By on December 11, 2012

President Obama joined the debate about Michigan’s “right-to-work” law. “What they’re really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money,” Obama told workers during a visit to the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant in Redford, Michigan. He forgot to mention three important items.

  • The right-to-work law will put unemployed people in Michigan back to work. Given the choice, investments into new factories prefer right-to-work states.
  • Under the two-class system negotiated by the UAW, new hires already make much less money.
  • In a right-to-work state, workers have the right yo work for more money, because they cannot be forced to pay union dues.

According to Reuters, “the new laws are not expected to have much immediate impact because existing union contracts would be preserved, they could, over time, further weaken the UAW, which has already seen its influence wane in negotiating with the major automakers.”

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

207 Comments on “Obama Trash Talks About Right To Work...”


  • avatar
    cwallace

    Dude, you won. You can stop now.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Oh, Bertel, if it were only as simple as that. But you’ll probably manage to inspire all manner of heated emails that devolve into the usual hyperbole. So, I’m expecting much heat, little light. I’d love to be proven wrong. BTW, is this what is meant by “trolling”?

    • 0 avatar
      DJTragicMike

      I agree with this. Enough with the nakedly political posts. Bertel’s one-sided opinion is offered without evidence. This isn’t redstate or dailykos, you know. I’d go there if I wanted.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The spin of the article aside, where are the facts inaccurate?

      • 0 avatar
        DJTragicMike

        28 – What facts are you talking about?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Is it a fact under the two tier wage system, new hires are paid less? Is it a fact workers could potentially save money by not being forced to pay union dues? Do new companies who invest in manufacturing prefer RTW?

        I don’t know for sure but on the face of it I would tend to agree with these ideas.

      • 0 avatar
        markinaustin

        Look, of Bertel’s three bullet points:

        The first is speculative – although a point of gospel for most conservatives. It also omits the possibility that a “race to the bottom” by states attempting to be more “employer friendly” will end up lowering everyone’s wages.

        The second point is purely factual – no argument.

        The third point is simply incorrect. Paying union dues ≠ working for less money. The point of paying those dues is to support the union’s contract negotiation process, in which the union is attempting to maximize worker compensation. The assumption inherent in the bullet point is that the union’s efforts to increase or maintain compensation doesn’t outweigh the cost of union dues, which is, again, pure speculation unsupported by evidence.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        The first point is accurate b/c we know that several foreign factories have refused to create blue-collar jobs in Michigan, specifically b/c they didn’t want to deal with the UAW.

        The second point is factually correct.

        The third point is no more specious than Obama’s talking points.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      @JW, this is the posterchild of Trolling. Its all in the title. Gotta use terms like ‘Trash talk’ or ‘Dissing’ instead of ‘Debasing’ or ‘Upbraiding’. Gotta bring in maximum clicks and response for the advertisers.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Bertel, while I overall agree with what you’re saying, I feel a need to make a small correction:

    The right-to-work law will increase the chances of putting unemployed people in Michigan back to work. Given the choice, investments into new factories prefer right-to-work states.

    Let’s not make a good move sound like a miraculous move.

  • avatar
    Rday

    More nonsense from our president. what a waste of taxpayer’s money.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    It’s nice to see that the union’s meddling is coming back to bite them. I always thought the inability to maintain employment without joining a club was an odd idea anyway, glad to see that others feel the same.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Politicians often ignore facts, especially when they don’t augment their fastidious arguments.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Look, I’m hardly a fan of the UAW (I think it deserves half the blame for the decline of the US auto industry over the last few decades), but you forgot to mention one important item yourself: if right-to-work is so great for the workers, why did they exempt police and firefighting unions?

  • avatar
    MarkP

    Oh, please. You know as well as I do that “right to work” really means “kill the unions.” It’s that and nothing more.

    I really can’t figure out why so many people who write for and read automotive journalism are so anti-union.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      You can call it whatever you want, but at the end of the day the idea that I have to pay dues to a club to put food on the table is silly.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That and the proven trend some trade unions tend to destroy the industries they operate in.

      • 0 avatar
        Adamatari

        “You can call it whatever you want, but at the end of the day the idea that I have to pay dues to a club to put food on the table is silly.”

        Mykl, that is a very perceptive comment, probably unintentionally. It IS silly that workers have to more or less blackmail their employers in order to get a wage that pays them enough that they don’t need food stamps. It IS silly that employers can pay people poverty wages and let government aid cover the needs of their workers. Yes, it’s a ridiculous system.

        So, how do we get employers to pay decent wages? Should we put a ratio cap on the amount they can pay the highest paid worker versus the lowest paid, say 20 to 1 (my favorite solution, because then the CEO has to figure out the maximum he can pay the bottom in order to maximize his wage)? Or should we just raise the minimum wage until it’s a living wage? Perhaps a basic income?

      • 0 avatar
        Mykl

        Adamatari, if your finances are so thin that the $2000 average pay difference (see harshciygar’s post and references) between a unionized worker and non-union worker is the only thing keeping you off of food stamps you have bigger problems to deal with than your state flipping to RTW.

      • 0 avatar
        nrcote

        Mykl
        >>> the idea that I have to pay dues to a club
        >>> to put food on the table is silly

        You got unions on one side, lobbyists for the industry on the other. If we get rid of the unions, can we throw all the industry lobbyists in the ocean at the same time?

      • 0 avatar
        Mykl

        @nrcote, cheers to that. Let’s do it.

        Industry leaders aren’t exactly saints either.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @nrcote

        I agree, let’s send the lobbyists on a permanent swim.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        @Adamatari

        If unions really accomplish what you claim, why do they need closed shop laws?

      • 0 avatar
        Adamatari

        TW4, you may notice I didn’t claim unions accomplished anything, though elsewhere on this thread you can see the evidence that someone else has dreged up that union workers get paid more. Most workers in America are NOT unionized, which is why I suggest those three tactics to make sure the owners don’t hoard all the wealth (which is what they do now).

        Recap:
        Pay ratio limits in corporations (based on total compensation)
        Minimum wage to living wage
        Basic income

        A society can be judged by how it treats the poor (America is far from the bottom but also not near the top in that category – but our values have become warped to “I got mine!”). And I would say the CEO of a corporation can be judged by how he distributes his profits.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ 28-Cars-Later How do trade unions destroy the industries they operate in? There is a huge difference between labor unions and trade unions. Please do some research before you comment. @ Adamatari it’s called a contract that’s negotiated between the union and the company; it takes two to tango. @ Mkyl That two grand a year makes a difference in the real world.I find a lot of TTAC commenters love to play Fantasy Anti-Union League but just about everyone forgets these are real issues for real people.

    • 0 avatar
      lucasszy

      I cant understand why there are people out there that still think unions have a place in the modern world. Sure when it was meat packing and early heavy industrial work that killed workers regularly, with no recourse, there was a need for them. Now, the union leaders just make money off of the back of the regular (wo)man. Reality is that most people have no need for a union. The legal system protects workers well enough.

      In college I worked as a waiter in a hilton, and had to join a union to get that job. Did the money I paid ever benefit me! Hell No, same applies in the auto industry.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @ MarkP Massive hate for labor unions. Little understanding that union dues pay a union that writes the collective bargaining agreement. The collective bargaining agreement ensures good wages so union members can join the middle class and sent their kids to college, buy a nice house, etc. Not allowed to that according to arbitrary rules set by many on here. Thier minds will be frazzled when they actually take the time to learn about trade unions. What? They go through classroom training and robust OJT training? More training and OJT to advance in their trade? It’s nice to have have trained workers that are lifting and attaching I-beams 14 stories above the ground. Their retort would be: any schmoe off the street can do that for $10 an hour. Yeah, I used to be an Ironworker. Imagine he hand wringing and teeth gnashing when they find out about prevailing wage.

      • 0 avatar

        el scotto,

        Trade unions and industrial unions have enormous differences. There has always been tension between trade unions and industrial unions going back to the early days of the labor movement. Trade unionists in the AFL weren’t particularly interested in organizing industrial workers, hence the creation of the CIO. Trade unions have tended to be more “capitalist” if I can use that description. The late U.S. senator from Michigan, Pat McNamara, who lived down the street from me when I was a small child, was a labor activist *and* the vice president of a mechanical contracting company. I don’t think you’ll find as many left leaning unions (or members) in the trades as you will find in the history of something like the United Mine Workers. Trade unions have traditionally represented skilled workers, people who have more negotiating leverage with their employers who need those specific skills.

        So they’re not exactly the same kettle o’ fish, and public unions are in a completely different phylum.

