Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sit-in ends in victory at Republic Windows

While I had been hearing about the sit-in by the workers at Liberty Windows in Chicago, I didn't really put two and two together until this evening. While the workers and their union - the United Electrical - were taking extraordinary action in pursuit of fairness - the wages and benefits owed to them - it's also a story about the growing "green economy". Energy-efficient windows and doors. Retrofitting buildings. Creating union jobs. Union busting. Conserving energy. Reducing greenhouse gases. Talk of workers co-ops. It's an exciting story.

The Story Behind the Republic Window Settlement
By Meg White, Buzzflash
With such a sequence of events, it's natural to wonder whether Republic was run into the ground in order to set up elsewhere for cheaper. Leah Fried, an organizer with UE that is working with the former Republic workers, said it's impossible for her to say what the former owners of Republic have been planning, since the union has always had a tough time getting the truth from them.
Obama also weighed in on the side of the workers. Very novel and refreshing indeed.
“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 announcing his new Veterans Affairs director. “What’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.
James Caroll, from the International Herald Tribune has an interesting analysis of Obama's gut instincts and his ability to communicate clearly about fairness.
In the past, American society has drawn a bright line between acceptable protests launched in the name of civil rights and unacceptable demands made in the name of economic rights, but Obama blurred that line with a simple statement: Workers have a right to what they have earned. That transparent truth trumped the usually controlling categories of legality, procedure and decorum.

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