Re: (eng) class composition and autoworkers (fwd)

jeffrey s stein (j-stein1@students.uiuc.edu)
Thu, 24 Oct 1996 12:01:22 -0500 (CDT)


I am not familiar with what may be going on within the autoworkers, but
for what it's worth I wanted to mention that the U.S. group "Solidarity"
is Trotskyite. It is a splinter from I.S.

Jeff Stein

On Thu, 24 Oct 1996, Chris wrote:

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> - The alternative newsservice -
> http://www.lglobal.com/TAO/ainfos.html
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>
> CLASS COMPOSITION AND AUTOWORKERS
>
>
> A friend was writing about the recent Canadian autoworkers strike and I
> now wonder if folks on this list have anything to say about the
> re/composition of the autoworkers in Canada, the United States, etc. I
> wonder how connected the recent Canadian strike has been to the
> simultaneous mobilization of various unionized and ununionized workers,
> students, poor people, etc. against overall austerity measures
> culminating in a planned general strike in Toronto, Ontario, Canada this
> Friday. Does anyone have anything on this, by the way?
>
> The following is a perhaps intersting article written last spring about
> the U.S. autoworkers strike...
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Ryan Daum <rdaum@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca>
>
> General Motors strike against 'outsourcing'
> --Dianne Feeley
>
> March 15, Detroit--What started on March 5 as a local labor dispute
> at two General Motors' brake-parts plants in Dayton, Ohio has
> become the largest strike against GM in twenty-five years.
> Currently 21 of the 29 North American assembly plants and thirty
> parts plants are shut down. Nearly 100,000 workers out: 3,000
> workers on strike, the vast majority laid off because of a shortage
> of brake parts. Because the Dayton plants supply more than 90% of
> the brake components used in GM vehicles--and because just-in-time
> inventory makes the system vulnerable--the strike has cut GM's
> North American production by 75%. Currently GM is losing about $45
> million every strike day.
>
> At the heart of the strike is outsourcing, the growing practice of
> buying parts from independent parts suppliers. "Lean and mean
> production" is based on a two-tiered production system, with the
> second, lower tier being the parts suppliers, whose labor costs are
> typically one-third lower. The secret to the cheaper cost? Only
> one in five parts supplier is unionized.
>
> Of all the auto makers, GM has the most extensive network of parts
> plants. It has been the slowest of the big three to aggressively
> cut costs by selling off its plants. While Ford's outside suppliers
> account for 61% of the dollar value of a typical vehicle and the
> figure stands at 67% for Chrysler, for GM the percentage stands at
> 57%.
>
> Although the General Motors-United Auto Workers (UAW) contract
> doesn't allow strikes over the issue of outsourcing, the Dayton
> local charged GM with not keeping its promises for additional jobs
> and investment to upgrade the plant's technology. This failure,
> they asserted, led to GM's recent decision to equip the 1998 Camaro
> and Firebird cars with antilock break systems from Robert Bosch
> Gmbil. This decision would cost the local 128 future jobs.
>
> In addition, while GM is continuing to produce brake systems in
> Dayton, it has subcontracted out the assembly of electrical panels.
> The UAW contends that the company should have hired additional
> workers. However the company claims it had no obligation beyond
> asking the existing work force--already working six-day weeks--to
> put in more overtime. Once they refused, the company was free to
> subcontract the work out.
>
> Over the past twenty-five years both unemployment and forced
> overtime had been increasing. According to Juliet Schor's The
> Overworked American (NY: Basic Books, 1992), the average U.S.
> worker puts in an additional 168 hours a year, or nearly an
> additional month's worth of work. This is particularly true in the
> auto industry, where the nine-hour day and six-day work week are
> typical. In fact, the UAW estimates that 59,000 jobs would be
> created if plants were limited to a forty-hour week.
>
> While in the past the media has portrayed auto workers as highly
> paid workers who had no right to complain about their jobs because
> they were well compensated, the successful 1994 Flint strike to
> force GM to hire more workers (and thus reduce forced overtime)
> dramatized the fact that workers want to be able to do something
> else with their lives besides work. That strike was led by
> militants from New Directions, a small but articulate reform caucus
> inside the UAW. It won a commitment to hire 779 workers--the first
> workers hired by GM in eight years.
>
> The International UAW has authorized the Dayton strike in order to
> strengthen its hand in the weeks before the bargaining opens for a
> new three-year contract with the Big Three. (The current contract
> expires on September 14.) Since his election last year, UAW
> president Stephen Yokich has vowed--in speeches around the country-
> -to take on the outsourcing issue. Yokich's militant speeches, if
> backed up by UAW muscle, would be a big turnaround for the UAW.
> The restructuring within the auto industry over the past fifteen
> years, primarily through outsourcing, has halved UAW membership.
>
> GM has drawn a line in the sand because it must cut costs, beat
> back competitors and arrest a market-share drop. According to the
> Wall Street Journal, GM is more committed today to its cost-cutting
> efforts than it was two years ago, it has more cash to sustain a
> strike today, and it is willing to sacrifice market share and
> profits to win major concessions from the UAW. GM is determined to
> preserve its right to outsource whenever and wherever it needs to
> do so. The dispute is really about GM's fight to remain
> "competitive" in a global economy versus the needs and aspirations
> of its work force.
>
> The author is a leading member of the US group Solidarity
>
>
>
>
> --- from list aut-op-sy@lists.village.virginia.edu ---
>
>
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