The issue is not to "save" Chrysler
but to step up the struggle against it!

(The Workers' Advocate, Oct. 22, 1979)


. The Chrysler billionaires have lost over $460 million in the last eighteen months and are in danger of collapsing. The problems of Chrysler are a manifestation of the deepening crisis of the monopoly capitalist system. Embroiled in hopeless difficulties, the representatives of this crisis-ridden and decaying system are rushing about the country to convince the masses that the prime objective of mankind must be to "save the rich". Under this tattered banner the Chrysler billionaires, the monopoly capitalist government and the UAW big shots with the arch-class traitor Doug Fraser at the head have turned their united energies to forcing the workers to "sacrifice" in order that Chrysler might be saved. Each of the various "rescue" schemes has this same basic theme -- devastate the workers through enormous layoffs, extreme overwork, and severe wage cuts. And all of this so that Chrysler executives can continue to live like kings, so that Chrysler may recoup its losses of millions of dollars, so that the big banks and other financial godfathers of Chrysler may maintain their enormous interest payments. The workers cannot accept any of these "rescue" schemes of the moneybags and labor traitors. They must organize independently to wage determined mass struggle to defend their jobs. The workers' jobs can't be preserved by sacrificing to save Chrysler, but only by using the company's predicament as a time to step up the fight against Chrysler. Now is the time for the workers to intensify their struggle against the job-eliminating productivity drive of the auto billionaires, against the massive layoffs and the monopoly capitalists' wage-cutting offensive. Now is the time, not to save the rich, but to intensify the struggle against them.

Billionaires won't sacrifice to save Chrysler

. Chrysler, the 10th largest capitalist industry in the U.S. and the 14th largest in the world, is in crisis. In 1978 it lost $204 million. In the first six months of 1979 it has already lost $260 million. And by the end of the year it is expected to lose over $1 billion, the biggest amount ever lost by an industrial firm in a single year. With such unprecedented losses Chrysler is in danger of totally collapsing. The difficulties of the Chrysler billionaires are the product of the dog-eat-dog laws of the monopoly capitalist system. And the threat that Chrysler will collapse is a manifestation of the deepening and all-sided crisis of this man-eating system. Today, not only are the small and medium sized capitalist companies going bankrupt in ever larger numbers. But now Chrysler too, one of the world's mightiest monopoly capitalist corporations, is being bankrupted and driven out of business.

. From these facts, however, it should not be concluded that Chrysler has stopped extorting enormous surplus value from the sweat and blood of the auto workers. Even with losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Chrysler continues to pay out huge sums of money to further enrich the monopoly capitalist moneybags. Chrysler's top executives continue to this day to live like kings. Much publicity was given to Chrysler president Lee Iacocca's "sacrifice" of his $360,000 annual salary as his "share" to help out the corporation. Meanwhile, Iacocca was paid in excess of $6 million only last year as an "incentive" to come to Chrysler from Ford, and he gets a $1.5 million per year bonus on top of his salary. In any event this salary is only "deferred", and he will recover it with interest in a year or two unless the company is completely bankrupted. Even Fraser was forced to admit that Iacocca's "salary cut" is a hoax, but nevertheless, he added "it is great P. R.", "just what we needed" -- that is, to hoodwink the workers into thinking the rich are "sacrificing" "equally". Furthermore, Chrysler continues to pay out over $28 million annually in dividends on its preferred stocks. And finally, Chrysler continues to pay off well over $2 billion in loans from banks, insurance companies and other monopoly capitalist financial institutions, which means that these financial godfathers continue to rake in millions of profits, surplus value extracted from the work and sweat of the Chrysler workers. But, of course, when the question of "sacrificing" to save Chrysler comes up, sacrificing these enormous profits is not even considered. The profits of almighty capital are held sacred. In fact, the government wants to "guarantee" the loans of the financial magnates. Whether Chrysler survives or not, the Carter government is determined to save the huge profits of the multi-billionaire bankers. This is the significance of all of the schemes to save Chrysler. They are all, in the final analysis, schemes to save the enormous profits of the rich. And to this end the workers are being forced to sacrifice. The monopoly capitalists and their government are striving to put the full burden of their crisis onto the backs of the working class.

Rescue schemes aim to devastate the workers

. Chrysler is trying to save itself from total collapse and recoup its losses by devastating the workers with massive layoffs, extreme overwork and severe wage cuts. Chrysler has already thrown 29,000 workers into the ranks of the unemployed. For many, their paltry and short-lived unemployment benefits have already run out, while the SUB fund (Supplemental Unemployment Benefit) has totally run out for workers with less than ten years seniority. While throwing thousands of workers into the streets with no source of income, Chrysler is at the same time intensifying the labor of the remaining employed workers to the maximum. Through a program of closing down "inefficient" plants, retooling old machinery, introducing new equipment, speeding up the lines, combining jobs, etc., Chrysler is imposing extreme overwork on the production workers. For example, at the Dodge Main assembly plant in Hamtramck, Michigan, after laying off over 8,000 workers and announcing its plans to close down the plant altogether, the remaining workers are now being forced to work 54-hour weeks at a feverish pace. But even this extreme devastation of the workers is not enough for these auto billionaires. Chrysler is now proposing to starve its employed workforce, as well as those workers it has already thrown out of their jobs. It is calling for a massive wage cut of over 25% of the workers' pay through the combined effects of a two year "wage freeze" and soaring double digit inflation. Through this massive destruction of the workers, Chrysler is trying to save itself from destruction. For the sake of its capitalist dividends, the workers are being driven to utter destitution. And now the government of the rich has rushed in to assist Chrysler in its devastation of the workers. On August 9th, the Carter government announced that it would provide millions of dollars in loan guarantees so that Chrysler may have the necessary capital to retool and more "efficiently" overwork its employed workers while laying off thousands of others. The government has also promised to assist Chrysler in its wage-cutting schemes. In the same announcement in which the Carter government promised loan guarantees, the Secretary of the Treasury, G. William Miller, said that the government would demand "substantive contributions or concession from employees" of Chrysler. And so to save this major monopoly capitalist corporation, Carter has promised the full backing of the capitalist state to force onto the workers massive layoffs, extreme overwork, and unprecedented wage cuts.

