The Spark

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

Issue no. 898 — August 22 - September 5, 2011

Make the Capitalists Pay for the Fat Deficit They Created

Aug 22, 2011

Congress and the Obama administration just slashed a trillion dollars from the federal budget, and they plan to cut several trillion dollars more by the end of the year. But not all government programs are to be cut – only those affecting the laboring population and poor. Many government jobs will be eliminated. Government-provided benefits for retirees, veterans, the disabled and the very poorest will be slashed. And there will be a big reduction in the services that the federal government provides – sometimes sent through state, city and local agencies – for education and health care, fire protection, the maintenance of roads, bridges, mass transit, and water and sewage systems.

Governments around the world are doing the same thing. They are all slashing government spending. And officials around the world use the same justification: the huge government deficits leave them no choice – they say.

But where did these deficits come from?

The fact is that the U.S. government, as well as other governments, created these deficits when they bailed out the banks from the financial crisis that the banks themselves created.

For years, the banks had made record profits speculating on subprime mortgages, feeding an enormous housing bubble in the U.S. After the subprime mortgage bubble popped in late 2007, banks around the world began to topple. By September 2008 Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. This set off a crisis of confidence between the banks themselves, since no one knew which big bank would fall next. The banks stopped lending to each other, drying up credit and choking off the life blood not only of finance, but of production and commerce.

In response, governments around the world jumped in to hand the banks trillions of dollars to cover the banks’ bad debts. This created enormous government debts, which governments covered by borrowing money at high interest rates from the very same banks they were bailing out!

Official political parties – left, center and right – justified these bailouts, claiming they saved the economy from plunging into another Great Depression. But the reality is that the bailouts only delayed the collapse for a few short years. After governments bailed out the banks, the banks did not invest in production, create jobs and boost economic growth. Instead, they simply went back to trying to make big and fast profits through the same kinds of financial wheeling and dealing that had brought on the previous crisis.

The big banks speculated on raw materials, especially wheat, corn and rice, as well as oil and gas, and drove up their prices. These high prices for essentials extorted more money from working people in the industrialized countries and forced starvation on hundreds of millions more in the poor countries.

The banks also poured money into the stock market at a record pace. This created a new stock market bubble, a bubble which is now collapsing.

Above all, the biggest banks speculated on the very debt that the governments took on when they bailed out the banks. And this speculation drove up interest rates to double digit levels on the government debt of smaller European countries, like Greece and Ireland. By forcing interest rates up on government debt, the banks raked in higher profits.

The banks then initiated similar operations on the government debt of larger European countries, Spain, Italy and France. When the Standard and Poor’s rating agency downgraded U.S. government debt earlier this month, it was a sign that the big banks were even ready to take a run at U.S. government debt.

To repay their debts to the banks – even just to pay the interest on the debts – governments have imposed deep budget cuts on programs and services for their working population. These cuts mean more unemployment and less income, that is, less money in the hands of working people, less money to spend, less money to grease the wheels of production – resulting in still more layoffs in a vicious downward cycle. Government cuts are strangling the economy.

The working masses can defend themselves against these attacks. But not by following the rules and policies laid down by the capitalists. Working people need their own program. No company should be allowed to lay off anyone. The available work should be spread out among everyone who wants to work – with no loss in weekly pay. To stop the fall in workers’ buying power, wages and retirement pensions must be indexed to prices.

These are not proposals that Democrats or Republicans make. But they are the only ones that respond – from the workers’ viewpoint – to the current crisis.

Pages 2-3

Washington, D.C. Schools:
Reform in Favor of the Wealthy

Aug 22, 2011

In one district of Washington, D.C. public schools (called Ward 8) only 28% of children can read at their appropriate grade level. In Ward 3, the rate is 84% reading at grade level.

What is the difference between Ward 8 and Ward 3 in Washington, D.C.? The difference is exactly the same as the difference in successful and unsuccessful schools all across the country: money. The schools where students have higher scores are high income districts, with more money spent on the schools.

