It has been one of the most closely watched U.S. labor struggles in recent memory. Ten months ago, 200 workers at Chicago's Republic Windows and Doors occupied their factory for nine days after factory owners gave workers just three days' notice of the plant's closure after Bank of America cut off the company's line of credit. The protest, organized by the United Electrical Workers union, was one of the first U.S. factory sit-ins since the 1930s. In the months since the occupation, there have been some surprising turns: the factory was bought by another company, and some of the workers involved in the takeover have returned to their jobs. But will more come of the story? Are the tactics used at Republic to be used again?
Washington Post reporter Kari Lydersen, former Chicago Tribune Labor reporter Stephen Franklin and lawyer, author, and former Democratic congressional candidate Tom Geoghegan discuss the historic takeover of Chicago's Republic Windows & Doors factory and its implications for the future of organized labor. The discussion also considers other actions that were inspired by Republic and ongoing efforts to re-open the factory.
Kari Lydersen is the author of a non-fiction account of the takeover, Revolt on Goose Island, which NewCity called a "clear and emotionally compelling account."
This event was co-sponsored by The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, The Public Square, and AREA Chicago.
Recorded Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at Chicago Cultural Center.