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. 688 — September 23 - October 7, 2002

Editorial:
U.S. workers' enemy is the bosses here at home

Sep 23, 2002

For several months, the Bush administration has been threatening to invade Iraq. Over the last several weeks, it has increased these threats considerably, making it seem like a U.S. war against Iraq were inevitable.

Bush may assure the U.S. population that any war would be short. But even a short war would not end there. Even the Bush administration admits that such a war would open up a long period of U.S. military occupation of the country.

Of course, before any war, no government mentions casualties, and the Bush administration is no different. But even a short ground war would mean many U.S. casualties, not to speak of heavy Iraqi casualties. Neither does the Bush administration mention the enormous risks of any large-scale U.S. invasion of Iraq. Iraq is at the center of the Middle East, a very explosive region in the world. A U.S. invasion would send off shock waves throughout the region. A war could spread to other countries, bogging U.S. ground troops in a long costly war.

Certainly, for the working class in this country, any U.S. war in Iraq would be a catastrophe. The younger generation of workers would suffer the casualties. A big chunk of its youth would be ground down in battle thousands of miles away.

A war would also cost hundreds of billions of dollars, which the U.S. working class would also pay. This money, which could have been used for such things as our own health care or education, would instead be used to blow up and destroy a country and murder countless people.

Of course, a U.S. war against Iraq is not yet a certainty. There is still resistance to war, including from the upper echelons of the U.S. military, which had leaked U.S. war plans to the news media in order to slow down and embarrass the Bush administration.

But even if the Bush administration never does take the U.S. to war, the months and months of threats and talk of war have already served the Bush administration and ruling class very well. Following on the heels of the U.S. war against Afghanistan the supposed U.S. war against terrorism, all the threats against Iraq have allowed the U.S. rulers to hide their own enormous problems.

If there were no talk of war, then front and center in the news would be the collapse of the stock market and the so-called new economy, as well as the worsening economic crisis that has already included not just one, but perhaps two recessions since the year 2000. Also, front and center would be the continuing and worsening corporate scandals that have cascaded not only through the business world and the heights of finance, but have also touched the very core of the Bush administration, starting with the association of the Bush family with Enron, not to speak of the involvement of vice president Cheney and secretary of the Army White in their own financial scandals.

Instead, talk of war in the Middle East has allowed the Bush administration to dominate the news on its own terms. Whenever talk of the worsening economy seems to grow, up pops Bush spouting war talk against Iraq, each time trying to sound bigger and tougher in lines that someone else has scripted for him.

The problem for the U.S. working class is not to get caught up in the Bush administration propaganda. As long as workers fall for all the patriotic clap trap of maintaining national unity against someone the bosses say is a foe abroad, then we aren't fighting against our enemy here at home. We can't defend all the jobs, wages and benefits that both the corporations and the government are taking away from us.

The workers' fight is not thousands of miles away in the Middle East. Our fight is here at home against the corporations and their politicians.

Pages 2-3

Friday the 13th terrorist joke in Florida

Sep 23, 2002

On Friday September 13th, three Muslim men were pulled over east of Naples, Florida and detained 17 hours. The entire interstate highway was closed, while more than 100 cops descended on what's called Alligator Alley.

This all was prompted by a report from a woman who said she overheard the men speaking as she was eating breakfast at a Shoney's restaurant in Georgia. She thought she heard them talking about September 11. And since the men appeared Middle Eastern, and one had a long beard and a skull cap, she decided they might be terrorists about to attack Miami, and so wrote down their license plate and car description and called it in.

That set in motion a frenzy of media coverage and government officials grand-standing. Governor Jeb Bush announced the report came from a credible witness. Other officials and politicians said that the men had run a blockade or at least a turnpike toll gate. Dogs supposedly sniffed out something "suspicious."Seventeen hours later, the men were released – nothing was found – no explosives, no plans, no terrorist links. Even after the men were freed, John Blankhead of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said, "We're looking into what laws might be applicable. These people are going to learn a lesson." What lesson? That you shouldn't be out if you look "Middle Eastern"? That you certainly shouldn't speak?

