The GM strike is in danger - Page 2 - Politics | PoFo

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ckaihatsu wrote:You're conflating *individual* interests with *collective* interests, and the two are *not* the same -- collective workers' interests are indicated in the language of whatever contract they're working under. It makes no sense to *personalize* workers interests, because all workers share the same objective interests for higher wages and benefits.

lol whut? It's basically impossible and impractical to decouple the collective from the individual.

Anyway, I'm to busy to address everything else you've said.
Rancid wrote:
Forth, as best as I can tell, the positive/negative effects of unions is a very mixed bag. For some people it helps, for others it hurts. To claim they are always good or always bad immediately makes me question the motives of the person.

ckaihatsu wrote:
You're conflating *individual* interests with *collective* interests, and the two are *not* the same -- collective workers' interests are indicated in the language of whatever contract they're working under. It makes no sense to *personalize* workers interests, because all workers share the same objective interests for higher wages and benefits.

Rancid wrote:
lol whut? It's basically impossible and impractical to decouple the collective from the individual.

Anyway, I'm to busy to address everything else you've said.

*You're* the one decoupling the collective from the individual because you're saying that the effect of unions *varies* from worker to worker.

You're refusing to acknowledge that *all workers* have the exact same basic interests, that of getting higher wages and benefits out of the bosses. You repeatedly show your willingness to be an elitist by only looking at the most *privileged* and atypical workers within capitalist society.

The workers who need, and benefit most, from collectivizing into rank-and-file unions, are the ones who *don't* have high-profile jobs like professional athletes do, which is the overwhelming majority of workers to begin with.
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GM shuts down Silao Complex in Mexico as workers’ rebellion brews

By Andrea Lobo
4 October 2019

GM has decided to shutdown production at the Silao Complex, its largest in Mexico, because of a growing rebellion at the plant involving workers who are demanding a united fight with their class allies in the US. GM’s decision shows that striking workers in the US have support internationally—a huge source of strength which they can unleash only by breaking with the UAW and taking control of the strike themselves.

The 6,000 workers at Silao assemble a vast array of transmissions, engines and more than 400,000 pick-up trucks yearly—the highly profitable GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. Despite claiming the previous week that GM was “operating normally at all plants,” the company announced on September 26 that two shifts would be laid off from each area at the Silao Complex this week. The company then decided Tuesday to shut down the entire plant until further notice. The company will pay some workers 55 percent of their salaries during this period while eliminating paid vacation days from others.

Center for Automotive Research Vice President Kristin Dziczeek told AP that “the closing of the Silao plant has created greater pressure on GM to end the strike.”

The General Motors complex in Silao

In other words, a united struggle of Mexican and American autoworkers could mark a serious challenge to the dictatorship of the corporation and the corrupt trade unions. This objective class unity explodes the lie put forward by politicians like billionaire Donald Trump who claim Mexicans are “rapists” and claims by Trump, the Democrats and UAW who falsely claim Mexican workers steal American jobs.

GM Mexico said in a press brief: “We remain vigilant on the negotiations between General Motors Company and the union UAW (United Automobile Workers) in the United States to evaluate day by day our operations, hoping for the GM complex to resume work in the following days.”

The Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), which controls the trade union at the Silao Complex, pathetically declared, “As an organization, we prefer this sort of arrangement instead of the firing of workers.” Tereso Medina Ramírez, the regional CTM chief also took the position of management that “what we hope is that, in the United States, the companies settle this conflict as soon as possible.”

The statements of the company and the union are attempts to pit workers across borders against each other. That’s because all signs suggest that the decision to close Silao was aimed at preempting a simmering rebellion by workers who are already making appeals for a joint struggle with US strikers. Since the strike began, GM has fired at least 7 workers who were opposing speedups and overtime in order not to weaken the strike of American workers.

Two-thirds of parts in the cars assembled in Mexico come from the US and Canada with a significant share going through the distribution centers on strike in the US. Both GM and the UAW have cited a shortage of auto parts as the cause of the decision. However, neither explained the sudden change in calculations to shut down Silao while keeping Ramos Arizpe, San Luis Potosí and Toluca open.

On Wednesday, EFE reported that Silao workers have denounced harassment and unjustified firings “as a consequence of backing US strikers.” The re-hiring of victimized workers, it adds, “is being considered in the demands of strikers in the United States, as well as access [by Mexican workers] to the distribution of economic resources from the [US] strike fund.”

The news agency then indicates that, upon contacting the company, GM Mexico “insisted that it was false that there have been unjustified firings and that the strike fund only applies for the UAW in the United States.”

These statements demonstrate that the company was following closely the activities of the militant group at Silao taking actions in support of the US strikers when it decided to shut down the plant.

According to workers at Silao in contact with the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, GM and its trade union had escalated the harassment and unjustified firings of the more outspoken workers and those with previous injuries to prepare for speed-ups and other measures in response to a potential strike in the United States.

Many of these workers have been targeted for participating in discussions about leaving the pro-company union, which have taken place for years. These workers established a rank-and-file group in April, which kept regular contact on social media and held bi-weekly meetings in a nearby town. After reading about the UAW contract expiration and corruption scandal on the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter in early September, the workers established contact with the WSWS and began joining online conferences organized by the WSWS to discuss with autoworkers in the United States and internationally a joint struggle.

At their local assembly on September 15, the militant group, which had about 35 workers and has since adopted the name “Generating Movement,” voted to actively oppose speed-ups and overtime that GM could use to undermine a strike in the US, which began the following day. After Silao workers communicated this decision during the September 19 international online call organized by the Autoworker Newsletter and appealed to US strikers to adopt the demand that GM re-hire co-workers in their militant group, the company began summarily firing specifically those workers present at the September 15 assembly and those who sent voice messages on September 19.

The response by those victimized has been to increase their appeals to their international brothers and sisters. In their statements to the media, the Silao workers have placed front and center that they are waging an international struggle. On Wednesday, Israel Cervantes told El Otro Enfoque, “There have already been 25 co-workers fired and we demand, along with co-workers in the United States, their immediate re-hiring.”

A Fiat Chrysler worker in Toledo, Ohio told the Autoworker Newsletter that the Silao workers “are sacrificing a lot for the good. The UAW and management use the threat of sending jobs to Mexico as a scare tactic.”

It’s the class duty of all US autoworkers to come to the defense of Silao workers and adopt their re-hiring with full back pay as a strike demand. However, this can only be done by taking the strike out of the straitjacket of the UAW by forming rank-and-file committees at each plant to formulate their own demands against the concessions demanded by the company and the union, and to fight for these through an international strategy.