        For the purposes of solidarity and political power, trade unions, industrial/clerical unions, and public employee unions work together for common interests, but there are significant differences between them.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Ronnie thanks for your, as usual, insightful comments. It seems to me that anytime the word “union” is used on TTAC the Anti-union Fantasy League comes out in full-force. Any union be it labor, trade, public are Minions of Satan under league rules. FWIW the Ironworkers sent money to the GOP for the last election.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @el scotto/Ronnie

        Actually on the subject on trade unions vs labor unions, how does this legislation affect a trade unions?

    • 0 avatar
      01 ZX3

      “Oh, please. You know as well as I do that “right to work” really means “kill the unions.” It’s that and nothing more.”

      IF the people actually wanted to be union members then that wouldn’t be true.

  • avatar
    shelvis

    Maybe Bertel’s political rants need a paragraph explaining what he does for a living outside of TTAC and why he is in China.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    I regret clicking on this post.

    Had there been a more-informed break down of what this COULD mean for the UAW, some hard numbers on right-to-work states (like say a breakdown of takehome wages + benefits, how many factories opened in RTW states vs. not), I would not have minded Bertel’s naked political opinion.

    Instead just more opinionated hyperbole; no wonder I find myself coming back to TTAC less and less.

    But since I am already here, I decided to dig up some pertinent facts on RTW laws and states.

    First off, the average UAW member pays between $700 and $950 a year in union dues. I imagine a lot of people would be happy to put that in their pocket.

    Source: http://bigthreeauto.procon.org/view.additional-resource.php?resourceID=2139

    However, the situation in RTW states isn’t any better. Of the 22 states with RTW legislation, 18 have an average household income below the national median.

    The U.S. Dept of Labor found that the wage difference across all occupations averaged about $1.58 an hour between RTW and collective bargaining states.

    Source: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcst.htm

    If you figure the average U.S. worker is putting in an average of 50 40-hour weeks (though most workers go well beyond that) then the annual pay difference comes out to over $3,100 in favor of collective bargaining states.

    Even in factoring in $1,000 a year in union dues, workers in collective bargaining states come out ahead by more than $2,000.

    Finally, if companies are dead set on finding the lowest wages possible, why not simply outsource to some developing nation where there are NO worker protections or union benefits?

    I do not love unions. I have no union ties. And I do not like the idea of being forced to join any organization.

    However, I do not like the concept of racing to compete with Chinese-level wages any better. Is it any wonder that as unions lose members and sway, wages across the board have remained stagnant at best? Except for upper level management, of course…

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      “Even in factoring in $1,000 a year in union dues, workers in collective bargaining states come out ahead by more than $2,000.”

      This is the difference? $2000 is nothing to sneeze at, but listening to the rhetoric you’d think that the difference was $10k+.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      harshciygar: Even in factoring in $1,000 a year in union dues, workers in collective bargaining states come out ahead by more than $2,000.

      You also have to factor in the cost of living in each state. “Collective bargaining states” tend to be located in the Northeast, New England and the industrial Midwest, where the cost of living is higher in than in the South or some western states (except for California, Oregon and Washington).

      Compare the price of a house in New England or New York, for example, to a comparable house in North Carolina or Texas. The price difference in that single expenditure alone probably wipes out the $2,000 pay advantage for collective bargaining states.

      Here in Pennsylvania, a company based in Philadelphia wanted to trasfer some workers to Dallas, Texas. The pay was less in Dallas (I can’t recall the exact figure, but it was more than 10 percent).

      Initially workers balked, because of the pay cut, but after some of them ran the figures comparing how much it cost to live in each state, more than a few decided to move to Texas.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s a very good point.

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        Michigan has a very low cost of living.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        It does?

        Thank God! The property taxes on my primary residence are a shade above $10,000 per year and I don’t even have a child in public school.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Michigan ranks 29th in the amount of state and local taxes per capita, and 21st in state and local taxes as a percentage of state income. Both figures are higher than those for most southern states (only North Carolina is ahead of Michigan in both categories).

        The collapse in housing prices in the state has probably helped lower the cost of living in Michigan. If I recall correctly, you can purchase a detached house in Detroit for under $20,000 in some neighborhoods.

      • 0 avatar
        nrcote

        geeber
        >>> If I recall correctly, you can purchase a detached house
        >>> in Detroit for under $20,000 in some neighborhoods.

        A detached house for $20,000? With all its doors and windows? No copper piping missing? In an OK (at least) area?

        After you, please.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        nrcote, I never said that the houses in question were four-bedroom colonials in great shape. But the decline in real estate prices in Detroit is reflected throughout a large part of the state – even for nice houses in good neighborhoods – which, in turn, has affected the cost of living.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @ geeber.

        I live in the tri-county area in Michigan.

        I will show you the areas where 20k will get you a dwelling unit and dare you to claim in good faith you’d risk life and property to live there.

        There are neighborhoods that housed the Barons of the 20s, with majestic mansions that couldn’t be duplicated today, and the people living in those neighborhoods have to hire serious grade security because they fear for their safety.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I have never been to Michigan, nor can I fully comprehend what’s going on there, but I do think whatever happens there in the next decade will be a precursor for the future of our nation… a bell weather as it were.

      • 0 avatar

        For less than $500,000 you can buy the mansion of automotive body magnate Walter Briggs (who also owned the Detroit Tigers and what was later named Tiger Stadium). It’s in the Boston-Edison district, which as DeadWeight alluded to, is where many of the homes of Detroit’s captains of the auto industry built fine homes.

        To be honest, though, is Boston-Edison more unsafe than, let’s say, living in Warren just north of Eight Mile, technically in the “suburbs”? I’m in the city a lot, at least by white-guy-living-in-the-suburbs standards. I was downtown yesterday buying some leather at Reed Sportwear’s factory store to make some color patches for a motorcycle club for whom I do embroidery work. Later today I’ll be in NW Detroit taking pics of a ’74 Maverick as part of a side gig I have helping folks sell cars on Craigslist.

        The other day I heard about a shooting at Six Mile and Greenfield in Detroit. I thought to myself, “that was close, I almost was in that neighborhood yesterday but something came up”. Then I heard that there was a shooting at Nine Mile and Coolidge on the same night. That’s walking distance from my house, in my own inner-ring suburb.

        So it’s an open question to me as to whether Detroit’s remaining sustainable neighborhoods are appreciably more dangerous in terms of break-ins and violent crime than some of the suburbs.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Ronnie, it isn’t just about statistics, but whether a municipality has adequate law enforcement with significant resources and quick response times, which the City of Detroit most definitely doesn’t (as their looming pre-packaged bankruptcy or emergency manager should make clear).

        You know as certainly as I do that the residents in what is an architectural & historical jewel of a neighborhood such as Boston-Edison would probably be willing to pay twice their already high tax rate if Grosse Pointe Shores would annex them (and GPS has a lower tax rate, even if still very high, than Detroit, but at least their residents get good city services).

        I used to work in the RenCen but don’t now, and I honestly can say I don’t miss working in Detroit, even with the “new energy” being brought by Dan Gilbert and a few others to the mix.

        I fear that a mortgage giant, along with Compuware, bringing along a few banking institutions and some other businesses, is not enough to create a long term sustainable model for Detroit given the city’s dire demographics, finances and the finances of the nation as a whole, for that matter.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        DeadWeight,

        I’m glad someone else in the Detroit area gets worked on thier property taxes too. However, for my $6000-7000 a year, I get to live in a city with no apartments, condos, or townhomes. Everyone pays property taxes, so everything is nice. Too bad Boston Edison, Palmer Park, Indian Village, East English Village, etc aren’t kept up like Huntington Woods.

        Ronnie,

        Does the level of violence in Detroit and events like the shooting at 9 Mile & Coolidge make you want to move further out? I often have to remind myself that I live less than 3 miles from Detroit. Making the drive down Woodward to Wayne State twice a week serves as that reminder.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I live in Rochester Hills.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Just be glad you don’t pay Huntington Woods millage rates in Rochester Hills. We are almost to 50 mills now.

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        Quick search on realtor dot com and I found homes under $30k in Ferndale. I lived there for 5 years and always felt safe.

        http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/860-Wordsworth-St_Ferndale_MI_48220_M45617-10033

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Even if your numbers are right, the risk of losing your job due to loudmouth unions bullying their employers isn’t worth it. Just ask the Hostess employees.

      • 0 avatar
        Adamatari

        gslippy, the Hostess employees very intentionally took their stance, as they considered that the wages and benefits they were being offered was as bad as having to look for new employment. Incidentally, that company was driven into the ground by venture capitalists.

        Nobody at the C-levels is going hungry. At what point are workers supposed to demand a better wage? Or should they just sit and take it as their wages and benefits are lowered over and over? Without a union, how can they demand a better wage effectively?

