On "Countdown," Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person In The World" for November 26 was Andrew Ross Sorkin and The New York Times for starting the myth that the average worker at General Motors earns an average of $70 per hour.
This falsehood has been perpetuated mainly by right-wing commentators, who are always ready to condemn labor unions and the workers they represent but have little to say about skyrocketing CEO salaries, along with fat bonuses that are rewarded no matter how poorly industries perform. In the case of the auto industry, it wasn't the workers who made the poor business decisions to keep producing gas guzzlers and ignore the need for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Olbermann cites the Center for Automotive Research, which states that the average salary for an auto worker at GM, Chrysler and Ford is actually $28 per hour. The outlandish $70 per hour is arrived at by adding the current hourly wages plus the health benefits and pensions of current and retired workers plus money paid to surviving spouses of deceased workers, then dividing the total by the number of active workers. The number derived is $70–clearly a distorted way of reaching an average salary.
Even if one adds in health benefits and pension, one does not reach $70 per hour from a wage of $28. This distortion, however, serves the needs of those who want to continue weakening the labor movement in America.