No deal reached for factory workers

Ill. gov says state won't do business with BofA
December 8, 2008 9:24:58 PM PST
No deal has been reached on Monday night in the efforts to end a four-day sit-in by laid-off workers at a Chicago factory.But Congressman Luis Gutierrez says negotiations made some progress.

Representatives from Republic Windows and Doors, Bank of America and the workers will meet again on Tuesday.

The story has become a national symbol of the plight of workers hurt by the economic crisis.

Apolonia Cabrera, employed for 17 years at Republic Windows and Doors, has a wife two kids with a baby due at Christmas.

"We were like a family, like I said, this is like my second house," said Cabrera.

Workers are into their fourth day of a sit-in, demanding vacation and severance pay they're entitled to under federal law when a company of this size closes down.

Late Monday afternoon politicians, company officials and the bank met. Chicago congressman Luis Gutierrez says there was a spirit of reconciliation in the room.

"When we talked on several occasions, we all reminded ourselves that it wasn't about pointing fingers, it wasn't about placing responsibility or blame but making sure that in the end, the workers were taken care of," said Gutierrez.

But the congressman insisted that workers remain at the plant where earlier they received supplies and Christmas gifts and the attention of a host of public officials including Governor Rod Blagojevich who brought them rice cakes and water.

Republic Windows says on October 16 it presented a plan for an "orderly" wind down including ceasing manufacturing in January, 2009.

On October 18, Bank of America rejected the plan.

On October 29, Bank of American rejected the second plan

And on November 26, the bank rejected the vacation pay request.

In a statement, Bank of America said, "as a creditor of the company... (we) have provided the maximum amount of funding we can under the terms of our agreement."

Union officials say it would cost $1.2-1.4 million to pay off the workers, who are owed on average $4500.

Gov. Blagojevich says without a deal to release funds to pay the workers, Bank of America would be cut off from state business.

Fifteen Chicago aldermen went further, saying the city should dump its Bank of America investments, and bar the recipient of federal bailout money from participating in lucrative municipal bond issuances.

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