Letters on the Indianapolis rank-and-file committee
25 September 2010
These letters were sent to workers in Indianapolis who have formed the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and file Committee to fight against attempts by General Motors, JD Norman, and the UAW to force through a 50 percent wage cut. Previous letters were published September 23. We encourage workers to send letters of solidarity to firstname.lastname@example.org, and to send copies to the World Socialist Web Site. (See, “Support the Indianapolis GM workers!”)
Dear comrades of the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and file Committee
We in South Africa have just experienced the brutal betrayal of our workers by the parasitic trade union leadership. Last month 1.3 million government workers went on strike, demanding a living wage. The government sent in the army and the police to smash the picket lines. The media vilified our teachers and nurses. After 21 days of unpaid strike action, the workers were forced by the trade union leadership to concede to the employers demands and end the strike action. The trade union leadership declared the strike a success, but the workers are poorer. The workers have been betrayed again.
I have read about your valiant struggle, and your rejection of the parasitic UAW trade union leadership. I write to you with the greatest admiration, and hope that your example is followed, not only in America, but around the world.
Your struggle is our struggle. We are all in this together.
Cape Town, South Africa
23 September 2010
To the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and file Committee:
I’m writing to express my support for the historic stand taken by your Committee. At a recent Socialist Equality Party meeting in Sydney, Australia, workers and young people were told of your struggle and its significance... Namely that it is the beginning of a rebellion against the nationalist and pro-business unions, without which the working-class cannot defend its most basic social rights.
Young people are familiar with the images of Hollywood, and the American rich and famous, but your struggle is showing us that there is another America compromising the majority of working people. By exposing the reality of American society, and showing that workers can take an independent stand in opposition to the bankrupt unions, your struggle strengthens workers all over the world. In turn, I’m sure the knowledge that the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and file Committee is being followed closely, and supported by workers and young people internationally, will strengthen your fight.
We will continue to tell Australian workers and young people about your struggle, and explain why workers internationally need to support it.
24 September 2010
To the workers of the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and-file Committee,
I write from Britain as a worker and student. I have been following your struggle against the outrageous attacks on your wages; attacks made so that parasites can suck out even more wealth from workers and leave the mass of humanity to suffer.
I support your struggle and your courageous initiative and the example you have set for all workers.
It speaks to a whole new generation of workers and youth, which includes me, who have no future prospect under the rule of profit; a generation who must and will fight but have no living experience of struggles. I am positive that your stand will bring the new generations into living contact with their real history of all the struggles that have been waged by workers before them.
In every country we are all being told to accept poverty, or worse, so that the very same layer that tells us this can make ever higher profit by doing nothing other than stealing from workers, and trampling on all our rights as workers and humans, across the whole world.
However what makes your example very important is that it goes well beyond displaying a willingness to fight. The experiences of your struggle bring to light how management, investors and politicians—and all their cronies—have been able to impose their arrogant and hypocritical demands despite the lack of any popular support for their measures: through the union bureaucracies and the lack of any genuine workers’ organisations. There are many workers who know this is the case through personal experience. So you show what workers must do against this: organise independently and unite all workers and break from these treacherous organisations that seek to divide and act against the interests of workers while falsely claiming to be for workers.
I believe you have started something extremely powerful and it will echo around the world!
24 September 2010
(My letter to the GM workers in Indianapolis. Thank you, WSWS for your coverage and your support of those brave workers!)
In 1861, Abraham Lincoln had this to say about the rising power of the working class: “Capital is only the fruit of labor. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” That remains even more true today in the age of trans-national capitalism where the working class constitute the vast majority of the world today. Despite decades of betrayal by conservative unions and the Democratic and Republican parties (both parties that are bought and paid for by capitalists and Big Business), the working class still remains the most revolutionary force in history capable of fighting for a truly just, peaceful and humane world.
Today, as the global capitalist crisis accelerates, capital seeks its pounds upon pounds of flesh from workers to squeeze them as much as possible. With 1 out of 7 Americans living in poverty, persistently high unemployment rates, income inequality between the rich and the poor at all-time highs, private sector job growth contracting to anemic levels, criminal bailouts of Wall Street—with all this making news headlines daily, it’s becoming clear that our ruling class and our bosses want to exploit the majority of people as much as possible—even to their deaths in many instances. This cannot go on! Your example shows us that!
