The union leadership “like a PR firm for the company”: Interview with UAW member Justin Mayhugh

Justin Mayhugh

Justin Mayhugh is an alternate delegate in UAW Local 31 and a member of a UAW caucus called Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD). He works on the assembly line for GM. In this important interview, he explains the situation in that union, including the perspectives for the strike at John Deere.

“It’s the idea of business unionism,” Justin explains (minute 4:44). “The union leaders have convinced themselves that what’s good for the company is good for the workers.” He continues to explain the “jointness” programs in that context. The union leadership is “more like a PR firm for the company, or they’re more like a buffer between the company and us,” Justin explains (minute 5:40).

Justin Mayhugh

Elsewhere, he comments on the privileges of the bureaucracy (Minute 14:10) and how the UAW bureaucracy combines with the employers in the hope of starving striking UAW members back to work (20:13). A classic example of where the union leadership is at was the speech given by former UAW International president Bob King before the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. (In that speech, King says that the 21st century UAW sees the employers as “partners” and that they have “shared goals”. It is an absolute classic and should be read in its entirety. While the UAW has taken down the link to that speech, Oaklandsocialist saved it and has reproduced its transcript here.)

There is also a discussion on the John Deere strike, starting at 22:20, including what is necessary for the international to do (26:29).

Justin also discusses the support for Trump among his co-workers (minute 34:32).

This entire interview has to be seen in the context of what seems to be a growing rebellion of the union rank and file against their leadership:

Western Washington carpenters came first. Organized through the Peter J. McGuire Group, they rejected four tentative contract agreements (TA’s) from their union bureaucracy. Then over 90% of John Deere workers rejected the UAW bureaucracy’s TA. Now, there is the TA from the IATSE bureaucracy. While that vote is yet to come, there is already growing opposition to it, partly around the issue of working conditions and work shifts that last 14 hours and even longer.

There is also a discussion on trying to link up John Deere strikers with other John Deere workers around the world, including in Argentina, Brazil and Germany.

Justin Mayhugh

Categories: labor

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