Saturday, December 06, 2008

On the Chicago sit down occupation at Republic Windows and Doors

Chicago, Illinois--I'm sorry, but I hate this city, it sucks. But it's going to suck a lot worse there if more working-class Americans don't start standing up to power and the banks as these folks at the Republic Windows and Doors plant are.

Already, the comparisons to the 1936-37 Flint, Michigan sit down strike are coming, and they're becoming apt. The time to hit employers and ownership is here, and the fist is beginning to clench again when the options of apathy and complacency are gone. Habits die hard, people tend to prefer to be told what to do, but that's ending anyway. Fear is the great controller, but how many cars was anyone buying during the Great Depression? Who was buying them? The workers struck anyway, for their futures and for their families.

You know, nobody important: just our grandparents and parents, because history affects others, and never ourselves. Americans are also being stripped of this convenient attitude by events.

Most Americans think that in a major economic downturn they're even more expendable, that they have even less leverage. This is, flatly-put, utterly wrong and defeatist thinking that we've all been conditioned to. It's in times like this that employers are most vulnerable, and it's in these kinds of environments that workers must start hitting them where they live and demanding more, much-much more.

In the case of the Republic Windows workers, they're getting shafted by the creditors of the company, a name that should sound familiar: Bank of America, recipient of $25 billion in bailout money. How is any of this going to "fix" the economy?

No, these workers should remain there until this is sorted-out in an amicable way. If it isn't, they have to weigh their options. Drama is a very real possibility.

Most of the workers at the factory are Hispanic-Americans. The majority of them were unionized under the UEW (United Electrical Workers), whose leadership are aiding in the fight and negotiations with the now-bankrupt company. The real problem right now appears to be Bank of America, meaning a very real and dramatic confrontation could be coming between them and the UEW.

The time has come for a new step in the history of the labor struggle, and once again, Chicago is center stage. One Big Union.