What to Do About "Restructuring?"

Chrysler Eliminates 13,000 Jobs

February 26, 2007

On February 14, DaimlerChrysler announced that it is permanently eliminating the jobs of 13,000 workers (16% of its work force), including 11,000 hourly workers and 2,000 salaried employees.

The job cuts will include the closing of 2 plants altogether - an assembly plant in Newark, Delaware and a parts plant in Cleveland. Jobs will be cut at several other plants in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. DaimlerChrysler grabbed $7.3 billion in profits last year.

DaimlerChrysler's job cuts are part of ongoing "restructuring" and "downsizing" of the auto industry. Within the last 15 months, GM and Ford have also announced huge job cuts. GM is in the process of eliminating 30,000 jobs or 10% of its workforce and, one year ago, Ford began closing 14 plants in the U.S. and Canada, wiping out another 30,000 jobs or 25% of its North American workforce.

In addition to wiping out jobs, the auto capitalists keep trying to slash the wages and benefits, including health care and pensions, of auto workers.

These attacks against Chrysler, Ford and GM workers are a major concern to the entire working class, especially because the auto workers, as one of the most organized section of workers, have long been in the forefront setting the pace for wages and benefits.

At the same time, the elimination of jobs in the auto industry has a large ripple effect on the national economy, resulting in job cuts in related industries and slashing the purchasing power of the working class as a whole.

In fact, "restructuring" and "downsizing" are plagues which constantly wreak havoc on the jobs and wages of the working class.

Restructuring and downsizing are inherent in the capitalist economic system; they are a product of the never-ending and ruthless inter-capitalist struggles to "increase competitiveness", i.e. maximize profits and strengthen their monopolies.

Capitalism is an irrational and anarchistic economic system. Individual monopolies madly compete against each other to control a limited market. Each monopoly group (for example GM, Ford, Toyota, etc.) build up capacity trying to grab as much of the market as possible. But as the immense productive capacity of the auto industry as a whole increases, some companies find themselves unable to sell all the cars they are capable of producing. To remain competitive, they "downsize," destroying productive capacity and jobs.

This "restructuring" destroys the lives of the workers and the economy of our country. Workers who are "downsized" lose their jobs, their wages, their pensions, and so forth. Our country loses part of its economic infrastructure as the capitalists shutter factories and other means of production built up by millions of hours of labor and several generations.

In other words, capitalism means permanent job and economic insecurity for the working class and the continual destruction our country's economy.

Workers must develop the struggle against capitalist downsizing and restructuring on two fronts.

Firstly, workers must wage repeated economic struggles against layoffs, wage and benefit cuts, attacks on pensions, etc. Workers everywhere must rally to defend the auto workers and all workers who are fighting today because tomorrow, the wage-cutting offensive will attack new sections of the workers.

At the same time, we must unfold a generalized political struggle. The economic resources and productive capacity of our country must be used and developed for the interests of society as a whole. The fact is that these economic resources rightfully belong to society as a whole. They belong to society because they are the product of generations of labor of the working class. They belong to society because they are the means created by the people to secure their livelihoods - to produce food, clothing, shelter and the other necessities.

Thus, the decision to close down factories, ruin the lives of tens of thousands of workers and destroy our country's means of production, cannot be left in the hands of the profit-seeking billionaire capitalists. It is a decision which must be made by and in the interests of the people as a whole. We must take steps to eliminate the anarchy and destructiveness of capitalism by developing a planned economy which puts the interests of people, not profit-making, first.