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November 15, 2008

Comments

Why do non-union auto workers and auto makers have to be taxed to bail out their unionized counterparts?

Why do I, as a taxpayer, have to step up to bail out the UAW when their leader stated they wouldn't agree to any sort of concessions to avoid the company's going under? Dude, your members are doing UNSKILLED LABOR! You cannot expect to suck up those sorts of wages and benefits to provide unskilled labor to make products that lose money for those who sell them.

This is like Robin Hood in reverse! We will tax Joe Sixpack to bail out corporate America and their expensive union labor.

These companies can be made profitable again. But, it ain't gonna happen if Uncle Sugar stands there with a bucket-o-cash from the taxpayer.

Wilkinson was always a callous idiot.

I find it somewhat disingenious to discover that a libertarian is a "callous idiot". Wotta shock! I never would have known.

Just as Grover Norquist should have been held under the foetid floods of New Orleans until the bubbles stopped ("Is that a big enough bathtub, Grover"), so too Wilkinson should be run over by the electric cars GM made in the 80s that they had rounded up and destroyed.

I think the definition of "libertarian" is "callous idiot".

==============

Turb, how do you square "My wife bought a car a year ago and she ended up upgrading to a bigger less efficient vehicle because when she test drove the super efficient cars she wanted, she didn't feel safe getting on the highway." with "Indeed, our phobia is quite advanced. You can tell because we bought a Honda Civic."

Those two statements don't match for me.

"Dude, your members are doing UNSKILLED LABOR!"

I strongly doubt that. How about you provide a cite?

Also, would you care to give any detail on your knowlege of one of the the auto companies' business plans, structure, and financial arrangements, so we can judge to what degree you know what you're talking about, and to what degree you're just mouthing off with no clue whatsoever?

Thanks!

Dude, your members are doing UNSKILLED LABOR! You cannot expect to suck up those sorts of wages and benefits to provide unskilled labor to make products that lose money for those who sell them.

Dude, I'm sure you're very skilled at what you do, and deserve every penny of the wages and benefits you suck up.

But just for curiosity, have you actually seen the inside of an automobile manufacturing plant? How many of the jobs you saw being done were "unskilled"?

--TP

Is this James:

Dude, your members are doing UNSKILLED LABOR!

the same as this James:

Another analysis of an economic problem that is almost devoid of any financial analysis. It astonishes me that people feel qualified to express opinions without displaying any of the disciplines that would qualify those opinions.

??????

"I think the definition of 'libertarian' is "callous idiot".

And you just called Andy Olmsted a "callous idiot."

And Jim Henley, among many others.

This is as useful as calling a "leftist" a "collectivist moron."

"??????"

Who knows, when people post with common, non-unique, handles?

I never get why people do that: do they think they're the only "Jim" or "Frank" or "Judy," or whomever, in the world? Or do they just not care if they're assigned responsibility for the statements of all the others who post with those common names?

Its pretty rare that another Frank posts here, and so far no one has copied my URL here though once it happened at Firedoglake.

The writer doesn't assign responsibility, thats the readers job.

People often use their first names in casual informal situations. And often Obsidian Wings seems to be that kind of, casual informal, place.

""I think the definition of 'libertarian' is "callous idiot".

And you just called Andy Olmsted a "callous idiot."

And Jim Henley, among many others.

This is as useful as calling a "leftist" a "collectivist moron.""

What Gary said.

"Its pretty rare that another Frank posts here,

If you don't mind people assuming all comments posted by a "Frank" are yours, and vice versa, that's obviously your privilege.

Previously you've said that I'm not memorable enough for anyone to remember me at all, or words to that effect. Seems like a contradiction to me. I'm not moved to comment all that often, when I do I don't expect everyone to know who I am.

"Previously you've said that I'm not memorable enough for anyone to remember me at all, or words to that effect."

I'm afraid I don't remember that.

:-)

Gary: Why do you have schadenfraude for them, because of this, and not the management earning far more money, and being actually responsible for running the companies into the ground, rather than protecting the interests of the workers?
Don't people deserve to be paid well for doing their job well? Isn't that a principle you believe in?

Are the interests of mere workers not worth protecting?

What's up with all this?

