The Chicago Factory Sit-In: A Real Protest:
A real, genuine protest never occurs when someone gets a license from the city to do so. No, that's, at best, a march, but mostly just a jerk-off fest (and the Rude Pundit says this as someone who regularly joins in the circle jerk). A real protest should fuck up somebody's day and force the government to choose sides. A real protest should be led by people for whom the issue being protested is a life-changing situation. And a real protest should quickly and easily crystallize something that deeply matters to a large number of people. In the last couple of decades, legitimately in-yer-fuckin'-face protest has been hard to come by: Cindy Sheehan's trip to Crawford comes to mind. On the other side of the political spectrum, you can put the Operation Rescue blockades (which, as he's said before, the Rude Pundit wished nothing but failure for, but it was objectively effective).
Basically, you need a confluence of tinder and match. And now we have it in Chicago, sweet Chicago, home of so many of the greatest and worst moments of the workers' movement in this nation's history. Last Friday, when the 250 factory workers at Republic Windows and Doors were told to fuck off by the owners when the company suddenly closed, the vinyl siding and sliding glass door assemblers said, "No, fuck you," and decided to occupy the building. And there they have stayed, in a righteous sit-in, and there they say they will stay.
Says the New York Times, "The workers, members of Local 1110 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, said they were owed vacation and severance pay and were not given the 60 days of notice generally required by federal law when companies make layoffs." Seems that "the company notified employees Tuesday that they would shut down Friday, and that no severance pay or benefits would be paid out." Merry fuckin' Christmas, motherfuckers.
Imagine that. The mostly Hispanic workers telling the rest of the country, "You mean some fuckin' douchebag in a suit can squat his waxed ass in a comfy leather chair in a hearing room in DC and get a few hundred billion dollars for his other douchebags in suits, no strings attached, and no one's gonna give a fuck if our bosses don't even follow the fuckin' law?" Auto workers, you need any more inspiration?
Not only do they have the support of the community, with people, even strangers, bringing them food and water and more, not only do they have a member of Congress, Luis Gutierrez (guess which party), negotiating with company officials for them, but the workers now have the support of the President-elect. At press conference #572 on Sunday, Barack Obama said, "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."
This is a shot across the bow to Congress, a way of saying, "Hello, you sons and daughters of bitches, this is the way corporate America has been treating your constituents for years. While you're giving AIG enough to fund a small nation, how about tilting our way for a little while?" And if they don't listen, let's hope the next protests and the ones after that are bigger and more widespread. Shit needs to be shut down in order to wipe away all the bullshit lies of the free market (that's not really free).