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In Auto Bailout, Don't Make Workers Pay the Price for Corporate Greed

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Mary Shaw     Permalink
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I don't usually see eye-to-eye with George W. Bush, but I am grateful that he took some steps last week to bail out the auto industry.

After all, how could we bail out the Wall Street elite without also making an effort to save the largest single segment of the U.S. manufacturing industry?

In other words, how can we bail out the white collar bankers without making a similar gesture to save the blue collar auto workers who have traditionally formed the foundation of the U.S. economy?

The price of inaction would have been devastating to our already devastated economy.

Nevertheless, the auto bailout seems to be a soap-box magnet for the anti-worker crowd.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has already had to make some concessions under the bailout. But apparently that is not enough. Some people just want an end to unions. Gotta keep the power away from the little people.

I keep hearing the right-wing propagandists complaining that members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union make more than $70 per hour (thereby somehow justifying their demise). But that allegation is deliberately misleading.

The truth is that the average UAW member makes about $30 per hour in wages, bonuses, overtime, and paid time off, with maybe another $15 in benefits.
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So let's do the math:

$30 per hour x 40 hours per week = $1,200 per week.

$1,200 per week x 52 weeks = $62,400 per year.

Plus the usual benefits. Nothing special.

So the UAW members make a solid middle class living at $62,000 per year, for doing some good, hard work. What exactly is the problem with this?
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Many of their critics are in positions that easily yield a much more lucrative hourly fee. So why do they want to deny the hard-working auto workers their own chance at the American dream?

That, of course, is a rhetorical question. It's clearly all just a political or ego-driven thing -- or both.

So the anti-worker folks keep calling for labor concessions to keep the industry going.

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)

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