Recently, I have been following the story of the Colibri Company in East Providence, Rhode Island. In January, Colibri closed their doors and left over 280 workers unemployed without notice – violating a federal law that compels companies with at least 100 employees to provide a minimum of 60 days’ notice before closing a plant”.
In March, 200 workers and allies protested the auction of Colibri’s assets, saying that no one should be paid until the workers are paid. 13 workers and allies committed civil disobedience sitting and lying down in the road with their arms linked to prevent entry to the auction. All 13 were arrested.
Last Wednesday, Fuerza Laboral (the organization behind the protest) celebrated a great victory in court where the Judge dismissed all charges against the 13 Colibri workers and allies who were arrested for civil disobedience on March 13 at the auction of Colibri’s assets. Several weeks ago in court, the judge offered to drop the charges against Colibri workers but continue the case against the group of allies that also were arrested in solidarity.
Upon hearing this offer, Shirley Samayoa, a 27 year veteran of Colibri said, “We don’t accept. We all sat down together and we’re all in this to the end. We want the same treatment for all of us.” All of the Colibri workers immediately agreed. The judge was taken aback by this show of solidarity and today, all of the accused received the same treatment: full dismissal of the charges.
Fuerza Laboral continues to hold Founders Equity accountable for forcing Colibri into receivership with no notice to employees. They are organizing to tear down the veil behind which “pirate equity” companies make fast money on the backs of hard working people and communities and then leave them in their wake as collateral damage.