The woman who reported them may have been a little hysterical. But the authorities who feed this kind of hysteria do it knowingly – aiming to line us all up behind them. And that's exactly what this whole affair was – a lot of hype, a lot of scare talk.

Lackawanna, New York:
Alleged "terror cell"
– but where are the terrorists?

Sep 23, 2002

On September 13 and 14, the FBI arrested and charged five American-born men of Yemeni descent with "providing material support to terrorists." A sixth man was arrested on the same charges in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, where he had gone to be married. The FBI claims these six residents of Lackawanna, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, all in their 20's, plus two others not in the U.S. right now, make up a secret Al Qaeda "sleeper cell," organized to carry out terrorist acts in the U.S. at some point in the future.

In fact, the government has no evidence that any of the individuals it has charged actually did anything illegal. All those charged were born in this country, and grew up in Lackawanna. One has been in minor trouble with the law in the past for smuggling tax-free cigarettes from nearby Indian reservations into Lackawanna, a fairly common offense in the area. On the other hand, another of those charged has worked for years as a job counselor at the nearby Iroquois Job Corps Center, has been a respected preacher at his mosque and is considered to be a very patriotic, rising young leader of the Yemeni community in Lackawanna.

What all of them share in common is that they live in Lackawanna's Yemeni community of approximately 1,000 people, went to high school together there and played soccer together. One of them is considered to have been one of the school's best players ever.

While still in school, they became more engaged in religious activities. In the spring of 2001, a fundamentalist Muslim friend of theirs invited them to go to Pakistan to attend an annual Muslim religious observance, one of the largest such observances in the world, attended by over a million people. Apparently, the friend also convinced them to travel on to Afghanistan. It's here they are accused of visiting an Al Qaeda training camp for several days, during which they allegedly heard a speech by Osama bin Laden.

This training camp is the same camp where the American John Lindh trained. Lindh was captured while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan and has made a deal with the government as a result of plea bargaining. Lindh is apparently willing to say he either saw or knew of the Lackawanna men being at the training camp.

Maybe so. Maybe not. But even if it this were true, none of what they did was illegal at the time. The U.S. still had ties with the Taliban, in Afghanistan, not to mention with Pakistan. Since the Lackawanna men returned to their home town, none of them has done anything illegal. None have attempted to run away, even after it became known months ago that the FBI was investigating possible terrorist activity in Lackawanna's Yemeni community. The one who was arrested in Bahrain turned himself in there after relatives called from the U.S. and told him the FBI was looking for him. None of these men has been accused of giving money to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. None has been accused of having explosives or other weapons intended for terrorist purposes. None has been accused of engaging in any kind of terrorist activity, nor of plotting any – only that they might do something in the future.

The government says that it was able to develop its case against these men because of help from the Muslim community in Lackawanna. Yet almost everyone who had any contact with them in Lackawanna says they think the allegations against them are groundless and that the government is either mistaken or being malicious against Muslims by charging that these young men are terrorists.

Maybe all of these people are mistaken – or even lying. Maybe.

But it seems far more likely that the government is simply using unproven allegations and exaggerations about these men to whip up more hysteria about terrorism and to cover up the fact that its war on terrorism has so far proved worthless. The administration needed something to point to with the anniversary of 9/11 approaching, and with the question being raised, "So what has the government actually succeeded in doing to stop terrorism?" The record of the Bush administration was pretty dismal. It ignored intelligence reports that an attack was coming before 9/11. Osama bin Laden appears to have escaped the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and the war there is dragging on with no end in sight.

Well, at least the government can now claim that it has broken up a "terror cell" in Lackawanna... and another alleged three-man terror operation in Detroit. But where are the terrorists?

