Workers at GM’s Oshawa Assembly in Canada walk out to protest plant closure, mass layoffs. | Lars Hagberg, AFP/Getty Images
By David Sole
General Motors (GM) announced on November 26 plans to end production at five plants in North America in 2019. Three of them are auto assembly factories located in Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan; Lordstown, Ohio; and Oshawa, Ontario. Transmission plants in Baltimore, Maryland, and Warren, Michigan, are also on the list, as well as two unnamed overseas facilities.
Together, the jobs of over 6,000 union workers are threatened. Another 8,000 salaried GM workers face layoffs in the coming year. The closing of entire factories has broad effects on the surrounding communities, as each job lost has a ripple effect throughout the local economies and neighborhoods.
Workers at the Oshawa plant immediately walked off the job to protest the announcement. These workers had given concessions on their pensions to GM in their 2016 contract negotiations in order to strengthen job security. Canadian government officials expressed anger at the company; the Canadian government had contributed to the 2009 bailout of GM and had provided funds to modernize the Oshawa plant in 2005…
GM Fleetwood workers gather by the hundreds inside the plant to talk about keeping the plant open. T-shirts say “stop plant closings.” (1987) | Photo: a Fleetwood worker
…Only a mass militant movement of the workers together with the affected communities can succeed in stopping the giant corporations from doing whatever they please. Driven by the desire and need to maximize profits, corporations have no concern for the lives of the workers who create all the wealth, nor for the destruction to surrounding communities. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions, and Utility Shutoffs along with other community organizations, like the National Action Network, have already announced plans to fight the closings. Moratorium Now has presented a Freedom of Information Act request demanding the precise figures for the Michigan MEGA tax credits and the precise figures on jobs that were supposed to be preserved. Unifor has been mobilizing its members from day one. The UAW must join the fight and mobilize the workers to join the community in beating back this latest outrageous attack on the working class.
Workers have a property right to their jobs, which they have more than paid for with their stolen labor for years. The community has a property claim on the plants as they have paid for them with massive tax breaks and blighted communities caused by the company over the years. If General Motors persists in their closings, the workers and the community have the right and duty to occupy the plants to assert their property rights and run them under worker-community control. The battle is just beginning.
David Sole worked at GM’s Fleetwood Plant from 1970 to 1987. He served on the Executive Board of UAW Local 15 and was co-chair of the Stop Plant Closings Committee of the local union. He also served as an organizer for the “A Job Is A Right” campaign.
To get involved in this struggle contact the Moratorium Now Coalition at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook @MoratoriumNowCoalition.
A Job is a Right leaflet, August 1988