Archive for May, 2012

The workers who occupied a windows factory in Chicago—first in 2008 (when it was Republic Windows & Doors), and then again earlier this year (when the factory was owned by Serious Energy)—have now formed their own worker-run cooperative: New Era Windows, LLC.

Armando Robles, president of the United Electrical Workers Local 1110, said that the school of struggle the workers went through with both factory occupations helped them win the confidence to take over their factory.

“We learned how to fight against the bosses and now to negotiate contracts with the owners of Republic and Serious Energy, how to negotiate in contract negotiations and how to make escalating actions before going on strike.” . . .

“When we found out nobody is going to buy the company we started this idea [to form a cooperative] and brought it in proactive,” said Robles. “We started having meetings about it.”

The next step for the workers, whose business in now incorporated with the State of Illinois, is to raise the investment money to start the cooperative and buy the machinery from their former employer.

Robles says they are working on getting the money together – about $2 million to purchase the machinery – and have already started building the structure of the cooperative: “we already have a steering committee, we have two treasurers. We will keep doing forward.”

They expect to start producing windows in two or three months, said Robles, and running their unionized cooperative.

“There is precisely zero chance of austerity working. It is the same as thinking you can escape from gravity by waving your arms up and down. . .Europe’s made a mess of Greece for the past three years. Those responsible will go down as the biggest idiots in the history of economics.”

Yanis Varoufakis

There is a tremendous need to occupy economics, given the complicity of mainstream economics in creating the current crises and the limited nature of the debate concerning economic alternatives within mainstream political and economic circles in the United States.

One of the most interesting projects to occupy (or reoccupy) economics has been taking place within the Occupy Wall Street movement. Since last fall—first in Zuccotti Park, and now in Union Square, in groups large and small—people have been coming together, within the context of the Occupy University, to discuss a wide range of economic issues and concerns.

We discuss inequality in the US and around the world, who are the 1% and what does it take to get there, what is the relationship between the banks and the Federal reserve, how the financial crisis got going, what’s happening in Europe and “Why can’t I find a good job?”. We also talk about alternatives, from coops and credit unions to open source to what a democratic economy looks like.

The courses in Radical Economics 101 have been organized every Sunday by the committed efforts of Maliha Safri of Drew University and Suresh Naidu of Columbia University. Recently, they’ve been joined by Mark Brenner from Labor Notes.

Let’s chant together: “Tell me what economics looks like! This is what economics looks like!”

Almost two years ago, I told myself (and the world) that I needed to find a copy of Francis Spufford’s Red Plenty. But I, uh, forgot.

Now, of course, the folks at Crooked Timber are hosting a symposium on Spufford’s novel, and the first four responses—by Kim Stanley Robinson, Antoaneta Dimitrova, George Scialabba, and Cosma Shalizi—have  been published.

Which means I need to find the time to order and read the book, and then to read the symposium on the book. And I’m already late. . .

Special mention

Protest of the day

Posted: 30 May 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The “casseroles” (pots and pans) movement in Canada—a phenomenon that first grew out of student protests against an increase in tuition fees earlier this year and escalated in size and media coverage after the passage of Bill 78 brought unprecedented numbers of people to street marches in Montreal and evening rallies of banging pots and pans across Quebec—is now threatening to spread across the country.