        Are we aiming at recreating the conditions of Bangladesh, where a recent fire at garment factories (making clothes for Wal-Mart, the Gap, and other American companies) killed over 100 people? Those clothes sure are cheap, though!

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        What “drove Hostess into the ground” was a change in customer tastes. Who eats Wonder Bread anymore?

        Venture capitalists tried to save it, but, for a variety of reasons, didn’t. It’s not as though Hostess was a booming company and venture capitalists appeared on the scene and ruined everything.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @Adamatari:

        As I’ve mentioned in other posts on this subject, the Internet and the US regulatory environment are the greatest enemies of the unions.

        Nobody in the US is chained to a job anymore, and freedom of information quickly reveals inequities in pay and working conditions. Moreover, the conditions in Bangladesh you cite are no longer present in the US because of OSHA, US building codes, etc.

        Regarding the terrible conditions at the non-union transplant factories in the US: The silence is deafening.

        As for the Hostess employees – only 3 of 18 plants struck, if I recall. I’m sure the families of these workers are glad the union stuck to their guns, ’cause looking for a job in this economy is more fun than working for lower pay. I’ve been laid off, and I can tell you I would gladly have taken less pay to keep my job.

      • 0 avatar
        silverkris

        Wrong on Hostess. Completely.

        Hostess had a history of being bought and sold several times over the years. More often than not, the new owners loaded up the company with high levels of debt, and then couldn’t manage themselves out of it. Where do you go when management screws up? Of course – nail the workers.

        Mind you, the unions at Hostess had taken severe concessions in the last bankruptcy to keep the place going. Well, just a few years later, they’re asked AGAIN to cut themselves to the bone. One of the orgs, the Teamsters, went along. The bakery workers’ union did some thinking and felt they were getting taken for a ride anyway and said, no, we’ve done enough and called the management out.

        So it ended up in BK court. Guess what? We find out that the top execs give themselves big raises while the company is sick, and not only that, they raided the workers’ pension fund for operating cash.

        If there’s any bullying, it’s coming from the feckless management and private equity folks.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      If those are the big differences, no one would care so much. I think those factoids are likely misleading. Having started my first management position in my teens I know two things.

      First, most people would rather not take a management job unless it pays a lot more (me included). Still, it’s not wrong for companies to expect people to become leaders to get higher pay, but the UAW and many other unions warp a more natural structure into union pay grades where slugs and leaders and all in between get paid regardless of value provided.

      Second, I can’t imagine how many cycles get used up at GM and Ford on the union relationship. I would tell any young manager wannabe to stay away from a UAW company. A better life will surely be had by going to a company where you and your workers can have a relationship without unions trying to intervene all the time. Higher ups will play enough stupid games to tip your stress meter. No amount of money is worth diving into the UAW cesspool.

      • 0 avatar
        harshciygar

        The point about cost of living is quite valid. That said, I shudder to think what sorts of wages and “benefits” corporations might push for without the fear of unions or unionization.

        What is the end game? Who here believes that without any unions at all, workers would truly be better off? What leads you to think that any massive entity where profit is the only marker of success would suddenly become a generous and benevolent master of your working life…and indeed your very existence, as health care remains tied to your ability to maintain a job?

      • 0 avatar
        Frank Galvin

        Some corporations are always going to act poorly with wages and benefits to cut cost and optimize shareholder value, i.e. WalMart. They will gladly forgo millions in legal fees to keep out a Union, again WalMart, Target, and FedEx. On the other hand, some retail establishments see the value in a long term, fairly paid workforce that is not subject to turnover, particularly Costco which will not be unionized due to lack of interest. Aside from 1 strike in the past twenty years, UPS is making money hand over fist with Teamster labor. Go figure.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Costco and Walmart are two entirely different business models, and appeal to very different types of customers.

        I’m sure that, if Walmart decided to turn its stores into “clubs” that people paid to join, and only offered merchandise that appealed to people willing to pay more (meaning, the merchandise has a higher profit margin), then it could adopt the Costco model for how it treats its employees.

        Only problem is that the people currently shopping at Walmart could not afford to shop at the “new” Walmart.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @geeber, so cheap prices and crappy merchandise excuses WalMart from treating its workforce with respect and a fair wage??

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        The Walmart version of Costco exists, it’s called Sams Club. Their prices aren’t much different from Costco. They have more stores than Costco. They pay less on average, and have fewer people on their insurance. And they aren’t as profitable as Costco.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        First, Walmart wages are in line with other non-union retailers. (Around here, there are no unionized retail workers.)

        I’ve worked in retail – at a store a few notches higher than Walmart in the retail chain – and the pay was lousy there, too. This was in the mid-1980s, when there weren’t any Walmarts in the area.

        Second, the profit margin on products definitely affects how much a company can afford to pay its workers.

        As a member of Costco, and someone who occasionally shops at Walmart, I can tell you that:

        a. Costco carries higher priced merchandise than Walmart does;
        b. there are fewer employees per store at Costco;
        c. the clientele at Costco is considerably more well-heeled than the clientele at Walmart.

        Only in the fantasy land occupied by many union members and Walmart bashers can a retailer ignore these salient facts.

        Third, if Walmart employees are unhappy, we only have to repeal the law that requires them to work at Walmart. Oh, wait, there is no such law…they are free to seek employment elsewhere, including at Coscto.

        Again, having shopped at both retail establishments, I can assure you that there is a reason many Walmart workers have not been able to land a job at Costco.

        Hint – higher wages bring higher expectations regarding skills and appearance. Even in the retail sector.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        We used to belong to Sam’s Club. The merchandise was cheaper at Sam’s Club than at Costco, both in actual price, and in quality. That was why we switched.

        And the clientele at Sam’s Club did not seem as well-to-do as the clientele at Costco (which would affect how much they spend at the store).

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        All the Wal-Mart bashing in the world doesn’t change the fact that they promote from within and their associate degree(at best) holding LCD staff hand everyone else’s MBA staffed executive core their asses every quarter. Too bad Hillary(on Wal-Mart’s board) and Bill(in China’s pocket) made them into a giant national wealth funnel, but there’s still something to be said for Wal-Mart, and nothing to be said for American business schools.

    • 0 avatar
      korvetkeith

      You can not like competing with China all that you want. That doesn’t change the fact that we do no matter what.

  • avatar
    scribble

    I object to seeing such an openly political post on this nonpolitical website. Run the site the way you choose; I just won’t be back for a few days. Screw this.

    I especially do not appreciate how hypocritical your bullet points are. You presented your unsupported opinion as settled fact. I felt like I had accidentally tuned in to Fox News.

    Do you want us to argue the merits of joining Unions here?

    Shame on you, Bertel.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Huh? Weird. I thought I had clicked on “The Truth About Cars”, not “Political Mewling by over-privileged white kids.”

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Race has nothing to do with this particular issue, although I understand that bringing it up is generally an attempt to hide the dearth of facts that could be used in a rebuttal.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        I don’t even necessarily disagree with Bertel on the facts here. It makes sense that companies would prefer to make factories in places that have “Right To Work” laws.

        What’s disappointing is the Fox-And-Friends, Breitbart.com-wanna-be tone.

        And perhaps I went a little far with the “white overprivileged” bit. Lets just stick with “Political Mewling”

    • 0 avatar
      keet

      there’s always some a-hole who has to bring race into it…

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        There always has been an inference of racism by over privileged white kids when talking about the UAW. The inference being my German car was built by blue eyed German workers who fanatical about their work while the UAW has blacks and eastern Europeans with funny last names, and hillbillies; and we all know their work ethic.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Wrongo Scotto, the UAW was one of the last vestiges of organized racism in this country. Keep it up though. Every ridiculous throw of the race card, much like UAW moves such as tiered membership, makes the truth more apparent to the sensible,

      • 0 avatar

        Landcrusher, while the American labor movement undoubtedly has a history that includes plenty of racism (particularly in the trade unions – though industrial unions also didn’t want to compete with the lower wages that blacks might work for), the UAW was probably more of an exception in that regard. Simply from the fact that the US auto industry was already employing blacks in significant numbers by the time it was organized in the late 1930s. FWIW, Walter Reuther was also a staunch anti-communist who worked hard at keeping communists out of the UAW. Perhaps in the early days of the UAW blacks were kept out of leadership roles in the union, but by the 1950s and certainly the ’60s, the UAW was in the forefront of the civil rights issue.

        I’m no fan of organized labor and think that public employee unions should not be legal, but one has to give credit where credit is due.

      • 0 avatar
        TW4

        The over-privileged white kids are taught about Gastarbeiter and Vertragsarbeiter. Over-privileged white kids are taught about union oppression of minorities and women in the US, and union ‘change of heart’ when over-privileged white kids stopped working union jobs.

