American auto workers close General Motors

American auto workers close General Motors

16. September 2019

46,000 General Motors workers left at midnight on Sunday night. The closure of 35 manufacturing plants in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and New York will cost GM as much as $ 400 million in lost production each day.

Despite their hectic efforts to avoid a strike, United Auto Workers (UAW) executives – who have been exposed as criminally corrupt agents for car companies – concluded that they were unable to prevent a mass shutdown.

The message of the strike was delivered at a press conference by UAW Vice President Terry Dittes. Demittalized and frightened, Yours spoke as if he were attending a funeral.

Just the day before, UAW had instructed its members to cross the valet lines of janitorial workers belonging to the same union. UAW has refused to call out workers employed by Ford and Fiat-Chrysler, and sought as best they could to avoid mobilizing full force for autoworkers.

Workers at a meeting to shut down car systems in Detroit earlier this year

the closure of General Motors is a major escalation of the class struggle in the United States and internationally. The powerful social movement that began last year with teachers is expanding into the industrial working class. The decades-long suppression of the class struggle – mercilessly enforced by an alliance of trade unions, corporations and the government – breaks down.

When workers begin this battle, they must map the battlefield and develop a strategy based on an understanding of who their allies are and who their enemies are.

The workers confront General Motors, the symbol of the power of American capitalism, with a market value of $ 55 billion. But GM itself is part of a globally integrated automotive industry involving the workforce of millions of workers worldwide.

Every struggle of workers has a political dimension, but in this case the politics are particularly clear. For 40 years, the automotive industry has been the target of efforts by Democratic and Republican administrations to expand corporate profits at the expense of the working class.

Forty years ago, in 1979, the Democratic administration of Jimmy Carter and a Democratic Party-controlled Congress insisted that the so-called rescue of Chrysler demanded huge concessions from workers and the closure of factories. This was followed shortly after by the Republican Reagan administration's firing of PATCO air traffic controllers, which triggered a wholesale attack on the entire working class.

In 2008, the Obama administration insisted on halving the salaries of new employees as part of the restructuring of the automotive industry. The mass layoffs, plant closures and wage cuts imposed under Obama led to record profits for automakers.

In the four decades of social engine revolution, GM, Ford and Chrysler have cut 600,000 car jobs, with only 158,000 jobs remaining. The salary of a newly hired car worker has fallen by half.

The expansion of corporate profits through the deterioration of workers is the basic law of the capitalist system. Profits do not fall like manna from heaven: it is taken from the production point of the working class. The value created by workers through the labor process is distributed to the capitalists who exploit them.

The unfair and exploitative nature of this system is demonstrated by the wages of car makers and the billions of dollars paid to investors in the form of profits.

GM CEO Mary Barra, with his annual salary of $ 21.87 million, does twice a day what a new autoworker earns in a year. GM had a profit of $ 11.8 billion last year. It has spent more than $ 10 billion on share repurchases since 2015.

The claim that GM does not have the money to meet workers' demands for a recovery of wages and benefits should be dismissed with contempt.

Even as workers fight against corporations, government, and the capitalist system as a whole, their most resolute enemy is the organization that claims to represent them – the bribed and corrupt United Auto Workers.

UAW's endless betrayal of workers' interests has culminated in the cesspool of corruption that has engulfed the entire management, bribed to millions of dollars from management.

All workers are now fighting, from plant closure to starvation wages and multi-tier wage and benefit systems, the product of the licenses enforced by the UAW. To think that this will change now is to indulge in the most dangerous illusions.

While UAW officials turned out to have spent millions of dollars in workers' money on golf games, cigars, whiskeys and prostitutes, UAW has announced that workers will receive a lousy $ 250 a week in strike pay – and this only after the first full the week of a strike.

GM workers face many enemies, but they also have powerful allies.

Autoworkers enjoys overwhelming support and sympathy from the working population of America. The exploitative conditions that auto workers work against are those felt by millions of workers across the country, who have had their pay cut and their benefits destroyed, and who are being treated worse than the machines they use.

Workers at GM must call their brothers and sisters on Ford and Fiat Chrysler to join their strike, to shut down the entire US auto industry and bring maximum financial and political pressure to execute auto bosses.

Equally important is that workers must appeal for support from workers and young people across the country and around the world – support that they will easily receive.

The GM walkout is the final phase of a global strike wave. The strike of American auto workers takes place in the context of an international movement of the working class. Just last week, 8,000 GM workers went on strike in Korea, and French transit workers closed the Paris subways. Over the past year, car workers in India and Mexico have taken vigorous strikes. In France, Puerto Rico and Hong Kong, workers and youth have been involved in mass demonstrations to defend their social and democratic rights.

The fight can only succeed if it is taken out by the UAW traitors. Workers must select rank-and-file committees to organize and extend the strike.

These committees must demand:

A 40 percent salary increase to begin recovering decades of wages lost due to fraudulent concessions by the corrupt UAW and the companies that bribed them.

End the tier system! Gender equality in the workplace! All workers, including part-time and contract workers, must be brought up immediately to top wages and benefits.

Restore Jobs! Open Lordstown and other closed facilities and rehire all laid off and offended workers. Stop all plant closures and layoffs!

Honor the pensioners ! Conversely, all cuts in retired health care and pensions.

Democracy in the factory! For workers' control over production, shipping and safety.

$ 750 per week in strike pay! The UAW, together with the AFL-CIO, controls billions of dollars in assets, which they use to fund junkets and pay six-figure salaries to thousands of executives. These resources, looted from contingent and pension plans, must now be disbursed!

In this fight, the Socialist Equality Party, which produces Autoworker Newsletter and helps publish the World Socialist Web Site promises its full support to the workers.

The Socialist Equality Party will do all it can to build a new militant socialist leadership in the working class. It will provide employees with the information they need to help organize their struggles, gather support throughout the country and internationally.

We ask workers to attend our upcoming online forum, which last week gathered more than 300 workers, to discuss the strategic issues that autoworkers face as they lead this major and critical battle.

WSWS editorial

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