FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Justice Follows Direct Action

Richard Gillman, the former CEO of Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors factory where over 200 workers organized a victorious sit-in last year, has been sent to jail on eight charges including felony, theft, fraud, and money laundering. After the judge announced the $10 million bail, the shocked and dazed Gillman, dressed in a pin-striped suit, was hauled away to the county jail.

Republic workers captured the attention of the world when they occupied their plant on December 5, 2008 calling for the severance and vacation pay they were due. The sit-in ended six days later when the Bank of America and other lenders to Republic agreed to pay the workers the approximately $2 million owed to them. Recently, the workers won another victory with the arrest of Gillman.

The prosecutors charge that Gillman defrauded creditors of over $10 million, and then went ahead to use company money to complete payments on leases for two luxury cars – while his employees went without pay.
According to court records Gillman also secretly sent three semi-trailers full of equipment from the Republic factory to a non-unionized factory in Iowa without the consent of Republic board members and creditors. Luckily, however, the organized Republic workers followed the trailers, and during the occupation, prevented executives from entering the factory to take company documents that now make up much of the case against Gillman and other Republic officials.

“Gillman and others knew this company was headed for closure,” Anita Alvarez, the Cook County state’s attorney, told reporters. “And instead of fulfilling their legal obligations to their creditors and their moral obligations to their employees, they devised a scheme to benefit themselves.”

“We knew Gillman was lying to us for a long time, now the rest of the world knows it too,” said Armando Robles, the President of UE Local 1110, the Republic workers’ union. “Workers suffer with bad bosses all the time so this is a victory for all workers.”

Gillman’s arrest is just one of the results of the Republic workers’ actions. In February of this year, Serious Materials ended up buying up Republic for $145 million, promising to put the unemployed workers back on the job. The California-based Serious makes heating efficient windows.

“Having another company reopen the factory was always our hope when we occupied the factory in December,” Robles told the New York Times.

Kevin Surace, the chief executive officer of Serious, was drawn to the Republic workers’ story, leading him to eventually acquire the bankrupt factory. “It was very sad to see what looks like it could be a world-class operation just fall on terrible hard times and then all of the workers quite abruptly laid off,” he said. “We saw a great opportunity with a great facility and great workers.” Another thing that attracted Surace to the Republic plant was that 90% of the equipment was still there – thanks to the workers who prevented the bosses from hauling it away.

However, only fifteen former Republic employees have been rehired so far. According to Chicago-based journalist Kari Lydersen of In These Times, the delay in hiring more workers could have to do with the fact that Obama’s federal stimulus for green jobs and heating efficient windows has been slower in producing results than people had hoped. Yet Lydersen points out that the Republic workers “know they can’t just sit back and wait for the stimulus or the factory’s new owner to make everything all right.”

Meanwhile, Gillman is facing justice thanks to the workers’ actions. Melvin Maclin, a former Republic worker who is currently unemployed and the father of six children, commented on Gillman’s arrest in a UE statement, “We feel like justice has finally come and we all hope that this is the beginning of more bosses being held accountable for their crimes against workers.”

BENJAMIN DANGL is currently based in Paraguay and is the author of “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia” (AK Press). He edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Email: Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com.

 

More articles by:

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com

April 26, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
As Trump Berates Iran, His Options are Limited
Daniel Warner
From May 1968 to May 2018: Politics and Student Strikes
Simone Chun – Kevin Martin
Diplomacy in Korea and the Hope It Inspires
George Wuerthner
The Attack on Wilderness From Environmentalists
CJ Hopkins
The League of Assad-Loving Conspiracy Theorists
Richard Schuberth
“MeToo” and the Liberation of Sex
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Sacred Assemblies in Baghdad
Dean Baker
Exonerating Bad Economic Policy for Trump’s Win
Vern Loomis
The 17 Gun Salute
Gary Leupp
What It Means When the U.S. President Conspicuously and Publicly Removes a Speck of Dandruff from the French President’s Lapel
Robby Sherwin
The Hat
April 25, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Selective Outrage
Dan Kovalik
The Empire Turns Its Sights on Nicaragua – Again!
Joseph Essertier
The Abductees of Japan and Korea
Ramzy Baroud
The Ghost of Herut: Einstein on Israel, 70 Years Ago
W. T. Whitney
Imprisoned FARC Leader Faces Extradition: Still No Peace in Colombia
Manuel E. Yepe
Washington’s Attack on Syria Was a Mockery of the World
John White
My Silent Pain for Toronto and the World
Dean Baker
Bad Projections: the Federal Reserve, the IMF and Unemployment
David Schultz
Why Donald Trump Should Not be Allowed to Pardon Michael Cohen, His Friends, or Family Members
Mel Gurtov
Will Abe Shinzo “Make Japan Great Again”?
Binoy Kampmark
Enoch Powell: Blood Speeches and Anniversaries
Frank Scott
Weapons and Walls
April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail