Monday, December 08, 2008

USA: Workers Occupy Chicago Factory

By David May in the USA
Monday, 08 December 2008

Beginning Friday, around 300 workers at the Republic Window & Door factory in Chicago have occupied the plant demanding severance and back-pay owed by the company. For the first time since the birth of the CIO union federation in the 1930s, U.S. workers are occupying their workplace. As the bosses push to place the burden of the failing economy on workers' shoulders, the class struggle is back on the agenda in the U.S.

The 300 mostly Latino members of the United Electrical Workers union began the occupation on the last scheduled day of operations before the bosses would close the factory. The company gave the workers less than 60 days notice of the closure, in violation of federal labor laws. The company reported that its monthly earnings had dropped by around 25% to $2.9 million. But the company continued filling orders through the last scheduled day of operation, which gave workers little room to believe that the factory needed to close its doors.

Republic management told workers that it was necessary to close the factory in order to get loans from its main creditor, Bank of America. UE workers picketed the Bank's Chicago headquarters on December 3rd. Despite pledges from the bank and Republic management for a meeting on Friday with the UE local 1110 to discuss severance and other issues, this meeting was sabotaged when Republic management failed to show up. Workers replied by occupying the factory.

Bank of America was one of the many large banks to get a part of the gigantic $700 billion bailout package approved by the Democratic and Republican parties in Congress in October. It was also supported by both Barack Obama and John McCain. Yet despite getting billions from the taxpayers, the vast majority of whom are working class , the bankers refuse to use public money for anything other than private gain. This is a painful reality of capitalism!

The other side to this reality is that it is not possible to get any meaningful concessions from the bosses, even something as basic as severance pay, except through the class struggle. We have to ask, if Bank of America is being "fueled" with public money, why is there not public ownership? If Republic is getting public assistance, this money should be used to keep the factory open and workers in their jobs. If there is no room for the bosses to continue making a profit, place the factory under public ownership and democratic workers control, send the bosses packing without compensation and remove the profit motive. In the meantime, the only way UE workers will receive the severance and back pay owed to them is through maintaining the occupation until management and Bank of America relent. To do this, UE workers need the full support of the wider labor movement.

This sit-in occupation of the factory is an example for millions of other workers across the U.S. who are facing a growing wave of layoffs, closures, pay and benefit cuts. Solidarity rallies have already been organized in the Chicago area. The AFL-CIO and Change to Win union federations should now mobilize the labor movement on a national scale to support the Republic workers. An injury to one is an injury to all!

The Workers International League joins others in solidarity with UE local 1110. We ask our readers and supporters to email solidarity letters to UE Local 1110, and to call on our unions to pass solidarity resolutions and to organize solidarity actions.

Solidarity messages can be sent to UE Local 1110 at:



Anonymous said...

I can hardly wait for the cops to drag the union oranizers out into the street and give them the Rodney King treatment!

Larry Gambone said...

This is excellent news. May the movement spread!

Farm Boy - that would just be the thing to radicalize a whole lot of people, but you are too stupid to see it. You want a million Latinos and other trade unionists in the street?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a million trade unionists in the street. That's why we made F/A-18's.

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a whiff of grapeshot to remind the people what's good for them.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Bottom line, the company broke the law by breaking the terms of the union contract. They gave the workers three days notice, far less than is required by the terms of the contract. They are also required to give severance pay and did not. The workers are well within their rights. The company had plenty of time to give them a heads up as to what the situation was. If they had come forward earlier they might have made some kind of arrangement with the union in regards to cuts in benefits for the good of the company and ultimately their jobs, but the company did not want to do that, probably because they knew this would lead to a demand that they reduce their own executive salaries as well. Now they are all screwed, the company and the workers.

Even a conservative judge would rule with the workers on this, as it is the company who disregarded the law. There is no judicial discretion on the part of judges that would allow for a company to break the law, and by breaking the terms of the contract with the unions, that is precisely what they done.

Union contracts with companies are legally binding. Naturally they aren't just going to bend over and take it up the ass, if they did that, no one would care enough to enforce their rights. Now there is no choice. The workers have every right to occupy the property.

You do not just casually disregard the terms of a contract and kick people out in the streets in doing so without consequences.

Noni said...

heat is on.....a single spark but can make fire..

(wonder where is now bat man, iron this time of raw reality)

Frank Partisan said...

Pagan: This is how change happens. I have had dozens of posts about workers occupations on my blog, but none of those workers read them.

History doesn't happen as a project or a plan. None of them knew a year ago, they'd be occupying their workplace.

Cromwell never planned to be the spark that inspired the American Revolution.

People don't get to pick their historical circumstances.

FJ: You are advocating guns to be used against Americans.

Larry: During the Depression in the 30s, the US was a creditor nation. This could be worse.