Ward 8 parents have median income of $31,000 while Ward 3 parents have median income of more than $97,000. Ward 3 schools were given twice the number of “highly effective” teachers, as measured by the D.C. school system’s own accounting system when compared with schools in low income districts.

Five years after beginning a program of school “reform,” Washington, D.C. schools show exactly what “reform” really means. The education given to children is based on their parents’ income.

L.A. Stadium:
A Money Channel to the Rich

Aug 22, 2011

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a 1.5-billion-dollar deal to develop a new downtown football stadium and a new convention center. Supporters of this deal claim that it will bring jobs to Los Angeles and huge tax revenue to the city. They say that 410 million dollars of new tax revenue will be generated over 30 years.

But, similar promises were made for the existing convention center buildings 26 years ago. The city still has 417 million dollars in outstanding debt from this 26-year-old deal.

This stadium and parking lots will be built on city property. Anschutz Entertainment Group, which got this development deal, proposed a $1-a-year lease for this city property. So the city will be handing over its property for free.

This deal will be another huge drain from the city budget like similar projects in the past. It’s only another scheme to provide another money channel for the rich.

University of Chicago Hospital:
South Side’s Plantation

Aug 22, 2011

Community groups held a vigil Monday, August 14th to commemorate the violent death of Damian Turner, a young community activist, one year ago. He was a bystander when he was shot last year at the corner of 61st and Cottage Grove – only 3½ blocks from one of the leading hospitals in the country: the University of Chicago Medical Center.

But the University of Chicago closed its adult trauma center in 1988. The ambulance took Turner to Northwestern Medical Center, on the North Side, 10 miles away. That distance may have cost Turner his life.

There is not one 24-hour trauma center on Chicago’s South Side, despite the fact that trauma is a leading cause of death on the South Side.

The University says that opening a trauma center would come at the expense of other care they offer, including its focus: “advanced specialty care” – that is, procedures from which University Hospital makes big bucks.

It comes down to this: the University wants to provide cutting edge care for the wealthy while ignoring the needs of the poor communities that surround it.

Riots in Britain:
Poverty Sows Anger

Aug 22, 2011

The following article is a report printed in the August 12th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The riots in Great Britain began in Tottenham, north London, on August 6th. In three days, the riots spread to a dozen areas in London and other cities in the country, including three big metro areas: Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

The current explosion was set off by the murder of a young African-Caribbean man, Mark Duggan, shot while he was pinned to the ground by a Special Forces commando. The rioters came from the same poor neighborhoods where the rate of unemployment is among the highest in the country.

Social inequality blossomed in the pretended “boom,” housing prices shot up with real estate speculation and the poorest neighborhoods were more and more ghettoes, while well-off neighborhoods flaunted the wealth of their commerce and restaurants.

In most cases, rioters took on the most ostentatious symbols of wealth in the well-off neighborhoods, breaking windows, particularly bank windows, and burning commercial buildings. In Manchester and Birmingham, they even went so far as to attack the rich commercial centers of the central cities.

Once windows were broken, looting followed, coming from a portion of the rioters, most of whom were very young. In a totally predictable fashion, behind the rioters came gangs who were more interested in the available opportunities than in symbols.

A massive police deployment on August 9th, including dogs and horses, didn’t have any effect in London. But by mid-afternoon, shops in most neighborhoods at the edge of the city were closed, which basically put an end to rioting in the capital. But the movement grew for a few more days in cities outside London.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, hurriedly returned from his vacation. He promised that the “criminals” would get the punishment they deserved. Using the pretext of this promise, extreme right wingers and religious fundamentalists set up vigilante groups to protect stores.

The young rioters, who thought they could express their rejection of their social conditions by attacking only symbols, may have deceived themselves. But the fact that these riots occurred is nonetheless a symptom of the sickness of a system, which, sowing poverty, reaps resentment and anger.

