From: World Socialist Web Site 3-15-08
Video Above(please check site if video isn't showing via E-Mail)Several striking auto workers in Detroit were arrested on the picket line at American Axle and Manufacturing on Friday morning, March 14, as the company moved a number of semis through the picket lines. Local police and the local media outlets had been mobilized in force in an obvious, orchestrated effort to provoke a confrontation and force an end to the strike. For more information visit www.wsws.org.
Auto workers on strike at American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM) in Detroit and New York are facing a sharp escalation of attacks in their struggle to prevent the company from carrying through a brutal two-thirds reduction in their wages and benefits. The 3,650 AAM workers organized in the United Auto Workers union walked out more than two weeks ago.
On Friday morning, March 14, the company executed what appeared to be a carefully orchestrated effort at the company’s main production facility in Detroit, involving local police and news media to provoke a confrontation and force an end to the strike.
Approximately a dozen squad cars and twice as many uniformed officers accompanied by vans and plain-clothes cops were mobilized when the company moved large semi-trailers through the St. Aubin Street gate of the huge American Axle complex. Three picketers were arrested, charged with disorderly conduct, handcuffed and taken away in police vans.
Soon after the arrests, reporters from the World Socialist Web Site visited the picket lines and interviewed strikers. A witness to the incident reported that one of the truck drivers got out of his vehicle and approached the pickets in an apparent deliberate effort to cause a provocation.
The police then escorted the scab back to his truck while other officers arrested and handcuffed three of the pickets. As the witness reported, “They didn’t take him to jail, but they took three of our guys to jail that were just standing in the way. Now what’s up with that?” he asked. “To me, that’s illegal.”
Local media outlets responded with breaking-news reports of violence and arrests on the picket lines and video images of strikers being hauled away in handcuffs. As an example, in a story headlined “Strikers Handcuffed During Scuffle,” the web site for Channel 4, the local NBC affiliate, wrote, “Detroit police were called to the St. Aubin strike location Friday morning to control a situation that turned violent.”
According to eyewitnesses, the only violence was carried out by a lone scab truck driver supported by a large number of police. The provocative character of the incident and the inflated and inflammatory response to it in the local media are aimed at intimidating the strikers in preparation for the UAW’s move to end the strike.
As the union has become increasingly integrated into the financial and management structure of the corporations where its members work, it has become common practice for the UAW to move to shut down a strike at the very moment when the workers’ struggle begins to exercise its greatest economic impact. Such is the current danger at American Axle.
General Motors, AAM’s principal client receiving 80 percent of parts produced by company, has a large stake in the current conflict. When its plants began to shut down because of parts shortages, the auto giant gave its full support to AAM’s decision to inflict a decisive defeat on its workers. Presumably, short-term losses were seen as a necessary sacrifice to insure the extension of the auto industry pattern of brutal cuts in wages and benefits.
However, the published reports this week of a statement by GM Chairman Rick Wagoner that the strike will hurt GM’s first-quarter financial results is a sign that pressure is building in corporate boardrooms to bring the strike to a speedy end. Parts shortages from the strike have forced GM to close all or part of 28 plants, affecting more than 37,000 hourly workers.
In line with these demands, the UAW international union has now taken control of negotiations in the strike in an effort to impose a contract on striking workers. The Associated Press reported on Friday that the international dismissed local union representatives from negotiations on Monday, while declaring that the company had not shifted its demands for sweeping concessions in wages and benefits.
“The union sent its local bargainers back to their factories on Monday and reported that the company wasn’t budging from its earlier proposals,” wrote Tom Krisher for the AP, who went on to report that talks resumed Thursday with “top negotiators for American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings Inc. and the United Auto Workers.”
Workers on the picket lines explained the decisive character of their struggle and their dismay at the conduct of the union. “It’s all about looking good on Wall Street,” said Lia. “I may never walk in these doors again if the contract involves cuts.”
Scott said, “The UAW is supposed to be democratic, but we can’t even vote for our own president. Our pay scale has been incorporated into an international contract. They know if we vote the contract down here at this plant, then there are four other plants—some of which are threatened with closure—that they can pressure to accept the deal.”
