Nov 14, 2016
UAW President Williams appeared on the front page of Detroit papers just two days after the elections, saying that he hopes to work with Trump on dismantling the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
No one should be surprised at what appears to be a new UAW embrace of Trump’s policies. In fact, the UAW and other unions laid the groundwork for Trump’s victory. For decades, not just years, the UAW tried to persuade workers that the reason for loss of U.S. jobs is the movement of work to Mexico, or the building of “foreign” cars in the U.S.
They never admit that the single largest reason for loss of auto jobs is the bosses’ speedup of U.S. auto plants. They have one worker doing the work of two and more, while the other worker is thrown in the street. Impossible shifts grind down some workers while others sit idle.
The UAW leadership has led no struggles, has held no protests, against these killing conditions. They tell workers they must accept it, and that if they don’t, then the jobs will go out of the country. They tell workers they must compete for lower wages and then still lower wages. It is so much easier for them to call Mexican and other workers the problem for “taking our jobs.”
Harder to tell the workers the truth. There are no jobs that are ours. The companies will go wherever they can realize a greater profit. Their workforce is international. Look at the jobs they have recently added in the U.S. With the UAW’s cooperation, increasing numbers of auto jobs are paid at less than half of what they were 20 years ago or are temporary jobs.
Trump promised to bring jobs back to places like Macomb County. But he never promised that they would be paid at decent wages, with decent hours and decent benefits. Trump is disgusting in his easy campaign trickery, but who can expect more from an unscrupulous big boss? On the other hand, for the UAW leadership to support empty promises and sleight-of-hand is worse, because it traps workers in a dead-end policy.