At the same time, workers at Silao need to oppose all efforts to channel their struggle behind the CTM or the so-called “independent unions” through arguments that they can be made more democratic due to the new labor reform approved by the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his Movement for National Regeneration (Morena).

The reform eliminates the “exclusivity norm” that companies used to fire workers that left the pro-company union. It allows unions to be formed with a 50 percent vote by at least 30 percent of workers at the plant. However, while claiming that no worker is “forced to belong to a union,” the law upholds the exclusivity that only registered trade unions can reach new agreements with the company.

The new legislation was signed into law on May 1, but workers are still being fired at Silao and across the country for opposing the established unions, demonstrating that its regulations are not aimed against corporate abuses, but against controlling workers. The law, moreover, was demanded in trade negotiations by the administration of Donald Trump.

At a time when the Mexican ruling class and its American and European patrons brace for an economic downturn, they are exploiting widespread popular illusions in López Obrador to tie the hands of workers through their capitalist state and trade unions, at the same time that it militarizes the country in preparation to repress future social upheavals.

The author also recommends:

Lessons of the Matamoros workers’ rebellion
[25 March 2019]

Copyright © 1998-2019 World Socialist Web Site - All rights reserved
ckaihatsu wrote:*You're* the one decoupling the collective from the individual because you're saying that the effect of unions *varies* from worker to worker.

I would argue I'm not decoupling anything. However, you are trying to take this on a tangent. What you are saying is just a straw man because you have no real point to make. The main point here is that yes, the effect of a union most definitely affects different workers in different ways. It's foolish to believe that all workers in a union are some homogeneous population. Are you saying that all workers do the same job? That they all make the same exact pay? Are you saying that had they not been in a union they would all be doing the same job, and have the same exact pay and same exact responsibilities at their jobs? Really? You really think that all workers skill levels are the same? Meaning all workers produce exactly the same amount of work?

Are you suggesting humans are machinery? A commodity?

What are you smoking?

What evidence do you have that this is not true? I've shown some already (NBAPA). My local teachers union is another. All the teachers there do not get he same pay, hence they are in fact, treated differently based on their respnosiblities, what they teach, their seniority, etc. etc. So yes, the effects are different depending on the person, and depending on what they would otherwise be doing if they were not in a union.

COme one, what the fuck are you smoking.

This might be my last post with you on this subject, because you're a one note johnny it seems.
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UAW orders workers to stay on job past contract expiration at Volvo-Mack trucks

By Steve Filips
4 October 2019

The United Auto Workers has kept some 3,750 Mack and Volvo truck workers on the job following the October 1 expiration of their contract. The factories in Pennsylvania and Maryland produce Class 8 heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 33,000 pounds.

On September 20, workers at the Mack plant in Macungie, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Allentown, had voted overwhelmingly for strike authorization. Most of the plant’s 1,850 workers are members of UAW Local 677. The Macungie facility produces all the Mack trucks for North America and export.

Vote totals for workers at the Mack-Volvo truck powertrain and axle factory in Hagerstown, Maryland are not available. The plant employs 1,900 workers, members of UAW Amalgamated Local 171 and 1247. The plant announced the addition of 80 new jobs this past July 9.

No details of the content of the current negotiations have been released. However, whatever settlement is adopted it is likely to be patterned on the concessions currently being demanded by General Motors, where nearly 50,000 workers have been on strike since September 17. Mack workers ratified a previous three-year deal in October 2016.

On Wednesday morning Local 171 President David Cynthia Fowler informed workers, “Still in negotiations. This is what I would refer to as an hour-by-hour continuation (I don’t like using the word extension). All shifts continue to work as scheduled until further notice.”

While the UAW has so far managed to keep the workers from walking out, there is increasing opposition. Posts by workers on social media indicate widespread impatience. A comment by a worker on Facebook that was widely liked by his fellow Volvo-Mack coworkers said of the UAW delay tactics, “We all know you are doing all you can but [in] my book a deadline is a deadline. Enough of the games. If I’m 30 seconds late I get a point ...”

Another worker, Jamie Hawbaker, expressed disgust at the UAW bureaucracy’s order to work past the contract expiration. “Deadline my ass. Don’t forget we still got a vote. Tired of the smoke and mirrors.”

The UAW’s efforts to prevent a joint struggle by the workers from Volvo-Mack is demonstrated by the fact that it has in place a separate contract for workers at the Volvo Trucks North America assembly plant in New River Valley, Virginia. The plant builds heavy-duty commercial trucks and is the company’s largest truck manufacturing facility worldwide. The current contract covers about 2,000 members of UAW Local 2069 and does not expire until March 2021.

Volvo trucks has over 52,000 employees worldwide. Mack is a subsidiary of the Gothenberg, Sweden-based multinational Volvo Group, which made the purchase in January 2001 and has over 105,000 employees worldwide with over $39 billion in 2018 revenues. Volvo cars was sold to Ford in 1999, which in turn was sold to Geely of China in 2010.

The truck manufacturing industry has had record levels of production over the past few years according to trade publications. Last year Mack was able to secure a $296 million US military contract to produce 683 heavy dump trucks that are to be assembled at the Macungie facility in Pennsylvania.

The Volvo New River Valley (NRV) plant this past June announced a $400 million expansion that will add 777 people to its workforce over the next six years. The NRV facility produces all the Volvo trucks sold in North America. There has been a rapid expansion at NRV from 2,600 workers in the beginning of 2018 to 3,500 currently. The workers are members of UAW Local 2069 and their contract with the company expires on March 16, 2021. The NRV workers struck in 2008.

An article in Transport Topics in July reported that Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) posted a year over year 2.4 percent increase in truck sales, with 12,738 Class 8 trucks sold in the first half of the year. VTNA’s subsidiary Mack Trucks’ results for the same period increased by 9.6 percent, with 9,429 units sold. In the same article, Magnus Koeck VTNA’s marketing vice president conveyed the continued expectation that the UAW would cooperate with the company in pushing through concessions to keep production and profits up, saying, “We enjoyed a very strong first half of 2019 and expect to see continued economic strength and a healthy market for the rest of the year.”

The history of the UAW in southeastern Pennsylvania and Maryland is one of continual betrayals of workers as cuts, layoffs and plant closures have been imposed by management with the complicity of the union. The closure this year of GM’s Baltimore White Marsh transmission operations near Hagerstown without opposition on the part of the UAW is just the latest example.

