Update on Republic Windows And Doors – “We Aren’t Goin’ Anywhere”

Laid-Off Chicago Workers Occupy Plant

Illinois Workers Continue Sit-In Protest

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has ordered all state agencies to stop doing business with Bank of America to pressure the company to help workers who are staging a sit-in at a shuttered Chicago plant.

The move is leverage to convince the North Carolina-based bank to use some of its federal bailout money to resolve the situation at Republic Windows and Doors.

The company closed last week with just a few days’ notice.

Blagojevich says banks got bailout money and should provide lines of credit to businesses that need it so workers can keep working.

Laid-Off Workers’ Sit-in Starts Movement

Chicago workers in the third day of a sit-in on the floor of their former workplace peered through the windows of a door, amazed by a mix of supporters, politicians and journalists who packed a foyer outside.

“We never expected this,” said Melvin Maclin, a factory employee and vice president of the local union that represents the workers. “We expected to go to jail.”

The 200 workers demanding severance and vacation pay have become a national symbol for thousands of employees laid off nationwide as the economy continues to sour. They occupied the plant of their former employer, Republic Windows and Doors, after the company abruptly fired them last week.

“There is one thing that is absolutely clear,” U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, told CBS Station WBBM. “They’re owed 75 days of pay. They’re owed their vacation time, and they’re owed their fringe benefits – including healthcare benefits – during those 75 days.”

Gutierrez added that Republic’s abrupt decision to shut down is suspicious. He said he has a “very strong belief” that Republic is simply “recapitalizing and reorganizing its production in another state,” and called on the Illinois Department of Labor to investigate, according to WBBM.

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7 responses to “Update on Republic Windows And Doors – “We Aren’t Goin’ Anywhere”

  1. This is ridiculous. These workers need to leave the plant or be arrested for trespassing. Asking Bank of America to provide funding to a company with bad credit and not making a profit is how the economy got in such a mess. This factory needs to liquidate its assets and pay workers any compensation they are due (unused vacation, back wages, etc.), but the workers need to leave first.

    BTW – these workers were not fired. They were laid off. It is a significant difference.

    • The workers fear that to leave means they will never see the wages that they are owed. I applaud their stance and think that the only way to hold these corrupt companies accountable is to refuse to back down.

  2. Mike, the reason BOA and other banks got the bailout was to open again the lines of credit to businesses. The irony here is BOA was the plant’s bank. At least BOA can help those people by paying their compensations and then BOA can liquidate the plant and get the money back. The ideal scenario would be if BOA opens a line of credit for the plant and help it restart the production. But I guess, those who produce Windows and Doors don’t deserve as much attention as the automakers get these days 😦

    • From the sound of the news report, the company had been moving machinery and equipment out of the plant before the workers lost their jobs, which means their jobs were outsourced. That’s where a big chunk of the problem lies. This country has lost it’s manufacturing sector. If we don’t produce, how can we consume?

  3. Engramatic, You said “At least BOA can help those people by paying their compensations …” BOA, or any bank for that matter, is not in the business of paying the employees of a client. That would be like me having a loan from a bank, and if I can’t pay it back, the bank steps in to pay my future bills. I would support BOA (or another bank) opening a line of credit for Republic, but only if Republic’s current financial outlook is strong enough to support it. Otherwise, it is just throwing good money away.

  4. After re-reading my last post, and just to be clear…I’m not trying to promote BOA, but I think it is unfair that BOA is being vilified in the media. While at the same time Republic (the company that was unable to generate enough profits to stay in business) gets let off the hook. I feel sorry for the workers losing their jobs right before Christmas, but if anyone is to blame, it is Republic (not BOA).

  5. @Mike, I agree. They are making BOA the scapegoat, when they should be focusing on Republic and why it couldn’t honor its commitments. If they FORCE BOA to pay, they set a dangerous precedent. Governments and laid-off employees all over the country will follow suit.

    A bailout is not free money. It is a loan, that too, needs to be paid back. If BOA gives money to every unworthy client then they cannot pay back their own bailout loan.

    Either way, I do feel sad for the workers. Jobs are hard to come by, and even if they do indeed lose their jobs, they should get paid their due compensation. The company should liquidate its assets to make this happen, not UNFAIRLY BLAME BOA.

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