Monday, December 8, 2008

I Love These Workers In Chicago Who Are Sitting In.

There is a company named Republic Doors and Windows in Chicago. Apparently they needed a loan, or had a line of credit with the Bank of America, but the Bank decided they would not loan them anymore money. So the workers showed up on Friday and found the plant shut down. No notice, no severance, no benefits, no nothing.

The workers decided to go into the plant, have a sit-in, refuse to leave, take it over, and demand their rights. Which they have now done. They say that whatever is in the factory is collatoral for what they're owed. I don't really care what their theory is -- I just love the fact that they're standing up for workers' rights.

Standing up against a bank of all things, the same institutions that have been looting our country for the past 8 years, throwing so many people out of work. Is there anybody out there who doesn't yet understand that the banks have stolen all our money? The term "bank robber" has a new meaning today -- the banks steal money from the people. And they do it by electronic transfers, public auction of houses, don't even need a gun.

"Robbing a bank is no crime compared to owning one." (From "Happy End," by Bertolt Brecht.)

President Elect Obama was asked about this over the week-end, and he said the workers were right. Let me say that again: the President of the United States took the side of the workers. When's the last time you heard that?

It reminds me of the auto workers' strike in Flint Michigan in 1937. They sat in too -- refused to leave the factory. It was a huge rallying point for working people around the nation. They would hang out the factory windows with big signs. Their children came out in the freezing cold and carried home-made signs, in the worst of the depression, asking the company bosses to let their daddys go back to work. The wives came out and snuck food and beverage through the broken glass in the windows into the workers so they could hold out for awhile longer.

Here are the men in Flint, 1937, marching in the streets.

Here's a picture of supporters bringing in baskets of food and beverage to the striking Flint workers.

Here are some of the Flint women supporters, wives, mothers, sisters, neighbors.

The Flint Michigan strike lasted for 44 days. The workers went on strike because of speed-ups, a refusal of the company to pay any overtime or benefits while demanding that workers put in long hours. And to make things worse (and more similar to today) the company was beginning to move some equipment out of the plant because they planned to take jobs out of the state. At one point, the police charged the factory with tear gas and guns, but the workers fought them back, then followed the police out into the street and overturned some of the police cars and set them on fire. When the strike was finally over, GM had been forced to acknowledge the UAW as the union which would be representing the auto workers and negotiating on their behalf.

Supposedly, when the strike was over and the workers came out of the factory, the streets of Flint rang throughout with the voices of workers singing "Solidarity Forever." I don't know if that's true or not, but it's a heck of a story. So here's to the working men and women of Chicago, in solidarity.

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