Workers in Chicago, Workers in Argentina

This weekend’s news about the Chicago factory workers sitting in at the factory they were fired from has me thinking about similar actions that have been taking place for the past several years in Argentina.
clipped from www.fightbacknews.org

Chicago:
Workers occupy plant

Chicago, IL – The cafeteria at Republic Windows Factory on the North West side of Chicago was filled with workers tonight, Dec. 5. In a militant action, they have taken over and occupied the block-long building still filled with expensive merchandise and equipment. The 200 workers have been told that their plant is closing but have not been paid by the guidelines set forth in the WARN Act. It is estimated that the workers are owed $1million. The courageous workers insist that they get paid before the assets are removed from the expansive plant. They are especially outraged that the very Bank of America that claims it can not pay the Republic workers is the bank that received $25 billion in the last U.S. bail out!

After the 2001 economic collapse in Argentina, many workers staged takeovers of factories that had shut down, and with no bosses but themselves, restarted production so that they could again be able to earn a living for themselves and their families.  The excellent 2004 documentary “The Take” tells the story of one of these factories in Buenos Aires.

There are now hundreds of worker-owned factories in Argentina.  The website The Working World tells more about them.  The site even has an online market where many of the goods made in factories can be purchased–anything from shoes to glassware to party balloons.

I would love to see a similar outcome in Chicago: the workers being able to keep the factory going by organizing a cooperatively owned workplace. That way they would not be at the mercy of executive decisions of wealthy banks that are more concerned with huge profits than with providing meaningful employment for working families.  It would still be a difficult undertaking, but workers in Argentina have shown that it can be done.

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