Bob “No Strike” King, the president of the UAW, is leading the charge for a Constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining in Michigan. My guess is that King is angling for an appointment from Governor Snyder. A spot on the bench, hell, even the Michigan Supreme Court is not improbable if this Constitutional con job passes muster. After all, King went to law school while he worked as an apprentice at Ford.
If you’ve ever been an apprentice, you know that King either bullshitted his way through law school or bullshitted his way through apprenticeship. If you’re a lawyer, you know he bullshitted both ends against the middle and played the UAW like a devil’s fiddle. We know damn well whose souls were sold when the deal went down. There may be a tier in hell for working class traitors like King, but if you’re working the line for half pay and no pension, you’re already there.
Item three of the so-called Job Protection amendment prohibits “strikes by employees of the state and its political subdivisions.” In other words, this amendment protects collective bargaining at the expense of workers in the public sector, not only state, but county and municipal as well. Conservatives will wave their arms and yell, but secretly they pine to lock unions in a pillory of legal restraints where the only movement left for labor is squirm. No strike equals no rights.
We shouldn’t be surprised. King is the progeny of Ron Gettelfinger who famously put 73,000 UAW members on the street in a strike against GM in 2007 and then stared straight into the unblinking eye of the TV machine and said, “No one wins in a strike.”
The UAW cut its teeth in strikes. King wouldn’t have a union to denude if it wasn’t for strikes, occupations, and bare-knuckled fights. The largest local in the UAW is the state of Michigan workforce. King wants to bargain concessions without the inconvenience of a membership who would rather strike than roll over.
The no-strike clause for public sector unions puts all workers on notice: the government is an enforcer not a protector.
In “the land of the free” labor is a commodity, and the terms and conditions of the sale tilt the bargaining table in favor of the employer. If workers can’t legally strike, bargaining collectively is moot. All they can do is cop a plea.
The bended knee is not a winning posture. Whether we labor under the burden of right-to-work laws or the no-strike clause, our ability to prosper and pursue happiness is limited to the kindness and generosity of bosses. Screw that shit as they say on the shopfloor.
The power to break the bonds of servitude and assert autonomy is essential to human dignity. If workers are prevented from withholding labor while employers violate contracts or impose wage cuts, then law is merely a tool of power, a whip in the hands of bosses.
A Constitutional amendment that restricts strikes under the guise of defending collective bargaining is a con job. The Protect Our Jobs coalition only seeks to protect the union bureaucracy. Screw that shit. All workers deserve the right to strike.
Defend the right to strike, not the right to pay lawyers like King to plea bargain collectively and deduct dues for the service.
Gregg Shotwell may be contacted at <GreggShotwell@aol.com>. See, also, <www.soldiersofsolidarity.com>, <www.factoryrat.com>, and <www.warriorsoflabor.com>.