Probably not real fruitful as we’ll never agree on any of this, but… You don’t think that union leaders have any responsibility for running these companies into the ground? I mean it’s obvious that management is responsible, but how about the unions? What jobs do you believe are actually worth $75/hour? I’d say neurosurgeon, then I run out of ideas… Certainly I believe in people being well paid - but I’m at the top of my profession and I’d be embarrassed to admit to $75/hour for what I do. And I typically work 70+ hours per week. As far as protecting the interests of mere workers – I’m all for it. It’s called “at will employment”.


Barry: But I don't see too many right-wingers demanding clawbacks and removal of Wall St upper management.

I’m fine with that. If you think I have any love for Wall Street you haven’t seen my 401k. And I think that CEO salary and bonuses should not go beyond 6 figures. If we (the taxpayers) bail them out then I certainly hope we get some say in that. I personally think that we can find a decent CEO for somewhere around $250k.

"You don’t think that union leaders have any responsibility for running these companies into the ground?"

Not absent my being pointed to some specifics. That's why they call management "management."

"I mean it’s obvious that management is responsible, but how about the unions? What jobs do you believe are actually worth $75/hour?"

I dunno: is that what managers and directors should be limited to? No skin off my back, if that's what you're saying. Are you not embarrassed by management, and boards of directors, and vice-presidents, and CEOs, getting paid more than that? If not, why exactly not?

"It’s called 'at will employment'."

This works great if you have skills that are in demand. Are there a lot of auto assembly companies out there? Is being a janitor a position where you have bargaining power? Are service industry jobs jobs that give the worker bargaining power, and options to move to another job if conditions are bad? Does "at-will employment" help the lives of millions of down-market American workers in dismal dead-end jobs? If you go into Circuit City, and ask the folks on the floor who aren't managers if they're thrilled to have no bargaining power with management, is it your understanding that most will answer "yes"?

A quick google finds:

[...] Articles on the wage costs of automakers routinely reported that autoworkers were paid in the neighborhoods of $75 an hour. This figure was obtained by averaging the cost of contributions for retiree' benefits over the hours worked by the current workforce. As BTP frequently pointed out, this figure seriously misrepresents workers' compensation, since the payments for retirees are independent of the size of the current workforce and are not received by the current workforce.

This point is worth mentioning now because the contracts signed by the UAW with GM and Chrysler removes retiree health benefits from the company's books with Voluntary Employee Benefit Agreements. This means that workers compensation only covers their current pay. If we looked at direct compensation for current workers, this would likely be in the range of $40 an hour. It seems that someone should be reporting that the auto companies have reduced their labor costs from $75 an hour to $40 an hour.

So apparently you're putting for an obsolete figure, Steve. I'll gladly welcome more up-to-date cites; I don't pretend to be at all informed about auto company union contracts, or costs, or anything about the finances of auto companies.

Oh, here is more up-to-date:

An article in the NYT discusses GM's plan to replace its current workforce with new hires. According to the article, the average hourly wage of the current workforce is $28 an hour, the new hires would get $14 an hour.
At the article:
The head of the United Automobile Workers union said on Thursday that he expected 15,000 to 20,000 workers to leave General Motors during a new round of buyouts, and that G.M. would replace nearly all of them with lower-paid employees.
Meanwhile, I do look forward to your blogs comments on how outrageous it is that Vice-Presidents of companies make more than $75/hour.

It says here:

Average Vice President Corporate Salaries in Los Angeles, CA
In USD as of Nov 16, 2008
35k 70k 105k
Vice President Corporate
$96,000
And:
sales leaders and executives
$235,000
If we figure a 40 hour work week, and 50 weeks work a year, we get 2000 hours; that's $117.50 an hour. Are you outraged?

Gary: Are you not embarrassed by management, and boards of directors, and vice-presidents, and CEOs, getting paid more than that? If not, why exactly not?

I think I said that. I said I’d be embarrassed to make that and that I think a decent CEO is worth $250K. It’s right up there…

This works great if you have skills that are in demand. Are there a lot of auto assembly companies out there? Is being a janitor a position where you have bargaining power? Are service industry jobs jobs that give the worker bargaining power, and options to move to another job if conditions are bad? Does "at-will employment" help the lives of millions of down-market American workers in dismal dead-end jobs? If you go into Circuit City, and ask the folks on the floor who aren't managers if they're thrilled to have no bargaining power with management, is it your understanding that most will answer "yes"?

