Thursday, December 11, 2008

Workers Vote to End Plant Occupation

The UE workers voted unanimously last night to accept a negotiated settlement to end the occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors plant.

The settlement includes:
  • Two months of pay the workers are owed (for not receiving the mandated-by-law two months notice of the plant closing)
  • Two months of continued health coverage
  • Pay for accrued, unused vacation time
The money comes on loan from Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. According to the union's website, the money is a loan to Republic Windows and Doors, but it will go into a third-party fund whose sole purpose is to pay the workers the money they are owed. 

It sounds to me like the settlement simply makes the company follow the laws that already exist. Even that has become a novel, radical idea after the past eight years.

According to the AP, workers walked out of the plant chanting, "YES WE CAN," a slogan of the Obama campaign.

Elections have consequences. They're not just about who gets into office. They're about the ideas they generate, the networks they organize, and the activism they inspire. Barack Obama's campaign went to great lengths to empower grassroots activists to take "ownership" of the campaign. He reintroduced a language of empowerment to people. He introduced a new idealism. He helped usher it in, and he rode it into office, but he doesn't own it. It's bigger than him.

I think we are seeing just the beginning of a renewal of our democracy, a new era of protest and activism that will echo the '30s and '60s.

3 comments:

Camp Papa said...

Compare this with Reagan dumping the air traffic controllers in '81. What the president (or, in this case president-elect) talks about is SO important is raising the national sense of what's possible.

X said...

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Say you want a revolution
We better get on right away
Well you get on your feet
And out on the street

Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

A million workers working for nothing
You better give em what they really own
We got to put you down
When we come into town

Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

I gotta ask you comrades and brothers
How do you treat you own woman back home
She got to be herself
So she can free herself

Singing power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on
Now, now, now, now

Oh well, power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Yeah, power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people
Power to the people, right on

Mark said...

An Update:

I didn't go into depth last time but here are a few details of the SAG situation.

SAG members will send out voting ballots to active members who have paid their dues. They need 75% of those members to vote yes to authorize the union to go on strike. The negotiators insist that the threat of a strike is the only way to get the producers to budge on their deal. Here's the dilemma:

Most of us conclude that SAG cannot get a 75% vote. We all know it is difficult to get even a 55% majority in any large vote, let alone convincing people to stop working in these times for a few cents on the dollar. This lack of confidence in the SAG strike does not give the producers too much motivation to change their deal. This is because if SAG fails to get the votes they will almost certainly be forced to accept the deal on the table.

Another interesting side note is that most of SAG's upper management is split down the middle. Some very powerful people within the organization are furious with how the negotiations have gone so far. They point to the fact that since the last June 31st deadline for a deal. SAG has lost millions of dollars in TV contracts because producers in television, in threat of a SAG strike, have given their actors AFTRA contracts instead. That amount of money is not likely to be made up in new media deals over the next 2.5 years, which is the major stumbling block in this debate, and for how long the next contract will run. Pretty ridiculous.

The switch from SAG to AFTRA on most major shows only added fuel to the fire between the two unions. Earlier this year, AFTRA came to a deal rather quickly with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers and that suggested a quick SAG deal. SAG was furious with AFTRA because they felt their collective position would have been much stronger had they been unified, and since they historically had worked together cordially in these matters. It did prove to be a shrewd move for AFTRA, however, as they collected a fair amount of business from SAG.

Both sides in this case have their point. AMPTP's postion is that a strike would only bail out SAG's failed negotiating strategy. They point to the fact that their June 31st offer is extremely similar to they deals the came to with the DGA, WGA, IATSE, Casting directors and AFTRA (which represents every other significant person on a film set). They argue that actors shouldn't be treated better than other players. SAG believes the only way they can get a fair deal is with the threat of a work stoppage. In many ways, actors need to be protected more than others because they work FAR less often. The process of getting hired is more difficult as well. Out of 120,000 SAG members, most make less than $5,000 a year from acting.

Obviously, for the rest of us a SAG strike would be even more crippling than the current economic times. Currently in Louisiana, where I work, twenty-four films are on hold awaiting the outcome of this fucking thing. Twenty-four. That is literally hundreds of millions of dollars not coming into this state (and my pocket). But I have to say, if SAG did strike I would not be in the least bit mad, I would understand. We should not forget that SAG supported most of those other unions in their negotiations. Now it seems they are being left out to dry a bit. The general mood on sets, from what I notice, are not favorable to SAG right now.

If you want to keep up to date, variety.com is where I go for surplus info.

This is what I think will happen:

Considering thirty seconds ago I read this:

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117997298.html?categoryid=13&cs=1

It looks like SAG will not strike. SAG New York division has separated and has opposed the SAG strike. I find it very unlikely that they will get the 75% needed. But I'm sure most productions will be held in any case until Jan. 23rd, when SAG announces the results of the votes.