Labor Panel -Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and SocialismThe Center for Labor Renewal San Francisco, CA - July 24, 2009
Panelists: David Bacon, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Maria Guillen, Frank Hammer
Comments by Frank Hammer
I'm going to address three themes today, and add a P.S. I'm going to give you a flavor of the autoworkers' movement as I've experienced it in the last six months; I will comment on the breathtaking events surrounding the GM bankruptcy; and I will elaborate on a proposal that has some promise for movement building. My P.S. will consist of a suggestion for continuing to fight for an internationalist perspective on the part of autoworkers. As a working class movement activist – when things look dreary – I remind myself that the work that I am doing, that we all are doing, is inside the belly of the beast. We are working inside the most powerful imperial power the world has ever known. If we are not further along in the trajectory of liberating "United Statians" – I refuse to refer to ourselves as "Americans" – you can chalk it up to the weird warp and bends of living inside the materially richest country on earth. Some days I'm satisfied that we are giving this monster a big belly ache and thereby supporting other, perhaps more advanced struggles around the world. The stark reality of the difference of our circumstances here and, say, the formerly colonized world came home to me during a visit to Porto Allegre, Brazil in 2006. The Metalworkers Federation arranged for me to meet GM and Delphi autoworkers employed at Gravitai – a modern behemoth out in the middle of nowhere. During our discussion I was asked why there wasn't more of a fightback among autoworkers in the U.S., and I responded that workers were taking "buyouts." I explained that GM was paying some workers $140,000 to "buy out" their seniority. They were visibly stunned. And I sure felt awkward and humbled, understanding that they wouldn't see that much money in a lifetime. It's like we live on different planets, linked by the fact that GM could afford the payments by extracting superprofits from the Brazilians.
Read more at The Center for Labor Renewal
Frank Hammer on The Real News Network
Gravataí Industrial Complex
General Motors will add a third shift at its Gravataí Industrial Complex in the south of Brazil, resulting in the creation of a total of 2,630 jobs.