Obama made a statement supporting the workers. He knows the value of pacification.

Frank Partisan said...

Noni: Instead of putting the event in the context of a Maoist slogan, instead I'll use Marxist dialectics. Qualititave change can turn to quantitative change, and quantitative change, can turn into qualitative.

Superman before he was sold to DC Comics, was written by Jewish left writers. All the bad guys were corporate, in the original comics.

Noni said...

dialectics...of course....

i made those " words" not as sign, a positive sign. which already event which is noticed by globally.

and USA had very strong history working class struggles ...

thx for information abt Superman...(again he is superman not a normal person)

Bob said...

Republic Windows & Doors violated labor laws, not just the UEW contract. A company is required by federal law to give 60 days notice (or 60 days pay) along with unpaid vacation pay when they close plants, plus whatever the union contract called for, if anything.

Considering that the IL Gov. has called for State Employees to cease their business with Bank of America, the workers will get their severance pay, its just a matter of how long will the managers procrastinate in meeting with BoA to sort through the circle of blame for them both to pay up.

Una said...

In Spain the crisis affects more construction, agriculture and supermarkets. The number of unemployed is increasing every month, there are two million now.
In my country dismissal is not free as in the U.S. and compensation claims, it also exercises the right to strike but always wins the employer, at least, is the best parte.Emigrantes are the most lose their jobs because they they hired to pick fruit, vegetables or construction laborers.
Spanish banks, for now, remain firm but take longer to lend money.

Anonymous said...

The union needs to take Republic to COURT, NOT sieze their property. Two wrongs don't make a right. The workers have become "vigilantes". If you support vigilante's and NOT the rule of law, then support the workers. If you support the rule of law, then the workers need to vacate the property post-haste or be held accountable for their CRIMINAL ACTS.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

FJ is fucking troll prick.

He is spouting deeply offensive views with the sole view of drawing response at a blog he has no real interest.

Definition of troll and as a regular of this blog I feel strongly that some action needs to be taken Ren, whether that be banning him until he engages in proper reasoned debate, deleting his comments, utilising moderation but if he wishes to contribute he needs to understand that comes with responsibility; rather than baiting with deeply offensive views that could be construed as racist and bigoted.

SecondComingOfBast said...

FJ-Money is property, including the severance and vacation pay workers are guaranteed. The owners have seized the worker's property. Tit for tat.

sonia said...

I am amazed to learn that there are still any FACTORIES with WORKERS left in the United States...

Old economic systems never die, they just wither away...

Anonymous said...

Tit for tat is NOT the rule of law. That's Agamemnon's Greeks (1100 bc), not Aeschylus' (550 bc) of his Oresteia.

Danny-boy - Suck my dick!

WeezieLou said...

my basic reaction to bullies, esp blog bullies, is leave them alone. hatred always wants an audience.

good blog!

WeezieLou said...


the workers won!

SecondComingOfBast said...

Since the factory owners broke federal law why haven't they been charged with a crime? When those charged with enforcing the law can be demonstrated to be in the hip-pockets of those who break the law, tit-for-tat will do just fine.

Agamemnon got his comeuppance for sacrificing his daughter's future to the wiles of a capricious goddess. The workers are looking out for their families futures. Not a good comparison.

Frank Partisan said...

Noni: My browser doesn't allow me to comment on your blog. I'll be on another computer this week.

Bob: The governor managed to make the news today.

Tere: Thank you for the report about Spain. I'm waiting for my friend to put on Youtube the Spanish Civil War video.

Sonia: That is the type of work Graeme did in Fargo.

Old systems do die, and others are born.

Weezie: The pay for not being given the 75 day notice, is on the table. The violation of the WARN Act.

Daniel H-G: I like having a dialect. In words you can appreciate, drama/conflict. The purpose is to strengthen my opinions by testing them, with a hostile audience.

FJ talks in metaphors at his own blog. It's not unusual for him at his own blog, to comment 10x in a row.

I've had to deal with real trolling. I had someone who threatened to spam this blog.

FJ: Be like Sonia. Nobody ever accused her of trolling. Goodness knows she doesn't agree with me. She is to the right of you on certain issues.

Don't get personal or defensive.

Bottom line: Daniel and FJ, try to get along by presenting the best opinions.

Pagan: It's a capitalist system. I wouldn't be surprised, if it doesn't end soon, the state will be called in.

Bob said...

Well, he's still the Governor until he is removed from office or steps down. Much to the chagrin of the Senator he will appoint soon.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

FJ: Pagan has already dispatched yet another of your flawed uses of the classics. It's hard for you to compete here but it's funny to watch you try.

Ren: point taken and I will abide by that and indeed, Sonia is a fine example of a powerful dissenting voice that is by no means a troll.

Frank Partisan said...

Bob: The governor doesn't even have liberal support. He's toast.