Sacrificing for Chrysler won't save the workers' jobs

. All of these schemes to "rescue" Chrysler are being advocated under the outrageous fraud that to save Chrysler will save the jobs of the auto workers. This claim has no truth in fact, but is a criminal hoax aimed at fooling the workers into peacefully agreeing to their own devastation.

. In the first place a rescue of Chrysler which preserves the productivity drive of the auto billionaires will not save the workers' jobs. In a very real sense, the loss of the workers' jobs is due to the barbarous productivity drive of the monopoly capitalists, and not to the collapse of Chrysler per se. If all things were equal, the fact that Chrysler stops producing cars would only mean that GM or Ford would increase their production to take over Chrysler's share of the market. And in order to increase their production the other auto billionaires would have to hire on as many workers as Chrysler threw out of their jobs. But due to the monopoly capitalists' productivity drive this is not taking place. GM has already taken over a substantial portion of Chrysler's share of the market and it has increased its production accordingly. But GM has not substantially increased its workforce. That is because by intensifying the labor of the workers, by lengthening the working day, and by retooling the industry to more efficiently exploit the workers, the auto capitalists have been able to greatly increase their production and profits while not hiring on additional workers. For example, over the last ten years in the auto industry the output per worker has increased on the average of about 4% per year. If the 13.43 million motor vehicles produced in 1978 had been produced at the same rate per worker as in 1968 (i.e. about 15.76 units per worker) then 130,000 more auto workers would be employed today. That is, as many workers as the total employment at Chrysler. Thus it is the auto billionaires' drive to intensify the exploitation of the workers through a system of extreme overwork which is the basic source of the unemployment of the auto workers today.

. In the second place, none of the schemes to rescue Chrysler have the aim of eliminating this productivity drive of the auto billionaires, but, in fact, they aim to intensify it. Whether it is the scheme of the labor traitor Fraser, or that of the government or Chrysler itself, all of the rescue plans seek to amass a large amount of capital. Chrysler is to invest this capital to overhaul its entire operation (as it has already begun to do), to bring in new machinery, retool older plants, and in general intensify the workers' labor. In fact, neither the government nor Fraser believe that Chrysler will do a good enough job at imposing extreme overwork and layoffs on the workers. So both Fraser and the Carter government are demanding to have some government control over Chrysler to insure that it becomes as "efficient" as possible at exploiting its workforce. It can be seen from this, that the schemes of the rich to "save Chrysler" have nothing to do with saving the jobs of the workers. They are in fact schemes which are directed to the further elimination of jobs and impoverishment of auto workers.

. But the workers should not think that even this "sacrifice" of the workers' jobs and livelihood will save Chrysler from collapse. It is a well-known fact that the monopoly capitalists will use a business to squeeze every drop of profit from the most exhausting overwork and impoverishment of the workers. And once the workers are ruined, the monopoly capitalists will simply close the business and throw out the workers to starve in the streets. This has happened in numerous bankruptcies and factory closings in the last number of years. The workers must not "sacrifice" for the billionaires, but turn their energies to a fight against them. Only by organizing mass struggle against the rich can the workers have any hope of defending their jobs against the monopoly capitalists' plant closings and layoffs.

Fight against Chrysler to defend the workers' interests

. The workers have their own independent plans to deal with the Chrysler predicament, and that is to fight against Chrysler to defend the workers' interests. It is true that Chrysler is in danger of collapsing. But it is not in the interests of the workers to sacrifice their jobs and livelihood on this account. The fact that Chrysler has been weakened by its crisis means that the workers should at this time step up their fight against the Chrysler moneybags to defend their jobs and income. The Chrysler billionaires, the Wall Street financiers and gluttonous bankers, the Carter government and the trade union bureaucrats are all crying that Chrysler must be saved. Well, let them sacrifice to save this major monopoly capitalist. The rich must pay the price for the problems of Chrysler.

. The current problems of the Chrysler billionaires most strikingly prove that the monopoly capitalists cannot even run their own enterprises. Neither the handful of rich moneybags, nor their government, nor Fraser and the other trade union bureaucrats have any solutions to the crisis of the monopoly capitalist system. They have only programs to further impoverish the workers in order to save the profits of the rich. The monopoly capitalists have proven themselves completely unfit to rule. They cannot even ensure that the workers can continue to eat and live. Only the working class has the solution to these problems. By carrying out the socialist revolution to overthrow the monopoly capitalist government and to expropriate the rich, the working class will organize production so that all are employed and so that all who work share the constantly growing benefits of their social labor.

. Today the workers must fight bravely to defend their jobs and livelihood against the onslaught of the monopoly capitalist moneybags. And in this determined struggle the workers should not forget that this is the preparation for an even greater battle in the future, that noble revolution to emancipate mankind from the monstrous oppression of the monopoly capitalists. <>

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Last modified: December 20, 2008.