Union Cars & Car Makers
By Kate Gatto
For most of us buying a car is likely to be the first major purchase made. It is also likely require a sizable loan. This makes it an ideal opportunity for someone who is a labor conscious consumer to live their values and make a statement that workers deserve a living wage.
Why Does This Matter?
It is important because it allows people of all levels of the economic ladder to be able to support themselves and their families with the fruits of their labors. And that is something anyone who works full-time should be able to do.
If you want to learn more about how minimum wage is not a living wage for a family, greatly detailed information is available from the Poverty Research Center at the University of California. This research shows how a family of four, with no debts to pay off, would only be living at 60% of the federally defined poverty level on a minimum wage salary.
This level of income more than qualified workers for a variety of social services programs. By paying workers enough to support their families we reduce everyone’s burden and send the message that work at all levels should be valued.
Choosing A Labor Conscious Car
If you want to ensure that workers are being treated fairly, one of the best and simplest ways to do so is to buy from an employer that allows workers to unionize. The collective bargaining inherent to unionization allows workers to command higher wages as well as benefits such as health insurance.
How do you find Union carmakers? Well in this case you’re in luck, many carmakers support unions actively. One great list, courtesy of Labor 411, lists specific models of cars that are made by union workers. Cars on this list include:
Fixing What You Own
No matter how great your car is when you buy it, eventually it will break down. That means you are going to have to do repair work. And while your car is in the shop you may even need a rental. You can do double duty on labor consciousness by getting your car parts, or choosing a mechanic and rental facility that pay living wages. The following list, also from Labor 411, can help you to get your car back in order while still supporting a living wage:
Companies Not Listed Here
What if a company is not listed here? Does that automatically mean they do not pay their workers a fair wage? Of course not. But you are going to have to do a little bit of legwork if you want to do business with them. Simply look up the number for the customer service representatives of the company. Then you’re going to ask a few simple questions.
1. What are workers paid per hour in your local area?
2. Are the workers offered health insurance? Is that insurance affordable? Is it offered to part-time employees as well?
3. How many of the companies workers are full time? How many paid vacation and sick days are they offered each year?
The odds are good that you can now make a determination about whether or not workers in your local area are being paid a fair wage. That can then be your guide as to whether or not you want to do business with the company.
If you’re too shy, or too busy to make a phone call, then simply use your favorite search engine. Search for the name of the company along with a phrase like “living wage” or “salary information” in order to get an idea of how much workers are paid by the company.
Won’t I Pay More?
One of the main arguments against living wage, and the biggest concern for consumers, is that paying workers more will lead to higher prices. Research however does not bear this conclusion out.
Research conducted by The Labor Center at University of California at Berkley, using Wal-Mart as an example came to the following conclusion, “Even if Wal-Mart were to pass 100 percent of the wage increase on to consumers, the average impact on a Wal-Mart shopper would be quite small: 1.1 percent of prices, well below Wal-Mart’s estimated savings to consumers. This works out to $0.46 per shopping trip, or $12.49 per year…”