Laid-Off Workers Occupy Chicago Factory

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) at a rally at Republic Windows and Doors factory. He tried to arrange a meeting with workers and company officials, who did not appear.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) at a rally at Republic Windows and Doors factory. He tried to arrange a meeting with workers and company officials, who did not appear. (By Brian Kersey -- Associated Press)
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By Rupa Shenoy
Associated Press
Sunday, December 7, 2008

CHICAGO, Dec. 6 -- Workers laid off from their jobs at a factory have occupied the building and are demanding assurances they'll get severance and vacation pay that they say they are owed.

About 250 employees of Republic Windows and Doors began their sit-in Friday, the last scheduled day of the plant's operation.

Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give 60 days' notice required by law before shutting down.

Workers also were angered when company officials didn't show up for a meeting Friday that had been arranged by Rep Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.), she said.

During the peaceful takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.

"We're doing something we haven't since the 1930s, so we're trying to make it work," Fried said.

Union officials said another meeting with the company is scheduled for Monday.

Representatives of Republic Windows could not be reached for comment.

Police spokeswoman Laura Kubiak said authorities were aware of the situation and officers were patrolling the area.

Crain's Chicago Business reported that the company's monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million in the past month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had "no choice but to shut our doors."


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