U of M Economics professor tackles tough question of UAW wages

UPDATE: Link to source finally added. Our bad.

A tip sent us to the blog of Dr. Mark J. Perry, professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, who points out that hourly union workers at the Big 3 make on average 57.6% more in a year than a university professor with a Ph.D. Using figures from the automakers themselves, Dr. Perry tells us that a union worker at Ford makes $141,020/year including wages and benefits. A worker at General Motors makes $146,520/year and one at Chrysler earns $151,720/year. According to another report he cites, the average annual salary for a college professor in 2006 was $92,973, which happens to be close to the $96,000/year a Honda, Nissan or Toyota worker makes in the U.S.

Why trot out all these numbers? It's clear that upcoming negotiations between the Big 3 and UAW will likely yield concessions in both wages and healthcare costs. They have to if the U.S. auto industry is to survive. Dr. Perry references those who say the concessions must be "transformational", and to illustrate what that means, he suggests that Union workers would have to accept a wage equal to that of a college professor with a Ph.D.

We get that union auto workers are overpaid, we really do. Dr. Perry, however, seems to imply that there's something inherently wrong with a Ph.D professor making less than a high-school educated auto worker. The wage of a union auto worker, however, should come down because it's artificially high, not because the social order of education dictates that those with Ph.Ds should earn more than those who only finished high school. But hey, maybe we're being too sensitive.

[Source: Carpe Diem]

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