Jan 26, 2009
The United Auto Workers’ Chrysler department allowed Chrysler to suspend its Jobs Bank program. On January 26, all workers were to be laid off, pushed onto the state unemployment rolls.
About a thousand workers were cut off without any advance notice. The UAW’s action sent a message. In advance of deadlines set by the old Bush administration – in advance of any negotiations with the new Obama administration – UAW leaders signaled that they would play their part in the corporate agenda. They would help smooth the way for further concessions.
Gettelfinger was ostentatiously lining the union up with the “bankruptcy” scam – a campaign carried out by government and the auto industry to scare workers into believing they will lose their jobs, unless they give up big concessions.
Workers didn’t run the auto companies into the ground. The companies did it themselves.
But now that the capitalists face a crisis of their own making, they want workers’ sacrifices to bail them out, beginning with the auto workers. The bosses pretend there is no other choice.
Of course there’s another choice. Make the rich pay for their own bailouts!
It’s obvious that auto workers who want to resist can’t count on people like Gettelfinger. Giving up Jobs Bank protection for unemployed workers, giving it up ahead of time and without a fight, was Gettelfinger’s way to surrender before the fight even began.
But the auto workers represent a real force that could make the bosses pay for their crisis. If the 250 workers at Republic Window in Chicago could force Republic to pay what it owed, what couldn’t the 165,000 auto workers do?
The demand for concessions from auto workers is aimed at the whole working class. If auto workers give up without a fight, it will be a real setback for everyone. It’s important that auto workers who disagree with concessions make their opposition felt, and important that other workers join them.