Dixie welcomes non-union auto jobs

Dec. 4, 2008 at 6:37 PM
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WEST POINT, Ga., Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Lawmakers and autoworkers in the South appear to be largely opposed to U.S. financial help for the Big Three automakers, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Non-union autoworkers in the South earn less than union autoworkers, averaging an hourly wage of $25.65 to $36.34 for union autoworkers, the newspaper said. However, so-called legacy costs for the Big Three bring United Auto Workers compensation costs up to around $70 per hour.

West Point, Ga., barber Dewey Rayley told the Monitor autoworkers at the Big Three are overpaid.

"If you're making $60 or $70 an hour, I can see how you don't want to work for $20," he said. "But that's the thing: What makes you think it's worth so much just to build a car?"

The newspaper reported Thursday that autoworkers in Georgia say they realize jobs in Asian-owned auto plants in the South depend on the financial health of the automakers.

"Workers (in the South) understand that in order for them to have a job these companies have got to make money, because if they don't, they're not going to have a job," said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga. "That's the first issue (Detroit auto executives) need to address before they come to Congress asking for a bailout or a loan or whatever it is."

One reason Southern workers earn less is the prevalence of younger workers who have relatively little seniority and few employment options, the newspaper said. And there is concern that losing the Big Three and breaking the UAW would give Asian companies an incentive to freeze or reduce wages.

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