Colibri Workers Fight Back!

By Deric Shannon (Hartford NEFAC)

The Colibri (a jewelry company in Providence) workers were laid off with no notice. No severance, no insurance, no nothing. They showed up for work and the doors were locked. Some of the folks I talked to there said they had been working for Colibri for over 20 years. Now they're all out of a job. Today, the company was auctioning itself off (in an extra-disgusting twist, they were auctioning off jewelry made BY THE WORKERS) and promising money from the auction to the banks. Nothing was promised to the workers and it looks like the company is just going to ignore them and stiff them (ain't capitalism just lovely?).

The workers and their supporters went down to the court-ordered auction!

Video from Rhode Islands Future

(Read more for additional commentary from Deric.)

I was to meet the local Jobs with Justice organizer and a fellow NEFACer at 10am. I got there around 10:05. There were probably about 100-150 workers and supporters out there in total. There were drummers, banners, and even a small group of punks that brought marching band gear and played to applauding and appreciative workers.

As soon as I got there, my NEFAC comrade handed me his megaphone and said, "Hold this!", then laid down in the street with about five other activists and workers blocking the auction traffic. The police rounded them up. In the first batch, I saw two NEFACers arrested. In all, there were about 12 arrests, representing three lines of workers and supporters trying to blockade the entrance. Workers shouted "Shame, shame!" at the cars that drove by (quite a few Beamers in the bunch) and yelled at the cops to let go of the blockaders.

All in all, this was an inspiring event. Talking to workers at the plant who were articulating pretty radical demands was awesome. Conversations about concrete actions are so much easier than conversations about ideology (and make so much more sense)! Further, I was impressed with my friends in NEFAC, two of whom willingly went to cages in solidarity and another two marching with the workers in support.

You can see video of some of it here (note: I'm the goofy looking guy in the green jacket): Video from NBC Channel 10 News (Providence - Bedford), Video from ABC Channel 6 News

One of the organizing groups for updates:
Fuerza Laboral