November 11, 2023
From World Socialist Web Site

The following statement was released by the Mack Trucks Workers Rank-and-File Committee. 

Text MACK to (877) 861-4428 for updates and to discuss joining the Mack Workers Rank-and-File Committee today. Join the next meeting of the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network to discuss the implications of the UAW’s sellout deals at the Big Three and Mack and how to organize against them. Register here to attend.

Members of UAW Local 171 picket outside a Mack Trucks facility in Hagerstown, Maryland after going on strike Monday, October 9, 2023. Workers voted down a tentative five-year contract agreement that UAW negotiators had reached with the company. [AP Photo/Steve Ruark]

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

Our month-long strike has reached a decisive turning point. The Volvo executives and the UAW leadership are trying to blackmail us into accepting a contract we cannot live with. We must stand together and reject the company’s “best, last and final” offer. But this means we will have to bring our struggle to an entirely new level.  

We went into this fight because inflation has rapidly deteriorated our standard of living. We need wage increases large enough to make up for what we lost over the last four years and to raise our household incomes, so we don’t have to live from paycheck to paycheck. We need COLA to protect us from rising expenses, including interest payments on our cars, homes and credit cards. 

Everyone sees what Volvo profits are. Like they did to the New River Valley workers in 2021, the company is saying they cannot afford a contract that allows us to keep up with the cost of living and keep our families alive. But there are plenty of companies in Lehigh Valley, including McDonalds, that are paying higher starting wages. 

The company has now issued a declaration of war against Mack workers—and far from fighting this, the UAW bureaucrats are aiming the gun at our heads. 

In a letter to Mack workers, UAW 171 and 677 officials warned if workers voted down the Master agreement, then “the Company will implement their last offer and work will commence as normal Monday, November 20, 2023, while we are on strike. That being said the Company will also hire replacement workers. What that means for you as a member is that you will lose your jobs unless you cross the picket lines, and if they hire enough you will not be able to go back to work until there is an opening. Also per the Company your Insurance Benefits will be cut off December 1, 2023.” 

The UAW concluded their letter: “THIS IS NOT A SCARE TACTIC, THIS IS A REALITY!”

Any leadership that really represented workers would tell the company to go to hell and mobilize the full strength of the entire union to stop this strike-breaking threat. But, instead, the UAW bureaucrats are acting as the company’s messenger boys. 

What is taking place is a joint effort by the company and the UAW to break our strike. An urgent plan of action is needed to fight this:

  1. Workers must demand mass membership meetings where we can discuss our strategy. The local union officials are breaking us up in smaller groups because they fear that we will do what we did the last time: exchange information, discuss what we are going to do, and oppose the sabotage of our struggle by the UAW bureaucracy. 

  2. Workers in Macungie should communicate directly with our brothers and sisters in Hagerstown and the parts distribution centers in Baltimore and Florida. We should campaign for the largest “no” vote possible and toss the miserable contract in the trash. 

  3. We must issue our own “last, final and non-negotiable demands,” including a 50 percent raise, full COLA protection, pensions, sick time, the abolition of tiers and the punitive point system and no additional half hour of work a day. 

  4. If the company moves to break our strike and hire scabs, UAW members throughout the auto and truck manufacturing must conduct an all-out strike to defeat these threats and win our demands and the demands of all workers. We should make direct appeals to Volvo workers in Europe, South America and other regions to join this fight. 

After we voted down the first contract, UAW President Shawn Fain came to Macungie and Hagerstown with his tail between his legs, claiming he didn’t know what was in the deal he had called a “record contract.” Now, we can see what the plan was from the beginning: Fain and his administration deliberately isolated our strike, waiting for the company to issue its final offer, and then ordered his local cronies to force us to vote on the same contract we voted down more than a month ago. 

In spite of our rejection, in spite of the UAW’s previous public “about face” in an attempt to preserve their image, and in spite of their claims about standing with us and strengthening their ‘bargaining position,” they brought the same contract back again.

At the same time, Fain is encountering huge opposition from the rank and file to his “record contracts” for the Big Three autoworkers. In recent days, workers at several key GM assembly, engine and stamping plants in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio voted to reject the UAW-backed contract proposal. Like us, workers are outraged over inadequate raises and COLA, the maintenance of the hated two-tier wage and benefit system, and the lack of protection against job cuts in the EV conversion. 

The UAW bureaucrats like talking about “solidarity.” But to them it is a meaningless slogan. Fain’s “stand-up strike” divided auto workers, keeping most of them on the job while a handful were on strike. Once the deals were announced the UAW shut down the limited strikes and sent workers back to work before they even saw, let alone voted on them.   

The methods of the UAW apparatus have failed. For decades, they have lost jobs, conceded one thing after the other, and increased the work week. After Fain was installed, the union’s talking points changed but their actions didn’t. That’s not a surprise because he is a lifelong bureaucrat.

The contract at Mack is not the result of a few “bad apples.” The UAW apparatus is a fully integrated arm of the company. 

Workers do need organization, and we need to stick together. We cannot win as individuals or at one plant or in one country for that matter. We need real solidarity. We are the ones that produce all the wealth, and we have more strength, if we unite in the US and around the world, than the transnational corporations. We are the only ones capable of fighting for each other.

The company, the union and the government are firmly allied against us. The Biden administration and the UAW leadership have been speaking on a near-daily basis, planning how to limit strikes and enforce the companies’ demands. What is needed to fight this conspiracy is more than just a no vote. We produce all the profits and we have the ability to take all of that away.

When the company increases its attacks, we, the workers, need to respond with overwhelming force. It has only been a one-sided fight so far because of the treachery of the UAW bureaucracy. Fain and the local union officials have proven that they are unfit to lead our struggle.

That is why we are calling for workers to join and expand the Mack Trucks Rank-and-File Committee, which is fighting to transfer power and decision making from the UAW apparatus to the workers on the shop floor. Text MACK to (877) 861-4428 for updates and to discuss joining the Mack Workers Rank-and-File Committee today.