• Jan 31, 2007
Last year was the first time that non-unionized workers at a foreign-owned assembly plant made more than members of the United Auto Workers union make on average in a year. The Detroit Free Press reveals in a very interesting article that Toyota paid out bonuses of $6,000 to $8,000 last year at its largest U.S. plant in Georgetown, KY. Combined with the base pay made by a non-union worker at the plant, that equates to $30/hour or $60,000/year based on a 2,000-hour work year. That is more than the $27/hour or $54,000 a UAW member made on average last year. Union workers, or course, hardly received any profit sharing bonuses last year due to the poor overall performance of the domestic automakers.

This isn't actually surprising, as a matter of fact it was bound to happen. In many instances, Toyota and other large foreign automakers operating assembly plants in the U.S. pay their workers near-UAW wages in an effort to dissuade them from unionizing. In a year when Toyota's sales have grown to record levels and the domestics are losing market share fast, it was inevitable that Toyota's big bonuses would put the pay of its assembly workers in the U.S. ahead of the UAW, which saw no bonuses last year and likely won't for a few. The lack of overtime hours was another hit to the UAW that dropped the pay for many of its members. In time, as the domestics (if the domestics?) recover and the big bonus checks are in the mail again, we expect the UAW's pay to again top that of any non-union assembly workers in the U.S.

We recommend reading the whole article written by Jason Roberson from the Free Press, as there's a lot of layers to dig through with this story.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      Srkeegan
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Toyota employees also didn't have to pay between $750-$1,500 in union dues. They also don't have to worry about lost wages from striking.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Would you want my job at 30 dollars an hour?...
      without a retirement plan?
      without sick days?
      without respect?
      without a contract?
      Would you want my job if you had to have surgery on your elbows, back, and knees?
      Would you want my job if you had a Japanese trainer slap you in the face for making a mistake during training?
      Would you want my job if your group leader made the whole group sign a paper so you could go to the bathroom?
      Would you want my job if you have less than 60,000 dollars in your pension after 20 years?
      Would you want my job if you had no voice in the workplace?
      Would you want my job when the employer makes you pay more for your health coverage when they make billions of dollars pure profit every 3 months?
      Tell me the truth. Do you want my job?
        Srkeegan
        • 2 Years Ago
        P.S. complaining about making $30 per hour just shows how out of touch and myopic union workers are with the rest of the country. Last time I checked, Detroit isn't exactly California when it comes to living expenses. $60,000 a year is a great living even if the benefits were horrible, and virtually NOBODY offers pensions anymore.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Amen, I worked briefly in a non union assembly plant run by Japanese. The Japanese were ok, it is the American Bosses that were the aholes. Take a day off because you were sick, bring in a doctor note, they questioned me while I was trying to do my job on the assembly line, offering medical advice, getting in my way, asking what my illness was etc.....once the union got in, you didn't see that happen any longer. They knew better.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think that's a smart way. A competitive base, but with a larger variable pay component (10% - 20% of base) in the form of bonuses.

      Works well by helping to lower the costs of manufacture compared to rivals. As competively priced car sales rise, variable pay component can be adjusted according to the performance of the entire unit. Gives the company plenty of financial breathing space and helps fend off unionization.

      For sure high labor costs aren't domestic manufacturers only challenge.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "to the victor goes the spoils"
      • 7 Years Ago
      #32, It's not so much labor cost as it is percentage of profit earmarked for pensions and benefits that were forced on them by unions.
      BOBP
      • 8 Years Ago
      6. Under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles FASB 106 requires US companies to record the liability incurred for pensions and post retirement benefits. They are not on a pay as you co plan. They may not have the cashto pay those benefits today but they must accrue for them and record them on thier financials. This was largely why US companies took a big hit to the profits in 1992 when this pronouncement went into effect. IBM and GM at the time took hits around 20 BB. They are not on a payas you go system for these benefits.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yeah and lets not forget, when Ford was first founded they gave higher than average wages to their workers. So lets ignore their problems now because they did a good thing a hundred years ago.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #13...I know people who work for the UAW and work in factories. If they were found drinking and smoking pot on the job, they would be thrown out on their ass. And you make it sound like no one ever shows up to work. And the demise is mostly because of management. If all that stuff was going on, it should be the management's job to put it to rest. Also, management creates the drama and BS that goes on within the UAW. They are the ones that screw Ford and GM over because they get greedy. Talk to a factory worker. And I bet a lot of them will say that the UAW needs to get their shit together.

