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UAW Supporters to Hit the Pavement at Dealerships

By Lisa Xu - Labor Notes, September 28, 2023

Last Friday, some 5,000 Auto Workers (UAW) at 38 after-market parts distribution centers across General Motors and Stellantis joined the escalating “Stand-Up Strike.” Even with the scabs GM has deployed, the dealerships that receive parts from these PDCs will soon be feeling the inventory pinch for everything from replacement bumpers to Jeep handlebars. With parts shortages come irate customers, blaming dealerships for the supply snarls caused by the Big 3 automakers.

When it comes to the impact of the strike on customers, auto dealerships are where the rubber meets the road. Profit margins from selling parts and performing repairs have historically been higher than from vehicle sales. During the GM strike in 2019, some frustrated customers who needed repairs vowed to never buy a GM car again, while others vented their anger at workers.

This makes dealerships an important site to engage the public and amplify the message of the workers: it is the Big 3, not the workers, who are responsible for parts shortages and delayed repairs.

They Sacrificed to Survive Bankruptcy. They Worked Through A Pandemic. Now, Autoworkers Have Had Enough

By Amie Stager - In These Times, September 28, 2023

Bonita Burns, 50, sits in a camping chair on the lawn in front of Mopar Parts Distribution Center. One of the crutches she uses to get around after her foot surgery leans against the chair. A picket sign leans against the other side. She is scratching off lottery tickets, hoping for some luck. 

“I don’t know how long we’re gonna be on strike,” she says. ​“We need the strike to get our point across and get our demands met.” 

She’s come off medical leave to join on a picket line that started that morning at 11 a.m., when workers at Mopar and 37 other parts distribution centers walked off the job, expanding the UAW’s stand-up strike against the Big Three automakers. 

January will mark 11 years at Stellantis for Burns. She cares for three grandchildren and is hoping a new contract will make it easier for current and future workers to support themselves and their families. She says she’s seen single mothers who had to quit after being forced to work overtime.

“She’s gonna strike it rich!” Brandon Lee, 31, a forklift operator, jokes about Burns’ lotto tickets. He and Alex Tivis, 33, march together around the lawn with picket signs. They were both hired nine years ago at $15.78 an hour. They recall working 90 days in a row during the probationary period, ten hours a day, seven days a week. The paychecks piled up — they didn’t have any time to cash them.

Trump and Rubio Pretend to Support UAW Strike

“Unions for Trump” Signholder at Trump Rally Admitted They’re Not a Union Member

By Chris Walker - Truthout, September 28, 2023

At least a few people who attended former President Donald Trump’s speech to auto workers on Wednesday evening were not who they purported to be, according to a report on the event, with some admitting they were neither union members nor auto workers.

According to a report written by The Detroit News’s Craig Mauger, around 400 to 500 Trump supporters attended the speech, which was given at a Drake Enterprises auto parts facility. That company is not represented by any union, including the United Auto Workers (UAW), which is currently striking against the Big Three automakers in the U.S.

Drake Enterprises only employs around 150 workers, and it’s unclear who the other attendees at the Trump speech — which was intended to be directed specifically toward auto workers — actually were. It’s likely that those present were community members rather than people employed by the company, as Clinton Township, where the facility is located, was near-evenly split between Trump and President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Upon being approached by The Detroit News, some individuals who attended the event admitted that the signs they held weren’t representative of their identities.

“One individual in the crowd who held a sign that said ‘union members for Trump,’ acknowledged that she wasn’t a union member when approached by a Detroit News reporter after the event,” Mauger’s report stated. “Another person with a sign that read ‘auto workers for Trump’ said he wasn’t an auto worker when asked for an interview.”

Slow Walks and Tough Talk: Auto Workers Turn the Screws

By Keith Brower Brown - Labor Notes, September 28, 2023

The 18,000 Auto Workers on strike have lit up the labor movement. But the strike is only the most visible side of auto workers’ leverage.

The less visible side is on the shop floor, where organized refusals of voluntary overtime have shut down multiple lines and whole factories for entire weekends since the strike began.

Among the 130,000 UAW members still working at the Big 3 auto companies, shop floor creativity is bringing back a bold tradition of “work to rule”—where workers coordinate to do only their explicit duties by the book, and nothing more. When production slows to a crawl, it proves how workers’ savvy was what kept the factory humming to begin with.

The reform caucus Unite All Workers for Democracy, which backed the election of President Shawn Fain and the rest of his Members United slate, has become a hub for these militant tactics. UAWD’s weekly “Members’ Update” calls and a “Members’ Voice” strike bulletin focus on spreading tactics to push managers and bring more co-workers into action.

The caucus launched a Refuse Voluntary Overtime pledge; members have used the pledge and its leaflets to rapidly organize hundreds of co-workers to join the refusal.

