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Labor & Worker Rights Sat Dec 06 2008

Republic Windows Workers Occupy Factory!

Here in Chicago, birthplace of the 40-hour workweek, laid-off workers are standing up for themselves.

The United Electrical Workers at Republic Windows and Doors were notified on Wednesday that as of Friday, they were jobless. No severance. No vacation pay-out, as per their union contract. Nothing. Why? Because the business is plunging toward dissolution, unable to get a line of credit, and Bank of America was instructing them not to honor their obligations -- no line of credit to honor obligations.

So when the workers went in on Friday to pick up their pay checks, 200 strong, they sat down and refused to leave. It's a worker occupation, like the Flint strike of 1936-7.

Today they held a vigil event outside the factory doors; labor representatives from every major union -- AFSCME, SEIU, UAW, the Teachers, IBEW, and more -- showed up to show support. Congressman Luis Gutierrez made a strong statement in support of the workers as well.

Update 1: Members of Local 1110 need your support. Make checks payable to the UE Local 1110 Solidarity Fund, and mail to: 37 S. Ashland, Chicago, IL 60607. Messages of support can be sent to organizer Leah Fried. For more information, call UE at 312-829-8300.

At the Jobs with Justice website, you can send a message of protest to Bank of America.

Donations of food and money are requested, as are solidarity actions targeting the Bank of America. The factory is in the Goose Island neighborhood, at 1333 N. Hickory (right near Division and Halsted).

Update 2: Here is video from the event; it's choppy (the first 27 sec in particular), and I was in the middle of the crowd so please excuse the shaking.

 
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Carl Nyberg / December 6, 2008 4:18 PM

Keep on this story.

southsider / December 7, 2008 8:41 AM

This is awesome. Thanks, Ramsin, great story and great coverage.

Tamal10 / December 7, 2008 8:46 AM

The workers should read "Sin PatrĂ³n: Stories from Argentina's Worker-Run Factories". It has many examples of laid-off workers who have successfully taken over the plants after management shut them down and run them profitably.

Rickrita / December 8, 2008 9:14 AM

I used to work there -- given the piss-poor management, this turn of events is no surprise to me at all. If it weren't for the workers suffering, I'd enjoy the whole spectacle.

Kevin / December 8, 2008 9:43 AM

I guess I'm trying to figure out why BofA is the bad guy here. From reading some of the stories, it seems that an incompetent management ran the business into the ground and BOA decided that they weren't a viable business given the current state of the housing market and decided to cut their losses.

If the company has no money, then how can they pay the employees?

I'm all for labor, but this sounds more and more like the same situation that the automakers are in...they are running out of money because of poor business decisions and incompetent management and now it's time for everyone to blame the bank for not protecting it's business and stockholders.

Should BofA continue to fund them out of the goodness of their heart? umm, don't think so...and the management should have seen this coming and gave fair warning to their employees. But they are nowhere to be found are they?

All we need is for BofA to go down because they kept funding these bozos...

Ramsin CanonAuthor Profile Page / December 8, 2008 1:18 PM

Kevin, keep in mind that BoA got $25bn of public money presumably in order to hold the economy together by relaxing the credit market. I'm not saying that means banks should be forced to prop up failing businesses indefinitely, but making sure that employers can meet their obligations to employees seems like the least they can do.

Gonzalo / December 9, 2008 9:00 AM

My name is Gonzalo, I'm from Argentina. I want to support totally with your fight and to accompany you in everything what is me reaches here. I want to comment to you the enormous experience that the workers of Zanon realise in my country. They 7 years ago in a similar situation to you occupied a ceramics factory and after a long fight they put it to produce again, but this time without boss. Now it is a factory "Bajo Control Obrero", the workers control de production, they decide where the production go and they are approximately 300 workers that work in freedom . Here I leave his website http://www.obrerosdezanon.com.ar. You can contact them and know his experience to them, may be it could be usefull for you know it. They will support the fight that you ahead take because the working class is one and without borders.

Force companions and ahead, because Yes, you can and if you can, we can!

Gonzalo
PD: Sorry for my english, I hope you can understand me. My email is giaconis@gmail.com for everything

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