The 2023 United Auto Workers strike in the USA has excited the interest of unionists internationally. After decades in which wages have slumped and union membership declined suddenly the American workers were striking, gaining 20% increases and workers are returning to trade unions again.
What has caused this sudden upsurge in US labour and what lessons can be learned?
The strike itself brought out some insights.
The strike paralyzed three unionized automakers in the United States—Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis. It mobilized 145,000 UAW members who produce about 50 percent of the vehicles manufactured annually in the US.
UAW leadership showed resolve in determining strike action was needed, there was a strategy of not bringing out all workers but rather rolling strike action focusing on crippling some employers and forcing concessions from others, there was also support won even from bourgeois parties.
The strike released forceful energies of union members who had struggled with the rising cost of living and has been a powerful pole of attraction to other workers.
At the end of the strike the UAW announced: “In the past 90 days, thousands of non-union autoworkers have reached out to join our union. They see what workers won at GM, Ford, and Stellantis when they chose to Stand Up and fight for themselves. Now it’s time for non-union autoworkers to Stand Up and fight for themselves.”
What were the strategic points of the strike? What were the concessions won? What effect will this victory have on the vast majority of unorganized workers in the United States and internationally?
Join us in a presentation (see below) and discussion led by Frank Hammer, a retired UAW local president in Detroit who is actively organizing auto workers in Mexico into independent unions