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Making a New New Deal: Sitdown Strike in Chicago

Much has been made about the prospect that Barack Obama's presidency might, due to economic necessity and the president-elect's interventionist inclinations, be a reprise of the New Deal era.

But there will be no "new New Deal" if Americans simply look to Obama to lead them out of the domestic quagmire into which Bill Clinton and George Bush led the country with a toxic blend of free-trade absolutism, banking deregulation and disdain for industrial policy. Just as Roosevelt needed mass movements and militancy as an excuse to talk Washington stalwarts into accepting radical shifts in the economic order, so Obama will need to be able to point to some turbulence at the grassroots.

And so he may have it.

After the Bank of America -- a $25-billion recipient of Bailout Czar Hank Paulson's "Wall Street First" largesse -- cut off operating credit to the Republic Windows and Doors company, executives of the firm announced Friday that they were shutting its factory in Chicago.

Instead of going home to a dismal Holiday season like hundreds of thousands of other working Americans who have fallen victim to the corporate "reduction-in-force" frenzy of recent weeks -- which has seen suddenly-secure banks pocket federal dollars rather than loosen up credit -- the Republic workers occupied the factory where many of them had worked for decades.

Members of United Electrical Workers Local 1110, which represents 260 Republic workers, are conducting the contemporary equivalent of the 1930s sit-down strikes that led to the rapid expansion of union recognition nationwide and empowered the Roosevelt administration to enact more equitable labor laws. And, just as in the thirties, they are objecting to policies that put banks ahead of workers; stickers worn by the UE sit-down strikers read: "You got bailed out, we got sold out."


Full Story: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/12/07-5

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