Detroit’s big auto giants have been rolling in dough, with profits skyrocketing to $250 billion in the past decade. Yet, with wages at a standstill, the media is more concerned about the economic hiccups a strike might cause rather than the actual issues at play. Senator Bernie Sanders is having none of it.
Here’s the deal: As the four-year contract with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union nears its expiration, strike whispers grow louder by the day. And guess what’s missing from most mainstream media narratives? The reasons why these hardworking men and women feel the need to picket. Let’s unpack Bernie’s take on this.
These auto industry giants have seen a whopping 80% increase in profits in just the first half of 2023. But turn on the news, and what do you see? Discussions around the strike’s possible economic ramifications and endless CEO justifications on why they “can’t make a fair deal.”
If a new labor contract doesn’t materialize by Thursday night, the UAW is gearing up for targeted strikes at specific factories. And yes, a full-blown strike would be an economic strain for both the auto companies and the union. But remember, this isn’t just about financial logistics. It’s a testament to the resurgence of worker empowerment after long years of stagnant wages, despite the auto industry’s flourishing profits.
The media loves to focus on the financial implications of strikes. Price hikes and potential economic downturns make juicy headlines. But what about the human element? The everyday workers who’ve been bearing the brunt of soaring corporate greed since the 70s, back when unions were a formidable force?
Fast-forward to today: Despite media skepticism, unions are making strides. Just last month, Teamsters at UPS showcased the power of worker solidarity, securing significant wage and safety advancements, all thanks to the looming threat of a strike.
Speaking of wages, let’s talk numbers. Autoworkers are demanding a substantial pay bump following years of slow wage growth and increasing outsourcing. However, many media outlets conveniently leave out the bigger picture: Autoworkers today earn less than they did 15 years ago when adjusted for inflation.
And the top brass? They’re living the high life. The CEO of General Motors? A cool $29 million in total compensation. Ford’s CEO? A neat $21 million. Stellantis’s CEO? Over $25 million. Yet, the average wage for our country’s autoworkers has shockingly decreased by 30% in the past two decades after adjusting for inflation. You won’t hear this on the mainstream news channels.
Looking at the bigger picture, from 2013 to 2022, the Big 3’s profits surged by a staggering 92%. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) predicts another $32 billion in profits this year alone. Despite these figures, worker concessions from the 2008 auto industry crisis were never restored, leading to an almost 19% drop in average real hourly earnings since 2008. Why? After the auto industry bailout, companies made sure to prioritize profits over people.
As we approach a greener future with electric vehicles on the horizon, the industry can’t afford to lose its skilled workforce. Yet, while lobbying for more taxpayer-funded incentives for a cleaner future, automakers grumble that decent wages might make them “less competitive.”
As Bernie puts it, the UAW isn’t asking for the moon and the stars. They’re demanding a fair slice of the pie they’ve helped bake. It’s time for the media to shift its focus and spotlight the real issues. The upcoming days will reveal more than just the fate of a strike – they’ll highlight the clash between corporate wealth and the rights of the everyday worker.