto workers are facing today, the loss of every union man and woman's job, but I don't have to wonder if I would offer a pay cut in trade for my job. I would in a heart beat.

For generations the UAW has threatened to or has gone on strike to get higher wages and benefits, and it must seem wrong to them to give away that which the Union worked so hard to get. The problem is that this is not the 1930's or even the 1970's. Detroit and the Big Three are no longer the only game in town. If Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors shut down, there are still a lot of other car companies to choose from. In truth, America doesn't need those car companies, but those car companies and their workers need the American car buyer.

So, if the Auto Workers and their Union refuse to take a pay cut to show good faith so the US tax payer will give their companies the money they need to stay viable, it really isn't the end of the world for America, but it probably is for the UAW and its members.

Today in Florida there are carpenters willing to work for $10 an hour. They don't like it, but the housing industry has gone bust down here, and a ten dollar an hour job is better than no job at all.

If Detroit's auto workers want American tax payers to bail them out, they had better start talking about making some big sacrifices. Sure they might lose that lake cabin, heck some of them might lose their home if they have something with a real high payment, but that's better than losing everything. Everything would be their retirement, their health benefits, their vacation pay, and their take home pay. At $50 dollars an hour, a weekly unemployment check doesn't look very good.

It doesn't matter what the CEOs do or what management gives up. It is the workers who really matter. The auto workers have the ball in their court, and if they want to keep their industry going, they had better start thinking about how big of a cut in pay they can take, because the average American makes no where close to what an auto worker makes, and so the average American worker is telling his congressman to stop the auto bail out.

Yes, I know the Democrats voted for the bailout, but the Democrat Party is owned by organized labor, and they had to vote that way. However, most American workers are non-union, and they are willing to give cover to the Republicans to stop any bail-out for Detroit. Detroit and its Unions need to get the American worker on their side, and with pay at fifty dollars an hour or higher, that isn't going to happen.

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