Hearings on cause of September 11 miss real reason

Sep 23, 2002

The Congress has been holding hearings about what it calls the "intelligence failure" to anticipate the September 11 attacks. The only thing they didn't look into was the very U.S. policy which laid the basis for these attacks.

From the standpoint of the U.S. ruling class, U.S. government foreign policy has been a success. It's enabled the big corporations and banks to drain immense wealth from most of the rest of the world. In most of the countries of the world U.S. corporations own mines, plantations, factories and service industries, which directly employ millions of very low-paid workers. Further, the big U.S. banks plunder entire countries by obtaining billions of dollars in interest payments paid for by the labor of the workers and peasants of these countries. A small handful of billionaires in the United States become immensely wealthy at the expense of the mass of the population of the world.

U.S. foreign policy, which has always aimed at maintaining this exploitation, is based on brute force, on violence to keep the population in line. And the real success of U.S. policy – as far as the ruling class is concerned – is the ability of the U.S. government to rest on the armed forces of other countries to keep the poor masses of their population under control. The U.S. supplies them with arms – the U.S. is by far the largest arms seller in the world. The U.S. military trains the armies of many of the poorest countries, and in fact makes them almost an auxiliary of the U.S. military. These local militaries are swift to intervene against strikes, urban protests and peasants who resist local landlords.

The U.S. uses various local powers to be regional policeman and to do the dirty work in their area. Examples are Israel, and its brutal repression against the Palestinian people, in addition to having invaded Lebanon, Egypt and Syria with U.S. support; Iran under the Shah, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which the U.S. supported against the Iran of Khomeini. The result is that U.S.-made bombs rain down on the civilian population around the world. It is no wonder that hundreds of millions of people around the world hold the U.S. responsible for the destruction they suffer.

Should the local government prove too weak to suppress social movements or control wayward neighbors, the U.S. government itself intervenes militarily. The U.S. has in readiness numerous military bases throughout the world and the navy with massive fleets in the various oceans. Many times over the last decades the U.S. has invaded or used military force in other countries: in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The result of U.S. policy is to subject the population of the poor countries to a brutal state terrorism. When the local army shoots into crowds, breaks up protests by small shopkeepers, herds peasants off the land they farm, what is it but state terrorism? This is terrorism supported by the U.S. and understood as such by the population of the world.

Not surprisingly U.S. imperialist domination in poor countries has generated a deep hatred of the United States around the world. Terrorists of various types are able to tap this immense hatred and to use it for their own ends, even though they are the bitter enemy of the mass of the population in whose name they claim to act.

All the Congressional hearings about "intelligence failures" do nothing to show the real problem, because it's not the lack of intelligence that's the danger, but the imperialist policy itself.

Pages 4-5

Bush's friendly dictator

Sep 23, 2002

Last month, Pakistan's military dictator Pervez Musharraf announced that he was "amending" Pakistan's constitution, to prevent the new parliament, to be elected in October, from removing him from the presidency. In other words, just when Bush is beating the drums for a war against Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, Bush's good friend and ally, Musharraf, is busy solidifying his own repressive dictatorship.

Cheney:
"Money to be made in Iraq"

Sep 23, 2002

After the 1991 Gulf War, guess what company got the biggest contract to help Saddam Hussein rebuild Iraq's oil fields? None other than Halliburton, the company then headed by our current vice president, Dick Cheney. After the war, Cheney told a group of industry executives he was against toppling Hussein. After all, there was money to be made in Iraq. And they proved it!

Hiding behind a Haliburton subsidiary, Dresser Rand, Cheney cut deals worth 24 million dollars for oil field equipment.

Now, however, Cheney says he wants to go to war to topple Saddam Hussein. Maybe Cheney wants to see the oil fields destroyed again – so Haliburton can get another contract to rebuild them.

