Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Less wages for more work.

Sometimes things are more complicated than they seem. Sometimes they are more simple than they seem. At the moment the profits of US corporations are at an all time high. The hand outs to the CEO's of the major corporations are at an all time high. Where does all this loot come from? This is one of those occasions when things are more simple that they may seem

From 2001 to 2011 the cumulative change in manufacturing output per hour has gone up over 40%. This is a big increase. Workers were producing at a 40% plus rate of increase. That is doing more work and producing more goods.  So how have workers income been standing up against this increase in production, this increased work they have been doing? Are workers getting a 40% plus increase in income to go along with this 40% plus income in what they produce? Not a chance. In the manufacturing sector wages have gone up by at most 5%. And the average for wages as a whole is worse. And these wage increases have to be adjusted for inflation.

The Employment Cost Index, a government measure that includes benefits and is adjusted for the changing mix of occupations and industries, shows that adjusted for inflation, manufacturers' labor costs were 2.7% lower in the first quarter of 2012 than in 2005. For public and private employers of all sorts, labor costs were basically flat - down 0.3%.

The Wall Street Journal carried these figures in an article in today's (May 29th issue). It also told of the experience of a Mr. Payton who was earning $17.11 an hour at a Lear Corp. plant in Warren, Michigan until he was laid off in 2007. He got a job in a Johnson Controls plant in Highland Park, Michigan where he assemblies the same type of products for $12.25 an hour.

It is the difference between the $17.11 an hour that Mr. Payton earned at his first job and the $12.25 an hour that he presently earns, added together with the experience of all the Mr Paytons  that has gone to the make the highest ever profits for the US corporations. As Marx said profit is the unpaid labor of the working class.

These attacks on wages are justified by the bosses by the need to compete globally against lower wages abroad. The Union leaders echo this propaganda. As Cindy Estrada, a vice president of the United Auto Workers said recently: "Workers really understand the global economy. The rank and file know they need to be competitive on wages."

Unions were built to end competition amongst workers. The task is not to compete with other workers as the union leaders say but to unite with other workers. Workers in China and Mexico and all over the world are under attack. Chinese auto workers recently forced companies such as Honda to increase wages. The union leaders should be building a world wide union to fight for wages and benefits world wide that would give all a decent living standard.

There is no need to let the corporations and the CEO's loot the economy. Their corrupt and profit addicted capitalist system is rotten. It has to be replaced by a democratic international socialist economy and society.


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