LEO and the UAW Strike
Below is an email sent to LEO members Tuesday, 9/24, from Ian Robinson, president of both LEO and Huron Valley Labor Federation.
As of yesterday, it has been one week since 50,000 UAW members -- over 16,000 of whom work here in Michigan -- went out on strike against General Motors.
WHY THE STRIKE?
We (the US taxpayers) bailed out GM to the tune of $50 billion, and UAW members made major concessions too. GM made $4 billion in profits last year and paid its CEO $21.9 million in total compensation, yet paid zero corporate taxes. Now, GM is refusing to budge on concessions workers made in the 2008 crisis, and is even demanding health care concessions. And it is trying to scare workers into accepting all this by announcing (shortly before bargaining began) that it is closing four US assembly plants (and another in Canada).
GM’s current leadership has no sense of loyalty to those who helped it survive in the bad times. Nor does any sense of basic fairness govern their sense of how to share the gains from good times. They are greedy and they see no reason to restrain their greed. But they have forgotten (or underestimated) one very important thing that GM learned in Flint in the 1937 sit-down strike: GM employees, acting together through their union, backed by the rest of the labor movement, have the power to impose major costs on GM, and thereby, to re-write GM management’s cost/benefit calculus. Sometimes it takes a strike to move management, as LEO old timers learned in our first (2004) round of contract negotiations. This is one of those times.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
The best thing you can do is to spend some time walking one or more of the picket lines in our part of Michigan. Simply being there in solidarity is more important to the morale of the people on those picket lines than anything else you could do or say. Do you remember back in April 2018, when our negotiations with UM were not going well, how good it felt to know that if we had to strike, we’d have hundreds of undergrads and GEO members beside us on our picket lines? That is the feeling we want our UAW sisters and brothers to have.
You’ll find the location of all UAW picket lines in Michigan here: http://bit.ly/UAWpicketLines
Pick one near where you live or work, put on your LEO T-shirt and go! The pickets are running around the clock, so you can go at any time that fits your schedule.
Please, if you can, help us organize by bringing a fellow LEO member -- or a family member or a friend -- with you. And send me a photo or two of yourself and your friends on the line. I’ll post those photos on the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation’s FaceBook site, along with the dozens – soon hundreds – that I’ve already posted from others. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, too, if you’d like to be part of a LEO car pool. You can reach me at President@huronvalleyalf.org.
I look forward to seeing you – or at least a good photo of you! – on a UAW picket line soon!