The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Race to Be “Competitive” Is a Race to the Bottom

Feb 23, 2009

In December, Toyota leaked an internal report. It proposed that Toyota should align hourly wages at each of its U.S. plants more closely with prevailing manufacturing wages in the state where each plant exists – rather than “tying itself closely to the U.S. auto industry or other competitors.”

In order to avoid unionization, Toyota, like Honda and Nissan, had historically pegged wages in this country close to GM, Ford and Chrysler wages, although the so-called “transplants” paid out lower benefits.

But now, it’s aiming at the median manufacturing wage in Southern states where the companies are located: Kentucky, $12.65 an hour, for example, or Alabama, $10.80.

UAW leaders and the U.S. government say that the Detroit companies need to bring their wages and benefits down to be “competitive” with Toyota or Honda. But if Toyota and Honda are already cutting their wages, then what?

When workers compete with each other, it’s a race to the bottom, and the only ones to win are the bosses.