        The German manufacturers have created the ‘expert craftsman’ and ‘expert engineer’ brands. The UAW obviously feel inferior, but rather than acknowledging the ineptitude of their labor management, they imagine that blue eyes and skin pigmentation (immutable characteristics) are the crux of the issue.

        The cop out to end all cop outs.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @stryker1: Nonsense.

      Obama’s continued intervention in the US auto industry is very relevant to this site.

      Labor rates and union activity is very relevant to the car industry.

      That’s The Truth About Cars.

      If you want a different opinion other than the editor’s, go read MSNBC.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        So do you really believe that’s the new plan? The Truth About Cars is going to turn from an informative/entertaining source for automotive news/reviews, a community united by interest and enthusiasm about cars and the auto-industry, to a GOP talking-points mill in opposition to networks such as MSNBC? Cause if that’s the plan, feel free to ban this account and sew the ashes with salt because I’ll be on my way, and have a nice life.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @stryker1: Don’t pretend that the auto industry, unions, and politics are inseparable. That IS part of the entertainment.

        If the benefits of unions to the US auto industry were so obvious, there wouldn’t be so much bashing of them here, and elsewhere. Instead, most defenses of unions point to the individual workers – most of whose jobs couldn’t be protected by the union.

        So the benefits of union representation exist only for the few who are actually working, but not so much for those the union failed to protect.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        whoa there. I never made a value judgement about unions one way or the other. Though if you insist, I will now.
        I believe, like most things that libertarians like, Labor Unions evolved out of the free-market that everyone loves so much, as a response to bad behavior by management. There’s no law that said companies had to sign contracts with labor unions (though now there is a law saying that labor unions can’t enforce parts of those contracts. Yay free market!)

        Regardless of all of that, again, my problem is with the obvious partisan angle taken in this post. Obviously this is a blog and not a journalistic institution, and so Bertel et al. can post whatever they damn well choose. However, I would argue that the quality and tone of most of the posts over the history of this site have more or less successfully walked the line of reporting controversial or occasionally political topics without jumping into the mud pit to wrestle the proverbial pig. Maybe that’s my rose-colored memory, but this post seems awfully out of character, and I really hope its not a taste of things to come.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Racist comments are not acceptable… Ever!

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        Fair enough, though its not really “racism” since I am also an over-privileged white kid, but obviously you wouldn’t be able to tell that over the internet. My bad.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The governor said the bill was about giving workers ‘choice’. Awesome ‘choice’ of words, since the Left loves choice so much. Except when they can legally attach your wages.

    • 0 avatar
      Grendel01

      The governor also said during the election that he was against this legislation.

      This isn’t about autoworkers, it’s about stripping unions of any sort of funding, thus removing their ability to contribute politically.

      If you can’t beat them by convincing people that you have better ideas, beat them by cutting off their funding. Detroit Free Press has a wonderful editorial about it right now. They endorsed him for two years until he flat-out lied during the election.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      I thought the left’s battle cry word was ‘fair’.

      As in, “I want the rich to pay their fair share”, or “That’s not fair that the rich are only taxed at 40-50%”.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        Where is this magical fantasy world where the rich are taxed at 50%?
        Does it rain donuts there? I bet it does.

      • 0 avatar
        YetiBoney

        Oh, and don’t forget the delicious hypocrisy of anyone person getting to decide what is a “fair share” is inherently unfair in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        Oooo, is this the game where we put straw-man arguments in the mouths of imaginary people and then courageously rebut them?

      • 0 avatar
        YetiBoney

        Well it’s news to me that the President is an imaginary person. It does actually make some sense, though…

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Stryker,

        The top two Federal Tax rates are 33% and 35%. I live in CA, and if you make more than 47.1k/yr, your state income tax rate is 9.3%.

        So, basic math generates the 40-50% number.

        Don’t hate on math.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        jkross22, that math is garbage as I already explained below:

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/12/obama-trash-talks-about-right-to-work/#comment-1978727

        Nobody actually pays those as effective tax rates. Also, it’s not clear if you understand the difference between effective tax rate and marginal tax rate.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        jkross, you are correct but for the 33% federal rate you need to have a taxable income of $178650 which means before deductions an income of somewhere north of $200K (remember medical premiums, 401K contributions, mortgage interest payments etc are deductible). So some people do pay 40-50% in taxes (local, state and Federal) at the marginal rate but it isn’t most people.

      • 0 avatar
        stryker1

        Don’t like California’s tax rate? Don’t live in California. There’s 49 whole other entire states for you to move to.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I voted for Obama – once . What turned me off was his bungling of the health care issue- I was for a real national health system , not what he’s come up with – and I was hoping that he would get out of W’s idiot and trillions- wasting wars in a more timely manner . I never liked his inserting himself into issues like this , which have nothing to do with the presidency and making him look like he’s on a permanent campaign .I find it unseemly and that it diminishes Obama in every way. Not that I voted for Romney , who I thought was an unbelievably poor choice for these times , instead voting for Gary Jackson or Don Johnson or whoever the Libertarian was. As someone who lives in Texas , perhaps the most anti-union state , no question that lowers prices and wages . But some of that is also the dramatic increase in immigrant labor , which has lowered wages for everyone across the board .

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Don’t see any need to comment on the poorly written one-sided op-ed, but would quibble with one thing that bill mcgee said:

      “But some of that is also the dramatic increase in immigrant labor , which has lowered wages for everyone across the board .”

      That is only true for unskilled and uneducated workers and only if we continue our current immigration policies.

      If we had comprehensive immigration reform where we encouraged skilled and educated workers to come here, wages for skilled and educated workers would actually go up, as shown by numerous studies, including by that great bastion of liberalism, the Heritage Foundation.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    For the billionth time, could someone who commented on how TTAC shouldn’t have political stories make a cogent argument on why they don’t just ignore them? Also, could you tell us how commenting about that isn’t just plain rude? Thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      Campisi

      The comments section is where open dialogue between site editors and the readers is to take place. Readers who have a problem with an article are naturally going to use the comments section to make their opinions publicly known, in the same way that approving readers would. Civil comments are not made rude by difference of opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        It’s not the difference of opinion that makes those posts rude. It’s the act of joining a conversation to tell the people enjoying it that they shouldn’t be having it. That’s just rude. The civil thing to do is to not join the conversation. There are many other conversations on this site and a bazillion on the web.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      I’ll don my trade union made chain mail and suit of armor to fight the slings and arrows of the anti-union commenters. This site has lots of people participating in the Anti-union Fantasy League, those who know little of unions accept they’re bad, and the random anti-union snarks from the cubicles. If that’s rude, I apologize.

    • 0 avatar
      shelvis

      For a site that paints itself as having integrity, it sure seems to have a hidden agenda.
      This isn’t the content that I come to the site to read. Any good business would listen to its customers and have open and honest dialogue with them about how to improve.
      If you’re going to be a mouthpiece for globalization and anti union, don’t lie. Come right out and bill yourself as that. Admit your slant.
      The only reason you wouldn’t, I would have to assume is to hide something.

  • avatar
    keet

    Look, you can have cheap prices OR higher wages, but you can’t have both! this is something that most of you ignorant union fools don’t understand… as you rush to Walmart (or wherever) to buy your Chinese made $250 bigscreen TV. You reap what you sow, and, there is no such thing as a free lunch!

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Doesn’t work that way. Productivity improvements can lower prices without lowering pay.

      A 1960 Lincoln Continental Mark V or Cadillac Fleetwood cost roughly $42,000 in today’s dollars. Compare the type of car you can get, today, for $21,000 (or half the price of the 1960 Cadillac or Lincoln).

      The new car will be safer, cleaner, more reliable, better performing, better built and more rust resistant that the 1960 Cadillac or Lincoln. All for less money. Yet, workers in one of the Big Three plants or transplant operations are making more than their counterparts did in 1960.

      The manufacturing sector is quite healthy in this country. We are manufacturing more things here than ever before. The catch is that we need at lot less people to do it – the number of people employed in the manufacturing sector in this country is at 1941 levels! Your beef is with improved production processes and automation, not Chinese workers.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Hey! Thanks for calling me an ignorant fool. Unions exists so their employees have Wal-Mart as an option, not the only place they can afford to shop. BTW it’s really hard, if not impossible to buy an American made flat screen TV. Poor example for you argument. Union guys tend to shop/buy union when they can. Their 2nd choice are usually places where employees are treated well. Don’t be shocked; some of us care about where we shop. Quick person example before I go. I buy groceries at Kroger, they’re union; Trader Joe’s; they seem to treat their employees well, Whole Foods, they seem to treat their employees well. Both TJ’s and whole foods pay well for retail.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        “Unions exists so their employees have Wal-Mart as an option, not the only place they can afford to shop.”