More Attacks on Women’s Rights

Aug 22, 2011

New state laws in Arizona have forced Planned Parenthood to close seven of its ten state clinics there. Abortion services for women are now limited to the cities of Tucson and Phoenix. As the Planned Parenthood spokesperson said, it’s a matter of “rules that have no medical significance and just creating barriers.”

In 2009, Arizona laws forced women seeking an abortion to see a doctor 24 hours prior and hear a lecture on risks and alternatives – as if the women were incapable of understanding these things for themselves! This year, another law prohibited nurse practitioners from supervising drug-induced abortions. This law forced the seven clinics to close. Arizona women unlucky enough to live far from Tucson or Phoenix now have fewer, more difficult, and more risky options.

Arizona is not alone. Over half of the states have put extra barriers in the way of women, especially young and poor women, who want abortions. And last year, 13 states passed laws preventing health insurers from covering abortions. More than 350 other restrictive laws have passed across the country in the last decade.

The attack on women’s rights includes the Texas state legislature cutting off two-thirds of previous funding for family planning – while adding $300,000 in aid to a church-supported pregnancy crisis center that does NOT refer clients to any abortion provider. A Texas state representative said it outright: “We are trying to shut down abortions in Texas, and doing that through cutting off the purse strings.”

But not all women will have their “purse strings” cut, and lose their right to make their own personal decisions about their own personal bodies. Wealthy women, and the women favored by wealthy men, have never had a problem getting whatever medical care they wanted, including abortions in safe, sanitary, professional facilities.

No, the attack on poor and working women’s rights is not because of any medical reason. It is for politicians’ own purposes. Firstly, to pander to a small section of voters who are religious fanatics. But secondly, to fasten those religious prejudices from the Middle Ages onto the rest of the population, the better to divide, confuse, and rule.

A Christian sharia is no better than an Islamic one. And in this country, it’s worse – because it has the weight of government behind it.

An Old-Fashioned Lynching in Mississippi

Aug 22, 2011

James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old black auto worker in Mississippi, was the victim of racist murder, caught on a surveillance video.

A gang of seven white teenagers set out to kill a black man, as if it were just a teen-age prank. Leaving a party in Brandon, Mississippi, they climbed into two vehicles, drove 15 miles to a predominantly black area of Jackson, Mississippi, where they found Anderson alone.

The seven ganged up on him, beating him nearly senseless, hurling racial slurs and “White Power!” slogans. As Anderson struggled to get away, one of the racist thugs ran him over with a truck, killing him. Celebrating, as though their team had won a football game, the teens went to a nearby McDonald’s where the driver of the pickup bragged that he “ran that nigger over.”

These young racist thugs didn’t turn into lynchers on their own. Racist attitudes – battered down somewhat by the mobilization of the black population during the sixties and seventies – have always been reinforced by extreme right-wing reactionaries all through the country, not just in the South. And with the working class under attack, racism gains more currency – because right-wing demagogues have been given a podium from which they preach racism and violence.

The black population and the whole working class today face divisions and violence – problems they will have to take on, militantly, with force, the only language the racists ever understood.

Pages 4-5

Gyrating Stock Markets, Government Debt and Capitalism in Bankruptcy

Aug 22, 2011

Financial jitters, already visible for a time, became a panic after rating agencies announced they had downgraded the United States credit rating. The selling panic swept through the “sovereign debts,” that is, the debts which governments have accumulated over many years, but which have grown enormously since the financial crisis of September 2008.

It is the old game of speculation that humanity has known ever since money was invented. And it has always been used to fleece the majority of the population to benefit the minority that possesses money. But under capitalism, speculation has really expanded. And today, with modern means, speculators are amassing incomparable sums of money, making transactions almost instantaneously.

