The Spark

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

An Attack on Corruption, or an Attack on Our Contract?

Sep 16, 2019

The following statement was issued by Gary Walkowicz on September 3. Gary is a Bargaining Committeeman at UAW Local 600's Dearborn Truck Plant Unit in Dearborn, Michigan. He responds to the federal government’s attack on the UAW, and through this, on all unions. Gary is well known for his long opposition to the partnership policies of the union’s top leaders.

People know that for many years I have opposed the policies of the top UAW leadership. I ran against them at the UAW Convention. I have stood up at UAW Council meetings, often alone, to oppose concession contracts. I organized and called for “No” votes against 2-tier wages and all the takeaways. And if this next contract is another concession contract, I will oppose the leadership again.

But in the events of last week, where the federal government raided the houses of UAW president Gary Jones and others, I am standing with the union leadership because what I see here is not the government trying to get rid of corruption. What I see is the government trying to weaken the unions or intervene in the unions in order to benefit big business.

If any union leaders, top to bottom, are guilty of corruption, workers have every right to demand that they are gone and have every right to do something about it. But as for the raids last week, let’s remember that no one has been charged with anything. All we have is the government executing a raid, for the benefit of the media – RIGHT BEFORE OUR CONTRACT EXPIRES!

Does anyone believe that the timing of this raid is a coincidence?

The government, with help from the media, is trying to weaken the UAW in bargaining for our new contract.

The government has a history of using investigations of corruption to get control of a union and making it weaker. The federal government put the Teamsters union in receivership and Teamster workers are still feeling the effects today, with their pensions at risk. The government went after former Teamster president Ron Carey, because he led a militant strike at UPS, fighting against 2-tier. The government is for the bosses, not for the workers.

I know that many UAW members are angry. After years of concessions and with daily life in the plant getting harder, people are understandably angry when they hear about possible corruption, and about top union leaders taking privileges.

But the main problem with the union leadership today is not corruption. The main problem is the leadership not wanting to organize a real fight against the companies. Changes in our union are needed. But the government is not going to do it for us.

As union members, we have to be strong enough to straighten out our own house. And we have to deal with our real enemy, the bosses. And this is a good time to start, standing up so that we get a contract that we deserve.