Which way now?
Some ideas from some supporters…
The main leverage and bargaining power is the occupation of the plant.
On Wednesday the union’s role is limited to negotiating a deal – but the workers have to make their own decision in their own interests when and why to carry on or to end the occupation. This should not be made in a room in America, but in a common meeting here in the plant with everyone agreeing.
The union negotiators might say that it is best to leave in order to help negotiations – and the Ford bosses will certainly claim so – but common sense tells us that leaving without a guaranteed deal means getting a worse deal. The occupation is the trump card that the workers hold.
Of course staying in for longer is also not easy – it is important now to find ways of making it easier – taking shifts of staying here and going home, watching films, making it as comfortable as possible.
What might happen next?
To give up the occupation means to continue negotiations from a position of weakness. Stopping occupying and picketing instead is throwing away the greatest strength you have. It would be easier for the bosses to seize the machinery, and easier for them to disperse and dissolve the struggle. Also, a picket line will not give any more legal security – and makes it easier for the cops to move us on. Standing outside the plant for 24 hours a day will be hard to maintain and picketing Ford showrooms will be less affective without the occupation as a focus point.
If you want to make sure you get what you want out of this – the best way is to stay in occupation until all the workers get what they want.
This is a benchmark for how other workplace closures will be dealt with, what tactics can be seen to be successful and what weakens workers’ struggles. Many other workers know this and are watching with interest; the occupation has already been an inspiration. But history has shown us that going down the path of negotiations without a real determination does not lead to workers victory. Workers staying strong by taking the initiative gives us the best chance.
We know it’s you who take the real risks in this situation and we can only offer here how we see it, what in our view the choices and best options are. Whatever you decide to do we will support you.
– some supporters.