The following statement was released by Will Lehman, a Mack Trucks worker and rank-and-file candidate for UAW president last year, on the eve of the October 1 contract expiration between the UAW and Mack Trucks.
Join the next online meeting of the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network to discuss uniting workers in the US and Canada for an all-out strike across the auto industry. Register here to attend.
Brothers and sisters,
Late Sunday night, only minutes before our contract was set to expire, the United Auto Workers suddenly announced that an agreement had been reached with Mack. The UAW released no details about this supposed agreement, only telling us that “more details” are to come. A potential strike was called off, and we were sent to work.
We must demand that the UAW release the full details of the tentative agreement, which covers 4,000 workers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida. If they have a contract, as they claim, there can be no reason to not send it to us immediately.
If the UAW does not release the agreement today, that can only mean that they called off a strike before they even had a contract, for the sole purpose of preventing us from joining our brothers and sisters at the Big Three on the picket lines.
Some workers have been told that we will only receive contract “highlights” before a vote this weekend. We must make it clear beforehand that rank-and-file workers consider any vote held on this basis to be illegitimate and invalid. We will not have a contract rammed down our throats before we have even had a chance to read it!
Whatever has been agreed by the UAW apparatus and management, we can be sure that it does not meet our demands. Only days ago, the UAW said management had “too many concessions on the table to list here” and that they were “attacking our job security language, rejected 401k increases, putting everyone into the pension plan, COLA, and all other demands that are important to our membership.”
Are we to believe that Mack caved without us even lifting a finger?
We’ve seen this bait-and-switch operation far too many times. The UAW apparatus blocks us from striking, tells us that it has a “historic” agreement that for some reason we are not allowed to see, and tries to push through a vote before we have a chance to think about it, let alone talk among ourselves.
But now this is playing out against the backdrop of the phony “stand-up” strikes organized by Fain at the Big Three. With each passing week, the ineffective character of this “strike” is more and more apparent. Nearly three weeks in, 83 percent of Big Three workers remain on the job, while the plants that have been called out have had only a negligible impact on the companies’ profits.
Everything is done by the union apparatus to isolate us, to separate one section of workers from another, and to keep us in the dark.
In 2019, the UAW under President Gary Jones—who later pleaded guilty and was sent to prison for embezzling dues—called a strike at Mack. The UAW kept Volvo workers at New River Valley on the job, and then shut down our strike after just 12 days, before we even had a chance to see or vote on the contract. The deal maintained the tier system and had total wage increases of just 6 percent, meaning we have taken a massive real wage cut since the last contract.
In 2021, the UAW under Presidents Rory Gamble and Ray Curry called a strike at Volvo Trucks, but kept Mack workers on the job, ordering us to handle scab-made cabs. After Volvo workers voted down three UAW-endorsed contracts, Curry and Local 2069 organized a re-vote on the third sellout contract workers had rejected, which they then claimed passed by a “razor-thin” margin of just 17 ballots.
This time, Fain and the UAW are trying to convince us that they have won an agreement that meets our needs without a fight and without a strike. No one should believe this.
Nothing has been changed in the UAW by the replacement of Curry by Fain. The same pro-corporate bureaucracy holds sway, dividing workers, working out deals with management behind our backs, and blocking us from carrying out a real fight.
But rank-and-file workers are becoming aware of this reality and rebelling against the bureaucracy. From Volvo to John Deere, to Clarios battery workers and Lear auto parts workers this year, workers again and again have voted down UAW-endorsed sellout contracts, often by 90 percent margins.
The decisive role in organizing opposition and resistance in each of these struggles has been played by militant-minded workers who have formed rank-and-file committees, structures under the control of workers on the shop floor. These committees have allowed workers to communicate with each other both within plants and across different factories, sharing information and combating the lies of both management and the union bureaucracy.
That’s why I’m appealing to my brothers and sisters at Mack to join and expand the Mack Workers Rank-and-File Committee, and take up the following demands, based on what workers actually need to have a decent standard of living:
50 percent wage increases
Abolition of tiers
Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA)
Fully funded pensions for all
Democratic worker control of line speeds, health and safety, and hiring and firing
If there’s going to be a fight, it’s up to the rank and file to organize it. To discuss joining the rank-and-file committee, fill out the form below, or call/text me at 267-225-6633.