January 08, 2007

Letters To The Editor

In the Detroit Free Press they had an Opinion page entitled "Auto Chiefs Haven't Face Up To Reality" and a couple of the letters written in by people stuck a good chord with me ...

Excess executive pay

After reading "Family stays in control, Ford insists" (Dec. 29), I continually am appalled at the salaries of executives in the United States. Even the executives who preside over companies with sinking share value continue to pocket huge compensation packages, such as Ford.

In the 1960s, the average executives earned around 40 times what the rank-and-file workers earned. Today, the average executive makes over 500 times what the average worker earns. Yet American employees work the longest hours in the industrialized world. And for what? Pay cuts? Reduction in health benefits? Layoffs?

Executives in Japan typically earn 11 times the average employee. Considering how well Toyota is doing, couldn't we learn something from them?

I have always bought American made cars. However, because of overinflated salaries, bonuses and stock options of the executives of the Big Three automakers, at a time when we have been losing market share, I have all but given up on ever buying American again. I have always made a point of spending my money at companies that see their employees as assets, not something that can be tossed to the curb.

Linda Larson
Sterling Heights

Don't blame the unions

Among the many letters concerning the misfortunes of Ford or the good fortunes of Toyota, some have been derogatory of the UAW and unions in general. Many have said that the union's outrageous demands have set the tone for U.S. industry's failure to compete. As a 30-year-plus member of the UAW, I might agree to some of that. But those same people, many obviously not members, seem to forget that they, too, benefited from union successes.

The UAW, Teamsters and other unions also helped set the tone for what is considered a fair standard of living for hardworking individuals. Even today's white-collar service employees must surely recognize that benefit packages as an employment enticement would not exist had not the unions made them a fact in contract agreements over the years.

But now, after management complacency or indolence failed to notice foreign competitors' gains in the market, those apparently not in the know want to blame the union guy. Somehow, they see management's failure to pay attention to market trends as the union's fault. They see management's failure to re-invest profit into technological research and buying quality materials as the union's fault. They see executive decisions to pay these clueless managers six-figure salaries with stock options instead of making the foresaid reinvestments as the union's fault. And all the while completely forgetting what workers' shop conditions and treatment were like before the unions took hold.

Kenneth G. Maluchnik
Lincoln Park

Posted by Quality Weenie at January 8, 2007 09:28 AM | TrackBack

Some pretty good points there.

Thanks QW!

Posted by: jimmyb at January 8, 2007 11:12 AM