long career ladders reflect management's response to a system of lifetime employment with age-based pay by ensuring worker's productivity and increasing their responsibilities as they gain experience. The SET pay system in Japan rewards and supports security, employee involvement, and training in a system that produces less overall inequality than exists in the United States.
Data sources . Hourly pay data are taken from the 1991 and 1994 United Auto Worker contracts with Together Manufacturing. The contracts, along with discussions with Together Manufacturing's community relations department, provided the understanding of the career progressions.
Career ladder estimations . The Together Manufacturing union contract specifies two categories of workers: general production and skilled trades (general maintenance and tool and die). The paths illustrated in Figure 4.1 show typical wage progressions for various promotional paths, all based on a forty-hour work week. Entry-level step increases occur for production workers during the first thirty-six months of employment at a rate of six increases at just under $1 each. Workers beginning in skilled trades receive one entry-level step increase of over 17 percent after ninety days. Apart from across-the-board increases, production or skilled trade workers can increase their wages by $0.60 per hour with a promotion to team leader (after four to eight years for production and skilled trade workers, respectively). Beyond this, further increases in pay come from overtime, COLAs, a factorywide bonus related to quality and productivity targets, and new contracts.
Workers who wish to become team leaders usually are able to do so after two to three years with the firm, although this time period can vary considerably. About twenty to thirty general production workers per year enter the apprenticeship program, which lasts four years; completion of this training results in promotion to skilled trade status.
The 1994 contract lowered entry wages for production workers compared to the 1991 contract but extended the entry-level ladder from three increases of approximately $0.90 each over the first eighteen months to six increases of around $0.95 each over the initial three years. Skilled trade wages increased 5 percent over those in the 1991 contract.
Data sources . The Hi-Tech career paths are based on documentation provided to us by Hi- Tech. The internal documents reviewed included charts of typical career progressions, durations of employees at each job grade and at each tenure level, and hourly pay by job category. Figure 4.2a shows typical career pays for operators, operator/technicians, and engineers.