For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON - AP is reporting: "The 200 workers demanding severance and vacation pay have become a national symbol for thousands of employees laid off nationwide as the economy continues to sour. They occupied the plant of their former employer, Republic Windows and Doors, after the company abruptly fired them last week."
Fletcher is co-founder of the Center for Labor Renewal and author of the book Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice. He said today: "The workers have it right. Enough is enough. Working people have been continuously stepped on, and in the midst of this economic crisis the bailouts have ignored the working person. People should stand in support of the demands of the workers and maybe a few other workplaces -- including some Wall Street brokerage firms -- need to also be taken over." He is executive editor of the BlackCommentator.com.
Lichtenstein is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy. He is the author of State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, and Wal-Mart: The Face of Twenty-First-Century Capitalism.
He said today: "As in the 1930s, this factory occupation is to uphold the spirit of the law, not subvert it. In 1936 and 1937 American workers occupied scores of Midwest factories to force employers to obey the recently enacted labor law. Today, the employees of Republic Window are occupying their workplace to uphold the laws that require employers to pay them their wages and severance pay. But beyond that, the occupation is designed to put pressure on banks and employers to fulfill the letter and spirit of the financial bailout package which was designed to keep credit flowing and production humming."
The group Jobs with Justice is organizing to help the Chicago sit-in. Thindwa is executive director of Chicago Jobs with Justice; Tobin is the group's Midwest regional organizer. The protest in Chicago begins at noon Chicago time in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Tobin said: "Only weeks after taking $25 billion in bailout money, Bank of America is turning its back on hundreds of workers making energy-efficient doors and windows in Chicago by refusing to continue credit to Republic Windows and Doors. To make matters even worse than putting 300 people out of work, Bank of America has instructed Republic to refuse to pay workers compensation they are legally entitled to, either earned vacation pay or the severance pay legally required under the WARN Act, in lieu of proper notice of plant closing."