You, the workers of the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and-File Committee, are courageously resisting the attacks by GM, the corrupt UAW bureaucracy, JD Norman, and the political and economic elite that tells you to accept wage cuts that condemns—yes, condemns!—you to poverty-level income brackets—after decades of fighting for decent standards of living. Do not accept such unjust demands. These are the same politicians and businesspeople that are pilfering your resources, your wealth, your labor, your environment, and telling you that you deserve a 50 percent wage cut—while corporate profits soar, CEOs take million dollar bonuses, and Wall Street gets backed by both parties to the tune of trillions of dollars. The gall they have! This is obscene, grossly hypocritical and completely unjust. They are vampires living on the fruit and flesh of your living labor.
Working people of the world are looking at your example to inspire and show leadership in the struggle against the attacks by the capitalist class. Your example will blaze trails as workers all over the world start fighting back in the masses—we are already seeing Asian, European, African and South American workers fighting back in greater numbers. Our common power remains in shared struggles and in greater numbers. You give us all hope and show us that we don’t have to accept the brutal attacks on our living standards. Continue to fight back with your demands. It will give us all a spring in our step knowing that we, too, can fight back and learn from your courageous efforts! The American working class will play a pivotal role in fighting for a better, more just world with your example in mind.
I wish you all the best and hope to share your struggles with my friends and workers to ensure that your fight reaches a greater audience. American workers, Asian workers, European workers, African workers, Latin American workers, and all the poor and oppressed of this world—we all look to you to strengthen our common struggles against the ruthless parasites of a decaying capitalism in every nation—whether it be President Obama and the corrupt American political and economic establishment or their counterparts in other countries. Working people have no country—we are bound together by our vast and powerful counterparts of every country. The only thing that stands in the way of this revolutionary international class is capitalism itself; the rational path forwards can only be a world socialist movement.
Every sector of the working class—blue collar, white collar, service industry, health care, etc.—will be inspired by you. We are all in this together. This is what real hope looks like. This is what real, democratic, rank-and-file change looks like. Keep up the good fight, brothers and sisters!
With solidarity and great admiration,
24 September 2010
To the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and-file Committee:
I am an SEP member in Los Angeles and I learned about the formation of your committee from the WSWS. I am writing to congratulate you and to say, “I support you.”
The formation of your committee is an important event not just for Indianapolis or Indiana, but for the entire world.
You have set an inspiring example.
Los Angeles, California, USA
23 September 2010
I wish to deliver my wholehearted support to your efforts in fighting the appalling strategies being used against you. This is a very important stand that you are taking, inspirational, in many ways, and I wish you every success.
Carbondale, Illinois, USA
23 September 2010
Dear Local 23 Chairman Gregory Clark, Rondo Jabbar Turner, and the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and-File Committee:
As you workers today cast your votes, I wanted to write to support you. I live in a small, no-stoplight town outside of Terre Haute. Unfortunately, the TV stations in Terre Haute have not even mentioned your struggle, which is important for all workers in America. These are difficult and anxious times, and I respect you for standing up and doing what is right. You set a good example for your children and their children.
With nearly 50 million living in poverty and snakes like J.D. Norman, Mitch Daniels, Pacers-bailouting Ballard, Wellpointer Evan Bayh, and president Obama pulling the trigger on the middle-class daily, it is time to unite the workers, take to the streets, and elect supporters of those who make the country hum.
We can no longer function in a sick society which forces even more ill on its workers and then cuts off their life lines and their health insurance, all the while spoon-feeding the rich who haven’t worked a day in their lives. We can no longer live in a society where psychopaths in suits who should be in jail are rewarded bonuses for stealing the food off of our children’s plates, or poisoning them with contaminated eggs that are never inspected. It is totally wrong.
In Indianapolis, you are doing the right thing. Eugene V. Debs, that great socialist Hoosier, would be very proud of you today, as we all should be. Proud that true Americans are in our backyards. As Debs said a hundred years ago, “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it, than to vote for what you don’t want and get it!”
