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Unifor declares Ford Canada contract passes at conclusion of sham ratification process

In a brief, self-congratulatory statement released around noon Sunday, the Unifor bureaucracy declared that the 5,600 Ford Canada workers have approved the three-year sellout agreement it announced last Tuesday evening, after extending the contract and scuttling an impending strike.

The entire ratification process was an anti-democratic sham. Workers were not provided with even the most elementary details about the proposed contract until Saturday morning. The union then held a single Zoom online “ratification meeting.” It thereby exercised complete control over who could speak and raise questions at the meeting. Even more importantly, this process was designed to prevent workers from discussing the agreement among themselves and organizing to defeat it.

Initially, Unifor suppressed all information about the outcome of the online vote, other than to say that the contract had been ratified. After an outpouring of critical comments from workers, Unifor claimed that a contract it touted as “transformative” and containing “historic gains” had been ratified with just 54 percent support.

However, it continues to refuse to release the actual vote totals or how many workers voted. The World Socialist Web Site has already heard from one Ford worker who could not vote using the online system, and was also excluded from the Zoom meeting. There is good reason to believe that his experience was not exceptional. It is therefore more than likely that a majority of the workforce either voted “no” or were not able to participate in Unifor’s manipulated vote.

The supposedly ratified contract is a gross betrayal of autoworkers in Canada and across North America. As documented by the WSWS, it provides total base wage increases of just 15 percent over three years plus cost-of-living adjustments inadequate to keep up with inflation, perpetuates the hated two-tier system, and gives Ford carte blanche to implement the transition to electric vehicle (EV) production at workers’ expense, including through massive job cuts.  

As numerous Canadian workers pointed out in social media postings, the sellout contract undercuts the struggle of US autoworkers. The UAW bureaucracy, which like Unifor has imposed decades of concession contracts and presided over the wholesale elimination of jobs, will now try to use the Ford Canada agreement to maneuver to end its phony “stand up” strike and implement concessionary agreements at the Big Three’s American operations. Significantly, Ford operations were entirely excluded from UAW President Shawn Fain’s strike “escalation”—in fact not a single production facility of any of the Big Three was impacted—last Friday.

For its part, in what read like a threat to workers at the Canadian operations of GM and Stellantis, Unifor declared in its initial statement announcing the end of the Ford contract struggle, “Priorities met! Pattern set.”

Workers on both sides of the border must go into action to defeat the maneuvers of the Unifor and UAW top brass. Above all this means seizing control of their contract struggle from the nationalist pro-company union apparatuses and returning it to the hands of workers on the shop floor.

Workers should build rank-and-file committees and affiliate them with Autoworkers’ Rank-and-File Committee Network, forge unity with workers in the US and Mexico and make preparations for a North America-wide auto strike to win decent wages, the elimination of all tiers, and job security for all.

Unifor “highlights” of contract with Ford reveal attacks on real wages, continuation of tier system

Initial analysis of the “highlights” package Unifor is using to champion the tentative contract it has reached with Ford Canada reveals that the union bureaucracy is seeking to impose a miserable sellout. One all workers must reject.

Unifor‘s “highlights“ of his contract with Ford [Photo: Unifor]

With just one front-loaded wage increase that is even within the ballpark of what workers want and need and a large taxable signing bonus, Unifor is trying to bribe autoworkers into accepting a three-year agreement that will ensure Ford, GM and Stellantis can carry out their electric vehicle (EV) transition at workers’ expense.

The proposed agreement perpetuates the hated multi-tier wage system, imposes an effective wage freeze over a three-year contract when inflation is taken into account, and provides Ford with the framework to slash jobs wholesale and push the highest-senior workers into retirement and replace them with lower-paid new hires.

The agreement is not only a sellout for Canadian Ford workers, but also a stab in the back to autoworkers currently on strike or demanding to join the strike in the United States. Over a three-year contract, total wage “increases” will amount to 15 percent. This equates to half of the 40 percent increase over four-years that UAW President Shawn Fain has demanded under immense pressure from the rank and file.

