Revolutionary Showdown: Unveiling the Intense Clash between Automakers and Workers – Beyond a Strike, It’s Epic Class Warfare


President Biden Calls for a “Win-Win” Agreement for Autoworkers’ Strike

On Friday, President Biden addressed the autoworkers’ strike from the White House, urging the car corporations and the United Auto Workers to reach a fair and mutually beneficial agreement for workers. The president expressed his concern that record profits have not been equitably shared with the labor force, emphasizing that workers deserve a fair share of the benefits they have helped create for the enterprise.

This statement by President Biden raises fundamental questions about wealth distribution in the United States, as it goes beyond a mere contract dispute. In particular, it highlights the significant decline in workers’ wages at major automotive companies such as Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis over the past five decades.

Autoworkers’ Wages: Past and Present

In 1973, autoworkers received an average hourly wage of $5.54, which is equivalent to more than $38 in today’s dollars. However, over the years, the wages of autoworkers have seen a dramatic decrease. Even when considering inflation, autoworkers should be earning nearly $40 per hour today if their wages had merely kept pace with inflation, without accounting for the significant increases in productivity during this period.

To put things into perspective, temporary workers at General Motors currently start at $16.67 per hour and can reach a maximum of $20 per hour. This is half the wage that workers received half a century ago. Additionally, if these temporary workers are fortunate enough to transition to full-time positions, their top pay is capped at just over $32 per hour, a level that takes eight long years to achieve.

The Stark Contrast: CEOs and Temporary Workers

It is evident that there is a stark contrast between the compensation of corporate executives and the wages of temporary workers. For instance, GM CEO Mary Barra received a staggering $28.9 million compensation package in 2022. This translates to approximately $2.4 million per month, $550,000 per week, $110,000 per day, or an astonishing “hourly” rate of nearly $13,800. In sharp contrast, it would take a temporary worker earning the maximum hourly wage of $20 nearly three years to earn what Barra makes in a single day.

However, the crucial difference between these two compensation levels is that every cent of Barra’s pay package is ultimately derived from the value produced by the labor of the working class.

Distributing Biden’s “Fair Share”

President Biden’s call for a “fair share” begs the question of how this can be distributed between corporate executives earning thousands of dollars per hour and temporary workers earning significantly lower wages. Advocates of the “free market” often argue that executives are paid for their “performance,” referring to their ability to deliver results that please Wall Street. In other words, their multimillion-dollar salaries are justified because shareholders receive billions in return. The profits made by the automotive giants highlight the scale of this wealth accumulation. In 2022 alone, GM, Ford, and Stellantis collectively generated a staggering $77 billion in gross profit.

An interesting perspective emerges when considering the distribution of this $77 billion among all 150,000 autoworkers in the United States. Each worker would receive a bonus of approximately $513,333. However, it is crucial to note that this calculation solely takes into account Big Three autoworkers employed in the US. These companies employ tens of thousands of additional workers worldwide, all contributing to the production process and generating billions in profit for the shareholders.

Class Interests: Workers vs. Corporate Oligarchy

President Biden’s aspiration for a “win-win” contract between autoworkers and corporate owners is seen by political observers as an unattainable goal. Biden, a veteran capitalist politician, is well aware that workers and the corporate oligarchy hold fundamentally irreconcilable class interests. The current system presents a glaring disparity: investors amass billions, executives earn millions, while workers receive only meager wages.

This reality brings forth an impending day of reckoning, as the concealed social inequalities are being exposed. Workers are becoming increasingly aware of the highly unequal society they live in and are searching for avenues to bring about change. This was evidenced by the 2022 United Auto Workers (UAW) elections, where I, William Lehman, ran as a socialist and received approximately 5,000 votes from autoworkers, despite the union apparatus’ attempts to suppress the vote, resulting in a mere 9 percent turnout.

The Role of UAW Leadership

UAW President Shawn Fain has recently taken a strong stance against “corporate greed” and the “billionaire class.” However, it is essential to understand that Fain and the union bureaucracy he oversees serve a vital function on behalf of the corporations. They often limit or discourage strikes (as they are currently doing by isolating the Big Three walkout to just three plants) and enforce management’s demands, consistently imposing concessionary contracts for the past four and a half decades. These services are rewarded with their own generous payouts, including six-figure salaries that position them in the top 5 percent of income earners, establishing an affluent upper-middle class.

The close coordination and alignment of the White House and UAW leadership’s strategies and messaging reveal a concerted effort to convey the notion of a “fair share” repeatedly. Meanwhile, former President Trump seeks to leverage growing worker discontent, particularly regarding the potential job losses associated with the shift toward electric vehicles. To divert blame from the corporations, he scapegoats workers in Mexico and China, suggesting that layoffs and plant closures are a consequence of their actions.

Inequality and the Increasing Need for Socialist Politics

The common fear among Biden, Trump, and Fain is that increasing inequality is propelling the working class in the United States towards embracing socialist politics. Workers are realizing that capitalism is fundamentally at odds with their basic needs, given the challenges posed by factors such as inflation, the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19, hazardous working conditions, the climate crisis, and the looming threat of nuclear world war, which affect workers worldwide.

The urgency for a complete overhaul of the system is becoming apparent, with workers recognizing the necessity of a society where social needs, rather than private profit, determine the allocation of resources. This realization is fostering a shift towards embracing a political perspective aligned with workers’ independent class interests.

William Lehman is employed at Mack Trucks in Macungie, Pennsylvania. In 2022, he ran for UAW president, garnering nearly 5,000 votes. Lehman is currently pursuing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor, demanding a rerun of the election due to voter suppression. The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.


Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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