Ordinary speculation in cocoa

Sep 23, 2002

One man, Anthony Ward, bought 148,000 tons of cocoa beans in a few weeks month. That amounts to seven% of all cocoa produced annually in the whole world. With the production of cocoa expected to fall by 100,000 tons this year, this thief will be able to sell his stock of cocoa beans at a much higher price.

The two countries where most cocoa is produced, Ghana and Ivory Coast, will not gain from a higher price. These two countries have been battered by price decreases over the last few years, while speculators like Ward pocket any price increase.

This speculation is completely legal. A stock market "expert" was quoted: "to speculate on the rise or fall of commodity prices is completely normal in the free market."In fact, under capitalism, one big fat multi-millionaire can strangle two poor countries – and that's normal! No, this just shows that capitalism isn't normal.

With Bush, foreign policy is just a game of cards

Sep 23, 2002

At the beginning, Bush said that the U.S. has to go to war against Saddam Hussein because Hussein won't allow inspections. This proves, according to Bush, that Iraq has or intends to have weapons of mass destruction.

But then Hussein said he would allow the inspections to begin again. The details are to be worked out with UNMOVIC (the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission) in meetings at the end of September.

Suddenly Bush proclaimed the issue was "disarmament," not the inspections themselves. Now Hussein has to be disarmed of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, the previous week, Bush had admitted that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons. But if Hussein would acquire certain materials, the country "would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year." Well, maybe, but then where is Bush's argument that Iraq already has weapons of mass destruction.

Bush's Secretary of State Colin Powell had stated after the Gulf War that all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed. But now that Hussein has again agreed to inspections, Powell threatens that the U.S. will stop the inspections unless it gets a UN resolution it likes on this issue.

Former UNSCOM chief weapons inspector Scott Ridder testified to Congress in 1998 that Iraq had been disarmed to 90 or 95%, including in surprise inspections. The small amount left, said Ritter in his testimony, was incomplete paper work.

In a country where there is not enough electricity generated to purify the water or run the hospitals, how has Iraq been able to build sophisticated weapons in the last four years? Ritter himself said they could not have done it in the last four years. And who is Ritter ? He was a weapons expert, a former Marine officer who took part in the Gulf War as an intelligence officer.

When faced with such statements coming from people who support his administration, what can Bush do? He simply says, "We have to change the regime." In other words, Bush is upping the ante once again. Is he bluffing? Or is he going to take the country into a war because he has to play his bluff up to the end in this high stakes poker game? Maybe, since he won't be called on to cover his bets like the people on both sides who will die to pay the price for his gamble.

Who has been thumbing their nose at U.N. resolutions?

Sep 23, 2002

Iraq, says Bush, is thumbing its nose at U.N. resolutions, defying what the country was supposed to do since the Gulf War. And, if Iraq doesn't straighten out – and the U.N. too – Bush says the U.S. will go it alone.

Someone, some country, some rulers, have been thumbing their nose at U.N. resolutions, it's certainly true. But those someones have been this administration and previous U.S. administrations.

In addition to not paying its full dues to the United Nations, the U.S. government has refused to sign major treaties over dozens of years. The U.S. refused to sign the "Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention" last year. It refused to be part of the "Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty" from 1997 on. In 2001, the U.S. refused to agree what was called the Kyoto Accord, a treaty the rest of the world agreed to on improving climate by cutting emissions of air pollution.

Furthermore, the United States demands exemption from the International Criminal Court. It refused to join in the international ban on the use of land mines. And the U.S. remains in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It also recently refused to sign the U.N. resolution on the rights of women.

It's certainly true that when the U.S. government doesn't like what the world community proposes, it goes its own way – not to mention taking action on its own. There is the no-fly zone imposed by the U.S. over Iraq, of course. Then there is the embargo against Cuba for 40 years. There was the mining of the Managua harbor in Nicaragua when a government came to power that the U.S. didn't support.

