5 thoughts on “Workers’ factory occupation in Chicago

  1. CHICAGO FACTORY OCCUPIED

    Members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1110 were occupying the Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago around the clock through the weekend, in an effort to force the company and its main creditor to meet their obligations to the workers.

    Their goal is to at least get the compensation that workers are owed; they also seek the resumption of operations at the plant.

    All 260 members of the local were laid off last Friday in a sudden plant closure, brought on by Bank of America cutting off operating credit to the company.

    The bank even instructed managers at Republic to refuse to pay workers their earned vacation pay and the severance pay they are owed under the federal WARN Act, since the company failed to give its 300 employees the 60 days’ notice required by law before shutting.

    Bank of America, the country’s second largest bank, has received $25bn in taxpayer money as part of the $700bn government bailout of the financial industry.

    The public was told that this bailout was necessary in order to keep credit flowing and prevent the loss of jobs.

    UE Local 1110 members, along with community supporters, picketed and rallied in front of Bank of America’s main Chicago branch last Wednesday, December 3.

    They chanted, ‘You got bailed out, we got sold out!’

    Local 1110 President Armando Robles told the news media, ‘Just weeks before Christmas we are told our factory will close in three days.

    ‘Taxpayers gave Bank of America billions, and they turn around and close our company. We will fight for a bailout for workers.’

    http://wrp.org.uk/news/3806

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  2. Unemployed and Hungry in the US – Jobless numbers highest in 15 years, food stamp users hit record 31.6 million or 1 in 10 Americans – 6 Minute Video Report

    More than half a million jobs were lost in the US in November, the largest loss in a single month since 1974. Though initially the announcement had a negative effect on the markets, by the end of the day Wall Street again forgot about the little guy, the Dow closed up 260 points. The more than 1.2 million jobs lost over the past 3 months, and the 11th straight month of job losses, bring the unemployment rate to 6.7 per cent, the highest in 15 years. Also this week the Department of Agriculture released figures that show food stamp beneficiaries increased by 17 percent in the past year. That’s more than 31.6 million or 1 out of every 10 people in the US receiving food stamps or taking part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. TRNN spoke Dedrick Muhammad of the Institute for Policy Studies. Muhammad says that 6.7 percent is not the true unemployment number because it does not include the underemployed and those who have stopped looking for work. Muhammad also says that the bailout is a “trickle down” bailout, that by giving money to the wealthiest institutions somehow this is supposed to help the middle class and working class.
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21403.htm
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    One Thriving Sector: The Business Of War //Pentagon’s contractors are
    looking for help By Robert Weisman

    December 07, 2008 “Boston Globe’ — – SOUTH NASHUA, N.H. – Across the nation, companies are lopping off hundreds of thousands of jobs, retailers are shuttering stores, and automakers are tottering on the edge of bankruptcy. But here in the Merrimack River Valley, and over the state line at several industrial sites around Massachusetts, defense contractor BAE Systems is hoisting “Help Wanted” signs.

    BAE develops technology in fields like electronic warfare and cybersecurity, sophisticated systems that are key to combating a new wave of threats around the globe. At a time when 1.7 million jobs have been lost in the United States this year, the company is hiring 200 engineers and manufacturing workers in Nashua, Hudson, and Merrimack, N.H., and Burlington, Lexington, and Marlborough, Mass.

    Other defense electronics contractors, such as Waltham’s Raytheon Co. and General Dynamics Corp.’s communications systems center in Taunton, also continue to ramp up. Such companies remain awash in orders from the Pentagon and American allies increasingly worried about terrorism and missile proliferation. They are also facing the pending retirement of many baby boomers in their labor force, a factor lending greater urgency to their hiring efforts. “We’re acting very aggressively when we find a good match,” said Christopher Sherman, engineering manager at BAE’s Electronics & Integrated Solutions division here. The company has already hired 475 people in New Hampshire and Massachusetts this year, mostly to meet growing demand, but in some cases, to replace departing workers.

    Back-to-back BAE job fairs Tuesday and Wednesday drew 1,462 candidates, including recent college graduates in pressed suits, Cold War-era defense industry veterans with salt-and-pepper hair, and commercial engineers who had previously worked at computer software or telecommunications companies. All hoped to land jobs at BAE’s electronics programs, some of which are highly classified. “I’ve challenged my team to hire 70 people out of this crowd tonight,” said Amanda Arria, the company’s Northeast regional talent acquisition manager, pointing to lines of applicants waiting to meet with hiring managers in the BAE cafeteria Tuesday night.

    Patricia Heckley, 50, a software engineer from nearby Tyngsborough, Mass., stood in one of the lines. Heckley said she had never worked in the defense industry, but was confident her skills were transferable in a period when high-tech companies are scaling back. “It’s a jump, but I think it’s a reachable jump,” she said. Hunting for his first job was Curtis Jerry, 22, of Sanbornton, N.H., who graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute earlier this year. “I love defense in general, because that’s where all the interesting technology is now,” Jerry said. “I’d really like to work testing guidance and navigation systems, but I’d do just about anything.”

