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
Jun 6, 2022
Ford recently made a big public relations announcement about expanded production of electric vehicles, and, supposedly, more jobs. At the same time, Ford said they would convert 3,000 temporary workers to full-time status—before the UAW contract required the company to do so. And Ford said that future new hires would get medical benefits on their first day, instead of waiting 90 days, as the contract says.
What the hell? Is Ford suddenly trying to treat workers better? Are they doing this out of the goodness of their heart? Hardly. The truth is that the pay and benefits for new workers and temporary workers at Ford has become so bad that the company has a hard time finding and keeping new workers. Young workers can find jobs elsewhere with the same or better pay and benefits—jobs that aren’t as physically and mentally taxing as working on an auto assembly line.
This goes to show how much the autoworkers organized in the UAW have lost during the past years of concessions. At one time, autoworkers had pay and benefits that made a job in auto something that many in the working class looked to get. It took many strikes over many years, but autoworkers gained a standard of living that put them at a level above most other working-class jobs. Autoworkers hired in at full pay for full-time jobs and a pension after 30 years. The UAW once led the way for other workers to fight for similar pay and benefits. But especially since the early 2000s, the auto companies, with help from the current union leadership, pushed through 2-tier wages, no pensions, and temporary work for new hires. Today getting hired at Ford, GM or Stellantis is no better, or even worse, than working for Amazon, Target or Uber.
What Ford is giving those workers today is just the minimum of what the company feels they need to do to keep workers around. It’s nothing compared to what autoworkers once had and what they still need. Autoworkers in the past found the way to fight for a better standard of living and they have the power to do it today.