Statement on UAW Strikes
The GEOC supports the rights of workers to organize into unions, as well as other venues for collective power, to improve the situation of working people regardless of their occupation, nationality, or immigrant status.
Last night at 11:59PM, UAW members at General Motors facilities went on strike, and will continue to strike until their demands are met. For those of us in Detroit, this means that workers at the GM plant in Hamtramck are on strike and picketing. We at GEOC figured we would take a minute to let our members know why our friends at the UAW are striking, and assert our unequivocal support for their efforts to secure fair wages, benefits, and working conditions.
The UAW states that, since General Motors’ bankruptcy and bailout ten years ago, its members have worked hard and played their role to return the company to profitability. Unfortunately, also according to our friends in the UAW, General Motors has not reciprocated, and has continued to use temporary workers, automation, and outsourcing to depress their workers’ wages. In addition, GM has recently announced plans to close several facilities, including the plant in Hamtramck as well as a transmission assembly facility in Warren. In response to these decisions on the part of General Motors, the UAW has authorized a work stoppage as of last night.
General Motors asserts that its average hourly worker makes 90k a year, and that as a result a strike is unnecessary, asserting that its workers are extremely well paid and compensated. At this point, we would like to note how this exact line of reasoning on the part of General Motors shows how this strike is relevant to us in Graduate Employees Organizing Committee.
First, if wages are high for GM workers, it is not because of the generosity of GM bosses, nor is it because of the free market. It is due to the engaged struggle of UAW members at GM facilities for almost 100 years. This shows us in higher education that what we do have we gained through struggle and hard work, not the generosity of university administration.
Second, it is true that 90k is much more than any member of GEOC will earn this year, and as a result the struggle of UAW members at GM might not seem connected to our work here at Wayne State. This is not the case, the reason being that wages for any set of workers are always influenced by the wages paid by other workers in other industries, and in the struggle between workers and bosses a victory for workers anywhere is a victory for us. Given the influence that the automotive industry exerts on life in Detroit broadly, we at GEOC will be watching the UAW strike closely, offering all the support we can, and also working to inform our members about its ongoing developments. For further information, please contact your department steward or any other union leadership.
Graduate Employee Organizing Committee #AFT6123