Auto parts workers at the transnational Dana Inc. have established a Dana Workers Rank-and-File Committee to direct the struggle of workers against the company. The workers’ contract expired last week. What follows is a statement of the committee.
August 24, 2021
Dear brothers and sisters at Dana:
After years of poverty wages, unbearably long work hours and sweatshop conditions at our plants, Dana workers are saying enough is enough and are ready to fight. The UAW and the USW are trying to ram another sellout contract down our throats without giving us time to study and discuss it. This time, however, we are not going to allow them to do it.
Reading leaked details of the proposed contract, it is clear that Dana workers are gearing up for a major battle over wages, hours, health and safety and much more. We call for a decisive “no” vote on this garbage contract.
This will not be an easy fight, but we can win. We must make our own plans now, get on the same page, and act in unison.
To begin: present conditions are an absolute non-starter. Some of us work up to 84-hour weeks, we have old machines, we breathe unsanitary air, there are no methods to keep us safe from COVID, and at some plants, ambulances come by regularly to pick up workers who get hurt or pass out from heat exhaustion.
Such is the sorry state of life in the United States in 2021 that we are demanding the 8-hour day and the 40-hour week, just like workers in the 1800s did. And all of this takes place in a “union” shop.
The proposed 5-year TA agreed to by the company and the union cuts our pay (when factoring for inflation) and maintains or expands mandated overtime. Dana says it has no money. This is an insult to our intelligence. Dana’s Trump-loving CEO, James Kamsickas, makes $10 million a year.
Dana has more than enough money to meet the demands put forward by our committee, the Dana Workers Rank-and-File Committee (DWRFC).
Many workers did not know there was a way to organize outside of the control of the UAW and USW. There is. We established this rank-and-file committee to share information, coordinate across plants, and unite workers everywhere against the company.
Our demands are based not on what the company wants but what workers need. This includes:
1. 8-hour day and 40-hour week.
2. A 75 percent wage increase for all workers.
3. Abolition of the multi-tier system. “Equal pay for equal work.”
4. Workers’ control of line speed. No speed-ups.
5. New, clean machines, safety training and air quality checks.
6. No points system. Bonuses for those with good past attendance
7. Adequate air conditioning in all plants. If temperature reaches a certain point, work stops.
8. Workers’ oversight of safety protocols to stop the spread of COVID-19. The right to halt production and close the plant for full cleaning, with guaranteed pay to workers for all missed time, if there are outbreaks.
We know the UAW and USW are actively aiding the corporation. They are enforcing speed-ups to help the company stockpile product, actively weakening our position. Whatever we can accomplish in this fight will not be through the UAW and USW, but by mobilizing our strength independently of them.
While a forceful “no” vote will be important, it won’t be enough. We need a strategy beyond Sunday’s vote.
This includes monitoring the vote counting. Workers at every plant must have the right to check ballot counting to make sure the UAW and USW don’t commit fraud.
If there is to be a strike, it must be prepared. The UAW and USW will try to hang us out to dry on $275 a week and starve us into submission.
We say: If we strike, we want to win! The company has weak points. It’s in a desperate competition with corporate competitors and is highly vulnerable to a well-planned strike. It can hardly hire enough workers to staff the plants right now and unemployment is low, so they will have difficulty finding enough scabs.
To win, all plants must act as one. We demand strike pay cover 100 percent of our current wages. This would send a powerful message to the company that we have a strategy for victory. The UAW can afford it: they have over $1 billion in assets and there are over 400 UAW executives who get paid over $100,000 a year to sell us out. They spent millions paying defense lawyers while the leadership was thrown in jail for accepting bribes from the Big Three. That money comes from our dues, and we’re entitled to it.
We must appeal to our powerful allies: parts workers, auto workers, and the working class in other industries.
The working class produces society’s wealth. All the corporate profit and all the social inequality is a product of the exploitation of workers like us, no matter what language they speak, what color their skin is, or what country they come from.
We must specifically appeal to workers at the Big Three production plants that our plants send product to. This includes Toledo Jeep, Warren Truck in Detroit, Louisville Truck, GM Ft. Wayne, and many other major plants. We also must link our struggles with other sections of the working class currently engaged in fights against companies, like striking Nabisco workers and John Deere workers. We must incorporate the lessons from the recent strike of Virginia autoworkers against the UAW and Volvo.
These fights are part of a rising tide of working class struggle. Now is not the time for inaction and apathy, which only help the company. We cannot accept current conditions in our plant or the massive levels of exploitation and inequality that dominate our lives under capitalism. Join the Dana Workers Rank-and-File Committee and fight by our side. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and text us at (248) 602–0936.