A message of support was sent to The Fight For Socialism Today conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from an auto worker who played a leading role in the fight against the wage-cutting demands by General Motors at the Indianapolis Stamping plant last year. Workers at the plant organized a rank-and-file committee, independently of the United Auto Workers (UAW), which sought to blackmail workers into accepting a 50 percent wage cut.
During the course of the fight, the Indianapolis workers were strengthened by the solidarity they won from workers throughout the US and the world. The following letter was read during the discussion on the resolution, “For the international unity of the working class.”
My name is Jennifer. I am writing this to support your efforts in our fight for our rights as the working class. I am sorry I could not attend, my daughter is just minutes away from having her first child.
We have seen a lot of changes over the years and none of it in the advantage of working class people. The only ones gaining from our hard work are the capitalists and the government, which claims to represent us.
I started the Rank and File Committee when the UAW tried to force us to take a 50 percent cut in pay to work. Our union local, Local 23, in Indianapolis had a strong group of workers who rejected the proposal. Three times we turned it down and the UAW did not want to accept our decision. They gave our names and numbers out to the buyer at the time, J.D. Norman, and tried to organize an illegal meeting to pass it through.
When they brought in the UAW International we had enough. We stood up strong and put them out of our union hall. They tried lies, tricks and intimidation to get what they wanted. It did not work with the workers in Indianapolis. This showed everyone that they have a voice and it has very much power.
With the Rank and File Committee I was also able to send and receive insight into the world of working people. In my research I have grown to appreciate the workers in all countries. The ruling class governments in all countries have devised a plan to benefit by creating competition between the workers. US corporations and unions tell us we have to concede to the cuts because they need to compete with other countries. Now Fiat-Chrysler in Italy is threatening to send jobs to the US for lower wages. So basically we are competing against our own brother and sisters.
I have received many letters from workers all over the globe describing the very things we are going through, being told the same things we are being told, and being treated the same way we are being treated—so don’t be misled into believing its the fault of workers in other countries for working for lower wages. They are told what we are told that they have to keep up with the competition. The workers from all nations are in this fight together and together it can be won.
In my corresponding with workers, Socialist Equality Party has helped me to understand many things I hadn’t realized at first. I am grateful and appreciative to them for their support—they believe in the working class and their struggles.
It is time for the people to stand up and fight for what they have fought and worked for that is being taken away. They are taking our families’ futures too. We have the right to good health care and college for our kids and the right to good homes and food on our tables without worrying if we have one that we have to do without the other.
Unions like the UAW have done nothing for their dues-paying workers. The unions have agreed to no-strike bans and are on the brink of giving up collective bargaining rights. They are of no use to us. If we are going to fight, workers have to organize ourselves independently of the unions.
With this I congratulate everyone there, wish I could have been there with you, and offer my support and solidarity to all of you there.
Rank and File Committee