By Jerry Goldberg
On a daily basis, the bourgeois media attempts to undermine the UAW/GM strike with unrelenting articles on corruption within a significant sector the UAW leadership.
There is no doubt that seeing these scandals is disheartening for workers everywhere, especially coming against officials in a union that was built by communists and socialists and had a tradition of union democracy. For many years, UAW officials’ pay was limited to that of the highest paid workers they represented, and the UAW was not characterized by the large salaries paid leaders in other unions.
However, over the years that tradition of union democracy was undermined, beginning when the communists were driven out of the union in the 1950’s witch hunt. The union adopted more of the business unionism model practiced by many unions during the relatively prosperous 1950’s and 1960’s.
Beginning in the late 1970’s, as part of their corporate restructuring that led to wholesale displacement of thousands of workers, the corporations pushed the Corporate/Union team model into the union. This was accompanied by the creation of all sorts of special management-union counsels and training centers. Workers were pulled off the assembly lines to work at these centers, and spent their time with company officials, who seduced them with the kind of perks and extravagances that are the rule in corporate America. This separation was further enhanced when the union began embracing the idea that the only way to preserve workers’ jobs in the era of globalization and technology, was to adopt class collaboration and concessions in place of class struggle.
But while the media focuses its daily attack on the “greedy and corrupt” UAW leaders, it’s important to place that corruption in the context of the far greater daily robbery by the corporate CEO’s. For example, a September 16, 2019 article in the Detroit News is titled “UAW-FCA scandal hangs over contract talks: What officials did with the dues.” It exposes thousands of dollars and perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars misappropriated by UAW officials (as well as FCA management) primarily from the joint-union management programs, and union leaders being seduced by cigars, trips to villas, fancy wines and golf clubs. Pretty disgusting stuff
But compare this corruption to the fact that for 2018 alone, a year in which she shut down five GM plants and eliminated over 6000 hourly workers, Mary Barra, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer at General Motors made $21,870,450 in total compensation. Of this total, $2,100,000 was received as a salary, $4,452,000 was received as a bonus, $3,425,006 was received in stock options, $11,081,760 was awarded as stock and $811,684 came from other types of compensation.
The compensation of corporate CEO’s like Barra make the foolish corruption of the union leadership look like the stupid, petty greed that it represented. But you can be sure that no CEO is ever investigated by the FBI or Justice D department for their daily robbery of the workers as the bosses extract profit and surplus value from their stolen labor. After all, that is what capitalism is all about.