        I think you meant to say that “employees in union shops”, not union employees.

        Although, worded as you did, it would certainly be very true. Union employees appear to do very well for themselves.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Bring back Studebaker. Their employees got paid for piecework instead of an hourly wage. During their time they were the last Car company to pay that way. This blog routinely piles hate on American unions every chance they get. People blissfully ignore that two sides sign a labor contract; the union and THE COMPANY. GM signed contract after contract with UAW. If GM was dumb enough to sign contracts that included a clause that said: All five year old daughters of UAW members will receive a Unicorn on their 6th birthday; they deserve what they get. Of GM would spin that clause saying they were opening a bio-fuel facility that was fueled by unicorn manure.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you in principle of honoring your agreements, but UAW had Detroit by the short hairs for decades. The only way to gain leverage would have been to slowly move assets/facilities out of UAW’s reach or go bankrupt. Chrysler/GM did both and they still couldn’t free themselves of UAW’s nascent reach.

      Maybe all of this hoopla will result in a (needed?) shakeup of union leadership and perhaps an attitude change? Personally I think there can be a union in Detroit and American companies can build the better product in concert with said union workers, it’s theoretically possible.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        Up until the mid-80′s (I believe) the Big 2.5 could close factories and lay off workers without recourse. It was Roger Smith’s actions that changed that (After beating pay and COLA decreases out of the union, he took a $65/week paycut to show that he was feeling the pain too), think about how that went over. That and his $80 billion boondoogle, all based around the concept of eliminating the need for the UAW (line workers) in general, led to a great deal of contempt (understandably so). In the late 80′s Ford could have killed GM, they were turning in $5 billion in operating profits, while GM’s profits were nothing more than forcing GMAC to pay huge dividends to GM by issuing debt, so at this point Ford gave the UAW the lifeime employment agreement, knowing that GM would have to as well. GM’s operations were bleeding cash and marketshare like a jugular with straw, the $80 billion gamble kind of failed (epically), at this very moment GM had to take a $39 billion charge for unfunded healthcare liabilities, putting them into violations of all of thier debt cov. And right when ford could have stepped on them, a fear took hold (they had no idea at the time how much damage Smith had done and that GM was a dead man walking) that at any moment the old GM monster was going to pop back up and they didn’t want them to be to mad. Ford hired who had been the number 3 at EDS (the person originally incharge of combining the two, he knew how badly screwed up GM was better than any other person in the world). It was also at this point that Ford threw out Peterson and his team, brought in Trotman and the slow morass began until once again they had to bring in outsider in. Would make for a great case study.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Yes, that would make a fascinating case study.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        GM has regularly given the union largely what it wanted at negotiating time. That is because management really did believe that the next batch of new vehicles would reverse its market share decline and enable it to fulfill its obligations and turn a profit.

        Unfortunately, said vehicles have regularly failed to deliver those results since the mid-1980s. GM management never faced up to the company’s decline, and the reasons behind it, which stemmed from a changing marketplace, an outdated brand structure carried over the Sloan era and insular management unable or unwilling to address either issue.

        For what it’s worth, William Clay Ford, Jr., regularly had breakfast with UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, and told him personally that Ford was in dire shape and needed concessions from the union to survive. Ford got those concessions and work rule changes – barely, but it got them – ahead of GM and Chrysler. Rick Wagoner, in contrast, delegating the handling of all union matters to a committee, and, as far as I can tell, did not make it a habit to meet regularly with UAW leaders.

        The UAW has its faults, but GM has simply mismanaged its labor relations for decades. Ford has done a much better job of communicating with UAW leaders, and keeping them in the loop on various issues.

  • avatar
    BigMeats

    The tent-preacher works another desperate crowd.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Here is a thought, what if Mr. Obama is right? He is, after all, the president… He did come by the role honestly to, that has to count for something.

  • avatar
    malikknows

    Hey, all who say this is a political issue are right. I’m not a Democrat so I don’t patronize those orgs that support Democrats. That simple. I won’t buy a UAW built product as long as union dues go solely to Democrats. Unions have politicized consumer choices, and Obama has politicized the car industry. This is not good for any company or worker.

    Unions exert political power to get economic benefits. Economic benefits should go to those who provide economic value. When they don’t, as in low pay for workers who are providing more economic value, that is an injustice. But when economic benefits go to workers who do not provide economic value but exert political pressure, that is also an injustice. Unions specialize in the latter.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    Again, I think many miss the point. It’s not pro-union or anti-union to have a “right to work” rule in place. If the workers deem that a union is necessary to provide for their safety, better working conditions, or better wages, that opportunity still exists. The union simply needs to make a compelling case to the workers whom they wish to represent. If the workers see value – there shouldn’t be an issue. If the workers don’t see value – they opt to not pay dues.
    Why shouldn’t all workers have this freedom to choose?

    A politician who votes for right to work isn’t necessarily voting for lower wages, but simply the right for workers to choose.

    • 0 avatar
      nrcote

      >>> … but simply the right for workers to choose.

      Let me rephrase that: “… but simply the right for workers to lose.”

      See, that was easy.

    • 0 avatar
      YetiBoney

      Thank you! Based on some of these comments, you’d think Michigan just made labor unions illegal.

      Honestly, not a single person has presented a cogent reason for why workers should not be allowed to choose for themselves whether or not to join a union – if unions actually provide all of the benefits and do all of the good for their members that their proponents claim they do, then not one single employee would choose not to join them. So, what’s the harm with a right-to-work choice?

      Seems to me that if anything, it will make the unions work even harder to secure benefits for their members in order to entice others to join – that’s how competition works. Oh, and the whole “scabs will create a wage race to the bottom” argument is just preposterous – this isn’t the halcyon days of the Industrial Revolution anymore – OSHA and a billion other worker-protection laws coupled with the most amazing tool for whistle-blowing and fostering corporate accountability ever created – the internet – ensure that that argument is a relic of the history books.

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    The President spoke out against RTW on behalf of one of his key constituencies, and the 14th largest 2012 election contributor. (http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000070). Political or not, its newsworthy.

    I want TTAC to weigh in on such news; its germane and the new law will have far reaching consequences for Michigan and elsewhere. I don’t know Bertel’s political leanings, frankly I don’t care. His points are based more on reality, than opinion. At the very least it should encourage a healthy discussion on what this means to the US car industry. Instead, many of these posts are borderline ad hominem attacks. Grow up and suppress the need to comment if you can’t offer anything of value. Its better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool,than to open it and remove all doubt.

    Workers do stand to gain from not having to pay union dues. The collective bargaining relationship between management and union is calcified and archaic. I say that as a union / employee attorney based in the Northeast. Bertel raises an interesting point, if more workers are employed due to this law, doesn’t this rising tide help all workers, rather than a select few? A closed shop, or prevailing wages in the public sector hurt job creation and keep out competition.

    Unions fought long and hard for basic workplace rights, and speaking from the employee side, the FMLA, ADEA, ADA, etc, have worked wonders for my clients. Civil service protection that protect one’s job or enshrine just cause adverse actions also do good for public sector workers. But, a union is not exactly needed for those.

    Whats left is compensation and workplace rules etc. I’ve seen grievances arise out of the removal of Coke machines in a break room that have to be resolved through a lengthy collective bargaining process. An obvious anecdote, but an obvious text book example of the problems inherent in this workplace. The Arbitration that put back workers who were smoking pot and drinking at lunch, again, why would an employer want to invest in that type of a shop?

    On the other hand, construction unions provide multiple employers benefits. Problem employee on the jobsite? One word, and the union will take care of it. Need assurance that the people on the job are well trained and qualified? The Union can do that, in fact they go out of their way to train their people to offer a superior product.Obviously, one can bring up the Mob in NYC with certain construction projects, but there is a benefit to having union labor or that their wages may be too high (certainly true on public sector jobs), but private employers like what they get. I’m not worried about my construction union clientele. They adapt to the times, and work with employers to get work. The UAW is taking a beating, despite their extensive organizing in the public sector. Time will tell, but Michigan just gave them an incentive to change.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Thanks for speaking about construction (trade) unions. Former Ironworker here.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      Frank, you seem to be highlighting the difference between unions which represent skilled tradesman and unions which represent labor. I’m not sure how many here have visited a modern auto assembly plant, but there is zero thought required of trained workers on the line. They learn their task, and they repeated it, day after day, until somebody decides to rotate them into a another task where they learn it, and repeat it.

