The Spark

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

Rally against concessions at the downtown Detroit auto show

Jan 16, 2006

On Sunday, January 8th, a rally and march of workers took place near the North American International Auto Show in downtown Detroit. The protest itself was originally proposed by a core of workers from Delphi, who were the first to come under the onslaught of concessionary attacks proposed, first by Delphi, then GM, and Ford in this past half year. After holding strategy meetings bringing workers from different locations together to different cities over the past several months, they brought their protest to the Bosses’ big Auto Show party under a Soldiers of Solidarity banner, to show their opposition to the attacks on health care and wages.

There may not have been as many people as the organizers had hoped. The local newspapers reported that 500 people were in attendance. But these 500 reflect changing attitudes in the plants.

A number of the protesters were people who have been active for years and years – which is not a surprise. Certainly there have continued to be unionists and revolutionary militants who have held up the workers’ banner and maintained something over the years when it has been quiet. Without them, there would be nothing today.

But now, there seem to be more people – militants from different locals throughout the country, who want to do something – as evidenced by the fact that people came from a range of places, some coming from as faraway as California and Virginia, as well as Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, to participate in this protest.

While the core of the march and rally were Delphi workers, there were also workers from Ford, GM, Chrysler, Visteon, American Axle and state and city workers.

This protest was the first time in a very long time where auto workers have publicly expressed their anger. There need to be more protests, and larger protests as well as other ways for workers to express their refusal to give up more concessions. But in order to get there, someone has to start. And this definitely was a start.