Saturday, July 11, 2009

The following item came to Molly's attention via the Anarchist Black Cat discussion board. It is originally from an Illinois blog titled 'At Home He's a Tourista'. The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America mentioned below is a member controlled union that is on the forefront of creative labour struggle in the USA. They are the people who won the struggle at Republic Window and Doors in Chicago via an occupation of the Chicago factory. As the signs above say, Wells Fargo is a "roadblock to recovery", and the protesters involved did their own roadblock to demonstrate that.
UE Workers Block Intersection, Get Arrested In Attempt to Save Jobs:
On Thursday, July 9th, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America members, SDS-Milwaukee and a host of supporters picketed a Wells Fargo branch in Rock Island, Illinois. Twelve people were arrested, cited, and then released after unfurling a banner and blocking an intersection in an act of civil disobedience.
This action is part of a UE driven campaign to pressure Wells Fargo into using some of the $25 billion in government bailout money it received for extending credit to the Quad City Die Casting company in Moline, Illinois. Without the money, the plant will be forced to close and around one hundred workers will be left unemployed.
Here's the story as told by the UE themselves on their website.
Workers Arrested in Big Protest at Wells Fargo, As Quad City Workers Continue Fight for Jobs:
10 July, 2009
Rock Island, IL
A big group of UE Local 1174 members and supporters from other unions demonstrated at Wells Fargo’s Rock Island branch on Thursday, July 9. Nearly a dozen workers were arrested after they blocked a street to symbolize how Wells Fargo is a “roadblock to recovery.”

Workers are continuing their fight to keep Quad City Die Casting open and save 100 jobs. The plant is slated to close because Wells Fargo – recipient of $25 billion in the federal banking bailout – has cut off operating credit to the company.

Asked by a TV reporter why she’d been willing to be arrested, Local 1174 Recording Secretary Deb Johann replied, “Because I want to save my job.”

More details on this protest and Local 1174’s continuing struggle at
The protest at Rock island is only part of a continuing campaign on the part of the UE to save the Quad City jobs. Wells Fargo, a recipient of government bailout aid, is being picketed across the country to do the right thing. Here, once more from the UE website, is a report on the 'Day of Action' last June 23.
EXPANDED COVERAGE: Day of Action Against Wells Fargo:
26 June, 2009
In some 20 cities across the U.S. on June 23, UE members and allies took action at branch offices of banking giant Wells Fargo, and in some cases its subsidiary Wachovia, from Boston to Los Angeles. Joined by members of other unions, Jobs with Justice and community organizations, members chanted and carried signs with the message, “You got bailed out, we got sold out!” Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks and the recipient of a $25 billion bailout from taxpayers, is unfairly forcing the closure of Quad City Die Casting, a viable factory in Moline, IL where the members of UE Local 1174 work, by cutting off the normal line of credit the company needs in oder to operate and stay in business.

Here are brief reports from some of the protest sites.
Some 33 people from UE and Jobs with Justice protested at a Wachovia bank (owned by Wells Fargo) in downtown Philadelphia, and handed out nearly 500 leaflets on the Quad City jobs fight.

Local 155 President Ron McCullough explained to the group – and to hundreds of onlookers – the struggle by Local 1174 to save their jobs and Wells Fargo’s role in forcing the pending plant closing of Quad City Die Casting. Protesters picketed for about 30 minutes, and then a delegation, consisting of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice Chair John Braxton and McCullough went inside to deliver a “notice of default” on Wells Fargo’s obligations to the American people.

McCullough repeatedly asked to see the bank manager in order to deliver the notice, but one bank employee after another refused to summon the manager, ordered McCullough and Braxton to leave immediately, and threatened to call the police. McCullough refused to leave, saying he’d do so after he delivered the document to the manager. The attention of the 30 or more customers in the bank lobby was riveted onto this confrontation. In an effort to silence free speech in the city that's the home of the Liberty Bell and birthplace of the Declaration of Independence, bank managers called the cops. But before the police arrived a bank official, identifying himself as the assistant manager, finally accepted the letter.