Well given that CC filed for bankruptcy – ah, no. Should we bail them out? Are they “too big to fail”? If you do not have skills that are in demand then you need to upgrade your skills IMO. Are you going to feel sorry for me when computer skills are no longer in demand? Should I hang on to what I know and refuse to upgrade my skills to meet a changing world? If I fail to do that then I should expect a government handout? I mean that’s cool by me. I can save a lot of money I now spend on continuing education. I can cut back the 10 hours a week I do now on keeping up with current trends in my field. When my skills are no longer relevant I’ll just assume that the government will prop up my industry…

Oh, here is more up-to-date:

Does not include all benefits Gary. A secretary in Flint makes 6 figures.

So apparently you're putting for an obsolete figure, Steve. I'll gladly welcome more up-to-date cites

If you searched on union + automotive + $75 I am sure that you saw many. What would be the point of me linking something you have already dismissed as irrelevant? I don’t agree with you on a lot but I never doubt your google-fu.


Are you outraged?

Sure I am.

I hope you're not offended if I try again, Steve: Is being a janitor a position where you have bargaining power? Are service industry jobs jobs that give the worker bargaining power, and options to move to another job if conditions are bad? Does "at-will employment" help the lives of millions of down-market American workers in dismal dead-end jobs?

My opinion: "Should we bail them out?"

No.

"Are they 'too big to fail'?"

No.

"If you do not have skills that are in demand then you need to upgrade your skills IMO."

I certainly agree that people who can should. Not everybody can. Not everybody can learn computer skills, or technical skills. Lots of people are semi-literate. Or they're semi-disabled, and without support systems. Or they're mentally limited. Should we just let the less bright and less flexible and less middle-class among us be left to try to get onto the hard-to-get-onto, time-limited, tiny-money, dole, or then just be left to fend for themselves?

In any case, none of this has much, if anything, to do with what I asked.

"Are you going to feel sorry for me when computer skills are no longer in demand?"

Sure. I'm generous that way. :-)

"Should I hang on to what I know and refuse to upgrade my skills to meet a changing world?"

No, but for the zillionth time: not everybody is you. Not everybody is a white male educated middle-class guy, with the general knowledge of how to navigate middle-class society or get to middle-class society. All too many middle and upper class people seem to be blind to the privileges such knowlege and social skills give. These are things that have to be learned, whether as a child, or later in life, but lots of folks don't have lives that let them know about these things.

"If I fail to do that then I should expect a government handout?"

Depends.

"A secretary in Flint makes 6 figures."

A cite would be nice.

"Does not include all benefits Gary."

Do I take it that you didn't bother to read the linked articles? Moreover, why have we switched from talking about autoworkers to secretaries? Does the fact that current hires get "wages of $14 to $16 an hour" have no affect on your argument? Because it would seem to completely undercut your claim about alleged $75/hr wages. Because now you're apparently arguing that evil union bosses, making what other management makes, bear significant responsibility because of their fight to preserve $16/hour for auto workers.

"If you searched on union + automotive + $75 I am sure that you saw many."

I didn't. I haven't found that having an answer in mind, and then googling to find cites to support my answer, is a good method of finding information in an unbiased way. (I understate.)

I googled on "autoworker" and "pay."

I suggest that you call to my attention any cites you'd like to use to support your POV. If there's something that calls into question, or is better info, than what I cited, please let me know. Thanks!

It’s called “at will employment”.

I'd love to live in a world where simple at will employment would result in a fair shake for all concerned. That's not a world we live in.

When the folks who work for an enterprise are considered, by law and policy, to be stakeholders whose interests must be considered in management decisions, we won't need unions anymore.

Until then, we will. Not for all industries or skill sets, but certainly for some.

If we don't want an adversarial system, then we need to stop treating people like adversaries.

Thanks -

Third, where do you draw the line? You're willing to pay billions for a temporary fix for the big three. What other industries are you prepared to "save"?

Publius: I want to know how come you're not in favor of permanently bailing out the blacksmith and buggy whip industries, along with companies that made manual typewriters, 8-track tapes, etc. Every industry that ever existed in America should be maintained in perpetuity, right?

"Every industry that ever existed in America should be maintained in perpetuity, right?"

I'm not publius, but my guess is that he doesn't like straw as much as you do.

It's more useful to debate things people actually say, rather than what the voices in your head suggest you think they might say, which they don't.

Ever heard of a reductio ad absurdum? It's not the same as a strawman, although people sometimes get them confused. My argument is the former, because every reason adduced by Publius (saving "families," and preventing "economic dislocation") would apply to every other industry that has ever declined in American history.

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