The Spark

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

Strike over health care at GE

Jan 20, 2003

Some 20,000 General Electric workers went on a two-day strike against the company's rising health care costs. The strike took place at 48 factories in 23 states. GE is one of the very largest and most profitable corporations in the world.

A few hours after the strike began, Kjeston "Michelle" Rodgers was killed by a police car as she picketed in front of the giant GE Louisville plant.

It's right that workers act against companies imposing health care costs on them. Even at the biggest companies like General Electric, workers are having to contribute to the monthly premiums, pay more when they visit a doctor, for their medicines and pay large deductibles when they receive medical care. The entire working class is having its standard of living lowered by being forced to pay for increased health care.

This strike, while it shows that workers are angry over this issue, won't compel these companies to back off. It could be a start, however, but only if the strike spreads to other workers. It's not only GE that's involved here. The whole capitalist class is intent on gutting whatever medical insurance we have. If the unions are really serious about this issue they would propose to the whole working class – unionized and non-union – to begin a movement to shut it all down. And this would be a fitting tribute to Michelle Rodgers, killed on the GE picket line.