Saturday, October 08, 2005

Auto Parts Manufacturer in Serious Trouble

I work for a small industrial paintshop that paints automotive parts, and other things, for several companies and we feel the pinch right now quite badly. However, the auto parts giant Delphi, located less than an hour from me, is in serious trouble and is making huge demands on its workforce. They are asking for a cut from $26.35 and hour to $10 - $12 an hour (which is, by the way, about the pay range of my shop.) I would say a 60% cut in pay is rather draconian, but I also feel that $25+ an hour for unskilled labor is extreme. Most of my co-workers, except for a few Union fanatics, feel the same way, believing that we are underpaid to make up for them being overpaid. (I am specialized labor and make a little under $12 an hour.)

Actually I believe that the 60% cut Delphi is asking the UAW to give is just a starting point for negotiations, and while the workers will have to give up something, possibly a lot of something, it won't be 60%.

I think part of our problem is a lack of history. My generation was born in the 50s and grew up in the 60s, which was, economically speaking, part of a unique period in US economic history. World War II had ended just over 10 years before I was born, and during that war Europe, Japan, Russia and China had been largely reduced to rubble and their economies were in ruins. America and Canada were still intact economically and thus it was going to be very very good for us, at least for a while until the rest of the world got their economy back together. During that time anything seemed possible and we grew up believing it was normal. Unfortunately it wasn't normal but a unique period in US history brought about by our economy being intact while much of the world was in ruins. Now it is back to reality as we are again competing with workers all over the world again.


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2:43 AM  

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