United States General Motors strikers interviewed

Pickets at General Motors Toledo Powertrain in the USA

By Tim Rivers and Tom Hall in the USA:

Capitalism is the core of the problem:” Striking GM workers call for global struggle against auto companies

7 October 2019

GM workers on the picket discussed the need for an international strategy for the expansion of their strike with the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter this weekend.

Pro-capitalism—that is the core of the problem. And it’s across the board—worldwide!” a veteran worker at Flint Truck Assembly said.

“When people who don’t work in the auto industry ask me what this strike is about, I tell them it is about setting a global standard. It is about the working class worldwide. We need to set the global standard for a livable wage for everybody.”

“This is class war. It is a global strategy to pit us against each other,” he said. “Like Silao, Mexico [where GM workers have been fired for supporting the strike in the US]. They would love to stand with us. We want to stand with them.”

“Everybody needs to be able to make a livable wage. Not just here in America,” he continued. “I say everywhere around the world. I have seen poverty everywhere. I have traveled in the world, and it all equals the same thing.”

The worker drew the connection between the exploitation of GM’s international workforce and the hollowing out of Flint, the company’s birthplace and former base of operations. “I have seen what it did to the city of Flint. It decimated the economy and the social structure. We went from a city of home owners, to a city of tenants, to an empty city. Now they are trying to rebuild the city and bring labor and residents back in, but not at a livable wage. Every new job is at $10 an hour.”

He denounced the abuse of temporary workers, who are paid a fraction of the wages of full timers with fewer benefits and who are left at the mercy of the company. “Some temps have been in the plant as long as five and six years. Some do several years over at the metal fabrication plant and now they are doing more years as temps over here at the assembly plant.”

The Flint striker rejected the toxic nationalism which has long been the stock in trade of the United Auto Workers, which pits workers in the US against their brothers and sisters in Mexico and other countries in the name of defending “American” jobs. “The UAW wants us to feel that we can’t stand with [Mexican workers] because they are not American employees.”

“I have been watching the union’s strategies unfold since GM set out to break the UAW in the late 1980s. And they have been working on us ever since.”

… he said, referring to the Obama administration’s forced bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler in 2009. … “They really didn’t have to go bankrupt, but it was a good way to liquidate debt. They utilized that to keep us from asking for more benefits and more wages.”

A worker at Fiat Chrysler’s Trenton Engine Plant near Detroit declared: “This strike needs to be North America wide and beyond. But at FCA and Ford we are [already approaching tentative agreements]. That is not right. The strikers are just now getting their $250 strike pay. That is less than poverty wages.”

“I have never seen a strike authorization happen the way this one happened. They took the janitors out first and told assembly line workers to cross their picket line before finally calling a nationwide strike on September 16.”

A worker at GM’s Arlington Assembly Plant near Dallas, Texas said, “This is my first strike, and it isn’t like how I pictured, like the strikes that you read about in the history books. The thing that is the hardest for me are the small pickets. They are only assigning workers picket duty for four hours a week, and the largest pickets will have maybe 10 people to a gate, instead of calling out the whole shift.”

He continued: “We aren’t being told anything by the UAW about the firings in Mexico, or even what is going on at other plants. None of us really know what is going on, unless you know people in other plants that you are in touch with, or if you are one of the ones reading the Autoworker Newsletter.

“But if they get treated that way down there, then it’s just a matter of time before it comes here. We need the same agenda as workers in Mexico.”

The workforce at the Arlington plant is diverse, with workers drawn from all over the country. The plant serves as a receptacle for so-called “GM gypsies”, or workers forced to relocate after their original plants were closed. In addition, there are a large number of immigrant workers in the plant, which is located in a metropolitan area with one of the largest Hispanic populations in the United States.

“We have no problem with them,” he said. “They go back home to visit their families, then they come back and tell us about how things are for the workers down there.”

He concluded: “If American, Canadian and Mexican workers sat down together, that would show the bigger picture.”

After reporting for days that “good progress” was being made in talks with General Motors, the United Auto Workers suddenly reversed itself Sunday morning, declaring that “negotiations have taken a turn for the worse.” The statement from UAW Vice President Terry Dittes comes as the strike by 48,000 GM workers enters its fourth week: here.

Mack Truck, copper miners, Chicago teachers, gig economy workers. Spreading strike wave shows potential for GM workers to expand struggle to Ford and Fiat-Chrysler: here.

A striking General Motors worker was killed near the picket line at GM’s Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant at 6:15 AM Tuesday. Roy A. McCombs was crossing the road to the picket on the bridge that leads from Highway 31 to the plant’s south entrance when he was struck by a Chevrolet Equinox, according to witness reports. Mr. McCombs succumbed to injuries and apparently died shortly thereafter. It is unclear what, if any, emergency aid was called for or given at the time of the crash: here.

Detroit students, Mexicans support General Motors strike

This 2 October 2019 video says about itself:

Detroit students speak out in support of striking autoworkers

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) found overwhelming support at Wayne State University for striking autoworkers. One student told us:

“The amount of power has increased dramatically in the hands of the CEO’s and on Wall Street and they are trying to take your wages and your benefits and everything you’ve worked hard for. Don’t let them take it away from you. Don’t give in. Stand your ground!”

