Vestas Blades a wind turbine factory in the United Kingdom on the Isle of Wright was due to close on 31st July 2009. 600 jobs would be lost immediately, many more jobs that depend on Vestas would follow. These are the jobs of the future the “green jobs” we hear about. The plant closing comes as a surprise because the government had just announced a major expansion of renewable energy including wind power.
Since July 20, 2009 the Vestas plant has been occupied by two dozen workers. To help support the plant occupation there have been peaceful rallies by workers, families, trade unions, green organisations and various other groups. The workers are calling on the government to intervene to save jobs at Vestas through nationalization to show that it is serious about saving the planet.
On July 27, 2009 thousands of Chinese steel workers in the rust belt city of Tonghua gathered to protest the takeover of their company and threatened layoffs. The state-owned Tonghua Iron and Steel Group, was being sold to privately owned Jianlong Steel. Chen Guojun, an executive at Jianlong Steel sparked a riot by announcing 30,000 workers would be laid off. The angry mob beat him to death and then blocked ambulances from reaching him. The workers dispersed only after they were assured by authorities the sale would not go through.
While I believe in direct action I don’t condone violence and think a plant occupation would have been the way to go. I do understand that a company that doesn’t care what will happen to 30,000 workers or their families can generate enough anger to make people act in ways that they never normally would.
Meanwhile back in the USA GM is declining to continue health care for 70,000 retirees and workers represented by the IUE-CWA and other non-union salaried workers and retirees. GM is saying the federal government prevents it from honoring its health care commitments under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On Wednesday July 29, 2009 a rally was held at the Warren Community Amphitheatre by IUE and UAW leaders to fight for their pensions and health care. As contrasted to the above two workers direct actions I use the term fight loosely when it comes to the Warren event.
These local union leaders said they will continue working with politicians and the courts to further their cause. They rejected the idea of asking anyone to boycott GM products. The retired shop chairman of IUE -CWA said, “You can’t win a war by making more enemies than friends.” The Elecpencil says, “You can’t win a war unless you know who your enemies are.” Yes I do feel sorry for what has happened to auto dealers already and I’d say buy used cars from them (they make more money on used ones anyway) and get your car serviced there but don’t buy a new GM vehicle. Yes I know that doesn’t help current GM workers but it’s time to have some balls like workers in other parts of the world.
I did see one woman at a local rally with a sign saying, ‘”Boycott GM.” I thought right on sister. She took some heat from fellow workers and a trashing from WKBN’s local radio talk show hosts. WKBN does advertising for many of the local GM dealers so they of course know where their bread is buttered. WKBN is owned by Clear Channel who has a history of union busting. I am curious myself as to what happened to the union that use to be at WKBN.
While I don’t want to see any violence in the fight labor needs to wage against what is happening in to our country it’s time to realize the days of winning anything by being civil never existed. In the end you only deserve what you are willing to fight for.
The Alarm: Blaze of Glory
All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms is treason. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other.” ~ Abraham Lincoln