From Jobs With Justice:
When a large Chicago industrial company abruptly closed its doors and prepared to move out while leaving its 650 workers without their back pay, severance, or insurance benefits, the workers fought back by occupying the plant. For six days and nights in December, these modern-day sit-down strikers refused to leave until the company, Republic Windows and Doors, and its Bank of America financiers, agreed to pay the workers what was due them.
The sit-downers are now on a “Resistance and Victory” tour, bringing their story to workers across the U.S. On Monday, February 9, two of the workers, Armando Robles and Raul Flores, will address a public forum in Detroit, where they’ll be joined by Geraldine Blankenship and Olen Hamm, two surviving Flint UAW-GM sit-downers, now in their nineties, who occupied GM plants for more than six weeks in 1937 before winning the first UAW contract with General Motors.
Their visit is sponsored by the Southeast Michigan chapter of Jobs with Justice, a local coalition of 35 labor, faith-based, and community groups; the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO; District 2 of the United Steelworkers, and other community groups.
The rally will start at 6 p.m. at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58 hall, 1358 Abbott, in Detroit. Admission is free. The Industrial Workers of the World’s Wobbly Kitchen will serve dinner, and the Detroit Federation of Musicians will provide entertainment for the rally, including performances by Motown artist and Detroit Councilperson Martha Reeves, jazz artist Bill Meyer, and others.
The Republic workers, who are members of United Electrical Workers Local 1110, will also share their experiences earlier in the day at a meeting with metro Detroit workers who face long-term layoffs and plant closings. That event will start at 1 p.m. at USW District 2, 13233 Hancock, in Taylor and all concerned workers are invited to attend.
One goal of the workers’ tour is to emphasize the important role of unions in protecting the rights of workers. Jobs with Justice, which actively supported the Chicago sit-down strike, is now campaigning to win passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) in Congress. Under EFCA, once a majority of workers signs union-representation cards, their employer would be required to recognize and bargain a contract with the workers. EFCA would replace the current system which allows employers to use frivolous delaying contacts to block union elections for up to five years or more.
“In these harsh economic times, it’s important that workers who fought so hard for their rights, both in 1937 and in 2008, are coming together at this victory rally to inspire the many Michigan workers who today face plant closings or long-term layoffs,” said William Bryce, organizer for Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice.
MEET THE HEROES OF THE REPUBLIC STRUGGLE & MEET THE HEROES OF THE 1937 FLINT SIT-DOWN
EAT GOOD FOOD HEAR GREAT MUSIC
HEAR HOW TO SUPPORT “THE EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT”
WHEN: Monday Feb. 9 at 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbot (free secure lighted parking)Further Information: William Bryce, Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice 313.961.0800