France, Immigration, Airlines, Auto: It’s All the Same Struggle, Our Struggle.
By Todd M. Jordan
France has shown working people their true power and what needs to be done here in the United States.
The Transport Workers Union Local 100 workers took power into their own hands without the government or the union bureaucracy approval. They shut down New York City on their own under the banner of, “We will not sell out our unborn. Delphi workers have began inside tactics, mini-sit down strikes, and rogue walk outs.
German autoworkers and airline pilots took concessions and still the corporations are coming back for more and filing bankruptcy anyway. In a five-year deal in 2004, Delta pilots agreed to $1 billion in concessions, including a 32.5 percent wage cut. Delta however filed for bankruptcy anyway in September and now has motioned the bankruptcy court to toss out their labor contract to force more concessions on American pilots. Meanwhile, 95 percent of Delta pilots have voted to strike.
Yet, another example that concessions won’t save jobs at Delphi or solve its problems. What happens at Delphi will be a chain reaction that will sweep all autoworkers. Organized labor is under attack. The union officials continue preaching cooperation and teamwork while the other side is talking war and destruction.
Dana Corporation and other smaller auto suppliers file bankruptcy and claim “business will continue as usual.” It will because bankruptcy is the new business model. Delphi CEO Robert Miller spoke in Detroit on April 3rd to spread the game plan. It was a hard sell to a city that has suffered economic sanctions in comparison to Iraq or Cuba. Outside on the streets the Detroit police with barely enough funds to repair uniforms shake protester’s hands and display FBI and HLS reports on SOS leaders saying “We support you guys.”
It’s all about trans-national corporations dumping pensions, cutting wages, breaking labor contracts, rolling working people back 50 years, destroying lives, destroying American cities and robbing the American people. What side are you on? Do you honestly believe the corporate mouthpieces who feed and spin you through their Pravda?
Whipsawed, the Canadian Auto Workers union agrees to close down General Motors Camaro business with the promise that it will never produce the vehicle again. A few years later General Motors comes back and says they can have it back, but “only if concessions are made.” Refusal to accept various cuts and outsourcing results in the product line getting sent overseas.
Violating Article 19 of the UAW Constitution, the international openly endorses and supports concessions for retirees before a vote is taken. They then quickly encourage active workers to vote in a matter of days without even giving retirees a right to vote.
A mass exodus begins in the UAW as bankruptcy judges approve Delphi and GM severance packages. UAW officials rally with the corporations behind the massive job cutting agreement as thousands of workers retiree into insecurity and uncertainty.
Decades of experience, training and skill is lost with a swipe of a fountain pen. The quality of American automotive products begins a tragic decline, as a result leading to further concessions and job cuts.
Delphi workers like many other workers in various industries are being forced into concessions. Yet not a single international representative of their unions will also take concessions. Not a single appointee who came from Delphi or these other companies that are serving in Regional or International offices will be joining workers in low wage poverty. Not a single elected official in government will take a cut either.
Will union officials refund years of union dues money to workers now? Will 60-year old local charters still exist after a mass exodus at Delphi? Who will run the union at existing Delphi locals “planned” to remain open at slave wages? Do workers need a union to negotiate concessions for them or do they need solidarity and power that a union can offer?
The only borders that exist are the borders that divide the international working class. The rank and file workers of organized labor united with the people fighting for immigrant rights has unlimited potential, a powerful force right now. The demands of Delphi and other UAW workers must be right up there too. Along with the thousands of ripped-off retirees from Steel, Sears, Enron, Delta pilots, NW airlines workers, miners, etc.
Future of the Union stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters seeking amnesty. In a world without the exploitation of labor, borders do not exist. We support all manner of working-class dissident against a system of murder.
The only solution is to fight for a better world and in doing so strike at all the weakest links we can find. Now is the time to fight.
—Future of the Union, April 12, 2006