      I’m not saying that it’s not a hard job that doesn’t have its own set of challenges, I’m saying that the process of building a car is so refined that all the details concerning what has to happen and when it has to happen is so scripted that zero problem solving is required of the workers who perform the labor.

      This is in stark contrast to iron workers, electricians, line-men, etc. All of whom have to develop trade skills over a lengthy period of time to perform a quality service for an employer.

      So if unions exist not only to represent a group of employees, but also promise quality worksmanship from those employees, then this function is completely wasted on a business where employees learn their task specifically from the company they’re going to work for with a few weeks of classroom learning and OJT.

      • 0 avatar
        Frank Galvin

        Mykal – Granted, there are differences between the tradesman and the factory worker. The point I was trying to make is that a trades union has learned to be flexible to get its members steady work. They realize that there is no job until the next job, thus collaboration is key. They’ve changed with the times, Detroit has not caught up.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I proudly helped elect Obama twice, but I believe he is merely toting the company line regarding RTW.

    Personally, I purposely moved to a RTW state because of the union nonsense I observed and experienced in a union state. In my profession, I choose to pay union/organization dues because of my perception of what they can do for me. It’s been a great relationship.

    Everyone should have the right to choose their affiliation. That all RTW represents.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      RTW is seen as a threat to union loyalists/apologists because they believe if people are given, err, allowed a choice as to whether they want to pay union dues, they’ll opt out.

      They are likely correct.

      • 0 avatar
        silverkris

        Even with the RTW law, it’s not necessarily the case that workers who are represented aren’t going to opt out of paying dues. Michigan has a very strong union tradition that will encourage members to pony up. In NV, which is a RTW state, the locals that represent much of the service workers in the casinos get practically near 100% compliance because they’re well organized.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        silver, As long as workers are not compelled to join and pay for a union, I’m cool. That’s what RTW is for.

  • avatar
    slance66

    The Unions could probably avoid this by agreeing to a system like that used for people who are subject to licensing requirements. For example, as lawyer licensed in CA, I have to pay annual dues. The CA Bar used to include several fees for things like “access to justice” and of course for their massive lobbying efforts, mostly on behalf of the trial lawyers. Many in the profession objected, and the CA Supreme Court ruled that mandatory fees could not be used for that purpose. It was the right decision.

    The UAW could probably get away with a mandatory fee to cover the costs of the lawyers who negotiate the contracts. Then make everything else optional. Of course the cost of negotiating the contract is a tiny percentage, and wouldn’t allow union leaders to live like the corporate execs they despise, and to cozy up to politicians. It would be good for workers and bad for union leaders, so they fight it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “It would be good for workers and bad for union leaders, so they fight it.”

      Hypocrites.

      On another note, I love this “access to justice” fee. Its as if justice is a commodity and the CA Bar has seized control of the supply and will dish it out for pay.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Hmmm…Mark Perry an economist at U of Michigan has had some analysis on his blog that demonstrates that right-to-work states are out performing the rest in both job creation and wage growth (sorry, no link).
    Sounds like a win-win for the workers and a big loss for the unions.

    Good trade in my opinion.

    BTW, I work for a company in Michigan-recent biz friendly taxes changes in MI are helping us expand.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Next, they’ll change the name of this site from “The Truth About Cars” to “Lies About Politics.”

    In all seriousness, I do not come to this site to read political garbage. I live in Wisconsin, I get enough of that already. I come here to read about cars. Get back to writing about it or I’ll take my readership elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      If you find this article so upsetting, why did you click on it? And then comment on it??

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin

        I was hoping for a civilized conversation on how RTW may impact automotive manufacturers. This is an automotive website, after all; I thought maybe- JUST MAYBE- this would have something to do with the Big Three. Instead, all I get is Rush Limbaugh style rightist vitriol, with two mentions of the UAW to keep him honest. This is not a political site, and political dialogue has no place here.

        Maybe you could add something to the discussion, instead of trolling around asking people why they clicked on this link, when they’re likely upset about this post for the same reason I am?

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    Just great! Welcome to your $15/hr future, America. Good luck trying to buy the car you’re building. At $15/hr you’ll never be able to buy a new Nissan Versa even.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      For $31,200 ($15/hour) you can purchase all sorts of automobiles, as other commentors have stated your time in the union and inability to look at anything besides the UAW reflection in the mirror have completely distorted your view of wage reality in this country. Enjoy what you have, hope you get out long before the tier 2′s make up a majority of the union (if they stay in the union), because you might just find yourself voted out of a great deal of benefits, why they will be living like normal people. Thats the problem with unions in this country, always sacificing thier future for the present (sounds alot like politicians who want votes, how much do your union leaders make?). The workers at Mack wanted to make massive concessions, which still would have been great wages, the UAW told them that the 2 year buyout was a much better deal (until the two years were up), but the UAW didn’t want one group to give, that just might have mucked up things at the others.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Interesting fact, to enter the top ten percent of income earners in the nation, you need only earn $112,124. Think about that for a second; it sounds like a great deal of money but its really not. According to the tax website I attached, the top 10% pay 70% of Fed Income tax, so lets be generous and assume after fed/state/local plus deductions they only steal 40% of your 112K income. 112124 * 0.40 = 44849. 112124 – 44849 = $67,725. So $67K cash annually for you, your spouse and any children… how does $67K stack up in a world where:

      -Gas/gal is $4 and until Bernanke/Geitner/Obama are stopped it will never come down.
      -Milk/gal (around here) is about $4
      -The average home sale price in the US in May 2012 was $146,000.
      -Average property taxes in my county (Allegheny, 2010) were $2,551.
      -Federal debt is beyond $16T and counting.
      -Average transaction price on new automatic small car (Civic for example) is $16,369 plus taxes and fees, so figure at least $18K out the door.

      So I look at what I wrote above and I’m thinking if I live without any extravagance, life can be pretty manageable financially speaking, especially assuming no children. Now cut that figure in half, because most people I know don’t fall in the ten percent, and then it gets interesting.

      What I have learned is in order to live an ‘average’ live in the US at this point, you need to be in the 80-90th percentile of income. Very few of us are buying Versas for cash (as it should be), we are mostly just debt slaves.

      http://ntu dot org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html

      http://www.statisticbrain dot com/home-sales-average-price/

      http://usnews.rankingsandreviews dot com/cars-trucks/Honda_Civic/prices/

      http://interactive.taxfoundation dot org/propertytax/

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        If you make $200,000 as an individual (pre-tax) or $250,000 (pre-tax) as a married couple filing jointly, you’re in the top 3% of income earners.

        There’s a cognitive dissonance among the American Public as to how badly the middle class is getting absolutely smashed to oblivion (and the new taxes and elimination of deductions that will inevitably hit many who believe they’re in the middle or upper-middle class won’t help), and how incredibly tortured and misleading the “information” is that’s being generated by the Bureau of Labor & Statistics regarding job creation, inflation and just about any other economic metric.

        The “New Normal” is going to be much worse.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “so lets be generous and assume after fed/state/local plus deductions they only steal 40% of your 112K income.”

        You wouldn’t pay anywhere near 40% if you make 112K, even in a high state tax state like California or New York. Have you ever looked at a tax table?

        Very few people pay much more than 20% in federal income tax, and many pay less. The average for the top 10% is likely somewhere between 12 and 16% (81st-90th percentile is 7.7% for 2009, 91th-95th percentile is 10.4% for 2009, 96th-99th is 14.6% for 2009, and top 1% is 21% for 2009).

        Most of those that do pay more than 20% in federal income tax are people who are in the bottom half of the top 1% (99.1-99.5) and primarily make money from wages and not capital gains. Many of these people would be doctors, lawyers, other professionals, and some small businesspersons, but are not the robber barons of the top 0.5%.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I wish I could picture the endgame, what is the benefit of destroying society and returning to serfdom?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Ah but you must factor in additional taxes on your pay stub such as SS/OASDI (ordinary rates of 6.2% and 1.45% respectively) and state income taxes (3% here in PA on all income) and a local income tax which varies (most places in PA 1%, 3% in Pittsburgh proper). So this is 13.65 additional percent if someone lives in greater Pittsburgh. So even if the 20% overall figure in Federal income tax is accurate, you’re effective tax rate on earned income is 33.65% in my region. Notch the 20% figure up a bit a point or two depending on deductions and you can easily hit 35% in total income being deprived, so in fairness for around my way 40% is a bit off… although PA has one of the lower income taxes rates among the states, most seem to hover around 5%. Here’s one that would hurt just about anyone: Arkansas: 7% on income over $32,600

        The point is even being in entry level of 10% of income earners, being able to 100% pay for one’s own life and spouse is certainly possible but its still not a Rockefeller lifestyle. I find this rather interesting.

        http://taxes.aboutot com/od/statetaxes/a/highest-state-income-tax-rates.htm

        http://taxes.about dot com/od/Federal-Income-Taxes/qt/Tax-Rates-For-The-2012-Tax-Year.htm

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        You didn’t even read my post. People making $112K, as in your example, are paying between 8-10% on average in federal income tax, not 20%.

