September 10, 2023
From World Socialist Web Site

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Clarios battery worker: “We want to strike and win”

More than 500 Clarios workers in Holland, Ohio struck for 40 days earlier this year against wage-cutting and exhausting and dangerous work schedules. After workers voted down two UAW sellout contracts, Fain and UAW Vice President Rich Boyer—who oversees both Stellantis and the UAW’s parts department—rammed through essentially the same contract workers had twice rejected.

Striking Clarios workers on first day of strike May 8, 2023

A Clarios worker spoke to the WSWS over the weekend about their experience on strike and the current struggle of Big Three autoworkers:


I’ve seen Shawn Fain on Facebook events saying he is fighting for you, that the companies don’t want to give you anything, and the UAW is going to stand up. Fain is blowing hot air and running his mouth. The UAW officials said they were going to fight for us too.

We voted down two contracts and after leaving us on $500 a week strike pay they forced through a third contract. We got three percent a year for three years and a new schedule of 12-hour days with no overtime. That’s about the same thing that Stellantis and the other companies want to give you.

Autoworkers want to strike, and it looks like there will be a strike. But we shouldn’t strike, just for striking. We want to strike and win, to make it better for our families and all working people. We have to stand together and stop letting the union bureaucrats and companies walk all over us.

You will need to build rank-and-file committees, so workers have got the say. It would be way better to have the rank and file in control. We need to fight for one another. We all work and all we want to do is take care of our families and not live paycheck to paycheck while the corporations are making billions.

The UAW bureaucrats don’t give a damn about us. Fain was collecting his $300,000 check and didn’t even bother to come to our picket line. If he calls a strike at the Big Three, he wants to leave you out there on $500 a week, until the UAW can starve you back to work and accept a rotten contract. I say to autoworkers: don’t let them run over you. Everybody feels the same way. Let’s form as one, stand up together and fight corporate greed and the sellouts in the UAW.

Ford Dearborn Stamping worker: “We need the power on the shop floor”

Dave, a Ford worker at the Dearborn Stamping plant told the WSWS, “Many workers think the strike is going to happen. People are very angry. They are broke. They can’t survive. Some TPT’s take home $200 a week and they don’t know when that is going to end.”

The Dearborn Stamping worker is part of a group that supported the campaign of Will Lehman, the Mack Trucks workers and socialist candidate for UAW president, and they continue to share videos from his campaign. “Of course, we need $750 strike pay,” he said. “They are sitting on more than $800 million.”

The worker denounced the company’s plans to establish a workforce which is made up entirely of temporary workers. “That is crazy! I was a temp for 4 years. In that time I only missed two days. When my wife had a baby, they would not allow me to be with her at the hospital. They refused to accept my paperwork.” The UAW bureaucracy’s role in this case was particularly despicable. When the worker confronted his supervisor with medical documents from the hospital, he sneered and the union rep did nothing.

“That’s when my disdain for the union bureaucrats really got started,” he said. “The whole time I was at the hospital, I was worried that I would lose my job. It was horrible. They make you feel disposable.”

The worker described another incident in which union reps talking with others who were running for a paid union position admitted their biggest motive was to get a pension even though the UAW agreed to abolish pensions for workers hired after 2007. “For the union officials to have a pension and not have that for the rank and file Ford workers they are supposed to represent. That’s just wrong. Is he working for me or am I working for him?”

“Will Lehman is right,” he continued. “The UAW is concealing the company’s plans for mass layoffs from the EV transition. We need rank-and-file committees everywhere. We need the power on the shop floor, and we need to know what is going on every step of the way.”

Will Lehman, rank-and-file candidate in 2022 UAW elections, issues call-to-action to autoworkers: “The UAW bureaucrats aren’t putting forward a strategy, but the rank and file must”

On Thursday, Will Lehman—a rank-and-file worker at Mack Trucks in Pennsylvania and candidate for UAW president—released a statement calling on autoworkers to take control of their struggle.

In a video, Lehman stated,

UAW President Shawn Fain and his administration have said they’re “back in the fight” and are different from the corrupt bureaucrats who came before them. They claim that they are asking the companies for the “members demands” to restore COLA and pensions, get a 40 percent wage increase, and shorten the workday.

But Fain and the UAW leadership have said nothing about their strategy to win these demands. This is because they have no intention of fighting for anything we need. Instead, Fain is promoting the Democratic Party because they’re conspiring with them to force the company’s demands onto workers.

Saying that workers themselves must put forward a strategy to win their demands, Lehman called for the expansion of rank-and-file committees at each plant, in order to fight for the following measures:

“1. Raise strike pay to $750 a week. The strike fund has more than $800 million from our dues. Raising strike pay will send a message to the companies that we are serious about a real battle. Workers cannot be strung out on poverty pay until they are compelled to accept a contract on management’s terms.

2. Make sure there is rank-and-file oversight of all the contract talks. The rank-and-file must have real control of all negotiations. Fain claims the UAW is being transparent, but all their talks with management and the White House are happening behind closed doors. That has to end. The full list of plants the companies are planning to close must be released, as well as all documents exchanged between the UAW, management, and Biden in the contract talks.

3. Prepare for an all-out nationwide strike on September 14. To be effective, any strike must hit all locations at all three companies, and not isolated to only a few plants. We must forge connections with our brothers and sisters at the parts plants, who are also seeking to reverse concessions previously imposed by the UAW.

“4. Launch an internationally coordinated fight back! The attacks on workers’ jobs related to EV’s are happening globally. Ford workers in Germany, Spain, and India have already been targeted for either plant closures or mass job cuts.

“The contracts for US and Canadian autoworkers are expiring within days of each other. Autoworkers in Mexico, Germany, Turkey, and elsewhere are also in a fight against job cuts and concessions.

“A strike by US autoworkers will immediately attract the attention and support of workers all over the world. We must fight consciously to unify all autoworkers and other sections of the working class internationally, based on the understanding that we are fighting the same companies and the same ruling class strategy.”

Read and share the full statement