    BAE and other military contractors have become islands of growth in a national job market that is underwater. The growth in defense may not continue for long. Industry analysts are projecting budget cuts in major US weapons programs as the war in Iraq winds down and the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama wrestles with other priorities. Defense spending has climbed steadily during the Bush administration, reaching $671.7 billion in the 2008 fiscal year, including emergency supplemental appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That represents a 72 percent increase from fiscal 2000, after adjusting for inflation.

    But the budget reductions are not likely to start until next fall, when President Obama’s national security team will be in place and the next federal budget year begins, suggested Loren B. Thompson, chief operating officer at the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Va., think tank. “There will be breathing space because of the rhythm of the budget cycle,” Thompson said. “And even when the cuts come, some companies, because of what they do or because of emerging threats, will fare pretty well. Companies in Massachusetts and New Hampshire will weather the downturn better than others are likely to.”

    One reason is that, rather than building entire jets, ships, tanks, or ground installations, many of the region’s defense firms develop the electronics, combat, and communications systems they use. Even when a massive weapons program is cut back, as the Navy’s $20 billion DDG 1000 destroyer program was last summer, contractors like Raytheon can market their combat systems for use in other new ships or in older vessels in the Navy fleet. Area contractors, for instance, work on electronic eavesdropping, signal processing for radar systems, and equipment used to integrate intelligence from different sources, technologies critical to helping the US military and allies battle terrorists in multiple countries. General Dynamics, at its Taunton site, is developing a new generation of command, control, and communications systems that enable the Army to coordinate simultaneous operations at far-flung locations.

    The economic downturn has given defense contractors a boost by expanding the pool of potential employees, since workers from civilian industries have lost jobs due to cutbacks. But the ongoing housing slump has made it difficult for workers from other states to sell their homes and move to New England, forcing contractors here to compete with one another for local talent.

    “To move people right now is problematic,” said Keith J. Peden, senior vice president of human resources at Raytheon headquarters. “That makes the universe we recruit from smaller.” Raytheon, which is sitting on a $37 billion order backlog, has added more than 200 jobs so far this year at more than a dozen sites in Massachusetts, from Tewksbury to Marlborough. The company projects that it could add another 400 jobs in 2009, in programs ranging from border security and training systems to radar and Patriot missiles. Over the past year, US allies such as Kuwait, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, jittery over the missile threat from Iran and North Korea, have placed orders for Raytheon’s antimissile Patriot weapon systems.

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2008/12/06/one_thriving_sector_the_business_of_war/?page=2

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21404.htm

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  3. SUPPORT THE WORKERS’ OCCUPATION OF THE REPUBLIC WINDOWS AND DOORS PLANT IN CHICAGO!

    During the week of December 8-13
    Organize Protests in Front of Your Local Bank of America Office or Building

    Support the Demands of the Republic Windows and Doors Workers:
    –Management Must Meet with the Workers
    –Workers Must Receive 60 Days Full Pay
    –No Repression Against the Workers; No Attempts to Remove, Arrest or Charge Them

    “We are sending a message to all the workers in America. We will try to keep up the fight and we ask for your support.”
    Vincente Rangel, United Electrical Workers’ Steward and participant in the occupation

    Endorse at http://www.bailoutpeople.org/repubwindowendorse.shtml
    List Local Action at http://www.bailoutpeople.org/repubwindowvolorgcent.shtml
    View Local Actions here
    Donate to Bail Out the People Movement at http://www.bailoutpeople.org/donate.shtml

    About 250 employees of Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago, IL began an occupation of the plant on Friday, Dec. 5, the last scheduled day of the plant’s operation. The workers, members of the United Electrical Workers Union Local 1110, were not given the legally mandated 60-day prior notification of the plant´s closing; also the plant´s management and owners did not show up to a meeting with the workers scheduled for Dec. 5.

    The workers decided to occupy the plant. They have vowed to stay in the plant until they receive, at the very least, 60 days pay. The owners say that they had to close because Bank of America refused to extend them any more credit. The Bank of America has received hundreds of billions of dollars over the past three months in bailout money from the government.

    These workers, who are overwhelmingly Latin@ immigrants, have taken a courageous stand by putting their bodies on the line in their fight for the right to feed their families and to be treated with respect and dignity like all human beings. In a way, they are fighting for the rights of all workers who are under attack, whether they are restaurant workers, public employees or auto workers fighting to hold on to their jobs and union.

    We must stand with them.

    To all–no matter what your circumstances are–who are outraged over mass layoffs, home foreclosures and are watching the government spend literally trillions of dollars to bail out banks while doing nothing to stop the massive layoffs and evictions that are beating down working and poor people, take a stand in solidarity with these workers in Chicago. You could be next.