Navistar trucks announced this week that it is building a new factory to manufacture Class 6-8 trucks in San Antonio, Texas for $250 million that will be staffed by 600 workers. However, Navistar earlier this month announced the layoff of 136 workers, members of UAW Local 402, at its medium-sized truck assembly plant in Springfield, Ohio. It also has a factory in Escobedo, Mexico producing Class 8 trucks. Former UAW President Dennis Williams was on the board of Navistar, which is 17 percent owned by Volkswagen AG.

Truck maker Freightliner in collaboration with the UAW secured ratification of a six-year contract in July of last year. The subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America is the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in the US and has plants in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

Copyright © 1998-2019 World Socialist Web Site - All rights reserved
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Wall Street gives GM and UAW time to wear down strikers and impose concessions

By Tom Hall
30 September 2019

The strike by 48,000 GM autoworkers has entered its third week. Workers are determined to fight the auto companies, and there are growing calls for a united struggle of GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers and across the auto and auto parts industry.

However, workers face a combined offensive by the United Auto Workers and GM, backed by Wall Street. The UAW continues to keep workers in the dark. It has issued no official demands. At the same time, the UAW has isolated the strike by forcing Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers to remain on the job. And starting this week it will dole out strike pay of only $250 a week out of the union’s $800 million strike fund, knowing full well this will result in terrible economic hardships for workers.

In short, GM and the UAW are waiting until they feel the workers are sufficiently exhausted to accept a deeply unpopular deal.

GM’s financial investors have made clear that they are willing to accept short-term losses from the strike as long as the company imposes the deep concessions, particularly the gutting of health care benefits and expansion of low-paid temps, that will sharply increase the company’s long-term profits.

This was the meaning of a report on Friday by CNBC, titled, “Wall Street remains patient as UAW strike against GM drags on, talks progress.” It pointed to the fact that GM’s stock price has remained “relatively stable” since the strike began. “Investors aren’t all that worried because they see the strike as short-term pain that will pay off with lower long-term employee costs—even if it costs the automaker hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in lost production,” the cable network said.

“We understand this is a headline and it’s newsworthy, but in the grand scheme of GM’s strategy, they’re going to get this behind them, and they have much bigger issues to deal with at the board level,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” program.

In other words, the company’s investors are willing to give GM the time that it needs in order to defeat the strike, with any concessions contract serving as a baseline for a broader attack on autoworkers and the entire working class. However, should GM fail to enforce major concessions on its workforce, Wall Street will punish the auto giant by tanking its stock and downgrading its credit.

Significantly, not a single analyst interviewed in the report even bothered to raise the possibility that the UAW negotiators will force the company to back down from its demands. On the contrary, investors have already factored in a UAW sellout into their financial calculations.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy, in a note to investors Friday, said, “In total, the strike is not good for GM’s financials in the short run, but given GM’s history with labor contracts, we believe investors remain supportive of a tough/fair stance.”

Wall Street investors have long ago taken the measure of the UAW, which has collaborated with the automakers for decades to close down plants and slash wages.

They also know that the UAW’s financial interests are aligned with GM’s, because it owns billions in GM stock and relies on the strike fund to prop up officials’ salaries. GM also transfers cash directly into the pockets of the bureaucracy through the joint training center it operates with the UAW. It spent more than $3 billion on the UAW-GM Joint Training Center since it opened in the early 1980s, according to labor historian and UAW critic Thomas Adams.

The UAW does not oppose deep cuts in health benefits or the vast expansion of temps; they support them. In 2015, the UAW’s attempt to push through a union-controlled “Health Care Co-op” was only defeated by the revolt by Fiat Chrysler workers who knew the UAW planned to cut the benefits of current workers like it did retirees covered by the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust. At the same time, the UAW has held up as its model for plants that build electric vehicles the Orion Assembly Plant, just north of Detroit. Last year, then UAW-GM Vice President Cindy Estrada (now heading up the union’s Fiat Chrysler bargaining team) signed a secret “Competitive Operating Agreement” that allows 40 percent of the workers in the plant to be low-paid contract workers who top out at about half the pay of senior workers who were pushed out.

The most dangerous thing for workers is to be engaged in wishful thinking or to adopt a “wait to see what happens” attitude. The UAW will do what it has done for the last four decades: collude with management to reduce the living standards of workers and increase their exploitation. That is why the difference between the victory or defeat of this strike depends entirely on the independent initiative of rank-and-file workers.

The conduct of the struggle must be taken out of the hands of the corrupt UAW through the election of rank-and-file strike and factory committees. These committees should unify GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers and spread the strike throughout the auto and auto parts industry. At the same time, these committees should reach out to mobilize every section of workers and young people, including teachers and health care workers, Amazon and other logistics workers, and unify US workers with their class brothers and sisters in Canada, Mexico and around the world.

At the same time, autoworkers should demand the tripling of strike pay to $750 a week, which should be funded by liquidating the assets of the joint training centers and reducing the salaries of the UAW’s bloated staff to the level of strike pay. At the same time, workers must prepare to uphold the principle of “No contract, no work” and defy any back-to-work order before a vote to ratify a deal. Workers must insist that they have access to the full tentative agreement—not bogus “highlights”—and a full week to study and discuss the deal before any vote. Finally, workers must oversee the entire ratification process to prevent fraud and vote-rigging.

Workers should recall the campaign of lies and intimidation during the 2015 contract votes, which included the dispatching of Norwood Jewell and Cindy Estrada—one convicted, the other implicated in the corruption scandal--to browbeat workers with threats of plant closings and mass layoffs. The process ended with widespread allegations by Ford workers of voting irregularities and ballot stuffing at a key vote at Dearborn Truck Plant before the UAW announced the national deal had been “ratified” by a razor-thin majority of 51-49 percent.

The GM strike is now the longest walkout since the 21-day Ford workers strike in 1976 and the 67-day day walkout at GM in 1970. As the strike enters the third week workers must take heed of the telltale signs that the UAW is preparing another sellout like it has done countless times before.

There is popular support for GM workers throughout the US and around the world. But this support can only be mobilized if workers break free from the chains of the UAW, by building rank-and-file strike and factory committees to take the conduct of this battle into their own hands. The isolation of the strike must be broken by expanding it to Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers and unifying with GM workers in Mexico, Canada, Korea and around the world in a common struggle against the transnational corporations.

Copyright © 1998-2019 World Socialist Web Site - All rights reserved

Juan Gonzales • 4 days ago

Gm is losing in this public stint led by CEO Mary Barra and are losing around 25 to 50 million dollars a day. They are one benchmark to being down grade for credit and their stocks are flat. Dealerships can't fix newer models cause the don't have the necessary parts. The consumers are walking away from the new GM vehicles and won't buy our products during the current situation. Moreover, Mary Barra has injured the Gm trademark and gave GM a black eye when she pulled the insurance and it victimized cancer patients, women having babies and a guy in the middle of a transplant. All these factors have hurt Gm and with this ongoing strike day by day they lose even more.