Striking General Motors workers

By Andrea Lobo:

GM shuts down Silao Complex in Mexico as workers’ rebellion brews

4 October 2019

GM has decided to shut down production at the Silao Complex, its largest in Mexico, because of a growing rebellion at the plant involving workers who are demanding a united fight with their class allies in the US. GM’s decision shows that striking workers in the US have support internationally—a huge source of strength …

The 6,000 workers at Silao assemble a vast array of transmissions, engines and more than 400,000 pick-up trucks yearly—the highly profitable GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado. Despite claiming the previous week that GM was “operating normally at all plants”, the company announced on September 26 that two shifts would be laid off from each area at the Silao Complex this week. The company then decided Tuesday to shut down the entire plant until further notice. The company will pay some workers 55 percent of their salaries during this period while eliminating paid vacation days from others.

Center for Automotive Research Vice President Kristin Dziczeek told AP that “the closing of the Silao plant has created greater pressure on GM to end the strike.”

The General Motors complex in Silao

In other words, a united struggle of Mexican and American autoworkers could mark a serious challenge to the dictatorship of the corporation … This objective class unity explodes the lie put forward by politicians like billionaire Donald Trump who claim Mexicans are “rapists” and claims by Trump, the Democrats … who falsely claim Mexican workers steal American jobs.

GM Mexico said in a press brief: “We remain vigilant on the negotiations between General Motors Company and the union UAW (United Automobile Workers) in the United States to evaluate day by day our operations, hoping for the GM complex to resume work in the following days.” …

The statements of the company … are attempts to pit workers across borders against each other. That’s because all signs suggest that the decision to close Silao was aimed at preempting a simmering rebellion by workers who are already making appeals for a joint struggle with US strikers. Since the strike began, GM has fired at least 7 workers who were opposing speedups and overtime in order not to weaken the strike of American workers.

Two-thirds of parts in the cars assembled in Mexico come from the US and Canada with a significant share going through the distribution centers on strike in the US. Both GM and the UAW have cited a shortage of auto parts as the cause of the decision. However, neither explained the sudden change in calculations to shut down Silao while keeping Ramos Arizpe, San Luis Potosí and Toluca open.

On Wednesday, EFE reported that Silao workers have denounced harassment and unjustified firings “as a consequence of backing US strikers”. The re-hiring of victimized workers, it adds, “is being considered in the demands of strikers in the United States, as well as access [by Mexican workers] to the distribution of economic resources from the [US] strike fund.”

The news agency then indicates that, upon contacting the company, GM Mexico “insisted that it was false that there have been unjustified firings and that the strike fund only applies for the UAW in the United States.”

These statements demonstrate that the company was following closely the activities of the militant group at Silao taking actions in support of the US strikers when it decided to shut down the plant.

According to workers at Silao in contact with the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, GM and its [company] trade union had escalated the harassment and unjustified firings of the more outspoken workers and those with previous injuries to prepare for speed-ups and other measures in response to a potential strike in the United States.

Many of these workers have been targeted for participating in discussions about leaving the pro-company union, which have taken place for years. These workers established a rank-and-file group in April, which kept regular contact on social media and held bi-weekly meetings in a nearby town. After reading about the UAW contract expiration and corruption scandal on the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter in early September, the workers established contact with the WSWS and began joining online conferences organized by the WSWS to discuss with autoworkers in the United States and internationally a joint struggle.

At their local assembly on September 15, the militant group, which had about 35 workers and has since adopted the name “Generating Movement”, voted to actively oppose speed-ups and overtime that GM could use to undermine a strike in the US, which began the following day. After Silao workers communicated this decision during the September 19 international online call organized by the Autoworker Newsletter and appealed to US strikers to adopt the demand that GM re-hire co-workers in their militant group, the company began summarily firing specifically those workers present at the September 15 assembly and those who sent voice messages on September 19.

The response by those victimized has been to increase their appeals to their international brothers and sisters. In their statements to the media, the Silao workers have placed front and center that they are waging an international struggle. On Wednesday, Israel Cervantes told El Otro Enfoque, “There have already been 25 co-workers fired and we demand, along with co-workers in the United States, their immediate re-hiring.”

A Fiat Chrysler worker in Toledo, Ohio told the Autoworker Newsletter that the Silao workers “are sacrificing a lot for the good. The UAW and management use the threat of sending jobs to Mexico as a scare tactic.”

It’s the class duty of all US autoworkers to come to the defense of Silao workers and adopt their re-hiring with full back pay as a strike demand.

