Monday, December 08, 2008

Conditions for an Auto Bailout

It appears that the US Government IS going to give the "big three" their long desired loan, but at a smaller level. Until this past weekend, Congress had been unimpressed. But as if an oracle of God himself, President-Elect Obama has declared that a bailout is necessary and the Congress now seems willing to comply, although with a lighter than expected package. The new package looks like it will be around $16 billion (versus the $25-$35 billion we have heard earlier).

With this bailout, there should be certain conditions that must be complied or there should be no such hand outs (which is my preference). Here are a few of the conditions that should be required:

  • End the controversial UAW "Job Bank" program until the loans are completely paid off. This program has paid tens of thousands to be idle at 90 percent of salary. Although the UAW has agreed to make concessions about the program, their current situation could have the practice back in full force within days of the bailout becoming law.

  • Bring auto worker wages back to the real world. According to the Heritage Foundation, when it comes to salary and benefits, the average wage of all private sector employees is $25.36 and for American based Japanese auto plants (Honda, Nissan, Toyota) is $42.95 to $47.60 on average. The big three pays $70.51 (Ford), $73.26(GM), and $75.86 (Chrysler) per hour, per employee. These six digit wages for blue collar work should be brought into the real world.

  • End the "30 and out" practice. The Detroit auto companies allow employees to retire with very lucrative packages at the young age of 30. If you start working at a plant at 20, you can retire at fifty. You can see where that can be costly. 60 or 65 should have to be the standard retirement age with taxpayers involvement.

  • Seven week vacations need to be history. Detroit auto workers receive almost two months off a year. This is another pounding cost on a very weak industry that needs to change.

  • Finally, they should require the companies to relocate to a right to work state. This would empower these companies to lower wages and make the other reforms listed above.

I am sure you are saying that such reforms will not be happening knowing the temperament of the auto industry and the lack of courage in Congress. You are, of course, exactly correct, which is among the reasons why the companies shouldn't receive the bailout.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Blogger Kevin Price said...

The Senate actually put one of the criteria from this list as part of the bailout and the unions wouldn't make the concessions. It is fortunate that the Senate held the industry to the same type of standards an investor would put on a company before putting money into it. That is the only way this bailout wouldn't happen.

8:34 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home