The Spark

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

GM concessions:
Workers don’t have to accept these big cuts!

Oct 24, 2005

The leaders of the UAW have agreed to give concessions to GM – the biggest ever!

GM wants $2,080 taken back from a scheduled 2006 wage increase. It wants retirees to pay – for the first time ever – part of their health care premium, as well as bigger co-payments for prescription drugs and a bigger deductible.

What’s even worse is a proposal that can lead to losses of future retiree health benefits. A set amount of money is to be paid into a so-called “VEBA” account.Want to know what that means? Just look at what happened to “VEBA” funds at Caterpillar and Detroit Diesel. The funds ran out and retirees’ health care was cut off.

Wall Street experts hired by the UAW support GM’s claim that it is in bad shape. The company just announced a third-quarter loss, bringing its losses to almost four billion dollars so far in 2005.

What baloney! The so-called “experts” hired to look over the books obviously missed 55 BILLION dollars the company has in cash and marketable securities! The experts ignored the huge salaries and bonuses the company’s top executives have been giving themselves year after year – even while claiming that GM is losing out to its competition!

And they never questioned why GM would want to give up control of GMAC – its cash cow.

So what if GM lost money this year? It’s still the biggest industrial company in the country. And the biggest capitalists in this country still invest millions of dollars to buy GM stock. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t have confidence in the company’s future.

This attack is not just against GM workers or even all auto workers. When GM workers give up concessions, the cuts trickle down and everyone loses out.

There is a big assault going on against the working class today. Companies are in a mad rush to cut wages and benefits, to dump pensions.That’s what the airlines are doing right now. Threatening bankruptcy, airlines have gotten union leaders to agree to job and pay cuts. Of course, the courts let them also forget their pension obligations. It’s a winning scheme – or, rather, scam – for the capitalists!

We’re facing an attack by the entire capitalist class on the entire working class. And as long as workers try to defend themselves one company at a time, by trying to make their company “competitive,” as many union leaders claim they have to, they have no chance of turning the tide.

Don’t tell us these companies are in bad shape. The wealthy class that owns them is richer today than it was ten years ago – and the working class is poorer. Today the top 1% of the whole population owns 34% of the country’s wealth. This is a near record.

And now they want more – even greater profits and wealth – to come from the cuts that companies are making in workers’ jobs, wages and benefits.

There is only one way out for workers: to stand firm and say NO every time a company comes asking for concessions. If workers at one company or in one industry can stand their ground, they will show that someone is ready to stand up to the companies. That can encourage other workers to make a fight.

What better place to start than at GM, the biggest industrial corporation in the country!