Solidarity around the world
The workers who occupied their factory at Republic Windows & Doors in Chicago have won support from around the country and the world.
"We never expected this," Melvin Maclin, the vice president of the local union that represents the workers, said of the outpouring of support. "We expected to go to jail." Instead, the Republic occupation has become a focal point for labor activists around the world as they face the challenges of defending workers' rights and living standards in the face of a recession.
The statements of support have rolled in from everywhere. Here, we publish a few of the solidarity statements sent to the Republic workers through SocialistWorker.org.
Swiss trade unionists
We have learned about your exemplary factory occupation.
In all the countries of Europe, we face the same policies of the big banks. They are saved by the governments, therefore by the taxes of workers. But they refuse all credit to small- and medium-sized companies, and then they reap enormous profits from usurious mortgages paid by employees.
To occupy a factory is to assert the workers' will to hold on to the tools of labor. To occupy a factory is to prove that workers can manage, even if only by maintaining and overseeing the machinery of production. To occupy a factory is to prove that the future of labor must prevail over the profit motive of big business.
We have publicized your actions to the brothers and sisters of various Swiss trade unions. They welcome the news unanimously. Your victory will be a victory for all workers of the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
Rolf Krauer, UNIA, Aarau, Switzerland; Alex Martins, UNIA, Yverdon, Switzerland; Werner Schmid, UNIA, Lausanne, Switzerland; Urs Zuppinger, SSP, Lausanne, Switzerland; Marie-Christine Berna, SSP, Lausanne, Switzerland; Lothar Moser, UNIA, Zurich, Switzerland
Marea Socialista of Venezuela
Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide), a political current of militant workers in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, made up of national and regional leaders of the National Union of Workers (UNT, by its initial in Spanish) as well as important unions and union federations, declare their sympathy and solidarity with the occupation of the Republic Windows & Doors in Chicago, USA.
We respect the brave resistance action that the workers have taken at this business, demanding severance pay in the face of layoffs and the bosses' attacks that are going on in that country, where the wealthy businessmen, enriched by the sweat of their workers, are attempting to pass the crisis of their system of exploitation off onto the backs of the American working class, including a very large number of Latino workers.
We applaud this action as a symbol of resistance and as an example of the path of struggle that workers should follow all over the world. We believe that the only solution to the crisis is for the workers and the people to take control of production. We also believe that there can be no humanitarian and rational solution to the crisis if the workers, besides controlling the economy which is being drown by the capitalists, don't take control of the governments in order to put the state at the service of the great majority.
In Venezuela, several businesses are currently occupied, or have been recently occupied, by their workers because their bosses have refused to pay their wages or have illegally closed workplaces. Some, but not all, have been expropriated, and there are transnational corporations that have been nationalized (such as SIDOR, CANTV, Electricadad de Caracas, among others), and converted into state businesses in order to protect the inviolability of labor, legal rights and salaries.
This has opened the door to a discussion and the real possibility of workers participating in the management of these businesses. Factories like Invepal and Inveval were abandoned by their private owners and have been taken over by their workers who today run them under their own control. Currently, there are occupations in the Sanitarios Maracay and Vivex factories and the Lafarge cement plant, among others. Sometimes the occupations have been temporary, as a means to force the bosses to comply with their obligations, but when capitalism has problems, it is accustomed to resolving them by kicking the workers and throwing them into the street without paying off its debts.
For a capitalist government, it is easier to provide aid to the millionaires from the usurious banks and businesses that have been broken by the capitalist system itself than to save the workers from unemployment and misery. It is necessary to establish workers' control over production in public and private businesses in order to open the path to implementing forms of social property. This is what we, as workers, understand as part of a revolution and a struggle for socialism.
From here in Venezuela, we salute the workers of Republic Windows & Doors with admiration, and from this moment forward, we declare ourselves part of an international solidarity campaign that we hope to transform into a campaign of mutual solidarity between workers who are facing the experience of factory occupations, North and South, while we see a tremendous crisis of capitalism exploding all over the world.
The unity of the workers and exploited people of the world is the way to powerfully confront and offer a solution to those would bring barbarism upon humanity rather than lose their unjust privileges. In this struggle, American workers are called upon to play a central role.
We hope that this Chicago workers' action--in a city with a great historical significance in the history of the international working class--could be a prelude to a great awakening, a sign of the new epoch, the tip of the iceberg of that will once again demonstrate the great power of the united American working class with Latino workers at its heart.
On behalf of the editorial board of Marea Socialista,
Stalin Pérez and Gonzalo Gómez
Northern California Socialist Conference
The Northern California Socialist Conference sends you solidarity greetings.
When word of your creative and inspiring sit-down strike reached our conference, it spread like wildfire among our workshops. Whenever someone mentioned your struggle, the audience erupted into applause.
In a time when so many working people have lost jobs, income and power, your actions demonstrate that we can effectively resist when employers steal our wages and benefits, and when they close our factories.
Your actions and your determination are an inspiration to working people across this country and around the world.
We "passed the hat" at our Sunday workshop and collected $433.00 for your strike.