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Detroit Auto Industry: Reckoning to Revival

The Divide Over Wages

Uploaded by UUID:7953017 at 12/11/2013 6:21 PM

Tyyonna Clark and Napoleon Wright have many things in common. They both started working at Chrysler's Jefferson North factory in 2010. They share a history in hair care: Clark worked as a part-time beautician before Chrysler and Wright still works as a barber on the side. And they each started at $14 an hour -- half the $28 hourly wage veteran workers make -- and now earn $19 assembling Jeep Grand Cherokees 10 hours a day.

It is on that last point that they differ. Clark and Wright are among about 2,200 workers at Jefferson North who earn what is known as the "second tier" wage. They started out making less than $30,000 a year, while veteran workers made almost $60,000. The United Auto Workers agreed to establish a two-tier wage system in 2007 in hopes of boosting employment at the Detroit Three. And it worked: Chrysler has hired more than 10,000 workers in the U.S. since coming out of bankruptcy.

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