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Monday, December 8, 2008

Sign 'O The Times

The above picture comes from Sunday's New York Times. Republic Window and Doors on the North Side of Chicago closed its doors on Friday. Except the workers haven't left. Some of them occupied the factory all weekend. Good for them.
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.
And where are the jobs going? Of course, overseas. Republic owed money to Bank of America, late of the Paulson bailout, which stopped Republic from giving its employees the back pay they were owed.
“Here the banks like Bank of America get a bailout, but workers cannot be paid?” said Leah Fried, an organizer with the union workers. “The taxpayers would like to see that bailout go toward saving jobs, not saving C.E.O.’s.”
We sure would, but I'm not going to start holding my breath. We know with whom the politicians go to dinner, and it isn't us. We need to celebrate the collective action of workers again. We need unions in this country, again. Someone has to speak for the needs of labor when the spoils are divied in Washington.

- Why did I pull the Republic story from the Times, and not the Tribune? Great question. Energizing redesign notwithstanding, the Trib sucks. I subscribe to it because I always have.

Today, the Tribune announced it was filing for bankruptcy. I still can't get over it. Sure, the paper will still run, and 'GN will remain on the airwaves, but the TRIBUNE CO. filed for BANKRUPTCY!!? The largest media company in Chicago, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, is BANKRUPT? Wow. I never thought there would be a time when the Trib didn't exist. But it is coming. The end of the newspaper era is upon us. The place where nearly every writer got started, the urban daily, will soon cease to exist. As both a writer and newspaper lover, I can't help but get a little misty.

And scared. What will replace newspapers? Who will speak truth to power?

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