May 8, 2006
About 1000 people attended an April 29 rally in Lansing, Michigan, to demonstrate support for Delphi workers facing disastrous wage and benefit concessions. The majority of the crowd was made up of 600 rank and file auto workers and their families. The crowd also included about 200 UAW union representatives from other workplaces and about 200 additional people pushing only the Democratic Party agenda.
It was a rally that never would have happened without the efforts of Delphi workers who are organized to fight concessions as Soldiers of Solidarity. They pushed the UAW leadership to sponsor a rally before federal bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain considers Delphi’s request to cancel labor agreements.
A regional director in mid-Michigan agreed to sponsor the protest and publicize it. But once UAW officials headed it, the rally that the workers ended up with was not the rally workers had envisioned. They had wanted to demand government relief from corporate greed. What they got was a rally cheer-leading the very Democratic Party that sides with the corporations against the workers.
Speeches by Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow bashed imports and President Bush. The message boiled down to the same thing. Sit back and wait for the Democrats to save you.
The powerful need for workers to continue to organize themselves to fight against the companies’ vicious attacks was never mentioned. There was no message congratulating workers for the brave fight they have been waging so far. The politicians and their union official friends might just as well have said “Stop what you have been doing so far and vote for Democrats in November.” Fortunately the majority of workers were not hearing this message.
Most workers at the rally – while happy to bash Bush – were not impressed with the Democrats’ speeches. The crowd response was just the bare minimum polite applause. But speaking with each other, workers were vocal about their disgust. The majority of the crowd was not happy with what the rally turned into – nor fooled by it.
Homemade signs in the crowd said it better than any of the speeches. Signs like: “Honor Contracts: NO CONCESSIONS,” “Delphi: Morally Bankrupt Too!” “The Rich Get Richer,” and “The Government Has Failed to Stop Corporate Greed! Do Your Job!”
The auto workers who came saw that the politicians have nothing to do with the fight that is in front of workers right now. They were right. The more Delphi workers rely on themselves to organize their own rallies and all aspects of their struggle from beginning to end, the better results they will get.