The Spark

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

Auto talks:
Companies create campaign of fear

Jul 23, 2007

On July 20, the United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders officially began this year’s Big Three contract negotiations. The contract deadline is September 14.

But the companies have already been doing their negotiating for a long time. While the workers have been manufacturing millions of vehicles, the bosses have been manufacturing all manner of lies with smoke and mirrors. In executives’ interviews, in the reports of their bankers and stock analysts, in endless drivel from corporate-owned media, the auto companies have waged a long campaign of scare stories, all calculated to convince workers that there is no choice but to give concessions in this contract.

The companies hide their true financial condition and resources in order to pretend that their condition is shaky, bankruptcies are near, and workers must “help out” or else risk losing all their jobs. What lies! There is no real distress in the gold-and-platinum-plated corporate world.

To make matters worse, many of the top UAW officers repeat company stories and give the impression that they, too, believe the workers have little choice but to give concessions. For example, just before the negotiations opened, a UAW vice-president said that Ford might go bankrupt in a few years if something wasn’t done.

The entire show is to convince workers to go along with concessions instead of fighting back.

Workers are being told to look at Delphi. Delphi went “bankrupt,” and workers had to take wage cuts of 50%! So Ford, GM and Chrysler workers will be told to be glad their sacrifices won’t be that big.

Or, workers will be told to look at Dana. Dana went “bankrupt,” and workers had to take a medical-care VEBA that is inadequately funded. So Ford, GM and Chrysler workers will be told to be glad to accept a better-funded VEBA.

But even if the bosses and their partners are trying hard to convince workers to give up some wages and some benefits, there remain many workers who are not at all convinced. The final Delphi contract was rejected by a third of the Delphi workers and by most of those who weren’t temporaries. And earlier, after health-care concessions against Big Three retirees were rejected by 49.9% of Ford workers, the deal was not even brought to a vote at Chrysler.

Workers’ opposition is far under-reported in the corporate media. But it exists, it exists in large numbers, and when these workers begin to express their determination to resist concessions, they can draw behind them others. The large majority have reason to fight. Auto workers have given up far too much already.