One everyone's heard about. The factory workers in Chicago. One positive story that's come out of Illinois this week.
The sit-in took the hasty bailout to task, got the workers what they wanted, and the entire process was peaceful.After a five-day sit-in at a Chicago window and door factory, workers declared victory as the Bank of America decided to extend credit to Republic Windows and Doors.
The factory was slated to close when the Bank of America refused to continue credit to Republic Windows and Doors, a manufacturer of energy-efficient doors and windows, which would have not only put 300 people out of work and the benefits (including health care) that went along with it, but denied the workers the compensation and earned vacation and severance to which they were entitled. This is despite Bank of America having received millions of dollars in the financial bailout for the exact purpose of being able to give loans and credits to businesses. Since the bailout was highly unregulated, however, what many banks are choosing to do with their money is to simply sit on it, and are refusing to give small businesses credit at the cost, in this case, of hundreds of working-class jobs. The workers, however, who were part of the United Electrical Workers Union, occupied the factory and refused to leave until their demands were met.
Another success occurred here locally. A few months ago The Walnut Way Conservation Corp. held a vigil to protest a proposed Church's Chicken going into a neighborhood oversaturated with fast food, especially of the fried chicken variety. The group proposed soliciting a vendor offering healthier options to a long-empty space in the central city. The city council, feeling that it was more important to get tax revenue from the property than take the opportunity to combat a root cause of greater social ills (er, I mean "replace an empty building with a viable business, eliminate blight and bring more jobs"), approved the lease for Church's.
Yesterday the franchise group hoping to open the restaurant pulled out of the deal. Although they cited lease-limits as their reasoning, one can imagine that they were concerned about further action -- including an organized boycott -- by Walnut Way.
Especially as this happened in an area plagued by violence and despair, it's lovely to see peaceful community organizing helping that activism and hopefulness push forward.