Over the past couple of weeks, the Republic Window Workers have captured the attention of the nation and the world, winning their historic struggle for owed compensation from their Chicago factory and from Bank of America.
“We were tired of being lied to and mistreated. They tried to shove us out the door with no money, no health insurance, and no jobs, so we said ‘No’! We decided together that we wouldn’t leave until we had the money. Our victory is for all workers around the world,” declares President of UE Local 1110, addressing the crowd of gathered supporters at Teamster Auditorium.
Tonight is the Republic Window Workers’ victory celebration, hosted by the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues (CICWI), and Union Presidents, community leaders (including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky), individual supporters and a collection of similarly wronged (but still awaiting justice) Heinemann Bakery workers are all here to show solidarity and to thank the workers for their heroic efforts and historic victory. “You are the inspiration for what labor has to do right now,” Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1, says to the Republic workers. “We all owe you a tremendous amount of gratitude.”
The Teamster Auditorium reverberates with hopeful enthusiasm, but those gathered also remain ever-aware of the struggles that lie ahead. “The economy is going to get worse before it gets better, but these workers sent the message that even in dire economic times we still have rights,” says Adam Kader, Worker Center Director for the CICWI. Rikki, a Republic Window Worker and sit-in participant, echoes such sentiments. “I wish I could say our battle was over, but the truth is, our fight has just begun.”
Fortunately, the workers are ready. “Even though it was really hard,” one says, “we’d do it again.” (Meaghan Strickland)