The rebellion from the ranks is forcing management to scramble for a counterattack. In the last week, hoping to keep those profitable Escalades and F-150s rolling out, managers at plants across the Big 3 tried to make weekend overtime mandatory.

But members at many plants figured out new ways to hold the line with their striking siblings. Some are declining to take the usual shortcuts, like riding bicycles around a big plant. Others are exploiting the unique legal environment of working under an expired contract: it is now an unfair labor practice for management to make unilateral changes to wages or working conditions. If bosses want to change something, they have to bargain it.

Auto Workers at four plants shared these dispatches on their co-workers’ latest inventions.

Automakers’ Electric Vehicle Lie

By Lucy Dean Stockton - The Lever, September 27, 2023

This story was produced in collaboration with The Nation.

The United Auto Workers are entering their third week of the first-ever simultaneous strike against the three big automakers, and for the first time, a sitting US president, Joe Biden, joined them on the picket line. Executives at General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis are pushing back on worker demands by invoking the climate crisis. They say it is impossible to give workers what they want while also making a swift transition to manufacturing electric vehicles.

On September 14, Ford’s CEO Jim Farley said that the union’s demands — higher wages, better hours, an end to tiered employment, and guaranteed job security in a green energy transition — could send the company into bankruptcy. Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, said that the union’s demands are “unrealistic” and would make GM less competitive. Major outlets have echoed these claims, even arguing that the UAW’s strike will harm the environment by stalling EV production.

But these corporate arguments are undercut by the fact that these companies have authorized billions in stock buybacks, special dividends, and executive compensation. The automakers could have invested that money into worker compensation and electric vehicles, but instead steered it toward stockholders.

Tim Scott Thinks Auto Workers are LAZY, and Should be FIRED

It Shouldn’t Be a Big Deal That Biden Joined Striking Workers on the Picket Line—But It Is

By Jeff Schuhrke - In These Times, September 26, 2023

On Tuesday, Joe Biden became the first sitting U.S. president to join a picket line when he visited striking United Auto Workers (UAW) members outside a GM parts facility in Belleville, Michigan.

“You guys, UAW, you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before. You made a lot of sacrifices, gave up a lot when the companies were in trouble,” the president said to picketing workers. ​“But now they’re doing incredibly well, and guess what? You should be doing incredibly well too.”

The president has voiced support for the UAW’s strike at the Big Three automakers since it began on September 15. But after former President Donald Trump announced plans to hold a campaign rally at a non-union auto parts plant near Detroit — which the media grossly mischaracterized as ​“Trump standing with striking autoworkers” — Biden was pushed by fellow Democrats to visit a UAW picket line.

As a candidate in 2019, Biden joined workers on picket lines, including striking GM employees. Candidate Bill Clinton also walked a picket line in 1992, as did candidate Barack Obama in 2007. But no president has ever joined a picket line while in office until today.

On the campaign trail, Obama promised workers that, if elected, he would ​“put on a comfortable pair of shoes” and ​“walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America” — a promise he never fulfilled. As Obama’s vice president, Biden rebuffed a request from Wisconsin labor leaders in 2011 to join their massive protest against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s push to curtail public sector union rights. 

Biden’s UAW picket line visit reflects the fact that the strike by union workers is so popular that the leader of the most pro-capitalist country on Earth believed being seen standing alongside them was politically advantageous.

The Militancy of the UAW Strike Forced Joe Biden to Take a Side and Walk the Picket Line

By Nick French - Jacobin, September 26, 2023

Today President Joe Biden traveled to Detroit to join members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) on the picket line in their strike against the Big Three automakers. The move was Biden’s strongest signal of support yet, after a number of more equivocal statements about the ongoing contract dispute. He is the first sitting US president in history to walk a picket line.

Biden’s transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, declared that Biden went to Detroit because he is “deeply pro-worker.” One might doubt Buttigieg’s assessment, given that — despite Biden’s admirably pro-labor National Labor Relations Board — the president intervened to stop railworkers from striking over eminently reasonable demands less than a year ago and has so far been content to fund a transition to electric vehicles (EVs) with little regard for workers. (Buttigieg himself went on to qualify his statement: the president, he says, wants “the auto sector to succeed as well” and is “pushing the parties to get to a win-win deal that does right by workers.”)

In any case, to look at Biden’s decision as simply reflecting his personal commitments is to miss the bigger picture. Biden is looking toward reelection, Michigan is a crucial swing state, and the president and his team almost certainly feel a trip to the UAW picket line will be a boon to his electoral odds. And considering union favorability is at an all-time high and a majority of Americans support the UAW walkout, they’d be right to think so.

Stand with UAW: Record Profits Means Record Contracts


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