And so forth. Finally, in his latest speech, President Bush spelled out U.S. foreign policy so every country on earth could understand. "The president has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the U.S. has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union ..." The Bush administration could not make it more clear: the world's biggest bully has plans to flatten any of the world's smaller bullies it feels like smashing. That's why the U.N. usually ends up slinking behind the U.S. when the U.S. demands it.

Life and death in Pakistan

Sep 23, 2002

Every year in Pakistan there are over 1,000 reported "honor killings" of women, that is, women being murdered for non-marital sex, or for the suspicion of it, or for refusing to marry a husband chosen by the family, etc. Since the vast majority of these killings are not reported to the authorities, the real figure is estimated to be at least ten times higher – not to mention the additional thousands of attacks short of murder, such as mutilations and rapes. Apparently, the desperate situation of Pakistani women doesn't trouble George Bush, who posed as their protector in Afghanistan.

Behind Bush's threats against Iraq

Sep 23, 2002

What's behind all the Bush administration's calls for "regime change" in Iraq?

Certainly, it has nothing to do with Bush's supposed wish to liberate the people of Iraq from the grip of a dictator, "who kills his own people," as Bush says. Most of the regimes around the world that the U.S. supports and arms are dictatorships that "kill their own people." The U.S. may call the regime in Saudi Arabia, for example, a "moderate" state. But that doesn't hide the fact that Saudi Arabia is ruled by a feudal monarchy in which there are no elections, no free speech, no freedom of the press, and women are not even allowed to drive a car – and can be stoned to death for "infidelity."Neither is Bush's talk about Iraq having "weapons of mass destruction" the real reason. All the regimes in the region have chemical and/or biological weapons. And both Pakistan and Israel have developed nuclear weapons. Even if Hussein did have "weapons of mass destruction," Hussein is not about to use them because he is not suicidal. He has no intention of giving the U.S. the pretext to attack him and his regime. This is what Brent Scowcroft, the former general and top security adviser to the first President George Bush, pointed out.

Instead, the real reason that the Bush administration is going after Hussein is that at one time, he showed a slight bit of defiance to the U.S. Back in 1990, Hussein's army invaded Kuwait without the permission of the U.S. And when the U.S. demanded that Hussein withdraw from Kuwait, he refused. It should be noted that this invasion was not some diabolical act by a madman out to take over the entire Middle East, which is how the U.S. politicians and news media often portray him. Instead, it was part of a longstanding dispute that Hussein and the sheiks of Kuwait had over control of a few oil fields that they shared along their border. The Kuwaiti oil sheiks had, in fact, provoked the Iraqi invasion by stealing oil from Iraqi oil fields by slant drilling.

But once Hussein took that independent step, the first Bush administration set out to make an example of him.

The Gulf War of 1991 was not fought to unseat a dictator – it was fought to make a demonstration of U.S. power, and of how it dealt with dictators of relatively small countries who defied it. The main victims of both the Gulf War and the trade embargo that followed have been the Iraqi people. If Hussein was not removed in 1991, it was not because of an oversight. It's because the U.S. had no one else it could count on to maintain order in Iraq if Hussein fell. If anything, the war and embargo solidified Hussein's hold on power in Iraq. If the U.S. government follows through on Bush's threats of imposing "regime change" through a massive U.S. invasion, it would be the Iraqi population which would be the principal victims once again. And this time it would be U.S. forces who will be used directly to control the population.

If the U.S. puts the screws on Hussein, while it ignores the more than 100 other dictators the world over, it's in part because Iraq sits on top of the second highest level of oil reserves in the world, after Saudi Arabia. The U.S. expects a dictator, who controls a vital and very profitable resource like oil, to be even more servile in return for the privilege of running the country. In other words, the U.S. superpower has more reason to bring the Hussein dictatorship to heel because of the oil.

Would the U.S. oil companies like to get their hands on Iraqi oil directly? Perhaps. But what really counts is the fact that someone maintains order in Iraq and proves himself totally subservient to their wishes.

What is behind Bush's threats against Hussein and Iraq is simply a naked exercise of power.

