The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Issue no. 1089 — September 16 - 30, 2019

Editorial:
Deal or No Deal:
Trump Continues the Bloody U.S. War in Afghanistan

Sep 16, 2019

Faced with a fierce re-election campaign in 2020, President Trump had gone to great lengths to make the claim that he was ending the U.S. war in Afghanistan and pulling out all U.S. troops. Trump even planned on bringing the warring Taliban and Afghan government together at Camp David to sign a peace deal a few days before September 11. He then planned on using spectacular ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks as a backdrop for him to take all the credit for ending the war. Trump couldn’t wait to show that he could do what his predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, had failed to do – bring the troops home from the longest war in U.S. history.

But a few days before the summit, Trump’s deal fell apart. There was no Camp David summit. All Trump had on his hands was another fiasco, just like his grandiose peace deal with North Korea that had fizzled away, or his claim that Mexico would pay for his wall.

So the war that has not stopped for 18 years – the longest U.S. war – goes on. The U.S. has been launching more air-based missiles and dropping more bombs than ever, almost twice as many as during the U.S. surge in 2011 under President Obama. And it was continuing to wage the war on the ground with 14,000 troops, as well as countless CIA agents linked to Afghan militias, death squads and gangs, not to speak of tens of thousands of private military contractors.

No, this year has been filled with the same barbaric destruction and death as the rest of the 18 horrible years of war, in which the Afghan population has been caught in the middle. No one knows how many people have been killed or wounded, because no one with various Afghan governments has even bothered to count. The U.S. certainly didn’t. But it has to be in the hundreds of thousands, if not the millions, with a big part of the population displaced by the war, refugees either inside or outside the country.

The reason the U.S. government originally gave for invading Afghanistan 18 long years ago – to punish the ruling Taliban for aiding the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. – was a bold-faced lie. The Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11 – and the U.S. CIA knew it, later even said it. But the U.S. government chose to invade Afghanistan anyway because it was a convenient target, a very small, extremely impoverished country that had already been bled by decades of war. U.S. officials figured that in response to 9/11, they could carry out a quick, easy war that would allow the U.S. military to flex its muscles in a show of force for all the world to see.

Instead, the U.S. created its own quagmire for all the world to see. Each response by the U.S. military only created bigger problems, plunging it deeper into a worsening disaster and more impossible to get out.

At the beginning of this war, the U.S. military did chase the ruling Taliban from power without much of a fight. But to replace the Taliban, the U.S. government installed its old allies from previous wars, a bunch of warlords, smugglers, gangsters and drug traffickers, who under the guise of religious fundamentalist fanaticism, had imposed themselves on the Afghan population.

So, the U.S. occupation set off both resistance from parts of the Afghan population, as well as a civil war between different factions of warlords, Taliban and other groupings. In the following years, everything the U.S. military and CIA did to strengthen their own position, through military might, only spread the civil war and resistance, and further destroyed the country.

Trump has made it clear that he still wants to announce some kind of new peace deal for his own political purposes in the near future. But there is no reason to believe that anything he announces will either end the bloody civil war, nor end the U.S. presence in the country.

The war that U.S. imperialism began for its own vicious reasons will only continue, an unending war that spells an ongoing catastrophe for the population of Afghanistan and the entire region. Not to mention that it is also a disaster for working people in this country.

Pages 2-3

A Tale of Two Cities

Sep 16, 2019

The Greyhound Bus station in Detroit is located right at the edge of downtown. It’s in a prime location.

So, it is no surprise that its owner, the Michigan Department of Transportation, apparently plans to sell the current Greyhound station location to unknown developers for possible retail, parking or high end housing.

MDOT has leased this location to Greyhound for 30 years. Greyhound has 49 bus routes, serving about 1,000 passengers daily. People who ride the bus overwhelmingly tend to be working class people, who depend on public or Greyhound bus transportation. And while MDOT has offered temporary locations, these alternatives seem unrealistic, since they include a tiny Amtrak train station located a couple of miles north that already can’t accommodate the train passengers’ cars; or at a central transit center downtown that already can’t accommodate the current city bus traffic.

So no big surprise. The fate of Greyhound is just the most recent in a whole host of cannibalizing that has taken place in the center of Detroit, where ordinary people have been pushed out from their homes, their small businesses, and now, a mode of transportation they depend on to travel. As the media touts that Detroit is “coming back”, what we are really seeing is that more and more, prime locations in the city are being handed over to wealthy developers.

