*Thanks, Mike…we ALL need to be this gutsy!*
CHICAGO (CBS) ― Dozens of former employees of Republic Windows and Doors continued to remain at the shuttered North Side plant late Friday, saying they’re being cheated.
The ex-workers say they found out only three days before Friday’s closing that they would be without a job. Some of them also learned they would not get the vacation they’ve earned to date or the insurance coverage they were promised.
More than 200 union workers staged a sit-in of sorts until they they got what they say is legally owed to them.
The union says company officials told employees they were closing shop because Bank of America would no longer extend Republic its line of credit. Bank of America wouldn’t confirm that due to confidentiality issues. Workers say the fact that Bank of America received $25 billion in the federal bailout makes this even more unacceptable.
“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.”
“It’s just miserable, everything is up in the air,” worker Melvin Maclin said. “We don’t know anything, no one wants to talk with us.”
Union representatives say they arranged a meeting between Bank of America officials, the company and Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez to discuss compensation for the hundreds of employees at Republic. Gutierrez said company officials did not attend, but another meeting was slated for Monday.
Gutierrez wants to know why Republic abandoned shop so quickly, and he’s calling on the state’s labor department to investigate. The company would not comment late Friday.
Bank of America, for its part, offered this response to the situation: “Neither Bank of America nor any other third-party lender to the company has the right to control whether the company complies with applicable laws or honors its commitments to its employees.”
The employees earlier Friday said they plan to stay at the plant until until they’re evicted by Chicago police. Officers were called to the facility at least once Friday, but no one was forced to leave, and there were no arrests.
Republic sold its Goose Island plant to the Wrigley Company in 2006, according to the Tribune.