Monday, December 08, 2008


I'm rooting for these people:

CHICAGO -- The scene inside a long, low-slung factory on this city's North Side this weekend offered a glimpse at how the nation’s loss of more than 600,000 manufacturing jobs in a year of recession is boiling over.

Workers laid off Friday from Republic Windows and Doors, who for years assembled vinyl windows and sliding doors here, said they would not leave, even after company officials announced that the factory was closing.

... The workers, members of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, said they were owed vacation and severance pay and were not given the 60 days of notice generally required by federal law when companies make layoffs. Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois, said her office was investigating, and representatives from her office interviewed workers at the plant on Sunday.

... Workers also pointedly blamed Bank of America, a lender to Republic Windows, saying the bank had prevented the company from paying them what they were owed, particularly for vacation time accrued.

"Here the banks like Bank of America get a bailout, but workers cannot be paid?" said Leah Fried, an organizer with the union workers....

I'm please to see that Barack Obama is on the workers' side:

..."When it comes to the situation here in Chicago with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned, I think they are absolutely right," Obama said Sunday at a news conference...

"When you have a financial system that is shaky, credit contracts. Businesses large and small start cutting back on their plants and equipment and their workforces. That's why it's so important for us to maintain a strong financial system. But it's also important for us to make sure that the plans and programs that we design aren’t just targeted at maintaining the solvency of banks, but they are designed to get money out the doors and to help people on Main Street. So, number one, I think that these workers, if they have earned their benefits and their pay, then these companies need to follow through on those commitments...."

The workers are peaceful. They're tidying up and shoveling snow.

My only regret is that they aren't occupying Bank of America headquarters -- or at least an office or branch -- with several similar occupations threatened all over the country.

I'm not sure how that would play -- these workers are nearly all Hispanic or black, not white like our Joe Wurzelbacher stereotype of a blue-collar worker -- but I'll tell you this: it would have a tremendous effect on the status quo in this country (i.e., the rich get pretty much everything they want pretty much all the time) if ordinary Joe Sixpack citizens went out and made the rich and powerful very, very nervous once in a while. Y'know: class warfare -- or, rather, since we've been in a permanent state of class warfare, class warfare in which the warred-on side fights back.

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