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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Washington Post Confuses Supporters of Lower Pay for Auto Workers With Supporters of the Free Market

The Washington Post Confuses Supporters of Lower Pay for Auto Workers With Supporters of the Free Market

Sunday, 25 July 2010 07:00

In an article that discussed the two-tier pay system that Chrysler and GM adopted as part of their rescue plan, the Post told readers that the debate over autoworkers' wages during the bailout pitted "the advocates of the free market against those for a 'fair wage.'" Actually, there was no one in this debate advocating a free market. Those who wanted to see the wages of union auto workers cut were still very supportive of the licensing and professional restrictions that protect doctors and other highly paid professionals from foreign competition. These people also support other major forms of interference with market outcomes such as copyrights and patent protection.

The only clearly recognizable view held by those who insisted that autoworkers wages lowered to $14 an hour was that they wanted to see autoworkers get paid less money. The Post should simply report what people say and not attribute an ideology to them which almost certainly does not fit reality.  

Comments (7)Add Comment
written by izzatzo, July 25, 2010 8:35
As any Teabagger knows well, free trade for the US was established in the Declaration of Independence under an egalitarian equality clause:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

When evil forces of unions interfere with self-evident truths like free trade, they undermine the egalitarianism bestowed on mankind by the Creator. Men as corporations and corporations as men cannot possibly be equal in the face of satanic individualism and self interest pursuit of profit when forced to share gains with unions that also share none of the losses.

Until union members understand that they don't have the same unalienable rights as doctors, lawyers and bankers to compete fiercely with each other, free markets will continue to wither and die as the grip of socialism sends the US down the road of serfdom.

Stupid liberals.
written by Billy O'Connor, July 25, 2010 8:45
Should "and attribute an ideology" be "and not attribute an ideology"?
written by skeptonomist, July 25, 2010 8:54
Calling attention to pay disparities is a standard union-busting tactic, to foster jealousy among non-union workers (though I suppose the lower-tier workers are also UAW). But the article is not completely hostile to workers; towards the end it points out that "transplant" factories generally pay much more than $14/hr. It also claims that automakers were prepared to pay $28, but "the Obama administration" - meaning Tim Geithner? - insisted on the $14. Too bad they didn't insist on halving the profits of the Wall Street companies that were bailed out, or CEO pay.
written by AndrewDover, July 25, 2010 9:10
The same pattern of cutting benefits for the young and newly hired is seen in public employee union outcomes like:

Some get "separation incentives", others have to work for less. No wonder unions are shrinking.
written by Queen of Sheba, July 25, 2010 3:15
Why is it that "some people" want unionized workers to make less money? Why don't they want everyone who is not unionized to make more money? I understand jealousy, but salary is not beauty or an accident of birth.

The same argument is raging right now in states over the wages and pensions of municipal and state employees. The question should not be why the salaries and benefits of government employees are higher than those who work in the private sector, but rather why those in the private sector are not being paid the salaries and benefits of government employees.
Chrysler jobs
written by bakho, July 25, 2010 3:29
Chrysler recently announced over 300 jobs. They received over 3000 applications. $14 plus benefits looks good to a lot of min wage workers. Without strong unions, all profits go to management and wages are a race to the bottom.

Ten applications for every job opening. So much for the unemployed just being on vacation.
written by dg, July 28, 2010 9:54
Those pushing the lower wages for autoworkers are just anti-union or are legislators from states that currently have auto transplants paying either sub-standard wages or looking for an excuse to cut wages. Dean Baker has documented the falseness of the seventy-five p;hr claim that many used as the foundation of their argument.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.