Following the well-worn path of whipsawing wages, benefits, and jobs back and forth across the Canada-US border that has been practiced by the two nationalist factions of the union bureaucracy over the past four decades, Fain will use the “Canadian benchmark,” though he will likely avoid like the plague admitting this publicly, in an effort to ram through a similar sellout for US workers. He has already left Ford out of the “expansion” of the strike announced yesterday, suggesting that a tentative agreement is in the offing.

Within hours of the release of Unifor’s highlights of the tentative agreement with Ford, anger erupted among workers on social media. “Did Unifor even listen to anything that the membership asked for?” wrote one worker. “We should of already been on strike with our brothers down South,” wrote another. “It’s time to be paid our worth. Vote No.”

Top Unifor officials like President Lana Payne and Ford Master Bargaining Committee Chair John D’Agnolo touted the agreement when it was first announced Tuesday as containing “historic” and “transformative gains.” But they suppressed any actual information about its contents until Saturday morning, prompting an outpouring of anger from rank-and-file workers.

Read the full analysis

“Go full force to get what we need”: Ford Chicago workers call for all-out strike

There is growing discontent among workers following the announcement by UAW President Shawn Fain Friday that the UAW would only call out parts distribution centers at GM and Stellantis. The decision means Big Three output will continue virtually unimpeded, with only three assembly plants currently on strike.

A temporary full-time (TFT) worker at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant (CAP) told the WSWS after the announcement, “I think if we go on strike together, it would really push the situation forward. They would see we were very serious that we’re fighting for the things we need. I’ve only been there a year. This is a historic strike. I would agree to an all-out strike and go full force to get what we need.

“Today we got the news while we were at work they’re not going to strike at all. They said they’re coming together to make an agreement. I think they’re putting BS together, so we won’t go on strike. They’re trying to buy time. They’re making us work while they come up with a plan.”

Another CAP worker with four years at the plant said, “We need to do an all-out strike. Everyone was anticipating that we were going to leave at 12 o’ clock.”

Speaking on the need to unite 170,000 autoworkers in the Big Three across the US and Canada, he added, “We all are one. We’ve got to fight together. We’re stronger together. Us being together, there’s nothing we can’t overcome.”

He spoke out on the gulf between rank-and-file workers on the floor and the UAW apparatus and management as well. “Let’s be honest. When we walk on the floor, all the workers operating on the jobs, coming in every day. They’re running themselves down. They have to go to medical—their hands hurt, their backs hurt, etc. Injuries happen all the time on the floor. And you look around on the floor and you see these official people walking … We’re on the line and we’re hustling and bustling and we’re getting paid the least.

“We pay our union dues; every employee is paying union dues every month. Where’s that money going? That’s so much money. They’re not fighting for us. Some of them making $300,000, $400,000 every year. When we first got hired, they said it starts with us. We are first. Why is it so hard to get what we want? It irks me. And they give us 500 cars a day, we get injured … come on!”

He also spoke out on the silence of Fain and the UAW on the struggle of Lear workers, who have voted down three UAW-backed contracts that impose poverty wages on them. “My sister said the same thing, she works at Lear … She asked, what’s going on? Why aren’t they saying anything about us?”

In response to rank-and-file autoworker Will Lehman’s statement calling for an all-out strike, he replied, “That’s exactly what I want to hear. We need to go all on strike. There’s nothing else we can do. If we do this together, instead of us being divided, we are powerful.

“We need more wages, we need better profit sharing, better COLA. Our cost of living is going up every year. There’s no more dollar stores. Everything is getting expensive. If we think about it, another five to 10 years, $20-25/hour, you’re not going to make it. It’s really bad. Minimum wage … when you think about it, people are not making enough off minimum wage.

