Republic Windows and Doors Workers Win

“See that sign up there? Without us, it would just
say ‘Republic,’ because we make the windows and doors. This shows that you
can fight–and that you have to fight.”

True words from Melvin Maclin, Vice Prez of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) Local 1110.  While everyone is happy to see the workers of Republic Windows and Doors get paid for some of the work they’ve done (as long as this system is intact, the owners will always be leeching off a large proportion of all our sweat and blood), I can’t help but wonder what things might have looked like if this had gotten more publicity.  It’s interesting how quickly BoA found ways to fork over cash.  Just long enough for sections of the public to pick up on corporate media reports favorable to the workers, a couple of days of negotiation and then with little fanfare, BoA forks over the cash and all ends happily ever after.

I called my folks this morning and asked them about it and they were happy about the outcome.   But my pops remarked that most of the people he knows, some union folks even, hadn’t yet heard about what was goin on.  So if some union folks hadn’t yet picked it up yet, one can assume that anti-union and ostensibly apolitical folks, many of them likely didn’t hear about the occupation of this factory by workers.

Analyzed as a media event, which is how most propaganda works in this society, the target of this would be the left and the left’s connections to the center left, who might see this event as corporate power acting responsibly in this ‘new era’.  There is no new era of course but what we create.  And the struggle at Republic was a small one, hopefully just the beginning, catalyst not anesthesia.  While celebrating we should notice how quickly things were resolved and how few folks actually found out what was happening and how positive the media was towards the workers position.  We should notice and we should think about what, if anything, it means in terms of lessons for this and future campaigns and struggles.

Just as this situation finds itself being wrapped up, unions are in the news again.  And this time, probably at a much higher profile.  The Service Employees International Union is being sucked into the Illinios governor’s scandal.  The scandal is about the US Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama’s election to POTUS.  The governor is allowed to choose the successor until the next election.  The SEIU in Illinois is being implicated in a scheme, along with the mayor to pay for a particular figure, Valerie Jarrett, to be selected.

So  while we have a relatively low profile victory here in Republic Windows and Doors, the much higher profile story will involve the SEIU and Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich.  President-elect Barack Obama is also being pulled into this as today’s NYTimes story on this is suggesting that the Obama administration had promised to ‘work with’ the SEIU if they could get Valerie Jarrett into the US Senate.

This will of course require that President-Elect Obama deny the entire thing and shit on SEIU (and by extension, unions generally) for even possibly being involved in this.  And this story will have much stronger and longer legs than our Republic victory, of course.  Let’s keep our eyes open!

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