Speculators are not just a few exceptions who play games at the edges of the general functioning of the capitalist economy. The big banks are the biggest speculators. They use not only their own funds, but also money handed to them by all the other capitalist groups (industrial, commercial, insurance) as well as funds from rich individuals. The entire capitalist class is involved in this speculation.

For a long time, speculation has been one of the fundamental aspects of the capitalist economy. But, with the general financialization of the economy during the 20th century, speculation now plays the central role in the functioning of capitalism.

For a number of years now, finance has produced a much higher return than has the real economy. The financiers might walk off with a profit of 12 to 15%, even 20%, on the capital they place, while real production stagnates; unemployment rises everywhere; and official figures for the gross national production, already overstated, increase just 2 or 3%, or at best 5%.

The Consequences of the 2008 Bank Crisis

The current crisis is the consequence of the bank crisis of 2008. Or, more exactly, of the medication all the governments used to overcome the 2008 bank illness.

The immediate cause of the crisis of September 2008 was uncontrolled speculation by the banks and financial institutions, centered on the American housing industry.

Acting as though housing prices in the United States would continue to rise indefinitely, the banks competed to push loans on people, as long as the loans were guaranteed by the rising price of housing. But when the American housing market crashed, all the banks, and not only in the United States, found themselves holding pieces of paper representing loans practically without value.

Even more complicated, these loans themselves engendered other forms of credit – the banking system showed great imagination in inventing new pieces of paper, ever more complicated and obscure … but which were directly and indirectly linked to a housing market in the process of collapsing.

This situation ended up in a major banking crisis, what the bankers called “a crisis of confidence.” The banks no longer trusted each other because of the bad debts they had all accumulated. They stopped lending to each other and to other corporations.

Yet the circulation of money between banks and companies, and among banks themselves, makes up the life blood of the capitalist economy.

Governments around the world – the servants of the banks and corporations – did not compel the banks to loan money to the productive economy. Instead, to solve the crisis, governments tried to convince the bankers that they could make a nice big profit by lending again. In any case, all the governments acted to buy up the old rotten loans still held by the banks.

As long as private lending produced a private profit, the banks and the capitalist groups benefitted from the interest payments. But as soon as lending was no longer profitable and there was a risk that the capitalists could lose money, governments around the world took on all the losses. This produced a “miraculous transformation” of private debt into public debt. Or, to speak in terms of social classes, the bourgeoisie privately pocketed the profits from the extravagant loans, but the governments forced the laboring classes to pay for the banks’ losses.

Outrageous sums were injected into the economy under the pretext of giving the banks and the industrialists confidence in the solidity of their own economy! Not a single government proposed to expropriate these criminal bankers without compensation. And even the few demagogic words governments uttered about banking regulation never led to the slightest action.

The hundreds of billions, even trillions made available to the bankers were taken out of government budgets, to the detriment of spending that would have been useful for the majority of the population. Social protections, retirement pensions, public employment, public services, education were all cut to pay for saving the bankers. But even that was not enough, so governments took out loans from the banks themselves – then turned around and gave the money right back to the same bankers as a gift! This is what produced the considerable growth of government debts.

These expenditures and the sacrifices that they implied for the population were said to be necessary in order to save the banking system from a so-called “systemic crisis.” But these policies regulated the problem of the crisis of confidence among the banks for only a short moment.

Far from being a solution, this policy aggravated the problem. The colossal sums injected by the states into the economy further increased the quantity of money in circulation. And since no government constrained its capitalists to use this money to invest in production, to create jobs or to raise wages, all of this has now led to a level of financial speculation never before seen, while reducing the ability of everyone else to buy goods.

In 2008, it was the banks and financial groups that were threatened with failure. Today it is the state apparatuses of all the biggest countries in the world, including that of the United States.

Behind the Somersaults of Finance, the Crisis of the Capitalist Economy

The markets, the “investors” – in other words, all the capitalists – are beginning to fear that they may not be able to recover the funds they have invested, along with the interest they expect. This is not just because the governments, beginning with the U.S., are in debt up to their necks. It is, more fundamentally, because the economy itself, industrial production, is stagnant.

