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After 96 percent strike vote, UAW selects GM workers to try to push through first licensing contract



After 96 percent strike vote, UAW GM workers choose to try to push through the first licensing agreement

By
Jerry White

September 4, 2019

It is less than two weeks before the contract expired on September 14 for more than 155,000 American workers at General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Autoworkers has registered its willingness to fight for significant improvements in pay and conditions with an almost unanimous vote approval.

According to totals released by United Auto Workers Tuesday, GM workers voted 96.4 percent, Ford workers 95.98 percent, and FCA workers 96 percent to exit when their contracts expire.

Workers at all of the car's more than 80 production plants provided an overwhelming mandate for the first national strike since the Ford walkout in 1

976. This included 96 percent of the vote at the GM Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which GM threatened to shut down in January.

GM workers at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant targeted for closure

Like other parts of workers in the United States and internationally, autoworkers have seen a decline in real wages over the past decade, even when transnational automakers have had a record high boom. The military treatment of autoworkers has been bolstered by revelations that top officials in the UAW were paid millions in bribes to sign pro-company deals.

Just after the release of voting totals, UAW President Gary Jones – whose home in the Detroit area was attacked by the FBI last week – announced that GM would be the federation's "target" for a deal that would set the pattern for Ford and Fiat Chrysler .

Until the mid-1970s, he was designated as the leading company in the UAW negotiations, generating anxiety in boardrooms for companies over a potentially crippling strike and an agreement that would significantly increase labor costs. However, this dynamic has been reversed to the contrary. The companies are practically falling over each other to be UAW's "strike targets", knowing that the first company will receive a deal from UAW that is most tailored to the profit needs.

UAW President Gary Jones and Chief Executive Mary Barra in opening talks

This is the third time in the last four contract cycles (2007, 2011 and 2019) that GM has been elected. In each contract, UAW has coordinated with the auto managers to roll back workers' wages and conditions.

In 2007, the UAW called a fake two-day strike on GM and a six-hour strike in Chrysler, called "Hollywood strike" by workers because they were for viewing only, after which UAW signed a "transformation deal" that introduced two-tiered pay and paved the way. way for the elimination of tens of thousands of higher paid "inheritance workers."

Two years later, in 2009, the UAW partnered with the Obama administration to reopen labor agreements during the government restructuring of GM and Chrysler and ram through sweeping concessions. cut in half and eight hours a day UAW approved a six-year ban on strikes and the destruction of thousands of jobs, and in exchange, the control of the multi-billion dollar pension grant that was retired was largely funded with the company's shares.

In 2011, UAW signed an agreement with GM that expanded the number of workers in other teams and provided no wage or pension increase to workers. if had had a salary freeze since 2003.

The UAW-GM negotiating committee in 2011 includes Dennis Williams, Joe Ashton, Michael Grimes and Jeff Pietrzyk, all of whom are either indicted or involved in a multi-million dollar kickback scheme involving UAW-GM Center for Human Resources.

In 2015, UAW chose Fiat Chrysler, the weakest financial of the Big Three, as its main business. However, FCA workers rebelled and defeated the contract, by a margin of 2 to 1. This was the first national agreement with UAW support rejected by workers in three decades.

UAW responded by launching a scare and scam campaign to get another FCA deal passed, along with similar contracts with Ford and GM. The contracts limited the wage cost increase to below the inflation rate, imposed an eight-year "extension period" for new employees to achieve top pay and medical benefits, sharply increased the number of part-time workers and made it easier to close factories.

Six of the top eight UAW-Chrysler dealers, including UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, have since been indicted or implicated for taking illegal bribes.

The GM agreement was pushed through by UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada who ignored the "no" vote of union workers and ratified it anyway. Estrada, who is also being investigated in the UAW corruption case, is now the main negotiator for the UAW-FCA department.

In November, GM announced that it would not allocate new products to five North American plants and would lay off 14,000 production and white collar workers. The UAW and its Canadian counterpart, Unifor, responded with a dirty anti-Mexican campaign aimed at diverting anger from the companies and unions, which for decades have claimed that endless concessions from workers would "save" their jobs.

Lordstown Workers Before Closing

Three of the factories – the historic Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant and two Baltimore and Detroit suburbs to Warren – are already closed. In May, Unifor cut a deal to retain a few hundred of the 2,900 workers employed at Oshawa, Ontario, where 20,000 GM workers were once employed.

The remaining plant – Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, GM's only factory in the former Motor City – is scheduled to close in January. There is little doubt that UAW and GM will use the plant and other factories operating at full capacity as a carrot in a bogus "plant-saving" deal linked to even deeper concessions.

In an article November 29, 2018, industry publication Automotive News outlined this exact scenario. After complaining that "many UAW members want more: more travel, more profit sharing, more everything," wrote reporter Michael Wayland that the announcement of closing facilities would change "the story of members who want more to potentially just want to save jobs and plants. "

The closures," says Wayland, may also "be a blessing in disguise for UAW leaders fighting an internal battle with members following a federal corruption scandal. If union leaders can save one, maybe two plants, they can be seen as heroes instead of company mortgages … ”

However, any agreement to keep a factory open will cost workers, he wrote, adding , "Expects GM to require nontraditional hiring practices as an increase in temporary, subcontractor or outsourced workers."

GM officials complain that they have the highest labor costs for all three Detroit-based automakers. While it currently has about 4,650 temporary workers, or 10 percent of the 46,000 workers in the US hourly workforce, it will have far more.

According to the industry website, T he Detroit Bureau Chuck Stevens, GM's former chief financial officer, who retired last year, "analysts said two years ago that the company wanted 50% of work in GM's factories carried out by temporary labor. " This would allow GM to significantly reduce labor costs and quickly shut down more facilities as sales fall in the event of a much-anticipated global economic downturn.

The current "negotiations" are not between two opposing parties, but a joint conspiracy between the UAW and the car companies to further impoverish autoworkers.

To defeat this conspiracy, autoworkers must take the fight into their own hands by forming factory committees to prepare a national strike to overturn all the concessions handed by the UAW.

The corrupt bargaining committee is to be ousted and replaced by a committee of the most militant and reliable workers committed to fighting the demands of workers, including abolishing the two-stage system, turning all temporary and contract workers into full-time workers, resumption of all laid-off workers and a wage increase of 40 percent.

Workers must uphold the principle of "No Contract, No Work," and prepare a national strike to shut down the auto and auto parts industry, including calling out all workers, trade unions and unions Now workers must be appealed to Mexico, Canada and across the world to carry out a globally coordinated fight against the worldwide attack on jobs and conditions.

This must be combined with the rejection of all forms of nationalism promoted by trade unions, the Trump administration and Democrats, and the struggle for the transformation of the global automotive industry into a public enterprise, organized according to the socialist principle of human needs production, not private profit. .

We encourage autoworkers and other workers to attend the online meeting on Thursday, September 5 at. 19.30 EDT to discuss a strategy to continue this fight. To register, go to wsws.org/autocall.ebrit19659037??We need your support

This week WSWS published its 75,000th article. Become a monthly donor today and continue this important work. It only takes a minute. Thanks.

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