Below is a post from Jacob Flom who is a student in my Art and Ecology class at UWM. Jacob does incredibly inspiring work with IVAW and SDS and it was not surprising to hear that he was in Chicago in solidarity with the workers who occupied the factory in Chicago. The photos are credited to Jacob Flom and the individual in the third photograph is Armando Robles, the Union leader for the factory workers.
“The workers at Republic Windows and Doors that have been occupying their factory in Chicago for six days have just won their demands for severance pay. After a national outpouring of support the workers won the eight weeks of pay that they were owed under the federal WARN Act, as well as two months health care, and compensation pay for unused vacation.
Bank of America, which recently received a $25 billion bailout, will give $1.75 million to Republic Windows and Doors in order for the company to pay it’s laid-off employees. Bank of America agreed to the terms after protests sprung up at their bank locations across the country and further pressure was applied by a number of Illinois politicians.
Thursday night, the workers (led by Local President Armando Robles) marched out of the plant, chanting “We did it!” in English and Spanish. The sit-in was organized by UE Local 1110 after the company announced it would close it’s doors giving workers only 3 days notice. When the factory shut its doors, the workers refused to leave until they received their pay. The union is now organizing efforts to keep the factory operational. However, it appears that the business may try to open a factory in a new location, in order to end their contract with the union members, many of whom have worked at Republic for over 20 years. Thus support for the workers is still needed!
The importance of the workers action is immeasurable and has global ramifications for the occupation was the first action of its type in the United States in decades.
As a student and member of SDS and IVAW, I joined other Milwaukee student organizers, as we drove to Chicago to witness the historic struggle and offer our support. Inspired by the conversations I had with many of the workers, I created a drawing for them. The image is the company logo, a window, with a fist smashing through it, holding the sign of the union. The piece reads: “Workers of the World Unite! and “Banks got bailed out, Workers got sold out.”
-Jacob Flom, Students for a Democratic Society, Milwaukee chapter.
Complete details on the agreement can be found here: http://www.ueunion.org/uenewsupdates.html?news=438