Bolling: Auto Workers Strike Shows Benefits and Excesses of Unions

When I was growing up, my dad was a coal miner and a member of the United Mine Workers of America. I saw first hand how unions helped workers improve pay, benefits, working conditions and more. But I also saw how union leaders could foster unreasonable expectations among their members, and how this could lead to prolonged and painful strikes.

The recent strike by the United Auto Workers is a perfect example of this: Thousands of auto workers go on strike: What you need to know (Politico).

Do autoworkers deserve a new contract and improved compensation and benefit package? Of course they do, but the positions taken by the UAW leadership that have led to this strike are clearly excessive.

These days, most workers are fortunate to get a 3 percent annual pay raise, but the UAW is demanding a 40 percent compounded pay raise (equivalent to 46 percent) over the next four years. That averages out to more than 11.5 percent per year.

That is excessive.

In addition, the UAW wants to move from a standard five day, 40 hour work week to a four day, 32 hour work week, WITH NO PAY REDUCTION. That alone is equivalent to another 20 percent pay raise.

It is estimated that these demands could cost the U.S. auto industry some $6 billion, which would, of course, be passed on to consumers in the form of significantly higher prices for new cars and trucks. In addition, such increases would negatively impact the ability of U.S. auto makers to compete with foreign auto manufacturers.

Auto manufacturers have reportedly offered a 20 percent pay raise over the next four years, with improved basic benefit and retirement packages. Their offer is more than reasonable.

A prolonged strike in the auto industry could have a significant negative impact on the nation’s economy.

Hopefully, labor and management will be able to resolver their differences soon, but if this is going to happen, the UAW is going to have to get their expectations back into the real world.

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