The work you do moves like poetry. Let your struggle blast through the gigantic bullhorn across the world, so that the world can have compassion for all human beings, so that the sick world can hear and feel again.
Best and Bless You,
23 September 2010
I am so proud of you guys! I am a public school teacher and we are constantly under attack for trying to stand up for ourselves in any way. Our union has sold us out. Please do not give up. We are watching you and you have our support.
Your sister in SOLIDARITY,
23 September 2010
To the Indianapolis GM Stamping Rank-and-File Committee,
My experience with the unions (Teamsters, SEIU) is that they act as the third partner in alliance with the corporations and the capitalist government to police and suppress any independent economic or political movement of the working class. Their representatives (business agents) are trained to use lies and deception to steal concessions, prevent strikes and smother wildcat independent actions and should never be trusted. They will often hand-pick a few of the more popular workers, offer them a union position, and thereby enlist their help to convince others to go along with their back-stabbing union policy.
Your new rank and file organization is the opposite of Labor-Management committees with their corporate and American nationalist outlook. These anti-working class committees assume that there is an identity of interests between workers and capital. But nationalism and race-based politics only chain workers to the profit system and its two parties, and serve to divide them from the international working class. Every social crisis exposes the reality of the class struggle for a larger part of the national income, and reveals the treachery of those organizations that collaborate with management to maintain exploitation, poverty and political dependence.
However, a determined, democratic and centralized organization guided by socialist internationalism will gain the growing support of workers around the world and eventually shatter the old bureaucratic apparatus. You are not alone!
Your initiative for an independent workers organization is one of the most significant developments since the mass strikes of the 1930s and the mass socialist movement led by Eugene Debs 100 years ago. Along with the example of the Balmoral plantation workers’ independent action committee in Sri Lanka and the support of the SEP and its World Socialist Web Site, your committee can provide the experience and lessons to help other workers multiply such independent organizations throughout the US and internationally.
The main reason for the spread of imperialist war and the defeats of the workers movement since the 1970s has been the lack of any mass, democratic and politically independent organization with a common socialist program based on the needs and interests of the working class. These social needs are incompatible with the capitalist profit-market system that is rooted in private monopoly ownership of the productive forces of society.
Therefore, your rank and file committee is a crucial and necessary step to help the working class break free of the stranglehold of the union bureaucracy and the corporate-dominated Democratic Party, the other party of war, austerity and inequality.
24 September 2010
To the ladies and gentlemen of the GM stamping rank-and-file committee,
I just wanted to send a brief message of support to you, to let you know that there are many of us out there who believe in what you are doing. In tough times, workers have to be organized. When your union doesn’t work for you any longer, it presents you with a difficult choice. But the answer is never “every man for himself.” Working people need to stand together. We have to organize. I hear a lot of slander about economic problems being caused by “greedy” workers who make too much money and spend too much time not working, but I know this is not true. In this country and around the world most of us work hard, or desperately want a job, so I wonder where such notions originate. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I think you have taken a brave step and that I hope it does serve as an example to others.
Wilmington, North Carolina, USA
23 September 2010
To the workers of the Indianapolis GM plant and their Rank-and-file Committee,
I am so glad that you’re taking real action against the profit system, and that you have decisively broken with the union— which has degenerated to be nothing but the labor enforcement branch of General Motors. Your history and your struggle demonstrate how unviable any “workers” organization really is which isn’t based on the objective necessities of the working class itself.
American workers are finally starting to regain a consciousness which has been so long suppressed—an awareness that the will of the ruling class is fundamentally contradictory to the most basic aspirations—and rights—of working people.
You are at the vanguard of ushering in a whole new historical period for the working class and its struggles, and many great people will surely follow in your footsteps.
You have already faced very difficult challenges, and more will become, but know that some of the most dedicated and advanced workers in the world are already strongly behind you, and that many more will enter the struggle.
