Sunday, October 1, 2023

To win, the car strike must be organized from the grassroots

The UAW strike is the largest union action in decades and marks the culmination of a torrid summer for the labor movement in the United States. Not only did it capture the nation’s attention, but it also demonstrated the growing power and activity of a labor movement confronted with bosses who were making unprecedented profits at the expense of their exploitation. The working class is at the center of national politics and its expectations are rising.

Hollywood screenwriters and actors are in the first coordinated strike in six decades; Thousands of hotel workers in Los Angeles go on strike; and 340,000 UPS truck drivers prepared for battle last month by standing on picket lines and chanting “Ready to strike!” There were hundreds of smaller actions across the country. In fact, this summer has been hell for employers. The Wall Street Journal estimates that 4.1 million workdays were lost due to strikes in August alone, equal to the workdays of all workers who participated in the strikes.

These labor actions are taking place in a context where the general population is sympathetic to unions (71% of Americans support unions, according to a 2022 Gallup poll) and workers’ rights, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that featured the emergence of the mega-rich even richer, while essential workers kept the economy afloat, often in uncertain conditions. The UAW strike has strong support among workers and the general public, who are increasingly angered by the capitalists’ obscene wealth. According to a Gallup poll, 75% of respondents supported the UAW strike.

The union’s demands are bold and important to the labor movement because they go to the heart of the working conditions enforced by decades of neoliberalism in the United States. The most important are: eliminating outsourcing, a 40 percent wage increase, restoring the cost of living adjustment (COLA) to ensure wages keep pace with inflation, an end to the abuse of contract workers, and the right to strike during factory closures. In interviews and materials provided by the union, they are calling for a 32-hour week without pay cuts.

Surround the active solidarity strike

Since the strike was called at the so-called “Big Three,” the country’s three largest automobile terminals, there has been an extraordinary show of solidarity. The carters (truck drivers) promised not to break through the picket lines. Hundreds of people, including many young people, take part in pickets and rallies. Even social movement organizations called for strikes. But all of this is not enough. The organized labor movement, especially the AFL-CIO, as it is the largest union federation in the country, the social movements and workers and youth must organize the largest and most comprehensive active solidarity across the country and put all their strength into this strike. We must guarantee material support, money for the strike fund and people on the picket lines, and hold solidarity actions and meetings to strengthen public support and respond as best as possible to the bosses’ counteroffensive.

An important step would be for recently mobilized truck drivers and other unions fighting outsourcing, such as teachers’ and university unions, to contribute to the UAW’s strike fund and organize solidarity actions.

We must strive to create open spaces such as public meetings where the movement and the community can meet and also coordinate between the various strike actions that intensify the offensive against the bosses and, in the labor movement, the different demands that affect work , raise class. , like affordable housing or the end of racist policing.

A UAW victory is a victory for the entire working class because it not only opens the door to other struggles for better rights, but also puts the capitalists and their political institutions on the defensive.

Trust grassroots organizing, not the Democratic and Republican parties

The strike has already shaken the political situation in the US, marked by the presidential election campaign and the growing struggle over the working class between the Democratic Party and Trumpism. Trump, who built his political image by siding with the industrial working class hit hard by decades of concessions and cuts, criticized both President Biden and UAW President Shawn Fain for the strike, accusing both of taking sides If you decide to invest in hybrid cars, there is a risk of layoffs.

Biden declared that “workers deserve a fair share of the benefits they have created for a company.” Behind this statement is the fear that Midwestern workers will not vote for him in 2024, hurting Trump’s chances of returning to the workplace White House would significantly improve. At the same time, the president is seeking the support of the UAW and wants to present himself as a pro-union candidate at the national level.

Biden, who dismantled the rail strike initiative with the help of Congress, cannot afford to take the same action against a very popular strike by a politically important union in the middle of the election campaign. The aim of his speech this week was to demand flexibility from companies and to warn of the danger that the strike could be exploited politically by Trump.

