Above Photo: WSWS Media
Aware of the anger over handling scab parts and growing sentiment for collective action in solidarity with the NRV strikers, UAW 677 posted a notice Monday, which read: “As the NRV strike continues, our brothers and sisters at Local 2069 need our support.” Far from calling the workers out or even calling for a ban on handling scab parts, the Local 677 officials instruct workers to donate money to striking Volvo workers during the general membership meeting Thursday at the local union hall.
While workers will no doubt gladly contribute, even though they are facing the loss of income due to temporary layoffs, it is the UAW which is fully responsible for the precarious economic situation facing striking Volvo workers. Even though the UAW sits on a strike fund worth nearly $800 million, it has put workers on starvation rations of $275 a week in strike benefits. While strikers face destitution, the UAW’s newly installed president, Ray Curry, who negotiated the two wage- and benefit-cutting deals overwhelmingly rejected by Volvo workers, is expected to get a hefty pay bump from his current salary of $236,600, or $4,538 a week.
“We should not be handling any parts that come from NRV,” a Macungie worker told the World Socialist Web Site. “That would really screw Volvo. Right now, Mack workers are thinking, ‘Should I stick with my brothers at NRV and face the consequences from the bosses or do I just wait and see what is going to happen?’”
“The Macungie plant is working this week and off next week. Hagerstown is going to be down from July 5 to 23. There are at least 1,700 Mack trucks in the float, which are incomplete because of the lack of microchips and the impact of the strike. If all the Mack workers acted together with the NRV workers, Volvo would be screwed. Right now, NRV is on strike, but Macungie and Hagerstown are still making the company money. If we weren’t running it would really hit the shareholders where it hurts.
“The UAW is not telling us anything. During the strike in 2019, our local union didn’t give us any information until they got a tentative agreement. We should have stayed out longer than two weeks and stayed out along with the GM workers. The UAW added a signing bonus and a little money to get the contract through but in the end, we lost much more.
“We thought with the exposure of the corruption scheme that the executive board would have to make some changes. But now they’ve got Curry in charge, the same guy who sold out our strike in 2019. We’ve given up so much as workers. It’s time for all of us, Volvo, Mack, GM, Ford, Chrysler, to stick together. We have to get the information out and start rank-and-file committees in Allentown, Hagerstown and all the facilities in the Mack Council, just like the NRV workers did.”
In his statement accepting the top post at the UAW, Curry said, “As president, I pledge to continue to build upon our commitment to a culture of transparency, reforms and checks and balances.” In fact, Curry is doing everything to conceal the deal the UAW is working out with Volvo in ongoing “negotiations” in Charlotte, North Carolina. The UAW has released no information about the talks, which are joint labor-management sessions to figure out the best strategy to beat back the resistance of Volvo workers who have already decisively rejected two pro-company contract proposals signed by Curry.
At the same time, the UAW has imposed a news blackout on the strike to prevent other autoworkers from learning about and backing this critical struggle. But unlike the countless other struggles isolated and sold out by the UAW and other unions, this battle has a different character because the Virginia workers have formed the Volvo Workers Rank-and-File Committee, which functions as a real leadership of the workers. Earlier this month, the Volvo Workers Rank-and-File Committee issued a powerful open letter to the UAW which demanded joint action, beginning with Mack-Volvo workers to shut down Volvo’s operations.
In opposition to the UAW news blackout of the strike, campaigners from the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter spoke to autoworkers in Chicago and Detroit over the weekend and distributed the statement, “Autoworkers: Form rank-and-file solidarity committees to break the isolation of the strike at Volvo Trucks!”
An autoworker in the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant (CAP) told the WSWS, “I was reading the last article on Volvo. It’s uplifting to hear the stand they have taken, but sad to hear how the UAW is only giving $275 for support of the matter. It’s even worse to keep their strike covered up, in an attempt to keep all other plants in the dark. I believe this is needed and will hit the CAP soon. We just got to get someone to lead the charge.”