Saturday, February 25, 2012

When It Comes To Labor Disputes, There Are No Happy Endings In America Anymore

It's been a constant wonder of mine as I've covered these relentless plant closings/layoffs stories here on TDS--why don't more working people get angry and at least protest when their livelihoods are being destroyed? Perhaps its because they know that at the end of the day the effort will be futile. That point was driven home this past week, as reported by the Chicago Tribune:
A group of about 65 workers who occupied a Goose Island window factory in 2008 have once again locked themselves inside the plant in a desperate move to save their jobs.

California-based Serious Energy said Thursday it is closing the plant's doors and consolidating operations in Colorado and Pennsylvania.

"Ongoing economic challenges in construction and building products, collapse in demand for window products, difficulty in obtaining favorable lease terms, high leasing and utility costs and taxes, and a range of other factors unrelated to labor costs, have compelled Serious to cease production at the Chicago facility," the company said in a statement.
What makes this story particularly depressing is that this is not the first time these workers have been down this particular road:
The layoffs come more than three years after a group of about 200 workers from Republic Windows & Doors organized a six-day sit-in demanding vacation and severance pay after being laid off in December 2008.

The battle drew national media attention. After three days, a settlement was reached. Each union worker received a check for about $6,000 just days after Republic Windows filed for protection under Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Serious Energy bought the 268,000 square foot plant in 2009 with the promise of hiring back the former Republic workers. Leah Fried, a spokeswoman for UE Local 1110, said that the new company never hired back more than 75 of the workers.
The lesson here is quite simple, in an age when labor is cheap and disposable, workers have zero leverage and no hope of saving themselves when bosses decide their jobs are no longer profitable enough. Take heed, because we are rapidly reaching the point where this could happen to any one among us who works for someone else.

Bonus: "We're the first ones to starve, we're the first ones to die...the first ones in line for that pie in the sky"


  1. Right on with the music!

  2. I put Dropkick Murphys on Pandora and they added this:
    Street Dogs - Fading American Dream ----- do you need a theme song?

  3. A great song, but ruined by the Murphys. Here's the definitive version, sung by Scotland's Dick Gaughan: