Some things have really been bothering me about the auto bailout talk vis-a-vis the financial sector bailout, and especially the recent Citigroup bailout.
First, I agree with Rachel Maddow that something seems off when the (white collar) financial sector can get a quick bailout with few strings attached with no blame placed on employees and CEOs compensation structure (or any suggestion that it be revamped to take the federal funds), but in the case of the auto manufacturing sector, the quick blame is placed on the unionized workers, with their outrageous expectation for health care and decent wages. These worker “demands” are unreasonably passed on to consumers in the form of higher vehicle prices, according to conservatives like Cal Thomas, and that’s the real reason US car manufacturer’s cannot compete. Meanwhile, CEOs still rake in overly inflated incomes, benefits, stock options, and other perks instead of lowering vehicle prices so as to not “pass on” health care costs to the consumer. Be sure to check out this excellent analysis of the cost-per-employee figures being used to blame union labor.
Class warfare, indeed. I don’t mind criticizing compensation structure, but how is unionized labor being blamed for the failure of the auto industry? What about the auto CEOs? And finance CEOs compensation is irrelevant to their bailout? This is akin to blaming welfare to the poor for the economic strain on the middle class, while the average compensation for an S & P 500 CEO in 2007 is projected to have been $14.2 million; in 2006 the average Fortune 500 CEO received $10.8 million, which is 364 times the average worker. In 2007, the Ford CEO’s total compensation was $21,670,674, and GM’s CEO’s was $14,415,914. The average of auto worker’s wages (not the pay of the average worker, but the average of workers’ pay) is $20.53/hour, or $42, 702/year–just below the median income. And it’s the unions’ fault?
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