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July, 2006

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UAW Convention: A Missed Opportunity
New strategies lacking in face of global challenges

By Claire McClinton
While UAW delegates from around the country met in Las Vegas, Nevada in June, a Michigan newspaper reported through a “leak” that Ford Motor Co. is preparing to make a multi-billion dollar investment in Mexico.

Brothers and Sisters,

The United Auto Workers (UAW) Constitutional Convention held June 12-15 in Las Vegas, Nevada, could be summed up with the following: "Do what we've been doing, just do more of it." For example, divert millions of dollars of strike fund money over the next four years primarily to pay for organizing drives, but also lobbying efforts etc. Also, vow to fight the attempt by Delphi to void union contracts in the courts with the threat to strike, while at the same time negotiating severance packages to cushion the blow when plants close and jobs are lost. But, do these go far enough when:

Delphi Workers (both active and retiree) still hang in the balance, their futures dependent on the decisions of a bankruptcy Judge in New York City.

Retirees at both G.M. and Ford have taken historic Health Care cuts.

Unprecedented Buyouts have been taken, but is our Health Care and Pension safe?? At GM and Delphi, over 46,000 autoworkers opted for the severance packages or Buyouts, but these have been gut wrenching decisions for many, especially for those at Delphi who feel they are being forced out since CEO Steve Miller promised to close or sell the bulk of their plants.

Below are excerpts from a statement made on the convention floor that expresses the heart and soul of autoworkers around the country, as well as at the Convention:
On a Mission for Health Care — Bob Sisler, retiree of UAW Local 6000 (Employees State of Michigan), shown here with Claire McClinton, mans an exhibit booth at the UAW Convention promoting House Bill 676 and urging members to take it back to their locals and communities and campaign for it’s passage.

Gregg Shotwell speaking against the Resolution on Outsourcing:

"It's not enough to talk the talk. We have to walk the walk. In 1999, GM executed the largest outsourcing scheme in UAW history. They not only outsourced our work, they transferred our pensions from GM to Delphi. We didn't fight. We chose to negotiate. We failed. Now they are coming to finish the job. For those of us at Delphi, it feels like we are in the Alamo. We are surrounded and they are coming to finish us off.

"Every so often we get a message. Some workers, some hostages, may be released. Many who leave are going under duress. They aren't ready, or they are going out on the 50 and 10, [50 years old and at least 10 years pension credit] and it isn't enough.

"I said to one brother, it's not enough. How are you going to make it? 'My wife has cancer,' he said. 'I have to go.'

"The rest of us must stay and fight. Some of us have no choice.

"Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Delphi is a line in the sand. What happens at Delphi is the future of the UAW.

"Delphi workers are in the Alamo, and we are listening for the calvary. But we don't hear the boots on the pavement.

"We need to hear boots on the pavement. We need a one-day general strike for Delphi workers just like the immigrant workers. If immigrants could organize a national day of solidarity, why can't the UAW? (Convention Applause)

"Delphi workers feel threatened. We feel isolated.

"I call on this convention to stand up for Delphi workers. I call on this convention to show their support and solidarity with Delphi workers."

This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551, info@peoplestribune.org.
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