$81/Hr: Globe Columnist Ignores US Automakers' Union-Wage Bind
That's not a typo in the headline. According to this Wall Street Journal article reprinted in the Star-Telegram, "on average, GM pays $81.18 an hour in wages and benefits to U.S. hourly workers, including pension and retiree medical costs."
But in his vituperative rant against the Big Three U.S. automakers, Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson manages to ignore the huge labor cost advantage enjoyed by non-union Toyota.
How much of an advantage? According to that same article, "Harbour Consulting President Ron Harbour estimates Toyota's total hourly U.S. labor costs, with benefits, at about $35 an hour." That's right, GM's average labor costs are 130% higher than that of the US operations of its Japanese rival. That translates into a $1,000/vehicle average labor-cost advantage enjoyed by Toyota. Thank you, UAW!
Again, Jackson breathes not a word of this in his astonishing diatribe. Annotated excerpts:
"For the fourth straight Labor Day, American soldiers are dying in a botched war in an oil-rich land. Big oil is exploiting wartime uncertainty by gouging Americans at the pump for record profits. Real wages for Americans have dropped since the invasion of Iraq. What is Detroit's response? Cars that get 17 miles per gallon on the highway and cost nearly $100 to fill."
Extra credit, Z, for managing to drag Iraq and [unproved] gas price-gouging into your rant!
"As Bush was in Yuma supposedly safeguarding us against Mexicans, GM behaved like an immigrant crawling through a sewer in the night, issuing virtually no publicity as it hired workers for a new plant in Mexico."
Sounds like Jackson has caught one too many Shawshank Redemption replays.
"You never see the CEOs of Detroit bow in apologia. All we see are more metallic mastodons. We all know what happened to the real mastodon."
Sort of like labor unions, Derrick? Their share of private-sector workers has shrunk to a barely-detectable 7.8%.
GM, Ford and Chrysler have to accept their share of the blame for agreeing to these contracts that are now literally killing them. But for Jackson to have written an entire column blaming the Big Three without any reference to their huge labor-cost disadvantage is intellectually dishonest.
FUNNIEST CORRECTION OF THE WEEK: The following appears at the bottom of Jackson's column. "Correction: In my previous column, I wrote that defense CEOs have been paid nearly $1 trillion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was $1 billion."
Hey, only off by a factor of 1,000, Mr. Jackson. Close enough when it comes to waging class warfare.