To hear Republican senators and their allies at the Fox Network, the United Autoworkers were the villians in the failure of the Big Three to get their $ 15 billion bailout from Congress. The UAW was presented as unwilling to accept pay cuts and other benefit reductions as part of the bailout proposal.
But the attack on the auto union is much more than just workers refusing to buckle under to conservative congressional pressure. What we have in this debate over the bailout of the Big Three is a clear effort on the part of management and their political allies to place the burden for reviving the auto industry on the shoulders of men and women who make about $ 50,000 a year.
These workers do not make millions or fly around in corporate jets or get golden parachute settlements when they leave their management jobs. Yes they are paid more than their counterparts working in the South for Japanese automakers, but the pay differential is about $ 10 an hour, certainly not the root cause of why the Big Three are going under.
The real problem in Detroit is top level executives who have made huge errors in judgment and planning, while still getting paid millions of dollars. Remember, the President of Toyota receives a base salary of $1 million, while the CEO of GM gets a base salary of $ 26 million. Toyota made a profit of $1 billion last year, while GM lost $11 billion. There’s the root of the problem – excessive management compensation given to incompetent managers.
What the Republicans in the Senate would have Americans believe is that the unions are selfish and greedy. It is hard to imagine someone making a modest salary being seflish and greedy. I don’t see the Republican senators taking a pay cut to help out the American economy and these CEOs in Detroit will still walk away with millions no what happens to their companies.
Unions and working class people did not create the problem at GM, Ford and Chrysler and should not be punished in the political or media arena for the folly of corporate managers.