The picketing continued for a while after Ron and John emerged from the bank. One young woman stopped to observe the protest. After she read the UE flyer she became so incensed by Wells Fargo’s action that she also went inside to tell bank officials what she thought of Wells Fargo.
At Wells Fargo’s main office center in downtown Los Angeles, activists ranging in age from 11 to 81 conducted an informational picket line. Chants like “Wells Fargo, Shame On You – You Got Bailed Out and Workers Got Sold Out,” echoed off the high-rise building while security guards kept close watch. Hundreds of fliers explaining the struggle of UE Local 1174 workers were distributed and well received, especially by bus riders and building workers, but got a less friendly response from executive types in expensive pin-striped suits. The action was organized by the Los Angeles Bail Out the People Movement.
A relatively small UE group picketed Wells Fargo’s branch in Costa Mesa, but their presence and their signs got plenty of notice on one of the busiest streets in Orange County. There were plenty of friendly from passing drivers, and Bryan Martindale of Local 1421 uses a megaphone to lead the group in chants. After about about 25 minutes the members went inside to present a letter to the branch manager. She smiled and did not ask any questions. Local 1421's Brian Barrington presented the letter and we asked that she pass the message on to higher corporate management.
Twenty members of UE Local 893/IUP and Local 896/COGS, along with supporters from the Hawkeye Labor Council and other local groups, picketed and leafleted a Wells Fargo office in Cedar Rapids over their lunch hour, in solidarity with UE Local 1174 members at Quad City Die Casting. Passing motorists honked their horns in support. Two local TV stations and the Cedar Rapids Gazette sent reporters to cover this event.
Workers and clergy from the Quad Cities area, including Local 1174 members, confronted Wells Fargo management at its Davenport, IA office and asked bank officials to accept “a plea for justice from the community.” Bank executives called the police, but this did not deter a five-person delegation from entering their building. The bank official they encountered refused to give her name, but accepted the letter handed her by C.J. Hawkins of Interfaith Worker Justice, and agreed to deliver it to the bank’s regional president. UE Director of Organization Bob Kingsley told the group, “We can’t let this giant bank default on its obligation to the American people and the people of the Quad Cities. Wells Fargo is a roadblock to economic recovery.”
In Chicago some 75 protestors from several unions and community groups cordoned off the parking lot of a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage branch with crime scene tape, and traced chalk outlines of the bank’s worker victims on the pavement, charging the bank with “jobicide” and “homeicide.” They chanted, “Wells Fargo, this sucks. Where’s our 25 billion bucks?” The group included UE Local 1110 members and members of UFCW Local 881, Teamsters Local 743, SEIU Local 73, the Graduate Students Organization at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Arise Chicago, Center for a New Community, and South Austin Coalition.
Barbara Joye of the Atlanta Fighting Foreclosures Coalition reports that some 20 intrepid demonstrators picketed in front of the midtown Wachovia branch today, in punishing afternoon heat. The giant regional bank Wachovia was bought out by Wells Fargo last October, in the midst of the banking industry meltdown. Besides demanding that Wells Fargo extend the credit needed to keep UE Quad City Die Casting workers in their jobs, Barbara writes, “We also reminded the bank that we are still demanding a foreclosure moratorium and reasonable settlements for Atlantans at risk of losing their homes.”
Wells Fargo managers in Charleston seemed to know protestors were coming and were waiting for them. The branch manager and his posse met union supporters at the entrance before they had even picked up a sign.

About 20 members of UE Local 170 were joined by activists from the Citizen Action Group and Mountaineers for a National Health Plan. They got a good response from the public as they leafleted, picketed, and chanted, “You got bailed out, we got sold out.” The event received TV and newspaper coverage.
In the midst of a nasty nor’easter storm, 30 picketers marched outside the Boston Wells Fargo Commercial Bank building. Members from UE Locals 204, 262, 279, other unions, Jobs with Justice, housing groups, and students joined the National Day of Action on Wells Fargo locations. An excessive number of security personnel were in place before the picket even began, and they prevented a delegation of UE members and supporters from entering the building to deliver a message to bank executives.
A delegation of UE members and supporters took the Quad City workers’ struggle to the downtown New Haven branch of Wachovia bank, now a subsidiary of Wells Fargo. It included six members from Local 243 at Sargent Manufacturing, Local 222 President Marie Lausch, former Local 299 President Dorothy Johnson, and Bill Collins, a singer with the Rabble Rousers who’s written a song about the Republic plant occupation. A delegation went inside to meet the branch manager, but neither he nor the assistant manager were available. They spoke to a lower-ranking bank operative who took the leaflet and “managed to look very concerned over workers losing their jobs,” reports UE International Rep. Carol Lambiase. She was banned from taking photos inside marble walls of the bank. Marie Lausch and Local 243 President Ray Pompano led chants, using Local 243’s bullhorn. Passersby took leaflets and expressed support.
A small but spirited group of 20 including Marianne Hart, retired Local 1421 leader and former member of UE's General Executive Board, carried both Jobs with Justice and UE signs supporting the fight of Quad City workers, and received a welcoming response from passersby. The Portland Wells Fargo branch is a large classic bank building in the style of a Greek temple, and the group took over the platform in front of the entrance, at the top of the marble stairs. They shouted a call-and-response chant: “When I say bankers, you say gangsters. Bankers! Gangsters! Bankers! Gangsters!”
UE Local 1121 President Charlene Winchell blasted Wells Fargo for its failure to use taxpayer bailout money as intended, to make credit available to businesses and save jobs, as a dozen UE members picketed its branch in LaCrosse. “If they don’t keep their jobs, people are going to lose more homes,” said Winchell. “More people on unemployment. It’s going to be awful. It’s going to affect all of us.” A union delegation got inside the bank and spoke to a bank official about the plight of Quad City Die Casting and the 80 members of Local 1174. The event received local TV coverage.
A dozen UE members from Locals 506, 618, 683 and 684, as well as Eastern Region Pres. Andrew Dinkelaker, took the case of Local 1174 members against Wells Fargo to the bank’s office in downtown Erie. Two local TV stations covered the action.
Over the past several days a UE lobbying team has visited over 100 congressional offices, including every member of both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. The members of Congress were given information on the injustice being perpetrated by Wells Fargo, and asked to intervene. While on Capitol Hill UE Political Action Director Chris Townsend spoke with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and delivered a detailed letter explaining the situation at Quad City Die Casting to Frank's office. Rep. Frank has assisted UE members numerous times over the years, including his personal intervention on behalf of UE Local 204, Taunton, MA, during a difficult recent round of contract negotiations.

In a brief encounter in a corridor, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) told Townsend, “Everyone is mad at Wells Fargo.” The largest city in her state, Baltimore, is suing Wells Fargo for racially-discriminatory predatory mortgage lending practices that resulted in massive foreclosures and cost the city tens of millions of dollars in taxes and city services.

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