The Spark

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

Office workers strike the UAW-Daimler Chrysler National Training Center

Dec 17, 2001

On November 27th, two weeks after their contract expired, clerical, secretarial and mailroom workers organized in the Office and Professional Employees International Union went out on strike against their employer, the NTC. What is distinct about this strike is the employer. The NTC is a joint program of the UAW and Daimler Chrysler.

The main issues of the strike were wages – these workers wanted the same 3% per year that workers at the Big 3 get – and the right to use their seven personal days a year as they want, without facing penalties.

Grievances by these support staff workers extend beyond the issue of wages and personal time. They include the fact that the NTC refused to allow three maintenance workers to join their union earlier this fall – with, according to Local 512's chief steward, the refusal being pushed by the UAW’s associate co-director of the NTC!

According to some of the striking workers and their local officers, these issues are the very same grievances that the UAW has denounced in some of its fights with companies.

Like all bosses, the UAW claims the NTC can’t afford to give wage increases. One OPEIU union rep was told by a UAW rep that the NTC can’t grant wage increases because “it’s UAW members’ money. ”

He must have been laughing when he said it – given the money the NTC has expended on politicians and perks for the people who run the NTC. Almost 40% of the NTC budget, for example, goes to management expenses. Nearly $9,000 went to buy wine for a reception of the Democratic National Convention in 2000. Hundreds of thousands, if not into the millions, are spent on sponsoring NASCAR stock car race teams each year. The NTC sends thousands of people to meetings in Las Vegas each year; and hundreds of UAW officials to a plush resort in Palm Springs. The list of how the “UAW members’ money” is spent, goes on and on.

Like bosses everywhere, the NTC seems to have money for everything... but the people who do the work.