      Anyways, I dont really find this surprising. But should ANY factory worker that puts a dash together or bolts a chair in be paid $30/hr? Nope. I dont care what company they work for.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #17 don't put words in my mouth. People work better with incentives(rewards bonus s or whatever) A union demand better pay but not performance.Who are the awards from? In a union job, a worker is shunned if he works beyond what the rest do. He is considered to be decremental to the work place. Unions do not want the bar set higher. It goes against what they stand for. Unions became to be, because employers demanded more from their employees WITHOUT compensation.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have to admit I am not surprised by more than a few things.
      First: The article. Toyota understanding they are under siege from Unions (all over the world as far as I can tell) pay off the US workers with a bonus to hold off their desire to unionize. Now also we know these workers demanded this bonus. It was not Toyota being generous.
      Second: the general ignorance of the non-union worker and jealousy in the light of trying times. Construction workers, Police and Teachers all need the unions or the local, state and federal government would be giving them a royal screwing.
      People still blame the unions in bad times like it is their fault for everything. Unions allow workers to have a voice and fight.
      Third: The way people comment without knowing Toyota's stand on unions. They are brutally against them, violently in same cases. Bonuses come and go, Unions are far more permanent and the contracts they negotiate are legal. Toyota's promises not nothing more than words.

      Toyota is high on the hog today, and I do mean just for today. Will they take over the world? Only if you are bad at numbers and don't bother to educate yourself as to "why?"
      Does anyone remember when Toyota was a "Value Brand"? I sure do.
      Ford is not going anywhere, GM is not going anywhere. Toyota? Well just 15 years ago they had less than 2/3's GM's capitalization and 50% less production. Everyone seems to have forgotten Toyota's little stock tumble from $108 to $39 just 5 years ago. Did the Japanese government bolster them illegally? Yes. Did they have the right cars to sell at the right time? Yes. Will these advantages hold true forever? No. Funny how Toyota execs express worry at all the hoopla over their current status. Funny how the states that gave Toyota and other imports big breaks are now seeing the error of their ways.
      When the bonuses dry up, the Toyota workers will try to Unionize to get their rights back. Even in Japan Toyota is fighting a Union battle. They know Unions are bad for profits and leading workers on with performance based bonuses is not.
      Just like GM and Ford were forced to close older and under performing plants, local workers took the hit. When Toyota's heyday is over, the local worker will again fall victim. In this case, if they don't unionize they stand to loose much more than just a job. They will lose everything they have worked for and assure you, to Toyota it will be business as usual.
      • 8 Years Ago
      then take the benefit packages and add them all up. now let's see who comes out on top.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Fortune Magazine reports:

        Healthcare cost per vehicle:
        $1635 (UAW) $215 (Toyota/Nissan)

        Line Relief (extra uneeded wrkrs) cost/vehicle
        $630 (UAW) $0(Toyota/Nissan)

        Quality Issues Cost/Vehicle
        $815 est (UAW) $118 est (Toyota/Nissan)
      • 7 Years Ago
      Unions were not organized because of work demands. It was because of SAFETY, look it up. Manufactures in the industrial age had one common replacement part. The worker. One gets crashed there were more waiting to take his place. Workers comp was non exsistant. The company used the defences of presumption of risk or your coworker was partly to blame. Courts began to get all tied up and worker compensations laws started to be put on the books. The wages and benefits came long after the safety issues. So if your a UAW member and a new safety issues/policy is put into place don't argue and make more demands. Work with mangement to effectively implement it and realize it is the core value of your union and also so you go home free from injury or worse death.
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