The austerity plans demanded by the financiers – the reduction of expenditures for public services and social protections, the drastic reduction in the number of public employees – will decrease even further the ability of the laboring classes to buy anything.

In the end, the crisis of the capitalist economy is the result of the contradiction between the increased capacity to produce and the limits of consumption by the laboring population. Overcoming the financial crisis by taking more from the pockets of the majority of the population can only aggravate this contradiction.

After their little spectacle, the Republicans and the Democrats reached agreement, with Obama at their head, to increase the debt ceiling of the U.S. government in order to aid big capital. In Europe, after the negotiations between Merkel and Sarkozy, the European Central Bank plans to do what its statutes supposedly forbid: to buy up the bad debts of the European governments in order to assure the banks that the interest on their loans will be paid, even if these loans were issued at usurious interest rates.

Austerity has become the key word for all politicians everywhere in the world, that is, austerity for the working population. Big capital takes from the wage earners, but also from the so-called middle classes – like small business people, small farmers, supervisors, along with teachers and some professionals.

Despite the current tumble in stock prices of private companies as well as of government securities, big capital will rebound tomorrow. Capital today is flooding out of the stock market; this capital must end up some place where there is hope that a profit will be made tomorrow. Some financial consultants already recommend their customers benefit from the decline in stock prices by buying back stocks in those companies likely to return solid dividends. They add that investors must “have patience to wait for the stocks to increase in price again” … in other words, to be rich enough, powerful enough to be able to wait.

Cynical consultants recommend, since stock prices have declined, that big companies would do better to buy up their competitors rather than to invest in new factories.

But big capitalists do not need consultants in order to act on what they know already. The crises of the capitalist economy always end up increasing the power of the biggest groups, once the dead branches are cut off. These financial somersaults will be translated into layoffs, closing of factories, reduction in wages, not to speak of all the other forms of austerity imposed by governments on the exploited.

The social meaning of all this is not that “the markets are more powerful that the governments,” as the media frequently repeats. It is that governments, completely at the service of big capital, add to the profits taken directly from exploitation – that is, from production itself. Since production is down, the governments steal from the working classes, using the power of the state apparatus to do so, also putting this theft at the service of the capitalist class. There is no better description of the parasitic nature of big capital today, and its damaging effect on society.

Overthrow the Power of the Capitalist Class

No one has a solution to the crisis of the capitalist economy – certainly not those who profit from it. This crisis and the concrete ways in which it proceeds are the demonstration that the economy can no longer function on the basis of private property in the means of production and finance.

The immediate problem for the workers is to defend themselves so that the burden of the crisis doesn’t fall completely on them. To defend their jobs and their wages is more important today than at any point in the recent past, to prevent the majority of the world of labor from falling into extreme poverty.

This requires the radical expropriation of the capitalist class, beginning with the banks and large industrial and commercial groups; and the reorganization of the economy on the basis of collective property, freed from the drive for private profit and from competition. It also requires planning for everyone’s needs in relation to the capacity of production. That can be done only by the mobilization of the working class with a level of determination and political consciousness that doesn’t exist today. But that can come quickly, provoked by the capitalist class itself, and by the destruction brought on by capitalism.

The struggle of the exploited to defend their living conditions becomes meaningful within the perspective of radically overthrowing this social and economic organization that is making totally clear its own bankruptcy.

Confronted with political parties that discuss everything in terms of capitalism, working people need their own party, based on the goal of overthrowing the power of the capitalist class and of carrying out a social revolution – that is, a true communist party.

Pages 6-7

Hershey’s Chocolate Plant Strike

Aug 22, 2011

“It is just work, WORK FASTER, work,” said a striking student worker from China. Hundreds of young people from Nigeria, China and Eastern Europe walked off their jobs at a Hershey’s plant in Pennsylvania on August 18 to protest conditions.

