Auto workers across the US are voting on proposed changes to 2007 UAW-Ford contract, which attacks the jobs, wages and benefits of 42,000 current workers and 186,000 retirees and dependents. The ratification process is scheduled to be completed by March 9.The Socialist Equality Party is calling for a rejection of this betrayal by the UAW and the mobilization of auto workers industrially and politically. We encourage auto workers and supporters to download and distribute this statement as widely as possible.
Ford workers should reject the sellout agreement negotiated by the United Auto Workers union and fight to mobilize the strength of all autoworkers against the attack on jobs, living standards and working conditions.
The deal signed by the UAW, coming on the heels of the 2007 concessions, will destroy the achievements of decades of struggle.
The agreement will eliminate cost-of-living raises and the lump sum bonuses the union said would offset the wage freeze it accepted in the last contract.
The UAW also agreed to eliminate overtime payments after eight hours, reduce break time and cut two paid holidays. The Jobs Bank will end and supplemental unemployment benefits will be capped at one year, just as the auto companies embark on an unprecedented wave of plant closings and mass layoffs.
By allowing Ford to fund half of its retiree health care obligations with virtually worthless stock, the deal ensures that 186,000 retirees and their dependents will see their health benefits slashed and their premiums and co-pays raised by thousands of dollars.
Autoworkers are not responsible for the crisis in the auto industry. They had no power over the decisions of the corporate executives and Wall Street investors who sacrificed the long-term health of the industry in order to boost share values and amass staggering levels of personal wealth.
The working class is not responsible for the breakdown of the capitalist system, which has created the worst global economic crisis since the 1930s.
For the last three decades-starting with the 1980 Chrysler bailout-autoworkers have given up one concession after another, culminating in the 2007 contract which cut wages in half and eliminated employer-paid pensions for new-hires. Now, UAW members are to work for the same or even lower wages than non-union autoworkers at the US plants owned by Toyota and other international companies.
Once again the UAW bureaucracy is claiming that massive concessions are needed to “save jobs.” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger says that without the concessions, “Ford cannot survive on a long-term basis.” But none of the “job-saving” contracts signed by the UAW has stopped plant closings and mass layoffs. Since 1978 nearly three-quarters of a million autoworkers have lost their jobs. At Ford, the hourly workforce has shrunk from 174,000 to 42,000.
General Motors has already announced plans to wipe out another 47,000 jobs, including 21,000 hourly and salaried positions in the US, and close 14 plants in North America and Europe. Chrysler and Ford are preparing their own downsizing plans to meet the drastic decline in car sales.
The money robbed from workers in previous concessions contracts was not used to bolster the health of the industry, but to fund stock buy-backs and other measures to boost share value and funnel billions into the bank accounts of corporate executives and big investors.
All the talk about “shared sacrifices” by the auto executives is a fraud. Ford CEO Alan Mulally is to take a cut in his base salary that will leave him with the “modest” figure of $1.4 million-some 28 times the pay of Ford workers. In 2007, Mulally’s total compensation package, mostly from bonuses, stock and stock options, came to $21.6 million.
He and the rest of the top executives will eventually recoup their “sacrifices” by reaping vast profits from a “restructured” auto industry, having dumped their pension and health care obligations, driven out higher paid veteran employees and hired new workers at half the wages.
The new concessions will be used to establish a lower benchmark for the next round of concessions demanded by GM, Ford, Chrysler and other global corporations. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ford will be “free to seek additional concessions from the UAW if GM and Chrysler-which must secure concessions to comply with terms of their government bailout loans-get better deals or file for bankruptcy.”
The Obama administration is functioning on behalf of the most ruthless sections of finance capital, which see this crisis as an opportunity to fundamentally and permanently shift class relations in the US. They aim to put an end to the so-called “middle class worker” who attained a modicum of economic security-a home, a pension and a college education for their children. The attack on autoworkers will be widened to encompass the entire working class.
This is clear from the collection of Wall Street bankers and asset strippers Obama has selected for his auto task force. They include Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a key architect of the Wall Street bailout, and White House economic advisor Lawrence Summers, who was treasury secretary in the Clinton administration. Both have opposed all but token restrictions on banks that receive taxpayer bailout funds, and both lobbied against limits on bank executive pay that were included in the stimulus bill passed by Congress.
They will be advised by Steven Rattner, a mergers and acquisitions expert who runs a multi-billion-dollar private equity firm, and Ron Bloom, another Wall Street financier. Bloom helped protect the interests of the steelworkers’ union bureaucracy as it worked with various financial sharks to “save” the steel industry, leaving tens of thousands of workers without jobs or pensions.
According to the Wall Street Journal, one scenario being considered is to drive the auto companies into Chapter 11 bankruptcy so they can sell off their profitable assets to big investors and dump their health care and pension obligations into the bankruptcy court.
At the same time, the White House is reserving the power to recall the government loans to GM and Chrysler and throw the companies into bankruptcy if workers carry out any strikes or walkouts.
The UAW is complicit in this attack. In exchange for its collaboration, the UAW will reportedly receive hundreds of millions of shares in common stock from Ford, making it the single largest shareholder in the company and qualifying the union bureaucracy for a seat on the board of directors. This will give the union a direct financial incentive to increase the exploitation of its own members.
The fact that the UAW is a union does not make it a workers’ organization. It has long since ceased defending the interests of the workers from whom it collects dues. For many years it has striven to reposition itself as a business enterprise so that the income and privileges of the union bureaucracy could be separated as much as possible from the fate of the workers it nominally represents.
