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Support Swells for Chicago Union Workers' Factory Occupation

From Chicago Indymedia

The worker occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory on Chicago's Goose Island by members of UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America) Local 1110 went into its third day on Sunday, and workers have vowed to continue the occupation until they are paid back pay and benefits, or until the plant is re-opened.

The occupation was declared on Friday, the day the company moved to shutter the plant with only three days notice — in violation of federal and state labor laws. Owners have also cut off employees' insurance and failed to pay back pay. The takeover has sparked a groundswell of support across the nation, with rallies, e-mail campaigns, petition drives, fundraisers and plans for future actions. [ Updated news links ]

Company management blames the shut-down on Bank of America, which cut their credit line — after BoA received $25 billion in federal bailout money that the bank said they did not need. Since the bailout began, BoA — like big banks across the globe — has slashed credit lines to businesses, forcing a growing number of small and medium-sized companies to shut down. Workers plan to meet with company and bank representatives on Monday — and to picket BoA's LaSalle St. offices on Tuesday if Republic's line of credit is not restored.

The action at Republic Windows comes on the heels of a drive to kick out the company union, which had colluded with company owners and management for years. That effort succeeded after three years of struggle. Republic Windows' worker occupation is one of the first actions of its kind in the United States since the Great Depression, when a wave of sit-in strikes and factory occupations marked one of the most militant phases in U.S. labor history.