They had been required to pay $3000 to $6000 each for 2-month visas to work in the U.S., practice English and experience American culture.

Thanks to their strike, they ARE learning English. Together they came up with chants and protest slogans – in English.

When they arrived in Pennsylvania, these 400 young people found themselves working round-the-clock on a fast moving assembly line, boxing and packing Kit-Kats, Reece’s and Almond Joys.

So much “rent” and “program fees” were being deducted from their checks, they would never get out of debt. When students got “clued in” by Pennsylvania neighbors that they were being overcharged on rent, this was the last straw.

One young person from Turkey had originally been excited to work at Hershey’s. “We have all seen [the movie Willy Wonka and] Charlie’s chocolate factory.... We thought, ‘This is good.’”

Perhaps a better preparation would have been to watch that old I Love Lucy episode about speed-up at the chocolate factory!

Attempting to cover up, Rick Anaya, the CEO of The Council for Educational Travel (which runs this “cultural program” for the U.S. State Department), wound up saying more than he had intended. In the New York Times on 8/19/11 he said the program’s goal of shaping foreign young people’s views of the U.S. was being met. “Most certainly they will have improved ... their understanding of America.”

Yes, indeed! These strike participants have learned about speed up, exploitation, and the need for workers of the world to unite and fight – priceless!

Ford Workers Have a Better Way

Aug 22, 2011

Ford workers had a better idea in 2009 – they didn’t accept the arbitration clause. And they didn’t go along with the argument that they had no choice – because the “pattern” had been set at GM and Chrysler. They ran the top International union officials out of the plants, and the workers forced their own decision on the apparatus and on Ford management.

It’s obvious that in 2011, the UAW apparatus will try to put the Ford contract at the end – hoping to prevent Ford workers from repeating their 2009 NO vote. But why should they wait to see what the “pattern” will be at GM and Chrysler? Why should Ford workers feel bound by any “pattern” today?

The auto companies have made it clear that they intend to continue the concessions. Workers will throw those concessions back only if they prepare for a fight. That’s true at Ford, it’s true at GM, it’s true at Chrysler.

And if Ford workers prepare right now to make a fight, if they let it be known they won’t cave in, they can influence what happens at GM and Chrysler.

A Shrinking Standard of Living

Aug 22, 2011

In the eight years since the 2003 auto contracts, gasoline prices more than doubled, and fuel oil prices went up almost that much. Food prices went up at least 30%. Electric utility rates doubled. The average price of a new car went up by 20%.

BUT auto wages were practically frozen over those eight years. “First tier” workers – those hired before 2007 – had only one lousy 2% wage-rate increase in nine years’ time; with most cost-of-living payments suppressed.

Workers on the “second tier” – hired after 2007– earn so little that they are eligible for food stamps if they are supporting a spouse and two children. Many workers in the third, fourth and fifth tiers – working for contractors, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors – earn so little that many of them fall below the government’s tattered poverty line.

Retired auto workers have endured a 12-year freeze on their pensions. And they’ve seen their medical coverage put at risk in a severely underfunded VEBA, which is filled mostly with almost worthless company stock and IOU’s.

This is the bitter fruit of the UAW leadership’s “partnership” with the bosses: concessions that are deadly.

The governors of Wisconsin and Michigan, when demanding concessions from public workers, justified the demand by pointing to how much auto workers gave up!

Concessions are decimating the whole working class.

The “Middle Class” Fantasy

Aug 22, 2011

UAW leaders used to pretend that auto workers had a “middle class” standard of living. In fact, workers, with a few isolated exceptions, have never had an income that would put them “in the middle class” – whatever that term means. Through their struggles, they did win for themselves a standard of living that kept them out of poverty: maybe take a vacation occasionally, maybe go out to eat from time to time, maybe give their kids some help with school costs. They might “own” their own home, which meant to be indebted to the bank for all their working lives, and “own” a car, which meant paying on a car note from one car almost up to the next one. But most were still living from paycheck to paycheck, putting only a tiny bit aside for retirement.

