John Ransom

As the UAW rank-and-file continues to vote on the contract offer hammered out between management and UAW honchos, the Detroit Free Press reports that at least one local has rejected the offer, even though it includes a $6,000 cash bonus, a $3,700 profit sharing bonus and at least another $1,500 cash for each of the four years on the contract for a total of $15,700 on top of wages and benefits.

A similar contract offer with Government Motors (GM) contained a $5,000 bonus and an unspecified profit-sharing plan for union employees based on North American profits. And GM employees make less hourly than Ford employees do according to the Associated Press.

The hourly wage in the GM contract will continue to go down.

“The [GM] deal also will include creative ways to cut GM's hourly labor costs,” writes the AP. “GM pays around $56 per hour including wages and benefits, which is less than what Ford pays but far higher than other companies like Chrysler and Hyundai Motor Co.” Ford pays $58 per hour.

No wonder some auto companies needed a bailout. $56 and $58 an hour? Most CEOs and small business owners make less than that.  

GM workers, as a part of the Obama bailout plan, agreed that they would forgo the ability to go on strike against their government masters.

Ford workers did not.

GM has reported profits of about $16 billion in the last 12 months on revenue of $147 billion, while Ford has reported profits of $25 billion on revenues of $131 billion.  

But here’s a question: At $58 an hour, why the heck would Ford workers ever want to go on strike? That’s $121,000 per year in wages and benefits at a time when the average American worker makes $38,337.

And really: Who in their right mind would reject a $16,000 bonus at a time that most industries are shedding jobs and wages are falling?

Not Bobbi Marsh, someone who started working for GM right before the crash came.

From the SeattlePI.com:

Bobbi Marsh, a worker in Lordstown, Ohio, near Cleveland who is paid the entry-level wage [at GM], said a raise would be nice, but she's more concerned about job security. Marsh was hired in 2008 to help make the hot-selling Chevrolet Cruze compact car. She's worried that if sales slow, she could get bumped out of work by people with more seniority.

"If they want to throw us a dollar or two, I'm very excited," she said. "I really just need to keep my job."

That’s not the way Ford union workers are seeing it. 

The Detroit Free Press says that the voting is tight on the new contract, but by my math it doesn’t look like it’ll be approved.

“So far UAW production workers have voted in favor of the agreement by 50.1%, while 54.8% of skilled-trades workers have voted against the contract,” reports Freep.com.

“The results include votes from about 7.3% of the UAW’s local units.”

The local that reportedly rejected the Ford offer did so by narrow margin with 51 percent voting no, while 49 percent approved the contract. Given the numbers reported thus far, it doesn’t look good unless someone starts stuffing the ballot box.

But why would the union help the contract go through when they can teach those no-bailout sellouts at Ford a lesson and help Government Motors' profit-sharing plan at the same time?

But if it comes to a strike, there are a whole bunch of people just milling around Wall Street right now who say they are looking for work.  

$56 an hour will pay an awful lot of student loans.  


John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance.
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