Donald Trump Came to Baltimore

Sep 16, 2019

Donald Trump came to Baltimore on September 12th ... very briefly. His motorcade whisked him into downtown to a swanky hotel to give a private dinner speech to Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Along the way he was jeered, cussed and given the finger by hundreds of people.

Many people in Baltimore wonder why Trump even wanted to come to Baltimore at all, after calling the city a “rat and roach infested mess” just a few weeks ago. He gave a rambling 68-minute speech boasting of his “accomplishments” to his Republican supporters. And he once again blamed the terrible conditions in much of the city on Baltimore’s corrupt Democratic politicians.

But many people in Baltimore know the city has had both corrupt Democratic and corrupt Republican politicians over the years – supported by the same corrupt rich people. They know that in Washington, not far from the White House, and in every other big city in the country, there are similar horrible conditions. And they also know Maryland now has a Republican governor who takes from the poor to give to the rich like all the top Democrats and Republicans before him.

So Trump didn’t dare give a public speech in Baltimore or even just meet ordinary people on the street.

It’s not surprising that many people feel that Trump is not welcome in Baltimore.

Detroit:
Selling Off Kettering High

Sep 16, 2019

In Detroit, Kettering High School graduates just gathered one last time to enjoy an alumni picnic on the grounds of their old school. In 2012, the State of Michigan’s Emergency Manager had closed the school, claiming it “cost too much” to maintain.

The closure of the school and its West Wing, renowned for its expertise in caring for severely impaired children, created many difficulties for those who had depended on it.

Now this school that “cost too much” will soon be purchased by the City of Detroit. The plan is to hand the land to an auto supplier to service the expanded Fiat-Chrysler Jeep plant nearby.

The City says it will give the school district 2.6 million dollars for the 27 acres near major interstates. The Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC) says it is coordinating a package of paid-for improvements, utilities, and long-term tax benefits, as usual.

City and state government will justify this giveaway in the name of “creating jobs” – promises that turn out to be only at half wages, or last only until the ink is dry on the land deal, or until the tax breaks expire.

There were many jobs already at Kettering. There were teachers, aides, secretaries, social workers, custodians, skilled trades – good, permanent, useful jobs.

But maintaining a high school in a working-class district comes in at rock bottom of the government’s priority list, compared to providing cheap land, labor, and services for the convenience of large corporations.

Add Kettering to the long list that shows that throwing money at corporations is the top priority for government.

Monthly Medicaid Documentation Harassment

Sep 16, 2019

Over a year ago, the legislature in Lansing, Michigan passed, and the governor signed, a law that will lead to a lot of people being cut off Medicaid health insurance. This law starts on January 1, 2020.

Michigan is not the only state adding “work requirements” to the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion. Based on what has already happened in other states, it is estimated that a quarter of a million people in Michigan will be cut off Medicaid.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world. Everyone should have the right to decent health care. A fight is needed to get everyone covered.

Trump’s USDA Steals Food from Kids

Sep 16, 2019

What used to be called food stamps, now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), faces new cuts. A proposed rule change will hit kids hardest.

Currently, family eligibility for SNAP equals student eligibility for free school lunches. The 2 programs – food stamps and school lunches – are linked. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants separate apps – more red tape!

Right now, at some schools, 40 to 60 percent of kids get food stamps at home. Currently, in these situations, the school district can get free breakfast AND lunch for every kid at the school. When nutrition is better, kids learn! The USDA coldly says this rule change will cut half a million kids from the school lunch program, “saving” 2 billion dollars!

This country’s wealthiest – who likely never missed a meal – benefitted from 1.5 trillion dollars in federal tax cuts since 2017. THEIR government wants to pay for THAT by stealing food from kids. This truly turns the stomach!

Democratic Campaign Promises

Sep 16, 2019

Ten presidential candidates took the stage for the Democratic Party in early September. They took the opportunity to distinguish themselves from Donald Trump and the Republicans, presenting themselves as more in line with the interests of working people on a number of issues like universal health care, income inequality, climate change, and public education, among others.

All the candidates took on the question of how to achieve “universal health care.” Biden called for expanding Obamacare by having a “public option” (something like Medicare) while allowing people to keep their private insurance.

Sanders and Warren supported Medicare for All. Sanders pointed out that while people would pay more in taxes, they would pay less overall because having just one government insurance plan for everyone would be more efficient, and would limit or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, co-pays, and drug costs.

Warren proposed taxing the wealthiest individuals and biggest corporations to pay the cost of her proposed program.

