The bourgeois press reports that “About 8,500 hourly electrical workers at Delphi Corporation will begin voting Thursday on whether to authorize a strike against the auto parts maker if its existing labor contracts are thrown out in bankruptcy court.” (The Dow Jones Newswire, February 23, 2006).
A picket set up on the occasion of the International Auto Show in Detroit on January 8 mobilized 700 people, with the organized participation of workers from several states. It was preceded by meetings all over the country and also counted on the support of the Detroit municipal employees.
Interviewed by The Detroit News, “Several Delphi workers say they may be ready to strike rather than accept deep cuts. Cheri McLaughlin, 49, a toolmaker at Delphi's Flint East, said many of her co-workers were 'angry and sad.' She added, 'Most people basically feel betrayed and feel like we have nothing to lose.'”
"I never protested until recently and now, I feel like I got to tell every American worker that they're next," said Stacey Kemp, 47, a fourth-generation auto worker from Saginaw who works for Delphi and participated in Sunday's protest. "Every promise your company has made to you will be broken." (Idem.)
Ten days later, more than a hundred workers from a Delphi plant in east Michigan formed a picket line outside Delphi headquarters in Troy Michigan. The workers demanded to see the Annual Pension Report, but when they attempted to enter the building displaying their Delphi ID cards, they were blocked at the entrance and were accused of entering without authorization.
There is a great deal at stake, not just for the workers of Delphi and GM, but also for those of Ford, which announced in February that it was going to liquidate 30,000 jobs and close 14 plants (25% of its US workforce). Groups of independent trade unionists have been continuing their efforts to organize a strike against GM-Delphi, which is seeking an agreement that would accept in great part their intention to cut wages from 27 to 12 dollars an hour, to close plants, impose employee contributions towards health care, the destruction of pensions and even the liquidation of the collective bargaining agreements through the courts, the latter as part of a formal process of declaring bankruptcy.
“Not one dollar, not one dime! Cutting wages is a crime!” more than 75 auto workers joined together here for a spirited picket line at the Delphi auto parts plant in Flint, to protest its closing (Fightback Magazine, February 23, 2006). In various interviews, those who participated in the action as well as other workers from the same plant explained that the UAW bureaucracy had visited the plants in the region saying that the protest had been canceled due to cold weather (idem).
“After the picket line, auto workers packed a nearby local in which a series of meetings in various states were announced to determine what steps to take” (Idem).
On the next day, the automotive parts manufacturer Delphi postponed its presentation before the court, clearly as part of a maneuver to subside pressures and calm the situation.
But the workers are not standing around with their arms crossed. For February 2 a “Solidarity Conference” was planned in Peoria, Illinois, under the slogan “Our silence does not protect us” ( www.soldiersofsolidarity.com ).
The Delphi electric workers, meanwhile, voted to start a strike the moment Delphi presents its brief in court with the aim of liquidating the collective bargaining agreement.