GM CEO Mary Barra can't answer if it's fair that workers make peanuts compared to her $30 million (video)

Also thought of this. Not disappointed.


My husband works for a refinery where the bosses several layers above him get enormous bonuses and I’m sure the executives get even more. Nothing trickles down to the actual workers on the line. Until corporations are restructured so that workers and communities have authority over investors, nothing will change


Those factories opened while the big 3 were contracting and unions were negotiating what they wouldn’t be giving up. Yes, companies opened them in the south to avoid being union, but there was no reason for the workers to unionize at the time.

Since then, trucks and larger cars have taken over. As we can see, c-suite compensation, stock price, and profits have risen significantly. There’s a reason why the opening offer is a 20% raise and the current ask is 40%. I wouldn’t be surprised if those shops in the south start to unionize.

Like you mention, 30 million mentioned in the title is hard to keep in perspective. That ask of 40% is based on her compensation change since the last contract was negotiated. That seems like a much more fair way to frame things.


She could take a 50% pay cut along with all the other C-suite executives to fund these pay increases. I mean, really, is there all that much difference between 15 million and 30 million? Isn’t that still more than enough money?

Factory workers are barely making $60k. She makes over five times that just for being on the board of directors for Disney FFS.

She got her start as a factory worker for GM. She should have some empathy for these workers.


Exec suite could be replaced by chatgpt at this point, they are glib cheerleaders, free of actual knowledge.


There is always reason for the workers to unionize.

But a lot of people only see that when times are bad, and even then there is a surprisingly large amount of the workforce who have swallowed the ‘I can make it on my own if I really try’ narrative hook, line and sinker.

When German car manufacturers started to set up shop in the US they were expecting to have a unionized workforce because that’s the norm in German auto factories. Union representatives sit on the board. Management in the US subsidiaries was confused at first when their workers didn’t want to unionize.


If you are asking this in terms of employee compensation, then risk and responsibility. A production line worker may assembly something incorrectly, so every machine they produced (or machines with in a certain time period) would have a defect. If a design engineer does something wrong then every machine produced has that same defect. Why should an engineer be compensated marginally more than the person who is installing or building their design when there is an inherently larger risk and the requiement for more schooling and detailed knowledge.

Post engineering degree I’ve worked assembly line and warehouse jobs right along side people with only a high school education. Some of those have been the hardest working people I’ve ever met. That doesn’t mean they are capable of making a transition to supervision or a more specialized area like engineering. This doesn’t mean their job is any less critical for the company, without assemblers, welders, or painters things do not get produced. They are no less important (for something to be produced) than the accountant who makes sure the assembly technician is getting paid, the engineer who is designing the parts that are assembled, or the quality engineer approving a part deviation for a supplier. In terms of the company the less specialized the position the larger the potential talent pool there is to find new employees from and compensation will reflect that.

Well, would you be able to if you did not have a college degree or specialized training? That’s the point - any job takes some kind of training, whether that’s on the job or via some other kind of education or certification. There is nothing inherently superior in knowledge derived from a college degree. I say this as someone with a phd. I respect any form of labor, because they’re all valuable.

There is no reason not to compensate people who do labor fairly, whatever skills they bring to a job. Everyone from the janitor to the engineers deserve to be paid a living wage, because whatever their doing contributes to the overall product. The automakers are not doing that right now. That is abundantly clear. The C-suite folks can take a pay cut and ensure ALL workers in their plants get that fair compensation. This is not really a fight between engineers and line workers - it’s between the elites and the rest of us. Don’t let them trick you into believing that the workers in other parts of the plant deserve less, just because they lack a college degree.


This scenario is easily flipped, however in the case of a union machinist reaponsible for the tooling of a machine or mold for a critical part vs an engineer responsible for the design of a non-critical part or system.

I’m also skeptical of the education argument. That seems like something between the sunk cost fallacy and a circular argument. There are assembly line workers who make less with twenty years of experience than inexperienced engineers. Who has more expertise? And why do all of the designers have engineering degrees? Because engineering degrees were required for those roles, whether or not they were necessary.


In an ideal world, we’d all get a general education training that included not just maths, sciences, humanities, etc, but a good education in industrial arts as well. And we’d all have the opportunity to get a secondary education of our choosing (industrial arts, liberal arts, STEM, STEAM, etc), and to pursue whatever tickles our fancy… But far too often, our general education is lacking, depending on where one is born, one’s race or gender, class status, etc… and now with the changes to higher ed pushed by the far right, that is even more true, that only some can get a college education.

But over and above all that, everyone working in a plant should have a living wage, whatever they are doing, be it an engineer or a janitor. We should all support that, because it’s simply the right thing to do.


This. I mean, how often do we have to prove that people do the best work when they do what they love? And are healthier and happier as well! Yet our system artificially limits who can learn what, favors the priviledged to receive quality education and training, and undercuts much of the expertise we most need by failing to compensate those experts with a living wage.

Yet another argument for more equitable compensation between engineers and line workers - line workers are at much greater risk of physical injury and general body breakdown over years of more physical labor.


If you’re thinking of it in terms of risk and responsibility, then who’s more likely to killed or disabled in an industrial accident?


Why? You could also boost the engineer. There is no problem with paying workers.

Line workers take risks that aren’t part of the basic assumptions for any office desk job. Just thinking of some of the UAW facilities near me I remember a Chevy employee crushed to death, an explosion at the Ford plant and the constant stories of cancer deaths when I was a kid from exposure on the line.

Why is the assumption that the engineer wouldn’t also benefit? Also I’m willing to cede schooling, but not necessarily detailed knowledge. A machinist apprenticeship runs about four years, frequently on top of a two year classroom time. After that add however long in the actual role. That can easily exceed the knowledge of a more credentialed job.


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