“I started working here 14 years ago, after leaving the military,” said Steve. “We started at $12.55 an hour. We have had pay increases since then. Now they want to send us back to $14.50? After inflation, that would mean that we would be earning less than we made when we started. This is all about greed, corporate greed. They want to make more money.”
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From Future Of The Unions 3-15-08
Police said the picketers were blocking the path of trucks trying to enter an American Axle plant on the company’s campus. They were arrested at around 10 a.m. at the intersection of St. Aubin and Denton on the Hamtramck-Detroit border, police said.
The company said Friday that during the work stoppage, it has had parts trucked to customers out of its plants. Some of those parts come from the company’s inventory made before the strike and some are being made by salaried workers, Rogers said. “We are trying to meet our customers’ needs to the best of our ability,” she said. “We are doing this in order to help us retain business and the jobs that business provides.”
Adrian King, president of UAW Local 235, said he suspects that the trucks were brought in to rile up strikers.
The incident was the strikers’ first significant confrontation with police since the strike started nearly three weeks ago. “We have been peaceful,” King said. “We have been getting positive feedback from the community and the public.”
Where's my American made Hybrid? Continued downward spiral expected if the BIG 3 don't start making dependable, "mandatory hybrid vehicles"
But what of GM, who has in it's own right, dropped the ball on the American car, failing to see the need of Hybrid vehicles, GM has a few but has hardly advertised them at all. Now, allegedly, workers in Texas are going to lose their jobs. All this while GM is still being trumpeted as huge victors of the 2007 UAW/GM strike. Why bother to build a safe, working hybrid, which is actually a mandated vehicle in New York for all Taxi's by 2012. Where's my American made Hybrid? Not all the workers affected are union members, and the American Axle strike is screwing them too.
From the E-Mail
Even here everything seems to be "Slanted" , take the newest stories talking about the "thousands of GM workers laid-off a because of American Axle". Screw GM what about the hundred thousand or so non-GM workers that are laid-off, at least the "Real" GM workers can draw strike benefits. The rest of us are panicking over how to pay bills on the grossly inadequate unemployment payments.GM, it's not the union workers that are screwing the American car industry, with failure to reinvent the American automobile into a high gas mileage alternative in which many jurisdictions are mandating, the only blame for this mess lies in the mirrors of the upper management. Be completive, create what is wanted to be purchased. This strike is killing a lot of workers here in North America. American Axle's hard line in these negotiations is a major reason. GM not being creative and innovative to the needs of the Governing bodies and that of the people is their own mess, which will hurt everyone in the long run.
To make matters worse some of us (Including me) will be permanently laid-off next month due to GM's "De-rate" . Which I can't understand at all, yes sales are dropping but I've seen only two ads for the Tahoe Hybrid both are as weak as the anti-worker ads GM ran just before the contact talks and are rarely played on TV anyhow . You have to really look hard and online for any info on the new GMC truck Hybrid. Half the people I work with had no idea they're making one. My point is these and the "Gas" Tahoe are all made at the Texas plant, but the Janesville plant only makes "Gas" models let people know they can still have the over sized useless monsters who's headlights blind anyone not driving one themselves, and get almost good gas mileage. I'm sure they'll sell and the de-rate can be put off at least until the gas hits $4.00 a gallon. And no one needs to be "kicked to the curb" with "Oops sorry, guess you have find a new job". And yes that pathetic reply was what I was told by my UAW rep when I asked why they weren't doing anything to fight this.
Even when I was looking for a US/Canada union made vehicle, I was horrified by the selection. Only Saturn had a hybrid, and the only car which I wanted that was fabricated here with 90% of US parts in the engine and transmission, which had decent gas mileage was what I got, a Chevy Impala. Everything else was the lowest grade car or some monster SUV thing. What a disaster. Also I noticed that New York Taxi's which were predominantly Ford's, Chrysler's and Chevy's are now being restocked as Toyota's. Shame on Ford, GM and Chrysler. Continually blaming the over-priced workers, when in fact their short-sightedness and lower quality designs are to blame for the mess they are in now. The future is bleak to say the least.
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