The strike by 48,000 General Motors workers, now in its 19th day, has been driven largely by Wall Street’s demands that GM and other automakers fundamentally transform their model of employment relations, particularly for workers producing new hi-tech vehicles. The hedge funds and financial investors who hold GM’s fate in their hands are demanding the company increase the profits it extracts from workers building traditional vehicles in order to shift capital towards electric, self-driving and ride-sharing technologies. At the same time, they are demanding GM continue to dole out billions for stock buybacks and dividend payments to attract wealthy investors. The strike has ground GM’s operations in the US to a halt and led to temporary layoffs throughout the auto and auto components industry in the US, Canada and Mexico. In calls to investors, Wall Street analysts have said the strike could lead to the loss of 100,000 vehicles and up to a billion dollars in profits in the third quarter. Nevertheless, Wall Street has instructed the GM board to defeat the strike no matter what the short-term losses. To the financial elite, the long-term gains from the expansion of temporary employees and deep cuts in health care benefits—estimated to save GM $5 an hour or half a billion dollars in labor costs every year—far outweigh the short-term losses. The defeat of the strike is seen as paving the way for a thoroughgoing restructuring of class relations throughout the global auto industry and beyond: here.

Detroit, USA students support General Motors strikers

This 18 September 2019 video from Flint, USA says about itself:

Why GM UAW Workers are on Strike

A look at what’s behind the United Auto Workers nationwide strike against General Motors.

By Genevieve Leigh in the USA:

“The CEOs and Wall Street are trying to take your wages and benefits… Don’t Give in. Stand your ground!”

Detroit college students support striking GM workers

2 October 2019

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality at Wayne State University in Detroit spoke to students Monday about the 48,000 General Motors workers who are entering their third week of strike action against the giant transnational corporation and how students can support them.

The IYSSE explained to students that workers are striking in opposition to the demands by GM for deep increases in workers’ out-of-pocket expenses for health care, from the current three percent to 15 percent, and an expansion of low-paid temporary and contract workers.

One freshman finance student addressed himself to the striking workers, saying, “Do not give up your wages and benefits to the corporations,” and denounced the “war on workers and the new generation of workers.” The CEOs and Wall Street, he said, “are trying to take your wages and your benefits and everything you’ve worked hard for. Don’t let them take it away from you. Don’t give in. Stand your ground.”

Angel, a second-year interior design student, told the IYSSE he thinks every worker deserves “not just a decent job but a good job. One with good healthcare, a livable wage and safe working conditions.” IYSSE members emphasized that among the chief demands raised by the older generation of autoworkers was the abolition of the hated multi-tier wage system, which pays new hires half the wage of senior worker, as well as the conversion into full-time employees of all “Temporary Part-Time” workers or TPTs, who can work for years without any set hours or job security.

Angel told us he supports the autoworkers’ fight and thinks all of the major issues workers and youth face today are related. “I think climate change is a major issue. Sometimes I hear people saying that it’s the people’s fault for not recycling or whatever but then you look at these massive companies like GM and I think c’mon, they are the real problem.”


Angel also supported the GM workers in Silao, Mexico who have been fired for courageously refusing to take on extra work while GM workers in the US are on strike. “It’s not right that they were fired. Workers should have the right to speak out; the freedom of speech is the most basic of rights, it is fundamental.”

Another second-year WSU student told us she thinks the strike is “an incredible demonstration of bravery and integrity to be standing up, not just for GM workers but for workers all over the world.” She went on to explain that this fight is critical for young people: “It is important that the younger generation be aware of the fact that all the institutions, and everything we have built can be changed and should be changed to better accommodate the future ahead of us.”

Regarding the victimized Mexican workers, she added, “I give twice as much credit to the Mexican workers. I’m not from Mexico but I can imagine how much more pressure is put on them from the US corporations. The fact that they are sticking to their principles really demonstrates a lot of character.”

Two students visited the IYSSE table who live nearby some of the local auto plants: Mohammed is from Warren, Michigan where GM just shut a transmission plant, and Mahnaz is from Hamtramck, home of GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which is slated to close in January.

Both freshmen, the students expressed their full support for the striking autoworkers. Muhammed said, “These big corporations only care about mass production so they can make mass profits. I don’t think they have any idea, or even care what effect it has on the workers.”

Mahnaz and Mohammed

Mahnaz added: “These companies make billions but so many of them pay their workers ridiculously low wages.” After learning about the conditions facing new contract workers in the auto factories, she commented, “What am I going to do with $12 hour? Don’t try to tell me that’s enough to live.” Mahnaz, who is a biology major, agreed that the autoworker struggle would have ramifications for the entire working class. “We need to stop these companies from destroying workers’ lives and the planet.”

The IYSSE members explained that supporting the GM strikes entailed more than just cheering them on. Workers, they said, needed to be told the truth. They were in a fight not only against GM but the capitalist system and both big-business parties, including the Democrats which imposed the conditions GM workers are fighting against during the 2009 restructuring of the auto industry by the Obama administration. …

IYSSE members explained that they were fighting for autoworkers to build rank-and-file strike and factory committees … to break through the isolation, expand the strike throughout the industry, and unify all workers in the US and internationally against capitalist exploitation and social inequality.

K’von is a second-year student from Detroit who has family members who work for the Big Three auto companies. “The tiered system they have is completely unfair. We should all get equal pay for doing the same work. No one should be treated differently when it comes to pay; they are doing the same job!” …


K’von added that he felt the working class was the most decisive force in society: “The thing we have to remember is that without us, they’ve got nothing, and they know it.”