She has a lot of explaining to do to the shareholders. Wallstreet and the customers. She gambled and she lost. Gm never thought about this strike thinking it would be like past strikes. She never factored in the social networking aspect. This strike is a different kind of strike. Technology between the union. Every member, every local and every state has allowed the uaw members to be toe to toe and one step ahead of the game. Gm never factored that this strike would awaken middle class Americans and instill all blue collar workers to stand behind the strikers. They never factored the facts that other unions, other leaders, political activists would join in on this fight against the Corporate greed, the CEO leadership and the total disrespectful treatment of all middle class families. Mary Barra opened up a can of worms and middle class America opened up a can of whip ass and literally standing up against Corporate Gm and the Greedy Mary Barra titled with a temporary name on her door as CEO of General Motors. Her motives never reached her promised benchmarks to her shareholders and now she must answer to them, the union and the public.

•Reply•Share ›
Rancid wrote:
I would argue I'm not decoupling anything. However, you are trying to take this on a tangent. What you are saying is just a straw man because you have no real point to make. The main point here is that yes, the effect of a union most definitely affects different workers in different ways. It's foolish to believe that all workers in a union are some homogeneous population. Are you saying that all workers do the same job? That they all make the same exact pay? Are you saying that had they not been in a union they would all be doing the same job, and have the same exact pay and same exact responsibilities at their jobs? Really? You really think that all workers skill levels are the same? Meaning all workers produce exactly the same amount of work?

Are you suggesting humans are machinery? A commodity?

Yes, that's *exactly* what I'm saying -- under capitalism even *labor* (human lives) becomes commodified, and workers / wage-slaves are *obliged* to work for the sake of procuring the necessities of life and living.

Rancid wrote:
What are you smoking?

What evidence do you have that this is not true? I've shown some already (NBAPA). My local teachers union is another. All the teachers there do not get he same pay, hence they are in fact, treated differently based on their respnosiblities, what they teach, their seniority, etc. etc. So yes, the effects are different depending on the person, and depending on what they would otherwise be doing if they were not in a union.

COme one, what the fuck are you smoking.

This might be my last post with you on this subject, because you're a one note johnny it seems.

Yes, I have decisive *conclusions* on capitalism and its functioning -- I'm a revolutionary / Marxist / Trotskyist.

All you're doing is focusing on slight *differences* in social and working status among workers at a workplace. I've already noted that these aspects can be addressed in the collective labor contract with the company.

Oftentimes the company doesn't even bother to renew the contract after it expires and expects the workers to work *without* a contract. This serves to show the negligence and disrespect of the company for the workers who make it profits, from the commodification and exploitation of their labor-power.
UAW Strike Dossier: (1) GM Workers Fight Back, and (2) Report from a UAW Picket Line in Langhorne, PA


(1) “We Are Not Going Anywhere”: GM Workers Fight Back! -- by Mya Shone

(2) Report from a UAW Picket Line in Langhorne, Penn. -- by Gabe Chang

* * * * * * * * * *

(1) “We Are Not Going Anywhere”:
GM Workers Fight Back!


Sept. 25 — “GM (General Motors) strikes have often been signal events in American history,” noted Steven Greenhouse, the former labor reporter for the New York Times, on Sept. 19, the third day that 48,000 auto workers represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) stopped work at 55 plants and parts depots in 19 states across the United States.

• “The 1936-37 sitdown strike by 2,000 workers in Flint, Michigan, led to the unionization of General Motors, then the world’s largest automaker, and in turn spurred a wave of unionization across the country.

• “The 113-day strike by 175,000 GM workers in 1945-46 helped lead to an agreement in 1950, known as the Treaty of Detroit, that provided breakthroughs on wages, health coverage and pensions, and became a model for other unions and corporations.

• “In 1970, when the UAW was near its peak membership [1.5 million], 400,000 of its members went on strike for two months against GM. ... The union won a significant pay increase.”

This time, too, the autoworkers are determined that the contract negotiated with GM will be a turning point, one that will reset terms for workers throughout the U.S. “A good deal for us will help everyone,” remarked D’Andre Jackson who has worked at GM for 26 years. “We are fighting not just for us, but for our kids, our kids’ futures.” The autoworkers have told the union that its bargaining team must beat back prior concessions of two-tier pay scales and temporary workers and return to the union’s commitment to equal pay for equal work.

New hires comprise about 35% of the GM workforce today and earn only half the pay of longer-tenured workers. An “in progression” change in the contract four years ago provided for an eight-year “grow-in period” to reach the top wage tier ($29/hr) but that wage still is two dollars below that earned by workers who started at GM prior to 2007.

Temporary workers – about seven percent of the GM workforce – earn only $15.78/hour while performing the same tasks as permanent workers toiling beside them on the assembly line. They are subject to mandatory overtime and receive a maximum of three unpaid vacation days per year but only if approved by their supervisors. Their healthcare benefits are cancelled each time they are laid off even if the layoff is only for a week. In fact, most are permatemps. Domanique Henry has worked on the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly line for four years. Her bottom line: “We want to be equal. We do the same jobs and don’t get the same pay and rights.” Permanent workers share her sentiments.

Seventy-four years ago, UAW members struggled to make healthcare benefits a given for themselves and their families. Today they contribute three percent even while the average contribution for workers in other manufacturing industries is 30 percent.

They won that battle and refuse to retreat despite GM’s push to cut into their wages and have workers contribute 15 percent. GM cannot threaten bankruptcy now as it had in 2007 when the UAW offered concessions to maintain jobs. Profits in North America alone over the past three years have been $35 billion. Meanwhile, real wages have plummeted and the autoworkers received only two hourly wage increases in the last decade. That, too, has to change. Walking the picket line in Kansas City, Kansas, longtime UAW member Herb Taylor expressed the solidarity and determination among autoworkers today: “We’re not going anywhere until we have a solution that satisfies everyone.”

* * * * * * * * * *

(2) Report from a UAW Picket Line in Langhorne, Penn.

By GABE CHANG (for The Organizer)

Forty-seven thousand UAW members at General Motors have been on strike since September 15 in one of the most important labor battles in years.

After General Motors (GM) threatened to go bankrupt in 2008, the UAW union leadership, under pressure from the Obama administration, agreed to even greater workplace concessions than in the past. Workers hired before 2008 earned $30 an hour and benefited from good-quality pensions and health insurance, but in 2008, UAW leaders agreed that all new hires would work for $15 an hour, with no pension entitlement, while temporary workers would not even receive health insurance.

