Monday, September 26, 2022

Will Lehman for UAW president


Will Lehman is running to become president of the United Auto Workers union.  I hope he succeeds. 

And this is from his campaign website:

Deere workers: Form rank-and-file committees to fight for what workers need!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My name is Will Lehman. I’m a second-tier, rank-and-file worker at Mack Trucks in Pennsylvania, and I’m running for president of the United Auto Workers in the union’s national elections in October and November.

Will Lehman

My campaign is aimed at building a mass movement of rank-and-file workers to finally break the stranglehold of the corrupt, pro-corporate UAW bureaucracy over us and place power where it belongs, in the hands of workers ourselves. To do this, I’m calling for the formation of rank-and-file committees at every factory, warehouse and workplace, so that we can communicate with each other and coordinate our struggles across different plants, companies, industries and countries.

We need to fully reverse the concessions the UAW apparatus has forced on us for decades. We need to fight for demands based on what workers actually need, not what the companies claim they can afford.

We need 50 percent wage increases and COLA to make up for years of stagnating pay and inflation; the genuine abolition of the wage and benefit tier system; fully-paid pensions and health care for both active workers and retirees; an end to speed-up and dangerous working conditions, and more.

For decades, the UAW has functioned as a union in name only. Whether you work at Deere, Caterpillar, CNH, Mack Trucks, Ford, GM or elsewhere, we have all seen our living standards and working conditions get worse and worse, contract after contract, because of concessions pushed on us by the UAW officialdom. Meanwhile, the UAW apparatus, more and more unaccountable to us, has hoarded our dues money and used it to live lavishly, with “Solidarity House” spending $75 million on salaries last year, with more than 450 bureaucrats making over $100,000 a piece.

Virtually the entire top leadership of the UAW, including people like former Vice President Norwood Jewell or former Presidents Dennis Williams and Gary Jones, were proven to be either taking bribes from the companies or stealing millions of dollars in our dues money. The only reason workers are even able to vote in the UAW elections this year is because the rampant corruption in the UAW apparatus became impossible to conceal, prompting state intervention.

But, while the current UAW executives claim that they’ve seen the light and are implementing reforms, the reality is that the UAW sellouts have continued uninterrupted.

Workers, however, are beginning to say “enough is enough” and are fighting back. After more than two years of a pandemic in which we were called “essential,” while the companies were reaping record profits from our labor, many workers are deciding that now is the time to take a stand, as Deere workers did last year.

The 2021 Deere strike

German Deere workers showing support for the strike in 2021

The strike by Deere workers last year was a courageous struggle that has inspired workers not just in the Midwest, but throughout the US and in other countries.

For more than a month, Deere workers not only fought back against a giant multinational company, they also repeatedly rebelled against the UAW bureaucracy itself. Workers remembered the way in which union executives rammed through a pro-company deal in 2015, being given only a few hours to review contract “highlights” and then forcing workers to vote on the spot. Workers were determined to prevent that from happening again.

2021 was the year when workers began to say: “No more concessions!” When the first two tentative agreements were brought back by UAW VP Chuck Browning and other officials, which they claimed had “significant gains,” workers responded, “This must be a joke!” The agreements were completely disconnected from what workers were demanding, including far higher wage increases and the restoration of retiree health care.

Workers displayed an incredible degree of real solidarity when they voted down these sellout deals, the first one by 90 percent. You should know that you were not the only workers to rebel against UAW concessions last year. At Volvo Trucks in Virginia, workers voted down at least three UAW-endorsed contracts, the first two times by 90 percent, and at auto parts maker Dana, workers also voted down a UAW-United Steelworkers-backed contract by 90 percent.

At Volvo, Deere and Dana, workers last year started to draw the necessary conclusions. Seeing that the UAW bureaucrats would not fight for you, workers began to organize on your own, forming rank-and-file committees, including the Deere Workers Rank-and-File Committee. These committees played a critical role in providing information and a perspective during the strike, countering the lies of the company, its media, and the union bureaucracy, and appealing for workers at other companies to mobilize in support.

The UAW apparatus, hoping to isolate you and wear you down, kept you on strike pay of just $275 a week, despite a strike fund of roughly $800 million dollars. Some of you may have heard that the union executive's tight grip on the strike funds purse strings continues: at the UAW convention this summer, after delegates voted to raise strike pay to $500 a week, the bureaucracy intervened and forced a revote, lowering strike pay back down again.

