CHICAGO (AP) ― Workers who got three days’ notice their factory was shutting its doors voted to occupy the building and said Saturday they won’t go home without assurances they’ll get severance and vacation pay they say they are owed.
In the second day of a sit-in on the factory floor that began Friday, about 200 union workers occupied the building in shifts while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind.
About 50 workers sat on pallets and chairs inside the Republic Windows and Doors plant. Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give 60 days’ notice required by law before shutting down.
During the takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.
“We’re doing something we haven’t since the 1930s, so we’re trying to make it work,” Fried said.
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I recently watched the film The Take where workers In Argentina continued at their jobs, despite the factories being closed down. The story unfolding in Chicago right now has a similar flavor.
An Excerpt from the BBC: Argentine workers take control
The workers of the San Justo glassworks in Buenos Aires never thought about owning their company, until it went bankrupt four years ago.
It was just one of thousands of businesses that sank as Argentina’s once prosperous economy went into meltdown, pushing almost half the population below the poverty line.
Many of the workers’ relatives were against the venture
Today a new furnace where the red hot glass is melted is burning. The factory is one of more than 100 “recovered businesses” which are now putting themselves forward as an alternative business model for the country.
When the factory went bankrupt, a group of the workers faced with losing their jobs barricaded the factory gates for almost a year to stop the machinery being taken away.
They slept under canvas through the worst of the winter, while a lawyer argued their case in court.
The hardest thing was that many of their families, who did not have enough to eat, did not support the venture.
“We had to fight with our families, who did not believe in this. They would tell us to go find a job,” says Leonicio Eloy Arias, who has worked at the factory for more than 20 years.
The workers claimed in court that because they had not been paid for months, they should have first right to the machinery and factory site.