Jun 18, 2012
At a Chrysler assembly plant near Detroit, management issued an edict forbidding napping on break time. To make their point, they picked out a popular worker, claimed she was napping, wrote her up and gave her five days off.
It shows how far the onslaught on workers has gone. When the boss of one of the biggest companies in the country – an auto company – can dictate to you what you can do on your own break time, it might as well be slavery.
Over the past decade, auto bosses have led the corporate drive to stretch out the working day while paying less for labor. It’s not enough that new hires are two-tier, paid at half of the customary wage, and denied customary benefits like full health care and pensions. It’s not enough that regiments of temporary and contract workers replace full-time, permanent employees. Nearly half of all vehicles are now produced in assembly plants where workers put in ten-hour days at straight time. In a few more years, all of them will be. The eight-hour day is gone.
With the 10-hour day, the bosses also impose shift work in its most inhuman form. Three crews, two shifts, ten hour days, is the new ideal for the profiteers. GM has more assembly plants running around the clock than did the entire auto industry from 2000 through 2009. “It’s never been that high,” says an analyst; “they are absolutely going to maximize their brick-and-mortar as much as possible.”
In this screwed up capitalist society, the needs of brick and mortar – in reality the desire for more profit – come before workers’ rights to a normal life and decent health.
In fact, the bosses have always put profit first. But today, after years with few struggles, their grasping after profit is practically unfettered.
They will continue to impose more and more outrageous demands until workers refuse to go along with the bosses’ every whim.
Things cannot get better until the workers themselves make them better.