        There are also average figures on social insurance tax available:
        81-90th: 9.7%
        91-95th: 9.2%
        96-99th: 7.4%
        top 1%: 2.5
        http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=456

        So federal income tax + social security/medicare is on average under 20% for someone making $112K. Even a Californian or NYC resident would probably be under 30% at $112K.

        “The point is even being in entry level of 10% of income earners, being able to 100% pay for one’s own life and spouse is certainly possible but its still not a Rockefeller lifestyle. I find this rather interesting. ”

        Not that interesting. It’s quite obvious to people who make $400K/year that it’s not a Rockefeller lifestyle even at that level. It’s the top half of the top 1% where you get into the “I don’t need to work” lifestyle. As I mentioned above, even those professionals and small business owners at 99.1-99.5 are typically wage slaves, albeit high-earning ones.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I guess I’ll never cut it as an accountant :)

  • avatar
    Waterview

    To “NRCOTE”

    What do workers lose? They can still join unions, collectively bargain for higher wages, working conditions, etc. The only thing that’s changed is the union’s ability to mandate participation. Shouldn’t the union expect workers to choose to,pay dues if they feel like they’re getting something of benefit?

    I’m very supportive of unions, higher wages, safe working conditions and I spend my own funds on union tradesmen when possible. But I don’t believe these workers should be forced to pay if they don’t see it working to their collective benefit.

    • 0 avatar
      nrcote

      Under RTW legislation, a worker doesn’t have to join a union, but he will benefit without paying dues. Is he a winner or a freeloader?

      Moreover, I found that:
      “Wages in right-to-work states are 3.2% lower than those in non-RTW states” according to a study published by the Economic Policy Institute in February 2011 (source: Wikipedia). That Institute is “left-leaning” according to another source, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

      I could include longer quotes with links but that would go against TTAC’s rules as I understand them.

      As I see it, with RTW legislation, the right to choose is a right to lose. Feel free to disagree.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Right-to-work states tend to have lower taxes and an overall lower cost of living than other states, so the lower pay doesn’t necessarily translate into a lower standard of living. Compare housing prices in Texas to those in New Jersey, for example.

  • avatar
    George B

    Bertel, the only connection this event has to cars is the setting. I would expect TTAC to offer some auto industry insight into the likely result of right to work on auto parts suppliers. What has a similar right-to-work change in Indiana done for the auto industry, for example. Give us more interesting auto industry information and less politics.

  • avatar
    carve

    This isn’t so difficult, people. I’ll use round numbers to make a point, but the real ones probably aren’t so terribly far off.

    Scenerio 1: One autoworker makes 50k, pays 5k to the union and his buddy is out of work and gets $25k of unemployment benefits per year. We have one man year of productive work at a cost of $80k to the economy.

    Scenerio 2: Both autoworkers make $40k. We have two man years of productive work at a cost of $80k to the economy. It makes us MUCH more competitive in the global economy.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Thank you, Mr. Schmitt, for an excellent and highly relevant article.

    Michigan lost about a tenth of its population in a decade. Detroit is a hollowed-out wasteland. It’s reasonable to try something different.

    The other day I read only 11% of a union’s dues was spent on things related to collective bargaining. To a great extent, union dues are put on a transmission belt to the Democratic party. Payback is expected.

    Studebaker historically had a benevolent attitude toward the workforce. The good feeling wasn’t reciprocated. When the desperate company attempted reforms (workers often could meet daily quotas by mid-afternoon) the union went out on a crippling strike.

    The UAW played a role in raising members’ wages to handsome amounts, but what really made it possible was the Big 3′s oligopoly power over prices. Higher labor expense could then be shifted to consumers. Competition from foreign automakers broke that mold.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The headline is pure genius. Divisive headlines always get so many more clicks and it has paid off: What was a small bit of yesterday’s news has turned into a click bonanza. Makes you wonder if all the effort the other contributors put into reviews is really worth it when you could start a car themed political pundit blog and take revenues to the next level. It’s much less work too – no research is required – just a mix of gut instinct base emotions mixed with talking points from various like minded industry groups and think tanks. Forget Edmunds with their information fetish – that’s like cable news was 20 years ago. You could have the conservative car loving public (which is probably more than 50% of car lovers) all to yourself. Think of the traffic!

    And let’s not stop at “unions are ruining country” but also cover everything from “the nanny state is trying to take control of your freedom machine” to “American drivers are the most overtaxed in the world”. Once you can produce synthetic outrage on demand the checks will start rolling in.

  • avatar
    Volts On Fire

    In the days leading up to any war, there comes the point when you realize you cannot negotiate with your enemy, you cannot reason with them, and you cannot reach any agreement with them.

    If you’re going to win against your enemy, sometimes you are presented with no choice except to simply eliminate them — or at least strip their ranks of all influence, to the point they are no longer politically or socially effective.

    There are many conservatives who have reached this point with the loony lefties, entitlement hordes, and the unions. We’ve seen the first “shots” fired (metaphorical for now…) in Wisconsin, and now Michigan. Interesting times are ahead.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      So the majority of the country who just reelected the president are your enemy?

    • 0 avatar
      smartascii

      As other commenters doubtless will point out (or already have), the rest of America is not your enemy. Each side has made the other out to be a villain of dastardly proportions because that’s the only way to distract you from the fact that a) they suck, b) they’ve sucked for a while now, and c) all available evidence points to the fact that they’ll suck for the forseeable future. Movements like the Tea Party start out as a genuine desire to offer an alternative to this epic fail, but they rapidly become subsumed by the beast and start Hoovering right along with the rest of them.

      If the loony lefties, entitlement hoardes and unions – all of whom appear to believe that work should be fairly paid, those without should be cared for, and those who’ve paid into social insurance programs should be able to collect – are your enemies, who are your friends?

      Unions are a response to the fact that some employers view their employees as machines to offer the maximum possible output for the minimum possible price. In industries where this is not the view, there tend not to be many unions. See: Oil & Gas. Can it get out of hand? Yup. Can it exacerbate the antagonism between employer and employee that probably brought about the union in the first place to the point where success for either is impossible? Yup. Will unchecked, unregulated employers without unions opposing abuses play nice anyway? Nope.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        smartasci: If the loony lefties, entitlement hoardes and unions – all of whom appear to believe that work should be fairly paid, those without should be cared for, and those who’ve paid into social insurance programs should be able to collect – are your enemies, who are your friends?

        All of them believe that? If you believe that, then you must have just fallen off the turnip truck.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “If the loony lefties, entitlement hoardes and unions – all of whom appear to believe that work should be fairly paid, those without should be cared for, and those who’ve paid into social insurance programs should be able to collect – are your enemies, who are your friends?”

        Those aren’t real objectives, just lies told to the most easily duped. Political scientists always talk about the ‘unintended consequences’ of social programs. The destruction of families, the creation of the structurally dependent, the dysfunctional people and institutions left in their wake are supposed to be accidental, but they were all completely foreseeable and foreseen. I’m increasingly meeting Obama voters who know just what they voted for. They see people as a plague on the planet and want the world’s population reduced drastically. That’s what they voted for, and that’s what they’ll get. All the policies that coincidentally weaken people and society are just landmarks on their path.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        CJ hit the nail on the head. Now tell me, all you enlightened liberals and union sycophants: do you really expect people on either side, with such completely disparate ideologies in direct conflict with one another, to ever find a way to coexist? I think not.

        Further, it appears lots of proud union members feel the same way – judging by numerous reports of union thugs that are now openly assaulting conservatives in Michigan today. At this rate there will be gun battles on the streets within a year… and I can’t bring myself to hope that doesn’t happen, because there’s a lot of scum out there that needs to be eradicated.

        Sometimes all-out war is necessary. Like it or not, that’s definitely the way we’re heading.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Volts on Fire U.S. military members swear to defend and support the Constitution of the United States of America. There are enough laws, regulations, and integrity in the military that someone could write the PHD thesis on why a junta won’t happen in the US. There’s a large gulf between watching Fox News, listening to Rush, and bitching about the “dimmycrats” and actually taking up arms against your country.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        You just keep telling yourself that. As I said before — interesting times are ahead.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “If you’re going to win against your enemy, sometimes you are presented with no choice except to simply eliminate them — or at least strip their ranks of all influence, to the point they are no longer politically or socially effective.”

