DETROIT, June 1 — The recent sellout contract signed between American Axle and the UAW is a perfect example of how capitalism works and where its priorities lie: destroying the lives of thousands of workers and turning U.S. industry into a low-wage haven. The immigration raids spreading throughout the Midwest and Southwest are no accident. They’re aimed at terrorizing ALL industrial workers, immigrants, undocumented or citizens, into accepting even lower wages. A worker who falls for any kind of racism is betraying his/her own class interests.
Axle workers are the latest victims of this fascist attack. The Axle bosses say the new contract “addresses market reality.” (NY Times, 5/29/08, and all following quotes) After their 87-day strike, this is how that “reality” hits the workers:
• Within a year, 2,000 of 3,650 union jobs will be eliminated.
• “Wages and benefits would be cut at least in half.”
• “Most new work will be going outside the United States.”
And this is how “reality” meets the company’s bottom line:
• “It expected to save about $300 million a year under its new contract.”
• “American Axle…lined up $1.4 billion in new…business for the next five years and…85 percent of it would be sourced abroad.” (“Operations in Mexico and overseas helped the company earn $37 million in 2007.”)
• Wages in Axle’s new plant in Guanajato, Mexico will be barely $1.50 AN HOUR.
What about the union? The bosses say the UAW “jointly addressed” this market reality “in this new set of agreements.” Yes, it “addressed” more than half the workers onto the street and cut the wages and benefits of the remainder more than half. To say the company has the union leadership in its hip pocket is putting it mildly.
This swindle follows the pattern set by the Big Three automakers and the union. GM just announced that one-fourth of its workers, 19,000 (adding to the 34,410 who left in 2006), are taking the company-offered buyout. Of these 19,000, JPMorgan auto analyst Himanushu Patel “predicted GM won’t replace 15,000…and will hire 4,000 [at half the pay] for total annual savings of $2.1 billion.” (Associated Press, 5/31)
Forty years ago, UAW President Walter Reuther was acclaimed for signing a contract with a “guaranteed annual wage.” Hundreds of thousands of laid-off U.S. autoworkers can now testify that the only “guarantee” under capitalism is job- and wage-cuts for workers and maximum profits for the bosses. And the racism of the bosses and UAW hacks has hit black autoworkers even harder, devastating cities like Detroit and Flint.
Since 1999, Michigan has lost 143,000 auto jobs — 45 percent of the total lost nationwide.
No matter what gains workers make through bitter struggle, when capitalism’s market asserts itself — through global competition, the drive for maximum profits, economic crisis and the needs of imperialist wars — the workers wind up at the bottom of the heap. After all, the bosses control the government and this state power is used to enforce the laws of the capitalist market. That’s why PLP says this system can’t be reformed. “Market reality” won’t permit it.
The only lasting victory that can be won from the Axle workers’ three-month battle is for the workers who bought and read CHALLENGE and came to PLP’s May Day events to join the Party in building a movement that aims to eliminate this system and its profit-driven markets so workers can hold state power and use it on behalf of the working class. Our goal is to establish a communist society in which workers come first and there is no “second” — profits, bosses and their labor lieutenants will be buried six feet under.