"Workers' Republic" w/ filmmaker Andrew Freund
A story of the courage, resolve, creativity, and solidarity of the workers at Republic Windows and Doors who stood up for their rights after being thrown out of work three weeks before Christmas 2008.
Click here to view the trailer.
Co-sponsored by Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace and the Troy Area Labor Council.
(Filmmaker: Andrew Freund, 2009, 62 min)
"When the economy fell, they stood up."
Three weeks before Christmas 2008, in the depths of the economic crisis, Chicago company Republic Windows and Doors told their workforce that the factory was closing shop. Republic executives complained about dwindling sales due to the crash of the housing market. Three days later, when the Republic employees came in to pick up their final paychecks, they were informed that they would not be paid for their final week or receive their accrued vacation pay. Their insurance benefits were cut immediately, and they were denied the 60-day severance guaranteed under the federal WARN Act.
What those workers did next reverberated across the country, reminding the working class it possesses a power long forgotten. They occupied the doomed factory 24-hours a day for six days, declaring they would not leave until they were given what their employer owed them.
Workers’ Republic conveys the courage, the resolve, the creativity, and the solidarity of those window-builders who vowed to stand up for their rights. From the opening moments to the final settlement and culminating in the surprise fate of the Chicago factory, the film commits one of American society’s most grievous sins: speaking in favor of radical action as a solution to exploitation.
Filmmaker and union steward Andrew Freund has assembled the accounts of several of the main fighters in the Republic struggle, including front line workers, the organizers of their tiny union United Electrical, Radio, & Machine Workers, and a few of the thousands of everyday people that supported them through small acts of solidarity.
Filmmaker Andrew Freund is an Emmy-nominated videographer whose work has appeared on PBS and Chicago television stations. He worked on the upcoming documentary film, Immigrant Nation. Freund has produced several half-hour episodes for the non-profit, pro-union TV show Labor Beat, and serves as chairman of its board. He resides in Chicago and is an activist against war and domestic violence, and uses his video skills to campaign for workers’ rights. He is an IBEW steward. His new film, Workers’ Republic, documents the December 2008 factory occupation of Republic Windows and Doors by its laid-off employees.
MORE ABOUT CO-SPONSORS:
The Troy Area Labor Council represents over 10,000 union members in Rensselaer County. Among our main objectives are encouraging workers to register, vote and exercise our full rights and responsibilities of citizenship at the local, state and national levels; providing aid, cooperation and assistance to affiliated local unions in our common and individual endeavors; and working with other members of our community in achieving goals of mutual benefit to all. Past and current alliances include Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Brunswick Smart Growth, Capital District Alliance for Universal Healthcare, Sanctuary for Independent Media and Single Payer New York.
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace (BNP) is an organization of concerned members of the Bethlehem community working for peace. The group formed in January 2003, and currently we have over 500 members--and growing. BNP is comprised of a wide spectrum of adults and youth who are currently working for a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the situation in Iraq, and elsewhere in the world. We believe that war is NOT the answer, and that voicing our dissent and helping our government end this disastrous war and avoid future wars are vital and patriotic acts. We invite you to get involved and join us for an upcoming event!
Event coordinator: Josh Karpoff