      I think your political opponents already figured that out.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        I’m optimistic that my side has most of the guns. (Not to mention the U.S. military, which has no love lost for the current administration or direction this country is heading.)

      • 0 avatar
        sfdennis1

        @Volts
        As the commentary on this site devolves into “Teabaggers Trash-talkin’ About Crap”, you are truly the poster child.

        Thinly veiled references to an armed insurgency, coupled with a puffed-out chest (delusional) assumption that any significant number of the American citizenry would support or tolerate violence against its fellow citizens (outside of those fringe-dwellers who live in GlennBeckistan or Limbaughheights), and a complete lack of any ability to dialog and reason with opposing viewpoints…shows you to be a wingnut of the highest order.

        Just a wake-up call, but an angry, intolerant and reactionary militia mindset is viewed as TREASONOUS, not patriotic, by the VAST majority of Americans.

        As ‘your team’ got it’s azz handed to it by the voice of the American population in the last election, the only thing you’re “at war with” is sanity. Keep calm, and consider medication please.

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        No comment on any of that lefty blathering and ridiculousness, other than I’m frankly amazed sfdennis1 took the time to type all of that out… especially since he likely only used one hand.

        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=sfdennis1

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I see people using the word “unions” like someone using “coke” to describe any cola based carbonated beverage. Please remember there are basically three different types of unions in the US: Labor, Trade, and Public. Each have different standards, training and objectives. The Anti-union Fantasy League seems to overlook that.

    • 0 avatar
      NYCER

      Yeah, the three “different standards” are;
      1 Power and money
      2. Power and money, and
      3, Power and money.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        FWIW my old union sent money to the GOP last election cycle. Trade union guys tend to focus on training and standards for their guys. Most could give two hoots about national level union activities. They’d rather be out building stuff. Money and power my ass!

  • avatar
    lon888

    As a blue person stuck in the middle of a completely red state let me offer these points. President Obama is a democrat, so he is going to support unions win, lose or draw. That’s what democrats do. We had a GM plant here until the early 2000′s when it was shuttered. It inssited on making large SUV’s at a time when fuel prices were very high and people wanted smaller (read fuel efficient cars). This state is a right to work state and hasn’t had a large manufacturing complex since GM shuttered. We did try to court the Chinese when they were going to make MG’s again. That didn’t work out either. So here we are a red, right to work state with no manufacturing complex. The other southern states that have non-union car plants are quite lucky to have them. Right to work is no guarantee manufacturing jobs are going to beat a path to your door.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      Are you in Georgia? What about the new Kia plant?

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      There are no guarantees, but have you considered the plant may have never been there if you weren’t a right to work state? It’s just bad luck it was set up to make a less popular vehicle, but maybe that’s why they put the plant there to begin with- so they weren’t shackeled with union demands when gas prices went up.

  • avatar
    DAC17

    Is this about the same union that just got the 13 drunk and stoned guys their jobs back?

    Enough said.

  • avatar
    NYCER

    Funny that when Wisconsin was in turmoil over a right-to-work law before the election, O’Bummer was as quiet as a mouse, saying that it was not federal business, but now that he has nothing to lose he’s all over supporting the unions in Michigan’s attempt to open up the state to get more jobs.
    Have we ever had a more duplicitous White House occupant? Not in my memory. Goodbye free America! Hello, Socialism!

  • avatar
    redav

    He didn’t join the debate, he joined the propeganda.

    There is vertually no debate left in the world of politics.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    And here I thought naked politics would stop with the election.

    I wonder what’s up at Jalopnik, haven’t been there in months. I don’t even like Obama – but this is such a troll for clicks and if the Editor in Chief is going to be utterly naked in their politics, and use The Truth About CARS as a bully pulpit. *sigh* I can watch Bill O’Reilly instead. At least there is more entertainment value.

  • avatar
    kenzter

    Of the 10 states with the highest poverty rates, 8 of them are right to work states. Doesn’t seem to be working so well for them.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      It’s working perfectly.

      Soon we can be building stuff for China – predicted to be our new overlords in the next 18 years.

      Our reign is over to the thunderous applause of the electorate – who will rip each other to shreds in another 20 to 30 years blaming each other on why we have to learn how to say, “would you like fries with that,” in Mandarin.

      Thank God I’ll be retired. Feel awful for my children.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Much can happen in twenty years, China is overdue for a revolution.

        I have been reading about rumors of large amounts of money and assets secretly leaving China for about a year or so, if this article is true why are the elites moving so much money overseas?

        http://dailyreckoning dot com/chinas-3-8-trillion-hemorrhage/

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Manufacturing output in this country is at record levels. What has declined is manufacturing EMPLOYMENT. It is at 1941 levels. Why? We have learned to make more stuff with fewer people.

      The real challenge is presented by automation and improved production proccess, not off-shoring. Sorry, but making things like we did in 1965 isn’t the answer. Nor is wailing about the Chinese.

      The fact that eight of the 10 poorest states are right-to-work states is meaningless. The right-to-work laws did not cause those poverty rates. Those states were already poor.

      Most right-to-work states have been located in the South, and the South has been poorer than the North and Midwest since the end of the Civil War. The right-to-work laws have had nothing to do with that fact. Maybe you should blame President Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysses Grant and General William Tecumsah Sherman.

      • 0 avatar
        silverkris

        Yes, much of the South is RTW, and hostile traditionally to unionizing.

        Yes, the poorest states are RTW states cuts both ways. So if they were already poor and still are, so has RTW helped them?

        Oklahoma has actually seen a reversal of the initial growth in manufacturing jobs since its right-to-work law passed in 2001. In the cases of “higher-tech manufacturing, to ‘knowledge’ sector jobs, or to service industries dependent on consumer spending in the local economy—there is reason to believe that right-to-work laws may actually harm a state’s economic prospects.”

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        As I said in my prior post, manufacturing jobs are being lost due to automation and improved production processes. Throughout the nation, manufacturing jobs have declined by 1/3 over the last decade. Meanwhile, manufacturing output has CLIMBED by a similar amount over the same decade. Oklahoma was not immune to those trends.

        The closure of GM’s Oklahoma City assembly plant in 2006 helped fuel the decline of manufacturing jobs in Oklahoma. Workers in all GM plants are automatically a member of the UAW, even if said plant is located in a right-to-work state. Apparently union membership doesn’t guarantee one a job. That’s the real story in Oklahoma.

        Blaming the passage a right-to-work law by the Oklahoma state government on manufacturing job losses is quite a stretch, at best.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      That’s a heck of a strawman argument!

      Fundamental Attribution Error.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    This discussion isn’t going anywhere, but a few people have made comments that bring up something much less controversial and worth saying.

    No matter what anyone ever says, does, or legislates, the most important thing an individual does economically is decide who to do business with. Taking employment is the most important part of that. There is no free lunch. What you decide has consequences and many of those are not obvious.

    The government will never solve this situation. On the contrary, it will always exacerbate the problem by regulating employers so their differences are hidden or the bad employers take harsher means to achieve their goals. Meanwhile, as an employer itself, the government will be just as bad as anyone else. Employers and employees are people and quality varies.

    It’s up to you. Deal.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Love all the percentages of who makes what. Most members of the top x percent spend most of their lives in a much lower x percent. A lot of the top earners have been in trade unions. Not too many have been in shop unions except the ones who knew they weren’t staying and the ones running the unions.
    I suppose, if you really have no economic ambition, you may never make it to the top five percent, but most people certainly can. I wonder how many actually do. That would be an interesting stat.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Right To Work was instituted in Oklahoma as a result of vote of the people. RTW had nothing to do with opening or closing the Oklahoma City assembly plant. The factory was noted for high quality, but its distance from suppliers in the upper midwest was a disadvantage. The last product made there was the GMC Envoy and the like. The decision that there would be no replacement product was made at headquarters, to Oklahoma’s sorrow.

    • 0 avatar
      silverkris

      Agreed. In mentioning the case of Oklahoma, I didn’t even consider the case of the GM OKC plant. My point was that RTW laws that are made “to make the state more business-friendly” don’t necessarily have the impact that its supporters hope for.

      The GM-Toyota NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA, was in a similar position – very successful and known for its high quality work, but being the only remaining final assembly vehicle plant in California, it too was far away from many suppliers. What finally killed it was a combo of
      1) 2008 crash – depressing demand 2) GM walking away from it due to financial problems, leaving Toyota to shutter it.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      So what you guys are saying is doing the right thing is no guarantee? Well, yeah. That’s why there are still Keynesian economists even after Keynes himself rebuked their misuse of his work.

      Some guy, somewhere, can always find a factoid to show the other guy’s theory is unsound while his is a sure thing.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States