The agreement accepted in 2008 by the UAW officialdom therefore created a two-tier system: a worker could earn half as much as his or her neighbor on the assembly line while they were doing the same work. A worker hired before 2008 told me: "New hires and temporary workers have been screwed!"

What is historic about this strike is that all UAW workers are on strike around the same demand: Wages and benefits for all post-2008 hires, permanent or temporary, must be increased!

On the picket line

I joined the picket line at the GM Distribution Center in Langhorne, Penn., where 80 UAW members work, all members of Local 2177. Langhorne is 30 minutes outside Philadelphia. All week, Make the Road (an immigrant rights organization), AFT, CWA, DSA and LILAC, among others, arranged rides to and from the train stations. I brought four workers from outside Camden to the train. A group of workers from Walmart were there. Though they make less than the UAW temps ($11 an hour), they contributed to the strike fund and food drive.

It was an incredible and heart-warming experience, with a lot of discussion. The strikers were touched that Walmart workers and undocumented workers were supporting them. They were almost choked up. They’d all worked minimum wage and lower-wage jobs before GM. They said that $15 seemed like a miracle at first. But then, you get married, have a kid, or a parent gets sick. ...

Talking to three generations of UAW members was a highlight. A little prodding got the retirees and old-timers to talk about Walter Reuther, and it was clear they wished for leaders like him. One man talked about his father's years in the UAW during the early 30’s, at the time of the Battle of the Overpass.

A couple of GM retirees told me about the historic 1972 strike at Lordstown, Ohio, and how desperate they were for help. They remembered the labor and community activists who brought them groceries and helped to pay their bills.

We didn’t talk too much about electoral politics. I gathered that most of them are fairy apolitical. There was some talk of Sanders. Biden was respected, but unpopular. Some of the younger workers previously had been Trump supporters — and they got a little ribbing for this from their co-workers. "I didn't quite understand that he [Trump] was a racist, I was new to the union at the time," explains one of the young workers, a former Trump supporter.

Many cars honked and waved. Every passing truck honked, many shouted support.

While I was there, three different cars stopped, and the drivers rolled down the window to talk and offer support and snacks. One of them, a teacher, said that all the teachers support the strikers, and they would all be there for the weekend rally. She asked if the strikers needed flashlights or blankets for the night shifts.

I distributed about 50 copies of Mya Shone's article on the UAW strike [see posting above]. I also distributed the latest issue of The Organizer newspaper, and showed the strikers the messages of support sent by the young people who participated in the International Meeting of Young Revolutionaries (Paris, August 2019). When I showed the message of support from Azania/South Africa and the photos from the mass protest marches of millions of people in the streets of Algeria, the strikers said, "This is exactly what we need here!"
ckaihatsu wrote:All you're doing is focusing on slight *differences* in social and working status among workers at a workplace

They are not slight differences. When we're talking about lower paid labor, having you pay change by 1,2,3 thousand is VERY different.

It's clear you are not interested in having a real objective and intellectual/conceptual conversation. You are only interested in pushing your misinformed agenda. I'm not saying it's wrong to support unions (because it's not wrong), but its clear your understanding of how labor works is flawed. IT's clear you are not capable of having a real exchange of ideas. Ideas, by the way, that could help you strengthen your position.

Since you choose not to do this, you sound like a broken record. Not just in your repetition, but in your content.

Perhaps we'll talk again later when you are interested in thinking more objectively about things.
Rancid wrote:
They are not slight differences. When we're talking about lower paid labor, having you pay change by 1,2,3 thousand is VERY different.

It's clear you are not interested in having a real objective and intellectual/conceptual conversation. You are only interested in pushing your misinformed agenda. I'm not saying it's wrong to support unions (because it's not wrong), but its clear your understanding of how labor works is flawed. IT's clear you are not capable of having a real exchange of ideas. Ideas, by the way, that could help you strengthen your position.

Since you choose not to do this, you sound like a broken record. Not just in your repetition, but in your content.

Perhaps we'll talk again later when you are interested in thinking more objectively about things.

The main difference we have is that of *who pays* for the various labor roles.

You think that any potential redistribution of compensation for the workers is a *zero-sum* game, internal to those workers, while I've been stressing the need for *all* workers at a workplace (etc.) to *get more* from the bosses so that it's *not* a zero-sum game, but rather an overall *increase* in wages and benefits for all workers (perhaps it could be a 100% increase in wages across-the-board, so it wouldn't matter what the various pay scales are, but this is just an abstraction / example).
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GM strike in danger of union-enforced defeat as UAW announces ‘good progress’ on temps, health care

By Tom Hall
5 October 2019

The United Auto Workers (UAW) and General Motors are making “good progress” towards an agreement, UAW Vice President for GM Terry Dittes said in a letter published Friday evening. The letter cited the use of temporary workers and health care as areas where the company and the union are supposedly approaching an agreement.

As with all previous “updates,” the brief 112-word statement contained no information whatsoever about the content of the talks. But the announcement is a clear sign that the GM strike, now in its third week, is in serious danger. GM and its hired agents in the UAW are working overtime to shut down the strike and enforce a defeat.

There are two alternatives facing autoworkers. Either they take the struggle out of the hands of the UAW by forming rank-and-file strike committees, formulate their own demands, broaden the struggle to include Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers and make their struggle the center of a broader counteroffensive by the working class in defense of jobs throughout the United States and internationally, or the UAW and GM will enforce a strategic defeat which, they hope, will lay the foundation for reducing autoworkers to the level of industrial slaves.

That the UAW was forced to call a strike at all was due to the overwhelming anger and distrust of autoworkers, which the UAW feared was becoming uncontrollable. However, from the beginning the UAW and GM have bided their time, relying on the union’s starvation strike pay of $250 per week to wear down strikers and force through the concessions which they have long ago agreed to.

The union is also under immense pressure from the federal government, which is using the expanding federal corruption probe to send them the message that they cannot cede an inch to workers’ demands. The only real “negotiations” the UAW is conducting is with federal prosecutors, and the union no doubt hopes that their jail sentences will be lightened in exchange for forcing through contracts favorable to GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

There are many signs that the UAW is preparing to shut down the strike at some point over the next several days. A deal could be announced as early as the weekend, according to labor professor Harley Shaiken in comments to the Detroit Free Press.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that GM has penciled in October 8, next Tuesday, as the end date of the strike. The company had informed workers at the Silao complex in Mexico, which is now temporarily shut down, that the factory will return to full production on October 8. A court injunction which the company obtained against pickets at the Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee also expires at the same date.