Pages 6-7

Coincidence?
No, just politics as usual!

Sep 23, 2002

On March 9, Bush signed into law a bill voted overwhelmingly by both Democrats and Republicans. With great fanfare, all the politicians claimed credit for extending unemployment benefits in states where the unemployment rate is high.

But there's a strange twist to this law. It's only temporary, expiring in December of this year – just a month after the elections.

Can't find a job?
Try prison!

Sep 23, 2002

We hear about low paid labor in countries around the globe – but there's another source of low paid labor – right here in the U.S.A., where nobody crosses any borders. These workers make from 23¢ to $1.15 per hour – a real gift to any boss looking for a profit.

This work force is found in the U.S. prison system – which leases inmates to profit-making companies. Set up under the business name Unicor, the Federal Prison Industries sold 583 million dollars worth of goods and services last year – almost entirely to the federal government, but also by contract to some corporations. Their biggest customer was the Defense Department.

Unicor operates 100 prison factories for the Bureau of Prisons, employing 22, 510 federal prisoners. These prisoners make furniture, work clothes, military uniforms, bedding, electrical equipment and provide some data entry and bulk mailing services. In addition, Unicor has engaged other businesses as sub-contractors who use the prison labor in the Unicor programs and have a guaranteed customer. There's competition between companies today to get one of these contracts. What better than having a very low wage labor work force – which has no rights and can't even quit!

According to the International Association of Machinists, there are another 50,000 prisoners in state facilities producing an additional billion dollars of goods per year at these low wages.

Prison labor is not a recent venture. It has played a part in U.S. history for at least one hundred years.

From about 1890 through 1930, prisons in the South used prisoners for all kinds of labor. They worked on farms, cut lumber, built railroads and dug coal. Any time labor was needed, Southern sheriffs made up charges to arrest poor men – most of them black – putting them out to work for low wages or none, as part of their prison sentence. Slavery was not yet dead – it just existed in this particular form.

The biggest employer of prison labor in Alabama at the beginning of the 1900s was Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad. This company was bought by U.S. Steel in 1907. Working under slave-like conditions – where whippings were common – men died quickly and were buried in unmarked graves near the mine property.

U.S. Steel Chairman Elbert Gary said that he immediately ordered the practice to stop. It was, however, still continuing six years later at U.S. Steel, shown by a 1913 investigation of Alabama prison labor. Alabama officials didn't mind any more than the U.S. Steel bosses did. "Our jails are money making machines," wrote a prison inspector in 1922.

Apparently this profitable business still pleases prison officials , since its use is growing at present. It illustrates the absurdity of capitalism - -which cannot provide enough jobs for the population, so that people end up in prison. But once in prison, the same capitalists are ready to employ them – but at much lower wages.

It is this society that should be condemned, not the thousands of poor people who could be employed at decent wages, but instead are turned into near slaves.

Unemployment up, benefits down

Sep 23, 2002

Long-term unemployment has nearly doubled since last year. A year ago, 800,000 people had been out of work for six months or longer. This year, one and a half million people have been out of work for six months or longer. The figure is expected to reach almost two million long-term unemployed before the end of this year.

The long-term unemployment rate is showing a significant increase, the most in eight years.

In fact, the figures for unemployment seriously under-count how many people are without work. For example, the long-term unemployed, like the short-term unemployed, are only counted in the statistics when the unemployment offices show that they are looking for work. When people get discouraged and don't look for a job the way officials demand, they are no longer counted as unemployed. Or someone who works a few hours per week, although they want more hours, is no longer considered unemployed. So these figures for the unemployed have to be much higher than the official counts.

What these figures show is an economic catastrophe in the making for the entire working class.

The economic experts continue to tell us that the stock market is just going through a little "correction." They suggest we will soon be okay again.

Not so! This little "correction" has already lasted for three years and shows no sign of ending. It means that capital has been eaten up, capital which could have been invested in new production or even in maintaining old production.

