Why Teaming Up with Unions Might be the Best Way to Build the Co-Op Movement
A growing number of unions are successfully turning to the cooperative model to fight for worker’s rights.
The year 2008 was when the big banks were bailed out, but it was also the year that catalyzed one group of window makers into democratically running their own factory.
On the former industrial hub of Goose Island in Chicago, the employees of Republic Windows and Doors made headlines after they were locked out of their jobs just before Christmas without the back pay or severance they were owed. Organized by the United Electrical Workers Union, these displaced workers did exactly what the ownership hoped they wouldn’t do. They refused to quietly accept the layoffs. Instead, the workers engaged in a sitdown strike at their factory, garnering local and national media attention. Eventually, the employees won the occupation, forcing Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase (Republic’s primary creditors) to create a fund to give the workers their back pay, benefits, and health insurance. This became viewed as a much-needed victory for workers and unions in a desperate economic time.