“Rent’s going up every year by a $100. When you got cable, internet, all of it is going up. Every year. And I’ve worked here throughout the pandemic.”

In response to Fain and the UAW strategy of extremely limited strikes, he added, “We’re being blocked. These supervisors and general managers and executives and presidents and these union officials, these guys make six figures every year. We’re the one’s on the floor, putting our blood, sweat and tears in. It’s a lot of pressure on us, building the cars. I believe we should make top dollar for what we make—at least $40/hour.

“Enough is enough! UAW membership—we have to make a stand now. We all got to come together. All our dollars are getting wasted. They’re going where they’re not supposed to go. When we go on strike, I believe we should get what we should deserve. If it starts with us building the cars, why shouldn’t we get paid more? Why not?

“I’m definitely ready for a change. I’m ready to go full throttle.”

A third worker with 11 years at CAP said, “This is the first time I’m going through something like this, but I do believe more than one company should have struck. We should have had more of a fire to get things going for us.

“The rich want to continue to get rich. Continuously we get in debt. The CEO of the company made almost $200 million in the last decade. That’s insane. That’s one person in the whole company. They’ve made enough to generate wealth for multiple, multiple generations. The auto workers are going further into debt. We’re making money for them hand over fist, making them richer.

“I’m going to be candid—it’s modern day slavery. These guys are, the big wigs and billionaires, are exploiting us.”

“This will have no impact on production”: Will Lehman responds to UAW announcement of Big Three parts center strikes

In response to UAW President Shawn Fain’s announcement Friday that only GM and Stellantis parts distribution centers will be called out on strike, Mack Trucks worker Will Lehman issued the following statement. Lehman was a rank-and-file candidate for president of the UAW in the 2022 UAW elections.

The United Auto Workers bureaucracy is carrying out another bait-and-switch on workers. UAW President Shawn Fain announced in a Facebook livestream that the parts distribution centers at General Motors and Stellantis will be called out on strike at noon today.

Let’s be clear on what this really means: This will have no impact on production. These are parts warehouses that ship components to the dealerships, not suppliers of the Big Three. 

Just 5,600 more workers are being called out, less than 4 percent of the UAW Big Three membership. Ninety-seven percent of UAW members at the Big Three voted to go on strike, but only 12 percent total have been called out. 

Fain and the UAW are not calling out any assembly or components plants, let alone the entire Big Three UAW membership, because that would deal an immediate and powerful blow to the companies. Nor is the UAW calling out any of the parts supplier workers who are working under expired contracts, such as at Lear Hammond, where workers have voted down three UAW-endorsed sellout contracts in recent months.

The UAW’s “stand up strike” policy is a fraud. The UAW apparatus is ordering the vast majority of its members to keep working and producing profits for the companies. This policy is a betrayal of the will of rank-and-file workers and the desire for all-out strike action across the auto industry. 

Fain and the UAW are claiming “good progress” with Ford. No worker should view this claim as credible. 

In Canada, the Unifor bureaucracy announced a deal with Ford on Tuesday night and is trying to conceal it from its members until ratification meetings on Saturday. Unifor is trying to ram through a sellout at Ford, and the UAW bureaucracy will do the same in the US when they feel the time is right. 

It is time for the rank and file to take a stand and stop the sabotage of this struggle. Workers at the Big Three must call for emergency meetings at their locals, in order to discuss and adopt resolutions demanding all-out strike action across the auto industry. To coordinate this and overcome the resistance of the union bureaucracies, rank-and-file committees should be formed at each factory and warehouse. 

Read and share the statement

UAW President Fain’s “expanded strikes” will have zero impact on automakers’ production sales

In a Facebook live video Friday morning, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain announced that autoworkers at Big Three assembly plants must continue working, producing relief on Wall Street and frustration among rank-and-file workers, 97 percent of whom voted for an all-out strike.

