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Challengers Win Big in UAW Elections; Presidency Headed To Run-Off

What is the mood at United Auto Workers headquarters today? Day drinking? Shopping for retirement condos? Dunning staff for money to try desperately to win the run-off? Shredding documents? Reformers in the United Auto Workers are jubilant as they seem set to make a historic change in the top leadership of their union, ending 70 years of one-party top-down rule. As mail-ballot votes were counted this week, it appeared very possible that the UAW Members United slate would eventually take all seven of the seats it contested, out of 14 on the union’s executive board. This is nothing short of an earthquake in one of the country’s largest manufacturing unions. The last time anyone was elected to the executive board in opposition to the ruling Administration Caucus was 34 years ago, when Jerry Tucker of the New Directions Movement became a regional director.

Chicago Area Mechanics Speak Out About Isolation Of Their Struggle

After more than three weeks on strike, mechanics in the Chicago area, members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 701, are being kept in the dark about negotiations and isolated from their brothers and sisters in the same local and the wider working class as a whole. The mechanics have shown their willingness to fight against the New Car Dealer Committee (NCDC) of Chicago and the car dealerships’ concession demands. On July 31, one day before the beginning of the strike, the mechanics voted down the NCDC’s contract proposal by 99 percent and voted by 97 percent to strike. But throughout the past month, the IAM leadership has isolated the strike and worked on behalf of the NCDC as conscious strikebreakers to an even greater extent than during the last strike in 2017, which lasted for seven weeks.

Workers Refuse To Return To Work After COVID Cases Hit Plant

Just two days after reopening its U.S. and Canadian plants – and a day before hosting a visit by President Donald Trump – Ford briefly was forced to shutter two assembly lines when multiple workers were found to be suffering COVID-19 infections. Crews immediately went to work at the factories in Chicago and Dearborn, Michigan, to disinfect the two lines but when Dearborn workers on the night shift returned Wednesday evening they initially refused to man their stations, confirmed, protesting what some described as unsafe conditions. A video from the plant showed employees milling in the aisles at the Dearborn facility while managers tried to coax them back to their stations. One worker told that they were told they could be fired if the protest continued. That has not been independently verified.

Migrants Lead Struggle As ‘Reopening’ Fuels Resistance

Ford Motors CEO Jim Farley said during a recent conference call, “The auto industry is [the U.S.] economic engine. Restarting the entire auto ecosystem is how we restart the economy.” (New York Times, May 18) But Farley has it wrong. It’s the 400,000 production workers at the Detroit Three automakers, Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler (FCA), who resume working today around the world who will have the final say. After a series of wildcat strikes across the industry in mid-March protesting unsafe working conditions in close quarters and lack of protective equipment, the workers are going back with some — but not enough — protection. Their temperatures with be taken after reporting to work each day, and masks, gloves and eye protection are required.

Drive To Reopen Auto Plants Threatens Thousands Of Lives

“I think the bottom line is the politicians and companies don’t care and made a decision to get auto manufacturing going again. While the union is just playing their part and preaching safety protocols, there will be a human cost from this. Everyone knows that.” These remarks by a worker at the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly plant express a growing feeling among autoworkers that they must take a stand to oppose the premature reopening of auto plants in North America. The Detroit automakers, with the full support of the United Auto Workers, are set to begin ramping up assembly lines Monday in the US, Canada and Mexico. Several Japanese and German automakers have already started producing cars.
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