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Chicago Manufacturing Jobs Lost, Workers Taking a Stand

Posted on December 9, 2008

One group of employees who lost their Chicago manufacturing jobs is taking a stand.

Republic Windows and Doors closed its doors and fired several workers last week when Bank of America cut the company’s credit line, preventing it from coming up with employee severance and vacation pay. Because the company gave employees no notice they would be losing their jobs, many are taking a stand and refusing to leave the factory, according to an article by the Los Angeles Times.

“We need only what is promised to us, nothing more, nothing less,” Apolinar Cabrera, a 17-year veteran of the plant, said in the article. “I know the economy is bad …. but this just isn’t right to do this to us.”

The company had employed about 240 union workers, 80 percent of them Latino, who earned an average of $14 per hour. Employees also received medical coverage and retirement benefits.

Many officials are speaking out against the move, and blaming the government for providing millions of dollars for Wall Street but no help for others. The State of Illinois has cut off all business with Bank of America until the situation with the factory is resolved. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has started an investigation into the company’s closure.

Workers and representatives from Bank of America have sat down to discuss a resolution, but nothing has come to light yet. Former employees say their biggest issue is that they had no idea the company was in trouble or that they were about to lose their jobs. If the two parties were to come to a settlement, each worker would receive about $6,250.

“We were cutting out glass for an order for 1,000 new windows last week,” Vicente Rangel, who had been with the company for 15 years, said in the article. “There was work to do. Then, the bosses called us to a meeting and said everyone was quitting, whether they wanted to or not.”

Officials from Bank of America, based in North Carolina, are blaming the manufacturer for failing to pay its employees.

“When a company faces such a dire situation, its lender is not empowered to direct the company’s management how to manage its affairs and what obligations should be paid,” representatives of the institution said in the article. “Such decisions belong to the management and owners of the company.”