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Archive for December 10th, 2008

The sit-in at the Republic Windows plant in Chicago continues unresolved, though yesterday Bank of America announced it would extend $5 million dollars to the company. However,

The bank says that because it has no direct relationship with Republic’s employees, it must provide the funds to the company and rely on management to negotiate with the union and employees to settle claims.

This is truly an incredible occurance.  Some are comparing it to the worker takeovers of factories in Argentina after he country’s economic crisis in 2001.  I don’t know if I would go that far, as there are significant differences between what happened in Argentina and what has been going on at the Republic factory since Friday.  But this does represent a great opportunity for organized labor.  As we know, labor unions have been on the decline–both in relative size and political influence–since the 1970s.  Can this indicate a return to turn-of-the-century style labor activism?  Perhaps.

What is incredible, though, is the amount of public support and positive media attention the workers have received.  Signs of support dot the lobby and factory:

“Thank you for showing us all how to fight back!” wrote one person. “Here’s to change, from the bottom up,” penned another.

President-elect Barack Obama hastened to show his support for the workers:

“When it comes to the situation here in Chicago with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned,” Obama said during a press briefing on Sunday, ” I think they are absolutely right. What’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.”

A fund has been set up in support of the workers.  You can click here to donate.

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