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    Factory Occupation in Chicago Represents Major Step Forward in the Class Struggle



    Number of posts : 1
    Registration date : 2009-01-01

    Factory Occupation in Chicago Represents Major Step Forward in the Class Struggle

    Post  Jay on Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:17 pm

    It’s time for all the workers to open their eyes and be united…If we win this thing, they’re going to win with us.
    Raul Flores, sit-down striker at the Republic Window and Doors plant in Chicago

    The U.S, and indeed global, working class received an early Christmas present this year from the predominantly immigrant and black workers at the Republic Window and Doors plant in Chicago. In a bold, determined move, that has not been seen since the 1930s in the U.S., 250 workers, members of the United Electrical Workers Union (UE), occupied their manufacturing plant and refused to leave until the owners and creditors met their demands. The occupation, which began on December 10th and continued for 6 days, forced owner Richard Gillman, and two banks, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase, which also owns 40% of the company, to concede on the workers modest demands regarding severance pay, accrued vacation time and health care coverage.

    Workers were enraged that the owners, with only a few days notice, were planning to close the plant, and not even provide the federally mandated 60 days notice or severance pay for the workers. Furthermore, the companies’ bankers, Chase and BOA, have been the recipients of $ 25 Billion each, and untold more in loans, as part of the government’s bailout of Wall Street. Yet, these same banks refused--initially-- to provide the money for the severance package. The sit-down, and the broad solidarity the workers received, forced the capitalists to back down.

    While winning their immediate demands was important, the most significant part of the strike was the example itself. In the midst of the most severe capitalist crisis since the 1930s, the workers at this small plant pointed to how the rest of the working class can fight back and win in the face of the savage attacks now being unleashed by the capitalist class and their states in the US and around the world. Indeed, the widespread support this action received from workers in Chicago and the Midwest, and messages of support from the around country and world, was a major factor in why they won and underscores how significant this action was seen by broad sections of the working class.

    Nonetheless, despite the victory, the plant has been shut down and these heroic workers are joining the growing ranks of laid-off workers. In the next sit down we must combine radical actions with equally radical demands, including democratic worker control of industry and finance.

    Number of posts : 50
    Group : Movimento Socialista Mondiale
    Location : Wales
    Website :
    Registration date : 2008-05-20

    Re: Factory Occupation in Chicago Represents Major Step Forward in the Class Struggle

    Post  Cesco on Sat Jan 03, 2009 2:43 pm

    I must make a comment on what happened at the Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago last December.

    The facts

    Six days of sit-in carried out by about 200-260 workers was able to get a deal worth $1.75 million “to pay them severance, vacation time, and temporary health care benefits”.

    It has been recognised that Republic Windows and Doors broke a federal law which imposes “60-day notice or severance pay for the layoff of the workers.

    The workers represented by the United Electrical Workers managed therefore to get what an existing law prescribed, but will this be enough for the workers to preserve their jobs?

    The United Electrical Workers declared that they “decided to forge ahead to find someone new to run the plant…using some of the money donated from around the world during the sit-in”.

    My comment:

    It is obviously a good news that workers succeeded in getting just what they deserved by law.

    But I wouldn’t call it a strike…

    “While winning their immediate demands was important, the most significant part of the strike was the example itself.”

    … this action was an occupation of the plant. A plant that was planned to be closed in three days.
    A strike, that is to say a stop of the production, would have not made any difference for the bankrupted Republic Windows and Doors.

    This episode actually confirms us that the industrial production (in this case Illinois-based producer of vinyl replacement windows) is leaving the so called developed countries where the labour force is to expensive (read wages). The industrial production goes towards the growing countries where the labour force is definitely cheaper.

    This process of de-industrialization of the “western” countries started more or less in the early eighties and challenged the traditional structure of the society. Although, there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence of it and some economists have described it (e.g. Michel Beaud) de-industrialization has been denied by official sources like the OECD.

    Anyhow, the fact is that Republic Windows and Doors is not an isolated case. People employed in the manufacturing and construction industry have decreased drastically since the late seventies.

    Where will traditional industrial workers of the “developed countries” go when the industrial production goes somewhere else?

    Can traditional industrial workers of the “developed countries” fight for better wages and working conditions while the industrials are moving their investments abroad?

    Can traditional industrial workers create coalitions with wage-earning workers of growing sectors such as banking and finance while their jobs become a rarity?
    We are facing a structural change called mondilization or if you prefer globalization.
    Capitalist production is the cause of this phenomenon.

    A socialist movement must take into account that a revolution of the economic system is possible when capitalism is pushed to its maximal potential, but it must remember that the working class (which includes wage-earning workers) must have a class consciousness.

    A socialist movement must keep up with those social changes and work actively in making the old Marxist slogan workers of the world, unite! Reality.


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