Today, as a result of the concessions, even this meager standard of living is rapidly being destroyed for every worker.

Workers Should Not Pay for the Bosses’ Mess

Aug 22, 2011

In 2005, when the big push for concessions began, did these three companies have problems? Yes they did.

But if auto companies were running short of money, as they claimed, that’s because they gave so much away – to stockholders, to the banks, to executives. Between 1996 and 2007, Ford reported total profits of 23.8 billion dollars – BUT it gave away 29.2 billion in dividends or stock buy-backs, rewarding some of the wealthiest people in the country, including first of all, the Ford family. All three companies bought up other companies, including in countries around the world.

All three of these companies went into debt – even in the good years – in order to satisfy the greed of their biggest stockholders or owners. That debt came back to haunt them when the market for vehicle sales turned down.

None of this was the fault or the responsibility of the workers. And the workers should not have been the ones to pay for problems they didn’t create. The concessions of 2005, 2007 and 2009 were an outrageous rip-off – robbing the workers so these companies could keep on lavishing money on the wealthy class that owns them.

Now, in 2011, GM, Ford and Chrysler want to go on draining outrageous amounts of wealth from the workers’ labor for the benefit of wealthy stockholders and executives. That’s why concessions continue at the top of the companies’ agenda.

The Arbitration Trap
– Don’t Disarm Facing Your Enemy

Aug 22, 2011

Some people say that auto workers will not be able to stop the companies’ concessions drive this year because of a no-strike arbitration clause agreed to by the UAW in 2009 for the 2011 contracts at Chrysler and GM.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. That’s exactly how the 2011 contract will play out if GM or Chrysler workers respect the 2009 arbitration clause, believing there’s nothing they can do about it.

We can hear Bob King right now, saying, as he presents a lousy new contract for a vote, “It’s the best we could get – otherwise it goes to arbitration, which will produce a worse deal.”

UAW bureaucrats also tried to get this clause attached to concessions the union wanted to push on Ford workers in the fall of 2009. But Ford workers didn’t cave in facing that pressure then – they refused to ratify the deal. And GM and Chrysler workers don’t have to go along with it.

What would Bob King say if GM or Chrysler workers had the temerity to vote down the contract anyway? Would he call for a re-vote, threatening arbitration if they didn’t change their vote? You bet he would – that is, he would if he thought he could get away with it. And would he send it to arbitration if he couldn’t con them into a “Yes” vote? He sure would – if he thought the workers would accept the arbitration.

But all that finally depends on what the workers do, doesn’t it? Do they make the auto bosses and the UAW bureaucracy understand they aren’t going for it?

Contracts written on a piece of paper have no weight unless all the parties respect them.

Workers know full well how little the bosses respect the contracts they sign. For the past 22 years, GM, Ford and Chrysler have been breaking one promise after another about keeping or increasing jobs.

And workers know how little the UAW top leadership respects the workers’ decisions – overriding them, for example, when workers voted against the old Modern Operating Agreements at some Chrysler plants or the Competitive Operating Agreements at some GM and Ford plants.

When Ford workers voted down the second 2009 concessions, UAW leaders immediately threatened to push through a re-vote – until they heard the reaction and realized that Ford workers would tear them up!

So why, today, should GM or Chrysler workers respect this lousy piece of paper extorted from them in 2009 while the government held the bogus threat of a fake bankruptcy over their heads? Tear it up! Why should any worker agree to disarm in the face of their enemy?

Beware of the Handshake

Aug 22, 2011

Did you catch the coverage of the opening days of contract talks? At Chrysler, company executives and union bureaucrats, were wearing the same shirts! You couldn’t tell who was Company and who was Union.

And by what they say, you can’t tell the difference, either!