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“I think they’re absolutely right... what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.”
--President Barack Obama on the workers at Republic Windows & Doors
December 5, 2008: It wasn’t supposed to work like this. Days after getting a $45 billion bailout from the U.S. government, Bank of America shut down a line of credit that kept Chicago’s Republic Windows & Doors factory operating. The bosses, who knew what was coming, had been sneaking machinery out in the middle of the night. They closed the factory and sent the workers home. Then something surprising happened: Republic’s workers occupied the factory and refused to leave.
Kari Lydersen, an award-winning Washington Post reporter, tells the story of the factory takeover, elegantly transforming the workers’ story into a parable of labor activism for the 21st century, one that concludes with a surprising and little-reported victory.
“There is much talk about ‘audacity’ these days, but true chutzpah is when the workers take over the factory and take on the bank. Kari Lydersen’s invaluable account of the Republic sit-down strike is an instruction manual for worker dignity.”
–Mike Davis, author of Buda’s Wagon and City of Quartz