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

Telling the Big Lie, to See What It Can Get

Aug 29, 2005

General Motors knows advertising. Their "employee discount for everyone" campaign boosted their sales to record levels.

At the same time, GM left no publicity stone unturned, endlessly repeating how badly the company is doing and–its real point–how much it wants concessions from its workers.

GM is relying on the old saying, tell a big lie often enough and people start to believe it. GM is the world’s biggest industrial corporation. Its profits–after expenses and after taxes–are always enough to pay, every year, $2.00 per share in dividends to its stockholders–most of whom are the wealthy, or the big banks and investment firms. In only the past five years, GM has made the rich richer by about 20 billion dollars.

But those rich shareholders want MORE, and GM is trying hard to oblige, pressuring the workers–who create all these riches–to give up even more of their wages, benefits, and jobs.

And who do we find helping to increase GM’s pressure? None other than the workers’ union leaders.

At an August leadership convention in Chicago, UAW Vice-president Richard Shoemaker had a special meeting with local union presidents from GM. He reportedly told the presidents about GM’s "myriad problems," prompting one local president to tell the Detroit News, "He’s come to the consensus that we have to do something. He’s just in a quandary about what that something is." It was very clear that the "something" would not involve a fight for the workers to keep their wages and benefits safe from marauding banks and investment firms!

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger publicly makes strong-sounding statements that he won’t re-open the GM contract. But in lesser-reported moves, the UAW already has relieved GM of its contractual responsibility to pay for filling 6800 jobs. And according to a UAW memo of June 2005, the UAW has let GM know it is willing to give up 12.7 billion dollars in health care benefits. Active workers and retirees can take that as a warning about what’s involved in Shoemaker’s "something."In fact, by proposing concessions without formally re-opening the contract, UAW leaders make their deals without risking a vote of the workers. But a vote is not the best way to stop these attacks.

It’s the labor of those workers which creates every dime of every billion dollars that GM hands over to banks, investment firms, and executives. That money can stay with the workers just as well as it can go to the parasites. And with more reason.

And the workers will have it–when they apply enough persuasion, en masse.