Jan 24, 2005
On Friday, January 21, UAW leaders organized a demonstration at Ford World Headquarters, near Detroit, protesting the company plans to build a new mid-size Lincoln in Hermosillo, Mexico rather than at an assembly plant in Wixom, Michigan. About 600 union officials and workers were there. At present, Wixom's future is uncertain, since the luxury Lincoln models built there are slated to be built in Ford's Atlanta plant next year.
Certainly there should be a demonstration when workers are threatened with losing their jobs – one which leads to a fight.
Workers throughout Ford Motor Company have lost jobs steadily over the years – not primarily because car production has shifted to Mexico or any other Ford plant, for that matter. The company has pushed to increase worker productivity for years, and the UAW International has accepted this push, even going so far as to inscribe cuts to the work force in the contract, which calls for only one worker to be hired to replace every two or three who retire or quit. This push for productivity – that is, speed-up – has meant a loss of 900,000 UAW jobs. In 1979, the UAW had 1.5 million members. It's down to about 600,000 members today.
So yes, a fight needs to be made!
There was no fight in 2002 when Ford stopped production of the Lincoln Continental at Wixom, cut one of the plant's two shifts, and transferred 900 workers to other plants, including to the Dearborn Truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
If this demonstration leads to a real fight, good. But Wixom workers better watch out. We've seen it before that Ford promised to keep a plant open – only if workers accepted more concessions and more speed-up. And the UAW International pushed for it, calling it a victory.
Nothing short of Ford workers using their power to stop production will force Ford's hand. That would be a serious fight to propose.