Settlement reached in Chicago workers' sit-in

Chris Rizo Dec. 10, 2008, 11:00pm

Lisa Madigan (D)

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline)-A six-day sit-in at a Chicago window and door factory ended Wednesday after a deal brokered in part by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan ensured the workers would receive the compensation they were entitled to receive.

More than 200 unionized workers at Republic Windows and Doors, Inc. faced the prospect of not being paid severance, and vacation pay after the company unexpectedly announced it was closing after Bank of America cut its credit line.

On Friday, workers were given three days notice of their layoff. The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America vowed its members would remain at the factory until workers had assurances they would be paid.

Since Monday, negotiations had been ongoing among Republic and the attorney general, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Chicago Aldermen Rick Munoz and Manny Flores, the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Operation PUSH.

"It is absolutely critical that the men and women who worked for Republic Windows and Doors receive the compensation that they have earned," Madigan said in a statement late Wednesday.

"My office took quick action here to make sure that the workers receive this compensation. I am pleased and grateful for the leadership and commitment of Bank of America and commitment of Chase in reaching this critical agreement," the Democratic AG added.

For its part, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America made a $1.35 million loan to enable Republic to pay workers for their accrued severance and holiday pay. An additional $400,000 in funding came from J.P. Morgan Chase.

Under the agreement reached Wednesday, workers will receive compensation for an additional 60 days in addition to their vacation pay, which are required under federal law in cases of mass layoffs.

"Compliance with the WARN Act is the responsibility of management and owners," said David Rudis, Illinois president for Bank of America.

"Although we are a lender with no obligation to pay Republic's employees or make additional loans to Republic, we agreed to extend an additional loan to be used exclusively to pay its employees," he said.

In a statement, Madigan said she remains concerned about Republic's consumers who may have paid deposits toward the purchase of windows.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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