The Moratorium Now Coalition gives its full support to the United Auto Workers’ (UAW) strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis that began on September 15, 2023.
This contract dispute has implications far beyond the lives of the 150,000 workers at those three corporate giants. The outcome will affect the broadest layers of unionized workers, non-unionized workers and, indeed, the entire community of poor and working people.
It is important to note that a large portion of the Big Three workers are “second tier” younger workers who get much lower pay, fewer benefits and no pension. This system of two tiers has spread throughout the corporate world. It has become a divisive, sore point as those working side by side get very different pay for the same work. The UAW leadership has demanded an end to two tiers challenging the entire strategy of the capitalist class to divide the working class and drive down wages.
The UAW has also drawn attention to the enormous profits of the companies and the multi-million dollar pay of the top executives. Demanding a 40% pay hike over four years is not extravagant, especially when one considers the losses suffered by everyone due to inflation. Every worker and those on fixed income are watching to see if the billionaire class can successfully be confronted. Success by the UAW may inspire a widespread movement across the working class.
The coming shift to electric vehicles is also a challenge to the UAW. Government multi-billion tax giveaways to the big companies should not finance the loss of jobs or income on the part of the workers. The demand for a short work week, 32 hours work for 40 hours pay, is once again on the table. This was a popular demand many decades ago when progress was made as UAW contracts won numerous Paid Personal Holidays (PPH) to the workers in the 1970s. These gains were given up as the UAW leadership succumbed to defeatism and concession contracts.
This UAW strike, led by new leadership elected, for the first time, by a referendum vote of all members, boldly challenges the entire past era of lower wages, loss of benefits and pensions, and job losses. As such it may be bitterly opposed by the bosses and bankers in all the Wall Street board rooms. We, labor and community activists, urge the widest support for the UAW strike in this historic battle.