Instead of calling assembly or component plants out, Fain and the UAW bureaucracy called parts distribution center workers at only General Motors and Stellantis out on strike. These centers, called PDCs, are after-market facilities at the very end of the auto supply chain, supplying dealerships.

The strike at PDCs will have no impact on the Big Three’s production. Citing “real progress with Ford,” Fain also said there would be no strikes at Ford’s PDCs. This is notable, considering the Canadian union bureaucracy’s last-minute agreement with Ford to prevent a strike north of the border. Workers have been given no information about the deal and are being told to vote on it this weekend.

After Fain’s announcement, CNBC noted that the Big Three and their financial backers responded positively to news that the UAW would keep production running: “Many, including Wall Street analysts, expected the union to expand work stoppages to full-size truck plants of the Detroit automakers, which are crucial to the profitability of the companies.”

Read the full report

Reject the Unifor/UAW sabotage operation! Expand the autoworkers struggle across North America!

The trade union bureaucracies on both sides of the Canada-US border are pulling out all the stops to sabotage the contract struggles of nearly 170,000 autoworkers across North America.

In Canada, the apparatus of Unifor, the country’s largest industrial union, is trying to ram through an agreement covering 5,600 Ford Motor Company workers in the most blatantly undemocratic manner.

Nearly two hours after the contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Monday, Unifor arbitrarily announced an extension by 24 hours to block a strike. On Tuesday evening, it then claimed to have reached a tentative agreement with “historic” and “transformative gains,” without providing any details on what these alleged “gains” were. It would later emerge that leading members of the bargaining team did not even have time to read the agreement in full before granting it their “unanimous” approval.

With increasingly outraged workers still in the dark about the terms of the tentative agreement, Unifor has scheduled ratification meetings for Saturday and a 10 a.m. Sunday deadline for voting. The meetings will be held on Zoom, in a transparent attempt by the bureaucracy to smother dissent and prevent workers from meeting in person to discuss the sellout. Workers have also been warned that if their email addresses are not up to date, they won’t be able to vote, meaning the more exploited workers with more hectic lives will not receive notice and will be denied the right to vote “no.”

Ford workers in Canada should reject this agreement on principle, given the blatant attempt by Unifor to stampede them into accepting a sellout deal. If the contract is so “historic,” why is the union bureaucracy concealing it until Saturday and only giving workers less than 24 hours to make a decision?

A rejection of Unifor’s backroom deal with Ford would immensely encourage the development of militant opposition by workers throughout North America. But it would only be the first step.

The union bureaucracies on both sides of the border are demonstrating that they’re working in the interests of the corporations, conspiring with the Trudeau government in Canada and the Biden government in the US against workers. For workers to unite and put a stop to this sabotage, organizational structures under workers’ control are needed—rank-and-file factory committees—which will provide a means for workers in Canada, the US, Mexico and elsewhere to communicate with each other and coordinate actions internationally.

Read the full statement

“Let us march together”: Mexican autoworkers call for North American-wide fight

Autoworkers in Mexico have reacted with anger over the efforts by the Unifor union in Canada and the United Auto Workers in the United States to sabotage the growing movement for a united struggle by workers across North America.

“It is terrible the way the UAW and Unifor are handling the strike,” Fernando, a worker fired from the General Motors complex in Silao, Mexico, told the WSWS. “The governments in Canada and the US are also interfering and it is wrong that in the face of the support of the majority of the working class, unions consent in this way. Rank-and-file workers are right in expressing their anger. All our support and solidarity with our fellow workers.”

Another GM Silao worker said: “As we can see the unions seem to be conducting this struggle as they like and excluding the rank-and-file workers. This is totally arbitrary and not only that they are trying to divide us.

“We must be more audacious and intelligent than them. We must remain united and join those who are fighting against these union officials who are conforming to the demands of management of the auto companies. To those whose hands they are trying to tie, let’s not allow it, fellow autoworkers, let us march together and fight these corporations.”

