The Socialist 22 February 2006 |
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Car workers fight layoffs
HUNDREDS WERE expected for the picket line outside Delphi Flint East,
Michigan, on 16 February to protest the auto parts manufacturer's drive
to lay off 24,000 workers and cut wages by 60%.
Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative, CWI, USA
But the day before the rally officials from UAW Local 651 [union
branch] called off the event, citing a minor snowstorm as an excuse.
Still, upwards of 75 workers formed a lively picket line, most of
them supporters of Soldiers of Solidarity (SOS), the fighting opposition
movement within the United Auto Workers who initiated the idea for the
The cancellation of the picket and rally had more to do with politics
than snow. The union leaders feared the event would increase the
influence of SOS dissidents at their expense. After all, while the
leadership had done little to mobilise for the rally, supporters of SOS
had spent weeks spreading word on the shop floor and community.
The day before the picket the Local leadership passed out leaflets
and called members' homes to tell to tell them the picket and rally were
This sabotage is consistent with the methods of the UAW leadership in
general. But how to fight this? Todd Jordan, a prominent SOS activist,
said: "It's going to take solidarity, real unionism from the bottom
up, worker to worker, educating other union members on the shop
"Its extremely disheartening," Jordan continued. "This
bureaucracy tells us to wait and see. They hold rallies, but they don't
tell us anything... they tell us to vote for Democrats, but that's not
what the people want to hear; they want to come out and they want to
Delphi delays to avoid strike
THE RALLY was timed to precede Delphi's bid to cancel its contracts
with the auto workers in bankruptcy court, allowing the company to
unilaterally impose massive wage and benefit cutbacks and lay off over
two-thirds of its North American workforce.
But on Friday Delphi announced it would put off such a request for
six weeks to continue negotiations with the UAW in hopes of avoiding a
strike. A strike would cripple both Delphi and General Motors, which
relies on Delphi workers for auto parts.
SOS has been holding mass meetings across the region, demanding the
UAW organise members to 'work to rule'.
This is designed to prevent Delphi from stockpiling inventory to ride
out a strike.
The Soldiers of Solidarity network is among the most exciting
developments in the US labour movement today. It is an important sign of
things to come as attacks on autoworkers and the American working class
Go to Socialist
Alternative, sister party of the Socialist Party and the USA section of
the Committee for a Workers' International