Monday, December 8, 2008

Factory Takeover

The Republic Window and Door factory tried to shutter its doors last Friday, but the workers refused to leave. They are still there. They are demanding to be paid their vacation time and severance pay. The corporation is blaming the closing on Bank of America, and the workers seem to be falling for that line. But a corporation that has to borrow money for payroll is not a viable business. Could it be that they simply have other plans?

Obama has come out in favor of paying the workers the time owed them. For this he is hailed as a pro-worker hell-raiser.
Jesse Jackson speaks and compares the workers to MLK and Rosa Parks, you know, because sitting at lunch counters and on buses is also sitting down. Others remember the sit down occupations of GM in the 30s, when workers were demanding unionization.

How about mentioning other history? What about workers taking over and operating factories cooperatively, in Seattle, France, Spain, Portugal and Argentina - to mention a few?

This is America, where public land giveaways and tax breaks are sold to the public as "creating jobs". Where a prison or a military base can never be closed, because jobs might be lost. But when a corporation wants to close a factory, there is never a word raised against it. There may be frowny faces on the talking heads of the corporate media, showing concern for the devastated workers, but never a hint that there may be a different solution.

The Republic Window and Door corporation recieved tax breaks from the public. That means that the public has an investment in that factory.

The company owes pay to the workers. That means that the workers are its creditors. The factory is an asset that should be turned over to its creditors - the workers. And they should be able to operate it as a cooperative, with profits shared among them, instead of turned over to the bankrupt (as claimed) owners.

Addendum: The sleight of hand worked. Successfully blaming the Bank of America for the shutdown of the factory,instead of the factory owners (who just bought another factory in Iowa), led to a deal struck where each worker recieves that which, by law, they should have gotten anyway. And it is hailed as a massive victory for workers. They are still unemployed, but they got their vacation time. Wow! Solidarity Forever!

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