Thanks to ILR’s commitment to the world outside Ithaca, I spent my summer in Argentina. There, I did research for my senior honor’s thesis, which looks at the recovered factory movement in Buenos Aires.
The first night there, I went to a traditional Argentine Bar-B-Q at the recovered printing press where I was going to work. Halfway through dinner, we had run out of charcoal for the grill. I got in a car headed for the store, with the president of the printing cooperative, the leader of MNER (the national movement of recovered businesses) and a worker from a balloon factory that was waiting for expropriation. After all my reading, there I was- sitting in a car with the very people who make the movement real. It was a fine start to an amazing summer.
During the course of my two months in Argentina, I took classes at the University of Buenos Aires and interned at Chilavert, a recovered printing press. In addition, I conducted a number of interviews with people associated with the movement: union leaders, academics and activists. Of course, it’s impossible to say everything I want to say here, so I’ll limit myself to making two comments. First, the summer was great in terms of my academic work. I had unbelievable access to people and places, which prior to being in Argentina, I had only dreamt of seeing. And second, on a more personal and selfish note, the summer was amazing in terms of the development of my own thinking about work and work relations.
The movement to recover factories is not simply about taking back work. It’s about taking back the power that comes with the chance to make your own decisions, everyday, at work. The experience of the recovered factory movement in Argentina has forever expanded the limits of what I think is possible.
- Top Right: This is a picture of the banners that MNER put outside the city legislature to protest the city’s failure to pass a national law of expropriation.
- Middle Left: This is a photo of Héctor and Candido, two workers at the Chilavert printing press.
- Bottom Right: This is a picture of Chilavert, from the outside. If you look closely, you can see the slogan of the movement: Ocupar, Resistir, Producir, which means, Occupy, Resist and Produce.
- Dana Ford