“We Mexicans, fellow workers of the Silao plant, express our solidarity and support for a true democracy. Long live the rights and justice for the rank and file and down with the corruption and corporate barriers! We have endured this for too long. It is time to wake up and move forward, not one step backwards!”

The rank and file demand an all-out strike in the auto industry!

The following is a statement issued Wednesday by the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network. Download a pdf version of this statement to print and distribute.

It has been nearly one week since “stand up strikes” were called by the United Auto Workers at three Big Three plants. What is the result of this strategy?

Over 90 percent of the membership at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis have been ordered by the UAW to continue working and producing products for the companies. Wall Street has shrugged off the strike. The companies’ stock prices are at the same level as they were before the strike began.

Time is only on the side of the companies. Every day and every hour we continue working, more vehicles are stockpiled and more profits are produced. Nothing can be won if this bankrupt policy continues. The full strength of workers in the auto industry must be mobilized!

The Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network calls for workers at every factory to organize now to fight for an all-out strike. At each UAW local, meetings must be held involving the entire rank-and-file membership to discuss and vote on resolutions demanding all-out strike action.

The UAW bureaucracy will resist these demands and try to placate workers and keep us demobilized as long as possible.

Therefore, rank-and-file committees should be formed at each plant, shift and department, for workers to have a democratic say and control over this fight.

Read the full statement

“We should all be out right now”: At factory gates and picket lines in Michigan, autoworkers demand all-out strike

Outside the factories and on the picket lines in Michigan, workers who spoke to WSWS reporters expressed their frustration with the situation and declared that all workers should be out on strike, especially after they voted by 97 percent to walk out when the contracts expired.

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“We should have all walked out at 11:59 on September 14 to show them we mean business,” a veteran Stellantis worker at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant in suburban Detroit told the WSWS. “I’ve been screwed over since the concessionary contracts and they don’t want to make it up. I don’t get Shawn Fain saying, ‘we mean business,’ but it doesn’t seem like we mean business.”

“This doesn’t look like a strike,” another Warren Truck worker said on her way into the factory Wednesday morning. “How can we be fully effective if we’re not all striking at once?”

“The union’s strategy is not sitting well with me,” another worker walking into the plant said. “We should be striking across the board.”

“I may be old school,” another Warren Truck worker said, “but we should all be out right now.”

Read the full report

ZF auto parts workers in Alabama walk out

On Wednesday, the rank-and-file strike movement against the auto corporations spread from the Big Three to the suppliers and from the industrial Midwest to the deep south when 200 ZF Chassis parts workers walked off at the plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The workers are UAW members, and the strike began after workers rejected a third sellout contract put forward by the Mercedes-Benz supplier and the UAW bureaucracy. A shutdown at ZF’s Tuscaloosa facility will likely stop production at Mercedes-Benz’s massive assembly plant nearby.

Striking ZF auto parts workers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama [Photo: UAW]

ZF Chassis is owned by Germany’s ZF Friedrichshafen, one of the world’s largest auto parts manufacturers, with over 165,000 employees worldwide. It is number three on Automotive News’ top 100 suppliers and had $42.1 billion in sales to the auto industry in 2022.

For over a century, the auto companies have used the South to undermine and weaken workers in the industrial centers of Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis and elsewhere, but this is now breaking down. The British Financial Times explained that the strike means that “Mercedes-Benz has been dragged into the wave of industrial action sweeping across the US auto industry.”

“The Alabama workers say they need higher wages and better health care benefits similar to the employees of the Big Three,” the Financial Times continued.

The ZF strike comes as 1,400 UAW members are on strike against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and as 200 auto parts workers continue to strike against Dometic in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. This has provoked growing concerns in the White House and on Wall Street that the rank-and-file movement has the potential to spill out of the control of the UAW bureaucracy, which has kept all but 12,000 of the UAW’s 146,000 Big Three membership at work past last week’s contract expiration.

