UAW says Delphi strike inevitable:Rank-and-file solidarity shifts to high gear

Workers’ Correspondence

Several local leaders of the United Auto Workers issued a memo Dec. 2 attempting to inform the membership who had been waiting for weeks for some kind of response from the international union concerning the situation with Delphi. The giant parts manufacturer has filed for bankruptcy and gone to court demanding that autoworkers’ wages, health care and pensions be slashed.

UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker was quoted in the memo stating that he felt that any agreement that could be reached with Delphi would be turned down by the membership. The International Legal Department has advised him that the UAW is unlikely to get a favorable ruling in bankruptcy court. Shoemaker then went on to state that it was the feeling of the International that a strike was inevitable.

Saginaw County is home to 6,800 Delphi workers. With a history that dates back 100 years, the county is home to Delphi Steering’s world headquarters. Saginaw would be devastated by the impact of a possible strike, plant closing or court-imposed wage cuts. It is already one of the leading cities for poverty in the country.

Wall Street’s greed would drain $750 million dollars from the local economy. Small business owners are already on edge, realizing that their future rides on the outcome of this confrontation between Delphi’s CEO Rick Miller and the UAW. Local area hospitals are bracing for layoffs of staff; restaurants are looking at closure.

On Dec. 4, rank-and-file UAW members met in Bay City, about 10 miles north of Saginaw. This was the third meeting, with previous meetings held in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Kokomo, Ind. The room of about 200 was eager to talk about Delphi, its CEO, and a strategy to build solidarity within their ranks and beyond.

The three-hour meeting featured strategy on “work to rule,” laying the groundwork for a rank-and-file organization, and proposals for the next meeting scheduled for Dec. 11 in Flint, Mich.

The “work to rule” strategy discussion included suggestions to target specific “hot” departments or lines that feed the rest of the plant in order to cause part shortages and create overtime to drive up costs. A Flint worker said that rather than refusing overtime, workers should try to give them eight hours’ work in 12 hours and create more overtime. Others suggested targeting the shipping department to slow down just-in-time deliveries.

Other proposals included setting up pickets at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show in January, building informational picketing both outside and inside Delphi plants, picketing financier JP Morgan offices, putting Delphi CEO Miller on mock trial for economic terrorism, initiating solidarity with other Delphi unions in other countries in cross-border solidarity strikes, demanding national health care for all and continuing leafleting and community petitioning.

But a JP Morgan investment broker was in attendance. Outing the infiltrator from the podium, Greg Shotwell proceeded to tell everyone how JP Morgan had given Delphi a $2 billion line of credit so it could purchase Motorola Electronics Division during the bankruptcy proceedings.

The anger rose as Shotwell stated that JP Morgan had tried to infiltrate all three rank-and-file meetings to date so they could keep an eye on how their investment was doing. The undercover investment broker was then chased from the room by the shouts of angry workers.