AMERICAN WORKERS STRIKING IN HUGE NUMBERS U.S. workers continued to throw their weight around in a healthy economy in 2019, recording the largest number of major strikes in the decade. The U.S. saw 25 work stoppages involving at least 1,000 workers last year. That was the most of any year between 2010 and 2019, a time span in which the average was 15. [HuffPost]

According to a report released Tuesday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), working class struggles in the US are at their highest levels in decades. There were 25 work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers in 2019. This is the largest number in nearly two decades. Ten of these strikes involved 20,000 or more workers, the largest number since at least 1993, when data on the size of walkouts began to be systematically tracked by the BLS: here.

Striking United States General Motors interviewed

Striking United States General Motors workers Christina and Julie

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Striking GM workers on picket line discuss what is at stake in their battle

By our reporters

30 September 2019

Striking GM workers and other autoworkers who joined them on picket lines across the US spoke to reporters from the World Socialist Web Site about the significance of the strike, now the longest at GM since the 67-day walkout in 1970.

Flint, Michigan

Sit-Downers Memorial Park, commemorating the 1936-37 struggle that led to the founding of the UAW as a mass industrial union, is directly across the street from the GM Flint Truck Assembly complex. Throughout Saturday, pickets crossed the street and visited the park. Like many strikers, Christina and Julie told us they had never been to the memorial, but knew of the struggles and sacrifices that built the union.

More than 82 years ago, the Flint sit-down strike, which lasted 44 days, forced GM, then the largest industrial enterprise on the planet, to recognize the UAW. Several months ago, retirees marched in front of the memorial to demand the removal of Norwood Jewell’s name from the plaque after the UAW vice president and former regional director pleaded guilty to taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Fiat Chrysler.

The present strike is reviving memories and interest in the history of “the strike heard around the world,” as the sit-down strike was called. On the picket line, Brenda, a veteran autoworker of 46 years told the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, “The conditions that exist today would make the sit-downers roll over in their graves! I came up from Arkansas to work in the plant. It used to be you could make a decent living working for General Motors, but that all went away. The union allowed the tier system, concessions, layoffs and plant closings. The temps, for instance, barely get by. They can’t even buy a car or pay for car insurance. I want the younger people to have a good life. What the union is doing is allowing GM to take us back to before the sit-down strikes.”

Picket whose grandfather participated in Flint sit-down strike

Don, another “legacy” reminded his co-workers on the picket line, “The whole country, coast-to-coast should have walked out when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers (PATCO) in 1981. That’s what opened the door to all of this. It was a turning point. Unfortunately, we’re used to the isolation today,” he said, acknowledging that GM workers would be in a far stronger position if Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers joined the strike.

“I have a grandfather and a great uncle who were in the sit-down strike. They’re spinning in their graves seeing all the headlines about the corruption scandal.” Commenting on the denunciation of socialism by Solidarity House he said, “it’s because they want to keep their money.”

Tony, another Truck Assembly worker explained, “Trades certification was taken away by GM and former trades workers are sent to assembly while outside contractors are hired in at less pay. Parts come in from outside companies, they are minimum wage people. I’m too old for assembly production. My legs didn’t work on my first day. The repetition of working on the line is brutal, it’s not an easy job.”

Workers are angry that their first meager $250 strike paycheck won’t be available until Tuesday. A tier-one worker with many years of seniority, remarked, “It’s been really, really quiet this time around. We used to hear some demands in contracts before. Now we don’t hear anything. A lot of our strike is about getting the temp workers to be full-time. Temp workers work for six-seven years. There’s no seniority. They should be immediately full-time workers. I heard the union officials are making $3,000 a week! They have their own union outside of us. They (UAW officials) have double pensions. We might get pensions and the new hires get nothing. Companies are selling off pensions to the banks which buy them, and the banks go bankrupt and they get bailed out. It’s a scheme!

“My daughter works for CCA (GM’s Customer Care and Aftersales division) as a group leader at top pay but only makes $15/hour. We used to be the top paid workers. People from the South and around the world came here. Auto used to be everything; now we’re low paid compared to before. Warren and Sanders came to Michigan to talk to us, but the Democrats bailed out Wall Street. We didn’t get bailed out.”

WSWS reporters also spoke to workers picketing the CCA facility in nearby Burton. Nexteer workers from Saginaw also joined the line. “We work at a former Delphi plant,” one Nexteer worker said. “We’re laid off during the strike. We’re shut down. There’s only a few workers in our plant. We should be out on strike too—we make the parts for them. We make parts for BMW, Toyota, not just Big Three—they all use the same parts. The union should be calling us all out.

“The conditions of the workers from Silao, Mexico are so bad. They get paid worse than us and we don’t make enough anymore. I was a team leader at Delphi and made $20/hour. My son makes $14 and he hired in after me. We all do the same job, but because of hire dates they get paid less and less. Some work 10 years at $15 an hour. My dad worked for GM for 44 years and he made more when he retired in 1999 than I make today.”