Warren and Sanders made similar proposals for fixing the education system, with Warren adding that those higher taxes on the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent of the population would also be enough to support universal child care and pre-school for all 3 and 4-year-olds, along with cancelling student loan debt for 95% of those who owe.

Sanders proposed raising the salary of every teacher to at least $60,000.

These two candidates also put forward similar ideas to raise Social Security payments and protect the Social Security system.

With Trump carrying out attacks against even the limited gains made under Obamacare, and his recent proposal to cut Social Security spending by 26 billion dollars, the proposals by the Democrats might well appeal to many workers.

The working class certainly wants and needs such improvements – and more. Other than the wealthy, who could object to taxing the wealthy and the corporations at higher rates?

But who believes that the ruling class is about to roll over and agree to go along? It will take much more than voting to replace Donald Trump to win the kinds of changes the Democrats are promising. Winning even some of the changes some of the Democrats propose would require a tremendous struggle by the working class.

That’s something none of the politicians of either party is proposing or has ever led in the past. And to carry out that fight workers will have to build up their own class organizations, independent of all the organizations who act for the wealthy classes, including first of all both Democrats and Republicans.

Pages 4-5

Bahamas:
A Humanitarian and Social Catastrophe

Sep 16, 2019

The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

Hurricane Dorian devastated the northwest of the archipelago of the Bahamas between September 1 and 3, particularly the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco.

A week after the catastrophe, the official death count was 44, but thousands remain missing. The World Food Program is feeding 76,000 people, out of a total population of 390,000.

The Bahamas are composed of 700 islands, some of which have been purchased by billionaires. The country was a colony of Britain before gaining independence in 1973, and more than 80% of the archipelago’s imports and exports are with the United States. A U.S. businessman, Wallace Groves, built Freeport, the main city on Grand Bahama and the second city of the country. The Bahamas replaced Cuba as a financial paradise and paradise for rich tourists after the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

Hurricane Dorian did not spare the deluxe tourist sites, but it threw the working class and poorest parts of the population into dismay and utter destitution. The authorities announced that the biggest slum in the Bahamas in the neighborhood nicknamed The Mudd on Grand Abaco has been reduced to a vast field of debris covered in the pestilential stench of death. A week after the hurricane, the area had still not been visited by aid workers. The approximately 80,000 Haitian immigrants – about 50,000 of whom lack regular papers – are at particular risk of paying a heavy tribute to this natural catastrophe. For them, every flood is complicated by their lack of papers.

The Bahamas are portrayed as a country where the income per person is among the highest in the Caribbean, not comparable with Cuba or Haiti. That pretended wealth has given no advantage to the population that has been left to fend for itself. Neither has this country’s proximity to the United States, which has done nothing to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

In campaigning for his re-election, Trump has tried to exploit this drama with his usual anti-immigrant demagogy.

On September 8, he declared that there was no possibility of welcoming survivors without papers, without visas, without certificates that they had lived a good life ... and death.

After having survived the violence of Hurricane Dorian, the population of the Bahamas is victim to the violence of Trump and a social and economic system that lets the poorest die.

Dorian Survivors Forced off Rescue Boats

Sep 16, 2019

Undamaged Florida lies just 2½ hours by boat from the worst-hit islands of the Bahamas, where tens of thousands of people have lost their homes. The U.S. has fleets of ships, helicopters, and airplanes, poised to go anywhere in the world. Yet did the U.S. help the hurricane’s survivors? Just the opposite.

Not only did the U.S. not send help, it kept survivors out. Hundreds of people crowded onto a ferry in the city of Freeport in the Bahamas, waiting to flee to Florida. But they were forced off by a crewmember announcing: “Please, all passengers that don’t have a U.S. visa, please proceed to disembark.”

Donald Trump defended this move, tweeting that we “have to be very careful” and that “everybody needs totally proper documentation.” Trump explained: “I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas into the United States – including some very bad people and very bad gang members.”

The people he’s talking about are the Haitian workers living in the Bahamas, who went there in the first place to flee the poverty imposed on their homeland by U.S. imperialism and prior catastrophic storms. They were the ones hardest hit by the hurricane. Trump’s attitude is to let these people die.

It makes you wish a hurricane would wipe out Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, while he’s vacationing there. Who would send a life boat?

Refugees from the Climate

Sep 16, 2019

Hurricane Dorian is just the latest example of climate disasters driving refugee crises around the world. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, seven million people were driven from their homes in just the first six months of 2019 – that is, before Dorian. This is twice as many as were displaced by war.

