That wide range is one of the things the union is beefing about. One of the concessions made in 2009 was a tiered wage structure: new hires make dramatically less than people who have been with the company since before 2009. The President of the union, who, admittedly, has a vested interest, has said that a worker starting at the big three today, makes $10/hr less than the starting wage in 2007, and does not get a pension, like the older workers do. Note, a few months ago, Stellantis offered buyouts to some 31,000 hourly, and 2,000 salaried people, presumably those who have been there since before 2009, and thus earn the pre-bankruptcy wages and have a pension.
The second problem with trying to get a handle on what an autoworker earns is how many hours the company works them. By it’s nature, an assembly line requires someone at every workstation, so management can impose “mandatory overtime” to force people to work. The local news interviewed a woman working at Sterling Heights Assembly (Ram 1500). She said the only way to make the sort of money management complains autoworkers make is “to live in the plant, work seven days a week”. And yes, some people are working 7 day weeks, especially now, as the big three try to build inventory to ride out a strike.
The core UAW demands are:
-end the tiered wage structure, so everyone is on the same pay scale
-restore the pension to people who hired in after 2009
-restore retiree health insurance benefit.
-restore the cost of living adjustment
-pay increase of some 40%, in step with the pay raises the automaker CEOs have received in recent years.
The union is also asking for a 32 hour work week. Some in the media say they want 40hrs pay for that 32 hours of work. I don’t know who is telling the truth on that one.
The initial response from Stellantis is they aren’t going to restore anything they took away a dozen years ago. Instead they want to take away a chunk of the worker’s profit sharing, and they want to take away from the employee health insurance. That is the proposal that the union President publicly threw in the wastebasket. Ford’s response, reportedly included the company being allowed to bring in as many temps as they wish, up to 100% of the workforce, that would not be union members, not make union pay, and not have any union contract benefits.
GM management, at least, has launched a charm campaign to tell the public that their workers can earn enough money, and have enough spare time, to do something with their lives, other than live in the plant, and work like dogs. This is one of the several TV ads GM has been running, conveying that message.