At the heart of the strike by United Auto Workers at General Motors is workers’ determination to push back the concessions the bosses have imposed on workers with “two tiers” of wages and on growing numbers of temp workers with even lower pay, all of whom are doing the same jobs. GM’s two-tier wage system means every worker hired since 2007 starts on half the pay of more senior workers and takes eight years to reach near the same pay levels; while “temporary” workers stay in that position for years and years. The strikers are demanding, “No more tiers!”
GM bosses continue to shutter plants — like those in Lordstown and Baltimore — forcing workers to transfer far from home for other GM jobs or to quit.
Worldwide, bosses and the governments that serve them do everything they can to deepen divisions among workers. This is the way for the capitalist class — a tiny minority — to impose its will on the vast majority, working people, whose labor, along with nature, is the source of all the world’s wealth, in the factories and on the land. This is the only way they can boost their profits on our backs.
And they seek to intensify competition among workers — unemployed against employed, native- against foreign-born, Black against Caucasian, men against women. They want us to see each other as the problem, not as fellow workers with common interests. Especially not to see ourselves as fellow fighters capable of uniting to resist their assaults on our wages, social rights and working and living conditions.
In fact they count on the corroding effects of this competition their system breeds to instill their dog-eat-dog values. They and their meritocratic enablers — from the editorial boardrooms to college administrations to the innumerable nongovernment organizations and other social-engineering outfits — work overtime to spread the lie that workers are stupid, reactionary and need to be corralled. They say workers are racist and hate immigrants.
They are surprised when workers with very different wage rates, benefits and conditions stand side by side on union picket lines.
The way to counter their continual efforts to pit workers against each other is on the basis that an injury to one is an injury to all. Make the struggle by UAW members your own! Join their picket lines! Solidarity in struggle is the first step along the path to unifying working people and building class consciousness.
Today millions of workers are looking for ways to organize together to fight what has been done to us by the bosses. There is an uptick in workers organizing, helped by greater employment. Every step to organize workers and to back their struggles is an advance.
The Socialist Workers Party and its candidates present a fighting program aimed at strengthening the consciousness, self-confidence and unity workers need.
If we think of every social and political question — from the environment, to amnesty for immigrant workers, to the fight against cop brutality, to the UAW strike — as a class question, we’ll get on the right track. That’s the road toward construction of a powerful independent working-class political movement fighting to replace the profit-driven capitalist system with workers power.
Join in! Support the UAW strike! Back the Blackjewel coal miners in Kentucky!