MSNBC's Brzezinski falsely asserted "the average Big Three automaker union worker's compensation is $73/hour"

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski falsely claimed that "the average Big Three automaker union worker's compensation is $73/hour -- two and a half times the average for the taxpayer being asked to bail them out." In fact, the $73 figure includes not only future retirement benefits for current workers, but also benefits paid to current retirees, according to GM.

In a November 21 blog post on the Daily Beast website, MSNBC host and Daily Beast "insider" Mika Brzezinski falsely asserted that "the average Big Three automaker union worker's compensation is $73/hour -- two and a half times the average for the taxpayer being asked to bail them out." In making the assertion, Brzezinski cited a November 18 article by Pete Winn of the Media Research Center's Cybercast News Service (CNS), who reported that "[i]t costs over $73 per hour on average to employ a union auto worker, according to University of Michigan at Flint economist Mark J. Perry." However, as the CNS article noted, the $73 figure includes not only "compensation" for current workers, as Brzezinski claimed, but also benefits paid to current retirees. CNS quoted Perry, who has used the $73 figure to argue against an auto industry bailout, noting that the figure "includ[es] legacy costs -- retirement costs, pensions, and so on -- so it's looking at the total labor costs per hour worked for workers," not just the average union worker's hourly compensation.

Indeed, as Media Matters for America has noted, according to General Motors, the $73 figure includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, including health and retirement, but also retirement and health benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.

From Brzezinski's November 21 Daily Beast post:

CNSNews.com's Pete Winn reports that the average Big Three automaker union worker's compensation is $73/hour -- two and a half times the average for the taxpayer being asked to bail them out. Compare that to the union autoworker for a foreign transplant building cars here is $44/hour. The numbers are a snapshot of the current contract with the UAW. They are EXACTLY why they are in the current crisis. Apparently, changes are coming. According to our research at NBC news, by 2010 compensation for US autoworkers will be roughly in line with foreign autoworkers and the UAW will cover health care costs. This is why the Big Three are looking for a bailout to bridge them to 2010. I want all of us to question: Should we trust THIS bailout will be different? Should the government be imposing what innovations are necessary? Do we bridge them again or should Chapter 11 do its job? Should the basics of capitalism, success and failure, apply to the Big Three too?

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment, Labor Unions
Person
Mika Brzezinski
Show/Publication
The Daily Beast
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