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Obama Throws Support to Chicago Sit-In

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Posted on Dec 8, 2008
AP photo / Brian Kersey

Workers laid off from their jobs at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago have occupied the building since Friday to demand severance and vacation pay they say they are owed.

President-elect Barack Obama has added his voice to the chorus of encouragement for a group of Chicago workers who are sitting-in at their former factory. Obama said the workers, who have protested their way into the national spotlight, were “absolutely right” and “what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.”


AP via Google:

Obama told a news conference Sunday that Republic Windows and Doors should follow through on its commitments to the 200 workers, who say they won’t leave the plant until they are assured they’ll receive their severance and vacation pay.

“The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned, I think they’re absolutely right and understand that what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy,” Obama said.

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By cyrena, December 10, 2008 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

Maani,

Thanks for the update.

Ed,

I meant to leave this for you earlier, (even though we know it’s way off topic for the discussion about the US economy and people losing their jobs, wages, and severence compensation.

Still, this piece from Steve Weissman provides yet another instance for exposing all of the constant hyperbole from the chronic bashers, whether it be on the economy, the demise of the USA as it once was, or US Foreign Policy in the Middle East or anywhere else, for exactly what it is.

In other words, all the stuff the bashers are finding fault with him for NOT doing, (despite the fact that he’s not in office yet) he’s DOING! Or…at least he’s got plans in the works to TRY to do something.

Obama: Tough Love for Tel Aviv?
Monday 08 December 2008
by: Steve Weissman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

  “It might have been only a straw in the wind, but The New York Times reported last week that, in his first 100 days, Barack Obama is planning to deliver a major foreign policy speech from an Islamic capital, most likely Cairo. As a sometime speechwriter, I pity the poor scribbler who will have to put those words together.

  Forget the vitriol from right-wing evangelicals, who can hardly wait to lambaste Barack Hussein Obama for pandering to Islam and turning away from their apocalyptic crusade against a quarter of the world’s people. Forget, as well, the muttering of conspiracy-mongers, left and right, who will read into the speech far more than Obama will intend. Hopefully, he will not wear a necktie with Islamic green, Israeli blue and white, or Hindu red and yellow.

  The real obstacle is more obvious: What will Obama say about bringing peace to the Middle East? If he fails to say something significant on the issue, his silence will overwhelm whatever else he does say. So, it stands to reason that Obama and his advisers would not have suggested the speech if they did not want to say something about how they hope to end the long-standing conflict.”

Continued at the link.

http://www.truthout.org/120808R

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By Maani, December 9, 2008 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

An update.  Bank of America has apparently agreed to provide money for the factory to remain open.  It is not clear whether this includes back wages for the workers, but it should allow them to go back to work with salaries and benefits.  Let’s see what happens now.

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By cyrena, December 9, 2008 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

tony smith writes:

That’s because if people actually read his comments closely, rather than the extraordinarily positive titles, then you would see that he did not say much at all.

~~~~

Tony, I wasn’t responding to ‘titles’ of articles to determine what Obama said regarding the civil action in Chicago, since I heard him myself, and feel relatively qualified to connect the dots to everything that matters, INCLUDING the positions that Barack Obama has maintained and verbalized for the past 3 years….AT LEAST. If you actually expected him to weigh-in on some fault by the Bank of America, you’re as naive as the pundits you reference who have to keep their own jobs.

What Obama said about the sit-in isn’t something that I know only from this particular piece. You lecture about what Obama really said, and that’s what I listen to, NOT what he DIDN’T say.

His statement here was an opinion of the action currently being taken by these workers, and the MOST IMPORTANT part of his statement, (in my view) was that this is endemic of what is happening throughout the economy, and affecting all of main street.  That’s the kind of recognition I need from a President-elect, and that’s why I believe most Americans voted for him.

Meantime, ‘group think’ determined by pundits is dangerous. Didn’t you know that?

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By tony smith, December 9, 2008 at 7:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cyrena - no, this does not silence all of Obama’s progressive critics.  That’s because if people actually read his comments closely, rather than the extraordinarily positive titles, then you would see that he did not say much at all.  He only said that the workers are right to demand money “if” they have actually earned it.  He did not publicly endorse the sit-in, and he did not say that Bank of America should pay their wages—which is exactly what other politicians and the workers themselves are saying.  The fact that he did not go after Bank of America, despite all the other people attacking the bank, is telling.  I think he is right not to attack BoA. But other progressives actually believe he should have and/or that he did.

http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2008/12/what-did-obama-say-about-chicago-sit-in.html

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By Libarchist, December 9, 2008 at 2:55 am Link to this comment

Ed Harges

No, FT. You are wrong. When it comes to Israel and the middle east, he won’t even go this far. He dares not even utter a syllable of verbal support for those who dissent from our Israel-first foreign policy. He dares not let out a peep that isn’t one hundred percent party line AIPAC boilerplate.

___________________________

Obama does not have to discuss his true Middle East intentions; because,  he has a whole army of anti-semitic goons in the CIA; that will fight against Israeli rights, by provoking the Palestinians to violence,  in a covert war.

I don’t think people understand how anti-semitic Obama —and his followers are.

I actually fell sorry for them; the amount of hate,  that those people have for the Jews is frightening.

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By Folktruther, December 8, 2008 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, you’re right, Ed Harges, and I was wrong.  He’s worse on Israel than he is on unions.

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By Maani, December 8, 2008 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther:

“Obama has now equivocated on passing the law which supports workers who want to join the union.  Just as he has equivicated on taxing the rich as he promised.  As he one by one breaks his campaign promises.”

Uh…excuse me?  How can one break campaign promises BEFORE one actually sits in the president’s chair?

Leftyrite:

“It’s not that the Left wants to see Obama fail. It’s much more about a real anxiety concerning the speed of change.”

I don’t disagree with your sentiment, but you clearly have little understanding of the workings of government.  NO president - no matter how powerful, or with even the most unquestionable mandate - can simply institute change at the speed at which you and other left-progressives would like.  Change comes through a process, one which includes 435 representatives and 100 senators.  A president cannot simply “direct” them to do what he wants.  It takes a combination of intelligence, finesse and compromise.

You may not like it, but that is the way our government functions.  To suggest that Obama can somehow “expedite” this process - particularly to the degree you think he can - is unrealistic.

Peace.

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Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, December 8, 2008 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther writes:

“Ed Harges- Your assertion tht in this area Obama is freer to support the interests of the people who voted for him: I disagree.  It is precisely in this area that he is most on the side of the corporations. This verbal support for the 200 strikers is a form of damage control….”

No, FT. You are wrong. When it comes to Israel and the middle east, he won’t even go this far. He dares not even utter a syllable of verbal support for those who dissent from our Israel-first foreign policy. He dares not let out a peep that isn’t one hundred percent party line AIPAC boilerplate.

You may scoff that his verbal support for the Chicago workers is a mere crumb, but those of us who also want to see a real change in Middle East policy don’t get even a crumb.  Please try to imagine him making an equivalently show of support for the Palestinians in Gaza, or for Iran, in the face of Israeli aggressions and threats.

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By Folktruther, December 8, 2008 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Ed Harges- Your assertion tht in this area Obama is freer to support the interests of the people who voted for him: I disagree.  It is precisely in this area that he is most on the side of the corporations. This verbal support for the 200 strikers is a form of damage control, since he is now being attacked by the left for his immediate and massive selling out of his rank and file supporters.

It is safe to verbally support a small strike for money cheated out of them by company.  It is quite another thing, for example, to try to pass a law making it a criminal offense for ALL corporation officers to do so. 

Obamaa has now equivecated on passing the law which supports workers who want to join the union.  Just as he has equivicated on taxing the rich as he promised.  As he one by one breaks his campaign promises.

Since this small worker action has gained nation scrutany by workers all over the country cheated out of their pay, Obama can gain points with them without supporting general effective legislation which is opertively executed.  It is this area, where the class struggle is most acute, that is most sensitive.  So it is here that he must make his greatest pretense and token actions.

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By Lily, December 8, 2008 at 10:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You always hear about how the poor corporations in this industry or that industry are doing, but rarely hear from those of who work in them.  In this atmosphere, where the media spends its precious airtime and newsprint space on the banal, sit-ins are most appropriate to voice our resistance to injustice and insistence on fairness.  I admire our President-elect for standing up for their right to do just that.  It is easy to criticize him, thinking that it will make Obama do this or that, but it is better to get off your duff and contribute to the workers’ union, or stand with them in this very important moment in history.

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By particle61, December 8, 2008 at 10:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

unlike like Rev Jessie Jackson…who (on Saturday) rightly reminded working Americans of actual leaders of the social justice movement who set the precedent for today’s sit-in-strikers…

see redstateupdate.net/bankrunblog

I am reminded of the great labor leader who called Chicago home (and I don’t mean Obama) who said,

“Idealists are foolish enough to throw caution to the winds. They have advanced mankind and have enriched the world.”  Emma Goldman

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By leftyrite, December 8, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

It’s not that the Left wants to see Obama fail. It’s much more about a real anxiety concerning the speed of change. So far, Obama is doing only a tepid job with his teachable moment. Defending these working people on obvious, incontrovertible grounds is not particularly brave. It’s smart.
Now, let’s get down to leadership, to advocacy for the working people of America who have been used and abused horribly. Let’s get an inkling of what the Department of Labor will look like. Will Obama’s choices once again show more deference to corporate power than they do to the working poor and the middle class?
I’m sorry, brilliant Barack, but “time has come today.” Those who truly supported you have a right to know: Which side are you on? Now.

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By Alejandro, December 8, 2008 at 8:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That’s change to be sure. Ronny would have had the workers arrested and banned from ever working again.

As far as Bank of America is concerned, they suck too. They study a companies portfolio before they do business with them, and agree to finance them. For them to say that it is not their business whether a company meets its comittments to their employes is just “B.S”. But typical of non human entities.

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Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, December 8, 2008 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

Cyrena - you say that “this will surely leave the chronic bashers at a temporary loss for words.”

But no, this isn’t so surprising to some of us “bashers”. On matters such as this, Obama feels freer to reflect the views of the actual people who voted for him.

It’s mostly in the realm of foreign policy, especially the Middle East, and especially with regard to any issue near and dear to Israel, that we see him doing things which amount to spitting in the face of the the people who voted for him.

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By Louis Proyect, December 8, 2008 at 7:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Compared to what Paul Volcker has planned for us, Obama’s lip-service for the Chicago workers amounts to a band-aid on 3rd degree burns.

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By cyrena, December 8, 2008 at 7:04 am Link to this comment

Well, this from Obama is clearly not a surprise. Most of us would have expected such a response from him. But my oh my, this will surely leave the chronic bashers at a temporary loss for words. (note I realize this is just temporary…the spinners will find a way).

Anyway, good on Obama, even though it was just the right thing to do, and what we’ve come to expect from him anyway. It’s why we elected him.

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