Joining the pack, Blitzer falsely claimed union autoworkers "make[] $73 an hour, on average, when you factor in all the benefits"

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

CNN's Wolf Blitzer falsely claimed that a union autoworker "makes $73 an hour, on average, when you factor in all the benefits." In fact, according to General Motors, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to automakers -- which GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for retirees.

On the December 3 edition of CNN's Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer falsely claimed that an autoworker who belongs to the United Auto Workers "makes $73 an hour, on average, when you factor in all the benefits, compared to $48 an hour for nonunion autoworkers here in the United States." In fact, according to General Motors, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to U.S. automakers -- a cost that GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for retirees, as Media Matters for America has noted.

CNN also aired the following graphic echoing Blitzer's falsehood:

situation room

Numerous media figures and outlets have advanced the falsehood that autoworkers earn $70 or more per hour in wages and benefits, some using it to blame autoworkers for the domestic auto industry's financial straits.

From the December 3 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

[begin video clip]

BROOKE BALDWIN (CNN correspondent): While the U.S. auto industry is fighting for survival, many Americans worry about a domino effect this federal intervention could create among other ailing industries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do we draw the line from getting federal funding from the government?

RON GETTELFINGER (UAW president): We help the economy -- help keep it going. This industry's so important to our country and to our economy that I think -- I think this is an exception to the rule.

BALDWIN: A necessary exception, according to this Alabama autoworker, for the economy and the big three.

CINDY ADAMS (UAW Local 1413 president): When they don't have work, we don't have work. So, we all have to be here together.

[end video clip]

BALDWIN: Next, Ron Gettelfinger leaves Detroit, heads to Washington to join the Big Three CEOs on Capitol Hill for those hearings tomorrow. Wolf.

BLITZER: It's going to be a huge day here in Washington. Brooke, thank you.

The union, by the way, is itself feeling the pinch of a con -- of a contracting industry. The United Auto Workers' membership hit an all-time high of one-and-a-half million back in the 1970s. Today, it's under 600,000. A union worker makes $73 an hour, on average, when you factor in all the benefits, compared to $48 an hour for nonunion autoworkers here in the United States.

Two top auto executives will be right here in The Situation Room tomorrow. Do you have questions for the CEOs of General Motors and Chrysler? You can put them on -- on video. Send us your video questions to iReport.com/situationroom. We're gonna pick some of your questions and get them to the CEOs of GM and Chrysler tomorrow, here in The Situation Room.

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
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