Seize Solidarity House

The corrupt and Quisling leadership of the United Auto Workers Union has sent its 50,000 General Motors worker-members out on strike–a strike the labor bosses probably never wanted, as with the wildcat school workers’ strikes of recent months.

While William Serrin in his, “The Company and the Union,” showed how the UAW used a counterfeit strike in 1970 to exhaust the ranks and then ram through a terrible contract, the social atmosphere is much different now–social uprisings all over the world.

It could be things will get out of hand. I surely hope so. There is every reason for more wildcats in Chrysler, Fords, and beyond.

Here is a glaring contemporary reason.

Nine UAW bosses have been charged with crimes ranging from embezzling from the union’s treasury, to the tune of millions, to accepting bribes from the auto bosses in terms of cash, plush resorts, golf trips, and much more–all well documented in the Detroit press.

The two top UAW bosses, including president Gary Jones will be charged. In the highlight announcements of this strike, Jones is nowhere to be found.

Clearly, the bribery and embezzlement involved both the auto companies and the UAW. There was a rotten exchange–gifts and money for the delivery of sellout contracts; cheating on ratification votes when necessary.

These crimes, however, are but a thin layer over the bigger heist every major union in the US conducts day by day. We shall get to that greater hustle shortly. First, what to do now?

If this strike is to be won, it will have to be through direct action by the rank and file, self-organized in workers councils across all of auto (not just the false “target” GM) and including non-member supporters–spouses, students, teachers, radicals.

Those councils will, at the outset, be small. If the strike is rightfully prolonged and a fast sellout is defeated, they could grow rapidly.

In the interim, as strategic patience is upheld by a sense of urgency, a tactic that could maximize the impact of a relatively small group, say 50 to 100 people, could have an impact that would reverberate around the US and the world, just as the uprising in Hong Kong, nationalist though it is, has inspired thousands.

Seize Solidarity House.

It belongs to the members of the UAW.

As one of the four or five people mainly responsible for the formation of what is now the largest local in the UAW, Local 6000 (state of Michigan workers, not auto), Solidarity House belongs to me–us. At the outset, we organized around this principle: Workers and Bosses have contradictory interests. That idea is lost in all of US unionism now. Still, I want my piece of the House.

Solidarity House has been taken over by a criminal gang likely to be charged as a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization.

Just go in and take it. This is, after all, how the UAW initially came into being during the Great Flint Strike in the mid-thirties, a militant takeover of GM’s Flint plants immortalized in the brief video, “With Babies and Banners.”

Taking over Solidarity (sic) House would be the perfect metaphorical form of real solidarity.

Of course, there will be a response–likely arrests. So, the UAW hacks will be causing the arrests of their own members in the midst of a strike: Ultimate Scabs!

The UAW has done that before. In response to injuries and dangerous working conditions, the workers at the Chrysler Mack Avenue plant in Detroit, led a sit-down strike, seized the plant.

The UAW’s goons joined the Detroit Police and dragged out the sit-downers, beat them, and had them jailed. Eventually, they were acquitted.

Why did the UAW do that?

To defend the contract. And, again, what that means comes soon.

There is no need for violence in seizing Solidarity House, although the history above shows it may come from the other side.

If Solidarity House does not belong to the members, then whose is it? How can the owners be arrested?

Seizing Solidarity House would puncture the myth of American “unionism,” which hasn’t been what most people think of as Unionism for decades, and with the AFL, it never was.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers made my case on the larger theft.

In regard to the Supreme Court Janus decision which wiped out the agency shop (essentially forced due collection) Randi Weingarten warned, in sworn testimony, the Court justices that weakening the unions would “lead to more activism and political action.”

“The funders backing the Janus case and the Supreme Court Justices who want to eliminate collective bargaining with the hope that such a move would silence workers need only to look at West Virginia for what will happen if they get their way. A loss of collective bargaining would lead to more activism and political action, not less. Collective bargaining exists as way for workers and employers to peacefully solve labor relations.”

“Once you throw that out the window, the only other path for voice and economic gains is through politics and legislation. That’s exactly the case in West Virginia, which lacks collective bargaining, where thousands of teachers mobilized and took on the governor and legislature for their failure to provide teachers with the economic dignity and voice they deserve – and that kind of activism will be multiplied and magnified across the country if collective bargaining is struck down.” (WaPo March 5, 2018).

Here is a key American labor leader openly stating that U.S. unions exist for social control. Labor peace–no strike clauses–is sold by the union bosses in exchange for dues income off which the petty-bosses live very well–in effect a bribe. Unions exist to forestall the obvious–-class struggle. She’s right. US unions are not what most people think they are.

That is why the UAW defended the Chrysler contract. They had promised, and continue to promise, labor peace to Chrysler. When the members rose up, the UAW took the side of the Chrysler bosses–and the UAW bank account which could be threatened by a lawsuit.

To seize Solidarity House would clearly demonstrate the Bigger Corruption, that is, the line of “Partners in Production,” meaning the unity of labor hacks and Big Bosses–against the rank and file, that gave rise to the smaller, if disgusting, crimes of the UAW bosses in the past few weeks.

The publicity won from seizing Solidarity House could inspire rank and filers to demand: “No Concessions, No Multi-Tier wage systems, No Temps, Open Negotiations, Ratification vote counts to be overseen by both the rank and file members and a third party neutral.

It was direct action, in true Solidarity, that created the abolitionist movement, the rise of thirties union militancy, the Civil Rights movement, the anti-war movement, and the school worker wildcats.

Time to rise again.

Rich Gibson is an emeritus professor at San Diego State and a co-founder of the Rouge Forum.