UnionMaine

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Why do we have to fight for benefits?


Congress couldn’t reach an agreement to bail out the Auto Industry and the right placed the blame placed on the greedy Unions. The Senator from Alabama with three foreign manufacturers in his state wants American industry to die, the Republican Union haters are hoping that the big three will die before Obama gets sworn in.

True irony shows up when George Bush may be the white knight riding to save the day by ordering part of the original $700,000,000,000 to be spent on companies that actually make things instead of glorified accountants. (Apologies to accountants)

The right blames Unions and cites the demand for gold plated health care, retirement pay, and high wages. The non-union plants of Honda, Toyota, and Mercedes are the examples given to pin blame on the Unions.

The Unions are painted as so evil it would justify destroying the big three just to burn them out.Checking out the facts on wages brings out the truth; in 2006 GM reported the highest paid hourly GM workers received $27 an hour, somewhat less than the claims of $72.00 to $80.00 made on talk radio.

Workers in Toyota and Honda plants earn about the same. In 2007, Toyota’s non-union plant in Georgetown, Ky., paid higher wages than UAW contracts, averaging $30 per hour with bonuses.Why do we keep hearing $72.00 and hour?

You need to be creative with math to get to a $72 an hour figure. First you add up all wages, then you add all pensions and benefits paid to retirees and only then do you divide by the current workforce.

The newcomers, Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes don’t have more than a few hundred retirees. Leaving out the cost of retirees a US worker makes about the same as the non-union employee.

GM is $48 billion in debt, not due to the high cost of the employees and retirees; it is a failure to plan.

Necessary money that should have been invested to pay for the future was spent on dividends, private jets, huge bonuses for executives.Legacy costs add as much as $2,000 to the price of an American vehicle. Made in America vehicles could still be sold abroad if they didn’t face VAT taxes that can add up to 150%, taxes that Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes don’t face when they import to the US.

How can they make cars and afford to ship them to the US?In Japan and the EU there are guaranteed health benefits, pensions and retirement provided by the government.

The employers typically give six weeks or more vacation for every employee. When these costs are taken from the employer Unions negotiate over working conditions, training, without worrying where the money to pay for a hip replacement in old age will come from.

Union leaders in the US have been urging the US to support national health care for over six decades, starting in the 1940s.Do we solve this by breaking the Unions? cutting their wages, canceling their benefits, and throwing the retirees under the bus?

It has been shown that the UAW wages are not any higher than non-union workers. Secondly we have to consider what steps the Unions have already taken. In 2005 and 2007 the UAW agreed to freeze wages for four years and cut pay for new employees to about $14.

New company pensions were scrapped, new hires would invest in a 401(k), pay higher co-pays on health care, and lose paid holidays and benefits previously negotiated.

Cost of living increases were given up to help offset escalating health care costs. GM is currently in talks with the UAW to put of paying its share of the VEBA money meant to pay for the health care of current employees and retirees.The Union, traded raises while facing inflation in order to keep their health care, and that doesn’t sound like greed.

The Union negotiated for the issues important to its members, issues GM management had been unable and unwilling to face for years.

The Union negotiated for Health care, a promise to freeze outsourcing and plant closings.The UAW forced GM to do what U.S. government and GM management refused to do: institute long-term planning, provide security over short-term profitability, and lifted most of the health care costs away from the employer, with the agreement that the Union would become responsible for maintaining the health care plan in the future.

The Union made sacrifices for the good of the employer in order to secure their employment.Bush, McCain and many Republicans have blamed unions for “gold plated” health care plans that are nearly as good as what both Bush and McCain get for free.

Do we need to break the hold of organized labor, reduce health care benefits, and slash wages?

Unions created the middle class. That is not to make the claim that Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes are trying to destroy unions, they are paying what would be a fair wage in a country that that provided health care, pensions, and cared for the elderly.

The US is a competitive society, how is it that the country has turned against the working class but not the hundred million dollar executive? The billionaire pays a lower tax rate than the janitor.

Tax rates for corporations are lower than at any time in history when loopholes are figured in.

The screams against a maximum pay, or a fair tax rate for these executives was so loud that there are no effective controls on companies receiving billions of dollars from the taxpayer, yet the Unions are painted as the living devil for trying to provide a living and a retirement for themselves.

If the employees had to cut wages and benefits enough save the auto industry it would mean accepting minimum wage, no benefits while dumping all retiree benefits and pensions. While we are at it why don’t we do away with overtime?

The executives would stay rich, American cars would be cheaper and we would have rolled back society a hundred years.Henry Ford got rich by paying employees far above what was needed to hire employees. The idea was he wanted them able to buy the products they were producing.Enter your Email and receive updates by email

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December 15th, 2008 Posted by narsbars | ATTACK ON UNIONS, Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA, MSEA 2008 bargaining survey, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, SEIU 1989, UAW, anti union talk show, state employee lay offs | no comments

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