A friend and I have a discussion going on Facebook. He said a published source says the average US auto assembly plant worker was making $4.00 an hour in the late 60'-early 70's. Knowing what they make now, I find that hard to believe (even though a dollar bought more then, than now). Any former auto workers here, or anybody know one?
I would think that Google would provide an answer. When I went on active duty as a second lieutenant in the Air Force in 1963, my monthly salary was $222.30 a month. Based on a 40-hour week, that works out to $1.29 an hour. That's for an officer. I don't know what an airman was paid. Of course, gas was less than $0.30 a gallon and all-you-could-eat fried chicken at the officers' club on Wednesdays was $1.25. Times change.
The inflation calculator says that $4.00 in 1966 is $29.54 now.
My father was employed at the General Motors, Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac assembly plant on Tweedy Bl. in South Gate, CA. as an assembly line worker from 1955-1959.
I still have his income tax return form from 1957. He made just over $5,000 for that year. He once told me, "That was damn good money for those days, kid".
I worked for GM in 1969 and 1970. Pay scale was $3.33 for an assembly line worker. But mostly worked 6 and 7 days a week at 66 hours per week. I was rolling in dough for that period. Gas was $.30 per gallon. Costs for a weeks groceries were less than $25.00 a week for me and my wife. Average new car was $3,000 to $3,500. My wife had open heart surgery back then and the total cost was $4,000. Interest for a savings account was 4% and a mortgage was at 8%. I'd go back to those times in a flash.
In 1967 my parents bought a new single story 3-bedroom home in Irvine, CA for $7,500. Then in 1970 bought a new 5-bedroom 2-story home for $11,500 also in Irvine.
I worked for gm starting in 1967. As a GMI student my take home was $92 week. Made almost a $1000 per month in 1972!
I worked for GM from 63-69 which fueled my extreme dislike for the company and the shoddy products they were producing. At the same time I was working part time in body shops with the goal of opening my own shop which I did in 69. I was making 6ooo-7ooo depending on overtime when I left in 69.
As a side note I bought my 65 hi-po Mustang while working there which I still have. Six of us bought new Mustangs and parked them together on the front row across from the administration office every day. They weren't to happy.
I started in 1966 at 2.71 and left in 1996 at about 23.50. Old Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
I worked on the assembly line at Litton Microwave starting in 1976. I was paid $3.30 an hour. I think the minimum wage then was around $1.60.
When I was accepted in the IAW Teamsters union after my 90 day probation the company raised my pay to $3.90 an hour and I had to start making union dues payments of $35 a month. The union ran all the gambling in the plant, including sports pull tab cards and a lottery every week. It was open and accepted organized crime then and now.
I went to work at Chrysler in Kokomo In. In early 1960. I was layer off more than I worked. The min. Wage in Indiana was $1.00. My wife worked in a cabinet factory for $1.00 an hr. While working at Chrysler, I was making $2 something.
We thought that was big bucks
I remember after graduating from High School in the 60's of talking among friends about jobs and money. We dreamed about finding a job making $5.00 an hour with a lot of overtime. Five bucks an hour was BIG money in those days.
The highest paid job was building tires at the General Tire company here in town. It was unionized and paid the highest wages. If you got a job there you were set for life or so we thought.
As a freshly graduated engineer, I started working for Chrysler in 1964. The salary was $615 per month. Probably works out to somewhere around $3.75 an hour.
In the summer of '66 and summer '67 I worked at a local cannery in San Jose, CA driving a forklift. The pay was $2.00 an hour plus $0.10 night differential (I worked the night shift). During peak season we'd work Monday-Saturday 12 hours per night and 8 hours on Sunday. With time and a half for overtime, it worked out to $210 a week.
I was rolling in dough, or at least so it seemed. Of course real life was still a few years off into the future (wife, kids, mortgage, bills, etc.).
In '73 I was considering the Ford Mahwah Assembly Plant in N.J. A walk in exam came up for the N.Y.C. Transit Authority which I took instead. Transit called them Maintainers instead of Mechanics so their pay scale was lower. I took & passed the regular N.Y.C. Mechanics test later that year and got the job. I went from $12,000 to $22,000 in about a years time. High living man. Got married, bought a house a new car and took 2 vacations. One to England for 10 days. High living indeed.
