Class war in Chicago

It’s a brave new world, and their favorite son is not even in office yet:

Which side are you on?

Workers who got three days’ notice that their factory was shutting its doors have occupied the building and say they won’t go home without assurances they’ll get severance and vacation pay.

About 250 union workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors plant in shifts Saturday while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind. . . .

“We’re doing something we haven’t done since the 1930s, so we’re trying to make it work,” she said, referring to a tactic most famously used in 1936-37 by General Motors factory workers in Flint, Mich., to help unionize the U.S. auto industry.

Of course in ’36-’37, the country was actually beginning to recover from the double whammy of the Depression and the New Deal policies that deepened it. The unionization of the auto industry probably didn’t help much, but with war in Europe brewing orders were picking up. A year or two later, and the real shooting under way, factory orders were up enough that unionization seemed to work wonders for the economy!

Here in 2008, however, we’re almost certainly not at bottom yet, by a long shot, and no obvious new war is on the horizon, so the timing for union-orchestrated violence — and that is what this is — would appear less than brilliant.

So what is the thinking in the People’s Republic of Illinois? Is organized labor so close to back in the driver’s seat, and the Big Three bailout so close to fruition after all, that a fantasy-based-union-bounty-based economy is upon us? Is it that the era of President-Elect Obama means that Chicago is totally up for leftist power grabs? A little of both? Or was I wrong about the whole “here comes socialism” piece altogether, in a way that — let’s face it — none of us had guessed?

Ron Coleman spent three years in Chicago avoiding class, not class war. He blogs at Likelihood of Success where this first appeared and he dares you to follow him on Twitter.

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