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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Workers sit down

In a refreshing sign that workers aren't necessarily going to take layoffs laying* down, employees at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago responded to the plant's closing by sitting down rather than walking meekly out the door. Employers have been used to calling the shots about who works and who doesn't, who eats and who doesn't, and who has health insurance and who doesn't. That needs to change, and it needs to change now.

The Great Depression of the 1930s was a period of unprecedented worker militancy, and many of today's unions--despite their current emaciated, weakened state--got their start during those historic days. Unions could once again play a historic and heroic role, if they fight in the interests of the entire working population and not just their own narrow, ever decreasing ranks.

Photo: Strikers occupied the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, for 44 days between December 1936 and February 1937 (University of Michigan.)

*Update: In my zeal to make an alliterative pun, I made the kind of writing mistake I counsel my students against: Using the verb to lay, which means to put something down on something, instead of the verb to lie, which means to recline. Mea culpa!

Sitting down: a left perspective. It really won't do to rely solely on the capitalist press for information about this strike, so here is an account from the Socialist Worker online.

4 comments:

MakeMoneyOnline said...
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Anne Gilbert said...

I've noticed a little more "restiveness" among workers lately. I guess if you feel you have nothing left to lose, it's mroe likely that you'll be more willing to stick your neck out. Maybe unions can regain some of their historic place in socieity.

Re lie/lay -- this is an awfully common mistake, and I've seen this so often I don't much get annoyed by it any more. Too many people are failing to make the distinction, either in speech("I'm going to lay down for half an hour" rather than "I'm going to lie down for half an hour". And I've seen it in writing, too, because the writers don't bother to use a dictionary if they're not sure. So don't worry about it too much. You are forgiven!
Anne G

Michael Balter said...

Thanks, Anne, I appreciate the usage sympathy from a fellow writer!

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