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Thursday, December 11, 2008


Did the workers win or lose?

Workers at Republic Windows and Doors have "won" a major victory thanks to their militant six-day sit-down strike occupying the plant - full back pay and severance pay, etc. But their plant is still shutting down, and the owner is moving his operations to a non-union plant under a new name in Iowa. In the end, what the workers "won" was preventing the company from breaking the law. A victory to be sure, but a qualified one.

The House (not yet the Senate) has just voted for an auto industry bailout which we're told will "save" the jobs of millions of people. If it goes through, no doubt a victory. But what's the very first "condition" in the bailout?

The measure would create a government "car czar," to be named by Bush to issue the loans, empowered with the ability to yank back the loans and force the carmakers into bankruptcy next spring if they fail to cut quick deals with labor unions, creditors and others to restructure their businesses and become viable.
As often the case, Republicans hide their contempt for workers less well than Democrats:
"What I want to do is make sure we have jobs for these workers and we have first-class American automobile companies -- and we're not going to do it with the barnacles of unionism wrapped around their necks."

- Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Make no mistake about it, though; Democrats like Nancy "The Barber" Pelosi are just as eager to blame workers and their "outrageous salaries" as Republicans.

The workers at Republic Windows and Doors have shown the way, but the results of their struggle, and the fight of the autoworkers, shows that much more militant, and unified, action on the part of workers will be required to achieve unqualified victories in the ongoing class war.

Update: When I discussed Pelosi's "haircut for the workers" below, I'm afraid I missed the obvious symbol (mainly because I've avoided seeing the play or movie), but, just for completeness:

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