Auto parts workers at Dana, Inc. in Warren, Michigan have established a rank-and-file committee to conduct a struggle against the company and the pro-company United Auto Workers. The transnational corporation and the UAW are conspiring together to force through a contract on workers already laboring under extremely exploitative conditions. Their contract expired August 18. The UAW has announced that a tentative agreement has been reached but has provided no further information.
The Dana Workers Rank-and-File Committee can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or text at (248) 602–0936.
Dana Brothers and Sisters:
We, the Dana Workers Rank-and File Committee (DWRFC), are sick and tired of being kept in the dark by the UAW about the contract that will determine the next years of our lives. It has been two days since our contract expired and 24 hours since the UAW announced a tentative agreement, but we have been told nothing.
Let us be clear: this means the contract is a total sellout that must be rejected. If there were any gains for workers in the tentative agreement, the UAW would have told us right away. In fact, they likely agreed on the contract a long time ago. They haven’t been “negotiating” over the terms, but conspiring against us and planning how to force through a rotten deal.
We therefore call on Dana workers everywhere to join us in demanding the following:
1. The immediate release of the full agreement and all the side letters and memoranda of understanding.
2. At least one week to study and discuss the contract before any ratification vote.
3. Rank-and-file oversight of the voting process to prevent any fraud.
Not once has the UAW asked us, the workers of Dana, what we need. Dana and the UAW’s only interest is helping the company make as much money as possible, no matter the cost to our lives and bodies. We have been working throughout the pandemic under backbreaking conditions, risking our lives as Dana’s profits soar.
Dana posted $2.2 billion in sales for the second quarter of 2021 with an operating cash flow of $67 million over that same time. Dana’s CEO made over $10 million last year. The company is planning to make even more money off our labor under the next contract.
In a public statement on July 30, Jonathan Collins, Dana’s chief financial officer, said: “Sales will likely be at the higher end due to the strong market demand in the first half of this year and our outlook for the remainder of the year. Our solid performance and encouraging demand fundamentals keep us locked on a trajectory toward our long-term financial goals.”
Meanwhile, we are laboring under conditions that are the same or worse than workers in the 1800s faced.
We work 19 days in a row—8 or 10 hours a day—before we get a single unpaid day off. We have to have a perfect attendance record for a whole quarter before we get a paid day off. Many of us work 60 or 70 hours a week. There is no air conditioning at the Warren plant, and temperatures get to 110 degrees in the summer. One of our coworkers died of COVID. The machines are old, and there are dangerous chemicals in the air we breathe, but there is no real cleaning. There is a harsh attendance policy that penalizes us if we are even a minute late. Some of us call the plant a “slave ship.” These are the conditions that exist in our “union shop” while the UAW executives make six-figure salaries.
It is time we talk about what the workers need, not what the company wants. There is plenty of money to secure a good living standard for all of us.
Therefore, the Dana Workers’ Rank-and-File Committee proposes the following minimum demands for a contract we will accept, for workers to discuss and consider:
- A 75 percent wage increase for all workers. This is what we require to make a living wage and make up for all past concessions.
- Abolition of the multi-tier system and restoration of the principle of “equal pay for equal work.”
- A 40-hour work week and the guaranteed right to a weekend.
- A reversal of all past attacks on our health care.
- An end to speed-up and harassment by management. We are self-respecting workers, not inmates in a prison.
- Professional cleaning of the machines and immediate tests of the air quality to ensure we are not breathing poisonous air.
- Abolition of the points system for attendance.
- Adequate air conditioning.
- Workers’ oversight of safety protocols and social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19. The right to halt production and close the plant for full cleaning, with guaranteed compensation to workers for all missed time, if there are COVID outbreaks.
It is time to prepare for a real fight, but this requires clear information and a common strategy. The UAW threatens us by saying if we strike, we will be out for 90 days and we will lose. They try to pit older and younger workers against each other, even though Dana has more than enough money to give workers of all experience levels a massive raise.
We know that a strike is serious business, that it requires planning, preparation and, most importantly, unity.
Dana workers have immense potential power. We occupy a critical role in the global auto supply chain, and a well-prepared strike would send massive shockwaves throughout the world. We have powerful allies among Dana workers internationally as well as autoworkers more broadly. Dana is a massive international corporation with 36,000 workers on every continent. It has manufacturing plants in Thailand, China, India, South Africa, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Hungary and Sweden where workers make parts just like we do.
We are part of a worldwide growth of working class opposition to corporate dictatorship and massive levels of social inequality. There are important strikes taking place among Warrior Met miners in Alabama, Rio Tinto miners in Canada, railroad workers in the United Kingdom, Nabisco workers in Oregon, midwives in New Zealand, teachers in Sri Lanka, and many more workers of all races and ethnicities in a variety of industries speaking many different languages.
Particularly important is the strike of 3,000 Volvo workers earlier this year in Virginia. These workers set up a rank-and-file committee to carry forward their struggle against the company and the UAW and set a model that we must follow.
To unite with us in a common fight, we urge our brothers and sisters to join the Dana Workers Rank-and-File Committee. Email us at email@example.com and text us at (248) 602–0936.