23 September 2010
I am a retired former professional, also currently unemployed and living on a limited income. I am personally and politically aware of the hardships facing workers and the attempts of the bosses— such as those at GM— and the government to return the working class to sweatshop labor conditions, or worse. I am also aware of the role of the decayed unions—above all the UAW— as junior partners of GM and the corporate elite. The UAW has renounced its glorious history of struggle for the interests of the working class, the high-point of which were the sit-down strikes of the 1930s in Flint and similar struggles elsewhere in the ‘industrial heartlland’. I support and encourage your struggle to bring back that fighting spirit of the great sit-downs and with the support of workers from all corners of the globe, want you to know that your struggle is of paramount importance for all workers.
23 September 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing to extend my heartfelt support to you in your struggle with GM, the UAW and JD Norman, and to commend you for forming a rank-and-file committee independent of the treacherous UAW.
I am a CAW (Canadian Auto Workers) member so I understand why you have decided to do the courageous and right thing—the only alternative—by taking matters into your own hands. The CAW has done worse than nothing for us. Concessions contracts, two-tier pay structures, contracting out, backroom deals with the company, layoffs—this is what the CAW has done or helped the company to do to my former co-workers and their families. Many jobs were lost, including my own, because of their actions or inaction. The unions no longer represent the workers. The UAW is a full partner with GM and JD Norman.
You are an inspiration. Many, many of your brothers and sisters are watching closely, and coming to realize that what you are doing is what workers must do to defend their livelihoods throughout the nation if not throughout the world.
I am spreading your story to people I know, but if there is anything more I can do to help you, let me know.
British Columbia, Canada
Brothers and sisters of the GM Stamping Rank-and-file Committee,
I write to you as a worker, but above all as a human being. I don't know any of you, and you don't know me. But your statement of rejection of UAW back-dealings has resounded profoundly with me. I would like to assure you that a determined stand and level of consciousness you've displayed in the paper will undoubtedly win you support of broad layers of workers. I eagerly await any update on your situation here in Japan. I firmly believe that your example will be followed like an avalanche if you keep your unity and clarity of mission.
I have read somewhere that what one is as a human being can be defined best by finding what is one ready to fight and to die for. Where is that line in the sand that makes one say “no more”, and stand ground. I see you have found this line, and I congratulate you. I wish you the strength to stand united in this knowledge and shine as an example on others around you who are definitely close to their own line in the sand as well and will respond.
To the day when workers all over will stand in solidarity, undivided and knowing their friends from their enemies. Just like your committee is now!
You are not alone! We are watching! Keep the fight!
I work as a substitute teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District, and am currently a member of UTLA. My union, like yours, has flat sold out the membership and has left it to the individual creativity of the membership/workers to dig themselves out of the hole the capitalists have dug for us all. I must do hours of balloon figure-making for families and kids to survive.
I stand in solidarity with you in this quintessential class battle. It will not be the last. The cruelty and illogic of this deformed economy will continue to be purposefully overlooked by major commentators for the best reasons: The monsters that created this deathtrap pay their wages.
Every time I go into the store the prices are a little higher on many goods. For example, about 7 or 8 years ago I used to buy a 20 ounce soda at a convenience store for $1.09. Today that same soda is $1.49. A pack of generic fudge grahams that were $1.00 at the beginning of the millennium are $1.39 today. The cost of a new tire has increased by about 30 percent over the same time frame. My rent is about 20 percent higher and increases yearly. My electric bill is 40 percent higher. Almost everywhere the prices are rising consistently and insidiously. Yet, instead of unions rallying workers everywhere in the demand for automatic cost of living increases, they are demanding workers take massive wage cuts. When I was a member of the UAW back in 1979, we had cost of living increases as part of our contract. The UAW/GM attack on workers wages is also the effective demand that workers totally succumb to the ravages of continual inflation.
The utter bankruptcy of liberalism can be seen on every front. The unions do not advance the interests of the workers they ostensibly represent. The liberal anti-war organizations cannot prevent imperialist war, nor stop it once it has begun. The ACLU cannot protect the Bill of Rights. The environmental groups cannot prevent environmental catastrophes nor slow the march towards a climate-change Hell. The “liberal” Democrats come to power and do nothing but continue and, in fact, escalate the hated right-wing agenda of its predecessor. Liberalism is dead everywhere. The only way forward for the working class, for humanity, is socialism.