The building I am currently working in was first occupied in 1971 the steel workers were getting $6.50 per and there was a line at the site every day..people with no skills wanting to hire on as an apprentice $6.50 was considered outrageous! fast forward to 1974 I was in the Army in Fairbanks Ak. when they started building the pipeline....Manual Shovel operators were being paid $22.75 to start but the cost of living in that area went up so fast that Soldiers living out in town had to move back on base and some even had to send their wives and family back home just to survive.
Even growing up in Dearborn, MI I never worked in the auto industry. But during this time frame, I was in middle school and remember the UAW contracts coming up every few years and they would rotate the strike companies amoungst the big three. So the hourly rate and benefits would rise every few years. Seemed there would always be a strike for a few weeks or months and then the union would get what they wanted in the end.
I recall Dearborn being such a auto industry town, especially with Ford, that when Ford went on strike, any student who's parents worked at Ford got free lunches and school fees waived or delayed. My Dad worked at Burroughs Corp. and resented the auto workers getting all the breaks.
He was in the AFL-CIO union and retired after 34 years. His current pension is $312 a month. And the union still takes dues out of that.
Solidarity forever! bah, humbug
I worked at Ford Lima Assembly Plant 1968-1971 I took home a little over 120 a week after deductions I know at age 18 I was making more than my middle management Father
You responders back up my friend whose source of autoworkers salaries was 'The American Vanguard'. After doing the math, I found that for the school year of 1970-71, I was paid $2.04 an hour, teaching for the second highest salaried school district on the Texas Gulf Coast. The behavior and disrespect of my students wasn't even worth five times that salary and that's why I dropped out of teaching for 25 years before going back. I remember the sixties as some of the best years of my life, but then I was living at home until I went off to college and even then, my parents paid for it.
Robert, Your Dad and others did get some benefit from those other unions in the end. Had he worked in a non union state the wages and bennies would have been much less.
I was a millwright at the Ford assembly plant in LA and our wages were comparable to the rubber, aerospace and paper industries near by. I believe the organized labor always improves the working conditions and wages of all those working for a wage even including the salary people.
In 1968 I went to work for minimum wage of $1.25/hr. In April 1970 I earned $2.00/hr. Recapping tires from the iron mines. In 1976 I made $3.75/hr as a beginning machinist. By 1979 I was making $4.60/hr as a machinist at the Owatonna Tool Company (OTC). OTC always paid top wages for the area in order to avoid the unions. We always had excellent benefits.
I worked at American Motors in Kenosha, WI from October, 1963 until December, 1965, except that I was laid off about half of that time. We would get lots of overtime from September until about December when the new models came out. Then when sales fell, those of us with low seniority would get laid off.
At the end I was making about $3.25 an hour working on the assembly line. Being a car guy, it was kind of interesting.
The entire American Motors / Chrysler factory complex has now been torn down and is vacant land, thanks to high union wages and NAFTA.
Yes, It's all gone.
I worked for Chevy and Old's and neither location exist and even Old's is no more! Over the 30 years i knew thousand's of people who made a good living but i never knew anyone who got rich working in a plant!!I think people willing to buy offshore and run rabbit's was/is the cause!!! Years ago when there was some sort of factory in every town where they made almost anything and everything life was good. Was it high wages that closed all those factories or was it our own people willing to buy anything from anyone??? Bud.
American industry defeated the Japanese in WWII. Then, after occupation and rebuilding, Japanese industry, defeated American industry.
In 1977 I was married, bought a Model A and repaired it, we went on a few overnight trips and I made $7,000 for the year. We also had no debts!!
Times have changed!!
The year after my one year teaching stint. I tried my hand at selling cars for my local small town Ford dealer. I was one of three full time salesmen, plus there were two semi-retired older salesmen, and the two co-owners (who tried to stay out of the selling end and just manage the dealership). On a good month, the dealership sold a unit per day (30-31), excluding fleet sales. The dealership never tried to sell at full MSRP and then give inflated credit for any trade in. Instead, we usually tried to sell at $300 over factory to dealer cost and take trade ins at wholesale. Since the salesman's commission was $100 out of the $300 per unit profit, and between five salesmen, we did good to sell 30-31 units a month, each salesman's take home per week varied from zero to a few hundred, depending on his sales. It wasn't a profitable income, but at least I din't have to deal with unruly students, five days a week.
Terry, they lost the battle but inadvertently won the war. What use to make me wonder was seeing WWII vets drive Japanese cars?
I still can't understand it.