12.14.2008

In Solidarity




Workers at the Republic Windows & Doors Plant in Chicago were victorious in their occupation of the plant after being laid off without proper notice and without access to severance/vacation pay and health insurance owed to them by law. Bank of America and other institutions agreed to pay the $2 million they initially refused to give up. BoA was not required to do so but gave in due to the occupation, political pressure and media coverage.

This victory is a clear reminder of what can be done when people come together and demand equality. It's not unachievable. Causes are not lost. This article quotes the union v.p. saying, "See that sign up there? Without us, it would just say 'Republic,' because we make the windows and doors. This shows that you can fight--and that you have to fight." Powerful stuff. I would like to hear more from the workers too, not just the vp. It's important to note and not take for granted the presence of widespread media coverage of the workers' struggle and of the factors surrounding the violations of the company:

"Press coverage was affected as well. For once, the media not only highlighted the issues in a labor struggle, but also used its resources to investigate the employer. The Chicago Tribune
reported that Republic's main owner, Rich Gillman, was involved in the purchase of a nonunion window factory in Iowa to move to. Journalists also uncovered evidence that Bank of America refused repeated requests to extend more credit to Republic, despite its infusion of bailout money."

BoA gets $25 bil. Workers? Not a damn thing. Until they fought for it. And don't think for a second that BoA is just doing the right thing or being caring by any measure. They simply couldn't afford--image wise--to not give the measly (to them) $2 mil after everyone, all the way up to the O man, took the side of the workers.

Perhaps the workers of the Republic Windows & Doors plant will serve as a galvanizing example of what can be done to improve things in this country through working-class solidarity.


Let's all take a moment in our hectic lives to pause and think about the importance of this outcome and to be refreshed and encouraged in a time of desperation and darkness.




pics socialistworker.org

1 comment:

Rastamick61 said...

Great post K. You know I am foaming at the mouth on such a topic. At breakfast on a cruise ship in the carribean last week a guy next to me announced to his adult son that the white house was going to bail out the auto companies. Sonny who's about 40 says Those unions better get ready to take some cuts this is ridiculous. Pops says back $2000 of every car goes towards union benefits... At this point I am done listening so I turn to pops and tell him 10% of each car goes to workers, 50% goes to parts and materials, the other 40% goes to management. GM has 14 layers of management. I put my best Ray Liotta stare into him with the wind on the boat having whipped my hair all over like some faded pro wrestler he stares blankly, manages a faint grin and says Oh ? Really ? ... 40% is a lot I say and I return to my eggs and Mikey trying to kick me while laying on his back not eating. The guy who made the union comment was wearing a bracelet identifying him as a paremedic whose union must blow or else he doesn't have one. These people on the bottom rungs attacking each other on cue from Slimbaugh and Hilarity simply defy all logic. I must admit I felt better after stopping their conversation !