As UAW Constitutional Convention opens: the class issues facing autoworkers


As UAW Constitutional Convention opens: the class issues facing autoworkers

Shannon Jones

9 June 2018

With the quadrennial convention of the United Auto Workers (UAW) set to open Monday in Detroit, there are signs of an upsurge in militancy on the part of US autoworkers. An explosion of anger against a sweetheart deal between the UAW and General Motors to bring low paid subcontract workers in the Lordstown Assembly plant in advance of the layoff of 1,500 workers and a similar deal at Lake Orion Assembly were followed by a spontaneous walkout by Ford Flat Rock Assembly workers after a supervisor tried to restart the line following the horrific injury of a veteran worker.

With more than one year before the September 2019 expiration of the UAW contracts with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA), attacks on autoworkers are escalating. There is a concerted effort on the part of the car companies to drive out older, “legacy” workers and replace them with lower paid tier-two workers and temporary part-time workers (TPT). The 2015 UAW agreement allowed the companies to flood the auto plants with TPT workers while maintaining in place the two-tier, in reality multi-tier, pay and benefit system.

This takes place under conditions where the bureaucratic apparatus of the UAW is in deep crisis, rocked by an ongoing probe into illegal company payoffs to UAW negotiators. This focuses on the siphoning off of at least $1.5 million from the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center into the pockets of UAW officials, which FCA executives said was aimed at keeping union leaders “fat, dumb and happy.”

At the same time, all of the auto companies are in the midst of ruthless cost-cutting drives as Wall Street increases pressure for higher profit margins. This is taking its toll on safety…

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