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Vail Valley letter writer wrong about denying bailout to automakers

David LeVine
Vail, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

I would like to offer several comments regarding David Dillon’s letter, “Let Them Sink.” Although I totally disagree with his generalities regarding the evils of unions, my purpose in this letter is basically to correct the data that Mr. Dillon uses as he argues against providing any help for American automakers.

For starters, he states that the auto workers associated with the U.A.W. make $75 an hour, while their Japanese counterparts only make $45 an hour. Those are rather hokey”numbers! The average worker in both groups has a base pay of between $28 and $30 an hour. However it is true that when health care, retirement benefits and the pensions being paid to retired workers are included, both numbers increase substantially and we have a difference of about $8. But most of that is because the U.A.W. plants are older and have many more retirees.

Secondly, in 2006, in consideration of the industry’s economic problems, the U.A.W. agreed to some major concessions. In fact, these have reduced the overall labor costs and will reduce them further by 2010.

Now permit me to offer several subjective thoughts. I do not think that $30 per hour, which equals roughly $60,000 per year, is out of line for a wage earner who probably has a family to house and feed and would love the opportunity to send a kid or two to college. David Dillon might think that’s too much money, but I don’t.

Furthermore, our democratic, free enterprise system demands that bargaining should be between management and labor, not by the decree of some government official or questionable “expert.”

And because I very much favor the bailout, we should remember that those who would be impacted by a shut-down will include many others — machine shop employees, truckers, the neighborhood merchants, etc.

And finally, we have a very serious problem and it will not be solved if we permit hokey data and personal prejudices.

David LeVine


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