Chill Alert! Stay calm over UAW signing bonuses

David Barkholz covers labor issues for Automotive News.

Take a deep breath and relax all you folks seeing white over reports that the UAW wants signing bonuses of $8,000 from the Detroit 3.

It's admittedly a UAW record and a nice chunk of change by most automotive labor standards, exempting, of course, rock-star executives pulling down $26 million or so a year.

But let's put the money in perspective: the signing bonus would be in lieu of pay raises for another four years or a restoration of cost-of-living allowances -- those naughty fixed labor costs that the Detroit 3 swore off as New Year's resolutions.

In 2007, the rank-and-file got a $3,000 signing bonus and COLA adjustments.

So what would it cost the carmakers in these talks for a modest 3 percent COLA restoration to their 112,000 hourly employees over the next four-year agreements? With compounding, about $7,300.

Voila. Very close to the $8,000 signing bonuses being discussed. And maybe eye-popping enough to get a restless rank-and-file to accept it, even though those workers haven't had a raise since 2003 and their COLA is frozen.

Now go ahead and exhale.

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Email Newsletters
  • General newsletters
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Mondays)
  • (As needed)
  • Video newscasts
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Weekdays)
  • (Saturdays)
  • Special interest newsletters
  • (Thursdays)
  • (Tuesdays)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Monthly)
  • (Wednesdays)
  • (Bimonthly)
  • Special reports
  • (As needed)
  • (As needed)
  • Communication preferences
  • You can unsubscribe at any time through links in these emails. For more information, see our Privacy Policy.