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That much further west

By the time you read this email, I will be on the West Coast, preparing for my first book tour stop at Powell's on Hawthorne with Matt Bors in Portland, Oregon. Then it's off to Seattle...details below. 

Anyway, two things for you loyal readers of this list! Some of you nabbed the posters that we gave away online, but this one is just for people who get these emails: the first four of you to send me your proof of preorder (Amazon, Powells, local bookstore, anywhere) and your address will get a copy of the nearly-sold-out chapbook I wrote with Melissa Gira Grant, "For Love Or Money." Signed, of course. 

And now! An excerpt just for y'all, from Chapter One of the book! 


It was December 2, 2008,

when the 240 people who worked at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago got the notification that they were losing their jobs.

Months into the recession launched by the collapse of financial markets, the company, which made energy-efficient windows and doors ideal for the green retrofitting being touted by president-elect Barack Obama, was struggling. But the biggest problem, according to the workers themselves, was Bank of America. Despite a fresh infusion of taxpayer dollars being pumped into the bank’s coffers—$25 billion, supposedly to reinvigorate its stalled lending in the wake of the financial crisis—the bank was apparently unwilling to continue extending credit to Republic.

There had been some indications that things were not going well 
for Republic, according to Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1110, the union representing the employees. But while the announcement came as a shock, the workers at Republic were not going to join the ranks of the 600,000 other manufacturing workers laid off that year without a fight. “If I don’t fight, I know I lose,” said Melvin “Ricky” Maurice Maclin, vice president of Local 1110. “If I do fight, at least I stand a chance of winning.”

Two hundred or so of those window-and-door makers refused to 
leave, locking themselves into the factory in the fi rst such occupation the United States had seen in decades. Their demands were simple: their legally required severance pay, called for under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which requires sixty days’ notice before a mass layoff. Lalo Munoz, who had worked for Republic for thirty-four years, said, “They decided just to kick us into the streets, with no benefits or nothing, not even what we have already earned.”

The workers’ willingness to resist surprised the organizers. “We proposed this idea of occupying the factory as a peaceful nonviolent civil disobedience,” Fried told me. “What we didn’t anticipate was everybody wanting to be a part of it.” She’d expected fifty or so workers to stay in the factory, but over four times that number did. “We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere until we get what’s fair and what’s ours. They thought they would get rid of us easily, but if we have to be here for Christmas, it doesn’t matter,” said Silvia Mazon, a thirteen-year employee at Republic at her first protest.

Their occupation tapped into a growing anger among Americans at the size of the bailout package extended to the world’s biggest banks, the very people responsible for the crisis that had tossed so many out of work, shuttered so many small businesses, and evaporated billions in housing wealth. National media, long unused to covering labor struggles, poured in, speaking to workers through an open door. Rabble-rousing documentarian Michael Moore turned up. So did the local bishop of the Evangelical Catholic Church, James Wilkowski, the son of a steelworker, who administered Communion to the workers in the occupied factory. A local teacher who was also engaged in a fi ght over public schools turned up and spoke. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) paid the workers a visit. And president-elect Barack Obama addressed the workers in a news conference, saying, “The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned, I think they’re absolutely right and understand that what’s happening to them is refl ective of what’s happening across this economy.”

After six days of splashy media coverage, and protests in front of Bank of America branches around the country in solidarity with the occupiers, Republic and the bank agreed to the workers’ demands. In February 2009, California company Serious Materials purchased the factory and agreed to hire back the old workforce.

After the victory, the workers took a “Republic victory tour” to inspire more people to fight back as they had. They told their listeners they didn’t have to take concessions and accept the status quo. “I’d like to think that we helped kick off the next wave, and certainly the chant that we came up with, which was ‘Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out,’ was adopted by a lot of people,” Fried said.


Washington Post review!

"I admire Jaffe’s effort to humanize the movements she covers, to capture in one volume the contrasts and universality of the impulses behind them. 'For a nation committed to its revolutionary beginnings, the United States has had a deeply fraught relationship with its radicals,' Jaffe writes in a particularly memorable passage. 'It has arrested them, deported them, hounded them out of jobs, and hanged them.'"

Also, I appeared on the So That Happened podcast with Zach Carter and Jason Linkins, which was lots of fun. More later! 

PORTLAND, OR: Powell's on Hawthorne, August 18, 7:30pm. Reading, conversation & signing hosted by Matt Bors.

SEATTLE: American Sociological Association, Washington State Convention Center, Saturday, August 20, 8pm, plenary session on social movements with Ruth Milkman, Paul Mason, and Frances Fox Piven, and Sunday, August 21, 10:30am, session on journalism and social change with Harold Meyerson and E. Tammy Kim.

SEATTLE: Seattle Public Library-Central Library w/ Elliott Bay Book Company, August 22, 7pm. Reading with special guests from the Seattle Fight for $15.

NEW YORK CITY: Housing Works, August 25, Book launch, reading, party, with special guests Nelini Stamp, Mary Clinton, and Nastaran Mohit, 7pm.

DECATUR, GA (near ATLANTA): AJC Decatur Book Festival, Sunday, September 4, 3:45

CAMBRIDGE, MA: Porter Square Books with Michael Cohen, September 7, 7pm

NEW YORK CITY: The New School, September 8, 7pm, hosted by Laura Flanders.

TROY, NY: James Connolly Forum, September 16, 7pm

BROOKLYN: Brooklyn Book Festival, September 18, 11am with Sarah Leonard, Mychal Denzel Smith and Kai Wright

PHILADELPHIA: Wooden Shoe Books, September 19, 7pm, guests TK

WASHINGTON, DC: Busboys & Poets,  2021 14th St NW, September 20, with special guests Stephen Lerner, Biola Jeje and others. 

BALTIMORE: Baltimore Book Festival, September 23, details TK

MINNEAPOLIS: Magers & Quinn, Monday, September 26, 7pm

ST. LOUIS: Left Bank Books, Tuesday, September 27, 7pm

CHICAGO: September 29, details TK but it'll be good, I promise

MIAMI: Miami Book Fair, November, details TK 


I am so behind on reading, too much time talking/writing/playing Pokemon Go/watching the Olympics/stressing out about book things. What should I be reading? Send me your favorites, book recommendations (fiction, please!) more. 

Still working my way through the Varoufakis. I do love Simone Manuel.

Here's an excellent and terrifying piece from Pat Blanchfield on high-end gun training camps. 

And Xian Barrett about what it's like to be a laid-off teacher--again.

Remembering Evelin Cruz, OUR Walmart member and troublemaker (in the best of ways). 
And of course, my dog. With continued bonus dog, still dogsitting.
Copyright © 2016 Sarah Jaffe, All rights reserved.

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