O'Reilly latest to advance UAW pay falsehood

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

On his radio and television shows, Bill O'Reilly advanced the falsehood that "the average autoworker now makes 70 bucks an hour." In fact, a recent Barclays Capital analysis reportedly found that the average U.S. autoworker is paid "an average of $55 an hour in wages and benefits."

During the February 24 edition of his Fox News television program, Bill O'Reilly asserted that "[w]ith health and retirement, the average autoworker now makes 70 bucks an hour -- far more than their counterparts at the Japanese companies." O'Reilly made similar comments during that day's broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, saying, "Now, when you add up all the perks -- the salaries, the benefits, the retirement package -- it comes to $70 an hour for autoworkers." He added, "They're making $70 an hour." In fact, as Media Matters for America noted, a recent Barclays Capital analysis reportedly found that the average U.S. autoworker is paid "an average of $55 an hour in wages and benefits." The $70 per hour figure -- which General Motors reportedly puts at $69 -- represents the automakers' total labor costs per worker-hour, which includes retirement and health-care benefits to current retirees and does not reflect the compensation of the average worker.

Both The Washington Post on February 12 and The Wall Street Journal on February 6 reported that UAW members earn on average $55 per hour in wages and benefits, citing an analysis conducted by Barclays Capital, an international investment bank. Similarly, on December 9, 2008, The New York Times' David Leonhardt calculated that the compensation of unionized autoworkers is "roughly $55 an hour or so," including wages, overtime and vacation pay, health insurance, and benefits.

As Media Matters noted, during the final months of 2008, dozens of media figures and outlets advanced the falsehood that autoworkers employed by the domestic automakers are paid $70 or more per hour in wages and benefits without noting that this figure includes current retiree costs. According to Leonhardt, the added cost of retiree benefits "isn't mainly a reflection of how generous the retiree benefits are. It's a reflection of how many retirees there are."

From the February 24 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: Now, why are Chrysler and GM in such trouble? Well, they're in such trouble because they pay enormous labor costs to the UAW.

Now, this is -- you know, follow me here. It's important. Sounds boring, it isn't boring. All right, the United Autoworkers Union is a big Democratic machine fundraiser and all kinds of -- so the Dems owe them. They owe them big, which is Obama is going to do pretty much what the auto companies want.

Now, when you add up all the perks -- the salaries, the benefits, the retirement package -- it comes to $70 an hour for autoworkers. They're making $70 an hour. Japanese automakers make about 55. So it's a 15, $16 difference an hour. Now, that's why Detroit can't compete -- can't make any money. Their nut is too big.

Now, the UAW has given back a little bit -- pay freeze, some layoffs, limited overtime -- but not much. Not much. And I do not expect them to. They're going to try to hold the line, and the Democratic Party is beholden to them.

All right, so everybody getting the picture here?

LIS WIEHL (co-host): I'm getting the picture.

O'REILLY: Seventy dollars an hour for the automakers. And they just can't compete in the worldwide market with that -- simply can't. So no matter how good the cars are -- and the cars are good; I drive a GM car. I have for years -- they're not going to make any money because of all of this stuff that the unions negotiated. Everybody clear?

From the February 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: The president should also address the autoworkers union, which has not given back nearly enough. With health and retirement, the average autoworker now makes 70 bucks an hour -- far more than their counterparts at the Japanese companies. At $70 an hour, there is no way General Motors and Chrysler are going to make money, no matter how much the taxpayer lends them.

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment, Labor Unions
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, Westwood One
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The Radio Factor, The O'Reilly Factor
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