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

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.”