Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 18, 2009


World Socialist - The federal bailout of General Motors and Chrysler approved last month by the Bush administration with the support of the incoming Obama administration includes a stipulation that effectively bans strikes or work stoppages by autoworkers. The clause, which was revealed in a Security and Exchange Commission filing by GM last week, coincides with government demands that the 139,000 workers at Detroit's auto companies agree by February 17 to accept mass layoffs, plant closures and sweeping wage and benefit concessions.

According to the SEC filing, the Treasury Department could declare GM and Chrysler in default and revoke $17.4 billion in loans, throwing the automakers into bankruptcy, if "any labor union or collective bargaining unit shall engage in a strike or other work stoppage."

The effect of this provision is to revoke the legal right to strike, an achievement won by the American working class in bitter struggles against "criminal conspiracy" laws used against striking workers in the 19th century. It was only with the 1935 passage, in the depths of the Great Depression, of the National Labor Relations Act that federal law recognized the right of workers to strike. This concession to the working class was not some freely given gift of the Roosevelt administration. It followed general strikes that erupted in 1934 in Toledo, Minneapolis and San Francisco. Without the strike weapon, workers are reduced to the status of industrial slaves, legally compelled to accept the most brutal conditions of exploitation without any recourse to collective resistance.

Several commentators have questioned the legality of the anti-strike provision in the auto bailout bill. Nevertheless, under the terms of the bailout, the strike ban remains in effect as long as the auto companies have outstanding loans from the government, setting the stage for contract negotiations in 2011 in which workers would not have the slightest leverage to reject demands for even more draconian givebacks. . .

Just as the 1980 Chrysler bailout and the smashing of the PATCO air traffic controllers' strike in 1981 initiated a wave of wage-cutting and union-busting in the 1980s and 1990s, the current attack on autoworkers is being used to spearhead a fundamental change in class relations in the US and internationally, under conditions of a global breakdown of the capitalist system.

The organization that ostensibly represents GM and Chrysler workers, the United Auto Workers union, campaigned for the government bailout of the Big Three companies, accepting its stipulations for tens of thousands of layoffs and wage and benefit cuts to bring unionized workers down to the level of non-union workers. It has not uttered a word of protest over the provision banning strikes and work stoppages.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is supremely ironic and hypocritical is that so many supposedly die-hard trade unionists fell right into line referring to the French Surrender Monkey B.S. Can you imagine the French unionist accepting such. the Rench would have shut the country down tighter than a tick on a terrier. they'd have been in the streets, behind barricades.... the trains would not run, planes would not flies would not fly only emergency services would be provided in hospital.
Les bureaucrates ne fonctionnent les bureaux. The matter would be resolved to their satisfaction within 72 hours.

What this country needs is a labor movement dedicated to taking on corporatism and its CEOs (Corporate Exploitative Oligarchs.

Let the people's truncheons be heard truncheoning, let the trumbrel carts be heard trumbreling.

January 19, 2009 8:26 PM  
Blogger Be Green said...

Auto Alternatives (Affordable, Safe & Reliable): There are smaller, more efficient auto manufacturers that can replace the Big-3. For every $1 Billion dollars the federal government gives or guarantees for the Big-2 (soon to be 3), BG Automotive Group, could build 40 assembly plants (located in 40 separate cities where employment is needed), hiring 12,000 employees, and producing 600,000- 100% electric vehicles. We can save the jobs and save us from our dependence on foreign oil. The latter figures are for EACH $1 Billion dollar allocation. We would also be requiring more batteries/battery packs than the North American battery industry could produce. We would also require 600,000 U.S. made motors, computer systems, etc. to operate the vehicles. 100% of our components under the hood, including the power system, is made in America and assembled by Americans.

We have a huge demand, domestic and foreign for our electric vehicles, but do not have the funds required for the production expansion to meet the overall demand. BGelectricCars.com

February 16, 2009 2:55 PM  

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