These kinds of disasters are accelerating, driven by climate change. No one storm can be proven to be caused by climate change, but the warmer weather we are already seeing makes hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, and floods more likely, each in different parts of the world.

The rich countries produce the vast majority of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. Yet the hardest hit people mostly live in the poor countries, like the millions displaced by cyclones that hit Mozambique, India, and Bangladesh in the first half of this year.

When people driven from their homes in these poor countries try to reach safety in the rich countries – which, after all, are responsible for the problem – they are confronted by barbed wire, walls, military forces, and visa requirements.

The consequences of climate change are not limited to the underdeveloped countries. This time, the hurricane hit the Bahamas. Last year, hurricanes hit Texas and Florida, and drought-accelerated fire drove people from their homes in California.

We are one human species, living on the same planet. Some may try to hide beyond walls or be able to rebuild after the disasters. But for the majority, the working class and poor of the world, this is not an option. This capitalist system has proven time and again that it will not take the precautions needed to protect us. If we hope to survive this growing ecological crisis, we have no choice but to take on this system that drives climate change, and fight to build a new society run in the interests of the population.

Hong Kong:
Youth on the Front Lines

Sep 16, 2019

The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, announced on September 4 that she had withdrawn the proposed law allowing suspects to be extradited to China. Opposition to this measure sparked the mobilization that has lasted for months, but its withdrawal was not enough to stop this movement, which has expanded its demands as well as its demonstrations.

The August 31 weekend was particularly violent, with confrontations between the police and young demonstrators. In advance of that weekend, Carrie Lam had arrested three deputies and the old leaders of the Umbrella Movement. This movement that had started on August 31, 2014, had demanded the election of the local parliament through universal suffrage. On its anniversary, Lam banned all political demonstrations. Nonetheless, equipped with helmets, gas masks, face coverings, and also iron bars and Molotov cocktails, thousands of young people set up barricades on the main roads and confronted the police. For their part, the police used water cannons shooting indelible ink. Shocking images of police knocking to the ground people using the metro stations overrun by demonstrators made the rounds. More than 900 demonstrators have been arrested since June 15.

Monday, September 2, when high schools and universities were set to begin their semesters, students organized a call to boycott classes and formed human chains in front of the schools. Young demonstrators who were interviewed expressed their determination. In addition to rejecting Chinese control, they raised their futures, blocked by the lack of jobs, and the impossibility of finding decent housing.

While the struggle seems to remain popular, workers who have gone on strike in public transport, the Cathay Pacific Airline, or among the 250,000 bank workers, have faced serious reprisals. The CEO of Cathay Pacific was fired for letting the workers strike. The Chinese government has demanded a list of all the strikers, and banned them from flights in China.

Until now almost silent, the bosses of the big Hong Kong corporations, British or Chinese, who really run Hong Kong, have increased the threats against their employees who participate in the demonstrations or go on strike. On their side, the Western bosses, including Trump (who never misses an opportunity to criticize Xi Jinping) content themselves with calls to “end the violence” or to repress, but “with humanity.” The French employers’ organization recalled its ambassador to China to his university, but without speaking about Hong Kong.

Why? Because this crisis which has lasted for three months, in the middle of the trade war between the U.S. and China, has made luxury tourism decline. It has had visible effects on the transactions of the world financial center that is Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong youth will find no support from the side of Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, or French President Emmanuel Macron. They are always ready to give speeches about democracy, but are really preoccupied with protecting the interests and profits of the big companies in this region.

Opioid Profiteers Export Addiction

Sep 16, 2019

After years of profiteering off a devastating opioid epidemic in the U.S., big pharmaceutical companies now have their sights on another huge market: India.

In 2014, the Indian government changed the law regulating narcotic drugs, easing the decades-old, strict requirements on the prescription of opioids as painkillers. What followed is similar to what happened in the U.S. in the late 1990s and early 2000s, that is, at the beginning of the current opioid epidemic. As pain clinics opened and spread fast across India, big U.S.-based drug makers, such as Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories, began to aggressively market their opioid products in this country of 1.4 billion people.

They prey on a large working-class population looking for relief from everyday exploitation and poverty. Under the guise of providing prescription painkillers, the companies flood the market with many times more opioid doses than can be prescribed and sold legally. The company executives know, of course, that millions of extra doses of opioids will find their way into the black market, and addict large numbers of people.

