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
Aug 1, 2022
The following is a reprint of a letter addressed to all delegates of the 38th Constitutional Convention of the United Auto Workers by Gary Walkowicz, delegate, eight-term elected UAW representative, now retired from the Dearborn Truck (Ford) plant, Local 600.
We know that some of our former UAW leaders, for their own personal gain, have betrayed the trust of the members. We should be glad these leaders are gone. But whatever corruption existed in the union, we would be better off if we had found the way to root it out ourselves, rather than having the government intervene in the union. Government interference in any union is not about finding corruption. If the government really wanted to get rid of corruption, they would start with the corporate world and the government itself where there is much more corruption than what happened in the UAW. Government interference in a union is about getting control over the union, standing in the way of any fight. It happened with the Teamsters. And look at what just happened when a Democratic president stepped in to stop a strike by railroad workers.
This Convention needs to be about deciding the direction our union will take. At the last 3 Constitutional Conventions, I ran for UAW International President. I ran in order to raise issues about the policies of our union, specifically the policy of “partnership” with the corporations that our leadership followed. I ran because my goal was to change the policies of our union.
I would have run again for the same reason, but the President and the International Executive Board have interpreted the Constitution to say that retirees are not eligible to run. But whether I run or not, I believe that what is important for this Convention is that we look at and discuss where this policy of “partnership” has gotten us.
Decades ago, UAW members went on strikes to gain yearly wage increases and COLA that at least partially protected workers against inflation. Autoworkers often led the way for manufacturing workers to gain a higher standard of living. We pulled other workers up with us. Today, after years of concessions, UAW members, like all workers, are seeing our standard of living falling as inflation rages. We have pulled other workers down with us. Today, starting wages for 2nd-tier autoworkers have fallen down to, or even below, pay levels compared to jobs that were always considered low-wage jobs. We can’t keep going in this direction.
Our policies have to change. The corporations are not our partners; they are our enemies. They are the ones who are driving down our standard of living. We have to begin to prepare our fellow workers and organize now for a fight against these corporate bosses. That fight will happen when workers are ready to fight. But when it happens, we have to make that fight as strong as possible. It can’t be just a small fight, contained within government-imposed limits. We have to find the way to spread that fight to as many workers as possible, in as many workplaces and industries as possible. That is how fights were made when the unions were organized in the first place. It has to happen again.