Faking a Strike

Photograph Source: Jeanne Menjoulet – CC BY 2.0

The counterfeit “union,” the United Auto Workers, found a new way to fake a strike. What’s new?

Striking all of the Big Three (each enriched with government bailouts) by calling out less than 20 percent of the workforce, thus effectively dividing workers again. This is no improvement on striking only one of the Big Three and, now, not expanding the strike at Ford, portrayed as the:” good boss.”

Those who are working get paychecks. “Strikers” get a paltry $500 a week and march in the rain. The UAW  sits on a $850 million strike fund. The organization’s mis-leaders think of that as their bank, as we shall see.

The Big Three then targets groups of workers, where stockpiles are solid, for layoffs, thus saving money and pitting this group against their comrades.

Untouched, so far, is the huge Ford  Rouge complex, where I once worked, and which produces the Ford F150 Truck, the largest-selling vehicle in the US. One obvious bull’s eye.

During the Obama years, the UAW agreed to:

* not strike.

*to the bailouts of Chrysler (third time around) and GM,

*to the addition of new tiers on the pay scale (five now—another cutthroat division),

* and they virtually ignored, until recently, the Big Bosses’ pay gains at about 40 percent while member wages fell below inflation.

The bailouts, highlighting the rule of Finance Capital, coupled with the promise of perpetual war, and the unity of business, government, the unions,  and the military, forged the growing reality of the US corporate state–fascism.

The Obama period also deepened the UAW’s traditionally close ties to the Democratic Party– the labor bosses deceptively telling the ranks to vote away their problems.

 Now, with “Union Joe.” Obama’s VP during the  bailouts–the administration that started seven wars, murdering hundreds of thousands of people, setting a million or more out wandering Europe, costing trillions, only to lose every one of them–the UAW bosses once again urge “Vote Democrat.”

Joe will soon walk a UAW picket line, but not too far.

Trump will meet the UAW too, snubbing his niece’s Republican Debate. She is Ronna Romney McDaniel, but she dumped the Romney part when Uncle Mitt disrespected the sociopathic narcissist. (Another uncle was once the head of the Romanian Iron Guard in the US).

Trump will draw a mob, whose class consciousness is smothered by racism and Qanon religion. Class consciousness and the UAW have nothing in common—Reagan Democrat auto-workers.

The black-tie Detroit Auto Show opened the same week the strike began. All the opulence that desolated Detroit can offer was on display in the eight square mile area that has been re-colonized while the rest of the segregated  city rots,

The UAW agreed not to picket it. They claimed the Auto Show is a charitable, not sales, event.

As William Serrin demonstrated years ago in “The Company and the Union,” (1973) the labor bosses offer the Big Bosses pacified labor in exchange for guaranteed dues income, off which the labor bosses live very well–but perhaps not well enough as about ten former UAW hacks are in prison for embezzling from the UAW treasury–their bank. One even had a luxury house built for himself at lovely Black Lake in Michigan, the purported “Education Center,” where workers are taught to obey the labor hacks, toady to the hierarchy like a collection of Uriah Heeps,  and, especially to party on.

Once, the rank and file knew what to do. As the short documentary “With Babies and Banners,”  shows, the ranks seized GM’s Flint, Michigan plants, fought the Big Bosses, the cops, the Guard, and more–and won.

It is tempting to just demand that the UAW simply strike all the Big Three, completely, perhaps with wildcats.

But, today, that is not enough. The UAW executives control the contracts and the internal workings of the union, a bogus form of democracy that is strangled by a caucus system.

Sun Tzu, the great Chinese philosopher of war, says it is necessary to attack the enemy’s Grand Strategy, the age-old divide-and-rule scam, keeping the masses mystified.

Sun Tzu adds: Feed on the enemy.

And, organizers, like martial artists, know it is key to find the enemy’s Choke Point.

The enemy’s grand strategy emanates from: “Solidarity House” in Detroit. It is the UAW’s choke point.

All the materials a wildcatter could want are in that building, along with files, records, etc., that will likely expose the UAW’s many, many deceptions over the years.

In addition, the building probably holds all the unpublished documents about contract negotiations. These documents would, at least, provide outlines of  “Tentative Agreements,” which the UAW usually keeps secret from the rank and file until after ratification.

This action would flow directly from the UAW’s history, from the Flint Strike, but somewhat inverted, as is the relationship of the rank and file and the UAW Big Bosses as class adversaries.

Of course, the UAW bosses will call the police, as did GM in Flint in the thirties, further demonstrating the traitorous nature of the UAW hierarchy.

As I write, the Miramar, California Air Show is full throttle. It includes the Navy Blue Angels, a U2 spy plan, some B52s, and more. More than 300,000 people attend, gleefully. The noise is presented as “the sound of freedom.”

The air show usually concludes with “The Wall of Flame.”

Moms and dads bring the kids and hold up their babies to witness the spectacle of perpetual imperialist war. Most probably don’t know what the Flame is made of, or what it’s for: Napalm.

That is half the UAW’s and America’s secret. Empire. The other half is capitalist exploitation. Let’s let those cats out of the bag.

What defeats the class collaboration of the Labor Bosses, the political class, and the Big Bosses?

Ideas! An organized, integrated, class-conscious international movement for justice and equality, going well beyond the day-to-day life of the auto strike. Justice demands organization.

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