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Workers of the World, Unite! December 8, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in Auto Bail-Out, Economy, National Politics, Unions.
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Just when you think that it can’t get any worse for American workers, the latest jobs report comes out and tells you that the U.S. lost another 500,000-plus jobs in November.  Over half a million jobs in one month.  The unemployment rate is hovering just under 7% – the highest it has been in 15 years.  The official unemployment rate, however, does not include “discouraged workers” – those for whom unemployment benefits have run out, or the underemployed worker – one that wants full-time work but can only find part-time employment.  If you add these folks into the mix, the real unemployment rate is 12%. 

In the midst of all this, the American automobile manufacturers were back on Capitol Hill last week hat-in-hand and begging for bridge loans to save millions more jobs.  The president of the UAW was offering every bit of ground the Union has recently gained in concessions to keep its members from being thrown out onto the street.  Still, congress seemed unmoved.  Alabama Senator Richard Shelby preened and postured for the cameras saying that nothing the auto executives, union representatives, or economists said convinced him that taxpayer money should be spent supporting the U.S. automakers (apparently, Shelby has no problem with foreign automakers getting taxpayer money.  The state of Alabama built factories for Honda, Mercedes, and Hyundai – and granted HUGE tax incentives to the companies to locate there.)   The hideous jobs report wiped the smug little smiles off his and Chris Dodd’s faces, however, and there was finally movement late Friday to get the big three some cash now.

All of this could really get a Democratic Socialist like me really depressed, but I saw something Saturday morning that made my heart soar!  Apparently, 260 unionized workers at the Republic Window and Door factory, staged a sit-in Friday and are currently occupying the factory.  According to the workers, the company told them Wednesday that the factory was closing and they would be laid off effective Monday.  Republic Window and Door ignored the legal requirement that it must provide workers 60 days notice of a plant closure.  Plus, Republic owes the workers $1.5 million in severance and vacation pay.  What makes the workers even more angry is that there has been no indication that the company is at all in trouble.  The union (United Electrical Workers local 1110) suspects that Republic is using the current economic crisis to move the factory to a non-union”right-to-work” state where it can pay lower wages and benefits.  What makes Republic’s actions even more reprehensible is it’s position that it can’t make the payments because Bank of America, who accepted $25 million taxpayer bail-out dollars, refuses to extend them any credit. 

We must provide our support to these workers.  President-Elect Obama has spoken out in support of the workers efforts – signaling a different approach to labor in the coming months and years.  Congressional Democrats are comitted to passing a card-check law that will help workers form unions and negotiate for better wages and conditions.  The Unions themselves are reaching out internationally – a global economy needs global unionization.  It is up to all of us now to support our unions and especially to show our support to the workers at Republic Window and Door.  

There is a war against labor going on out there.  Especially against organized labor.   I urge all of you to visit Labor and a Whole Lot More by Dick Meister and The Socialist Alternative for more information and ideas on how you can help and send an e-mail to the Bank of America CEO like Randy Wilson did.  Use his format and send yours along!

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Comments»

1. jeff boyer - December 11, 2008

It is a sad state of affairs in this country when the very things that made this country what it was are looked down on in such a way that we are supposed to feel ashamed of who we are? What made America the leader of the so called civilized World? it was the Industrial Revolution ! Was Our Country not set up as a Government By the People For The People? Do Some of these So Called Leaders Who Are American Politicians not Realize that what Happens If the only Auto companies left remaining are Foreign? Will The Quality still be there? The warranties? Will our American workers still even be treated so well by the Foreign Companies? Get Real America with out Manufacturing jobs we are Dependent on the rest of the world, Selling out the Auto industry sells out America!!! If you want to sell out Something sell out the politicians They have been selling us out a whole lot lately! I think it is time we Start holding those who do wrong accountable! I live in Michigan and have all of my 41 years and I as a American Have never been more disgusted with the politics of not only my state but my Country It is time we quit allowing Big Business and bad politics to keep putting our futures at risk, That Money for the Bail out is Our Money!!! The Tax payers , Why is it not being used on US?

2. nation of gandhis - December 8, 2008

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” Lincoln’s First Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861.

3. Randy Wilson - December 8, 2008

Thanks Kate for the shout out! Its important that we do everything we can in every way we can to help out the workers. Check out this petition posted in my comments section by the “Nation of Ghandis.”

http://rlwilsonconsulting.wordpress.com/2008/12/07/email-to-bank-of-america-ceo/#comments


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