A younger Nexteer worker told the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, “I work on the doors, these ovens are over 1,900 degrees with possibility of fires all the time. When the machine is jammed, I have to jump in with an oil pit. I get paid less for doing a dangerous job.

“It’s a bad, dangerous and dirty place to work. Our last strike [a one-day strike in 2015] was a joke. They lay off seniority workers and hire slave-wage workers. They outsource work to other companies for cheap labor, like Bosch.”

Pickets at Flint engine plant

Referring to the $800 million UAW strike fund, he said, “From the last contract, we pay an extra half hour of work a month in dues that was supposed to go to the strike fund over the last three years. They have plenty of money to pay workers. It’s our money not theirs. If they pay some of that $800 million, we could be out longer, but now people are thinking about going back to work because we’re going bankrupt as workers.”

Mary, a striker from CCA, said, “They (UAW) are in bed with management. Our official was supposed to come out and picket today and he didn’t. There’s a strike fund, but we’re buying tents and heaters, not the union.”

When the workers looked at the graph from the Autoworker Newsletter showing how the strike fund has been used as a slush fund to pay the bloated salaries of UAW officials and their families, not to help strikers, Mary and another CCA worker declared, “WOW! I can’t believe they have 18 typists on the payroll. They are all abusing the system using our money to have a great time. Our local officials used to be like us and now they are privileged. They’re waiting for GM to pave the way for worse contracts. It’s going to hit workers from other industries like those workers from Nexteer who came to support us. I told my buddy in UM hospital, we all need to unite and do something.”

Orion Township, Michigan

Sandy, a tier-two worker at Orion assembly said she had worked at the plant, just north of Detroit, since 2008 and is still a tier-two worker. She noted that the UAW had agreed to special concessionary terms at Orion, stipulating that 40 percent of the workforce would be lower paid workers making $15 an hour, or less than half of higher seniority “legacy” workers.

Last year, then UAW Vice President for GM Cindy Estrada (now leading the UAW bargaining team at Fiat Chrysler) and the Local 5960 leadership signed a sweetheart deal allowing the company to expand the number of workers employed by GM Subsystems, a wholly owned subsidiary, in order to replace some regular GM employees in the material department making full pay and benefits.

The treachery of the UAW at Orion is the model for the deal it is preparing with GM to supposedly “save” the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant and locate a battery plant near the now shuttered Lordstown, Ohio factory.

Pickets at Orion plant

“I think it is BS,” Sandy said of the so-called Competitive Operating Agreement. “I might understand it when GM was going under, but we were under the assumption that we would get back to where we should be.

“Not only are they going back on that, but now they are trying to take more. Mary Barra makes $22 million a year, that is $11,000 an hour! Asking us to sacrifice more is wrong.”

“Now it is our time,” she said, emphasizing her determination to fight. We want a date for the temps to be hired full time. We want them to have hope.”

“I am proud to be part of this,” Sandy said. “People are making half of what I make and are earning way less benefits. GM is not doing what they said. They hired these workers, giving them the idea they had a foot in the door, but some have been there now eight years making $15 an hour.”


At the picket line in front of GM’s only factory left standing within the city of Detroit, UAW Local 22 officials told workers that any day they missed picket line duty would result in a $50 loss out of their paltry $250 a week strike benefits, which will not be paid out until Tuesday. Local officials also tried to stop workers from reading the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, but many ignored them, saying they had the right to think for themselves.

Several senior workers on the line had worked at GM’s Fleetwood and Cadillac plants in the southwest of Detroit, which closed in 1987, and remembered the Bulletin newspaper, one of the forerunners of the World Socialist Web Site. “You socialists have been fighting for us for a long time,” said one of the veterans. Another said the two former plants employed nearly 8,000 workers between them and were replaced by the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that never employed more than 3,800 workers.

“$250 in strike pay is not enough,” said one younger worker with nearly four years at the plant. “$750 a week would be great,” he said, referring to tripling the strike fund, which the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter has called for. “If people are running out of money, it’s a slick way to make us go back to work with whatever we can get. That’s why they dangle the ‘signing bonuses’ at us.

“There are a lot of temps in here and they don’t get profit sharing. The full-time guys pool some of our profit-sharing checks to give the temps money. They have this contract company called LOC Syncreon, and they have a separate UAW contract from us. No one should be living paycheck to paycheck when you’re building cars that sell for $50,000-60,000 each. These workers will never have a pension to fall back on. These millennials are being sucked dry—they are going to grow up with no savings and will be homeless.”

He continued, “When I first heard about the Mexican GM workers being fired for supporting us, I told the other guys on the line, ‘We have to do something to heal this. They’re sticking their necks out for us. They have families too and GM is paying them $2-$3 an hour to build the same cars as us.’

“I am totally with the workers in the Silao plant. This is a big thing. We have to demand that they get reinstated before we go back to work.”

Lansing, Michigan

Jeff, a GM worker in Lansing, gave a message to Mexican workers. “Stay together and organize as best as you can. Stay true to your feelings. You are working for the whole. Your strength is in numbers. It’s hard here, too, because the union works for the company. To start your own committees takes balls. The union isn’t going to like that if you’re organizing outside of their circle.” He continued, “I don’t blame the workers in Mexico, it’s the company doing it because the labor is so cheap. It’s everywhere that workers are facing exploitation.”

