Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Heroes Of American Labor Conduct Sit-In At Closed Chicago Factory

Three day's notice, penniless on the street. That's just not acceptable, and we can't live in a country that allows that. So workers are demanding justice now. We're not going to let the Bank of America off the hook, we're not going to let Republic Windows and Doors off the hook, and we're going to fight this to the very end.

So said a spokeswoman for the workers occupying Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago, after they were told that their factory is closing in three days, in violation of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. That federal law requires companies to give workers 60 days' notice before shutting its doors.

The lack of adequate notice came with dire conditions for the factory workers: no severance package, no vacation pay, no medical benefits. The company told the workers that the Bank of America would not extend a line of credit to cover these benefits–so, in effect, tough luck. Yet the workers have refused these unacceptable conditions and have peacefully occupied the factory, all the while maintaining the facility and its machines.

To add to their frustration, the workers found out that the owners formed a new window business, Echo Windows LLC, to be located in Red Oak, Iowa. The talk among the staff is that they are being left out in the cold while the company initiates a cheaper operation elsewhere.

Since Reagan, we've seen the decline of labor unions coupled with stagnating pay, cutbacks in pensions and benefits, and jobs shipped overseas. Meanwhile, the salaries and bonuses of CEOs have skyrocketed. Financial institutions like the Bank of America are bailed out with billions of taxpayer dollars, yet they can't extend credit so that a worker can take his or her child to the doctor. 

Indeed, "we can't live in a country that allows that." The workers at Republic Windows and Doors are heroes of American labor who have chosen the path of non-violent civil disobedience to demand what they've earned.

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