Article Title

Keeping GM Van Nuys Open


Eric Mann


[Excerpt] In Van Nuys, for the past four years, we have been building a movement of our own local union, the Chicano and black communities, clergy, intellectuals, students and small businesspeople to demand that General Motors keep open a profitable plant it has threatened to close. The basic premise of the struggle—that we do not recognize GM's plant as "private property" but see it as a "joint venture" between capital, labor and minority communities — flies in the face of GM's worldview and the dominant business ideology of the times. Our impressive organizing successes indicate that a revitalized labor movement can rebuild powerful coalitions in opposition to big business. It is a small, but hopeful, example of grass-roots regional planning — from the bottom up.

But, as we will describe, recent efforts by General Motors, representatives of our International union, and a company-oriented faction of our local have been pursuing a strategy of competition with other UAW locals to try to save our plant at the expense of others. If this strategy of "company-unionism" succeeds over the strategy of community-based demands for corporate responsibility, then once again a declining labor movement will have rescued corporate greed from the jaws of defeat.