Spring Hill, Tennessee

At the picket line one worker said he was three years into an “eight-year trek toward topping out” with full pay. He expressed his solidarity with the fired Silao workers, saying, “We thank you for your sacrifice.” A Fiat Chrysler worker was also on the picket line. “If the Chrysler and Ford [workers] struck with the GM workers it would have a large impact,” she said.

Strikers in Spring Hill, Tennessee

Martinsburg, West Virginia

WSWS reporters also spoke to pickets at a GM parts distribution center in Martinsburg, which is located in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle between Virginia and Maryland. The GM facility has seen a major loss of jobs since the company’s 2009 bankruptcy. “Today we have 88 people working here,” a striking worker with over 20 years told the Autoworke r Newsletter. “Ten years ago, we had at least 2,000.”

Speaking on the concessions handed over by the UAW during President Obama’s restructuring of GM and Chrysler, he said, “We gave back our COLA and make $1.50 less now than we did in 2009. GM wants to have us pay 13 percent out-of-pocket costs for healthcare.”

As with other autoworkers throughout the United States, the pickets in Martinsburg supported their Mexican co-workers. “I’m happy they [are fighting against the speedup]” said one worker. “I heard about an auto company facility in Alabama where the five-year plan was to increase speedup on workers as a way to cause injuries and get rid of older, higher-paid workers. Once they were out, they would then hire temps,” he said.

“We don’t want to see any temp workers. Some spend eight to 10 years as a temp. That is ridiculous. They get three days off a year, and it is unpaid. It shouldn’t be like that. It should be equal pay for equal work.”

The striking workers noted many other workers, including teachers who struck across the state in 2018 and earlier this year, along with other auto and retail workers, had come out to support their picket lines, bringing food and other items. Mack Truck workers, whose three-year UAW contract is expiring on October 1, have also joined the GM pickets.

Tesla autoworkers in California support striking GM workers, denounce working conditions: here.

US General Motors strikers support Mexican workers

This 26 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Striking US GM workers defend fired Mexican workers: “We’re all fighting for the same thing!”

Striking GM workers in Detroit and Flint, Michigan denounced the firing of workers at the GM plant in Silao, Mexico for refusing to accept more work during the US strike.

This 27 December 2019 video is called GM workers in Mexico thank US workers for donating to their defense fund.

General Motors sacks Mexican for US workers solidarity

This 16 September 2019 video about the USA is called 46,000 workers of General Motors stage walkout over wages and benefits.

By Andrea Lobo:

GM fires another Mexican worker for aiding strike in the US

26 September 2019

At its Silao Complex in Mexico, General Motors has continued firing and harassing workers who have called for supporting the strike of GM workers in the United States by rejecting speed-ups and forced overtime. On Wednesday morning, the company fired Javier Martínez Mosqueda, who has worked at the Silao Complex for 24 years in the assembly area of final processing and heavy repairs. He was offered no explanation from management for the decision.

Martínez Mosqueda had participated in a September 15 assembly of a group of Silao GM workers known as “Generating Movement”, There, the group voted in favor of taking steps to leave the company union of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and to organize resistance to speed-up in support of a potential strike in the US, which began the following day. Through the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, they had been closely following the news about the run-up to the contract expiration in the US.

The fired worker supported the appeals for a joint struggle with his brothers and sisters in the US. Israel Cervantes, who was also fired recently for helping organize workers against the existing union, told the Autoworker Newsletter, “That is why he was fired. Right now, they [management] are hunting after our comrades.”

Javier Martínez Mosqueda

The independent group of workers sent recorded statements to a meeting of hundreds of striking autoworkers and workers internationally on Thursday, September 19. Workers voiced their support for the US strike and appealed to strikers to include in their demands the reinstallation of victimized workers and an end to corporate harassment in the Mexican plants, as well as the organization of a joint struggle. Five of the workers, including two whose names were mentioned in the audio files, were summarily fired the following day.

Martínez Mosqueda was already being targeted by the company. On September 10, he filed a complaint with the labor department at the plant. The document, which was shared with the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, describes how a supervisor, “engineer Víctor Lozano”, has been harassing Martínez Mosqueda around the plant “with a high-handed and aggressive attitude” since September 6.

After the appeals to US workers, the mistreatment reportedly escalated, and on Tuesday, September 24, management called Martínez Mosqueda, held him in an office where they threatened and demoted him without explanation from team leader to normal operator. He was fired the following day.

This increases to eight the number of workers in the group fired recently: Israel Cervantes, who worked 13 years at the plant; Pedro Masías, 15 years; Carlos Marquez, eight-and-a-half years; Fernando Moreno Moya, 23 years; Arturo Martínez Fernández, 23 years; Juan Carlos Mendoza, 25 years; Ramón Rodríguez, 23 years; and Javier Martínez Mosqueda, 24 years.

