Latest Solidarity Issue

Wages and Labor Costs

How many UAW members work at the companies that will be a part of this year’s auto talks?

There are 180,681 UAW members employed at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Of these, 177,498 are covered by the national agreements that will expire Sept. 14, 2007. The remaining 3,183 UAW members at Chrysler Jeep in Toledo, Ohio, negotiate a local contract distinct from the national agreement. Certain Delphi employees who have rights under the GM Benefit Guarantee also will be affected by the outcome of these negotiations.

An additional 419,621 retired members and 120,723 surviving spouses will also be covered by the agreements negotiated this year. Their pension payments and retiree health care benefits are subject to the terms of the UAW national auto industry agreements.

Active members
Retired members
Surviving spouses
General Motors

* Includes workers at Chrysler Jeep, Toledo, Ohio
** Ford active total includes 7,180 workers at Automotive Components Holdings

Source: United Auto Workers based on company data. Figures are for the end of the first quarter 2007

How much are current UAW auto industry wages?

In 2006 a typical UAW-represented assembler at GM earned $27.81 per hour of straight-time labor. A typical UAW-represented skilled-trades worker at GM earned $32.32 per hour of straight-time labor. Between 2003 and 2006, the wages of a typical UAW assembler have grown at about the same rate as wages in the private sector as a whole – roughly 9 percent. Part of that growth is due to cost-of-living adjustments that have helped prevent inflation from eroding the purchasing power of workers’ wages.

What is the compensation for auto industry executives?

The CEOs of Chrysler Group, Ford and GM earned a combined total of $24.5 million in salaries, bonuses and other compensation in 2006.

The next four highest paid executives received average salary and other compensation of $1.3 million at Ford and $1.4 million at GM. These substantial sums do not include the value of stocks and stock options that were also part of executive compensation.

Why is the figure cited as hourly labor costs by the companies so much higher than the wage rates?

In addition to regular hourly pay, the labor cost figures cited by the companies include other expenses associated with having a person on payroll. This includes overtime, shift premiums and the costs of negotiated benefits such as holidays, vacations, health care, pensions and education and training. It also includes statutory costs, which employers are required to pay by law, such as federal contributions for Social Security and Medicare, and state payments to workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance funds. The highest figures sometimes cited also include the benefit costs of retirees who are no longer on the payroll.

How much value do UAW members contribute to their employers?

American autoworkers are among the most productive workers in the world. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the typical autoworker produces value added worth $206 per worker per hour.1 This is far more than he or she earns in wages, even when benefits, statutory contributions and other costs are included.

How much are labor costs in relation to the total price of a new vehicle?

The total labor cost of a new vehicle produced in the United States is about $2,400,2 which includes direct, indirect and salaried labor for engines, stamping and assembly at the automakers’ plants.

This represents 8.4 percent of the typical $28,4513 price of a new vehicle in 2006. The vast majority of the costs of producing a vehicle and transporting it to a dealership and preparing it for sale – including design, engineering, marketing, raw materials, executive compensation and other costs – are not related to direct or indirect manufacturing labor.


Labor costs

1 U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Survey of Manufactures 2005 data

2 UAW Research Department, based on hours-per-vehicle data from the 2007 Harbour Report and labor costs as reported in the companies’ 10-Ks

3 National Automobile Dealers Association