Secretary for Economic Development for the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí Gustavo Puente Orozco told the Vanguardia newspaper that GM executives assured him that they "expect that this week they will be able to resolve the problem they have in the United States and that [things] will return to normal, especially for the suppliers of the Sialo plant."

The fifth largest auto maker in the world by revenue, GM is seeking to further reduce its labor costs through a vast increase in the use of temporary workers and sharp increases in out-of-pocket health care expenses for workers. Its executives have complained that “all-in” labor costs, or the total labor expenses divided by the number of hours worked, are $63 per hour, compared to $50 for foreign-based automakers operating plants in the southern US.

If the company can increase the percentage of temps to 20 percent of its workforce, in line with its foreign competitors, and increase out of pocket expenses from 3 to 15 percent, that could save the company more than $500 million annually, according to the Free Press. Moreover, this would set the standard for similar cuts at Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

As in 2009, when the Obama-led restructuring of the industry set the standard for wage and benefit cuts throughout the economy, concessions at the Detroit automakers will have a ripple effect throughout the entire economy. For GM and its Wall Street investors, this makes the costs of a strike well worth it.

The UAW agrees with all of this, so long as it can continue to extract union dues from GM’s workforce. Its shutdown of a two-day strike in 2007 was instrumental in introducing the two-tier wage structure. It rammed through the 2015 contract against overwhelming opposition from autoworkers, effectively establishing temporary workers as a de facto third tier. Plans to force current autoworkers onto a UAW-controlled health care co-op were scrapped after the first contract was rejected by a 2-to-1 margin at Fiat Chrysler.

The union is already lining up contracts at Fiat Chrysler and Ford, which it hopes to pass as rapidly as possible after engineering a defeat at GM. Virtually all issues except those impacted by pattern bargaining have been settled at the two companies, according to UAW statements. At Ford, 18 of 20 subcommittees have already reached tentative agreements, according to UAW-Ford VP Rory Gamble on Thursday.

Ford is under the most pressure from Wall Street, which is not satisfied with the pace and scale of the automakers’ “fitness program,” corporate speak for a global jobs massacre. Moody’s has already downgraded the company’s credit rating to junk status.

Fiat Chrysler, the smallest of the Big Three, has been searching for a merger partner for years to help it shed costs through layoffs and plant closures. Italian autoworkers at the company’s Alfa Romeo plant struck this week in response to the death of a worker on the line, a fact which the UAW has concealed from workers in the US.

Meanwhile, the UAW is allowing Ford and Fiat Chrysler to stockpile vehicles by enforcing overtime, according to several workers who spoke with the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter.

A Fiat Chrysler worker at Jefferson North Assembly in Detroit said, “I think [the overtime is] kind of bizarre, that our brothers and sisters are picketing on the line and we are scheduled to work Sunday. We are full bloom, we have three shifts going, we are working overtime like crazy.

“I believe that if the UAW was in serious negotiations to our favor they wouldn’t have us stockpiling the way that we are. I think it’s all smoke and mirrors, I think it’s an illusion. I think that even the GM strike is just a publicity stunt. … It’s kind of blatant what’s going on right now, you can’t even hide it because if they really wanted to have any type of negotiation or leverage they would all let us strike out at the same time. We believe that it would have [had to only last] two hours if that would have happened.

“We are definitely ready [to join GM workers],” she said.

Copyright © 1998-2019 World Socialist Web Site - All rights reserved
Pickets at GM Toledo Powertrain


While the UAW claims that GM has “reverted back to its rejected proposal,” in fact the company has never budged from its demands for half a billion annual labor savings. It has only left it up to the UAW to figure out how to package and sell the concessions to workers.

The only laws GM is operating by are the laws of the capitalist profit system and the demands by its Wall Street backers. The powerful financial interests behind GM have made clear that the company must absorb the short-term losses of a strike, even if it is prolonged, in order to achieve vast cost savings and attain its strategic aims.

This means defeating the strike, gutting workers’ health care benefits, and tripling the percentage of temps so GM can have the type of “flexible manufacturing workforce” needed for the highly competitive struggle to dominate the electric and self-driving markets of the future.

The response of GM is further proof that the UAW does not have a strategy to win the strike. It has a strategy to defeat it.

Autoworkers must take the conduct of the struggle out of the hands of the corrupt UAW. This requires the organization of rank-and-file strike and factory committees, independent of the UAW and committed to fight for the demands workers and their families need not, the profits of the giant corporations and Wall Street.

The isolation of the GM strike must be broken, and the struggle escalated. This means bringing out the 100,000-plus Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers in an industry-wide strike to shut down auto production. The auto companies and their investors are relying on the UAW to keep the struggle contained to GM.

To sustain workers for real fight, strike benefits must be tripled to $750 a week.

Workers are not only fighting the auto companies but the powerful financial interests behind them, which are determined to reduce all workers to the status of low-paid casual workers. The strike by GM workers must be transformed into a powerful counter-offensive by the working class in the US and internationally against social inequality and the endless attacks on jobs and living standards of workers around the world.


The UAW is not opposed to deep cuts in health care; it has been the foremost proponent of such cuts to boost the competitiveness of US companies. It is not opposed to the extension of temporary labor; it has already agreed to countless local agreements at Brownstown, Orion and other plants that expand the use of temps and contract workers in factories. As long as these workers pay dues, the UAW will enforce the most brutal forms of exploitation.

This is the framework for the supposed “saving” of the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is scheduled to close in January, and GM’S proposal to build a joint-venture electric battery plant near the now-shuttered Lordstown, Ohio plant.

The strike by GM workers in the US, the walkouts by Korean GM workers and the heroic stand of GM workers in Silao, Mexico, who have been victimized for refusing to take on extra work during the US strike, show the striving of workers to unite their struggles internationally. This struggle must be guided by an international socialist strategy, including the transformation of the global auto industry into a public enterprise, democratically controlled and collectively owned by the international working class.


kaline • 6 hours ago

Yes, Wall Street investors are demanding GM make deeper cuts to its labor costs but don't forget to mention that the UAW itself is the first (or maybe second) largest single holder of GM stock.

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“Capitalism is the core of the problem:” Striking GM workers call for global struggle against auto companies

By Tim Rivers and Tom Hall
7 October 2019

GM workers on the picket discussed the need for an international strategy for the expansion of their strike with the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter this weekend.

“Pro-capitalism—that is the core of the problem. And it’s across the board—worldwide!” a veteran worker at Flint Truck Assembly said.

“When people who don’t work in the auto industry ask me what this strike is about, I tell them it is about setting a global standard. It is about the working class worldwide. We need to set the global standard for a livable wage for everybody.”

