Apr 11, 2016
When Ford Motor Company recently announced plans to build a new plant in Mexico, presidential candidate Donald Trump and the UAW’s President Dennis Williams appeared to be in competition for who could gain the most political mileage out of the situation.
With emotional denouncements of Ford Motor Company, they both spoke about how shocked they were, and what a terrible decision this was, and so on, and so on. In reality, they both understand and accept capitalism’s rules for manufacture and sale of products like vehicles, and neither of them are “shocked” by it.
UAW President Williams, for one, just finished a set of negotiations in which Ford plans to move small vehicle production to Mexico was a foundation piece for obtaining minimal increases in first and second tier auto worker wages in the U.S. In addition, union officials negotiated job protections for workers at plants in the U.S. that would lose the production of small cars, and negotiated to replace that work with larger scale vehicles. The UAW knew full well the tradeoff: Ford will take a higher profit on small cars by building them in Mexico where wages are $7.79 per hour, while U.S. auto worker wages are $37.38 per hour and Canadian wages are $39.04.
After all, the UAW does not take the position that all workers internationally are entitled to the same living wages. But in the end, it is the only way that workers anywhere will protect jobs and wage rates.
Donald Trump, obviously, will say almost anything to win election. In the most cynical manner, he promises that, if elected president, he will stop these deals and bring car production back to the U.S. He knows full well that this will not happen; after all, he is a capitalist himself who never hesitated to make the best profits on workers’ backs, including in other countries. But it is convenient for him to play on U.S. workers’ divisions – to appeal to the lowest attitudes of racism and nationalism – at least at this particular stage in the game.
Strange bedfellows, the UAW and Donald Trump? Not really. The unions, who have for years publicly blamed the workers of other countries for “stealing” so-called “American jobs” laid the foundation that Donald Trump is campaigning from today, and, with less fanfare but equally dishonest rhetoric, Bernie Sanders as well.
Snake-oil and lies, that is all they are offering.