I fully support the efforts of the Indianapolis GM workers in their fight against the UAW and GM. They are fighting a battle in the war that all workers must fight against the capitalist system.
My dad was a union man, a steelworker, who stayed with his company until his retirement in the late 80s. At his funeral service in 2007—he was 84 when he died”the re were several of his co-workers in attendance. So I know that union workers have a deep loyalty to one another. I can't remember how many times he told me over the years how much the union had done to give us our solid, middle-class way of life and how important it was for working men and woman to support their union. However, when the union lets you down then it's your loyalty to one another as workers and your commitment to the ideals of fairness and just compensation that will win the day. I admire what you're doing up there and, if he were still alive, so would my father. Good luck to you and thank you for fighting for what's left of the American Dream.
I am totally in support of their labor movement. These guys are getting screwed!
I am sending my words of support for your fight against the total injustice of the UAW demand for a 50 percent wage cut from the workers. A demand for any wage cut at all is fundamentally unjust given the conditions workers now have to live under, simply given the now rapidly rising cost of living alone. But to think that the workers union is facilitating such injustice with a demand of this kind is reprehensible.
Stand together and don't give in to these tactics that are nothing more than a throwback from a feudal era we are supposed to left behind several hundred years ago. ‘Kia kaha’ from New Zealand. Stand tall, forever strong.
I believe that you all are the union builders of this century. When we look back at the strikes, the violence in the 20th Century to help the workers, you are doing the same for us now. Thank you for your efforts. Be strong. It’s not going to be easy. But in the end, this is really the only way we will prevail. You have a whole lot of workers in this country and all over the world that are behind you. I’m an old lady. But I wish I could be there to stand with you.
Just a short note to let you know that there are a growing number of students and workers out here that see your struggle as one that will be remembered by history. We join with you in solidarity! Keep up the fight! Know your enemies: The two corporate parties of the ruling elite, Wall Street bankers, the UAW, and management. Know your friends: students, and working people all over the US and the world who, daily, see the social gains of the past, got by bloody struggles, being wrenched out of their honest hands while Wall Street celebrates record profits and spreads with their thieves hands absurd bonuses to their cronies. The struggle for genuine democracy has begun. Be proud that it begins with you.
We are with you Indianapolis!
New Jersey, USA
You have my solidarity. My family works at Cornell and are in the UAW. I forwarded a few e-mails about this to those family members. We'll see what happens.
I, too, am a UAW-represented worker with a deep distrust for the UAW. I am sickened by what I read in your leaflet knowing full well that we may be next. I have a suggestion but don't know how feasible it is for you to attempt. It sounds as though the issue is fear that the counts will be fraudulent. I believe this has been going on for years. Why not hand deliver the ballots to the address they are to be delivered to and have someone display each and every ballot to a video camera while reading it out loud and tallying as you go along? The camera of a TV news station would get you the most bang for your buck and national exposure of the UAW. God bless you and good luck. I pray that you succeed.
Your courageous stand is an inspiration to workers throughout the world. Please know that you have my complete support in your struggle against an exploitative corporation and your own so-called “union.”
Your actions are a beacon of light in a dark world. Together we can bring about the fundamental change that is needed to correct injustice and bring true democracy to all peoples.
Know that you are loved and respected by people you’ve never even met or heard of. Know that you are not alone.
I think that as far as drawing the lines and showing the rest of the working class(worldwide) how to defend themselves and launch their own set of offensives, you guys truly are drawing the blueprint. The end of the wars, the end of poverty and exploitation itself, begins with you guys. Don’t give up, this is by far the most important thing American workers have done in a very long time.
I wish to thank you for your courageous stand against the UAW. I have read your statement and support you completely. The actions of the UAW against the workers at GM are a repudiation of all of the struggles of past generations who fought and sacrificed to make the lives of future generations secure and to uphold the dignity of labor.
My grandparents were immigrants and worked at Willy’s Jeep in Toledo, Ohio, as did several of my uncles. They were able to make a good life for themselves and their families. Now, a young person just starting out will have no chance to do the same if the UAW has its way.
All of us who work for a paycheck applaud your actions and wish you well.
