Republic Window Workers: As Long as It Takes
The 300 workers at Republic Windows and Doors have vowed to continue their occupation of the factory until they get the pay and benefits they are owed. Today they have some new new allies:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich said this morning the state of Illinois "will suspend doing any business with Bank of America" … the state has "hundreds of millions of dollars" in dealings with the bank.
"Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation," and Sen. Durbin visited with the workers and said "he would returning to Washington soon to hold discussions about whether banks were using the bailout money appropriately."
"It was money to be invested back in America. Cutting off the loans to Republic and losing hundreds of jobs as a result of it is exactly the opposite of what we need to have in this economy."
Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley will introduce an ordinance to block the state’s biggest county from doing business with Bank of America, he said in an interview. "I’m usually cautious, but this is an extraordinary example at an extraordinary time," Quigley said. "When you talk theory, they nod and wink, but when you put in an ordinance, they know you are serious."
Yesterday, President-Elect Obama spoke up for the workers, today Rep. Gutierrez held a meeting with the workers, their union, the company (who finally showed up) and Bank of America. Reports of what went on in the closed door meeting aren’t available but Gutierrez afterwards said "There was a tone of reconciliation, a tone of wanting to find an end to this situation."
Tonight, the workers remain at the factory:
"There are hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of windows in this company which are ready to be delivered [that] these workers worked to manufacture, [and] they’re not getting paid," [Leah] Fried [of the worker’s union] told Rodriguez. "All they’re simply doing is placing a lien for their work and saying let’s respect the law.
"They worked real hard," she said. "We have workers here 34 years. They made this company the success that it is. And on the eve of Christmas, they shouldn’t simply be thrown out on the street. And if the federal government can’t intervene to protect these workers, then I think we’re failing in our main obligation."
And how long will they stay at the plant? "As long as it takes."