Eventually, the UAW was able to push through a contract based on what the company wanted last year, using lies and bullying to get it through, making a total mockery of union “democracy.” Workers have told my campaign that they continue to face many of the same issues they confronted before the strike: the CIPP incentive system is still stacked in the company’s favor; raises are still not enough to keep up with surging inflation; and the UAW still tells workers, “The company can do that.”

To add insult to injury, UAW VP Chuck Browning defended the entire record of the UAW during the Deere strike in a UAW candidates debate this week, claiming the contract they pushed through “was the best in decades.” Lying repeatedly, he declared that the UAW has “eliminated the tiers,” when workers can all see before their eyes that the tiers still exist.

Build the Deere Workers Rank-and-File Committee

The Deere strike may have ended, but the struggle against the companies and the UAW bureaucracy to secure the needs of workers goes forward.

Workers everywhere are being forced to fight by runaway inflation and sweatshop working conditions. At CNH (formerly known as Case New Holland), workers in Burlington, Iowa, and Racine, Wisconsin, have been on strike since May 2, with many saying they’re looking to draw a line in the sand like workers at Deere did.

At Caterpillar, anger and opposition is growing, particularly after a 39-year-old worker, Steven Dierkes, died earlier this year in a horrific industrial accident, falling into a vat of molten iron at the Mapleton Foundry.

Workers feel in their bones that fundamental change is needed. But this change is not going to be brought about by changing a few bureaucrats at the top. The only way real change is going to happen is by workers organizing and uniting themselves to force it.

I’m running for UAW president in order to encourage and organize the rebellion by workers which is already underway.

My campaign supports the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees. We cannot fight back against giant, transnational companies such as Deere or Caterpillar with a national strategy or outlook; we need the support and collaboration of our brothers and sisters in other countries in order to win.

My name will appear on the ballot for UAW International president, which you will receive in the mail in late October. If you agree with my perspective, I urge you not just to vote for me, but to join my campaign and the fight to build a rank-and-file movement to win what we need.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Monday:

Monday, September 26, 2022.  The western media gloms on one death while ignoring another and Iraq may be close to ending the ongoing political stalemate.

Over at COMMON DREAMS, Julia Conley wants you to know that US 'progressives' like AOC are up in arms and expressing 'solidarity' with some protesting in Iran over the death of 21-year-old Mahsa Amini.  It's great Julia Conley that you've finally discovered a Kurd -- it's not as though you've written of any Kurds in Iraq despite the fact that they are being terrorized by the government of Turkey.  In fact, here's RUDAW reporting yesterday on the latest Turkish attack:

Akre’s acting mayor Shaaban Barwari told Rudaw that alleged Turkish warplanes had struck villages in Dinarte district at 11:30pm on Saturday.

A local villager from Amedi, Ramzi Sargali, told Rudaw’s Nasser Ali that Turkish aircraft has been bombing the area for almost three months and while no casualties have been inflicted, it is causing fear among the local population. 

Turkey launched its latest operation, dubbed Claw-Lock, on April 18 targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in the mountainous areas of Metina, Zap, Avashin, and Basyan in Duhok province. The operation is the fourth stage of Ankara’s Claw operations against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region, with the first stage starting in 2019. 

If you were a sentient human being, you might ask why this death, of all deaths, is getting so much play but that would require a brain -- wouldn't it, Julia?

And a brain might mean you'd ask why members of the US Congress are so up in arms over a death in Iran that has nothing to do with the US while they ignore -- as does Julia Conley -- the death of a 15-year-old girl in Iraq last week, a death that said to be the fault of the US military.  You'd think members of the US Congress would be asking what happened in Iraq.

At INSURGENTE.ORG, Hafsa Kara-Mustapha notes that the Iranian death is beloved by western media because it takes place in a country that doesn't "toe the Western line" and that an investigation was launched in Iran and that Iranian officials offered condolences to the family.  The coverage, Hafsa notes, seems created to "inspire riots in resource-rich countreis" and that we've seen that before.  Meanwhile, 15-year-old Zainab Essam al-Jaszli was shot last week near Camp Bucca in Baghdad by US forces without any Western media reporting on the murder "demonstrating once again that it is not about human rights."

 Zainab Essam al-Khazali, as we noted Friday, "That's a name the US media can't seem to find.  But others are noting her name."  Including Haid Nasrallah:

Is anyone talking about Zainab Essam Al-Khazali? the 15 year old Iraqi girl who was shot and killed by US forces in Iraq yesterday. She wasn’t killed by Iran so her story does not matter to western media.

