Saturday, February 2, 2008

Union Review: Ford Closes St. Paul, Minn. Plant; Communists Demand Public Ownership!

Brothers and Sisters,

We are proud to share a 2007 article from the Union Review website which featured coverage of our activities while we, the Gus Hall Action Club, were members of the Minneapolis club of the Communist Party USA.

Otto Kuusinen once said that: "Communists insist on nationalization being carried out in a way that really curtails the power of monopoly capitalists and improves the lot of the working people." (Otto Kuusinen, Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow)

Ford Closes St. Paul, Minn. Plant; Communists Demand Public Ownership.

Union Review article by MRL Fri, 06/22/2007:

In January 2006 the Ford Motor Company announced a plan known as "The Way Forward". But Ford's "way forward" is only the way back for thousands in the American working class. The plan calls for the closure of fourteen North American plants five of which are in the U.S. Manufacturing plants in St. Louis, Wixcom, Michigan, and Atlanta were slated for extinction in the first round of U.S. cutbacks. The restructuring comes at the expense of 30,000 U.S. workers which total about 20% of Ford's North American workforce.

Most recently Ford has officially announced that it's St. Paul, Minnesota plant will close by 2008. The plant employs about 1,900 workers whose job prospects will worsen with Ford's departure. Nationwide, jobs in manufacturing are on are on the decline. An economic and budget brief from the Congressional Budget Office dated Feb. 18, 2004 states: "The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy has experienced substantial job losses over the past several years." The brief indicates these jobs declined by 17.5 percent between July,2000 and January, 2004 bringing employment in the manufacturing field to its lowest point since 1950.

In contrast, Ford's "Way Forward" is nothing but a good thing for the company's new CEO. The Washington Post reported in late summer 2006 that Alan Mulally had accepted the post with a 2 million dollar annual base salary and an 18.5 million dollar up-front payout. He will also receive 4 million stock options and 600,000 restricted stock units.

While the new Ford CEO collects labor profits on the backs of 30,000 workers and the working class at large, employees of the Ford St. Paul, Minn. Plant and their communities have found that they have allies in the Minnesota branch of the Communist Party USA.

On May 8 members of the Minneapolis club of the Communist Party USA entered a public meeting of the "Ford Site Planning Task Force" commissioned by the city of St. Paul. The meeting had in attendance developers and city officials, all attempting to make a profit from the displacement of hundreds of union workers. CPUSA members came carrying signs that read "Public Ownership is the Answer!", "People Before Profits!" and "Save Union Jobs!".

Their demands were simple: public ownership of the Ford plant and the salvation of working-class jobs. A leaflet produced by the Minneapolis Club of the CPUSA states: Ford's downsizing is "economic warfare against our working-class. Ford has become rich off the value produced by the working-class. The buck stops here…The Ford plant should remain open under public, not corporate, ownership." This "would mean that the Ford plant would be taken out of the system of corporate profits and operated in the interests of the working-class and the people."

In support of the organized workers of the Ford plant, the flyer continues, "The hard working union members of United Auto Workers 879 do not deserve to be thrown onto the scrap heap by Ford's president and board of directors. In return for their many years of loyal service, Ford is 'rewarding' workers with layoffs and threats to their security. This is a crime."

The UAW and the workers of the St. Paul Ford plant are not alone. Their struggle is the struggle of the whole workingclass. It is the heart of a common experience that belongs to all workers that find themselves exploited and oppressed for profit. "Unfortunately this is another day in the continuing story of the destruction of the American middle class." said Local 879 president Rob McKenzie. And that is certainly the truth.