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Revolt on Goose Island

The Chicago Factory Takeover, and What it Says About the Economic Crisis

December 5, 2008: It wasn’t supposed to work like this. Days after getting a $45 billion bailout from the U.S. government, Bank of America shut down a line of credit that kept Chicago’s Republic Windows & Doors factory operating. The bosses, who knew what was coming, had been sneaking machinery out in the middle of the night. They closed the factory and sent the workers home. Then something surprising happened: Republic’s workers occupied the factory and refused to leave.

Kari Lydersen, an award-winning Washington Post reporter, tells the story of the factory takeover, elegantly transforming the workers’ story into a parable of labor activism for the 21st century, one that concludes with a surprising and little-reported victory.

THE LIVE BOOK: Revolt on Goose Island grew out of the “live book” series hosted by MobyLives, the Melville House blog. For the series Kari Lydersen tracked unfolding events in the Republic Story and reported daily on the takeover. Click here for all posts from that series. The story of the Live Book was covered herehere, and here.

> Kari discusses the book with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now!

KARI LYDERSEN is a staff writer at theWashington Post. She is the author of Out of the Sea and Into the Fire: Latin American-US Immigration in the Global Age and co-author, with Wafaa Bilal, of Shoot an Iraqi Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun, which was recently named a “Best Book of 2008” by Booklist.

“A riveting tale from beginning to end.” —Bookslut

Revolt clocks in at only 161 pages, but it manages to tell the story of the six-day occupation, its historical precedents, and what it could mean for the future of the labor movement in full. For a book turned around in such a short time, it digs ably into the nuances of the closure, including the questions regarding the blame.”—Jonathan Messinger, TimeOut Chicago

“Brisk, compelling… deftly interweaves her narrative with sketches of union and labor history.”—Kate Schmidt, Chicago Reader

“A clear and emotionally compelling account of the Chicago factory takeover that captivated national attention….a gripping narrative.”—NewCity

“There is much talk about ‘audacity’ these days, but true chutzpah is when the workers take over the factory and take on the bank. Kari Lydersen’s invaluable account of the Republic sit-down strike is an instruction manual for worker dignity.”—Mike Davis, author of Buda’s Wagon and City of Quartz

“Provides useful context and is a helpful tool to put the strike in a broader understanding of the current moment… Revolt on Goose Island is a highly useful primer on what some say could be the spark to revive a moribund labor movement that has been on its heels for nearly three decades.”—Jeff Kelly Lowenstein