GM workers have been on strike for more than a month to win definite demands: an end to the exploitation of temporary workers, an end to the multi-tier system, the reversal of plant closures, secure benefits and real job security. None of these demands are secured in the contract that the UAW is trying to ram through this week.
The purpose of the “educational sessions” is for the UAW to lie, threaten and pressure workers into ending their historic strike by accepting a tentative agreement that gives GM everything it wants.
With this tentative agreement, the suspicions of many workers have been confirmed: the UAW is a bribed tool of corporate management. The UAW’s strategy has been to weaken workers by paying them $250 a week for over a month of heavy sacrifice only to bring forward an agreement that is the same as what GM proposed before the strike.
If passed, the agreement would radically transform the auto industry and the entire workforce for generations to come. It would mean a future where temporary, low-paid work becomes the new norm, where workers have no job security and no rights.
Despite the lies of the UAW and GM, here are the real “highlights” of the TA:
- There are no contractual limits to the number of temps that GM is permitted to use.
- The CCA Fontana distribution center will be shut down, in addition to the historic Lordstown Assembly Plan and the Baltimore and Warren Transmission plants. The shutdown of these plants is an opening shot in a massive restructuring of the auto industry.
- TPT workers will not be eligible for conversion into regular employees, while the so-called “pathway” to regular employment for full-time temps is riddled with loopholes.
- Temporary workers will actually receive a wage cut over the life of the contract, with a new flat wage of $16.67 becoming the “new normal.”
- Temporary workers will be used to replace laid-off senior workers.
- Wage increases are not enough to keep up with the current rate of inflation, and the signing bonus is mostly canceled out by lost pay during the strike.
- Current in-progression workers will still top out only after eight years.
- No protection for the Mexican GM workers who were fired for refusing to accept increases in production during the strike.
If an honest vote were taken, workers would overwhelmingly vote “no!” to this slave charter.
GM and the UAW are aware of this, and thus will use the misinformation meetings and voting to lie about the contract, divide workers against each other, and attempt to force through the contract by any means necessary. Wall Street is watching carefully: Billions of dollars in future corporate profit depend on the success of this operation.
But autoworkers are far from ready to surrender their fight. They don’t lack courage or resolve, but what they need is a strategy. They have the power to assert their interests, but they must take stock of the situation and form a plan of action.
First, workers know that the UAW officials who led the 2015 misinformation meetings are now in federal prison for accepting bribes from the companies.
In September 2015, when Chrysler workers denounced the UAW for accepting that year’s tentative agreement, UAW Vice President for Chrysler, Norwood Jewell, told workers at a meeting in Toledo, “There isn’t one of us up here, and shame on you for suggesting otherwise, that have anything but the best interests of our members [in mind].”
Every word the UAW said was a lie. And with the UAW in charge of voting, the contracts “miraculously” passed by a 51 percent margin at Ford after widespread allegations of vote rigging. The UAW enforced the contract at GM despite the fact that skilled trades voted “no,” meaning the contract was rejected per the UAW constitution.
If workers allow the UAW to retain control of the situation, this year’s meetings and voting process will be no different. The bribed officials will fill the “informational meetings” with lies.
For the UAW and the company, there is a risk to bringing together hundreds or thousands of workers in informational meetings. What is required is for workers to take control of the situation.
This means that at each plant workers must:
- Reject UAW-GM “misinformation” from bribed officials and use the meetings to guarantee workers their free speech right to share true information about the tentative agreement. UAW officials who lie to workers must be voted off the platform.
- Elect a committee of trusted rank-and-file workers to monitor all voting and prevent election fraud, including through livestreamed vote tallying.
- Appeal to Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers to join the strike on the grounds that any deal reached by GM will apply to the entire industry.
- Demand the re-hiring of all Mexican GM workers who were fired for coming to the aid of striking workers in the US.
- Advance their own demands for the strike, including a 40 percent pay raise, the restoration of COLA for current and retired workers, the abolition of the multi-tier wage and benefit system, the immediate conversion of all temps into full-time workers with full wages and benefits, the reopening of all closed plants and the re-hiring of laid-off workers.
Autoworkers have powerful allies across the US and across the world. Over 30,000 teachers and support staff are on strike in Chicago, 3,500 Mack Truck workers are on strike in Virginia and Maryland and 2,000 miners are striking against Grupo Mexico in Texas and Arizona. Across the world, massive strikes and protests are taking place in Spain, France, Ecuador, Chile, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and elsewhere.
To mobilize this support, workers must break free from the control of the cheap labor contracts and criminals in the UAW. Form independent committees to carry forward the fight!