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back to index backGLOBALtalk May,  2007


Pay at Japanese-Owned U.S. Plants Is Said To Approach That of UAW Shops

Pay at Japanese-owned non-union plants in the U.S. is beginning to approach that of UAW-organized units owned by the Detroit Three, even as the American makers, deep in the hole, are preparing to ask their workers for more givebacks, the Detroit Free Press reported last week.

Reporter Jason Roberson said Sean McAlinden, chief economist of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, believes that in some Japanese plants, profit sharing bonuses are actually putting average pay ahead of what UAW workers make.

Bonus Pay
McAlinden noted that Toyota handed out $6,000 to $8,000 bonus checks at its Georgetown, Ky. plant last year, raising average pay for workers there to the equivalent of $30 an hour, vs. $27 an hour for UAW workers, few of whom got bonuses last year.  Based on a 2,000-hour work year, that comes to a differential of about $6,000— $54,000 a year for a UAW worker, vs. $60,000 for one at Georgetown.

Honda, Nissan
Workers at Honda and Nissan don’t quite keep up with the UAW but are not far behind, the paper said. Honda hourlies made an average of $26.20 with bonuses last year, and Nissan workers make $24 an hour in Mississippi and $26 an hour in Tennessee. The Free Press said Toyota wouldn’t say how much its average worker got nationwide, but it did say that Georgetown isn’t particularly different from other units.

Honda and Nissan, the paper said, aren’t far behind either Toyota or the UAW pay standard. Indeed, the Japanese makers have mostly defeated union organizers by paying hefty wages.

The paper didn’t try to draw conclusions, but it did say that a good many union workers and leaders blame Detroit management for past mistakes that are imposing heavy penalties now.  So, apparently, does McAlinden, who commented that back when Detroit was making record profits from the truck boom of the late 1990s, executives squandered the money on buying ‘prestige’ European brands like Saab, Volvo or Jaguar, rather than invest in hybrids.”

‘Can Compete’
What the pay differential also shows, U.C. Berkeley labor relations Prof. Harley Shaiken told the paper, is that while the Japanese pay well to avoid having to deal with the UAW, you can compete [while] paying higher wages.”

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Source: Japan Automotive Digest - GAI


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