The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

A Shrinking Standard of Living

Aug 22, 2011

In the eight years since the 2003 auto contracts, gasoline prices more than doubled, and fuel oil prices went up almost that much. Food prices went up at least 30%. Electric utility rates doubled. The average price of a new car went up by 20%.

BUT auto wages were practically frozen over those eight years. “First tier” workers–those hired before 2007–had only one lousy 2% wage-rate increase in nine years’ time; with most cost-of-living payments suppressed.

Workers on the “second tier”–hired after 2007–earn so little that they are eligible for food stamps if they are supporting a spouse and two children. Many workers in the third, fourth and fifth tiers–working for contractors, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors–earn so little that many of them fall below the government’s tattered poverty line.

Retired auto workers have endured a 12-year freeze on their pensions. And they’ve seen their medical coverage put at risk in a severely underfunded VEBA, which is filled mostly with almost worthless company stock and IOU’s.

This is the bitter fruit of the UAW leadership’s “partnership” with the bosses: concessions that are deadly.

The governors of Wisconsin and Michigan, when demanding concessions from public workers, justified the demand by pointing to how much auto workers gave up!

Concessions are decimating the whole working class.