Right now, these big pharmaceutical companies are facing a series of lawsuits in the U.S. for this kind of reckless and intentional pushing of opioids. But even as they deny responsibility and cry innocence in these lawsuits in the U.S., they are doing the exact same thing in India.

Racism and Homelessness in Los Angeles

Sep 16, 2019

Black people form 9% of the population in Los Angeles County, but 40% of its homeless population, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Four dozen homeless black people living in a flotilla of tents under a bridge of the Ronald Reagan Freeway in Pacoima starkly demonstrate how racism and capitalism pushed them there.

Many black people migrated to Los Angeles during and after the Second World War to flee lynchings and Jim Crow laws, poverty and the harsh conditions of sharecropping in the South. They found better paying jobs at large companies like General Motors and Lockheed Martin.

But they were locked out of most neighborhoods by racist covenants. Pacoima was one of the few Los Angeles suburbs where black people could buy a house. The homeless people living under the bridge used to live in homes that their parents bought there in the 1950s and '60s.

After General Motors and Lockheed Martin shut down their plants and laid off their workers, many black people could not find jobs that paid enough for them to afford their houses. Some moved to other neighborhoods, but many lost their homes as a result. “Workforce redlining, housing redlining have systemically displaced us,” said Suzette Shaw, a skid row activist.

Now, the city is continuously pushing the homeless away from populated areas. That’s how these people ended up under the bridge.

The black population built the original wealth of this country through slavery, and continued to increase it through their work over the centuries, in L.A. and elsewhere. Every single one of their descendants has earned the right to a home – unlike the rich investors who inherited the wealth and privilege that has allowed them to buy up L.A.’s luxury apartments!

Pages 6-7

Capitalism Traps Women Caregivers

Sep 16, 2019

There are at least 40.4 million unpaid caregivers of adults ages 65 and older in the U.S. And this number is increasing daily as Baby Boomers turn 70 at a rate of 10,000 per day. The majority of these caregivers are women.

Twenty percent of these caregivers also have children living at home. All these millions of women are doing a very big and very exhausting job that is necessary for society. And they are doing it not only without pay, but often at a loss of pay and benefits now and into the future. American families forgo at least 28.9 billion dollars per year in lost wages when they take time off to take care of their sick children or sick relatives, according a 2016 study.

So, who is going to take care of mom and dad when they get old? People with resources can live in assisted living places. The super rich can hire the help they need. But, the working class does not have money they can throw at this problem. And capitalism, all about making profits for the wealthy, offers no solutions.

Nursing homes cost at least $5,000 a month. Medicaid requires people to be impoverished in order to qualify. Which means that working class people who have worked their whole lives will have every bit of their money taken. The small amount of material wealth they have, like a house, will not be available for the next generation.

Caregiving Takes Its Toll

Many working-class women cannot quit their jobs to take care of their aging relatives. This takes a huge toll on women, and their families. Women who do quit their jobs to do this work also pay a heavy toll. The loss of prime earning years – which cannot be recovered, as well as the social isolation, can be crippling.

Caregivers also pay an enormous toll with their own health and longevity. Thirty percent of caregivers die before the people they care for do. Some studies show an even higher percentage. Illness that doesn’t lead to death is rampant, as well as depression, and auto-immune diseases are high on the list. Caregivers don’t find time to go to their own doctor because they are too busy or just plain sick of sitting in clinics with their loved ones. Or just too tired.

This Is a Social Problem

Part of the problem is that women feel like it’s only them and this is their private, personal problem that they are responsible for. And part of that way of thinking is even encouraged by the very nature of the way women get trapped in these situations. The work itself is isolating – no time to go out and see friends, for instance.

But the reality is that this is very much a social problem. It requires a social solution.

Neither Political Party Deals with It

The fact that this burden of caregiving is not dealt with by any of the Democratic candidates or the Republicans is not an accident. Both parties defend the profits of the bosses. Both parties defend exploiting the unpaid labor of men and women as a way to increase the profits of the wealthy. Both defend and have participated in the dismantling of the social programs like Medicare and Medicaid that do exist.

Our Wealth Is Stolen from Us – Take it Back!

The wealthy have money for when they get old because they stole it from what we produced. There is no money for us when we get old, no money to free women from this unpaid work because the wealthy hoard the wealth we produced or they use it to kill people in other countries. We don’t need their wars for their profit. We need the wealth we produce to work for us when we are old and can’t work anymore.

This society, the wealthiest in the world, pretends there is nothing that they can do to make it possible for the working class to get older without having to lose everything we worked for. This is a lie!

