Hartmarx Workers Vote to “Sit In” to Save Their Jobs

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amanda Cooper,917-224-6904
Ray Quintanilla, 312-505-7862
Ali Jost, 202-730-7159

Hartmarx Workers Vote to “Sit In” to Save Their Jobs

TARP Recipient Wells Fargo Threatens to Close Obama Suit Maker Factory & Layoff Workers Despite $25b Bailout

CHICAGO, Illinois - Today,
500 workers at the Chicago-based apparel firm Hart Schaffner & Marx
held a rally and historic “sit in” vote to fight for their jobs as
major lender and TARP fund recipient Wells Fargo & Co. pushes for a
bankruptcy closure of the facility.

“Everyone
at the plant is worried about their future. It all hinges on Wells
Fargo. They have to do the right thing and allow this company to be
reorganized--so jobs can be saved,” explained Ruby Simms, a 32-year
veteran of the Hart Schaffner & Marx factory in Des Plaines, IL.

The workers voted in favor of a
“sit in” style action, which means that if Wells Fargo or a buyer tries
to begin liquidation or close the factory, the workers will respond by
physically remaining at their job site.

The struggle of the Hartmarx
workers mirrors that of the 250 Republic Windows and Doors workers who
saved their own jobs last December when Bank of America tried to
shutter their doors. State and national leaders are increasingly
standing up for Hartmarx workers, members of the union Workers United
(an SEIU affiliate), and slamming Wells Fargo—a $25 billion taxpayer bailout recipient—for shortsightedly refusing to invest in U.S. companies and workers.

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi
Giannoulias has vowed, "Unless the company remains open, [Wells Fargo]
will not be doing business with the state of Illinois any longer."

"Wells Fargo has received $25
billion in taxpayer assistance through TARP. In other words, the
workers Wells Fargo may throw out on the street have been subsidizing
its operations during these tough economic times. So much for returning
the favor,” said Member of Congress Phil Hare, who also worked in the men’s clothing industry as a cutter for 13 years.   

The Hartmarx workers’ struggle
sounds the alarm on what could be a cascade of job losses and company
closures perpetuated by U.S. financial institutions.

“Voting to sit in, these workers
are standing up for all of us,” says Noel Beasley, Director of the
Chicago/Midwest Regional Joint Board and Executive Vice President of
Workers United, the union that represents the Hartmarx workers.  “The future of the economy and the future of this country are all about good jobs.  The
vote today says Hartmarx workers are going to hold banks accountable
for how they spend taxpayers’ money and how they contribute to the
future of our economy.”

Chicago-based Hartmarx, the
largest menswear manufacturing company in the nation, filed for
bankruptcy protection in January after U.S. banks curtailed its lines
of credit. The clothing maker employs 3,500 across the nation, with
about 1,000 of its employees located in Rock Island and suburban Des
Plaines where suits for President Obama are made.

Tom
Balanoff, president of the SEIU Illinois State Council, called on
America’s banks to stand by working women and men: “This is a
historical moment. This is where workers take a stand against
shortsighted banking practices that cost American jobs.  Workers
don’t want financial institutions like Bank of America and now Wells
Fargo hurting their livelihoods. Our banking system should be helping
to save jobs.”

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With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers—not just corporations and CEOs—benefit from today's global economy.

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