All these days later, the US media tries to maintain a silence.  The excessively -- yes, that is the term -- cover the death of an Iranian female, Mahsa Amini, while ignoring the death of an Iraqi girl.  When I saw the interview on that with Amy Goodman, it just gave me an uneasy feeling.  A little too pat, a little to planted, a little too hypocritical.  It was Thursday afternoon when I saw that segment and I already knew about Zainab.  A death in Iran was breaking all over the media but this Iraqi death, which is the US is said to be responsible for, no one was talking about it.

As we noted Saturday, "hypocrisy" is the term foreign outlets were using to describe the US media silence. Sunday, the hypocrisy continues.  

With one exception, at WSWS, Dominic Gustavao reports on Zainab:

A teenage girl was shot dead by American soldiers as they conducted live-fire drills at the Victoria military base near Baghdad International Airport on September 20. 

Fifteen year-old Zainab Essam Majed al-Khazali, a student, was working with her father on their family farm when a bullet struck her in the head. Her funeral procession was held the next day. 

The Iraqi Security Media Cell promised an investigation into the murder, which it initially described as a “random shooting.” However a statement given by Iraq’s security forces, quoted by The Cradle, confirmed the culpability of the US military: “The killing of Zainab Essam Majed coincided with the presence of training operations for the American forces … the bullet that was taken out of the girl’s head confirms that it is from one of the weapons used by the American forces in the embassy and airport.” 

The shooting has provoked widespread outrage, with locals demanding to know why American soldiers were holding live-fire exercises near residential areas. On September 22, Iraqi legislator Ahmed Taha al-Rubaie, from the Basra province, called upon the Baghdad government to summon the American ambassador and present her with a formal note of protest, along with taking legal measures to hold those responsible for the murder accountable. 

In a post on Twitter, Rubaie wrote, “Even though two days have passed since the teenage girl was killed by a bullet fired during US military exercises near the Victoria base northwest of Baghdad, the US Embassy has not bothered to issue any official apology for the unjust incident.”

He went on, “The death, which occurred as a result of the use of live rounds during military drills near residential neighborhoods, exhibits an outrageous disregard for the Iraqi blood and a blatant disrespect for the country's sovereignty.”

Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, a Shi’ite militia group that is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces, demanded on Twitter that the government “present a detailed report to the Iraqi people, explaining … this cowardly incident, and how a military base can exist on Iraqi soil in clear violation of the Iraqi constitution … and sovereignty.”

It remains unclear whether the shooting was intentional, or the result of US troops recklessly firing off live ammunition near populated urban areas. In either case, it demonstrates the criminal indifference of the US occupiers towards the lives of the people whom they “liberated.” It also exposes the cynicism and hypocrisy of the leaders of the US and the other imperialist powers as they invoke concern for “human rights” to justify the use of militarism. 

As Dominic notes, both THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST have used the same person (Karim Sadjadpour) to weigh in on the death of the female in Iran while ignoring the murder of the Iraqi girl.  And, for the record, Karim is not the same person Amy Goodman brought on to cover the Iranian death.  Amy went with former VOICE OF AMERICA correspondent Negar Mortazavi.

This morning, Kumail Abbas Tweets:

A 15-year-old Iraqi girl was killed by US on Tuesday 20th September, identified as Zainab Essam Majed al-Khazali. The murder of the teen by US forces has gained little to no coverage in Western media. #zainabessamalkhazali #iraq #USA #fullajah

Ijaz Shigri Tweets:

Why #ZainabEssam, who was killed by the firing of American soldiers in Iraq, could not get the attention that #MahsaAmini's death got? Because Mahsa's death is in the interest of America and the West, and the case of Zainab Essam is directly related to American brutality.

Meanwhile, in an article noting government protests may resume October 1st -- this would be The October Revolution, not Moqtada's cult -- THE NATIONAL's Sinan Mahmoud reports:

Meanwhile, the Iran-backed Co-ordination Framework is close to announce a coalition with Kurds and Sunnis that could not only expedite the government formation process, but also provoke the powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, who has boycotted the political process.

The announcement was planned for Sunday, but was postponed.

Fadi Al Shimmari, a politician affiliated to CF, said the agreement was finalised late on Sunday with two main Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Sunni Azam and Sovereignty coalition as well as the Christian Babylonian party.

The following sites updated: