We don't know what is in the deal--typical of the UAW, the workers are voting on a contract they have not read.
At issue, I think, is whether or not there is some form of increased class consciousness out there--that has at least some embryonic organizational form. I don't see much of that.
I spent a lot of time on the lines in Flint, cancelling other stuff to be there, taking students, etc. I met a lot of nice people--imbued with patriotism, obediance to the law, racism (how come so, so many of the picketers were white?), respect for authorities (GM bosses and union leaders), regionalism ("we can out-work people in Ohio"), etc.
Did they become more aware of themselves as part of a class with competing interests with those in power? Somewhat, perhaps, but their union leadership has a year to eradicate that, and they have been fairly successful at the project so far--as has GM and the media.
Do they at least see themselves as part of a class? Yes, sort of. Surely the people of the city of FLint saw this as a limited war, with class being the driving issue. But there were no mass mobilizations of anything approaching the potential size of a movement of this kind. The UAW held a rally in Detroit last Saturday---for Larry Owen-- a bozo who is about to lose the gubernatorial race.
Many, many radicals and revolutionary groups came to the picket lines. As far as I could see, they were treated with respect, welcomed, and were mature enough to do a lot of listening to the work force. If this is an indication of a minimal level of anti-communism, well that surely has good aspects.
All told, about 15 of my students joined the picket lines at one time or another, which was good for them. Most of my students in Detroit have never worked in a plant (struck me as very odd when I returned here). When I raised the issue of the strike in one class, weeks ago, they quickly responded, "cars have nothing do do with us anymore". So, some of them changed their minds about that. And many of us made friends with people in Flint who we will cherish, and perhaps we will influence one another.
More than a million (mostly white working) people came to downtown Detroit for a huge demonstration--to celebrate the Red Wings second Stanley cup. The strike was young then. Imagine if they had seen the fact that what they do matters--and they went to Flint.
The national contract goes up in 99. I guess winning goes more to the issue of what is done between now and then...
At 02:25 AM 7/29/98 -0400, you wrote:
>Ok, so who won?
Rich Gibson Program Coordinator of Social Studies Wayne State University College of Education Detroit MI 48202
Life travels upward in spirals.
Those who take pains to search the shadows
of the past below us, then, can better judge the
tiny arc up which they climb,
more surely guess the dim
curves of the future above them.