The only way out of this trap is for the working class to fight to take back what they have stolen from us – what is rightfully ours – the fruits of our labor. We need to build a different society. This one is broken beyond repair.

Page 8

UAW Strikes General Motors

Sep 16, 2019

The United Auto Workers Union (UAW) has declared a strike against the General Motors Corporation (GM). Workers will walk off the job at midnight, Sunday, September 16. This is the first time since 1976 that the union seems intent on launching a company-wide strike against one of the three U.S. auto companies.

The strike will idle 46,000 and more workers if it goes on for any length of time. This will spread to include parts suppliers and support industries. While inventory may currently be relatively high, GM’s reliance on cross-border trade in engines and transmissions could mean relatively quick shutdowns of plants in Canada and Mexico.

In the face of a vicious attack launched by the government through the FBI and carried out with the help of some of the largest Detroit news media, specifically by the Detroit News, the union leadership voted overwhelmingly to strike GM. It based itself on the membership’s strike authorization vote. First, in a meeting of the International Executive Board and then in the GM General Council meeting of 200 local union leaders, they voted to strike.

Now, the attention is turning from a former focus on what the union leadership has done to a discussion about what the workers will do.

General Motors, with its 8.1 BILLION dollar profit margin last year, had the audacity to propose to close four plants before the bargaining process even began.

They are trying to justify their greed by saying that they want to bring their costs more in line with “other” employers’ costs, forcing workers to pay increased health care costs which would be measured in, not single percentage point increases, but double.

Countering the union’s demands to decrease temporary employment by making temps permanent, they propose to greatly increase the numbers of temps.

Clearly, they look to bolster their profits in the face of any coming economic downturn (which they will cause!) by forcing the workers to pay for it.

The UAW leadership has done something others haven’t done in decades: the union is saying, rightfully, “NO!” and declaring a strike.

The workers at GM will have to decide how determined they are to win their demands. In the process, any problems that have arisen with the union leadership and allegations of misappropriation of funds can also be addressed, internally, by the workers themselves, who can control not only their own strike, but their union.

Where will it go?

As one auto worker expressed how he felt about the strike decision, he said, “We go along every day having to follow bosses’ orders, doing what they tell us to do. But, in a strike, the workers have power to decide the outcome.”

An Attack on Corruption, or an Attack on Our Contract?

Sep 16, 2019

The following statement was issued by Gary Walkowicz on September 3. Gary is a Bargaining Committeeman at UAW Local 600's Dearborn Truck Plant Unit in Dearborn, Michigan. He responds to the federal government’s attack on the UAW, and through this, on all unions. Gary is well known for his long opposition to the partnership policies of the union’s top leaders.

People know that for many years I have opposed the policies of the top UAW leadership. I ran against them at the UAW Convention. I have stood up at UAW Council meetings, often alone, to oppose concession contracts. I organized and called for “No” votes against 2-tier wages and all the takeaways. And if this next contract is another concession contract, I will oppose the leadership again.

But in the events of last week, where the federal government raided the houses of UAW president Gary Jones and others, I am standing with the union leadership because what I see here is not the government trying to get rid of corruption. What I see is the government trying to weaken the unions or intervene in the unions in order to benefit big business.

If any union leaders, top to bottom, are guilty of corruption, workers have every right to demand that they are gone and have every right to do something about it. But as for the raids last week, let’s remember that no one has been charged with anything. All we have is the government executing a raid, for the benefit of the media – RIGHT BEFORE OUR CONTRACT EXPIRES!

Does anyone believe that the timing of this raid is a coincidence?

The government, with help from the media, is trying to weaken the UAW in bargaining for our new contract.

The government has a history of using investigations of corruption to get control of a union and making it weaker. The federal government put the Teamsters union in receivership and Teamster workers are still feeling the effects today, with their pensions at risk. The government went after former Teamster president Ron Carey, because he led a militant strike at UPS, fighting against 2-tier. The government is for the bosses, not for the workers.

I know that many UAW members are angry. After years of concessions and with daily life in the plant getting harder, people are understandably angry when they hear about possible corruption, and about top union leaders taking privileges.

But the main problem with the union leadership today is not corruption. The main problem is the leadership not wanting to organize a real fight against the companies. Changes in our union are needed. But the government is not going to do it for us.

As union members, we have to be strong enough to straighten out our own house. And we have to deal with our real enemy, the bosses. And this is a good time to start, standing up so that we get a contract that we deserve.

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