Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Workers of Republic Windows and Doors Finally Pursue the Culpable Party: Their Employer

Workers for Republic Windows and Doors have finally asserted legal claims against the only entity that violated their rights: the company itself. In early December, the workers staged a sit-in after the company ceased operations without providing them legally required notice. Although the slumping housing market caused the business to suffer deep financial losses, politicians, the company's management and the protesting workers blamed Bank of America for the shutdown. After the company exhausted its credit line, Bank of America refused to extend additional financing.

Progressive advocacy, negative media attention, and a ruthless (if not illegal) order by Governor Blagojevich (which barred Bank of America from conducting business with the State of Illinois) helped the workers secure the value of their unpaid wages and benefits from Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, rather than the company. A month after their protests, however, the workers have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board which argues that the company (1) violated federal law by failing to provide adequate notice concerning the shutdown and (2) breached the terms of their collective bargaining agreement by relocating to Iowa without giving them a good faith opportunity to negotiate.

I doubt they can recover under the first theory because they already received payment from Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. I have no idea how a "remedy" under the second claim would look. The workers seek to have property and equipment returned to the factory, but this seems far fetched. Also, because the company has now entered the bankruptcy process, recovering anything from it looks bleak. In order to recover anything at this point, the workers need to demonstrate that the new company is simply the old one with a new name.

But I have always suspected that the owners of Republic Windows and Doors have powerful friends in Illinois who helped to shield them from criticism. The company received almost $10 million in subsidies from the City of Chicago, and Mayor Daley reportedly lobbied for them to obtain the funds. To date, Bank of America, not the company, remains the villain to most of the public. Today, Chicago papers report that the city cannot recoup the value of the subsidies from Republic Windows.

Related Readings on Dissenting Justice:

MADE IN IOWA: Did Company in Chicago Sit-In Illegally Discard Its Workers and Quietly Relocate While Liberals Forced BOA to Pay for the Shady Scheme?

Republic Windows and Doors Received a Bailout from Chicago Before It Bailed Out of Chicago

Laid-Off Republic Windows and Doors Workers: Pawns in Political Football

"Scratching and Surviving" Less Newsworthy Than Politicians at Labor Protests: Scant Media Coverage of Republic Windows Workers After Sit-In

Factory Closes in Chicago; Workers Invoke Bailout During Protest

What (I Think) Progressives Should Have Done for Workers of Republic Windows and Doors

New Chapter for Republic Windows: Bankruptcy


Anonymous said...

OK, let it be, but can someone just tell me why his people felt it soooo necessary to specify that he was NOT caving in? He is going out of his way, rolling over himself, to "reach out" to the (supposed) other side while continuing to diss those who elected him. What kind of power trip is this?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Nick Name - I think you posted to the wrong thread. If you are talking about Robinson - they said that either because it's true or to avoid stigmatizing Robinson or a power trip. Not sure. I think it is a combination of the last two.

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