UAW reformists propose to surrender gains of US workers

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THE UAW leaders are prepared to ‘suspend’ all of the gains of US autoworkers to try and assist the big bosses of GM, Chrysler, and Ford in getting $10bn survival money till the end of January and then a further $24 billion bail out money.

GM has already made it known that it intends to close at least nine plants and sack up to 30,000 workers. There is no doubt that Ford and Chrysler will not be slouches as far as sackings and closures are concerned.

The tactic of the auto workers union is to try and save the US auto industry for the bosses.

The bosses are demanding a ‘fresh start’, with all union deals struck out so that the remnants of the once great US auto industry will be run by virtual slave labourers.

The union leaders say that if nothing is done and GM, Ford and Chrysler go bust, then three million workers in the US will lose their jobs.

The UAW has already agreed to ‘consider additional sacrifices to help the US auto industry, including deferred payments to a health care trust, the suspension of the jobs bank programme, and convening UAW bargaining committees to consider contract modifications.’ It adds: ‘All auto industry stakeholders are going to have to sacrifice, and our members are willing to do their part.’

The UAW continues: ‘Now, Congress has to act. . . . Main Street deserves help just as much as the bankers on Wall Street.’

The UAW Council of Delegates overwhelmingly approved the series of recommendations from the union’s International Executive Board.

The suspension of company payments to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA), will cripple retiree health care in 2010, while the suspension or dismantling of the ‘jobs bank’ programme will create many more jobless workers. As UAW president Gettelfinger said: ‘We are well aware of the number of workers who are impacted. . . . However, we think that it’s a responsible thing for us to do.’

Additionally the council agreed to consider making ‘further modifications’ to the 2007 national agreements.

Gettelfinger added that the the union’s auto department vice presidents will begin working with the companies on the mechanics of dismantling the ‘jobs bank’ programme.

What they surrender to the bosses they will never get back.

The bosses will use their support to get the bail out cash and then it will be slash and burn on a scale never seen before.

US motor car workers must reject any surrender of their gains to the employers and the US administration.

They must insist that all union agreements are maintained, and that all closure attempts are met with occupations of the plants and that the UAW’s $900 million strike fund is used to bring the entire industry to a halt and begin a major national struggle to defend all jobs.

Workers must be prepared for a President Obama to back the bosses bail out demand and also to demand that UAW members give up their union agreements and their wages and conditions to save the bosses.

In the period ahead the working class will have to break with the Democrats and build a Labour Party that will campaign for the nationalisation of the major US industries and banks and go forward to socialism.

The building of a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International in the USA, to lead this struggle is absolutely vital.

Currently unemployment in the US is rocketing upwards.

533,000 more industrial workers were made unemployed in the US in November, twice as many as expected by the bourgeois authorities, bringing recorded unemployment to 6.7 per cent of the working population.

There is no future under capitalism in the US or anywhere else. The US workers must defend all of their gains and sack leaders who won’t. They must break with the Democrats and organise to go forward to socialism.