Juan Carlos Mendoza was fired last week after working 25 years for GM

Workers at Silao report that speed-up continues in the truck assembly lines, while the areas that produce the 10-speed transmissions and engines were shut down from parts shortages due to the US strike. A worker at the engine plant said management gave the date of October 7 for when it expects the suspension to end.

Last week, a Lear plant in the city of Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, which produces seats for GM, temporarily laid off 150 workers due to the strike, while a worker at the auto parts Inteva maquiladora in Matamoros noted Tuesday to the WSWS that workers at Plant 1, which produces dashboards for GM, were either sent to Plant 2 or suspended indefinitely at 60 percent pay.

There has been a total black-out by the corporate media in Mexico about any shutdowns taking place since those at Ramos Arizpe. Terrified by the brave response of Silao workers, the ruling class fears that these shutdowns will lead autoworkers in Mexico, who constitute a massive contingent of 767,000 natural allies of US workers, to see in the awakening of the powerful American working class an opportunity to unite their demands against decades of super-exploitation and oppression by the same transnational corporations and their corporate and trade-union stooges in Mexico.

Essentially, what the ruling elite in Mexico and their patrons in the United States fear is that workers will reciprocate the call made by Israel Cervantes to the September 19 meeting: “I call on workers across Mexico and the world to join this struggle. Let’s unite to change these dues-collecting unions that only enrich themselves, a handful of people, and forget about the needs of workers.”

Yesterday, US autoworkers across the US demanded the immediate re-hiring of all fired Mexican workers and appealed for a united, cross-national fight.

A striking GM worker from the Lansing Delta Assembly plant in Michigan told the WSWS: “The workers from Silao, Mexico were on our phone call advocating joint action against General Motors. There is always the attempt to pit us against each other, but we have to stand together regardless of the country.”

A Ford worker at Dearborn Truck Plant in Michigan said, “Many workers think they are an individual in this. But really they are not. The workers in Mexico are sacrificing for us and they are sacrificing for the working class as a whole. They are facing retribution for standing up for auto workers in the US, and we need to stand up for them.”

“We need to stand together to defend ourselves from being victimized,” the worker added. “The companies stand together against us. They have common global supply chains. The banks have given General Motors unlimited credit to beat us down. We need to stand together to get our demands met, instead of waiting for them to take more from us. We are in a world struggle. Workers all over are beginning to fight for better working and living conditions.”

Another Dearborn Truck worker said, “My husband is from Oaxaca, Mexico. He was deported in 2011, and we have never been able to see him since. We need to visit our family members who are across the border. There are a lot of families like mine that are broken and torn apart right now. …We have to defend the workers in Silao, Mexico because they did not do anything wrong. They are just trying to make a living like everybody else. Their demands are the same as ours. A lot of people are tired. They want change. We need it now.”

Below we post a statement of support for striking General Motors workers in the US that was sent by Jitender Dhankhar on behalf of the Provisional Committee of the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU) in northern India. Jitender is one of the many workers victimized for leading the bitter years-long struggle of workers at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar car assembly plant: here.

Germany: Opel workers support GM strike in the US: here.

GENERAL MOTORS BLINKS General Motors has decided to fund health care benefits for thousands of striking workers after the company initially moved to cut them off early in the nationwide work stoppage. [HuffPost]

US and Mexican autoworkers, together with teachers, Amazon workers and other sections of the working class discussed an international perspective to win the General Motors strike in a call-in meeting Thursday hosted by the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter. More than 200 people attended: here.

Over two hundred striking workers of Motherson Automotive Technologies & Engineering (MATE), located at Sriperumbudur, an industrial hub 40 kilometers from Chennai, the capital of southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, were arrested by the police on September 24, when they staged a protest rally in front of the Deputy Labour Commissioner (DLC) office in Irunkatukotai: here.

Flint, USA General Motors strikers-Mexican workers solidarity

Pickets at General Motors’ CCA (Customer Care and Aftersales) facility in Burton, Michigan, USA

By Sheila Brehm and George Kirby in Flint, USA:

“We all face the same thing:” GM strikers in Flint defend Mexican workers fired for making international appeal

24 September 2019

The WSWS Autoworker Newsletter spoke to pickets in Flint, Michigan, over the weekend, as the nationwide strike at GM approached its second week.

Flint, the site of the historic sit-down strike in 1936–1937, is one of the main centers of the GM strike today. Hundreds of workers manned Saturday’s picket lines at Flint Truck Assembly Complex and a distribution facility in nearby Burton. Among their numbers were not only GM workers, but Ford and Chrysler workers, as well as teachers, postal workers and people active in the fight for clean water in the city, an indication of the broad support for the strike in the working class.

Autoworkers on the picket line explained to the Autoworker Newsletter the international dimensions of their struggle. There is “no such thing” as a vehicle produced in one country anymore, Dan, a Flint Truck worker, said. “We get parts from Mexico, China and all over the world. With those parts we build the trucks.”

Dan denounced the firing of GM workers in Silao, Mexico, after they made an appeal for support from American workers. “We make the same truck as they do in Silao, and I think their wages must be very low. I heard about them refusing to increase their production when we went on strike. And now they’re fired? That’s not right.

