Sunday, December 7, 2008

Workers occupy factory in Chicago

The 8-hour workday, child labor laws, the right to collective bargaining and the middle class. Generations of American workers have fought and died for these rights. And for generations, America's ruling elite and the government have been fighting just as hard to protect profits and to keep workers unorganized and fearful of losing their jobs.

Now, after endless years of government shoving their "free market rules all" ideology up our you-know-whats, the discrepancies are becoming clearer and clearer. Bailouts for banks while
homeless tent cities sprout up. Could it be any clearer?

Well, some are fighting back. 250 angry laid-off workers in Chicago peacefully occupied their factory on Saturday after receiving three day's notice that it was closing.

Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743 said: "Across cultures, religions, union and nonunion, we all say this bailout was a shame. If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country."

I love this story. This is America's story. For as much as government and big business try, the American people will always be pushing back.

That push back (strikes, occupying buildings, the fight for a living minimum wage) is a necessity against this radical philosophy that both Democrats and Republicans have been selling us for years. The philosophy: It is a constant search by big business for cheaper labor and increasing profit margins which has had the affect of destroying America's manufacturing base and replacing it with TGI Friday's and WalMart. It has kept the minimum wage at near-poverty levels while executive salaries have exploded. It has placed all more responsibility, blame and risk on the worker while protecting the corporations, whether they make good decisions or bad.

We can no longer trust the mainstream American media to tell our story because they adhere to the same philosophy. CNN (the better of the networks?) was recently ordered by a judge to rehire 110 workers who were fired because they were union members.

The only thing we can do is live and write our own stories and tell them ourselves. That's what these workers in Chicago are doing today. They are my heroes of the week.

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