Since going on strike two weeks ago, the UAW workers of GM are showing a courageous example to workers across the United States and the world. The struggle has shown and exemplified a great variance of topics and principles.
The solidarity amongst union workers has given a great example for an America so divided. Members of the UAW and the communities built around the auto plants of striking workers are coming together, against a common enemy. Workers, their families, and communities of different races, ethnicities, and religions are coming together on the picket line, hand in hand, and song in song. While it is certainly true that a strike does not end racism, chauvinism, selfishness, and other disgusting bourgeois traits, it does exemplify how labor, the core of the human experience, can unify the divided. How labor can overcome race-baiting, red-baiting, and social sabotage. As the labor movement grows, as the working class becomes a conscious class, unity, working-class values of unity and equality will only become the most practical conclusion of America’s working class.
The solidarity amongst workers is not bound to the United States. In another example of working-class unity, workers of GM in Mexico and South Korea. Several workers in Mexico were fired last week for refusing to work overtime and holding meetings to organize in aid of the strike against GM. In South Korea, workers are joining the strike, spreading not just the solidarity around the globe, but pushing the advance of the class struggle with their own strike demands.
Once again, the common enemy of capital unites labor.
GM has certainly taken a hit. The conservative estimate places the GMs loss at over $1 billion dollars. That’s more than 11% of GM’s reported $9 billion dollar profit in 2018. Soon, other capitalist enterprises in heavy industry and manufacturing will start to report losses due to the idle demand of GM. From steel to glass, from parts to their transportation, many industries will be hit from the strike. Once again the strike exemplifies a great truth, the Labor Theory of Value. If the value profited on by the capitalist did not come from the laborer, how could such a huge loss in profit become reality in only two weeks of a work stoppage?
While the strike continues, so does the capitalist offensive against it. As of 10/1/19, the UAW has rejected the latest contract offer from GM. As the strike continues, so does the day to day struggle of survival of those striking. The bravery of action and sacrifice of the workers on strike must be celebrated, supported, and learned from. It must not, however, be romanticized.
The strikers can only receive $250 a week from the UAW’s strike fund. Up until only a few days ago, the workers and their families were ruthlessly denied healthcare coverage by GM when their contract expired. The very next week, GM paid over $2 billion dollars to shareholders and executives in dividends. On 9/26/18, GM made a concession to the workers and restored their healthcare coverage for the time being. If the concession was meant to bribe to the workers, it did not work. The situation does, however, exemplify the literal power of life and death the capitalist holds over the working class, and the literal life and death struggle the workers face against the capitalist.
Layoffs have also begun to be used by the rusty blade of GM against the workers. GM has furloughed over 1,600 workers in the United States and Canada. GM has laid the most venomous strike against it’s more vulnerable workers. In Mexico, GM has decided to idle a plant, putting over 6,000 people out of work.
The capitalists are vicious and unrelenting, wielding a seemingly infinite power. But it is not infinite, it is not even stable. The power of the capitalists is held on by a thread. The strength of the workers can break the faulty power of the ruling class. The power of the workers can bring an end to the capitalist class, rendering it helpless. The unity of the working class can take production out of the realm of chaos in the pursuit of profit and utilize production instead of for good of humanity.
The working class and oppressed can only lose its chains if it knows that those chains are around their wrists, they can only know if they are there if they are rattled, and the chains of the workers are now being rattled.