As the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for US president, I urge all workers, in the US and internationally, to oppose the planned closure of the Carrier heating equipment plants in Indiana, which threatens the jobs of 2,100 workers.
Workers must take up this fight themselves. Bitter experience—from the closure of the GM and Navistar plants in Indianapolis and hundreds of others across the US—has proven that the two corporate-controlled political parties and corporatist “unions” like the USW and UAW will do nothing to oppose the destruction of jobs and living standards.
Right after United Technologies’ (UTC’s) February announcement that it was shifting production from its Indianapolis and Huntington plants to Monterrey, Mexico, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and other Democratic and Republican politicians all pronounced their supposed support for Carrier workers. While Trump’s statements were particularly phony—given that he personally profited from investments in UTC—the posturing by Sanders and other Democrats was no less disingenuous and calculating.
Like Trump, Sanders said the closure was due to “unfair trade deals” that help Mexico and China “steal” jobs from American workers. This is a lie. UTC is a vast transnational corporation, which exploits workers in every corner of the globe in pursuit of ever-greater profit. This is not the result of fair or unfair trade, but of capitalism—a system that enriches the corporate and financial elite by impoverishing the masses of working-class people.
While workers suffer, Geraud Darnis, CEO of the company’s Building and Industrial Systems (including Carrier) division, pulled in $14.4 million last year. Former UTC CEO Louis Chênevert left the company in 2014 with a $195 million golden parachute.
If the rights of workers to secure and good-paying jobs are to be defended, the working class must attack the “right” of the capitalists to privately own and control vast industries. The Socialist Equality Party calls for the transformation of United Technologies and all corporations valued at $10 billion or more into publicly owned enterprises under the democratic control of the working class.
I urge Carrier workers to organize rank-and-file committees to prepare a real fight to stop the shutdown of the factory, including the preparation of a factory occupation to stop the moving of machinery. Instead of fruitless appeals to wealthy shareholders and big-business politicians, Carrier workers should issue a call to workers in Indiana and throughout the US to support their struggle. A special appeal should be issued to workers in Mexico and Canada to unite in a common struggle against the global corporations.
The USW and the big-business politicians have long promoted “Buy American” economic nationalism to dupe US workers into thinking we have more in common with our “own” corporate bosses than we do with our class brothers and sisters in Mexico, China and around the world. This only helps the corporate owners divide and weaken the working class, while paving the way not only for trade war but for new and even more horrible wars.
In the name of making the US corporations more competitive, the USW, the UAW and other unions have imposed deep cuts to wages, health and pension benefits, while blocking any strike activity against plant closures and mass layoffs. In 2014, USW Local 1999 signed a sellout deal with Carrier that included a two-tier wage system that has condemned a quarter of the workers at its Indianapolis factory to $14 an hour, nearly half the $26 paid to older workers.
While opposing any industrial action to fight the plant closure, the USW has engaged in a series of publicity stunts based on the ridiculous claim that the company can be shamed into reversing its decision. USW Local 1999 endorsed Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist” who won support for his verbal attacks on the “billionaire class.”
As the SEP warned, Sanders is now rallying behind Clinton, a tool of Wall Street and the Pentagon who is no less an enemy of the working class than Trump. The SEP rejects the “lesser of two evils” argument. We are fighting to build a mass political party of the working class, based on socialism and the international unity of the working class, to fight for a future free from war, inequality and poverty.
I urge Carrier workers to contact the Socialist Equality Party to take forward this struggle.