Monday, November 24, 2008

Autoworker Mythology

Have you heard the myth about autoworkers making $70/hour?


  1. Can anyone explain to me what the "job bank" is? I was told it was union members getting paid for not working? Does this truly exist?

  2. basically....but some people in the job bank actually did work for non-profit organizations in the area...such as churches, fraternal organizations and the like.

    i know one guy who is a tradesman and his last job bank assignment was scrap booking for the union hall.

    also, some of the guys used to do handicap ramps for needy citizens

    it seems that some job could be done in the plants to add to the productivity....but they can't cross those union lines

  3. I believe the $70.00 per hour figure is probably stated incorrectly.  It is not an exaggeration to say that past recent performance has resulted in a cost of around $70.00 per hour for each union man-hour consumed in building cars and trucks.  This takes in lots of labor related overhead, retirees, job bank, health insurance, etc.  The figures I read say that $31.00/hour is more in line with the actual hourly rate of many native US auto workers.  There are currently around 12,000 displaced autoworkers in the combined UAW job bank, averaging over $30.00/hour/40/hrs/week to do nothing more than show up each day and be available for, I'm not sure what.  It is also unclear how long they can remain in the "on the bench" category due to plant closings and job loses from manufacturing automation.  The big 3 are pushing the UAW to get rid of this program.  If you the reader were a displaced autoworker, would you want this bebefit, I bet yes.  Even with this benefit, would you be a happy "on the bench" autoworker.  I bet no.  These union workers are doing nothing more than using some of the benefits their union won for them years ago.  On a personal note, I also have worked with the good and bad of our unionized big 3 workforce, as a union person and then on salary.  I remember lots of people who wouldn't do more than the absolute minimum required in their written job description.  Then there were the many who couldn't do enough to help wherever help was needed.  I really can't judge them either way.  I remember one of my aunts telling me that back in the 40's she had to show up at the AC Spark Plug cafeteria at 6:00 am and sit there off the clock, until her department needed to make a production run.  If the foreman came by at 10:00 am to get 20 girls for a 2 hour run and she was in the bathroom, tuff luck.  She might not work that day.  Nobody from Flint Michigan should ever wonder if the UAW was needed or not.  Even today, upper management truely doesn't give a hoot about their workers (union or salary). Each member of their workforce is nothing more than a tool to be kept in some sort of reasonable working condition until needed. In my opinion the problem has been, collective bargaining that fails to stop short of stupidity (on both sides).

  4. It still exisits with roughly 1000 union members in the job bank compared to 12,000 members three years ago. When you get laid off you can join the job bank and get paid for doing nothing but waiting for a new job offer. They were able to collect FREE money indeffinately untill this last contract which put a 2 year limit on it.. But still, no wonder they're broke.

    Dont forget about the 7 million dollar a year endorsement GM paid Tiger Woods for the past nine years just for putting GM patch on his golf bag. ROFL.

    Epic Fail.

  5. From what I understand, it was created so workers who lost their jobs to robots would get paid until more work was found for them. Since that never really happened, what you said is right: people were paid to not work. I remember hearing complaints from working UAW members about the jobs bank guys playing cards and getting paid $20/hour. It was a good idea, but executed miserably. I don't think it exists anymore, as I think it was given up during the last contract negotiations.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at