Indefinite strike breaks out in the North American automotive sector


Class solidarity with the United Auto Workers and the scope of their struggle

By Jesús Valdez, activist of La Marx México, La Marx Internacional and the Independent Union of Workers of Industries, Services, Commerce and Education of the Mexican Republic (SITISCERM).

September 20, 2023

In the early hours of September 14, the union of automotive workers in the United States (United Auto Workers - UAW) broke out on an indefinite strike that is about to be a week old.

The UAW has resume the original traditions carried out during the decade of 30´s of the last century, carrying out, first of all, selective pickets in the production plants of "the big three"of the sector (Ford, Stellanis and General Motors), gradually increasing the pressure and keeping the three manufacurers "in uncertanly", although in reality this policy of the UAW leadership is aimed at negotiating whit the Democratic Party, it´s support (or non-support) for the re-election of President Joe Biden, that is, its strategy is opportunistic.

Historical background

The economical boom that followed the Second World War, marked the end of monopolies as the dominant form of capitalist accumulation, making way for a new economic regime: Keynessianism, where the multinational companies appear as the new dominant form of capitalist accumulation.

The massive destruction of productive forces in the previously period, caused a temporary boom in the world economy, witch alowed companies from the principal imperialist countries to convert from being local (national) companies to being companies with headquarters in a large number of countries (multinationals).

Having made this historical note, it is necessary to mention that this economic boom was accompanied and sustained by a regime of super exploitation of the working class throughout the world. The particularity of this historical period is that the rate of profit that existed in those years, allowed companies to give workers moderately decent salaries, social security and housing loans. All these conquests were won by the international working class through great struggles and fierce strikes, in the context of the triumph of the Russian revolution in 1917 and the defeat of fascism in the Second World War, accompanied by the aforementioned economic element. Throughout this period, the UAW's wage negotiations were the benchmark for the entire American labor movement.

The negotiations mentioned above were marked by long days of struggle and extensive strikes; however, as Keynesianism exhausted itself as the dominant form of capitalist accumulation, all these conquests began to lose strength, as did the purchasing power of wages. To understand the phenomenon, it is important to understand that another regime of accumulation came into force: globalization (neoliberalism).

A strike for wages and better living conditions

The current historical conditions are not the same as those of the postwar period, where the United Auto Workers was born, since with the outbreak of the capitalist crisis in 2008 (which has not ended), the purchasing power of wages has been brutally hit. Despite this, in the last two years, the profits of the big three have increased by a quarter of a million (250 thousand dollars per year), which has motivated UAW workers to carry out the siting and explosion of the indefinite strike.

Matt Frantzen, presidente del Local 1268 de la UAW, que representaba a los trabajadores de Belvidere Assembly en Iliniois, ha denunciado que en la planta vecina ha estado paralizada desde febrero de 2023 [1], el cierre de este centro de trabajo, provocó el despido de 1300 trabajadores afiliados a la UAW, lo cual ha causado una indignación tremenda, pero no sólo eso está ocurriendo, sino que el sindicato y sus agremiados, han descubierto que la planta sigue operando con trabajadores precarizados y no sindicalizados, lo cual representa una afrenta en contra del sindicato.

Another element that has been incorporated into the crisis in the automotive sector is the transition from internal combustion engines to electric motors, in addition to the inevitable automation of work, in other words, that machines are performing functions that they previously performed. human beings, this phenomenon is a historical constant that, under capitalism, has brutally hit workers around the world.

According to the National Auto Parts Industry (INA), Mexico would see losses of 76 million dollars per week and 300 million dollars per month [2], as a result of the powerful strike initiated by the UAW, for their part, business analysts at Anderson Economic Group (AEG), pointed out that a ten-day strike could reduce the Gross Domestic Product of the United States by 5.6 billion dollars in the event of a total strike, since so far, the strike is only being carried out in some centers of production.

No trust in Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders

The outbreak of the UAW strike has unleashed a series of statements from both Donald Trump, who denounces the transition to electric motors:

"There is no such thing as a 'just transition' to all electric cars (…) For American auto workers, that is a transition to hell. Nothing is more important than ending this job-crushing mandate" [3]

Trump's statements have been made with a view to the upcoming presidential elections, while Barack Obama recalls how his administration saved the lives of billionaires, sacrificing the vast majority and their working conditions:

"Fourteen years ago, when the Big Three automakers were struggling to stay afloat, my administration and the American people stepped in to support them. So did the auto workers in the UAW who sacrificed wages and benefits to help the companies get back on your feet.

Now that our automakers are enjoying robust profits, it's time to do right by those same workers so the industry can emerge more united and competitive than ever."[4]

For his part, Bernie Sanders has been making appearances in the media and at UAW rallies to express his solidarity with the union, flanked by Shawn Fain, the main leader of the UAW, who has made electoral harangues against Donald Trump, asking voters to stop electing billionaires who "have no understanding of what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck."

Sanders' intervention and the inclination of the UAW leadership towards the Wall Street party, that is, the Democratic party, points to the conclusion of an agreement with the government and a possible state intervention to save the big three under a policy of class conciliation based on million-dollar loans for companies, which all taxpayers will pay so that automotive companies do not lose their sacred profit rate.

Sanders' intervention is nothing more than a lie against the American working class; he appears like the piper who charms power-hungry snakes from the leadership of the UAW.

We clarify that we are not interested in the leadership of the UAW, but rather in supporting the just demands of the working class, which is the one that has carried the entire weight of the capitalist crisis on its shoulders in the last 15 years.

Let's support the UAW's indefinite strike!

Supporting the UAW strike is the duty of all activists, workers and unions around the world, since any fight in defense of wages, whether on the other side of the world, in the northern hemisphere, or in the southern hemisphere, benefits us. to all workers in the world, thus, after the signing of the FTA in 1994, the value of labor power was lowered in Mexico, while in China, due to the different strikes that began from the beginning of the 21st century until To date, it has done nothing other than benefit the working class around the world, because at the time of salary review, employers give in more easily to our demands. Before this happened, the argument was: "if I They ask for a bigger increase, I'm taking my company to another country, where it's cheaper for me to produce.

A victorious strike in the United States directly benefits the working class around the world, mainly the unionized workers of the USA, Mexico and Canada, since after the signing of the Free Trade Agreement 2.0 (the T-MEC), a One of the main clauses has been imposed by the proletariat of the United States and Canada, who demand better salaries for Mexican workers, so that there is an even floor and avoid competition from below.

From Marx International we call to support the indefinite strike of the UAW, we wish for its victory, at the same time we invite all social, political and union organizations of the working class to speak out in favor of this just struggle.

Long live the indefinite strike of the United Auto Workers!

No trust in the wolves in sheep's clothing of the Democratic Party!

For a Socialist and revolutionary America!:

Join The Marx International!


[1] Labor Notes: Big 3 target auto parts centers in preparation for strike.


[2] Mexico would see damages of 76 million dollars in auto parts in the first week of the strike in the US


[3] UAW strike at Big Three manufacturing plants. Jarod Facundo, Lee Harris


[4] Barack Obama, via Facebook. September 16, 2023