Daniel: FJ is close to the rightist opposition in Venezuela. I learn from him points of view, I don't come across in my own circles.

You are exposed to more arguments, than most in your circle. Same with me.

Anonymous said...

My flawed use of the classics? LOL!

Agamemnon got his comeuppance for sacrificing his daughter's future to the wiles of a capricious goddess.

...although Agamemnon's wife killed him, Orestes, their son, then killed her. Orestes, however, was "acquitted" for his crimes by a jury of the gods (w/deciding vote cast by Athena).

You wanna go into viscious cycles of retaliation and revenge, then by all means, seize the factory. But if you want to get future owners to abide by their contracts, then USE THE COURTS!

Foxessa said...

It astonishing to see the scope of Blagojevich's stupidity and arrogance and corruption. I see why my Illinois friends are so glad that he's being taken down.

Good this happened before the Inauguration, before the senatorial appointment.

I'm really, really glad this was an authentic takedown of a supremely stupid and corrupt politician and not another rovian play.

Love, C.

SecondComingOfBast said...

The workers are not engaging in retaliation and revenge, they just want what is lawfully theirs. If taking them to court was the only solution, there would be no need for them to take over the factories, as the owners would right now be in jail or under indictment for breaking federal law. The fact they are not speaks volumes about the efficacy your court solution.

The facts of the case are known. What's the holdup? Why aren't they in jail, or charged with committing a federal crime?

Anonymous said...

OJ Simpson only wanted what was rightfully his, as well. He's doing 15 in the slammer now for his mistake. I'm sure you don't want all these "good citizens" locked up over Christmas. And instead of getting BofA to loan the owners some money (which will now disappear into some undisclosed offshore bank), they'd have been better off taking the loans themselves as putting some lawyers on the "incentive" plan.

Doesn't the ACLU pride itself in their pro bono work? And I'm sure Jimmy Hoffa jr. has a few lawyers he can spare... unless they're too busy buying Senate seats from corrupt Democrats somewhere.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

FJ, as a half-wit who has never stood up for anything, apart from your momma when she withdrew your allowance, striking is alien to you because it involves ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING.

And yes, I said flawed, you block quote without meaning from period pieces that speak only to nostalgia.

You will never be right.


Anonymous said...

Yes doing "something" always beats doing the "right" thing. You should be an activist... cuz you're certainly no thinkivist".

Better a half wit than a no wit...

btw - What do you think will happen first, Obama pardon's Blago or starts to share a cell with him? ;-)

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Hello troll half-wit, in answer to your mental froth:

You said that, not me, although what the workers did was the right thing but then again, you wouldn't know the right thing if it shit on your stairs.

Glad to see you prove that you're all mouth, no trousers, have you ever engaged actively in any sort of political activity, have you ever got out there and spent time where it's needed? Get out there, get off your PC and do something.

And I think plenty, more than you do whenever you type for example. And as for wit, you've shown none and I've shown plenty and patience to boot. I'm too kind to those with special needs.

As for your emoticon wit...Neither will happen, although I'm surprised that in the alternative reality you live in, you've accepted Obama's victory. Slowly but surely, you're getting there.

Anonymous said...

You think plenty all right, rhapsode. It's just a shame that none of the thoughts you think are your own.

Larry Gambone said...

Daniel, your wrath directed at the Farm Boy is truly spectacular! I would advise the Farm Boy to leave us grown ups alone and go back to romancing his heifers, the one thing in this life he is truly good at.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

They are all mine FJ, it is you that has to block quote and idea regurgatate from people far cleverer than you, so I think we'll leave it at that before you shame yourself anymore.

Gambone: I like your avatar, I have a feeling that no matter how badly FJ gets crushed, he'll keep comin gback, attention, no matter how cruel, is nice for him.

Anonymous said...

Poor Gambone, no one throws him the bone anymore. Maybe you can convince Danny-boy to pitch to you. Naaaah. Two catchers hardly make for a interesting game. LOL!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Gambone doesn't need a bone, he needs you to shut the fuck up until you start making sense?

You play by yourself all the time FJ, self-dialogue, you're grateful for the balls me and Gambone are feeding you.

And please note, LOL is device used by the tedious.

For now, that is all.

Anonymous said...


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I rest my case.

Anonymous said...

Better deliberately tedious than unintentionally boring. "That is all... I rest my case"... case closed. LOL!

Frank Partisan said...

FJ: I can live with that.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Oh, so your now confessed tediousness is deliberate. How wonderful for you. At least you can except you're tedious now.

And serious I may be, boring never.

Thanks for being a troll.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a second opinion as to that claim may be in order...

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Says the person who blogs videos...

Larry Gambone said...

Unbelievable! The Farm Boy has a fan! And I just sent him back to his heifers...

Anonymous said...


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

If only.

Anonymous said...


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