Read the full report

Unifor announces a sellout tentative agreement for 5,600 Ford Canada workers

Late Tuesday evening—some 21 hours after ignoring a Monday, Sept. 18, 11:59 p.m. strike deadline—Unifor announced that it had reached a tentative agreement covering 5,600 Ford Canada production, skilled trades and office workers.

The agreement is manifestly a sellout, aimed at blocking the development of a united struggle of the 18,000 Detroit Three workers in Canada and their 150,000 US counterparts.

The 329-word Unifor “Bargaining Update” announcing the tentative agreement represents a new low even for Unifor, which is notorious for keeping workers in the dark about negotiations and ramming through tentative agreements by trumpeting misleading contract “highlights.”

The update contains no information whatsoever about the agreement’s terms. Not even the duration of the proposed contract, whether three, four of five years, is provided.

In place of concrete information about the proposed deal, which Unifor says will serve as the “pattern” for the contracts of GM and Stellantis Canada workers, the update shamelessly provides media spin.

It claims that Unifor has secured “fundamental, transformative gains that addressed our core priorities of pensions, wages and the EV transition,” but says nothing about what these “gains” consist of.

Significantly none of the words “cost-of-living clause” or “COLA,” “tiers,” “temporary workers,” ‘jobs” or “job protections” are mentioned. This under conditions where workers’ wages have been battered by inflation, much of the workforce is on a low-wage multi-tier grid, a growing percentage are precariously employed as “temporary workers,” and Ford and the other automakers are planning to use the EV transition to slash jobs wholesale.

The Unifor bureaucrats do however heap praise on themselves. The update praises “the exceptional commitment of your bargaining committee” whose “painstaking work” “ensured that negotiations were able to progress.”

Adding insult to injury, the update lyingly claims, “We leveraged our union’s most powerful weapon: the right to strike.” In reality, Unifor sabotaged the strike set to begin Monday night, resulting in a flood of angry social media postings by rank-and-file workers. Indeed, the last time Unifor or its predecessor the Canadian Auto Workers called a strike against one of the Detroit Three during a pattern-settlement bargaining round was in 1996.

Silent as the update is on the proposed contract, it does provide one entirely predictable but vital piece of information. Unifor, as its anti-democratic practice, intends to keep the proposed agreement under wraps until “ratification” meetings, likely to be held this weekend. In other words, workers are, if Unifor gets its way, to be stampeded into voting on their terms of employment for years to come without any chance to study or likely even see the full contract. The union, declares the update, “will now prepare to present this unanimously endorsed tentative agreement in full detail to the membership at upcoming ratification meetings.”

Workers at Ford Canada and the other Canadian facilities of the Detroit Three must take immediate action to oppose this sellout, and Unifor’s intentions to essentially use workers in Canada as scabs against their class brothers and sisters in the US.

To take the struggle into their own hands, autoworkers in Canada should establish rank-and-file committees in every plant. Through the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Committee Network created by rank-and-file committees at various US plants, Canadian autoworkers can unify their struggle with that of their American brothers and sisters. Only through the development of such an international counter-offensive against the profit-driven agenda of the corporate bosses, and their allies in government and the Unifor and UAW bureaucracies, can workers secure their demands for wage increases that beat inflation, the abolition of multi-tier wages, no layoffs or plant closures during the EV transition, and pension rights.

Read the full report

Canadian autoworkers erupt in anger following 24-hour Unifor contract extension at Ford

Are you an autoworker? Fill out the form at the end to tell us what you think of Unifor’s contract extensions, and to discuss joining a rank-and-file committee.

Worker anger continued to mount after Unifor’s decision to arbitrarily extend the strike deadline for 5,600 Ford Canada production, skilled trades and office workers for 24 hours—from Monday to Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.

As the World Socialist Web Site explained, “The aim of this shabby maneuver was to block a strike at the Ford Oakville Assembly Plant, two smaller engine plants in Windsor and several parts distribution centres in Ontario and Alberta, which would have seen Canadian and US autoworkers on strike together for the first time in decades.”

