Republic Windows Strike: Proletarian struggle completely derailed

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Pierre
Republic Windows Strike: Proletarian struggle completely derailed
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Chicago Factory Occupiers Form Worker Cooperative

If anyone has been losely following this struggle as I have, this news might come as quite a shocker. I hadn't seen much on the Republic windows struggle since the last strike.

Well, apparently after the last strike the managment of the window and door making factory decided the factory was no longer a profitable business. So what do they do? Offer to sell the company to the workers--- for $2 million. Otherwise they will all be out of work.

Wow, just wow. Maybe I'm this shocked because I've been reading into "workers co-ops" lately. Or maybe it's because the owners of the factory slyly transformed a strike action into a potential business deal. One which also turns all those striking workers into mini-capitalists. Heartbreaking.

Is this precedented? Managment "losing" a struggle, and writing off their loses by selling the failing business back to workers? Whoa, just whoa.

Fred
Thanks for posting this p_p.

Thanks for posting this p_p. The bourgeoisie are a devious lot, but then this is their society and when it comes to business deals, and shady business deals - aren't business deals all shady? - they're smart. The article you reference says: " Armando Robles, president of the United Electrical Workers Local 1110, said that the school of struggle the workers went through with both factory occupations helped them win the confidence to take over their factory." I don't doubt that the workers did learn things from their school of struggle, and these lessons could be useful in the future, but for the moment they've fallen flat on their faces and into a trap. But they may be on the verge now of learning a really hard and bitter lesson they won't forget! If the bourgeoisie couldn't squeeze profit from the factory and it's workers, why should the workers be any more successful - unless they work for nothing? A-haa! Self-squeezing as a new form of profit making! Governor what's-his-name in Ohio will be watching carefully.

But as you say p_p the workers had already bought the factory several times over, years ago, through their stolen surplus value. What a pity that wasn't on the curriculum at their school of struggle. Maybe next time.

Pierre
This would make an excellent

This would make an excellent article. Especially for highlighing the entrapments of "workers co-operatives" and "worker-ownership."

Pierre
If I was a worker in the

If I was a worker in the plant I would have suggested continuing the workplace occupations and trying to spread word about the strike. That would have at least been an attempt at organizing "a massive assualt on the capitalist state..."

After all, the last strike there didn't even go on for a day. How many workers can get news of burgeoining strikes in a 24-hour window? Not very many, I'm afraid. I think there was most likely an atmosphere of "short-sighted economism" (dunno how else to put it) and I wonder where this influence came from.

jk1921
We all have mouths to feed

We all have mouths to feed (if not families). If that what keeps us from deepening and extending the struggle, we are in trouble. Marxism suggests that at some point the proletariat will struggle because it has mouths to feed. Perhaps we are not quite there yet?

LoneLondoner
Cooperatives offer no way out...

The idea that workers can take over their workplace in order to keep their jobs is by no means a new one, and crops up regularly when workers find themselves in the kind of situation they do in Chicago. In fact the perspectives for this kind of exercise really depend on the overall dynamic of the social situation as a whole. For example, during the period leading up to the October revolution in Russia workers would sometimes take over and run their factories because the bosses were deliberately shutting down their factories and sabotaging production in order to weaken and discredit the revolutionary process. This led on to greater things...

In the 1970s one of the great reference-points for "self-management" was the experience at the LIP watch factory in France, which actually mobilised massive support for what was quite a small workforce.  But there were many others, including Triumph motorbikes and Clyde shipbuilders in Britain. We wrote about some of these in correspondence with a contact in Russia.

Self-management can occasionally offer a temporary way out for workers to keep their jobs (I know a comrade who was one of those who took over a print-shop for precisely this reason). But of course it doesn't make it possible to stand outside the commercial demands of capitalism (the print-shop went the way of most of these things, and went out of business, essentially as a result of changing technology).

This and other experiences point to two interesting aspects of the present situation:

  1. Workers' attachment to their factory - which takes me back to the comment I made about the Mahalla documentary.
  2. The fact that the current situation make struggles extremely difficult. How do you struggle in a single workplace when the bosses' answer is simply: well, it's not profitable, we're bankrupt (or we're closing down and moving production to cheaper countries)? In fact, the stakes are higher, the only way to respond is by making the struggle too big for the bosses to ignore - which in turn makes enormous demands on the development of workers' consciousness.