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

Auto Contract:
Workers Show Their Anger

Sep 28, 2015

Sergio Marchionne for Chrysler and top UAW officials negotiated a new contract, which reduces the cost of labor and increases profit for the companies. They tried to sell the contract by pretending it answered the workers’ demands, which it didn’t. And they soon discovered that workers were displeased and expressed that displeasure by voting NO. Half way through the vote, the contract is being turned down by a comfortable margin, but there are still plants that haven’t voted. As many workers have seen in the past, the leadership of this union has very many ways to steal a vote. Nothing is yet sure.

The following articles about the Chrysler contract are reprinted from the SPARK newsletters at Chrysler’s Warren Truck plant and the Ford Rouge plant:

Sergio’s Wish List ...

  1. Tier One should be a dying class? Check.
  2. A new maximum rate of $25 established for the auto industry? Check.
  3. Auto workers need to get used to a “culture of poverty”? Check. Especially when we have to pay medical costs with the new co-op plan.

Tier 2: Bridge to Nowhere

When Two Tier was introduced, all the companies promised to transfer Tier 2 workers into Tier 1 when their numbers exceeded 25 percent of the workforce.

The 2009 bankruptcy deal at Chrysler suspended that, but it promised that on Sept. 15, 2015, the 25% cap would be applied and everyone over 25% would be immediately made Tier 1. TO DATE ABOUT FORTY FIVE PERCENT OF CHRYSLER’S WORKFORCE ARE TIER 2 WORKERS.

That promise is now forgotten. Now, according to this contract, NO Tier 2 workers will EVER get to Tier 1.

Tier 1 Is Left Behind

Tier 1 workers get tiny raises and two lump sums. For 10 years, Tier 1 gave up all raises and cost of living. To get back to where they were, they need a base rate of over $36. Right now.

Highly taxed lump sums and bonuses don’t begin to make it up.

What Did We Lose Without 3% Wage Increases?

So after 10 years of not getting a raise, workers are supposed to be happy with two 3% raises?! Three percent raises used to be the standard every year. If our three per cents had remained in place, the hourly rate for Tier 1 production workers, without overtime, would have been

2012: $29.36

2013: $30.24

2014: $31.14

2015: $32.08.

So in the last four years, first tier production workers have made $18,325.57 less in wages without a 3% yearly wage increase.

In the same time, skilled trades workers have made $20,897.58 less in wages without a 3% wage increase.

Don’t Sign a Blank Check

The Contract Highlights do NOT explain changes to workers’ health insurance.

As one worker put it, “If it’s a secret, YOU KNOW IT’S A PROBLEM!”

No Provision for Big Layoffs

Moving all the products around to different plants will mean big layoffs, as jobs are eliminated in the new engineering. Long-term layoffs.

Nothing at all was put in this contract to help the ones who will be eliminated.

Sergio’s Time—NO! Make It Our Time!

This contract is Sergio’s contract, written by his little helpers downtown.

The truth is that “our time” will never come, until we, the general workforce, make it come. We ourselves have to figure out how to make a plan and stick together, strong enough to squeeze Sergio and his little helpers, squeeze them harder than they are squeezing us.

That’s a tall order and very difficult. But this contract proves there is no other way out.