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Not Budging

This story caught my attention last Thursday regarding Republic Windows & Doors in Chicago.

The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Local 1110 was notified Tuesday that the company was closing and that all of its 239 employees would be out of work.

“We were told that Bank of America cut off their financing,” said Leah Fried, an organizer for the union.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment./em>

According to an email from ANSWER, “Republic Windows and Doors is planning to move its plant to Iowa because of cheaper labor costs, and to get out of union obligations with the United Electrical Workers Union. Workers across the country are paying a heavy price for the bank’s and corporations’ theft. It’s time for the bankers and companies to pay, NOT THE WORKERS!”

And then I read this in the story from the NY Times:

Still, as they milled around the factory’s entrance this weekend, some workers said they doubted that the company was really in financial straits, and they suggested that it would reopen elsewhere with cheaper costs and lower pay. Others said managers had kept their struggles secret, at one point before Thanksgiving removing heavy equipment in the middle of the night but claiming, when asked about it, that all was well….

Many employees said they had worked in the factory for decades. Lalo Muñoz, who was among those sleeping over in the building, said he arrived 34 years ago. The workers — about 80 percent of them Hispanic, with the rest black or of other ethnic and national backgrounds — made $14 an hour on average and received health care and retirement benefits, Ms. Fried said.

So the company is lying to its workers. ‘Everything is just fine; don’t worry.’ Then suddenly the employees are out of jobs. They’re owed back wages and benefits; they want their wages and severance pay, and most likely Cobra to continue with medical benefits. Continue reading


Manufacture This – What can Idaho Offer?

In the usual round-about ways I went looking for some information. I had seen an ad or some such thing for a show John Ratzenberger is doing. It’s a 30-minute show on the Travel Channel, ‘Made in America.’

If you want to know America, you’ve got to meet the folks who work in factories and workshops. People who make real things and take pride in what they do. And then, you have to go in there with them to see how it’s done. So, that’s what I did. I poked around every corner of this country — big cities, small towns, and whatever was in between — looking for the soul of America. And you know what? I found it everywhere. So sit back and relax, because we’ve got it made… in America.”

I caught something about it and in searching The Google, I found this. Ratzenberger was teaming up with the Alliance for American Manufacturing for a series of town hall meetings across the country. In looking over the website at Manufacture This, the blog listing the town hall sites only had sites in the East and Midwest with one in one of the Carolinas. The town or city furthest west was Chicago. I left a question on the blog about one of these town halls coming out west, as in west of the Mississippi River.

From their intro page:

Who are we? We’re the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a unique labor-management partnership that is committed strengthening American manufacturing by promoting creative policy solutions on key issues.

Scott Paul – AAM Executive Director

“I’m a patriotic liberal who thinks good jobs are worth fighting for.”

Horace Cooper – AAM Deputy Director

“Some might say conservative or even right-wing. I refer to it as just telling ‘the truth.’”

[Edit – Sat/11:25am]:  Probably should’ve mentioned that Steven Cappozola from Manufacture This left a message here as well:

“Hey, I hope I’ve found the right place to contact you. Thanks for your comment on ManufactureThis.org. As it happens, we’re looking to organize more town hall meetings, and to hold them west of the Mississippi. We’re still organizing the campaign, and there’s a lot of work involved. But we’re trying to expand westward, and your comments are certainly encouraging.”

I’m interested in finding out what’s going on in Idaho that could serve as the focal point for one of these town hall meetings. However, I need help. I have no expertise as of yet, not to mention I work in an ‘industry’ that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to “manufacturing” designation – medicine.

One of the first places that came to my mind was Buck’s Bags and it’s right there in their company statement.

Since 1979, Buck’s Bags of Boise, Idaho has been earning its reputation as the industry leader in service, quality, design and innovation. Our “Made In America” products include an extensive selection of bags and accessories for fishing (including pontoon boats and float tubes), hunting and archery, rodeo and tack, athletics, music, golf, security and a general luggage collection.

Suggestions? Hints?


UAW & GM still talking . . . . an over-the-top RANT

uffice it to say, I have a soft spot for Chevy and GMC trucks.1953-chevy-truck-dad.jpg However, as much as I may like them, I think the producers of these big boyz are doing nothing more than contributing to the coffers of the Saudis, and in doing that, undermining and intent on destroying this country. And for that matter, I’m particularly NOT a fan of Ford, Chrysler/Dodge.

I wanted to see what’s going on in the local scene where these ‘talks’ are taking place. I went to the Detroit Free Press news site and read some of the comments. First off, I was appalled at the level of illiteracy abounding there. Simple things, simple words, simple phrases – “hard ache” rather than “heartache” , allot vs ‘a lot’, companys vs ‘companies’ (and, no – it was not used to denote possession.) That’s not endemic to Detroit; it’s endemic of the general populace in the United States and the general dumbness I see. But, of course, that’s just a pet peeve.

I did find some good comments regarding unions, union members, corporations and corporate structure, and appalled at the stupidity regarding political ideologies: specifically socialism, communism, democracy/republicanism in the usual encounters with the inevitable troll and/or shill.

On to the story, from the Detroit Free Press:

After resuming contract talks mid-morning, General Motors Corp. and the UAW continued to make progress – so much, in fact, that several subcommittees had settled some of their issues, a person familiar with the talks said today. However, a substantial amount of work remains between GM and the UAW, that person said, and a final agreement is not expected by the end of the day.

What I was trying to see, trying to get some kind of grip on, was what exactly is driving this. The contract ‘expired’ Friday, going into an ‘hour-by-hour’ contract. However the talks have been ‘ongoing’ since July if I recall correctly. There has to be a focus, and there is. It’s health benefits. It’s those benefits promised to retirees and, something called VEBA, which according to this source

The early stages of the labor talks had focused on a complex plan to allow GM to cut billions of dollars in expenses for retiree health care by paying into a new UAW-aligned trust fund, according to people close to the talks.

The outcome of the contract talks is seen as crucial to efforts by the three Detroit-based automakers – GM, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC – to recover from combined losses of $15 billion last year and sales difficulties that have driven their slice of the U.S. market below 50 percent.

The Wall Street Journal weighs in, predictably, but to me really is more stark than that above from the Windsor Star (Canada). Continue reading

Labor Day 2007 – Which side are you on?

(hat/tip to Celeste Monforton, The Pump Handle, for the heads up on this incredible song)



Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell

My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son
And I’ll stick with the union
Till every battle’s won

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You’ll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair

Oh, workers can you stand it?
Oh, tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don’t scab for the bosses
Don’t listen to their lies
Us poor folks haven’t got a chance
Unless we organize

Florence Reece*

In 1931, coal miners in Harlan County were on strike. Armed company deputies roamed the countryside, terrorizing the mining communities, looking for union leaders to beat, jail, or kill. But coal miners, brought up lean and hard in the Kentucky mountain country, knew how to fight back, and heads were bashed and bullets fired on both sides in Bloody Harlan. It was this kind of class war — the mine owners and their hired deputies on one side, and the independent, free-wheeling Kentucky coal-miners on the other — that provided the climate for Florence Reece’s “Which Side Are You On?” In it she captured the spirit of her times with blunt eloquence.”