The worker  occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors plant in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood continues with some potentially interesting developments unfolding.  A press conference is scheduled for noon today, though worker’s inside the factory are saying that there is no possible reconciliation of the situation before union reps, company officials, and Bank of America sit down at 4:00 this afternoon (Chicago time- I’ll put updates here as I find them out).  Worker’s for UE Local 1110 have hinted that they’ve gathered mounting evidence that the company’s plan is to shut-down the plant and re-open (and possibly re-incorporate entirely) in another state, where they could hire new employees for lower wages and no benefits; a typical move, for sure, but one that these worker’s- and quite frankly, all of us- should absolutely oppose in all circumstances.  There’s speculation swirling that this may be the subject of the noon press conference.

The most exciting development is that, thanks to the agitation of radicals who have been on the scene lending support to the worker’s inside the factory, there is a growing sense among UE officials and the worker’s that they should re-start production on their own.  It’s unclear (to me, from 950 miles away) just how serious this suggestion is.  Up until now, the worker’s had seemed pretty sure that the factory was being closed and all they were demanding were their legally owed pay and benefits; this situation does appear to be changing.  If you’ll recall, in my first post about the worker occupation of this factory, I noted that this was the logical next step that we would expect to see (if not at this plant, at workplace occupations in the months to come- as under the current “crisis” conditions of the U.S. economy such social unrest is highly predictable).  Further, you’ll recall not only from that post but also from the highly debated La La Land of the Left, that I suggested that this role for ideological radicals- that of acting as an agitational pole and supporting force from directly within working class organizations and movements- was the most effective place to encourage meaningful change and build revolutionary potential in this country, in the here and now.

While at other, more liberally-oriented sites I’ve seen plenty of commentator’s who dismiss this factory occupation as somehow “meaningless” and “pointless” in the face of the banker’s and the government’s power, the truth is far different from this ignorant and cynical stance.  The government- and more importantly, their boss, the bankers- are well away that the entirety of their system (their wealth and power and way of life) is build precisely on the working class’ obedience to their system of domination hierarchy.  One random factory take-over could probably be ignored, but thanks to the largeness of the media coverage of this occupation (media coverage born and perpetuated by the blogosphere) a successful worker take-over of this factory would be viewed almost entirely by the banks and the State as wholly unacceptable.  It’s the classic “bad apple” theory of management: the revolutionary example of one “bad apple” could far too easily spread further and “infect” the greater system; time and again the capitalist class has proven they are unwilling to take such a risk.

Speaking to this point for a minute: when fringe elements of society (i.e., “anarchists”, “punks”, “hippies”, etc) take action to build anti-capitalist and anti-Statist institutions and poles, the capitalists are often inclined to monitor, but are in no way threatened.  They know full well that because of our isolating appearance, rhetoric, lifestyles, and ideology the “average” person will not be inclined or empowered by our action (which is why explicitly anarchist book shops, coffee houses, publishing company’s and the like are left to proliferate- they do have a minimal effect on the population at large, but in no way challenge the larger order of things).  The situation at Republic Windows and Doors, however, is entirely different.  “Regular”, “average” people can immediately identify and sympathize with the faces and the plight of the worker’s at the plant; the potential effects- the inspiration, the empowerment, and the example- that is inherent in this occupation (and especially in the possible worker-take over of the shop) will not go unchallenged.  If production begins under self-management, we could expect a quick and potentially violent reaction from the State.  A police raid, enforcing the landlords’ “rights” (i.e., trespassing charges) as well as the company’s property “rights” (i.e., theft charges) could well be down the pike.

Stay tuned.  It’s obviously impossible to predict how this all plays out, but it just may get interesting.

UPDATE:  (Geez, clear lack of long-term vision on my part when I initially titled this post, eh?)

The noon press conference was as big as the rumors suggested and brought three exciting and juicy developments.  First, 15 aldermen have proposed that the City Council of Chicago pass a resolution to stop doing any business whatsoever with Bank of America if the worker’s at RW&D don’t receive all pay and benefits due to them.  I don’t know, nor have I see word, about how much business the City of Chicago does with BOA anyway, but the proposed resolution would ban any city funds from being deposited to BOA or its subsidiaries, bar BOA from underwriting, selling, or re-selling any City-issued bonds and would require any building or zoning project in Chicago that is financed or tied to BOA to be submitted individually before the City Council.  Second, it has been officially revealed that Republic Window’s and Doors had planted simply to re-incorporate in Iowa under a different name and to begin manufacturing from a plant paying worker’s $9.00/hour with few benefits at all (vacation pay would be earned after three years on the job).  Finally, and you could probably guess this is what I’m most excited about: Carl Rosen, UE Western Division president, has officially called for the plant to be re-opened and UE is actively working with a variety of public agencies to put this plan into action.  How far will the potential of this move? it’s always dicey in the hands of union bureaucrats, but time will tell.  UE is certainly one of the more militant and solid of the American labor movement. 

Elsewhere, UE Local 150 in North Carolina have announced they will picket- alongside community members- outside Bank of America’s main headquarters in Charlotte on Tuesday in solidarity with planned pickets and sit-in’s at BOA offices in Chicago.