Together with union-management corporatism, the UAW has promoted “Buy American” nationalism and anti-foreigner chauvinism to block any unified struggle with autoworkers in other countries, while demanding ever greater concessions in the name of making Detroit “competitive” with European and Asian automakers. The outcome of this policy is a fratricidal struggle pitting workers from different countries, states and even factories against each other.
Autoworkers must reject the blackmail being carried out by the auto bosses, the Obama administration and the UAW and launch a struggle to halt the destruction of their jobs and living standards. Such a struggle must be organized independently of the UAW through the setting up of committees of rank-and-file workers in the factories and of working people, youth and the unemployed in the communities.
A decisive stand by autoworkers will generate massive support from working people in the US and around the world, who are looking for a way to fight mass layoffs, home foreclosures and the continued bailout of the financial aristocracy.
Ford workers should launch a national strike and urge all workers at GM and Chrysler to join the fight, along with the tens of thousands of workers in the auto parts industry and non-union transplants. A special appeal should be made to workers in Canada, Latin America, Asia and Europe to join US workers in a common fight in defense of jobs and living standards.
This industrial fight must be guided by an entirely new political strategy and perspective. The crisis in auto is part and parcel of the failure of the capitalist system in the US and around the world. The only alternative that represents the interests of the working class is the fight for socialism.
This means mobilizing against the Obama administration and breaking decisively with the Democrats and Republicans-two parties of big business that are united in their efforts to make the working class pay for the crisis.
Workers need to be organized as an independent political force to advance their own solution to the crisis. The auto industry must be taken out of the hands of the corporate executives and financial speculators who have driven it into the ground, and transformed into a public utility, democratically owned and controlled by the working people themselves.
The trillions of dollars squandered on the Wall Street bankers must be recovered and used to retool the auto industry to build safe, affordable transportation, in cooperation with autoworkers around the world.
This is the socialist and internationalist perspective fought for by the Socialist Equality Party. We urge autoworkers looking for a way to fight the assault on jobs and living standards to take up the struggle for a socialist future and join the SEP.
February 28, 2009 archive
Feb 28 2009
Feb 28 2009
Obama Assesses Iraq Strategy, Challenges of New Presidency, this brings up the video’s.
After a major policy announcement that the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end next year, President Obama spoke with Jim Lehrer about Iraq, Afghanistan and the challenges of his new presidency. Watch the full interview on Friday’s NewsHour.
In a speech Friday at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, President Barack Obama set a timetable for U.S. combat troop withdrawal in Iraq by 2010. The president discusses his military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan with Jim Lehrer.
Almost completely forgot about this, they’re airing some of it now!
Feb 28 2009
This is worth reading and thinking about. It’s good were going, but three years is a long time to stay. I see Senators willing to speak up, where so many who claim to be gate crashers are silent.
MERKLEY STATEMENT ON OBAMA PLAN TO
WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM IRAQ
Washington, DC – Today, President Barack Obama outlined a plan to begin a phased withdraw of troops from Iraq, winding down active military engagement in that nation. Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement:
“Our national interests are not served by the war in Iraq. I applaud President Obama’s commitment to a solid plan for withdrawing our troops and ending the war.
“However, I have reservations about the extended 19 month schedule for the draw down and I am very concerned that the size of the remaining force would still be too great. It will be hard to argue that our military presence is ‘residual’ when it is comprised of as many as 50,000 Americans.
“I hope to work with the Obama Administration to truly end this war and bring our sons and daughters home safely.”
Thank you, Senator Merkely. Someday this man may lead a real movement for progressive change in America.
Feb 28 2009
Credo Mobile has a new petition here. Text of my comments sent to AG Holder:
A nation without the rule of law applied to ALL it’s citizens is a travesty of itself.
If nothing is done about this situation, it sends a clear signal to our citizenry and the rest of the world that our laws only apply to some, and that we are a nation of corruption and cowardice.
Bring this desecration of our Constitution and blatant contempt for our nation’s people, laws, and lawmakers to an end. IMMEDIATELY! This is not a request. This is a DEMAND – and it is a demand that should not bounce off you but should pass right through you straight to this first of many lawbreakers, with all the additional righteous anger of your own that you can muster!
We the people are behind you as we DEMAND that you do the right thing, the thing you are there to do, which is uphold the rule of law for ALL of us!
KEEP THE PRESSURE ON THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO BRING THESE CREEPS TO JUSTICE!
Feb 28 2009
As usual as Friday approaches, I start panicking because I haven’t a clue what to write about. That especially happens around midterm as we crawl towards Spring Break. On more week before refreshing can commence.
It is often the case, however, that events provide an idea. This one crystalized with plf515‘s morning offering, WGLB presents: Stereotype.
In my mind I teamed this together with several other recent events, listed after the fold, and the idea of writing about teaching against stereotypes arose. I’m hoping to generate some helpers, both in the here and now and to pick up the burden after I die.
Stereotypes are ubiquitous. I battle them consistently. All my political battles, not just for GLBT rights, but also for Native American rights, against the English-only doofi, for the poor and downtrodden, against racism and religious and ethnic discrimination, for the equality of women, against bullying…and so many, many more, all have at their root the battle against stereotypes.
Be aware that if you choose this path, you will be called sanctimonious, self-absorbed, self-important, thin-skinned fascist against freedom of speech.
If that’s the price to be paid, so be it.