How are UAW workers salaries structured?

Read an article today in Forbes on how Mulally turned Ford around. One thing that caught my eye was the fact that he negotiated the average UAW hourly rate down to $55 per hour from approx $75 per hour. Are these workers putting in a typical 40 hour week, or are they on shift system or something that puts them at... show more Read an article today in Forbes on how Mulally turned Ford around. One thing that caught my eye was the fact that he negotiated the average UAW hourly rate down to $55 per hour from approx $75 per hour. Are these workers putting in a typical 40 hour week, or are they on shift system or something that puts them at 25 hour work week?

Not to demean a line worker position, but I cannot wrap my head around how a company could afford to pay someone with, most likely, only a high school education $144,000 per year ($55 p/h x 40 hours p/w x 52 weeks p/y). Some people with Masters Degrees or PhDs will never even obtain these levels of pay. Must be missing something here.

Would like some feedback from someone who has either worked for union, or has some experience with the topic. I personally do not support or believe in unions, however, I am not looking for hateful comments towards them..just the facts.
Update: Does the high hourly rate include benefits?? Just seems too high for straight hourly pay.
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