Angry laid-off workers occupy factory in Chicago


RUPA SHENOY
Associated Press
December 7, 2008

Editor’s note: Factory occupations — in addition to sit-ins, strikes, and other mass mobilizations — were commonplace during the Great Depression.

CHICAGO (AP) — Workers who got three days’ notice their factory was shutting its doors have occupied the building and say they won’t go home without assurances they’ll get severance and vacation pay they say they are owed.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

About 200 union workers occupied the Republic Windows and Doors plant in shifts Saturday while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind.

Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give 60 days’ notice required by law before shutting down.

During the peaceful takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.

“We’re doing something we haven’t since the 1930s, so we’re trying to make it work,” Fried said.

Protest organizers said the company can’t pay employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won’t let them. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Republic Windows’ monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million during the past month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had “no choice but to shut our doors.”

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