March 13, 2013

by Dianne Feeley


Autoworker Caravan held two demonstrations outside of the 2013 North American Auto Show. The opening of the annual auto show attracts national and international press as well as media from the Detroit area. We have demonstrated for several years as the press comes into town in order to tell the story of how workers are faring under the supposedly revitalized industry. This year we focused on how working conditions continue to deteriorate as the difference in wages and benefits between workers creates disunity among workers and extra profits for the 1%. Stiff absentee policies and the expansions of alternative work schedules create an ever more repressive work environment.
Given that Michigan’s lame duck legislature passed, and Governor Rick Snyder signed, a right-to-work-for-less bill, we demonstrated our opposition and called for developing a strategy to turn that around. We need an educational campaign against this right-wing attack empowering us to move from that self-education and self-organization to street action.
Another aspect of our action this year was the presence of Jorge Parra, who represents the injured and fired GM workers in Bogota, Columbia. In speaking to the press, we pointed out how management attacks on us often are “tried out” in other countries and then brought here. While autoworkers, whether injured on the job or not, find that when returning to work the once easier jobs that facilitated the transition back no longer exist. They have been outsourced. Now if you can’t do the job you held you are told there is “no work available.” But down the road from this petty harassment is the reality that already exisits in the GM Colmores plant, where autoworkers who have been injured on the job are then fired. Standing in solidarity with the Columbian GM workers, we explained to the press, is not only a human response, but a realization of what will happen if corporations are not stopped in their tracks.
On both days we were joined by community activists, particularly the Detroit chapter of the National Action Network and Good Jobs Now. It was great to have their energy and enthusiasm. In fact, several of us had worked with them around the Walmart Black Friday action!

Autoworker Caravan members demonstrate against
deteriorating working conditions and Michigan's so
called Right To Work Legislation.

Dianne Feeley
Local 22

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