I want to thank those workers for their stand and we defend them. It’s a global economy. So I think we need a global strike. We all face the same thing. We’re fighting to get everything back GM took from us.”

Buton, a worker from GM’s CCA (Customer Care and Aftersales) distribution center, said: “We are a distribution facility. We repackage parts for the after-sale market. We handle parts that are made in China, Mexico, Serbia, Italy and all over. And then I guess they’re shipped out all over the world again—to dealerships, car owners and wherever.

“I have no problem supporting Canadian or Mexican workers, we should stand behind them. The Democrats and Republicans claim that these people will have fair rights and wages when that’s not the truth. We’re in a global economy now, we can’t fight in one country. But with the UAW, [they try to create] separation between the Canadian, Mexican & American workers.”

Once the center of GM’s manufacturing empire, Flint has been devastated by decades of plant closures and layoffs. Auto employment has fallen in the city from 80,000 workers forty years ago to little more than 6,000 today. The total population of the city has also declined from 196,000 to 96,000. More than ten percent of the urban landscape consists of empty, contaminated lots marking where auto plants once employed thousands of people.

Former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, who pled guilty over the summer for using training center funds to pay for lavish meals and luxury vacations, began as a local UAW official in Flint, where he was reportedly a political “kingmaker”. In 2014 Jewell and the UAW supported the scheme which lead to poisoning of Flint’s water supply as a “cost-saving measure.”

General Motors opened the Burton facility, a $65 million, state of the art warehouse encompassing 25 acres, less than two months ago. The company’s expenses were partially offset by a 50 percent, 12 year tax abatement agreed to by local Democrats, a deal potentially worth millions.

The facility is a model for the “Amazonization” of the entire industry which GM is attempting to impose—a low-wage, highly exploited workforce. Two hundred of the 800 total workers are temps, who earn lower wages and fewer benefits than full-time workers. GM’s ultimate aim is to convert 50 percent of its hourly workforce into temps, according to a former GM executive in 2017.

Temp workers at the site have been working a mandatory seven days a week, ten hours a day. They get only one twenty-minute break and a thirty-minute lunch. This is little better than in Mexico, where assembly workers labor for 12 hours a day—demonstrating the convergence of working conditions across national borders.

Flint residents who oppose lead poisoning of the city joined GM strikers

For full-timers, the situation is little better—they work for ten hours each day, six days a week. Prior to the strike, union officials pleaded with workers on Facebook to attend the local union meeting. One worker’s reply summed up the feeling of many, who said: “I’m not coming to the union meeting, because I need to re-introduce myself to my family.”

Full-time workers who spoke to the Autoworker Newsletter expressed enormous sympathy for the temporary workers. “I came from the old CCA plant and have been working with GM for 9 years,” said one second-tier worker. “It’s time we stand up against these powers. I started at $14 an hour during the recession, and I’ve been through three contracts [since then]. We were told $29 an hour from the media instead of what’s on the back end of the contract. They hold a signing bonus in front of workers as a victory [for second-tier workers], then possibly tier 1 health care. That’s good, but what did we lose in the back end of that? Now, we don’t have the right for temps to be hired in.”

Jessica, another full-time worker from the plant, told the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, “My group was one that took 8 years to get to $18 an hour. I have co-workers filing for bankruptcy, who qualify for state assistance. The janitorial department’s wages top out at $17–18 per hour, with very little benefits. There are some serious problems. I hired in at Delphi in 2006 when starting pay was around $15. We got raises up to a little over $16 an hour and then took a pay cut to $14 [when transferring] into GM.”

Detroit rapper GmacCash supports striking autoworkers: here.

United States-Mexican General Motors workers’ solidarity

This 23 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Striking GM worker supports victimized Mexican GM workers

GM fires Mexican workers for aiding US strikers and calling for cross-border fight against automaker.

General Motors attacks strikers’ children, Mexican workers

This 22 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

GM Retaliates Against Striking Workers‘ Kids

In this Majority Report clip, if you think there’s anything corporations won’t do to increase profits, think again.

“Yesterday, General Motors made the unexpected decision to cut off healthcare to employees out on strike. In previous strikes, GM had never done this. However, GM is playing hardball now.

The result of them cutting off health insurance is that UAW members and their families with chronic health conditions are being denied care.

In Parma, Ohio, one UAW member’s kid couldn’t even get cancer treatment as a result of GM’s tactic. Many union leaders worry that someone may die as a result of GM’s decision as people put off doctor’s visits.”

Read more here.

GM fires Mexican workers for aiding US strikers and calling for cross-border fight against automaker: here.

“We will not submit, and we will not bow out.”. Hundreds of autoworkers discuss GM strike and global strategy in online meeting: here.

This 21 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Ending Temp Work Is at Center of Auto Workers Strike

Auto Worker Jesse Kelly talks about the oppression of being a temp worker, how it keeps workers impoverished & works to diminish unions.

United States General Motors strike, video

This 20 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Ending Temp Workers Is at Center of Auto Workers Strike

Auto worker Jesse Kelly talks about the oppression of being a temp worker, how it keeps workers impoverished & works to diminish unions.