Saturday, December 13, 2008

Republic Windows & Doors

A peaceful, and non-violent six day sit-in, at Republic Windows and Doors, Goose Island plant, Chicago, Illinois has ended. In the afternoon, Tuesday, 2nd December the workers,who are members of the United Electrical Workers, Local 1110 were told, that, the factory would close Friday, 5th December, and the Bank of America would not allow management to pay them, what their contract, and the law promised. So, just go ...

They did not go; they stayed. The 240 workers acted as determined brothers. They were unanimous. They acted as americans had acted in the mid to late 1930s; they would not be moved. They wanted their jobs, though they believed them gone, but they were owed a few thousand dollars, and medical care. They wanted their legal remuneration. Wednesday, 10th December, an agreement was so reached. It could have come a bit earlier, but Richard Gillman, the chief executive, wanted the leases of several luxury cars picked up and eight weeks of salary. He backed down.

The Bank of America was given money in the bail-out. The bail-out was supposed to have banks extend credit, so as to, move commerce along. The Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch instead.

Republic Windows & Doors was going to close the unionised, Illinois’ Goose Island plant. They were buying a scab (non-union) plant in Iowa, they had already sent equipment there.

Now, this is in the same vein as the auto crisis. German, and japanese companies, have unionised plants in their countries, when they move to the american south, they open scab plants, with state, and local government, financial inducements.

See, labor-management contracts are binding. Laws of the federal government are binding.* Treaties made with indian tribes were binding. Moneyed power believes itself above the law, or outside of the law. Government, especially Republican controlled government, is of the same mind. Now, in this case, many community leaders†, including the mayor, Richard Daley, President Obama and others spoke in behalf of the workers.
*Some applicable provisions: The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) was enacted on August 4, 1988 and became effective on February 4, 1989.

Plant Closing: A covered employer must give notice if an employment site (or one or more facilities or operating units within an employment site) will be shut down, and the shutdown will result in an employment loss (as defined later) for 50 or more employees during any 30-day period.

Penalties: An employer who violates the WARN provisions by ordering a plant closing or mass layoff without providing appropriate notice is liable to each aggrieved employee for an amount including back pay and benefits for the period of violation, up to 60 days. The employer's liability may be reduced by such items as wages paid by the employer to the employee during the period of the violation and voluntary and unconditional payments made by the employer to the employee.

An employer who fails to provide notice as required to a unit of local government is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500 for each day of violation. This penalty may be avoided if the employer satisfies the liability to each aggrieved employee within 3 weeks after the closing or layoff is ordered by the employer.

Enforcement: Enforcement of WARN requirements is through the United States district courts. Workers, representatives of employees and units of local government may bring individual or class action suits. In any suit, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney's fee as part of the costs.

†The city had given over $10 million to the company in development funds.

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