[Marxism] Union Jacob's Ladder: Slippery slide of US wages

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 15 04:59:25 MST 2013

> Workers' Woes
> Workers at a non-union Toyota plant in Kentucky have been offered
> incentives to retire early in order for management to replace them with new
> hires at a lower starting wage. The labor cost advantages formerly enjoyed
> by Toyota---the non-union premium---is no longer available to non-union
> plants in the auto industry. It seems the wages and benefits long ago won
> by a more aggressive UAW have retreated to the extent that non-union plants
> must now secure lower compensation in order to compete!
> Since the UAW has conceded starting pay in the unionized industry down to
> about $14-16 per hour, Toyota seeks to replace older workers making around
> $26 per hour in their Kentucky plant with new hires at $16 per hour. Thus,
> the union shops are paradoxically pressuring the wages and benefits of
> non-union employees downward.
> As reported in The Wall Street Journal, industry experts claim that the
> non-union manufacturers enjoyed a $29 an hour competitive advantage in
> wages and benefits as recently as 2008. By the end of 2011, they report
> that non-union labor costs were about equal with General Motors and
> actually higher than Chrysler!
> It is hard to imagine a more demoralizing consequence for the union
> movement in the US: if only the market, and not a fighting union, is to
> competitively determine wages and benefits, how does one entice workers to
> join the union? For the bankrupt UAW leadership, union growth comes only
> from striking a deal with the employers-- a deal that would promise
> collaboration and stability at the expense of workers' pay and benefits.
> The decimation of the living standards of US unionized auto workers came
> with the bailout and subsequent temporary stewardship of the auto industry
> by a Democratic Party administration. That same administration demanded
> plant closings and layoffs as a condition of the bailout.
> With friends like these, workers are sadly in dire straights.
> Clearly, radical changes are in order, changes that cry out for
> 1930s-style class struggle unionism and independent political action.
> Without a new direction, US workers will continue the descent towards
> Depression-era living standards.

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