The strikers, members of the United Auto Workers, struck May 6 after more than eight months of futile negotiations. They are opposing conditions of brutal overwork, the further undermining of their inadequate health benefits and management’s derisory offer of a one percent wage increase. The UAW is anxious to contain the strike at Mercy Health to prevent it from sparking a broader struggle.
Last week, 1,100 auto parts workers at Faurecia in Saline, Michigan, 48 miles from Toledo; they vote to strike as the May 31 contract deadline approaches. And in mid-September, the contracts expire for 155,000 GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler workers including at the Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant; also workers are determine to recoup years of UAW-backed concessions and oppose plant closings and layoffs.
The auto companies
At the same press conference, UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower; so commenting nervously on the outpouring of community support for the Mercy Health workers, said, rather than see this thing escalating; so it’s time to see this thing de-escalating and getting back to the table and doing some bargaining.
The absurdity of healthcare workers for a giant hospital conglomerate with $2 billion; so in assets not having decent healthcare highlights the reactionary and irrational character of for profit medicine. Far from opposing this, the UAW negotiate to take over the provision of retiree healthcare from the auto companies; so getting control of a multibillion dollar trust fund financed by company stock.
In 2015, the UAW offered to take over the provision of health care for current employees as well; but this provoked widespread opposition from workers; so who vote down the sellout by a two to one margin; forcing the UAW and the auto bosses to drop this demand. The UAW then used lies, intimidation and outright voting fraud to push through a second deal. It has come out since that top negotiators; so including UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, were bribed to push through the pro-company deal.
Mercy Health workers need to recognize that they are not alone. Their fight is part of a growing wave of anger and militancy by workers in the US; also globally against an outmoded and reactionary capitalist system that denies masses of people basic benefits like decent healthcare. Meanwhile, capitalism enriches billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet; so who own more wealth than the poorest half of the US population all combined.
File strike committee
The vital question is the building of a new leadership to unite; also mobilize this immense social force of the working class in a struggle against this tiny wealthy elite. In 1934, workers in Toledo rallied behind the Auto Lite strikers to win a historic victory that galvanize the working class in the United States. The traditions of that great struggle still live in the working class and must be revived.
Workers need to take matters into their own hands by creating a rank; also file strike committee to oversee negotiations and to conduct a serious battle against management. Mercy Health workers should fight to spread the strike; so to other Mercy Health facilities as well as hospital chains like Pro Medica. Mass picketing be organize to halt management strikebreaking.
The struggle by Mercy Health workers raises the need for an independent political strategy; hence by the working class against the two corporate control parties the Democrats and Republicans and to fight for socialism. This includes taking profit out of medicine by nationalizing the giant pharmaceutical, insurance, hospital and medical equipment corporations, and transforming the health care industry into a public service; so collectively owned and democratically controlled by working people.