With no slowdown in sight, thousands of members of the United Auto Workers Union are entering their fifth week of striking against the Detroit Three automakers.
Most recently, 8,700 workers at Ford’s largest plant walked off the job, putting the company at risk of losing roughly $30 million per day in profit.
Workers at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant build the Ford Super Duty, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. Super Duty is among the most profitable products Ford sells. The vehicles built at the factory generate $25 billion a year in revenue, according to a statement from Ford.
Hourly union workers at the plant are calling for a fair contract and better pay, joining the 25,300 autoworkers already on the picket lines at certain Ford, GM and Stellantis facilities across the country.
According to reporting from the Associated Press, the Detroit Three have already laid off roughly 4,800 autoworkers at factories that are not on strike. Striking workers are receiving $500 a week from the union’s strike pay fund.
How does autoworker pay compare to other hourly workers?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average autoworker makes about $28 per hour. This wage increased about a dollar from the year before.
In states where the the Detroit Three automakers have factories, workers are striking for better pay. Here is how average hourly pay compares in other common occupations:
Within the childcare industry, food preparation and serving industry and production industry, production jobs pay the most per hour across all states.
The average hourly wage for production workers is the highest in California, Washington and Illinois, each of which are among the top 20 most expensive states in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ regional price parities data.
The average hourly wage for childcare workers is the lowest in Kentucky, which is among states where consumer goods are the cheapest in the U.S., according to BEA data. Childcare workers there earn an average of $12.28 an hour.
How does autoworkers’ pay compare to that of CEOs?
Autoworkers say their pay has stagnated even as the profits of Detroit’s car companies and CEO compensation have increased.
The three companies have near-record profits, collectively reporting $21 billion in earnings in the first half of this year alone.
“The union is saying, ‘Wait a minute. You put the COLA on pause, so let’s reinstate it because you’re making money now and we see the CEO pay go higher and higher,” said Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Top-tier workers – meaning anyone who joined the company in 2007 or earlier – make roughly $33 an hour on average, contract summaries for the Detroit Three show. Those hired after 2007 are part of the lower tier and earn up to $17 an hour based on a buildup of 6% annual raises under the last contract.
Not all autoworkers at the Detroit Three come close to the top pay rate. Temporary or supplemental workers make less.
What is UAW striking for?
Eliminating wage tiers
A 40% wage increase over the life of the contract. The 40% signifies the increase in CEO salaries.
Restoring the cost-of-living allowance adjustments to counteract inflation.
Defined benefit pension for all workers.
The right to strike over plant closures.
A reduced work week and more paid time off.
Limiting the use of temporary workers.
Increased benefits to current retirees.
Since the strike began in mid-September, UAW president Shawn Fain has expanded it twice to include 38 parts distribution centers across the nation and GM’s Lansing Delta Assembly, along with Ford’s Chicago Assembly and Kentucky Truck.
There are about 115,000 UAW members still on the job.
Jamie L. LaReau contributed to this reporting
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How much do UAW workers make? A look at hourly wages across US states