Here’s the original Paul Krugman column that got him started.
In 1968, when General Motors was a widely emulated icon of American business, many of its workers were lifetime employees. On average, they earned about $29,000 a year in today's dollars, a solidly middle-class income at the time. They also had generous health and retirement benefits.I agree with much of his column, but let’s not romanticize GM — or the GM employee — of yesterday or today.
Today’s average GM employee earns a lot more than $29,000 in today's money. A lot more. (I used to live in Flint, Michigan, and did college contract teaching to UAW workers, so I know. I’ve also heard that the stories about “Monday cars” and “Friday cars,” especially in the GM of yore, are entirely true.)
I'm not blaming unions for getting what they can, and believe we need stronger unions in many cases.
But, in the case of the automotive Big Three, unions have in the past and continue to shoot themselves in the foot at times.
They, as well as management, oppose increases in the CAFE, for example.
So, when Hubbert’s Peak starts playing out, and then Big Three sales finish going into the Toyota Tank, the UAW can blame itself as well as management.