    Jobs at a living wage are a right!

    An appeal issued by Bail Out the People Movement

    Dec. 7, 2008

    Endorse at http://www.bailoutpeople.org/repubwindowendorse.shtml
    List Local Action at http://www.bailoutpeople.org/repubwindowvolorgcent.shtml
    Donate to Bail Out the People Movement at http://www.bailoutpeople.org/donate.shtml

    Local Actions:

    Chicago:
    Sun, Dec 7, 10:30 AM Jessie Jackson and Rainbow PUSH deliver turkeys to workers occupying Republic Windows and Doors factory, 1333 N Hickory st. (near corner of Halsted and Division)
    Monday, Dec 8th, 12 noon – Press Conference before UE workers meet with Bank of America and company executives. Supports welcome, bring food and monetary donations.
    Tuesday, Dec 9th, 12 noon – Solidarity action at Bank of America, 231 S. LaSalle, Chicago, IL

    Charlotte, NC:
    Monday, Dec 8th, 12 Noon – Picket at Bank of American national Headquarters to support Republic workers. Corner of Trade St and Tryon in downtown Charlotte. Organized by UE local 150. call Dante Strobino at 919-539-2051 for more info

    Detroit, MI:
    Wednesday, Dec 10 12:00 noon – PROTEST RALLY, WEDS., DEC. 10, 12:00 NOON – BANK OF AMERICA, Guardian Building, Congress at Griswold, downtown Detroit

    additional listings will be posted at BailOutPeople.org as quickly as we get them.

    Bail Out the People Movement
    Solidarity Center
    55 W. 17th St. #5C
    New York, NY 10011
    212.633.6646
    http://www.BailOutPeople.org
    Email: bailoutpeople@safewebmail.com

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  4. http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/ue-update061208.html

    UPDATE: UE Members Occupy Chicago Plant in Struggle for Justice

    Chicago, IL – Saturday Evening, December 6

    National news networks CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, as well as Chicago news media, are reporting on the following dramatic developments involving UE members in Chicago.

    Members of UE Local 1110 who work at Republic Windows and Doors are occupying the plant around the clock this weekend, in an effort to force the company and its main creditor to meet their obligations to the workers. Their goal is to at least get the compensation that workers are owed; they also seek the resumption of operations at the plant. All 260 members of the local were laid off Friday in a sudden plant closing, brought on by Bank of America cutting off operating credit to the company. The bank even instructed managers at Republic to refuse to pay workers their earned vacation pay and the severance pay they are owed under the federal WARN Act, since they were not given the legally-required notice that the plant was about to close.

    Below are some links to ongoing news coverage of this story:

    * Associated Press, “Day 2 For Workers at Shuttered Window Plant,” CBS2Chicago.com, 5 December 2008.

    * Rupa Shenoy, “Idled Workers Occupy Factory in Chicago,” Chicago Tribune, 6 December 2008.

    * Mira Oberman, “Laid-off Workers Furious as Bank Pulls Chicago Plant’s Credit,” France 24, 6 December 2008.

    * “Fired Workers Will Stay ‘Until We Win Justice’,” NBC Chicago, 6 December 2008

    Angry Laid-off Workers Occupy Factory in Chicago
    (Associated Press, 6 December 2008)

    Bank of America, the country’s second largest bank, has received $25 billion in taxpayer money as part of the $700 billion government bailout of the financial industry. The public was told that this bailout was necessary in order to keep credit flowing and prevent the loss of jobs. Yet the very-well-paid executives at Bank of America have actually cut off credit and forced the closing of Republic where workers were, at least up until Friday, producing energy-efficient doors and windows.

    Jobs with Justice, the national worker rights coalition, is asking people to sign an online letter to Bank of America, demanding that they provide the needed credit to keep Republic Windows and Doors open — or at a minimum, that they pay workers the money they are owed. Please go to this link to support this important struggle.

    UE Local 1110 members, along with community supporters, picketed and rallied in front of Bank of America’s main Chicago branch on Wednesday, December 3. They chanted, “You got bailed out, we got sold out!” Local 1110 President Armando Robles told the news media, “Just weeks before Christmas we are told our factory will close in three days. Taxpayers gave Bank of America billions, and they turn around and close our company. We will fight for a bailout for workers.”

    To support the members of Local 1110 in their courageous fight, send checks payable to the UE Local 1110 Solidarity Fund, to: UE, 37 S. Ashland, Chicago, IL 60607. Messages of support can be sent to leahfried@gmail.com. For more information, call the UE Chicago office at 312-829-8300.

    UE has already contacted Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and will soon be in touch with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), chair of the Senate Banking Committee, regarding Bank of America’s apparent abuse of its public obligations under the federal banking bailout.

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  5. Pingback: Economic crisis, workers fight back | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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