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Workers Vanguard No. 1162

4 October 2019
The closing date for news in this issue is 1 October.

Workers Vanguard

Democrats Are a Bosses’ Party—We Need a Workers Party!

UAW Class Battle Against GM

Permanent Jobs for Temps!

End the Tier System!

OCTOBER 1—With the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike against General Motors entering its third week, union members remain as determined as ever to wage a fight on behalf of not only themselves but also future generations. The profit-gouging bosses, who demand ever more temp jobs, low-wage tiers and higher health care costs, must be made to back down. By acting together through the union to withhold their labor, auto workers have demonstrated a real collective strength. Production at struck facilities has ground to a halt, and both GM in Canada and parts producers across the U.S. have scaled back operations, inflicting on the auto giant up to $100 million a day in losses. It is precisely by cutting off the flow of profits, the lifeblood of the employers, that labor can win real gains. Union members should settle for nothing less than the immediate permanent hiring of all temp workers and equal pay for equal work at the highest level for everyone, while holding their leadership to its promise to not call off the strike before the ranks vote to approve the terms of the contract.

A successful strike could change the playing field for workers far beyond the Big Three and help spark further battles to fend off the bosses’ attacks. Already, this display of union power in defense of its multiracial membership’s livelihoods has attracted support from working-class, black and Latino communities near the plants and is breathing new life into stalled unionization efforts. One Nissan worker in Mississippi, where the UAW lost a recognition vote two years ago, told labor reporter Mike Elk: “A victory at General Motors could really open the door for us to organize.” It could also give impetus to organizing drives at parts suppliers and other manufacturers, as well as in the tech-based “new economy” with its gig jobs.

For more than a decade, UAW members have had to swallow one concession after another. GM, bloated by $35 billion in profits over the last three years, has made no secret of its objective to further slash labor costs to the bone, especially by increasing the number of temps in its plants. These union members earn far less while performing the same jobs as more senior workers. This situation can only fuel resentment and is highly corrosive to the union, as strikers are painfully aware. Many temp workers, known as perma-temps, are strung along for years with the unfulfilled promise of permanent employment, all the while receiving abysmal wages, few benefits and virtually no job protections. So-called flex-temps do not even have a set work schedule from week to week.

Horror stories abound of the brutal reality of temp work. In Lansing, a black temp worker suffered through various injuries during his first 90 days without getting medical attention for fear of being fired. Another temp who gave birth on a Friday reported to work the following Monday. No second-class union membership! A victory in the GM strike could be a springboard for a broader struggle against labor contracting and tiered wage systems. (read on)

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About the ICL




V.I. LeninLeon TrotskyThe International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) is a proletarian, revolutionary and internationalist tendency committed to the task of building Leninist parties as national sections of a democratic-centralist international. Our aim is the achievement of new October Revolutions—nothing else, nothing other, nothing less. The ICL bases itself on Marxist historical, dialectical materialism and seeks in particular to carry forward the international working-class perspectives of Marxism developed in the theory and practice of the Bolshevik leaders V. I. Lenin and L. D. Trotsky and embodied in the decisions of the first four Congresses of the Communist International as well as key documents of the Fourth International such as the Transitional Program (1938) and "War and the Fourth International" (1934). We also look to James P. Cannon, a leader of the early American Communist Party who was won to Trotskyism and went on to become a principal founder of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), working in close collaboration with Leon Trotsky. The origins of the ICL are in the Spartacist League/U.S., which began as the Revolutionary Tendency in the SWP and was bureaucratically expelled in 1963. Our ICL "Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program" was modeled on the Declaration of Principles adopted at the 1966 founding conference of the SL/U.S.

Adopted at the Third International Conference of the ICL in early 1998, the declaration presently exists in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Greek, Korean and Tagalog. In this post-Soviet period, marked by a deep regression of proletarian consciousness, we continue to be guided by Trotsky's statement that "the task of the vanguard is above all not to let itself be carried along by the backward flow; it must swim against the current." Reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution!