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

Same Exploitation on Both Sides of the Ocean

Sep 4, 2023

This article is translated from the August 25 issue #2873 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Stellantis decided to invest $100 million in the U.S. to mine lithium, which is critical for electric car batteries. Stellantis was formerly Chrysler, Fiat, and other automakers.

The company claims its process will pollute less than other ways of getting lithium. But the company’s enthusiasm isn’t for the environment. Auto companies are not the best institutions to speak about saving the environment!

No, the reason is much more “capitalist.” The U.S. government has implemented many protectionist tariffs and incentive policies under the Inflation Reduction Act. To benefit from the gifts the government offers to companies which stay on American soil, manufacturers must prove that their resources were extracted in America and that their batteries are manufactured there. Stellantis expects its new investment to be profitable and to let it keep one foot in the U.S. market.

Overall, the growth of the electric car is happening without any real plan for the necessary raw materials, the production of charging stations, and the disposal and storage of used batteries. This is the anarchy of capitalism in all its glory. In this context, Stellantis hopes to guarantee its future profits by locking in its lithium supply.

So, with profit in mind, Stellantis aims to drastically attack working conditions in its vehicle factories and future battery manufacturing plants. Management wants to impose low wages, less leave time, worse medical coverage, and to use more temporary workers. Once more the company is rolling out an environmentalist justification to try to mask these attacks. Under the pretext that switching to electric vehicles is expensive, management tells workers to tighten their belts. But this year again the corporation anticipates reaping huge profits. In the first half of 2023, the company made 10.9 billion dollars in net profit, 37% more than in the first half of 2022.

American workers are right not to accept these attacks. The bosses’ money—generated by workers in all its factories—should be used for jobs and wages.