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LOCAL News :: Labor

Sit-In Continues at Chicago Window Plant

1333 N. Hickory, Goose Island Chicago. Come support the action. Continuing through the night.
Union officials announced this afternoon that Bank of America has agreed to meet with them to discuss workers concerns about the closing of Republic Windows and Doors.

"They are ready to meet with the company and the union and a representative from Luis Gutierrez's office in order to try to come to some kind of resolution with the situation," says Mark Meinster of the United Electrical Workers, which represents the workers. "Everybody is trying to get a meeting today."

However, bank officials will only meet if Republic agrees to sign a waiver of confidentiality. Up until this point, Bank of America spokespeople have declined to comment on the situation because of the confidentiality agreement.

Workers are currently staging a sit-in at the company. They say they won't leave until they receive pay for vacation time they've earned, plus the 60 days pay due to them under the federal WARN Act. Meinster says the money owed the workers totals between $1 and 2 million.

Workers were also informed this morning by the company that their health insurance, which they were told would run until Dec. 15, was cut off last night. Workers say the company told them it was Bank of America's decision to end the insurance.

"People are really angry," says Melvin Maclin, worker and vice president of the local union. "A lot of people were hoping to go to the doctor one more time before the insurance was cut off, to get the medicines they need, but now they won't be able to."

Around 200 workers are gathered at the company today. Maclin says he thinks the sit in may last all day and into the night, or end with the company removing workers by force.

Earlier today, union officials said the company had told them boot the news media from the plant, threatening that the workers would not receive their paychecks if reporters remained. Workers were given their paychecks for last week around noon. Paychecks for this week will come out next Friday.

Republic's Cheif Operating Officer, Barry Dubin, did not respond to Daily News requests for comment.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-7, is doing all he can to arrange a meeting between all parties, according to a spokesman in his office.



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