The UAW is right to demand that all electric car factories be unionized. Workers should also decide how to transition to usage. Instead of giving money to billionaires like Elon Musk (owner of Tesla Motors) to run extremely exploitative low-wage factories, that money should be used to ensure that workers’ basic needs are met.

UAW employees cannot trust Trump or the Democrats who are working for their own electoral agenda. This strike can strengthen the working class as a whole if we continue to rely on organized action and our own strength. To achieve this, it is important to unleash the strength, creativity and power of the base so that the strike is built from the bottom up and not the other way around.

The strike must be organized from below

In the recent UAW elections, workers sought to take control of their destiny and fight back against a sellout leadership that has forced them to accept defeat after defeat. Workers were tired of increasing inequality and disparities among workers themselves, deteriorating rights and benefits, and increasing lack of respect. An important lesson that many learned from the 2019 General Motors strike is that the full power of workers had to be used to push back on the bosses.

The demand for the Big Three workers to strike together came from below. This process must continue; The UAW’s rank-and-file members must collectively decide their own fate, including their demands and the way they fight. This means that workers organized from below must decide which companies will join the strike, when they will join the strike and how they will expand it.

The strategy of their own strike should not be hidden from the workers. It was a mistake that caused confusion and disorientation. This is exactly what happened with the current strategy, which was not discussed with workers before publication. Any tactical advantage that comes from keeping the details secret from employers is offset by the uncertainty it creates in the workforce. The workers look forward to fighting with their union brethren and have been eager to take part in this struggle. Organized from below, they must decide which plants will be closed and activated during the strike.

How should it be? Local strike committees at each plant, where the rank and file – particularly those within the plant – elect delegates to the regional committees, will coordinate the strike. Local and regional committees must coordinate the strong community support given to this strike and seek support from other unions. This would be an important step towards the creation of a national strike committee that will coordinate all efforts to enforce these important demands.

For Fain and his allies, who won over the union by voicing grassroots discontent and declaring they were fighting for expanded union democracy, another step must be taken to give workers control of the union give. Strike committees composed of the rank and file must be organized from below and against the resistance of those leaders who may oppose direct rank and file control of the union.

No to layoffs and employer retaliation

The three major automobile companies are attacking workers with layoffs and increased discipline in factories where there is currently no strike.

There were both layoffs and reports from the shop floor of management being more aggressive and hostile. We must see this as part of the counteroffensive against the strike. You can’t react to layoffs as if nothing had happened. In general, they increase the precariousness of the working class when there is no strike and are an active weapon during the strike. It is a weapon to create doubts among workers, and the only way to dispel these doubts is with decisive action from below.

Not only have 600 workers been laid off – and another 2,000 are at risk of being laid off – but many more workers are also seeing their hours cut. As if that wasn’t enough, companies impose sanctions on a daily basis.

This caused unrest among the factory workers. Ignorance of the strike strategy only makes it worse. Many question whether everyone should have gone on strike to better protect themselves from retaliation.

Now we know that there is no reason for management to lay off workers and reduce their working hours. It is not in their immediate interest and only makes it more difficult for the factories to operate. But they are interested in breaking the collective will and power of workers and undermining the bold demands they have made. They are willing to take the hit now if they believe it means they will get a better deal from the union.

The union must respond to this retaliation with escalatory action and demand the immediate reinstatement of fired workers. It must be the workers who decide what this escalation of actions consists of, including the dismissed workers, who must have the full right to participate in every single decision regarding the strike.

There is a lot at stake in the strike. The demands not only address the conditions faced by the working class in general, but also speak of the right of workers to set high standards for themselves and their families. Workers are fighting to ensure that these demands endure for generations.

The UAW leadership will come to the negotiating table with the support of its base, which has shown a strong willingness for reconciliation. If the bases are organized democratically from below, in their own strike committees, it is guaranteed that the company management can enforce more favorable conditions for the employers at the negotiating table.

Reaching a strong agreement would be a major step towards creating a militant workers’ movement that fights for the dignity and respect of the working class.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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