Republic Windows and Doors Revolt Not Over

Jeremy Gantz

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Republic Windows & Doors employees could claim a major and legitimate victory last week, winning severance and vacation pay and temporary health benefits. But that $1.75 million deal is really just a happy ending to the story's first act. The workers have no jobs. The factory has filed for bankruptcy. The workers' victory should celebrated, but let's not fool ourselves into thinking any of the underlying causes of their unrest have gone away.Richard Gillman, owner of Republic Windows & Doors, has in effect moved production to Iowa through a separate company managed by his wife. The Iowa plant is non-union, apparently. All of this is by way of noting the great work In These Times contributing editor Kari Lydersen is doing over at MobyLives, Melville House Publishing's blog. Lydersen has been blogging about the "Revolt on Goose Island" since Dec. 9th, and she shows no sign of letting up. Which is valuable, because too many people think this story is over because the factory occupation ended with workers' demands being met. Not really.She's posted great interviews with the striking workers, and coverage of the fundraiser workers held at the UE Local Sunday (to supplement severance pay and try to keep the factory open). Choice quote:“The fight doesn’t end with us being paid, this is the start of a movement,” declared [UE Local 1110 president Armando] Robles during the fundraiser. “The government and banks are allowing our jobs to be sent to China. Here they pay $8 an hour, so they send the jobs to Mexico, where they pay $8 a day. Then they send the jobs to China, where they pay eight cents an hour. This country is called a super power, but the way things are going it will end up as a third world country.” Lydersen's most recent post begins with this wonderfully hyberbolic quote from Kim Bobo, who I saw leading the rally outside the factory on Tuesday the 9th:“In the religious community we say Satan is alive and well and takes many forms,” declared Bobo, a slender animated woman in a purple blouse who is the executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice and recently published a book called Wage Theft in America. “Sometimes the form is the Republic owners, sometimes it’s the Bank of America.” (Note: Late last month, In These Times excerpted Bobo's new book.)Melville House is calling Lydersen's blogging a "Live Book" project, because her posts will support an actual book offering a post-mortem on the Goose Island saga, to be released early next year. You wouldn't know it from most news reports this past week, but the Goose Island saga, like Lydersen's book, is just beginning.

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Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America’s War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/​Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012.

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