“This is class war. It is a global strategy to pit us against each other,” he said. “Like Silao, Mexico [where GM workers have been fired for supporting the strike in the US]. They would love to stand with us. We want to stand with them.”

“Everybody needs to be able to make a livable wage. Not just here in America,” he continued. “I say everywhere around the world. I have seen poverty everywhere. I have traveled in the world, and it all equals the same thing.”

The worker drew the connection between the exploitation of GM’s international workforce and the hollowing out of Flint, the company’s birthplace and former base of operations. “I have seen what it did to the city of Flint. It decimated the economy and the social structure. We went from a city of home owners, to a city of tenants, to an empty city. Now they are trying to rebuild the city and bring labor and residents back in, but not at a livable wage. Every new job is at $10 an hour.”

He denounced the abuse of temporary workers, who are paid a fraction of the wages of full timers with fewer benefits and who are left at the mercy of the company. “Some temps have been in the plant as long as five and six years. Some do several years over at the metal fabrication plant and now they are doing more years as temps over here at the assembly plant.”

There is widespread anger with the conduct of the strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is working behind the scenes to shut down the strike and enforce a sellout. It has kept workers in the dark about the content of its talks with the company, and is forcing Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers to remain on the job, where they are working forced overtime to stockpile vehicles.

In addition, the UAW is deliberately wearing down autoworkers with poverty strike pay of $250 per week. A worker at GM’s CCA parts distribution center near Flint reported that working mothers at the facility are using Gofundme to meet expenses and selling blood plasma to survive. Meanwhile, UAW officials continue to rake in bloated salaries of thousands of dollars per week.

The Flint striker rejected the toxic nationalism which has long been the stock in trade of the United Auto Workers, which pits workers in the US against their brothers and sisters in Mexico and other countries in the name of defending “American” jobs. “The UAW wants us to feel that we can’t stand with [Mexican workers] because they are not American employees.”

“I have been watching the union’s strategies unfold since GM set out to break the UAW in the late 1980s. And they have been working on us ever since.”

“[The UAW] pushed the bankruptcy through,” he said, referring to the Obama administration’s forced bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler in 2009. GM was rewarded for its role in the bankruptcy with billions of dollars in GM stock. “They really didn't have to go bankrupt, but it was a good way to liquidate debt. They utilized that to keep us from asking for more benefits and more wages.”

A worker at Fiat Chrysler’s Trenton Engine Plant near Detroit declared: “This strike needs to be North America wide and beyond. But at FCA and Ford we are [already approaching tentative agreements]. That is not right. The strikers are just now getting their $250 strike pay. That is less than poverty wages.”

He continued: “Look at Gary Jones. They found $2 million in cash in a box in his house. Right now, the UAW leaders are just trying to buy time off their prison sentences by cooperating with the company.

“I have never seen a strike authorization happen the way this one happened. They took the janitors out first and told assembly line workers to cross their picket line before finally calling a nationwide strike on September 16.”

A worker at GM’s Arlington Assembly Plant near Dallas, Texas said, “This is my first strike, and it isn’t like how I pictured, like the strikes that you read about in the history books. The thing that is the hardest for me are the small pickets. They are only assigning workers picket duty for four hours a week, and the largest pickets will have maybe 10 people to a gate, instead of calling out the whole shift.”

He continued: “We aren’t being told anything by the UAW about the firings in Mexico, or even what is going on at other plants. None of us really know what is going on, unless you know people in other plants that you are in touch with, or if you are one of the ones reading the Autoworker Newsletter .

“But if they get treated that way down there, then it’s just a matter of time before it comes here. We need the same agenda as workers in Mexico.”

The workforce at the Arlington plant is diverse, with workers drawn from all over the country. The plant serves as a receptacle for so-called “GM gypsies,” or workers forced to relocate after their original plants were closed. In addition, there are a large number of immigrant workers in the plant, which is located in a metropolitan area with one of the largest Hispanic populations in the United States.

“We have no problem with them,” he said. “They go back home to visit their families, then they come back and tell us about how things are for the workers down there.”

He concluded: “If American, Canadian and Mexican workers sat down together, that would show the bigger picture.”

Copyright © 1998-2019 World Socialist Web Site - All rights reserved
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Expand the strike to Ford and FCA!

The GM strike is a fight against the entire ruling class

8 October 2019

General Motors’ decision to double down on demands to expand temporary work, quintuple workers’ health care costs and keep wages growing below the rate of inflation marks a major offensive not only by GM against 48,000 striking autoworkers, but by all of corporate America against the US and international working class.

The ruthlessness of the corporation shows that if the strike is to succeed, workers must take control out of the hands of the UAW and expand the strike. The UAW has isolated workers and weakened their position, paying them $250 in strike pay and keeping Ford and Fiat-Chrysler workers on the job to help the auto industry withstand the impact of a continued strike.

The strike is causing significant disruptions in international supply chains. Yesterday, GM furloughed 415 of 2,100 workers at its Mexican V-8 engine and transmissions plant in Ramos Arizpe in the northern state of Coahuila. The 6,000-worker Silao, Guanajuato plant remains shut down. Over 10,000 non-UAW members have been laid off at parts and other related facilities in the US as a result of the strike.

The outcome of the strike will determine conditions of life for millions of workers across not just the auto industry, but all workplaces for years to come.

What is involved is not just a dispute with one powerful company. Through this contract, the ruling class is conspiring to dramatically alter class relations and transfer trillions of dollars more from the working class to the financial aristocracy. Autoworkers are taking a stand for the entire working class.

What GM is trying to force upon its workforce is corporate America’s dream vision of the future: an army of temporary workers with no rights who can be thrown onto the street at will; factories that can be shuttered by the company as it wishes; the elimination of employer-provided healthcare; rising productivity through speedups with lower wages and higher injury rates.

GM’s demands are an effort by Wall Street to “uberize” and “Amazonify” the international workforce, ensuring the highest possible level of exploitation to increase profits and inflate the stock market. Just yesterday, General Electric announced an end to pensions for 10,000 workers. It is a plan for mass poverty. If successful, the ruling class’s strategy will push millions of workers past the brink of physical and mental exhaustion for generations to come.

GM’s ruthlessness is not merely the product of corporate “greed,” although there is plenty of that to go around. The greed flows from the demands of the capitalist system and the material interests of GM’s powerful shareholders.

Seventy-nine percent of GM shares are owned by institutional shareholders, including 7.8 percent by Capital Research and Management, 7.0 percent by Vanguard, 5.0 percent by Berkshire Hathaway and 4.3 percent by BlackRock.

