Workers occupy Chicago factory – “Doing something we haven’t done since the 1930s”

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (regularly updated)

Chicago, IL – Saturday Evening, December 6

National news networks CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, as well as Chicago news media, are reporting on the following dramatic developments involving UE members in Chicago.

Members of UE Local 1110 who work at Republic Windows and Doors are occupying the plant around the clock this weekend, in an effort to force the company and its main creditor to meet their obligations to the workers. Their goal is to at least get the compensation that workers are owed; they also seek the resumption of operations at the plant. All 260 members of the local were laid off Friday in a sudden plant closing, brought on by Bank of America cutting off operating credit to the company. The bank even instructed managers at Republic to refuse to pay workers their earned vacation pay and the severance pay they are owed under the federal WARN Act, since they were not given the legally-required notice that the plant was about to close.

Below are some links to ongoing news coverage of this story:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28084616/

http://cbs2chicago.com/local/republic.windows.sitin.2.880850.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,463030,00.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-il-workersoccupyfact,0,1928458.story

http://www.france24.com/en/20081206-laid-off-workers-furious-bank-pulls-chicago-plants-credit

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/republic-windows-doors-120508.html

Bank of America, the country’s second largest bank, has received $25 billion in taxpayer money as part of the $700 billion government bailout of the financial industry. The public was told that this bailout was necessary in order to keep credit flowing and prevent the loss of jobs. Yet the very-well-paid executives at Bank of America have actually cut off credit and forced the closing of Republic where workers were, at least up until Friday, producing energy-efficient doors and windows.

Jobs with Justice, the national worker rights coalition, is asking people to sign an online letter to Bank of America, demanding that they provide the needed credit to keep Republic Windows and Doors open – or at a minimum, that they pay workers the money they are owed. Please go to this link to support this important struggle.

UE Local 1110 members, along with community supporters, picketed and rallied in front of Bank of America’s main Chicago branch on Wednesday, December 3. They chanted, “You got bailed out, we got sold out!” Local 1110 President Armando Robles told the news media, “Just weeks before Christmas we are told our factory will close in three days. Taxpayers gave Bank of America billions, and they turn around and close our company. We will fight for a bailout for workers.”

To support the members of Local 1110 in their courageous fight, send checks payable to the UE Local 1110 Solidarity Fund, to: UE, 37 S. Ashland, Chicago, IL 60607. Messages of support can be sent to leahfried@gmail.com. For more information, call the UE Chicago office at 312-829-8300.

UE has already contacted Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and will soon be in touch with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), chair of the Senate Banking Committee, regarding Bank of America’s apparent abuse of its public obligations under the federal banking bailout.

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