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Victory for the Workers! December 11, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in Economy, National Politics, Unions.
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republicWord has been received that the workers at Republic Window and Door in Chicago have ended their sit-in protesting the layoff that left them without $1.5 million in compensation owed to them by the company.  The LA Times reports that the workers have agreed to a deal that will leave them with about $6,000 each in severance and unused vacation compensation.  After 15 hours of negotiations, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase agreed to lend the money to Republic to make good on its obligations.

Make no mistake, B of A was not being charitable here.  This worker occupation was a PR nightmare for B of A, considering it got a $25 billion hand-out from the government, yet refused to lend the money to help out these workers.

Congratulations to the workers and their union.  And thanks to all of you who supported them through your phone calls and e-mails to Bank of America.  Let’s hope that this action by the workers at Republic Window and Door is the harbinger of better times to come for our unionized workers.

Stand With The Workers December 9, 2008

Posted by Kate Ryan in Economy, National Politics, Unions.
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bank_of_america_logoBank of America released a statement today about the continuing situation at Republic Window and Door in Chicago where workers are on their 5th day of occupying the factory.   The peaceful protest is being held because Republic laid all of its workers off with a mere three days notice and refused to pay $1.5 million in severance and vacation pay.  According to Republic, the payments are impossible because Bank of America, their largest creditor, refuses to lend the company money to meet its obligations.  B of A says in its statement that it would “continue to honor all of our agreements with the company and have provided the maximum amount of funding we can under the terms of our agreement. ” 

Isn’t that ironic?  Bank of America accepted $25 billion in taxpayer money on October 14.  If we can all remember back that far, the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds were supposed to help the banks write off bad paper so that they could begin lending again.  But what did B of A do with YOUR money?  It bought out bankrupt Merrill Lynch – for an announced price of $50 billion.  If Bank of America had that kind of dough laying around, why did they need ours?  What’s an even bigger slap is that Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain says he deserves a $10 million BONUS (though it has been reported today that Thain will forego his bonus.  Mighty nice of him).

Meanwhile, 260 regular working people at Republic Window and Door will not be having a very merry Christmas this year. 

It’s time to say “enough”.  It’s time to stand with the workers at Republic and tell Bank of America that Americans deserve better.  If you have accounts with Bank of America – close them and get a new bank.  If you have credit cards and can transfer the balances – do it.  I, for one, will be slow paying B of A on my credit line this month.  If you don’t mind a minor hit to your credit rating (and who doesn’t have them these days), don’t pay your next month’s bill on time – and when they call you to ask where the payment is, tell them what you think. 

(If you would like to know if YOUR bank has accepted TARP funds, click here)