First, I want to note that you are comparing apples and oranges.
The average household income does not include healthcare benefits, retirement benefits, etc. When you look at almost anyone's salary, the amount the company really pays per hour once you include salary, benefits, and everything is about twice what their actual salary is.
So if the person is making say $60,000 a year, the company is really shelling out about $120,000 for that individual. Or if you do it in terms of hourly wage, if the person makes $25 per hour, the company is really paying about $50 an hour to keep them.
So that $150,000 is nowhere near what their annual income is.
I think that when your company is on the verge of collapsing, you don't say that you won't take a pay cut in order to keep the company alive. I think Congress asking that the UAW brings its pay in line with the Japanese companies is a very acceptable offer given the current situation.
I think Ron Gettelfinger is somewhat playing Russian Roulette with half of the gun chambers loaded by stating that they won't take a pay cut. If Congress doesn't do the bailout, then the life of GM and Chrysler basically rely on President Bush. Bush hasn't been kind to the automakers in the past and has said that if they couldn't get competitive that maybe they should be allowed to go out of business.
I think Gettelfinger is betting that he has nothing to lose by refusing to take pay cuts. If Chrysler and GM go bankrupt they will probably lose pay in the court system through the court bankruptcy process. So this is his one chance to keep the pay at current levels. The only thing is that there is no guarantee that Chrysler or GM will not go out of business permanently if they are allowed to go bankrupt.
I think he is being way too risky. He's risking thousands of union jobs, white collar jobs, small supplier company jobs, and jobs all around the country because him and the UAW workers are pay greedy.
What could happen is exactly what happened at a Delphi plant in Indiana. The workers were making about $28 to $29 per hour. After the company went through bankruptcy they had to cut their pay back to $14 an hour. Their pay was basically cut in half!
I think the Union is getting way too greedy, especially when the life of the companies that provide their jobs are at stake along with thousands of other jobs that aren't union or that supply their companies with parts. It would be a catastrophe of horrific proportions if those companies were to go under and all over a small drop in pay.
Another thing that makes me sick about it is that many of these company's engineers are making less than what the shop floor labor workers are making. Does it make sense that many of the engineers with college degrees are making less than the shop floor workers? To me it doesn't. What kind of incentive is that for an engineer to want to stay when all the people he/she works around that don't have college degrees make more than he/she does?