According to a 2017 study published in the journal Business and Politics, the world’s top three institutional investors—Vanguard, State Street, and BlackRock—“are the largest shareholder of 1,662 of the 3,900 publicly traded US corporations accounting for…78 percent of the total market capitalization of US firms,” including GM. These companies have “a current market capitalization of more than $17 trillion, possess assets worth almost $23.9 trillion, and employ more than 23.5 million people.”

The study concluded that the three most powerful institutional investors “occupy a position of unrivaled potential power over corporate America,” and that there is “a concentration of corporate ownership not seen since the days of JP Morgan and JD Rockefeller.” The top three “have the potential to cause significant changes to the political economy of the United States.”

That is exactly what Wall Street is seeking to accomplish through the GM contract.

Workers must draw strategic conclusions from these facts.

The immediate first step must be to form rank-and-file factory committees to expand the strike to Ford and Fiat-Chrysler. Workers are at war with the corporations and must therefore prepare reinforcements to do battle alongside them.

The strike pay must be tripled to $750 per week. This is necessary to sustain a real fight. This can be paid for with the $800 million strike fund and by forcing a pay freeze on all UAW officials, especially the over 450 officials who make over $100,000 per year and are receiving full pay during the strike.

Workers must then set their own demands. For decades, workers have been told they must subordinate their demands to “market realities.” On this basis, hundreds of factories have been closed, millions of jobs have been lost, and wages have been brought down to levels that preceded the historic auto strikes of the 1930s.

The World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter calls on workers to demand the following:

• A 40 percent pay raise, the restoration of COLA for current and retired workers, the abolition of the two-tier wage and benefit system and the immediate conversion of all temps into full-time workers with full wages and benefits.

• The reopening of the Lordstown, Warren and Baltimore plants, a halt to all plant closings and the rehiring of all laid-off workers.

• The reinstatement of all the fired and victimized workers at GM’s Silao, Mexico plant and the payment of all back pay. These heroic workers were fired for refusing to increase production of GM’s highly profitable pickup trucks during the US strike. Their defense is the greatest way to forge the unity of US, Canadian and Mexican workers and undermine the corporations’ strategy of pitting workers against each other in a race to the bottom.

The UAW will not and cannot put forward any of these demands because doing so would undermine their criminal and corrupt relationship with the corporations.

Workers must disabuse themselves of the notion that the UAW will be forced to fight under pressure from workers. The opposite is true: the greater workers’ anger and resolve, the harder the UAW will work with the companies behind their backs to end the strike and defend the interests of the corporations.

Carrying forward workers’ demands therefore requires new, rank-and-file organizations. These organizations will facilitate workers’ sharing information with one another, allow them to reach decisions democratically and to act in unison in carrying those decisions out.

They will function as synapses in a political nervous system, spreading into all workplaces and schools and connecting workers across national boundaries, allowing the working class to think and act as a powerful united social force against the companies and the capitalist system.

The fate of the GM strike and of the lives of hundreds of millions of workers depends on GM workers establishing committees and taking control of their struggle.

Eric London

Copyright © 1998-2019 World Socialist Web Site - All rights reserved
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No to the sellout contract! Take the GM strike out of the hands of the UAW!

18 October 2019

With the tentative agreement announced Wednesday by the United Auto Workers, the struggle by 48,000 autoworkers at General Motors enters a new stage. If their struggle is not to be defeated, workers must mobilize against the UAW, which is collaborating with the auto companies to impose a contract that will set a new benchmark for exploitation for generations.

The Wall Street investors who stand behind General Motors have made clear their attitude toward the deal. “We continue to believe that if this is ratified, it is a fairly solid outcome for GM,” analyst Joseph Spak said. “The financial implications of the deal don’t look too onerous.”

Reports that President Trump spoke to GM CEO Marry Barra and UAW President Gary Jones by phone on Wednesday demonstrate the extreme sensitivity of the outcome of this strike on the part of the entire ruling class. A defeat of GM workers will not only set the standard for labor costs throughout the American economy, it will represent a major defeat for the entire working class.

Strikers at GM's Flint Engine plant

Only a week ago, the UAW claimed in a statement that GM had not negotiated in good faith since day one. And yet, after more than 32 days on strike, the UAW has presented workers with a contract that, in almost all respects, is identical to GM’s initial proposal from September.


After a group of Mexican autoworkers were fired for courageously refusing to accept increases in production during the strike and appealed directly to American autoworkers for support, the UAW responded by demanding the reallocation of products from Mexican plants to the United States. This whipsawing of workers in different countries enables global corporations like GM to pit workers against each other in a race to the bottom.

The UAW is attempting to shut down the strike at precisely the point where it is beginning to intersect with broader sections of workers, posing the possibility for a joint struggle by the entire working class. The tentative agreement was announced the day before the beginning of the strike by over 20,000 Chicago public school teachers. Last weekend, copper miners in the Southwest and Mack Truck workers on the East Coast joined GM workers on strike.


The urgent task for autoworkers is to form rank-and-file factory committees to take control of the struggle. These committees should make the following demands:

* No vote without time to study the contract! Workers must demand access to the full contract, not just the bogus “highlights,” and be given at least a full week to study it before voting. Workers must also hold broad, democratic discussions on the contract, outside of the view and control of the union.

* For rank-and-file oversight of the balloting process! Autoworkers should insist that their rank-and-file committees have the authority to oversee voting, to ensure that there is no stuffing the ballot or vote rigging, as is widely believed to have occurred during the ratification of the Ford contract in 2015.

* Expand the strike to Ford and Fiat Chrysler! Unite with the working class of different countries! Such committees should be based on the principle of internationalism, that workers everywhere have the same basic interests.

* Committees should formulate their own demands for the strike, including a 40 percent pay raise, the restoration of COLA for current and retired workers, the abolition of the multi-tier wage and benefit system, the immediate conversion of all temps into full-time workers with full wages and benefits, the reopening of all closed plants and the re-hiring of laid-off workers.

* Autoworkers must defend the courageous GM workers in Silao, Mexico, and demand the rehiring of those fired for supporting the US strike.

The attacks by General Motors in the US are part of a global strategy by the ruling class. The auto companies are preparing and already implementing a jobs bloodbath, which is part of the efforts of the ruling elites to organize a further massive redistribution of wealth from the working class to the rich.

The fight against GM is a fight against capitalism. The GM strike can and must be transformed into a powerful political movement of the working class armed with a socialist program, including the transformation of the global auto industry and the Wall Street banks into public enterprises under the collective ownership and democratic control of the working class.

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