I strongly support the actions you have taken in defense of your rights and those of all workers against not only GM, but also against the gangsters at the UAW. You have made the great leap in realizing that your interests can only be prosecuted by turning to the strongest social force on the planet: the international working class. As you carry out your struggle, nowhere will you find more steadfast allies and leaders than in the Socialist Equality Party. While every other political tendency imaginable will attempt to steer you back into the safe channels of the unions and the Democratic party, the SEP will consistently support your independent mobilization and initiative, spread word of your actions to your class brothers worldwide, and provide invaluable historical perspective. Decades ago, the SEP observed, documented and explained the type of union treachery you now confront. I urge you to study the SEP’s program and history, and I pledge to spread the news of your courage as widely as is possible.
With greatest respect,
Thank you for taking on a leadership role in breaking through the quiet despair under which workers have been forced by their union leaderships. As a teacher in New York, I have seen the union negotiate away not only the gains teachers have made but the conditions of the education of the youth. I hope we can build support for you, especially by winning workers to a unity with a political program of socialism putting the right to decent jobs and wages above the predatory profit system.
New York, USA
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the struggle,
Thank you for your clear actions which demonstrate how we workers need to fight against the union bureaucracies and boss class. They are now are one in beating up us workers to increase the profits of the super rich owners and stock holders.
The union I belong to, SEIU, is no different in the level of its corruption, gangsterism against members, and cronyism with management. The union bureaucracies, no matter where they exist worldwide, have become putrid companies, thriving on opportunism and are, with no doubt as evidenced by their actions, traitors to our class. We need to break with them once and for all and form our own worker committees that will act as our voice and force our will upon our class enemies instead of submitting to the continued decline in our living standards and democratic rights. This fight must take international dimensions because our class enemy is global, not just local. This must happen, not just at a few plants or factories, but in every workplace. This will happen as your example of courage and audacity spreads to the working people of the world.
You will find that your example will do wonders in educating other workers about what it is we need to do to put an end to the tyranny of capitalism and the class traitors who thrive as the police-force at the workplace. The first steps are being taken by fighters like you!
No more concessions! No more wage cuts! Down with the labor fakers!
In Solidarity and admiration,
Local 23 is fighting not just for your jobs. You know this. You’re on the front lines of the battle for all of our jobs, and you deserve our support in your efforts.
Both political parties are tied to the bosses and bankster frauds. The GM bureaucracy has sold out to the bosses as well, as you well know. I suggest reading The New Class for a theoretical explanation as to why.
All of our jobs are under attack. The bosses won’t stop until the whole world is third world. A united workforce around the world is the only way to stop them, and Local 23 is showing the way.
Thanks for the good work!
Hi, I am Edward, and I wish to extend my 100 percent moral support to you! What the elite are doing to you and all of us is so outrageous that we all need to stand together and fight this corporate fascism. Thanks so much for your display of courage and integrity, you are an exemplar for working people everywhere!
Thanks so much,
I have been following your struggle at the GM Metal Fab plant on the WSWS, and I admire your bravery and your commitment to fairness. This morning on Michigan Radio (local NPR affiliate) I heard about a story in which a worker at a Lansing, Michigan assembly plant has worked as a “2-tier”, which as I understand it is what JD Norman wants to impose there. This worker’s mother also worked at the plant, and you could hear the pain in her voice when she described the situation. She makes roughly $30; he makes roughly $15. The unfairness of it is obvious, but in her case, you could tell it was very personal for her, as seeing her own child suffer this kind of exploitation was a daily reality. She said she felt bad at times for giving him a referral to work at the plant.
In my own experience, my father grew up in Flint, Michigan in its heyday as a GM town. During that period, one could work in the plants and have a life in which a middle class existence was enabled due to the solidarity of the workers (not, as they would have you believe, that we were the only nation making cars due to WWII—they wanted to pay workers less then as they do now).
Here In Michigan, the devastation from wage cutting and job destruction is visible everywhere. You ask yourself, “how long is this going to go on?” “Where does it all end?” and mostly, “What is wrong with people wanting to be fairly compensated for the value their work creates.” I know a lot of forces are conspiring (like your own union) against you, and this will be an uphill battle, but its one that needs to be won, and I respect you all tremendously for your courage.