The Spark

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

GM took workers’ concessions
– to bid on Chrysler!

Apr 2, 2007

Among the rumored bidders for Chrysler Group is none other than General Motors!

That’s right, the same GM that in 2005 was crying and moaning about how broke it was, about how it was on the verge of collapse.

GM then turned to its old partner, the compliant, eager and willing UAW bureaucracy, and got it to agree to re-open the contract. Together, GM and the UAW bureaucracy rammed through a $1 an hour pay cut from active workers, and took pension money away from retirees by increasing their health care costs, up to $752 a year. Finally, GM got the UAW bureaucrats to agree to change the way retiree health benefits are funded. No longer would the company guarantee health benefits. Instead, retiree health benefits are to be paid out of what is known as a VEBA fund – which runs out.

And now, its appetite whetted by what it took from the workers and retirees just two years ago, GM is on a new campaign to gain a whole new round of concessions in a new contract, claiming yet again that it won’t otherwise survive.

Yet at the same time, this same company is in some kind of a bidding competition with Wall Street hedge funds and investment companies to gobble up Chrysler!

How arrogant and naked their drive for profits at the workers’ expense!

The bidding competition to buy up Chrysler also proves something else: that Chrysler is not as broke as it claims either. Not by a long shot. No, Chrysler is playing the same game as GM. Chrysler is bursting with wealth and resources and cash. That is why so many companies are circling it like vultures.

Any potential buyer of Chrysler, whether GM or one of the private funds, is not looking to sink a lot of money into the company to boost production and jobs. They are not buying it in order to support and improve products, markets, and jobs.

If one of those private investment companies gets hold of it, it will look to do the exact opposite: to “restructure” one more time, that is, rip it apart, piece by piece, close down or sell off what isn’t highly profitable. And if GM gets hold of it, it will close down production of competing products and play the workers of both companies against each other.

In other words, all of the attacks against auto workers over the years will accelerate: more workers’ pensions disappearing, more wage and benefit cuts, the pace of work speeded up intensely. Meanwhile the financial and corporate hogs feast on higher profits, fees and dividends. It’s what all the bidders are counting on.

Of course, there is always the possibility that DaimlerChrysler won’t sell off Chrysler after all, and it is just trying to use this sound and fury over selling Chrysler as a way to try to extort greater concessions in the upcoming contract negotiations.

But no matter what, it is a carefully rigged game to make it look like workers have few options, other than to make the best of two bad choices. Either take a low-ball buyout and get some little money to use as a stake while looking for a new job. Or else hang onto your job and hope the new boss won’t cut back too far. Either way, it’s a loss.

But the workers don’t just have two options, both of them bad. We have a third option: That is to dig in our heels and say “No!” to this rigged game. Not one more layoff or job cut, and not one more concession. That is, we have to show we are ready to fight. And when one group of auto workers starts to make a fight, that fight can be taken up by the other auto workers, as well as workers in all the other industries where the bosses are carrying out the same attacks, or even worse ones, in steel, the airlines, etc.

It is time, past time, to stop the bosses’ concession drive. It is time for the working class to organize together to begin our own counter offensive.