Socialist Equality Party holds conference on auto industry

The Socialist Equality Party held a public conference at Wayne State University in Detroit this past Saturday, presenting its analysis of the current course of the automotive industry and United Auto Workers union, as well as its implications for workers:

In the main report to the meeting, WSWS reporter and SEP member Jerry White began by describing the extreme concessions that will be demanded of autoworkers as a result of the recently announced Bush administration “bailout” of the industry. He warned that the central aim of the government and banks is to undermine the pay and conditions of autoworkers as a first salvo against the working class as a whole. (See “Report to SEP meeting: “Auto workers must resist government-corporate demand for poverty wages“)

“It is no exaggeration to say that the concessions being demanded from auto workers would reduce them from being among the highest paid industrial workers in the world to conditions of poverty and exploitation not seen since the days before the mass industrial unions were built in the 1930s,” White said.

Predictably, socialism and the SEP were put forward as solutions the current hardships facing the industry:

First, he said, workers must revive forms of direct struggle based upon the independent interests of the working class, by organizing demonstrations, strikes and factory occupations, those “militant traditions of an earlier period that have been suppressed by the trade union bureaucracy.” He urged workers to form rank-and-file factory, workplace and neighborhood committees in opposition to the UAW and the entire trade union bureaucracy.

Second, White explained that the SEP calls for a break with the Democratic Party. “Industrial action must be linked to a new political strategy,” he said. “For decades, the unions have promoted the myth that the interests of workers can be advanced through the Democratic Party. The Democrats, no less than the Republicans, represent the corporations and banks. Workers should place no reliance on the incoming Obama administration, which fully supports the assault on the autoworkers. Workers need a new political party based upon their independent interests.”

Third, it was necessary to reject the capitalist market and revive the traditions of international socialism. “Workers within the United States and throughout the world are facing the consequences of an economic system whose central principle is the pursuit of private profit-regardless of its consequences for society as a whole,” he said. “In response to the unfolding crisis of world capitalism, the SEP fights for the socialist reorganization of the economy.”

This would entail the nationalization of the auto industry and financial institutions under public ownership and democratic control, and the building of a workers’ government: “a government of, by and for the working class,” White said.

More SEP commentary on the UAW and Democratic Party here and here. The linked articles continue the habit of SEP publications downplaying its electoral campaigns, in this case omitting any mention of headline speaker Jerry White’s presidential campaign this year.

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