It may be winter, but the time has come for the workers of the world to rally to their windows and doors. In Chicago, Republic Windows and Doors has been taking government subsidies, but now it’s refusing to follow government regulations and says it won’t honor the legal rights of its workers.
Last week, the company told its workers that its factory would be shut down on Friday, ending paid work there abruptly and without any severance pay. The law requires 60 days notice along with 75 days severance pay. Congressman Luis Gutierrez attempted to arrange negotiations between workers and the management of Republic Windows and Doors, but the management refused to participate.
In reaction, 200 workers began a sit-in protest at the factory on Friday. They are still there, and say that they won’t leave until they receive the notice and severance pay that they’re entitled to.
The management of Republic Windows and Doors blames Bank of America for not extending needed credit to the factory. If that’s true, Bank of America shares responsibility for breaking the law, but it doesn’t excuse the criminal behavior of the factory management itself.
This protest is about a lot more than just the Republic Windows and Doors company and the Bank of America failing to meet their obligations. It’s about the way that America has been cheated even while Wall Street has gotten billions and billions in bailouts. Those bailouts, we were told, would thaw credit markets so that businesses like Republic Windows and Doors could remain in business, and pay their employees. Through that justification, we were all told that the bailout of Wall Street was for our own good, and that American workers would benefit just as much as investment firm fat cats.
You can see how unhelpful the Wall Street 700 billion dollar bailout was for workers by looking at what happened at Republic Windows and Doors. Companies like Bank of America got help, but they are not passing it along. They aren’t unfreezing credit. They’re hoarding all the goodies to themselves, and we workers are left out in the cold, and having to pay the 700 billion dollar bill, plus interest.