A Good Year’s Pay for a Good Day’s Work?

July 9, 2023

Inequality.org: A Good Year’s Pay for a Good Day’s Work?

Stacks of pennies, starting from smallest on the left and on the right, four rows over, is a larger glass jar full of coins. All stacks have a grass growing and in the background there is green grass and trees.
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“The just-released Good Jobs First analysis — Power Outrage: Will Heavily Subsidized Battery Factories Generate Substandard Jobs? — examines a little-known provision in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act that may end up costing U.S. taxpayers more than $200 billion over the next decade, a sum above and beyond the $13 billion that state and local governments have promised as battery incentives.

Lawmakers see all those billions of tax dollars as a generator of good wages, but nothing in the battery subsidy fine-print mandates — or even incentivizes — decent worker paychecks. Ford Motor, for instance, will be eligible for $6.7 billion in federal subsidies for its new $3.5-billion battery plant in Michigan, and state and local officials have already handed Ford $1.7 billion for that plant.

How does that math play out for real-life workers?

“The company has promised to create 2,500 new jobs that it says will pay an average annual wage of just $45,000 a year,” Good Jobs First points out, “while reaping subsidies of $3.4 million per job.”

The Good Jobs First study offers a variety of policy proposals “to set the country’s emerging EV-battery industrial complex on the path to ‘high road’ employment,” steps ranging from requiring subsidy recipients to pay wages that at least match the local market rate to including contract provisions that “claw back” tax-dollar subsidies should companies fail to deliver the jobs they’ve promised.

Will steps like these be enough to ensure that the benefits of the transition to electric vehicles get “justly shared,” as the Good Jobs First report puts it, “with the workers and communities building America’s fossil-free economy”? Not unless we also take steps that meaningfully discourage any attempts by top corporate execs to grab much more than their “fair share” of federal tax dollars.

How could we do that discouraging? We could include in every government contract and subsidy provisions that deny public tax dollars to firms that compensate their top execs at over 25 or 50 times the compensation that goes to their workers.”

Read the full story at Inequality.org.