If the problems of the stock market only affected the wealthy, why would anyone care? But unfortunately, it affects all of us, all of our jobs and all of our possibilities to have a decent life.

Those who run this economy are playing Russian roulette with our lives. They need to be tossed aside.

Detroit's McGraw Glass workers:
Under attack by the company and the heads of the union

Sep 23, 2002

At the end of August, Daimler-Chrysler sent a letter to the workers at its McGraw Glass plant, reiterating its threat to get rid of the plant if sufficient labor savings were not found.

This repeated the ultimatum Chrysler had issued last December when it demanded that the union come up with 50 million dollars in cost savings in three months – that is, in reduced labor costs – or face the closure of the plant.

Since January, rumors have floated throughout the plant. The UAW international called in efficiency experts from the University of Michigan to look for cost savings.

Nothing, of course, came of it, since the level of money talked about could only mean that wages and benefits be reduced by a very sizeable amount, and the workers at McGraw had a long history of not caving in to outrageous demands.

In all the months since, the top union leaders have essentially ignored the fact that Chrysler was threatening to close a plant (a plant which, it should be said, was completely rebuilt and doubled in size only ten years ago).

That all changed, however, when 200 workers at McGraw went down to Solidarity House demanding to talk to someone in the union, following a statement made by UAW Vice President Nate Gooden that Chrysler never should have entered the glass business in the first place. Of course, during the rally that the McGraw workers organized, no one came to talk to them about their problems.

But a big delegation from the top levels of the union did come to the next local union meeting in the middle of September: one rep from the region in which McGraw is situated; one from the other Detroit area region; and four from the international staff. But if workers thought that the delegation came to discuss their problems, they soon discovered otherwise.

The delegation had come ... to defend Nate Gooden, and they all said it.

Workers at the meeting wanted to know why the union reps came out to McGraw only to defend Nate – where were they when Chrysler first started closing down lines and laying people off? Where were all of them, when the workers went to Solidarity House to speak to someone from the International about our problems?

While one of the reps said that every one knows that Nate sometimes speaks before he thinks, the statements made by the delegation showed that they accepted Gooden's stance: that is, that it's up to Chrysler to decide what to do about the workers' jobs.

Worker after worker got up to indict management for McGraw's problems. They reported how they had often told management about problems – only to be ignored. They reported that they had noted that glass was bad – only to have management ship it out. And so on.

The problems of McGraw were caused by management. The workers wanted a way to make management solve the problems and pay the price to do so.

One worker asked the international reps what their solution was to the plant closing. An international rep said he didn't know if there was a solution.

It's true – if the union goes on doing what it's been doing, there is no solution.

The union's current policy, during the last 30 years, as the companies closed down one plant after another, was simply to accept what the company did. And that's no solution.

The people who have led the union during all this time have never once proposed to the workers to make a real fight to stop the plants from being closed. They push the idea that there's nothing the workers can do – since the contract and the law give the corporation the right to close plants if it wants.

When some workers raised the idea that other workers are having the same problem, an international rep replied that it would be against the contract for workers at other plants to go out in support of workers at McGraw.

Another International rep said that if you don't know what you are doing when you try to make a fight, you'll make things worse.

NO! The worst thing to do is to sit back and do nothing. That's what the union has been doing and that's why auto workers keep losing jobs, wages and benefits.

It's why the union itself keeps losing members. Since the early 1970s, almost 400,000 jobs have been lost at the Big 3. The UAW itself has lost all those members at the Big 3, not to mention all the ones at other workplaces. The longer the union accepts plant closings and layoffs, the weaker the union becomes.

It's clear that the people who today lead the union do not have a policy of fighting against plant closings – even when it threatens the union itself.

It's up to today's workers to find the way to make that fight – with or without the heads of the union. It's the only way that the working class can begin to reverse the last two decades when the bosses felt free to attack the workers, but the workers didn't respond.

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