How “Partnership” Weakens Solidarity: Colombian GM Workers and the Limits of UAW Internationalism

Authors

  • Kevin Young,

  • Diana C. Sierra Becerra


Abstract

This article examines the ongoing U.S. solidarity campaign with the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of General Motors Colmotores (ASOTRECOL), workers fired from the GM plant in Bogotá, Colombia, after suffering injuries on the assembly line. After reviewing some of the factors that facilitated the mobilization of community and rank-and-file activists, we discuss the refusal of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union leadership to support the campaign. While the UAW has sometimes engaged in solidarity campaigns with foreign workers, it has not supported ASOTRECOL. We argue that the primary reason is that doing so might jeopardize what UAW leaders consider to be their positive relationship with General Motors. U.S. activists' expectation that the UAW would support the cause strongly influenced their strategic orientation early on, further hindering the chances of success. We suggest that solidarity activists should take unions' bargaining relationships into account when devising strategy.

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