“Not only did you undermine every workers basic union right to legally strike, you compromised our single most valuable bargaining tool, all while spitting in the face of standing in solidarity with the UAW. Great job,” wrote one worker on Twitter (X).

“WOW,” remarked a worker from Detroit. “After zero word coming from the union to support our struggle with this strike and having the nerve to extend negotiations LAST SECOND. Way to go @UniforTheUnion!! Shameful leadership.”

Many workers denounced the Unifor bureaucracy’s blatant violation of autoworkers’ massive vote in favour of strike action last month. “You should listen to the members! They authorized a strike vote. Take action, stand up to corporate greed!” wrote a worker on Facebook.

“You are supposed to strike at the deadline you promised. Until there is a tentative agreement!! Even if it’s only for a few hours ... WE GAVE YOU AUTHORIZATION that we would strike,” added another. A further comment read, “97% in favor to strike!!! What are we doing?!!”

Read the full story

Inequality driving the working class towards socialism, Will Lehman writes in Newsweek op-ed

On Monday, Newsweek published the following op-ed by Will Lehman, a Mack Trucks worker and socialist candidate for UAW president in last year’s union elections.

Will Lehman's op-ed in Newsweek [Photo: Newsweek]

On Friday, President Biden spoke from the White House about the autoworkers’ strike, calling for the car corporations and the United Auto Workers to reach a “win-win” agreement for workers.

“Record profits have not been shared fairly, in my view, with those workers,” Biden said. “Workers deserve a fair share of the benefits they helped create for an enterprise.”

Biden’s remarks raise fundamental questions about the distribution of wealth in the United States. Much more than a contract dispute is involved.

Workers’ wages at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis have declined dramatically over the past 50 years. In 1973, autoworkers received an average hourly wage of $5.54 an hour—more than $38 an hour in today’s dollars. If that wage had merely kept up with inflation (setting aside the massive increases in productivity over that time), autoworkers would be making nearly $40 an hour today.

But today temporary workers at GM start at $16.67 and top out at $20, half as much as workers five decades ago. Should temps be lucky enough to be given full-time status, their top pay is capped at just over $32 an hour, which it takes eight long years to reach.

Another comparison: GM CEO Mary Barra received a $28.9 million compensation package in 2022. She made approximately $2.4 million a month, $550,000 a week, $110,000 a day, or an “hourly” rate of nearly $13,800. It would take a temporary worker making the maximum $20 an hour almost three years to make as much as Barra does in a single day.

The difference between the two, however, is that every penny of Barra’s pay package is ultimately derived from the value produced by the labor of the working class.

How can Biden’s “fair share” be distributed between a corporate executive making $13,894 an hour and a temp making $20 an hour?

The conventional argument made by champions of the “free market” system is that executives are paid for their “performance,” by which is meant their ability to deliver for Wall Street. They make millions because the shareholders receive billions.

And how much profit have the companies made? In 2022, GM, Ford, and Stellantis made a combined $77 billion in gross profit.

If that $77 billion were to be distributed among all 150,000 Big Three autoworkers in the US, each worker would receive a bonus of roughly $513,333.

Of course, GM, Stellantis, and Ford employ many tens of thousands more workers around the world, and their labor is also exploited to produce the billions which accrue to the shareholders. There are also the vast supply chains, workers throughout the auto parts plants, who are integral to the productive process.

The president claims that a “win-win” contract for workers and the corporate owners can be reached. But Biden, the veteran capitalist politician, knows that’s impossible. What the president is trying to cover up is that workers and the corporate oligarchy have fundamentally irreconcilable class interests. There is no “fair share” in a set-up in which investors get billions, executives get millions, and workers get pennies.

There is an approaching day of reckoning with social realities that have long been concealed and covered up. Workers are increasingly aware of the vastly unequal society in which they live and are looking for a way to change it.

Read the full op-ed