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

Auto Contract Is Settled. Then Came the Layoffs

Jan 1, 2024

The ink was barely dry on the UAW contract with the Big Three auto companies when the companies announced that they plan to lay off several thousand workers. Stellantis said they were going to lay off workers at plants in Toledo, Ohio and Detroit. GM said they planned layoffs at plants in Lansing and Lake Orion, Michigan. After ratification, Ford announced that they planned layoffs at the Dearborn Stamping Plant.

What an outrageous slap in the face! The majority of workers voted to ratify a contract that contained some raises, only to be told a few days later that the company was planning to take away some of their jobs. A raise doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have a damn job!

What, did the leadership of the UAW know in advance about these layoffs? They certainly did not propose a fight against the layoffs, or even denounce them. They did not even propose to file unfair labor charges, as if the company misled them. The union leadership only said that the workers will have some protection because they can draw SUB pay, along with unemployment. But SUB pay is not full pay and certainly won’t pay all your bills. And there is no guarantee that laid-off workers will ever get their jobs back.

The response of the new UAW leadership to these layoffs was the same as the old UAW leadership. They both accept the right of the corporations to run their business however they want, and to lay workers off whenever they want.

But what gives corporations the right to put their profits ahead of workers’ lives and livelihoods? Workers do all the work. We have every right to impose our rights on the bosses.

For years, the auto companies have taken away thousands of jobs by eliminating some jobs and adding the work on to the rest of the workers. If the auto bosses today say they don’t need as many workers, then put the jobs back and make the workloads reasonable. Keep everyone working.

A fight against speedup and against layoffs would take a different policy than what we have seen by union leaders today. But it is a fight that workers have every reason to make.