Around the World, the Workers Are Fighting Back
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Juan Gonzales: With the nation’s unemployment at 8.9 percent, the highest it’s been in over twenty-five years, workers across the country are fighting in a variety of ways to keep their jobs.
Nearly a thousand workers at the Chicago-based apparel firm Hart Schaffner & Marx, or Hartmarx, recently voted to “sit in” to save their jobs in an effort to prevent Wells Fargo from liquidating the factories.
In December, at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago, workers occupied the factory floor after the plant’s owners gave employees just three days’ notice of the plant’s closure. The workers ended their six-day occupation after winning a settlement securing the reopening of the plant under new management.
Amy Goodman: We turn to journalists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. In 2004, they produced the documentary The Take about workers in Argentina taking over the factories abandoned by their owners. Naomi is author of a number of books, including The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo . Avi Lewis is the host of the news show Fault Lines on Al Jazeera English. They’re speaking tonight at Cooper Union here in New York at an event called “Fire the Boss: The Worker Control Solution from Buenos Aires to Chicago.”
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Naomi, before we go into these various takeovers from Argentina to Chicago, your comment on the latest situation with the banks? We haven’t seen you since, well, soon after the various bailouts.
Naomi Klein:And they’re ongoing. I mean, I wish things had gotten better since we last spoke. And I think I called the bank bailout the biggest heist in monetary history back then, and it’s just gotten bigger. We’ve seen just an absolutely unprecedented transfer of public wealth into private hands. And, you know, what I’ve been saying from the beginning, I think it’s becoming even clearer now, which is that the crisis in the financial sector is not being solved, it’s being moved. A private-sector crisis is being transformed into a public-sector crisis, in the sense of the huge deficit that’s being left behind because of this bailout, which isn’t even doing what it’s supposed to be doing in terms of restoring credit and fixing the real economy.
So the price of this is—if it isn’t fixed, is going to be paid in cutbacks to healthcare, to Social Security. We aren’t even—we haven’t felt the full shock yet. And that’s my concern. Yes, I’m concerned about what’s going on now, but I’m concerned about how this transfer of wealth is going to be paid for down the road in terms of the meager social services that Americans get in exchange for their tax dollars.
JG:Well, and yet, you’re seeing now, at least in the stock market, the bank stocks, as well as some of the others, at least leveling off or beginning to rise again, even as unemployment continues at record levels, new people that are thrown out into the street every month.
NK: You know, and during the election campaign, you know, I think what Obama articulated so well is the fact that people realize that what’s good for Wall Street isn’t necessarily good for Main Street. And he said, you know, we’ve had this top-down approach, giving more and more to people at the top, waiting for it to trickle down, and he promised that that would change.
Quite the contrary. What’s actually happened is that homes, jobs have been sacrificed in order to stabilize the financial sector.