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We Don’t Leave ‘Til We Get Paid

2e0afd98-69fe-42f6-af8a-97eb76eeeb8dgif.jpg300 workers at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago are fighting back. The company suddenly announced it was shutting down with only a few days notice – and without paying the workers what is due them. Chanting Si Se Puede, the workers have taken a vote and decided not to leave the plant until they get their pay.

"More than 300 people are working here, and what are we going to do now?" employee Vicente Rangel said. "We don’t get any single benefit. They even telling us they are not guarantee our payment for the week we just worked."

"We aren’t animals," says Apolinar Cabrera, a 17-year employee of Republic Windows. He is also a husband and father of two with another baby on the way. "We’re human beings and we deserve to be treated like human beings."

Many of the workers have been with the company for decades and were paid $14 an hour plus some benefits but overnight, the company is tossing them out:

"It’s really, really hard for everybody and not just because we’re losing our jobs. It’s because we’re losing our insurance, too. They told us that we’re going to be covered until December 15. And now they come and told us that last night, the insurance were down. So nobody has insurance right now," said Raul Flores, a laid off worker.

Congressman Luis Gutierrez met with the workers and made it clear that they are owed 75 days of pay and benefits plus any back pay or vacation time they have coming to them – and he’s questioned whether the owners are “simply recapitalizing and reorganizing their production in another state.” Along with their union, United Electrical Workers, he’s called meetings with both the owners and their bank – Bank of America but the owners did not show up at this afternoon’s planned sit-down.

Republic claims that BoA – which got $25 Billion in the bailout – canceled their line of credit forcing them to shut the doors but they have not explained why a company whose revenues dropped from $4 million a month to $2.9 million last month is unable to meet their obligations to their employees:

"We feel mistreated. We don’t make business decisions. We just make windows but because of bad decisions we suffer, our families suffer," said Melvin Maclin.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com